Stupid Luck and Happenstance, Thread III

Part 129, Chapter 2190
Chapter Two Thousand One Hundred Ninety



16th December 1972

Wilhelmshaven

Looking out the window, Louis could see that snow was falling softly on the ships moored to the concrete pier, it was a peaceful scene considering that those were Destroyers, Corvettes, and Fleet Torpedo Boats. It reflected the majority of ship in the fleet these days. The old Battleships were gone for the most part. The SMS Brandenburg and SMS Adrian Baier, respectively the last Super Dreadnaught and Battlecruiser in the Fleet were floating museums these days. The two largest ships present in the Jade were the SMS Emden and her sister ship the SMS Rendsburg, both Guided Missile Cruisers. That was due to the one active Aircraft Carrier of the Atlantic Squadron being in Kiel which had better facilities for a ship that size. The secretive Submarine Fleet had recently been moved to a new base outside Bremerhaven, so they were missing as well.

There were also a large number of other ships and boats. Mine Sweepers, Speed Boats of various types, a seemingly endless array of support vessels. Looking out over the Jade Bight, one saw a constellation of lights from all of this.

SMS K24 Grindwal was in port for the next several weeks and the Fleet had given them no further orders about future deployments. Louis Ferdinand Junior didn’t delude himself with the notion that they had been forgotten, not even for a second. At any time, they might get orders sending them to join one of the Pacific Squadrons or Argentina which meant that they would be gone for months. That was why Louis had agreed that it would be good for the crew’s morale if their families were allowed aboard for a Christmas celebration. Even with just a caretaker crew there would be plenty of men who would be stuck aboard next week who would be irked about their situation.

What that meant in practice was having children underfoot and the wives bickering with each other as they brought whatever was going on ashore onto the ship. The crew quarters and mess deck were a cacophony noise and a riot of bright colors. All Louis could do was watch from the side as the Ship’s Captain. He had given the Ship’s Officers the option of going ashore tonight and all of them had taken it. In the coming days, there were a number of formal events that he had been invited to in Wilhelmshaven, so he was in no rush to go into the city.

Every once in a while, one of the children would come up to Louis, they would either stare at him with trepidation or else ask questions until their mothers spotted them. Then they would be told not to be rude and encouraged to do something else.

It was how these things had worked for Louis’ entire life, observing from the outside. Tonight, there was a whole lot to observe though. The crew, who were a decidedly mixed bag when it came to religion, celebrated these things was basically a version of the more the merrier. Superstition had been bread and butter for ship’s crews since the dawn of time. Even if they were not Catholic or Orthodox, Saint Nicholas of Myra was one of the Patron Saints of Sailors. He was also the Saint of Repentant Thieves, the Falsely Accused, Broadcasters, and Fishermen. There were plenty of those to be found aboard any ship in the Navy so of course Saint Nick would be perfectly welcome aboard in the guise of Father Christmas. That role was being played by Oberdeckoffizier Borchardt tonight, who certainly looked the part even when his wasn’t wearing the red suit. If your idea of Father Christmas was a crusty Warrant Officer who had spent most of the last thirty years at sea, then he was perfect. Borchardt’s only concession to regulation was that if a sailor wore a beard, they were required to keep it trimmed. This was a nod to the reality that aboard ships at sea, fresh water was at a premium, especially on light units like the Grindwal. The children and the Junior Enlisted certainly loved it.

“You look like the very picture of a brooding poet” Louis heard a voice say, “All you need is a bottle of wine and a book with a dreary title.”

Looking up, Louis saw Kiki was looking at him. The brightly colored lights reflecting off her glasses and had no idea that she had been invited tonight. He saw that Ben was holding Kiki’s little girl and Borchardt was playing his part for Nina who wasn’t quite old enough to understand the whole concept of Christmas. A grown man acting silly was however something she got though.

“This is not for me” Louis replied looking at the crew who were enjoying themselves. “It’s for them.”

“That doesn’t mean you cannot have a bit of vicarious fun” Kiki said, “We get to watch others in situations we have to be separate from our entire lives. It is one of the things that makes us, us.”

“This is different” Louis said, “Command and all that.”

“It is not so different from a Surgeon and their Staff” Kiki replied, “You need to find way to balance all of this. Brooding in the corner is not that.”

“I am not in the corner” Louis said, “I was just looking out the window and thinking about things. Should I be doing that in my cabin?”

“That would actually be worse” Kiki replied.
 
