Toggenburg - Book 3 by Michaela Francis

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EXTRACT FOR
Toggenburg - Book 3 
(Michaela Francis)


Toggenburg 3

Chapter One

 

Sarah hummed happily to herself as she teased out her hair in front of the bathroom mirror. The bathroom was slightly smaller but not a bit less luxurious than the one she had bathed in the previous night. It was the one adjoining Daniela’s bedroom. Sarah had left Daniela at the big dressing table in her bedroom when she had gone to take a shower. Sarah had been deeply touched by Daniela’s dressing table. There were three framed photographs on it. One was of a handsome man and a truly beautiful woman and Sarah had guessed it was Daniela’s parents. Another was a picture of a very pretty young girl, perhaps six years of age, whose resemblance to Daniela was striking. It could only be Daniela’s daughter. The third was the newest one and it was a photo of Sarah taken on the Santis. It had torn Sarah’s heartstrings to see that her picture held pride of place among the people Daniela loved most in all the world.

Sarah felt profoundly content. She had had little sleep but she had read somewhere that well-loved people didn’t require as much sleep as the less fortunate and she could understand why. It seemed almost ungrateful to lose precious hours in unconsciousness; precious hours that you could share with the person you loved. The Ticino could wait. She had a whole day of Daniela to herself. That was the important thing. It was a whole day; twenty four wonderful hours to savour. This was love then; an existence for the moment; a treasuring of every priceless second, greedily feasting on every shared moment and resenting every instance of separation. She could not see Daniela for the moment but she could hear her singing at her dressing table; the lovely voice she knew would haunt her for the rest of her days.

Sarah finished brushing her hair and she inclined her head to look at herself in the mirror. She was pleased by the sight. She was beautiful and, for the first time in her life, she believed it. It had taken a woman she loved to finally convince her of the fact. Daniela had stopped singing. A moment later she padded into the bathroom with a silk gown wrapped about herself. Sarah smiled at her reflection in the mirror and was rewarded by a dazzling smile of pure happiness in return. Daniela stood behind her and wrapped her arms around her waist and nuzzled at her neck. “Hmm. You smell nice.”

Sarah laughed contentedly and leaned back against her. “What time is it?”

“About half past nine.”

“God we’ve only had four hours sleep.”

“So come back to bed.” Daniela was teasing at the bow on Sarah’s dressing gown.

Sarah took an ineffectual slap at Daniela’s hand. “Stop it Danny. We’ve got to get ready for work.”

“Ah yes. Frau Fritzl phoned while you were in the shower. She says she doesn’t need me today but she’s asked if you could just help out for a couple of hours over lunch.”

Sarah whirled around to face Daniela. “That’s not fair!” she protested petulantly. “I wanted to spend the whole day with you.”

“It’s only a couple of hours Sarah.”

“But we’ve only got today Danny. I have to go to Ticino tomorrow.”

“I’m sorry darling. Look she only wants you from twelve till two. After that we’ve got the rest of the day to ourselves. I’ll drive you over there.”

“In your “broken” car?”

“In my suddenly and miraculously functioning automobile. I’ll drive you over and while you’re at work I’ll cook us some lunch. The weather’s cleared a bit so we might be able to eat in the garden.”

Sarah pulled a face. “I... I wanted to be with you.”

Daniela kissed her. “My darling you’re always with me even when you’re not.” She eased Sarah’s dressing gown open and slid her hands inside.

Sarah squeaked as Daniela ran a languid finger over her nipple. “Danny! We haven’t much time.”

“Then don’t waste it by arguing about it. Relax. You don’t have to be at the bloody hotel for another two and a half hours. We’ve time enough. I’ll make us some breakfast and then I’ll iron your blouse and skirt while you’re putting your face on.” Daniela slid the dressing gown from Sarah’s shoulders and let it fall in a heap on the bathroom floor. “Now stop wriggling and kiss me properly.”


 

Chapter Two

 

Two hours later Daniela delivered Sarah at the hotel. Frau Fritzl saw them arrive and rushed out to meet them. “Hello girls. Come in and let’s have a coffee.”

