Honeymoon, Part I
Three weeks after Amy Brunswick met Bobby Steele, he asked her to marry him and she said yes. Susie and Emily asked her, was she sure, she hardly knew him. Amy said some people, you know them right away. That's what love is. She called her mother, and her mother asked the same question. Was she sure? Yes, she was. Her mother heard it in her voice. She said she was happy for her. It was about time.
When Susie and Emily talked it over, they told each other that yeah, it made sense. Amy had always believed in a happy ending, Mr. Right, all of that. Her friends found this loopy and charming and it was a big part of why they loved her, because she was so much less cynical than they were. This, in spite of getting burned more than once, the last one a guy she'd dated for over a year who turned out to be married.
In fact, part of this Euro trip was in response to that last guy. The three of them had known each other since college, and every summer since their freshman year, they'd threatened to take this trip. Backpack through Europe, take some time, see the world, and maybe, just maybe, meet some guys. Now in their late twenties, they were running out of time. Life was getting serious. Work was real. Susie had just gotten laid off from her job with an internet marketing company. Emily was out of law school and would start clerking at a firm in St. Louis in the fall. Amy, an idealist here as well as in her personal life, had been working since she finished grad school with the Sustainable Business Alliance in San Francisco, trying to get the Pacificor energy company to reconfigure three dams on the Klamath River that were killing salmon with toxic algae blooms. So far they had been totally unsuccessful. It was time for the let's-get-Amy-out-of-her-funk tour of Europe.
They'd seen the sights. Susie's Facebook page was full of pictures of the three of them drinking beer at a pub in London, sipping espresso at a French café. There had even been a few guys. The Australian Emily met at the hotel in Madrid and his two very cute traveling companions. But those guys, there was nothing real there. When the girls left for Italy, Amy didn't flinch when Susie gave out the fake Gmail address she always used in bars. The one her brother had rigged to bounce back to any senders with a Failure Notice.
They were getting off the train in Milan when someone grabbed Amy's backpack. The guidebooks all tell you to leave your pack strapped on. Don't hold it in your hand, but Amy was trying to get her phone out to take a picture, and this guy ran by, pushed into her hard and grabbed the pack. A young man waiting nearby saw what had happened and gave chase, running the thief down before he got to the gates and out onto the street. He came back to Amy, standing with her friends, and handed her back the pack. He had a fabulous smile. That was how Amy met Bobby.
He asked if he could take the three of them out for a drink. Amy was half in love with him already. The kind of girl, Emily said later to Susie when they were talking over Amy's impending marriage, who'd been waiting for a knight all her life and this guy actually came to her rescue. Come on. What are you gonna do?
Bobby was fantastic. All three of them agreed on that. An American ex-pat who'd made a lot of money in the Market when there still was a Market; he'd gotten out in time and decided to travel. He asked them a lot of questions. Interested in their lives, in how they knew each other, in who they were. He spoke six languages; he knew the best place to eat in Le Havre, the best nightclub in Florence. He was the guy you wanted to meet in Europe. For Amy, simply, the guy she wanted to meet. Drinks led to dinner. Bobby of course knew the best place to eat here in Milan as well. It was late when he finally helped them find their way to their hotel. He lingered there for long enough for Susie and Emily to get the idea that maybe they should go take care of checking in, give him and Amy a moment. When they were alone, Bobby asked Amy if she would see him the next day.
She did. He took her on a tour of Milan. Up until that moment, she'd seen guidebook Europe. This was different. Real and romantic and the way she had always pictured herself traveling. Sophisticated, with the sort of perspective that only comes with a romance. That night, she stayed with him at his hotel. Three days later, he asked her to go to Venice with him. Susie and Emily advised caution. She barely knew him. What about their plans to travel together? Amy told them she had a really good feeling. Besides, if she were wrong, she'd have a European love story to dine out on when they got home. What was the worst that could happen?
They made her agree to call or text and if they didn't hear from her, they'd all meet in Vienna in a month. Their flight home was from Vienna.