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Anybody in command has this problem on a Christmas party. You leave early and leave a bad impression or you stay longer and run the risk of loosing clout.
 
Anybody in command has this problem on a Christmas party. You leave early and leave a bad impression or you stay longer and run the risk of loosing clout.
True :p

That said, whenever one leaves, the person in charge should always make sure to buy everyone a round of drinks. Nothing erodes respect for the boss like thinking they're a miser.
 
Young Louis Ferdinand is checking off all the right boxes for advancement in the Navy from commanding a landing craft team in Korea to volunteering for a long stint in the Antarctic and then to the Balkens fighting pirates, going to the Grand Admiral staff, XO of a destroyer seeing combat operations in the Pantigonia War now to the command of a new top line destroyer he is definitely going places even if he wasn’t the brother of the Emperor.
All he needs now is a suitable wife to show that he is of stable character.
 
Freddie’s actions in bringing up Mueller strike me as precisely the sort of foot in mouth unforced error that could have serious consequences down the road, especially because it threatens those Kat loves and has taken in. And it’s a deeply petty thing for him to bring up since it’s her dad and not her who did the lifetime alias.

What’s realistic about it is that it’s exactly the kind of petty crap a still somewhat immature monarch (his mental comment about expecting Kat to flinch) would do that’s in part a symptom of holding an office with a history of much more power and a lot of fringe/soft power.

Louis Ferdinand could have some VERY choice words with his son if he hears about this.
 
Young Louis Ferdinand is checking off all the right boxes for advancement in the Navy from commanding a landing craft team in Korea to volunteering for a long stint in the Antarctic and then to the Balkens fighting pirates, going to the Grand Admiral staff, XO of a destroyer seeing combat operations in the Pantigonia War now to the command of a new top line destroyer he is definitely going places even if he wasn’t the brother of the Emperor.
All he needs now is a suitable wife to show that he is of stable character.
About the only things missing are a stint on Submarines and a stint on an aircraft carrier.
 
About the only things missing are a stint on Submarines and a stint on an aircraft carrier.
It is very rare for Naval Officers on the command track to go from Surface Fleet to the Submarine Service then to the Air Fleet, they will do cross training, liaison work, and serve on the various staff positions together but for the most part they will stick to their respective areas.
Officers who are not on the command like engineering, communications, and other specialties will go between from Surface Fleet and Carriers but Officers in the Submarine Service stay for the most part on subs because of the different requirements needed to serve on subs compared to other types of ships.
As for Young Louis Ferdinand if he does a good job as Captain of his ship his next posting could be a as a Naval Attache in a major country or a major staff appointment to the Defense Ministry or the Chancellor's office itself any one of those positions basically gives him a major leg up over those he begun his Naval career.
 
And of course he will always feel the need to prove that he earned the promotions meaning he will always work harder than his comerades while his superiors will always make sure they are not blamed to go easy on him, meaning he gets more challenged which together with the former makes for more rapid promotion.

In the end even if everybody involved is doing his level best to not give him advantages due to his family, he will have advantages due to his family. Catch 2-2.
 
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Part 129, Chapter 2191
Chapter Two Hundred One Hundred Ninety-One



26th December 1972

Tempelhof

Christmas was silly. That was the conclusion that Sophie had reached. Father Christmas or the Christkind were for children, and she hated to admit that she was sort of past all of that. The problem was that she had no idea what the future held, she would be turning fourteen next year and she had watched the prior Friday as Marie Alexandra had come down the stairs wearing the gown which she was wearing when she was introduced to the Imperial Court as the new Maid of the Chamber. Kat had spared no expense for Marie because she wanted this to be a memorable occasion.

Sophie had asked Tatiana what was happening, and she had explained what was going on. She had called the entire thing totally retrograde, elitist, and sexist. However, Tatiana had made sure that they were out of Kat’s earshot when she had said that. The Maid of the Chamber had once been held by Kat until she had gotten married. Kat had been appointed to two additional Courtly Offices, that of Mistress of the Keys and Mistress of the Robes as she played different roles in the Imperial Court over the course of several years. She had then told Sophie that she had been offered the same thing under Empress Charlotte but had rather emphatically turned it down for the reasons she had stated.

As Tatiana spoke, Sophie had realized that her motivations were not quite as cut and dry as she liked. Tatiana’s outright rejection of what Kat had done in her youth had probably been done out of spite rather than principle. As if Kat had known exactly what they had been talking about, she had told Sophie later that evening that for her girls the introduction to the Court was entirely their choice, Tatiana had made hers and she really hoped that Sophie wouldn’t crash the party like four of the girls had back in 1946.

