Travelers Ch. 09byMoon Glade©
We slept until a little after twelve when the insistent ringing of the phone finally woke us in a tangle of legs, arms and bedding.
Dave answered the phone and I heard one half of the following conversation:
"Sorry, I had no idea it was that late. I sort of met somebody last night and, well if you don't mind, I'd like to skip lunch."
Dave turned to me and said, "Do you have plans for today?"
"Not really" I answered with a smile.
Yeah, I know we are catching the red-eye tomorrow morning. Thanks, I knew you would understand. Seven it is and make a reservation for three." Dave said into the phone
After hanging up the phone Dave turned to me and kissed the tip of my nose then both eyes and then my mouth and asked, "What would you like to do today?"
"Well if this were the states I would say find a pancake house and have a short stack, two fried eggs, hash browns and bacon with a pot of strong black coffee." I answered.
"I miss American breakfasts when I'm over here too, but I feel like we both could use some fresh air and a walk." He said.
"Have you looked outside, it's pouring! How can we take a walk and get fresh air? Are you thinking of one of the Paris' museums full of dehumidified air and dead art?" I asked.
He laughed and said, "No I was thinking of a taxi to near the Place de la Republic and a long walk back from there to near this hotel."
"With umbrellas I hope!" I exclaimed.
"No umbrellas and only mad dashes across streets into secret passages, well not really secret, but not that well known either." He said with a smile.
"I can't exactly go for a walk in Paris on a rainy day in a cocktail dress and high heels, secret passages or no secret passages." I said.
"Take a shower and I'll go get some croissants and then after that we'll figure out how to spend the day." He said as he pulled his pants on and began to button his shirt while slipping into boat shoes without socks.
He was out the door before I could even get in the shower. He must have returned while I was using the hair dryer because I never heard him come in, but when I walked back into the bedroom there was a pot of coffee, croissants, pain au raisin and several sacks of clothes.
"What's all this?" I said looking at the bags.
Dave pulled out three identical pairs of black leather pants, three identical grey silk blouses and three identical black leather vests and said, "I got things in what I thought your size would be and then one side higher and one side lower to be on the safe side, but if my guess is right these will fit." He said pulling out the silk blouse, pants and vest that in fact were my sizes.
"How did you know my sizes?" I asked.
"Sisters," he answered with a grin.
"What about the other sets of clothes?" I asked.
"They said they would take them back." He answered.
"Well you are fast, decisive and have taste that's all I can say. But you forgot one thing. I can't go for a very long walk in these heels because my feet will be killing me." I laughed.
"Well I just guess our first stop will have to be a shoe shop." He said.
"What planet are you from? I have never heard of a man anywhere willing to go shopping for shoes with a woman." I said thinking this guy will make some lucky woman a remarkable husband.
After buying shoes and taking a taxi to a spot in the middle of a non-descript street we emerged into a Paris that I had not seen before in any of my other trips to that city. At first the covered passages were a little down market filled with tailors and small shops of recent immigrants trying to eek out a living in Paris. We stopped and had falafel for breakfast and then meandered along occasionally running across a wet street in the rain to the entrance to another passage. When Dave led me into the Caire Passage I was amazed at all the small dress shops and their stylish clothes and I was even more amazed at how much he enjoyed buying me several outfits. Dave was a fan of Victor Hugo and when he led me into The Court of Miracles and explained to me why it was called that I listened in interest as I began to realize that I had never enjoyed a man's company this much before in my life.
I knew that I did not have to be coy and play games with this guy. I knew that the chemistry between us was definitely there after last night, but my attraction to him was far more than just sex.
He was interesting and he was interested. He was not only interesting to listen to and to talk to, but he was genuinely interested in what I had to say too. He was fun and without pretense. Why hadn't I ever met someone like him before I asked myself? And then I thought even if I had would I have had the sense to realize that this was the genuine article?
Suddenly, for the first time, even after Lanaken, I felt like a whore. I liked this guy. I liked him so much it hurt and I was deceiving him. I felt cheap. I felt undeserving of his affection for me and mine for him that I could feel growing by the minute.
Dave felt the change in my mood and said, "Is your brother worried? Maybe you ought to give him a call?"
"No that's not necessary; he lives in a small rat-hole of a garret with two other guys. It's about the size of your room and I am not staying with him so he doesn't know I didn't come home last night." I said. When Dave asked me where I was staying I suddenly realized that once you start making up lies you had to keep going and you had to be consistent and remember what you had said. I answered, "I'm staying with my father at the Hotel Crillon, but he had to go to Stockholm on business yesterday and won't be home until later tonight or tomorrow."
Around five in the afternoon we went back to the Crillon so that I could put away my new clothes and change for dinner. At the desk the desk clerk asked me to wait a minute and the hotel manager came out and asked me to come into his office for a minute. I turned to Dave and told him I would be just a minute. I did not know what to expect when I went into his office and then the hotel manager said, "I am afraid that I have some very bad news for you. I have been contacted by the police in Stockholm and your father has suffered a very severe heart attack."
I sat there totally speechless at first stupidly thinking how could this man no my father has had a heart attack and how did my father know I was here and then suddenly it hit me. Martin!
The hotel director continued, "The Crillon will be of as much assistance to you as we possibly can Mrs. Jaspers (my last name since marrying Jeremy). We will do everything in our power to try and help you in this painful time. Our concierge is at your disposal to help you in booking a flight to Stockholm and we would like to offer you one of the hotel limousines to take you to the airport…"
"How did they know Martin was a guest here?" I interrupted.