Daniela looked doubtful. “Er doesn’t Sarah have to work?”

“Ach. Not for ages yet, Angie and I have already set up for lunch and we’ve no lunch bookings until half past twelve. I think we’re going to be quiet in any case. Most of the guests either checked out this morning or they’re out for the day. We’ve loads of time and it’s lovely to see you girls.” Frau Fritzl regarded them fondly. It took her about two seconds to be completely sure that her devious manipulations had not been in vain. The two girls looked happy and close. She was sure they were lovers.

She sat them down at a table in the restaurant with a cup of cappuccino each and observed them with pleasure. Daniela looked radiantly happy and Sarah blushed prettily under her frank appraisal. Many people might have been tempted to fish for information at this point but Frau Fritzl was a much more direct sort of character. “So have you two finally stopped fannying about?” she asked bluntly.

Sarah blushed crimson. “Wh... what do you mean?”

“You know bloody well what I mean. Have you or have you not finally realised that you two were made for each other?”

Sarah flapped her arms, flustered. “We... well we’ve become.... very close.” she murmured evasively.

“So I assume that you didn’t sleep in separate beds last night.”

Sarah gave a passable imitation of a confused goldfish but Daniela lowered her eyes demurely and nodded in mock contrition. “I’m afraid we didn’t Frau Fritzl. I’m a ruined woman.”

“Oh Good!”

“Yes I’m sorry to say that Sarah took unfair advantage and ruthlessly seduced me last night.”

“Why... you... you...” Sarah’s face was a picture of outraged speechlessness.

“I’m glad to hear it.” said Frau Fritzl with a satisfied grin. “I’m pleased to hear that you’ve got some sense Sarah.”

“I... I did nothing of the sort.” protested Sarah indignantly. “This shameless hussy lured me back to her place with a cock and bull story about her car being broken so that she couldn’t give me a lift home.”

Daniela ignored this outburst austerely. “Yes I was just sat on the sofa in my night dress about to watch the television when she sidled up to me under a pretext, plied me with strong drink and took advantage of my befuddled state to have her wicked way with me. I’m thinking of running away to join a nunnery to atone for my fall from grace.”

“Hmmph!” snorted Sarah in derision. “Somebody had better warn the nuns. Nobody will be safe after you join the sisterhood.”

“It was awful Frau Fritzl.” Daniela continued. “She wasn’t content with simply violating my purity with her bestial designs the one time. She was quite insatiable. There was no outrage or indignity to which her carnal desires did not subject me.”

Frau Fritzl leaned back in her chair with a laugh. “Well, well, well. I never knew you had it in you Sarah. I always thought you were such a shy timid little thing. It just shows. It’s always the quiet ones. You never can tell.”

Daniela nodded in mock seriousness. “Oh don’t be fooled by the nice girl image she shows to the world Frau Fritzl. Underneath that sweet little persona she’s a rapacious fiend who will stop at nothing to satisfy her base lusts.”

“Don’t listen to a word she says Frau Fritzl.” commanded Sarah in outrage. “I’ve never heard such unmitigated bullshit.”

Daniela put down her coffee cup with an exaggerated sigh. “I’m afraid I must leave you Frau Fritzl. My lady and mistress has ordered me home to prepare her meal for her so that she may whet her appetite with fine food before turning to her darker passions and intentions upon my poor mistreated body. If her meal is not prepared on time she will doubtless beat me.”

Sarah glared at her. “Just wait till I get home Miss Devin.”

Daniela rolled her eyes comically. “You see how abused I am Frau Fritzl?”

Frau Fritzl chuckled warmly. “Yes well you’d better be on your way then. I’d hate to be the cause of domestic unrest.”

Daniela rose with a grin and bent to kiss the indignant Sarah with a grin. “Until later sweetheart. Do you want me to pick you up after lunch?”

Frau Fritzl shook her head. “I’ll drive Sarah back Danny.”

“Ok. When will she be finished Frau Fritzl?”

“Two o’clock at the latest I think.”

“Ok I’ll have lunch ready by two o’clock. Don’t be late honey or the cats can have your lunch.” She kissed Sarah again and stroked her hair with a wink. Sarah found it impossible to stay angry with her incorrigible girlfriend and she forgave her with a smile. Daniela almost danced out of the hotel.