Wiping her nose with the sleeve of her nightgown, Sophie looked at the window with the frost forming on the edges of the panes of glass. The nightgown was new and made from heavy flannel. It was a gift from Kat and Doug like in years past, the only real difference was that it was green and black plaid this year. She remembered the first one she had received on the first Christmas she had spent with this family that had been nearly identical.

It was that notion of whether or not she was actually a member of this family that had driven so many of her choices. It was why she had spent all the money she had made from helping Aunt Marcella buying gifts for others, as if that would change anything. The prior afternoon, Kat had announced over Christmas dinner that they were going to be having a new guest in the household soon and it was going to be important that they made her feel welcome. Sophie had realized that everyone around the table had gone though this before except for her. Where did that leave Sophie though. Lenny had told Sophie all about Kat’s broken little birds and Sophie had realized that she was one of them. If there was a new girl in the house, did that mean that Kat felt that Sophie’s problems had been fixed? It certainly didn’t feel that way.

Sprocket whined and Sophie knew that he needed to go out unless she wanted to clean up a mess. Leaving her warm bed on an icy winter day wasn’t her idea of fun. Sophie shoved her feet into her sneakers without bothering to tie them and put on her coat. Picking up Sprocket, she headed downstairs to the back garden.

The cold was a shock when she stepped outside in the grey light of the predawn. Sprocket being a puppy found a whole of things that he wanted to sniff in the garden before he went about what they had come downstairs to do. Sophie couldn’t do much more than just watch, she did envy his shaggy brown fur which seemed to inure him to the icy temperature.

“The joys of having a pet” Doug said as he came out through the laundry room door with Malcolm. “I would have gotten dressed more than that.”

The presence of Malcolm was a bit of an embarrassment. Sophie had avoided talking to him in the months since she had had a schoolgirl’s crush on him. The silliness of her behavior… Of course, she now knew he saw her as a little sister and that there were parts of her that she had little control over. She had fallen in love with the idea of Malcolm rather than who he really was as a person. She had just developed feelings for someone who was always kind to her. Kat had told her that it wasn’t stupid or silly. It was just a part of her learning as she grew up and one day, she would experience the real thing. Sophie had her doubts about that. She couldn’t help but noticing that Doug and Malcolm were carrying a heavy cardboard box between them. The words, Fabricated in Milan, Italy were printed on the side of it.

“What is that?” Sophie asked as Sprocket took an interest in the box.

“Some old photographic equipment that I am not using” Doug replied, “I’m getting Kol to help me take it to the University Photo Lab while its quiet there this morning.”

Sophie couldn’t help but notice that Malcolm seemed amused by what they were doing. As if donating dusty old lights and tripods to the University were the greatest thing ever.

“There were some miscellaneous items in the box when we got it” Doug said, “We figured you would be interested, so we left them in the laundry room.”

“Thank you” Sophie said glumly as she wondered what sort of cast offs, they figured she would want.

It was with heavy footsteps that Sophie walked into the laundry room. There leaning on the washing machine was a turquoise drop-bar bicycle with Bianchi painted in dark blue letters on the frame. Sophie just stood there for an incredibly long moment trying to compute what she was seeing.
 
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A Bianchi 10-speed drop bar in the colors mentioned.
s-l300.jpg
 
Great to see Doug (and Malcolm) get a run on in the narrative. I gather he’s still the go-to photographer for German high society ? Wonder what else he does to stay busy these days ?
 
Part 129, Chapter 2192
Chapter Two Thousand One Hundred Ninety-Two



29th December 1972

North Sea off Cuxhaven

The hulk they were targeting had taken a lot of hits above the waterline but was still afloat, somehow. Through his binoculars from the bridge, Louis Ferdinand Junior could see the multitude of holes of various calibers punched through the hull and sunlight on the other side. The idea was that the Navy would use the hulked ship for target practice. When it sank it would become an artificial reef and the water around here was deep enough to not have it become a navigation hazard. The Ocean was rough this afternoon and there was a brisk wind blowing out of the North, so conditions could not have been worse. Not that Louis cared, in his experience a crisis seldom occurred when things were perfect.

