Chapter One Thousand Nine Hundred Ninety-Four
26th June 1970
Pacoima, Los Angeles, California
Don’t get too close to the subject unless you want to get shot at. Ty Coleman’s Editor had not minced words when he had given him the assignment, as if he needed one having worked in Germany for several years before returning home to LA. The Princess was coming to Los Angeles, but she had not told anyone what her plans were. Kristina was a famously private woman who didn’t like being photographed, she was active in the German Special Forces, she had a diplomatic passport so God only knew what she might have brought into the country.
It all served as a warning the German Royals were not like their British counterparts when it came to the tabloid press. They managed things in a vastly different manner, not caring to be tourist attractions or public attractions and most of them had a career of some sort these days. Most of the palaces and residences had been turned into museums and galleries. The German Imperial Press Law of 1874 was something that every Journalist and Editor operating in Europe had to be aware of because it had real teeth, getting a story wrong over there could potentially have serious consequences. Antagonizing the House of Hohenzollern was hanging a “Kick Me!” sign on your back.
None of this was helped by most of them being for lack of a better word, boring, especially the Kaiser himself. He had cut the Royal Bureaucracy back to bare bones during the Second World War as a demonstration of solidarity with the German public and had not rehired the vast majority of it after the war ended. That meant that Palace intrigue was basically nonexistent and the closest thing to a royal scandal that Ty had covered during his time in Europe had been when the Board of Trusties who managed the family’s assets had been caught with their hand in the till. The story had ended after a few weeks because they had all been arrested, and the Kaiser had recouped most of his losses by seizing theirs after he sued them for breach of contract.
Kristina herself was particularly aggravating. Bespectacled and almost always sour-faced when anyone from the Press tried to talk to her. She even made a point of always wearing clothes that looked the same which made most photographs of her were worthless. Basically, Kristina was no one’s idea of glamorous Princess. There was also her marriage to what turned out to be her high school sweetheart, total snooze-fest.
Then today, of all things she might have done in Los Angeles, Kristina went to a working-class neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley. As Ty sat in his car getting weird looks from passersby and sweating through his shirt, he wondered what the Hell she was thinking.
This was just the first of several events that would culminate with the wedding on Sunday. Kiki had been told that this was small as these things go, so she couldn’t imagine what the main event was going to be like. Ritchie, who had been rather surprised when Kiki and Ben had shown up at the front door of his mother’s house, said that they had needed to rent an event hall at the recreation center at a nearby park because the wedding had grown larger than initially planned. Kiki knew exactly how that sort of thing happened and figured that Ritchie would probably be grateful if rather than giving him a wedding present, she just cut him a check.
That didn’t mean that she didn’t have other considerations in the meantime though.
Kiki was trying to get air down her throat as her eyes were watering and her mouth felt like it was on fire. This was great amusement to Concha, who had insisted that she try her salsa roja. It had been delicious for the first few seconds, then the peppers had kicked in. Ritchie’s family found this incredibly amusing, they had tried to warn her. After a minute, she took a drink of beer to help ease it a bit.
“This is almost as spicy as the Kimchi I had all the time when I was in Korea” Kiki said. That was found incredibly amusing, but that had turned into amazement when Kiki took a second chip. So, far that afternoon she had been careful not to draw too much attention to herself, knowing that it should be focused elsewhere. Watching her try something new, especially when it was figured that she didn’t know what she was getting into tended to draw attention.
Finishing the bottle of beer, Kiki caught Ben’s eye and they drifted back across the back yard momentarily forgotten as the focus of the party shifted elsewhere. She was finding that she was enjoying it here. If anyone knew who she was here, they didn’t seem to care. They just knew that she was a friend of Ritchie’s from the Army. This crowd was also largely composed of Spanish speakers, or at least what passed for Spanish in California. Between the Latin and French that had been drilled into Kiki’s head in school until she was nearly fluent in French and conversational in Latin, she could understand most of what was said. Though making herself understood proved a bit more difficult. There were a number of others who Kiki recognized just from the way they walked, U.S. Special Forces. Kiki caught a glimpse of one of men from her security detail standing by the back door of the house. They were good at being unobtrusive, but still…
“Are you still going by the name Fischer?” The man who had introduced himself as Huck asked, “I remember from ten years ago, in China.”
“Doctor von Preussen these days” Kiki said as she pulled a fresh bottle of beer from the washtub filled with ice and looked at the vexing cap.
“I also heard talk that you’re a Light Colonel now” Huck said, “Pretty good run over a decade.”
“I guess” Kiki replied, “You know who has the bottle opener?”