Chapter Fifty-Seven

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At ten to five, David knocked on the door, opened it and rushed across the room to Maria. "Here or on the bed?"

"You've been talking about the men, haven't you?" She giggled. "Is that why you missed tea again?"

He bent and lifted the front of her skirts, then knelt as she scooted down the chaise longue and wrapped a leg around his back.

Twenty minutes later, as she calmed from another bout of shuddering, she said, "Let's move to the bed where it's more comfortable, and you can tell me about your adventures. Your mouth's been too busy to speak, and I'm curious about Manny."

Comfortably conjoined under the duvet two minutes later, Maria asked, "So did he actually cop one?"

"No, he claims three. He said he wanted to stay with the first one, but he wondered if his approach would work again. Then he said he became curious and tried a third. When I left, he was trying to decide which one to go back to, or whether he wanted to sample a fourth."

"And you believe him?"

"His eyes and his manner showed it to be true."

"And the others?"

"All of them. Two like Manny; sampling. And three have remained with their original women each night."

"What about disease?"

"I supplied them with condoms, and told them they're readily available."

Maria sighed as she nodded. "I can sense their plight. The women. All the men gone; their world slowly turning to hell. Most women crave attention. Appreciation. Your men would offer them not only the attention, but also a hope of escape. Escape from their boredom and also escape to a more peaceful setting. The Swiss image would be very inviting. So, where did they meet these women?"

David told her about following rail cars to find munitions factories and all the women pressed into working in them. Then he gave a summary of the information they had gathered, and how pieces fit together into the larger picture. "We now have a clear view of a major assault being planned, and we see the preparations for it."

"And did you join them in the easy dicky dipping?"

"Why would I do that?"

"You're a man."

"And you're far more than enough woman for me."

"Not even tempted?"

"My only thoughts were of you." He gave a gentle thrust. "And of doing this with you."

"So, what did you do?"

"Delivered watches and took orders for more, dined superbly, explored the area, visited a wine cellar, and all the while, dug for information."

"For five days?"

David recounted the highlights from his trip, beginning with the visit to Bienne, and while he was telling her about the watch order in Worms, she interrupted. "You're selling large quantities, but at wholesale prices, you're not making much. Wouldn't it be better to sell directly to the officers like you had been doing? Get the margin in addition to the commission?"

"I want to save some of the messes for when I need more specific information. Now, I'm gathering an overview, and I've been able to do that with the jewellers in Mannheim and Worms, and from the places those have led."

"So, I'm sure you didn't stay in that horrible hotel a second night."

"No. I had asked Herr Eisenstein for a fine restaurant. It's in a luxurious hotel; as sumptuous as ours was in London, and the dining was as superb."

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