"Mr. McAlister had his room key card still in its brochure that we give them to the guests in. He was found by a woman he knew from long ago, a Gisela Hojer who he had spoken to the day before. I think she lives in the same house where your father has an apartment. When she asked how long he would be staying in Stockholm, actually I think it is a place called Stocksund just outside of Stockholm, he told her only a few days as he would be rejoining friends that he had left behind at the Hotel Crillon in Paris. When Madame Hojer called the ambulance the police got that information as well as the information from the brochure and simply gave us a call as did Madame Hojer."
"How serious is it?" I asked.
"Here is our dossier that we have compiled for you. You will find the phone number of the doctor in charge at Carolinska Institute, a map from the internet with directions to the hospital from Arlanda Airport and a map with directions from the hospital to your father's apartment. You will also find enclosed the phone number of Gisela Hojer. She offered to be of any assistance she could and she said she was looking forward to meeting you as she had thought that Martin had no surviving relatives. I know I have not answered your question, but I think it would be better if you called the doctor and spoke to him directly." The manager said in a serious and grave enough manner to indicate to me that Martin was in real danger.
"Thank you" I said still in shock at what had happened and at how I was not put in the position of playing daughter to an ailing and perhaps dying father.
After a few minutes I said, "I am getting my new passport from the embassy tomorrow morning so the earliest I can fly to Stockholm would be in the afternoon."
"Our concierge will make arrangements for your approval tomorrow morning, and although your room and your father's room are reserved for four more days we will not charge you for the days remaining after your departure under the circumstances. However, may I suggest that you apply those funds toward the storage costs of the automobile?" The hotel director asked.
"Yes, that would be fine." I answered as I stood to leave his office.
In the hotel lobby Dave knew immediately that something was wrong and not knowing what else to say I told him that my father had had a serious heart attack in Stockholm and I would be flying up tomorrow.
Dave held me in his arms and said, "I understand that you will not be able to make dinner tonight, I would have liked to introduce you to my father. I have to pack as well because we are catching the red-eye to Logan in the morning. If it wasn't for that I would come with you to Stockholm, but we both have to be back in Boston tomorrow evening."
He put his hands on my elbows and looked into my eyes and said, "Can I ask you two questions?"
"Of course" I answered.
"Do you want to see me again?"
I answered spontaneously and truthfully when I said, "Yes, yes I want to see you again, but I live in Seattle and you live in Boston."
"My second question is, is that an engagement ring? He asked.
Then I realized that I had now painted myself into a corner regarding how I was suppose to let him down gently, but I didn't want to let him down gently, I really did want to see him again I thought in turmoil as I thought of Jeremy and how badly he had treated me.
"That, that was a mistake and its over and now I know that." I said.
You can only tell lies so long and then you are trapped by your own lies and I suddenly realized that when he asked for my phone number and address in Seattle!
I knew if I gave him my real address he would discover that I was actually Mrs. Jeremy Jaspers and not Suze Sanderson so I gave a false address and phone number because I knew that we could never have a future together.
After he left I went up to Martin's room to pack up any of his remaining things. I still did not know what I was going to do tomorrow and then I found an envelope with my name on it and when I tore it open I found my return first class ticket and a check for $3000 with the following note:
I know that you are worried about having very little money as well as no passport. It was inexcusable of your husband to abandon you like that and not only take all of the money, but also your passport.
I enjoy your company. You make a wonderful traveling companion for a lecherous old man like me, but I want you to travel with me because you find my company interesting and not because you are destitute and that is why I am giving you your ticket now and the $3000 certified check. You now have the financial freedom to decide your own fate and if you decide to come with me to Italy, I will know that it is because you enjoy this old man's company and not because you have no choice.
After reading that I was more confused than ever. I knew that I should run away from this whole mess before I got in deeper, but Martin was sick and alone in a foreign country and I did care about the old guy.
After I packed up his things I went down to the business office and used one of the computers to check our emails. First I checked our joint email address and was surprised that there was not only no email from Jeremy, but in fact no emails on it at all. I was so surprised in fact that I checked deleted emails and I found the following email:
I am using the Af Chapman computer to let you know that I haven't gone back to the cigarettes. In fact I can no longer stand the smell of the damn things or to be around people, who smoke, even when they are not smoking because, well because they smell. I must have stunk!
Anyhow I hope you two are enjoying that Mercedes Benz and those first class hotels cause I sure wish I were doing that rather than bunking here. I will probably be here for another week after the big party on the longest day of the year and after that I will try and hook up with someone to hitch to Oslo with. I don't want to hitch alone and really can't afford the train if I want to see a lot of the fjords.
When I read that email I knew with a certainty where Jeremy was! He had said to me more than once that he thought Lucinda was an incredibly sexy woman, but she smelled so bad to be around that it was a real turn off to be near her.
I knew now that I would be going to Stockholm tomorrow afternoon. Partly for Martin and partly to answer the gnawing questions I had regarding my marriage.
The next morning when I came back from the embassy with my new passport I was handed an envelope by the desk clerk. When I got to my room I tore it open and there was 5,000 euros and the following note:
Enclosed please find your half of our fee. Our client was extremely happy with your services and he said that he thought that you had spent about 20 hours with his son. After deducting my fee that leaves 5,000 euros that you will find enclosed.
PS If you should desire to stay in Paris please be assured that we can do business together again in the future.
I smiled to myself, as I had totally forgotten about the money, as I went up to my room to get ready for the limo to take me to the airport and my flight to Stockholm.