So Amy went off to Venice with Bobby. In Venice, it just kept getting better and better. She and Bobby were soul mates. She could feel it. She could tell him anything. About her childhood, about the guy who hadn't told her he was married and what it had felt like to trust someone and be so wrong. He told her his stories too. He was from the States but his father grew up in a small town in Romania. He'd been in Europe for two years but he still hadn't gone there. He'd always wanted to. "I want to see where my grandfather laid the cobblestones for the streets, see where my father learned to tell time by looking at the clock on the church tower." "You haven't gone yet," she'd said, "because you have a picture in your head and you don't want to change it." "You're right," he'd said. "I have a lot of pictures in my head." They understood each other. It was wonderful. And the sex was stupidly good.
Bobby was so comfortable wherever they went. Nothing seemed foreign to him. His Italian was flawless, but it wasn't just that. There was a confidence to him, a sense of someone who knew that he could get out of a bad spot if he ever found himself in one. Not that there were any bad spots. There was one night when she had stopped to watch a water taxi make its way up the Grand Canal. She was enjoying the fact that it was a taxi, not a tourist gondola, but an actual functioning part of the city. When she had finished watching the taxi, she went into the hotel to find Bobby, to tell him all about how the taxi had made her feel connected to this place. She saw him in the lobby in the midst of an argument with a rather effete looking man in his fifties. Bobby leaned in, said something, and the man put his palms up in a "no offense" gesture and then backed away, stopping only long enough to say, "what would you have done?"
Seeing Amy, Bobby came over. He was shaking his head, a big smile on his face. The guy, Bobby told her, was an American tourist who thought Bobby had taken his wallet. "I mean, I'm the guy who rescues tourists when they get robbed."
It was two nights later, crossing the Bridge of Sighs, when he proposed. He stopped there on the bridge and he took a ring from his pocket. He showed it to her and told her that it was his grandmother's. She'd given it to him on her deathbed, told him to use it wisely. He wanted to do just that. Use it wisely. Would she marry him?
She called Susie and Emily and then she called her mom. And they'd all asked her that same question. Was she sure?
She and Bobby were married two days later in a civil ceremony that involved several offices, some papers and a lot of middle-aged women coming out from behind their desks to kiss her. When the last of the papers was signed, the young civil servant who'd been shepherding them through the process shook her hand, smiled and said "all my best to you and your many children." Bobby handed him some folded up bills and smiled. He put their marriage certificate in his pocket and kissed her. They went to the train station and took the evening train to Prague.
Prague was perfect. They stayed at the Maximillian, and Bobby showed her around the beautiful city. They had dinner every night at the Francouzska in Old Town and they went for long walks. They spent most of their time at the hotel. She ignored the constant texts from Emily and Susie. Was she all right? Was everything OK?
On their fourth night, Bobby told her that he wanted to go to Budapest. She had woken up in the middle of the night to find him on his laptop. He was downloading all the photographs from her phone, planning on putting together a slide show of their courtship and marriage. There was something odd on his screen, a sort of pixilated image that could have just been a screen saver going bad. "I've got to stop dropping this thing," he'd said. And then he'd told her he wanted to go to Budapest. "I want you to try the baths at the Gellert. These are my favorite hot springs in all of Europe. Better then Marienbaad or any of the others. And they're in the basement of a world-class hotel. It will be perfect."
"We are off to Budapest to take a bath," she texted Emily. "I am very happy. Please don't wake me up." Afterwards, she wondered why she'd written this last. Did she sense something or was she just playing with her friends, innocent and happy and oblivious?
The Gellert was the Europe of another time. Elegant and regal. What people meant when they said "old world." Everyone smoked everywhere. The women dressed to have a coffee in the afternoon. Bobby knew this city too and they returned to their routine immediately. Eat, walk, head back to the room. It wasn't until the evening of their third day that she realized they hadn't yet seen the baths. "Tomorrow," he promised, "we're really going to have to look into that."
That night, they were in their usual corner of the hotel bar, having a drink before they went upstairs. There was an attractive woman across the bar. In her late forties, rather tall. Amy saw her looking over at them repeatedly. "Somebody besides me finds you attractive," she said.
Bobby followed her glance towards the woman at the bar. He smiled and gave a rather exhausted exhalation of air. The woman had caught his eye and she was coming over to them. "I know her," Bobby said and he stood as she came over.