When they closed to within a kilometer, Louis ordered the crew to open fire. The weapons were a mixed bag. The 12.8-centimeter main gun in the turret fired heavy shells that blew right through the hull of the target and hardly slowing down. The four 40-milimeter Bofors guns in a pair of double arrangements aft blew chunks out of it. The half dozen 13mm heavy machine guns fired green tracers at the hull, armor-piercing bullets punching through the metal, and sparks flew as the they ricocheted around. This amount of destruction was nothing compared to what the guided missiles or torpedoes that were aboard could do, but Louis had heard a lot of jokes about using a half-million Mark missile to defeat a wooden Dhow on the Red Sea. There was a reason for anti-piracy and anti-smuggling patrols to be mostly done by armed Trawlers and Fast Gunboats. In Louis’ thinking having the crew training to use the weapons most likely to see actual use seemed like a good call. It was also the week between Christmas and New Year’s. He hardly needed to see the sign that someone had hung outside the Enlisted Mess that read “Trouble Brewing” as a joke to understand that the men needed something to blow off some steam. There was also an array of smaller weapons in the Ship’s Armory that he wanted the crew to practice with, it was something that he had tasked Borchardt with conducting. It wasn’t as if he had needed to tell the Warrant Officer to do that twice because he was always up for something that might give him an excuse to kick the Junior Enlisted around.

“That was pretty good, Sir” Oberleutnant Isaak Lehr said with a bit too much enthusiasm. He was the Executive Officer of the Ship. His optimistic and happy demeanor was at odds with that and while he popular with the crew, that popularity would sour in a heartbeat when he inevitably had to decide for the good of the entire ship. Lehr would only have to waffle once to lose all respect and he struck Louis as the sort who could do a lot of damage if he did that.

“Bring us around again” Louis said to the Helmsman who nodded in reply, then he grabbed the microphone for the intercom. “Let’s try that again but mind the dispersal this time. Keep it tight, aimed bursts.”

Louis resumed his observation even as his voice was still echoing around the ship. The Grindwal circled back around and approached the hulk again.



Tempelhof

The new bicycle was a revelation.

Sophie had gotten a lot of stares when she had first taken it out. There had even been an old woman at the market who had made a point of telling her that she was riding a “boy’s bicycle.” As if she was supposed to be riding one with a step-through frame even though she almost never wore a dress on her own time and never while riding her bicycle. The other thing was that she had needed to change the way in which she rode. Knowing when to change gears to suit the road she was on was something that she still needed to think about and the toe clips on the pedals meant that she could pull the pedal up as well as push it down depending on what part of the stroke she was on.

It was then that Sophie that made a mistake. She had been explaining all of this to Ziska who had just told Sophie that she was happy for her. It was with a bit of embarrassment that Sophie realized that her friend was likely to be physically incapable of riding the new bicycle the same way. It was something that Sophie didn’t have to think about but must be in the back of Ziska’s mind constantly. What she could or could not do because she was missing part of her right leg. So, it was added to the ever-growing list of things that they wouldn’t talk about in the future.

Playing with Sprocket in the garden and talking about what they were going to be doing in the coming School Term was safe though. Even if it was a cold winter day. Sprocket was chasing after his ball with Sophie having discovered that she could bounce it off the wall of the garage and it would fly off in an unpredictable direction. He would scramble to chase it, often going the wrong way at first. Ziska though that it was the funniest thing.

That was when they heard the car pull into the garage and the opening and closing of doors. Kat and Doug walked through the garden gate with a girl who was ten or eleven between them. She had long black hair, a slightly olive complexion, and big brown eyes. It was with a lot of trepidation that she looked at Sprocket, who had lost interest in his ball and was sniffing at her feet.

“Angelica, these two are Sophie and her friend Franziska, I hope they will be like sisters to you” Doug said, the comment clearly aimed at the two them far more than it was at Angelica. “The dog is Sprocket, and he is friendly.”

“Probably too friendly” Kat muttered as she led the girl into the house.

“Who was that?” Ziska asked.

“Kat’s latest ward” Sophie replied, remembering what it had been like to have been in Angelica’s shoes five years earlier. It amazed her that it had been so long.
 
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Part 129, Chapter 2193
Chapter Two Thousand One Hundred Ninety-Three



31st December 1972

Tempelhof

“I am surprised that you don’t have plans for tonight” Kat said into the phone to Jack Kennedy who had called from Dublin. She suspected that he made these calls to make sure that she was staying out of trouble while he was otherwise occupied. It was something that Kat likely shared with the criminals in Dublin who Jack normally represented in Court.

“I haven’t had time to make plans” Jack replied, “I was in China for six weeks and only made it back the day before Christmas Eve.”

“Your clients are still neck deep in that mess?” Kat asked.

