The Zurich Conspiracy

The Zurich Conspiracy by Bernadette Calonego Read Free Book Online

Book: The Zurich Conspiracy by Bernadette Calonego Read Free Book Online
Authors: Bernadette Calonego
Tags: Fiction, General, Thrillers
she could read Josefa’s mind. “Where are you going anyway?”
    “Don’t know,” Josefa replied, like an obstinate child. “It just has to be warm, and I want to swim in the sea.”
    “How about Tenerife?”
    “What! Those concrete tourist castles?”
    “Go find a nice hotel on a private beach. You can get a really cheap five-star hotel with Last-Minute Deals. I just heard about them.” She emptied her glass in one gulp. “Come on; let’s go to a travel agency right now.”
    Josefa sighed. Helene was simply overpowering. “Where’s your next trip to?”
    “Maybe to visit Greg in Prince George, but nothing’s definite yet.”
    All Josefa knew about Helene’s boyfriend was that he worked in the Canadian Northwest as a nature guide for tourists from all over the world. Helene let on very little about her relationship with the Canadian, and Josefa was careful not to push her on it. Helene could at times be very unapproachable.
    Josefa got home at eight that evening, after stopping at the travel agency and booking her trip to the Canary Islands. She took a quick look in the laundry room—and her arms dropped to her sides. With a determined stride she headed up to the second-floor apartment and rang the doorbell. She heard some shouting behind the closed door and things being moved around. Someone was surely eyeballing her through the peephole. When the door opened, it was the same woman with the headscarf who was now silently staring at Josefa.
    “Both washing machines are in use again,” Josefa said, knowing it was hopeless. The woman didn’t understand a word she was saying. Josefa was thinking about taking her to the laundry room when a little boy of perhaps seven appeared in the doorway. Josefa wasn’t any good at guessing kids’ ages; she hardly knew any actual children. The boy’s ears stuck out, and he had a round face and pale skin; he eyed her with unconcealed curiosity. Josefa smiled, but the boy kept staring at her while the woman stroked his tangled hair. Josefa muttered something, excused herself, and retreated back to her apartment.
    Ten minutes later there was a knock at the door. Josefa looked through the peephole and saw a man she’d once passed on the stairs. He had a strong build and a deeply furrowed face. Josefa opened the door and the man began speaking to her in broken German. The woman with the headscarf, apparently his wife, had told him about Josefa’s visit, and he wanted to know what the problem was.
    “The washing machines are always in use,” she stammered. “I have to use them too.”
    “Washing machines?” the man asked.
    “Yes,” Josefa repeated. “They are always taken, and I’d like to do some laundry.”
    “I go look about washing machine,” the man said, raising a hand as if making a promise, and then he was gone.
    Josefa sat down at the computer and checked her e-mail. A message from Stefan: “I’m still in New York. It’s time for us to see each other again. I want to know how the last few days have gone.” Then take the next plane , Josefa said to herself, before replying with the news that she was going to Tenerife in two days, and then leaving him the hotel phone number.
    She opened the rest of her e-mails. One from Bianca looking for the receipts for the flowers from the event. One from her brother, Markus, in London announcing his impending visit in the fall. Would Markus honor their father with a visit too? Things had been tense between Markus and their father, Herbert Rehmer, professor and writer, ever since Markus, a musician, had confessed in a Swiss magazine that he was bisexual. Josefa would have preferred to have closer contact with her brother, but London was far away and the music scene was foreign territory for her.
    There was another knock at the door, which Josefa opened impatiently. The man from the second floor proudly declared, “Washing machine free,” and Josefa gave him a curt thank-you. She returned to her computer to read her

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