He kissed the woman on both cheeks and the two of them began to talk. Amy had been in Budapest long enough to recognize the soft, downward lilt of Hungarian. Their conversation seemed friendly and earnest. Old friends catching up. "Annaka," he said, turning to include Amy. "Amy."
"Servos," the woman, Annaka, said. She seemed amused by Amy, as if Bobby were introducing her to a new pet pocket dog. She and Bobby talked for a while longer in Hungarian, then she kissed him goodbye and left without looking at Amy again.
Bobby sat back down. He seemed a little embarrassed. "Annaka's an old friend. We knew each other in Zagreb."
Amy smiled. "I didn't think you were a virgin when I met you," she said. "Finish your drink."
In the middle of the night, Amy rolled over. Not even half awake, she barely noticed that Bobby wasn't in bed, and with the muddled thought that he must be in the bathroom, she went back to sleep. In the morning when she woke up, Bobby was gone. Absolutely gone. No clothes, no suitcase, not a trace.
She was devastated. She waited until the late afternoon, hoping that he would come back. If he didn't, she had absolutely no idea what to do. She didn't know anyone in Budapest. She didn't speak the language. Had he simply left her? That made no sense. Had there been an emergency? He would have woken her up. Had something happened to him?
She went down to the desk. No one there had seen Bobby leave the hotel. The room had been paid for a week in advance. Was there anything else they could help her with?
She left the hotel and went to the American Embassy. She explained her situation to a woman at the reception area and was taken into a drab, cold room. About twenty minutes later, two men came in. One was in his fifties, a bored administrator. The other was maybe thirty and he looked sympathetic.
"Did he take your money?"
"No, of course not."
"I'm sorry, but I have to ask."
"What he's saying," the bored older man said, "is that this guy was probably just getting his ashes hauled. Consider yourself lucky he didn't take your money along with your pride. Cut your losses. Enjoy your week at the Gellert."
"You don't understand," she said. "I love my husband. He loves me."
"Then you don't need our help."
"I think that something might have happened to him."
"Someone came in at gunpoint while you were sleeping, forced him to pack up all his things and leave?"
"What if he's in some kind of trouble? He must be...what if he needs help?"
"There's a continent full of young American girls, all ready, willing, and able."
"You're an asshole," she said. "A fucking asshole."
"Maybe so," he said. "But I'm going home tonight to my wife and my two kids. I'm not the one, married some guy I'd just met, wound up alone in a hotel room, staring at an empty closet."
She was coming down the steps of the building and into a cold blast of winter air when she heard someone coming up behind her. She turned to see the younger man, the one who'd seemed sympathetic. He was hurrying out of the building, pulling his jacket collar up against the cold. "Mrs. Steele," he said. She realized that it was the first time anyone had called her that. He shook his head and said, "You're right."
"He is an asshole." He smiled and took a pad of paper and a pen from his jacket pocket. "He shouldn't have talked to you like that. This is my cell," he said. "My name is Andrew, Andrew Lowe. Please, call me if you need anything at all, or if you think of anything else that might be important. And again, I'm sorry." She took the number and he hurried back inside.
She had planned to walk back to the hotel, to clear her head, to think, but it was too cold for that. She flagged a taxi and rode back to the hotel, looking out at the unfamiliar streets through the fogged up windows.
It was strange, walking into the Gellert lobby alone. Nothing had changed. The same clerks were at the desk helping customers. The restaurant was, as always, about half full. There were a few people in the bar. The two old women who seemed built into their chairs by the elevators were there, just as they had been yesterday and the day before. Bobby had pointed them out and told her that they had been there two years ago, the last time he was here. They came every morning, sat all day, and took the baths every afternoon. Then they came back and sat again. They were often pointed out by the hotel staff as proof of the life-sustaining qualities of the Gellert waters. Nothing had changed and everything was different. Bobby was gone. She didn't know why and she didn't know where and she didn't know what to do.
She could hear the phone ringing in the room even as she fumbled for her key. She pushed open the door and raced for the phone. "Bobby?" she said.