“Here, there and everywhere” Jack answered, “Just like at any time in the last few hundred years. If there is a way to advance their interests, they got their greedy little fingers in it.”

“That certainly puts your own country’s history in perspective” Kat replied.

“Let’s just say that I prefer that someone else was on the receiving end of that sort of thing for once” Jack said. He may have been born in America but having spent most of his life in Ireland had given him the perspective of people from that island. Over the last couple decades there had been a quiet prosperity that had overtaken Ireland and Kat found it odd that no one there seemed to trust it. It was as if they expected to wake up tomorrow to find themselves divided and besieged by their former rulers.

“Bridget told me that you have taken on a new charge” Jack said, “I find just my own kids to be a handful, I don’t see how you do it.”

“It is no trouble for me” Kat replied, “Now that Josefine and Suse Rosa have moved out, I have the room.”

“The Valkyrie and the Midget?” Jack asked.

“Call them that when you are in the same room, I dare you” Kat replied, “More like a School Teacher and an Engineer.”

“Regardless” Jack said, “Tell me about this new girl.”

“Angelica is Cosimo de’ Medici’s daughter” Kat replied, “Her mother decided that she was no longer interested in being a mother and Cosimo’s wife put her foot down this time. She doesn’t want any of his indiscretions under her roof.”

Kat was aware of how she had let scorn creep into her voice when she had described Cosimo’s mistress. The sort who would abandon their own child because they wanted to pursue a different relationship deserved every bit of it as far as she was concerned.

“I see” Jack said guardedly. Kat was aware that Bridget had made it explicitly clear that if anything of his ever went anywhere it didn’t belong then she would reach for the hedge clippers, and he would have to learn to live without that part of himself. If she ever found out that he had fathered a child with another women, then Jack would simply vanish from the face of the Earth. “Does that mean that she has penchant for fedoras and cheap cigars?” Jack asked.

“She is ten years old” Kat replied, “And other than being extremely intelligent, I find she doesn’t have anywhere near that much in common with her father.”

“How is she adjusting?” Jack asked, “Berlin is a world away from Italy and where did she live before? Rome?”

“Florence and other than Petia having to chase her away from the thermostat, she is doing well” Kat replied, “She has already found out that she can converse with Marie Alexandra in Latin. That really was a surprise for both of them.”

“And the others?” Jack asked, “Your son, the two other girls in your household?”

“Malcolm is a good sort, and he has always liked playing the big brother” Kat replied, “Tatiana has a million other things going on and Sophie is being a teenager in that she is so self-involved that she probably has barely registered Angelica’s presence.”

She didn’t mention to Jack that Tatiana had been sent to Northern Ireland over the Summer Holiday by the BND. She was half tempted to ask him to look into what was going on there but had a feeling that she would not enjoy the answers.

“What about you?” Jack asked, “Have you got plans for tonight?”

“I was invited to the formal reception in the Old Winter Residence” Kat replied, “I’m going with Douglas in a few hours and leaving the Tatiana and Malcolm in charge. I just hope that the house is still intact when we get home.”

“You think that they would throw a wild party in your absence?”

“No, but with the presence of Ziska and Gabi, two dear friends of Sophie’s, and Marie cooking up wild ideas about what they could be doing, I have no idea what will greet me when I get home” Kat said. She hadn’t mentioned that Gabi was Sophie’s half-sister, but that wasn’t anything that Jack needed to know at this time.

“Never a dull moment I guess” Jack replied.

“That is sort of the idea” Kat said, “Last summer everyone was away doing various things and I was the only one here. The house was incredibly quiet, which was rather uncomfortable.”

“Did your Aunt have the same problem after you and your brother left?” Jack asked.

“The war had started by then, the Soviets were bombing the city on a regular basis and the house was located a few blocks from a railyard which was a frequent target” Kat replied, “She said that she had had enough of loud to last her the rest of her life after that.”

“Bombs falling from the sky or children?” Jack asked with a snort of laughter. “I can see the comparison.”

“Whatever” Kat said, “Give Bridget and your children my love.”

“Nothing for me?” Jack asked.

“I think that you love yourself enough for all of us” Kat replied.
 
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Chapter Two Thousand One Hundred Ninety-Three



31st December 1972

Tempelhof

“I am surprised that you don’t have plans for tonight” Kat said into the phone to Jack Kennedy who had called from Dublin. She suspected that he made these calls to make sure that she was staying out of trouble while he was otherwise occupied. It was something that Kat likely shared with the criminals in Dublin who Jack normally represented in Court.