Sarah watched her go, captivated by her until she became aware that Frau Fritzl was watching her with amusement. Hastily she turned her gaze away and tried to appear business like. “So is there anything that needs doing Frau Fritzl?”

Frau Fritzl shook her head slowly. “The important job’s already done Sarah. Well done honey. You finally did something sensible for a change.”

Sarah blushed. “Hardly sensible Frau Fritzl. Tomorrow I have to travel to the Ticino to meet my prospective future husband. Now what am I going to say to him?”

“How about the truth Sarah? Try telling him the truth!”

Sarah frowned. “That’s hardly an option Frau Fritzl. Both our families are going to be there and all our family friends. They’re all expecting a big formal announcement of our engagement. I can’t really just stand up and say, “Oh sorry Alan I can’t marry you because I’m sleeping with another woman.” It’s not going to happen.” Sarah groaned and held her head in her hands. “God! What a mess.”

Frau Fritzl looked at her compassionately before leaning across the table and taking her hand. “Sarah I’ll be honest with you. I don’t really need you for lunch today at all.”

Sarah jerked upright in surprise. “I beg your pardon.”

“It’s true Sarah. We’ve hardly got a single booking to be honest and there’s nothing Angie and I can’t handle.”

“Then why the devil have you called me in?”

“Because I wanted to talk to you. First of all I wanted to see you; see if you and Daniela were... well that you had got your act together. Well I’ve seen all I need to. You walked in here blushing like a new bride and looking radiantly happy. That was a no-brainer of course. You’ve been in love with that girl from nearly the first moment you clapped eyes on her. Every time you mention her name your eyes sparkle and your skin glows. As for her... well she quite clearly worships the ground you walk on. It’s an old story; girl meets girl, they fall in love; hardly original but none the worse for having been told endlessly before. It’s the last part I’m worried about; the “... and they all lived happily ever after.” bit. That’s why I wanted to talk to you. I wanted to talk to you because I’m damned if I want to see you go off to the Ticino tomorrow and make the biggest mistake of your life.”

Sarah looked haunted. “Well what the hell do I do?”

“You tell the truth Sarah. You have to. However hard and difficult it may seem, you have to stand forward and tell the truth.”

“I... I don’t know that I can.”

“What is the alternative Sarah?”

“I... I don’t know.”

“Because there isn’t one Sarah. This is the crunch decision. The rest of your life depends on what you say in Ticino. You can tell the truth and get on with your life or you can lie and live a lie for the rest of your days.”

“But... but I’m going to hurt people; my family, Alan.”

“Not half as much as you will hurt them if you don’t tell them the truth. What has Alan done so wrong to you anyway?”

“Why nothing.”

“Then why would you want to condemn him to marriage with you?”

“I’m not that awful.”

“You would be if you married him. You’d be the worst thing in the world; a wife who doesn’t love her husband. Hurt people? You’re barking Sarah. If you let your parents and Alan bully you into giving up the person you truly love for a loveless marriage you’d never forgive them. You’d end up hating them all. Your wedding gown will be a curse on your family. It will drive a wedge between your family and yourself that you’ll never recover from. When the divorce papers are finally signed, you’ll turn on your parents and tell them that this was all their fault. That’s the sort of resentment that can last a lifetime Sarah. I’ve seen it happen. So are you going to destroy your life and those of people around you just because you’re too pusillanimous to stand up and tell the truth; tell them who you are, what you are and what you want to do with your life? What about Daniela? You know she came in here this week in tears because you told her that you were going to marry Alan. This is the woman that loves you Sarah. Can you just throw her away? She’s one of the most extraordinary people I have ever met Sarah and she’s in love with you. You’d be mad to let her go.”

Sarah wrung her hands helplessly. “Nicole told me all the same things Frau Fritzl. You’ve nearly repeated everything she said.”

“Sometimes people on the outside see things more clearly Sarah.”

“Nicole’s not on the outside Frau Fritzl! She... well she loves me too.”