"Hi, honey, it's mom."
A wave of disappointment washed over her and she sank down onto the couch.
"How are the newlyweds?"
"We're fine." She looked at her ring. Bobby's grandmother's ring.
"Are you sure, honey? You don't sound fine."
"I'm just tired. So much has happened." Out her window, she could see the Danube and Elizabeth Bridge. Just last night, she and Bobby had walked out on the bridge to look back at the lights of Gellert Hill and out at the School of Economics building across the river.
"You ask Bobby when he's going to bring you home to the States. Your grandmother's not gonna rest until she has a chance to fix him dinner."
"I will, mom."
"Budapest. Funny place to spend a honeymoon. Does he know people there?"
Amy felt her hand tighten around the phone. The woman in the bar. Bobby did know someone here. "I love you, mom," she said. "I'll call you soon."
She had been sitting in the bar for almost two hours, nursing a beer and fending off several aggressive Germans, when she saw her. Annaka. She came in with two rather serious looking young men. They took a table to one side of the bar and ordered drinks. Amy approached their table. "Excuse me, Annaka," she said. "Do you speak English?"
Annaka looked at her with mild disinterest. "Yes, a little." Her accent was thick and deep. Secrets seemed hidden in it.
" I think you know my husband."
"Your husband?" Annaka smiled at her companions, as if to say, "I know a lot of husbands."
"Bobby Steele. I don't know any Bobby Steele."
"You were talking to him. Here in the bar. Last night. He introduced us."
"Did he? I don't remember you."
"But you know Bobby. He told me you were old friends. You knew each other in Zagreb."
"I have never been to Zagreb," Annaka said. The waitress had brought their drinks. Annaka looked at Amy, flat. "Excuse us," she said. She turned to the two men, said something in a language Amy was almost certain was German. The men both looked her over, as if assessing her for flaws. Annaka didn't turn back. Amy stood there for another moment, and then she turned and left the bar.
She didn't know what to do next. She could sit in her room and wait, hoping that Bobby would call or come back. She could sit someplace else with her cell phone. He was just as likely to use that number. She could call the man from the embassy, Andrew. And say what? "I talked to a woman in the bar who knew my husband. She said she didn't know him. She wasn't very nice." She could go for a walk. She could call her friends and they would tell her to come meet them. They might even come to her. And then what would happen? She would go home, pretend that none of this ever happened? That wasn't enough. If Bobby needed her, she wanted to be here. If Bobby had abandoned her, she wanted to know.
The two ladies by the elevator looked at her. One said something to the other and they smiled. She saw that Amy noticed and she said, "Honeymoon, tired makes you." Amy nodded and then, thankfully, the elevator came.
But it was even worse in the room. She simply did not know what to do. On the desk was a cardboard advertisement for the Gellert spa and baths. The baths, the reason that Bobby had wanted to come here. Ten minutes later she was in a dimly lit, tiled room, putting her clothes in a locker. She seemed to be the only one there. Her movements echoed off the tile. She took a robe and slippers from a pile on a counter. There was no attendant.
The baths were huge. Mosaic tile and an Art Nouveau ceiling. Again, the Europe of a more simple and elegant time. There were three old men in the far end of the pool, talking loudly in Hungarian. The light bounced their shadows off the water and onto the walls, big and dark. Amy got in at the far end, away from the men. She settled into the hot, effervescent water and tried to let it relax her. But all that she could think about was Bobby. How wonderful it would have been to be in this water with him. He would have known the history of the baths, could have told her where the water came from and what minerals were in it. And when their bath was over, they would have gone upstairs. She started to cry and soon she was sobbing there in the hot water. She was crying for a loss that she suspected was permanent, a loss, that she finally admitted to herself now, she had known all along was going to come.
When she was cried out, she submerged herself to wash away the tears. She came up, and she noticed that the three men were gone. She was alone in this huge, cavernous room. The light was dim, and the water danced its own shadows on the walls. She went underwater again.
