Chapter One Thousand Eight Hundred Eleven
21st August 1967
Pausing from reading her book, Jo looked out at the seagulls who ruled the beach early on a Sunday morning now that the summertime residents of the beach houses were apparently sleeping in. The night before there had been bonfires along the tideline and the party had lasted until well after midnight.
This year Jo had been accompanied by Suse when she had taken her Summer Holiday at Kat’s house in the East Friesian Islands. It was a nice distraction from the troubles that seemed to be taking over Jo’s life. It all had to do with her attempting to enter the field of education and the classes she was taking at University. Her Professors tended to make assumptions based entirely on her appearance. One had even gone so far as to suggest that she never attempt to teach any male students above the age of ten because the odds were high that they probably wouldn’t learn anything so long as they were in her class. It was obvious to Jo that the Professor was speaking for himself in that instance and she wished she were more like Kat. Few people messed with Kat and if they did, they soon regretted it.
Escaping to the island for the month of August seemed like a good way to help keep her sanity. However, Suse had been distracted since they had arrived. She had said that her and Manny were going to have a long overdue talk about things, she had come back later that night refusing to talk about what had happened. For days, Jo had questioned Suse about the matter afraid that Manny had been the selfish prick that he could be at times. When Suse finally told Jo the truth, that the conversation had gone in certain unpredicted directions. Jo learned that Manny had been the exact opposite of selfish and had gone along with Suse’s request that they not “go all the way” just yet. That didn’t mean that there weren’t other things that they could try out.
For years, Jo had known that Manny’s mouth was his worst feature. He was forever talking his way up dead-end streets, particularly when it involved women. It was the reason why she had lost interest in him after having had a crush on Manny when she had been in her early teens. Now it seemed that his tongue was good for something after all and he had managed to give Suse an experience that she had taken days to process apparently having never had an orgasm prior to that. It was completely unbelievable that Jo would envy Suse over such a matter, but she did regardless. It was a rule of thumb that things pertaining to sex were supposed to be somewhat awkward and not often enjoyable, especially the first time. Suse had compared it to flying a sailplane in a powerful wave of air coming off a mountain peak. “So very lucky” Jo muttered to herself before looking back to her book.
“That is not exactly what that was made for” Ben said as Kiki looked through the telescope towards Stuttgart, which was sixty odd kilometers to the north. Easily visible on a clear day.
“I know” Kiki replied, “But until the stars are out, what are we supposed to do with it?”
The telescope was a birthday gift from Ben, it also provided the perfect excuse for him to come to the castle and visit while she was here. After all, he was studying to become a Doctor of Astronomy. The terrace between the inner and outer walls provided a spectacular view of the countryside. When Kiki had opened the box containing the telescope, she had wanted to test it out and this had seemed like the best option.
“I would be pointing it down there” Zella said, gesturing towards Hechingen. “After last night I’m certain that what happened up here is what everyone is talking about.”
“Be nice Zella” Kiki said, “These are good people, they just aren’t quite up on things out here.”
Zella snorted, but didn’t say anything, her sunglasses making her expression hard to read. Regardless of Zella’s habit of hanging out in nightclubs to see the latest acts, she seldom drank, and if she did it was in a place that she deemed safe. Hohenzollern Castle, which was currently owned by her best friend was just such a place and she had helped herself to a fair amount of wine which had been served with dinner the night before and had been badly hungover when she had come down for breakfast. So had Aurora and Anya, but they were sleeping it off as opposed to Zella who had requested a drink containing tomato juice and a liberal amount of black pepper, she said she would be up for actual food later. Kiki was happy to put up with Zella’s occasional excesses if she was willing to put in a bit of effort towards getting along with Ben like she was this morning.
“The Mayor of Hechingen certainly could have handled that one surprise a bit better” Ben said absently as he took his turn to look at Stuttgart.
“He should have asked the right questions then” Kiki replied, “He didn’t mean to imply anything about Marie Alexandra.”
The night before, Kiki had gone to check on the party that the children were having in the courtyard and she found that Marie had agreed to dance with the Mayor’s oldest son. It was an amusing scene and Kiki had told him about it when she had gone back into the Great Hall. He had questioned her about who Marie was. It seemed that everyone in Hechingen knew that Kiki was hosting a group of children who were largely from Working Class backgrounds in Berlin. All most of them knew about the city was what they saw on television, particularly the gritty crime and medical dramas set there. That did paint a rather distorted picture.
The Mayor had wondered if a girl like Marie would be a bad influence and had asked about her parents. It was obvious what he meant, and Kiki had been honest with him. Her father was a Canadian photographer with a Franco-Scottish background and her mother was Fürstin Katherine von Mischner-Blackwood zu Berlin, the infamous Tigress of Pankow. He had choked on his drink when she had said that, and it served him right.