Frau Fritzl nodded sadly. “I know Sarah.”

“You know? How?”

“I’ve known Nicole as long as I’ve known you Sarah and I’m not completely myopic.” Frau Fritzl sighed. “Poor Nicole. She’s the real loser in all this. You’re going to have to find some solution for Nicole.” Frau Fritzl shook herself briskly. “But that’s by the by. That has nothing to do with your decision. The choice before you is clear cut Sarah; a life in a Zurich suburb with Alan or a life here in the Toggenburg with Daniela. Now which of those two alternatives sounds the most attractive?”

“You make it sound so easy when you put it like that!”

“It is bloody easy for heaven’s sake. What could be simpler?”

“But I’ll lose my family Frau Fritzl.”

“Nonsense! Ok maybe there’ll be some temporary cooling; a period of re-adjustment but in the end Sarah your parents will remember that they love you and ultimately they will be grateful that you’re happy. They do love you Sarah. They love you enough to never want that you live in absolute misery in a place you hate with a man you don’t love. Sooner or later, they’ll come around to understanding that. They’ll respect you for having the courage to tell them the truth. It might even be a wakeup call for them; the day they realise that their little baby Sarah is a grown woman now and has her own decisions to make. Ok so maybe your mother won’t get to throw the big society wedding she’s hankered after. Well she’ll have to get over it. Marriages are made in heaven not church.”

“There are financial considerations to my marriage too Frau Fritzl. Dad was always concerned that I marry somebody that could support me and my children properly.”

Frau Fritzl gave a snort of laughter. “So you’ve just hitched up with a millionairess. I think you could probably manage to ease his concerns on that score don’t you?”

“I’m not marrying Danny.”

“Maybe you should.”

What?”

“Sure why not? We could throw the reception here. My God! It would be the wedding of the year in the valley. The year? Sod that! The decade! Good God there’d be thousands to see it; national newspapers, television crews; the works. God if your mum wants a big fuck off wedding we’ll give her one to go down in history.”

“Er can we come back down to earth please?” asked Sarah with a touch of acerbity.

Frau Fritzl sighed with a small chuckle. “Well that’s one for the future I suppose. Still it’s a lovely thought.”

“There’s more to the financial side of things Frau Fritzl. My father and Alan’s father are virtually business partners. Alan’s father is investing heavily in dad’s business.”

“Not even your dad is so mercenary as to sell his own daughter to cement a business deal Sarah. You can hardly take that into consideration.”

“But...”

“Listen Sarah it’s one but after another. Tell me truly. Do you love Daniela?”

“Yes I do.”

“Do you love her enough that you could imagine spending your life with her?”

“It’s complicated Frau Fritzl. I mean...”

“Yes or no?”

“Yes.”

“So what on earth is the sodding problem?”

“I... I don’t know. You must be patient with me Frau Fritzl. I’m still trying to come to terms with all this myself. A few weeks ago I would have been shocked if anyone had said I was gay. Now I’ve just slept with a woman for the first time in my life. Now I’m in love with a woman and it’s no ordinary woman either. Daniela is a celebrity. If I have a relationship with her it’s going to very visible publicly. I don’t know how my family is going to deal with seeing me associated with Danny in the Sunday papers. Hell I don’t know how I’m going to deal with it. I’m still pretty uncomfortable with being gay in the first place let alone with the whole world and its grandma knowing about it.”

Frau Fritzl pursed her lips thoughtfully. “Yes that is a problem Sarah. Fame can be a poisoned chalice. There can be a lot of pressure from the media around people associated with celebrities. Having said that, I must say that Daniela handles the media pressure pretty well. She’s quite a private sort of person and it’s characteristic of her that she lives a quiet life here in the Toggenburg. You rarely see anything about her in the papers unless she’s on tour or making some sort of public appearance. She’s not the kind of girl that turns up in nightclubs or swank resorts. I know when she first came here we had a few weeks when there were photographers and so on hanging around in the valley but she kept such a low profile they soon became bored and moved on. She’s not a girl that overtly seeks the glare of publicity. I actually admire her for that. Many a famous singer milks the media for all the publicity they can get but not Danny. She’s a girl that lets her talent do the talking for her. She’s a wonderful musician and an electrifying performer but, away from the studio or stage, she pretty much shuns the limelight. I think that’s why she so loves it here in the Toggenburg. It’s the sort of dead end little backwater that allows her to live in relative obscurity. It’s hardly like she settled for St Moritz or Monaco. A peaceful little valley where everybody knows everybody else and doesn’t put on airs and graces suits her just fine.