At first it didn't seem real. Someone was holding her under. Hands, pressing down on the top of her head, keeping her from coming up. Her air was gone. She needed to breathe. She struggled, but the hands held her firm. Panic surged through her and she fought to push herself up but she was weakening and whoever was holding her under was too strong. Then, just when she felt as if her chest would explode, the hands grabbed her hair and yanked her up forcefully.
She coughed and spit and choked for breath. She could feel the hands, still holding her. Finally her eyes opened and she found herself looking up at Annaka. She had a sense of the two men who had been drinking with her in the bar, one on either side of her, holding her down.
"You have something of mine," Annaka said in the same bored, disinterested tone she'd used in the bar. "Where is it?"
"I don't know..." Amy began. She saw Annaka nod to the two men and then she was under the hot water again. Her mouth had been open. She gulped in lungfuls of water, tasting the minerals, coughing under water. This time, they kept her under even longer. She could think of nothing past how much it hurt. Finally, they let her up. As she coughed and gasped, Annaka reached down and lifted her chin, so that they were eye to eye. She slapped her hard across the face and then asked again. "Where is it?"
"I don't know what you want," Amy said and the men pushed her under again. This time, she thought that they were going to drown her. They had realized that she didn't have whatever it was they wanted and they were simply going to kill her and go. But finally, they let her up. One of the men grabbed her under the armpits and dragged her roughly from the pool. She lay, gasping for breath on the tile floor, naked and terrified.
Annaka came over to her and kicked her hard in the side.
"We need to have it now," she said. "Then we'll leave you alone."
"Have what?" Amy said, desperate. "I don't know what you're talking about."
The woman said "Scheisse," and kicked her again. Then she looked at the men. "Put her back in the water. She will either tell us or she won't."
The man who had dragged her out lifted her from under the arms, taking the opportunity to grab her breasts.
"You fucking assholes," she yelled. "I don't know what the fuck you're talking about."
"That," Annaka said as the man dragged her towards the baths, "is too bad for you."
They almost had her back in the water when she saw the two old ladies from the lobby. "Over here," she shouted. "Get help!"
"Honeymoon?" the first old lady said, recognizing her. "No good." Her friend was already moving for the emergency phone.
Annaka whispered something in German and the man loosened his hold on her. Then Annaka said, "Amy." It terrified her, hearing this woman say her name. She turned. Annaka smiled at her. "You are going to leave here with us. You will get your clothes from the changing room. When the men from the security come, you will tell them that it was all a mistake, that we are friends, going out for a drink. If you don't do exactly as I tell you, my friend Gunter, who enjoys this sort of thing, will kill both of the ladies and any of the hotel staff who may be in our way. You had better hurry if you don't want that to happen."
The man let her go and she went into the changing room. She had no doubt that Annaka meant what she said and that things would happen exactly as she described them if she didn't do what they'd asked her to do. She pulled her pants and T-shirt on quickly, looking back all the while towards the baths. She heard a loud conversation in Hungarian and she came out to find that the two old ladies had been joined by several members of the hotel security staff.
Gunter came over to her and threw his arm around her as if they were old friends, while Annaka started talking to the hotel men, laughing and explaining something in Hungarian, no doubt that the ladies had made a mistake.
"Everything is all right?" one of the security men asked her.
"Yes," Amy said. "I'm not sure I even know what all the fuss is about. I'm very sorry."
The man nodded, and with Gunter's arm around her, she and the others started up the stairs and out of the baths. As they reached the top of the stairs, she heard the first of the old ladies call, "Honeymoon?" A question. Was she really OK? Did she need help? But there was nothing she could do. She let herself be led out of the baths.
As soon as they were in the lobby, she turned and bit Gunter's forearm until he screamed and let her go. The moment that he did, she ran, knocking over a bellman and a couple following him and their luggage to the front desk. Behind her, she could hear Annaka shouting something in German.
She came out into the piercing cold Budapest night and raced across traffic to the Bem Rakpart and the Danube. She could hear Annaka and the two men behind her, Annaka shouting, the men running. She did not turn around.
A tram was coming up beside her and she leapt on, only then looking to see Annaka and the two men running alongside. She had ridden this tram with Bobby two nights ago. It would stop by Castle Hill, about a half a mile ahead. They would catch up with her there. She had less than a minute to think of something that would save her.