“I haven’t had time to make plans” Jack replied, “I was in China for six weeks and only made it back the day before Christmas Eve.”

“Your clients are still neck deep in that mess?” Kat asked.

“Here, there and everywhere” Jack answered, “Just like at any time in the last few hundred years. If there is a way to advance their interests, they got their greedy little fingers in it.”

“That certainly puts your own country’s history in perspective” Kat replied.

“Let’s just say that I prefer that someone else was on the receiving end of that sort of thing for once” Jack said. He may have been born in America but having spent most of his life in Ireland had given him the perspective of people from that island. Over the last couple decades there had been a quiet prosperity that had overtaken Ireland and Kat found it odd that no one there seemed to trust it. It was as if they expected to wake up tomorrow to find themselves divided and besieged by their former rulers.

“Bridget told me that you have taken on a new charge” Jack said, “I find just my own kids to be a handful, I don’t see how you do it.”

“It is no trouble for me” Kat replied, “Now that Josefine and Suse Rosa have moved out, I have the room.”

“The Valkyrie and the Midget?” Jack asked.

“Call them that when you are in the same room, I dare you” Kat replied, “More like a School Teacher and an Engineer.”

“Regardless” Jack said, “Tell me about this new girl.”

“Angelica is Cosimo de’ Medici’s daughter” Kat replied, “Her mother decided that she was no longer interested in being a mother and Cosimo’s wife put her foot down this time. She doesn’t want any of his indiscretions under her roof.”

Kat was aware of how she had let scorn creep into her voice when she had described Cosimo’s mistress. The sort who would abandon their own child because they wanted to pursue a different relationship deserved every bit of it as far as she was concerned.

“I see” Jack said guardedly. Kat was aware that Bridget had made it explicitly clear that if anything of his ever went anywhere it didn’t belong then she would reach for the hedge clippers, and he would have to learn to live without that part of himself. If she ever found out that he had fathered a child with another women, then Jack would simply vanish from the face of the Earth. “Does that mean that she has penchant for fedoras and cheap cigars?” Jack asked.

“She is ten years old” Kat replied, “And other than being extremely intelligent, I find she doesn’t have anywhere near that much in common with her father.”

“How is she adjusting?” Jack asked, “Berlin is a world away from Italy and where did she live before? Rome?”

“Florence and other than Petia having to chase her away from the thermostat, she is doing well” Kat replied, “She has already found out that she can converse with Marie Alexandra in Latin. That really was a surprise for both of them.”

“And the others?” Jack asked, “Your son, the two other girls in your household?”

“Malcolm is a good sort, and he has always liked playing the big brother” Kat replied, “Tatiana has a million other things going on and Sophie is being a teenager in that she is so self-involved that she probably has barely registered Angelica’s presence.”

She didn’t mention to Jack that Tatiana had been sent to Northern Ireland over the Summer Holiday by the BND. She was half tempted to ask him to look into what was going on there but had a feeling that she would not enjoy the answers.

“What about you?” Jack asked, “Have you got plans for tonight?”

“I was invited to the formal reception in the Old Winter Residence” Kat replied, “I’m going with Douglas in a few hours and leaving the Tatiana and Malcolm in charge. I just hope that the house is still intact when we get home.”

“You think that they would throw a wild party in your absence?”

“No, but with the presence of Ziska and Gabi, two dear friends of Sophie’s, and Marie cooking up wild ideas about what they could be doing, I have no idea what will greet me when I get home” Kat said. She hadn’t mentioned that Gabi was Sophie’s half-sister, but that wasn’t anything that Jack needed to know at this time.

“Never a dull moment I guess” Jack replied.

“That is sort of the idea” Kat said, “Last summer everyone was away doing various things and I was the only one here. The house was incredibly quiet, which was rather uncomfortable.”

“Did your Aunt have the same problem after you and your brother left?” Jack asked.

“The war had started by then, the Soviets were bombing the city on a regular basis and the house was located a few blocks from a railyard which was a frequent target” Kat replied, “She said that she had had enough of loud to last her the rest of her life after that.”

“Bombs falling from the sky or children?” Jack asked with a snort of laughter. “I can see the comparison.”

“Whatever” Kat said, “Give Bridget and your children my love.”

“Nothing for me?” Jack asked.

“I think that you love yourself enough for all of us” Kat replied.
Ooh, are the troubles about to start in Norn. Are Ian Paisley, Gerry Adams et al about to make an appearance?
 
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