“I was worried when I first heard that she’d come here to live to be honest. I thought we were going to suddenly become inundated with celebrities and turn the valley into a bloody circus. I didn’t know her then of course. She’s blended in perfectly and she’s such an altogether nice and decent person that people have come to like her for who she is and not because of her celebrity status. How many other famous stars do you know that would help out a friend in a restaurant as she did last night Sarah?”

Sarah giggled. “None I guess. It was funny.”

“But that’s the nature of the girl Sarah. I actually think she really enjoyed being a waitress for an evening.”

“Oh she did. She told me so several times.”

“Well there you are Sarah. Just look at your young lady for a moment. She’s not only very beautiful, extraordinarily talented, clever, witty and funny but she’s also down to earth, kind, gentle and loving and a thoroughly decent human being. She’s a marvellous companion for you Sarah. She fits you like a glove. Ok there may be a seven day wonder when the media gets hold of the story but that will soon blow over. It’s not as if you and Danny are the sort of people to get thrown out of posh nightclubs for punching photographers or anything. You’ll pretty soon settle down into a quiet life together. Of course Daniela’s performance obligations will take her away from home quite a bit but I’m guessing she’ll soon come running home to her Toggenburg and her Sarah. You can have a blissful life together Sarah and it opens up opportunities for you as well.”

“What opportunities?”

“Well it’s not as if you haven’t got your own talents to develop Sarah. For one thing you’re the most accomplished naturalist in the valley.”

“Oh I wouldn’t say that.”

“No you wouldn’t but everybody else would. I don’t know if you’re aware of it Sarah but your breadth of knowledge and understanding of the local fauna and flora is nearly legendary in this valley. A few months ago I was talking to some of the local dignitaries and they were saying that it was high time that somebody conducted and published a comprehensive survey of the natural history of the Toggenburg. Yours was the name that came up.”

“Me?” asked Sarah incredulously.

“Of course. Who better to document the wildlife and plant life of this valley than the person who has spent nearly her entire life studying it? Well you can’t do that from a Zurich suburb. Seriously Sarah I know for a fact that you’ve been keeping diaries on the alpine plants and animals of this valley since you were a little girl. Those diaries could well be the most important record of the natural life of the valley in existence. It’s criminal to keep that record to yourself. You could make a real contribution to the science of natural history in this valley. A life with Daniela would give you the time and leisure to make that contribution. It’s not as if you’d be short of money.”

“I... I never thought of it like that.” Sarah mused. “Daniela once said that I ought to publish my natural observations.” Sarah creased her brow as the new thought occurred to her. To spend her days seriously studying the natural eco-system of the Toggenburg was a vision of paradise to her.

“Well there you go. Daniela would back you to the hilt I’m sure. Then again there’s the problem of your name.”

“What’s wrong with my name?”

“Nothing at all. Fraulein Fuchs is a perfectly respectable name.” Frau Fritzl leaned over the table. “But wouldn’t Doctor Fuchs sound a whole lot better?”

Sarah blinked. “You mean do a PhD?”

“Absolutely. You’ve said more than once you’d like to study for a doctorate. Daniela gives you the time and opportunity. Now I’m guessing that that would go on hold if you marry Alan. I can’t see you working on your thesis in the kitchen while preparing the evening meal for the hubby coming home from work. Daniela would give you all the time you wanted and as for funding... well figure it out. This one’s a no-brainer. Danny would be delighted to help you. I know she would because she’s told me so herself. Both of us agreed that it would be desecration to allow a brain as brilliant as yours to suppurate in some God forsaken backwater of a Zurich suburb. Eagles fly in the mountains Sarah. You can stay here and soar with the eagles or go to Zurich and gobble with the turkeys. This isn’t just the love of your life Sarah. This is a career opportunity that may only come once in a lifetime. We want you here Sarah. You’re not cut out to be a domestic housewife. Doctor Fuchs; eminent naturalist, published author and respected historian from the Toggenburg... that’s who you’re meant to be.”