The passengers on the tram were mostly tired locals, on their way home. There was one small tour group, probably on their way to the castle. Out the window, she could see a great deal of construction across the river on the Pest side. They had started building, Bobby had said, when the Russians left and they hadn't stopped. She didn't see any police cars, anyone who looked official. If she could get across the river, she could lose herself in the maze of half-finished buildings, maybe get away, hide until she could find a cop or a soldier, somebody who could help her.
Looking over the heads of the passengers out the back of the bus, she saw Annaka and the two men running through traffic after the bus. Gunter pealed off from the other two as a young woman on a Vespa came towards them. He punched the woman in the face, knocking her into the street. He was on her Vespa before it hit the ground. He slammed against oncoming cars as he turned it around and started through traffic after the tram.
She was trapped, on the tram in the heavy traffic, with Gunter gaining as he slalomed through the cars. All she could do was watch him get closer.
By the time the tram stopped at Castle Hill, Gunter had almost caught up. She pushed through the other passengers waiting to get off the middle door and threw herself onto the street the moment it opened. Traffic near the bridges, and in most parts of the city, was in constant gridlock. Too many cars on streets built to accommodate carriages and pedestrians. This was her only hope: that even on the Vespa, Gunter would not be able to move through the traffic as quickly as she could go on foot. She started at a run for Chain Bridge.
Traffic crossing the Danube was at a complete standstill. There was the walkway, but right now, there was a group of tourists spread out along its entirety, taking pictures and video of the bridge. She could see the two idling tour busses waiting for them on the Pest side, part of what was backing up the traffic so badly. She glanced behind her. Gunter was coming up through the cars, and she could see Annaka and the other man, further back, running towards her. She squeezed between two cars. A driver honked angrily. Ahead of her, there wasn't even room to squeeze. She jumped onto the hood of a car, then the roof of the car past it and then she jumped onto the walkway. She landed on a young man taking pictures of his girlfriend on his iPhone. She heard him yell, "Shit, fuck," as she started to run. It was strange; she realized that he was American. They always tell you that you never knew how you'll react in a life or death situation until you're in one. Apparently, the way she reacted was to think a hundred thoughts at once. The guy was American, the tour bus was slowing down traffic, the shoes Annaka had kicked her with were expensive Italian boots, and her arm hurt where she'd slammed into the bony American tourist.
She ran through the rest of the tourists out on the bridge. She told herself she wouldn't look back until she reached the Pest side of the river and the tour buses. Past them was the construction site. On the far side of that, if she remembered right, there was the old subway. She told herself again she wouldn't look back but she was less than halfway across the bridge when she heard the shouts from behind her, and she turned around.
Gunter, on the Vespa, had gone up the trunk of a BMW. Even as she turned, she saw him fly from its roof, go off the roof of the van in front of it and come flying towards her. He pulled a gun from the small of his back as he came.
Again the cascade of thoughts. She was running away from three professionals, people for whom all this was clearly a part of the job description. She was fucked. People were screaming now, having seen Gunter's gun. They were pushing in every direction, trying to get out of the way. He had the gun raised. He was aiming at her. Now there was no cascade of thoughts. There were no thoughts at all. She was at the rail. He was going to shoot. She climbed the rail and threw herself into the Danube.
In the air, falling, the cascade began again. She thought she was going to die. She thought she would hit the tour boat below her and break every bone in her body. She remembered Bobby had said the Danube was so polluted, the only fish that still lived in it was a species of fresh water eel. She saw the chunks of ice in the river and she saw people watching from the embankment. Something fell past her. The Vespa. Gunter had gone off after her.
She hit the water and it was so cold that it cut into her like knives. She sank and sank and then she stopped sinking and started to rise. She opened her eyes. The lights from the bridge seemed impossibly far away. But finally she broke the surface, gasping for air. It took her a few moments floating there to realize she was still alive. A few more moments to know she had no broken bones. She was winded, badly. Too weak and sore from the jump to start moving. The water was incredibly cold. There was something floating next to her. She recognized Gunter's brown shirt. He was face down. He hadn't made it. She reached out to use his body for a moment's support. And he grabbed her.
Immediately, he tried to pull her under. She reached for a chunk of ice and smashed it into his face as hard as she could. He had also been weakened by the jump and he let go of her with a shout. Floodlights hit them both. Someone on one of the dinner boats had seen them jump and put a lifeboat in the water for them. She climbed quickly into the boat, people reaching down to help her.
Someone handed her a blanket. Others spoke to her in several languages. She turned to look back at the water. Another lifeboat stayed out on the water, looking for Gunter. There didn't seem to be any sign of him. She waited with the blanket around her, shivering, looking out at the water for Gunter and then over to the Pest shore as the lifeboat headed towards it.
There were people waiting there for her. A crowd of the curious and now, finally, a policeman. She barely saw them. Annanka and the other man were walking down from the bridge. As the boat reached the embankment, the policeman stepped towards her. "You will come please with me," he said.
Amy smiled. "Absolutely," she said. He led her towards an unmarked car, parked near the construction site. As she walked, she saw Annaka and the other man reach the crowd and then stop as they saw her being led away by the policeman. She saw Annaka say something to the man and then they turned and started quickly back up the embankment.
As they neared the car, Amy could see that there were two men inside it. One sat behind the wheel. The other was in the back seat. The one behind the wheel got out now and she recognized Andrew Lowe, the young man who had followed her out of the embassy to apologize for his boss and offer his help. He looked at the policeman and said something in Hungarian. She recognized the words Köszönöm szépen. It was the only thing Bobby had taught her to say. "Thank you very much." The policeman nodded, let go of Amy's arm, and started away. Amy turned to him for a moment, unsure what was happening.
"It's all right," Andrew said. "We'll take it from here." He crossed behind the car to open the rear door for her. As he did this, she saw the man sitting in the back seat. She recognized him, but it took her a moment to place him. He was the effete looking man she had seen Bobby arguing with in the lobby of their hotel in Venice. "Please get in," he said. "We'll explain as we drive. I'm afraid Annaka and her friends aren't anywhere near done with you."
Amy hesitated for another moment. "It's not as if you have a lot of options here," Andrew said. He was right. She was too cold and tired to run any more. She had been lucky once. She couldn't expect to be that lucky again.
"Have some Brandy, Mrs. Steele," the effete looking man said as soon as they'd started to drive. "Actually, I should say Mrs. Nenezic."
Amy took the brandy but it did little to stop her shaking. She was cold and she was frightened. "Who are you?" she asked.
"I'm Peter Stone," he said. "I'm a former business associate of your husband's. We saw each other, briefly, in Venice."
"What did you mean? About that other name."
"Your husband isn't who he told you he was. His name is Anton Nenezic. He's Serbian. Bobby Steele was an American he killed. He took his identity and he married you for cover as he traveled. By the way, I suppose that means you're not legally married to him, since you married Bobby Steele."
"Who are you? How do you know all this?"
"I'm with your government. That should more or less answer your question."
"Oh, God." Amy said. She took a bigger drink of the brandy.
"I'm afraid so," Peter Stone said. "Anton is a weapons broker arranging the delivery of nuclear materials from the former Soviet Union. Bad shit to bad people. Annaka Boem, the woman who's chasing you. She's his client. A Hungarian national involved with a German terrorist cell working out of Nordhausen. They're as bad as it gets. Ties to al Qaeda, the usual pedigree."
"Why is she after me?'
"You must have something she wants."
"I don't believe any of this. It's crazy."
"It would seem a lot less crazy if a killer on a stolen scooter hadn't just chased you into the Danube, wouldn't it?"
"What does she think? I have a huge stash of weapons in our hotel room?"
"Maybe she thinks you know where the weapons are. Anton, excuse me, Bobby, didn't leave you anything? A key, a note...anything?
Amy shook her head. She was trying to process this all, to rewrite the last month of her life with this new information in mind.
Peter sighed. "I really want to encourage you to think long and hard about this, because without that information it will be very hard for us to keep you safe."
There was a loud popping sound and the rear window of the car shattered. An instant later, Peter Stone's head flew forward and Amy could see that the back half of it had been blown away.