Sarah stared at Frau Fritzl intently. “And have you been talking about me and all this with Danny?”

Frau Fritzl nodded. “Yes Sarah. I’m afraid I have. I’m not going to apologise for it though. When Danny came in here, the day you told her you were going to marry Alan, she was devastated Sarah. I’ve never seen her upset before but she was in bits that day. So I sat her down and we had a long talk.”

“Did your two girls really have to go home urgently yesterday Elke?” asked Sarah shrewdly.

Frau Fritzl had the grace to look sheepish. “No Sarah. I gave them the night off.”

“So it was all a cock and bull story to get me and Danny together in the same place right?”

“I’m afraid so Sarah. I’m sorry if it was a little devious but I was bloody determined that you were not going to go to Ticino without at least some effort to show you just how much of a mistake you were making. You’re a wonderful girl Sarah but sometimes you need a kick up the arse.”

“How much did Danny know?”

“Not all of it. I didn’t tell her that I deliberately sent my girls away to leave myself short-handed but when I called her to ask her if she could help out I did tell her that you would be working too. She’d already told me that if I needed some help then I could rely on her but I don’t think she expected me to ask her to serve in the restaurant.” Frau Fritzl chuckled. “She was quite taken by the idea and when I told her that you’d be there as well she said yes straight away. It was then that I intimated that it might be a good idea if her car experienced some temporary Italian case of the vapours and put itself out of commission for the evening.”

“You’re a sly, manipulating, dishonest, devious woman Frau Fritzl.”

Frau Fritzl grinned proudly. “Yep that sounds like me. Are you complaining?”

Sarah shook her head with a smile. “No not really. I’m glad you did it. If you hadn’t I would have gone to Ticino never knowing what... well what it would be like to...” Sarah tailed off in confusion.

“And now you do know.”

“Yes.”

“And?”

“It was wonderful. I’ve never felt so happy with somebody.”

“Excellent.”

“But you haven’t told me everything you talked with Danny about. Did you talk about all this stuff regarding a PhD and this nature project?”

“Yes I did. You see Sarah Danny’s a hopeless romantic. She thinks that love is all it takes. You fall in love and everything just falls into place. Well that’s all well and good but I told her that while you’re a romantic too you’d have to put you on a rack to make you admit it. I told her that you’d always look to practicalities as well. I couldn’t see you just being content to be the kept woman of a very rich lady. You’ve always worked hard Sarah and you’d pine away if you didn’t have meaningful work. Let’s face it, Danny isn’t always going to be home. She’s got major tours coming up and they’ll take her away for perhaps weeks or months at a time. Now there’s no point in you just being a spare part on the road with the band but if you’ve got your own projects on the go you’ll certainly be busy. You could do a PhD easily Sarah. You finished top of your year class at uni with a first class degree. They’ll bite your hand off if you apply for a doctorate with your own funding. You don’t need to be at uni all that often either. You could do most of the work in your own living room. Then there’s the other thing I was talking about. You could do it Sarah and with Danny’s wealth then you’d have ample funds for material and research.”

“I can’t just live on Danny’s money Elke.”

“Why the hell not? Only a few days ago you were going to marry Alan and live on his money. Why is this any different? Anyway you won’t be living on her money permanently. She can regard it as an investment. With a string of letters behind your name you’ll soon be earning a whacking great salary of your own. If you’re feeling that guilty about not doing your bit to cover domestic costs well there’s always plenty of work here Sarah. It works for me too because I’ll have the best waitress I ever had just down the road whenever I need her.”

Sarah smiled. “I’d like that. I like working here.”

“Well there you go. Let’s stick another chalk mark up under the column headed “reasons not to go and live in Zurich”.”

“What did Danny say about all this Elke?”

“She thought it was a brilliant idea if it ever came to it. She was a bit uncertain that you’d go for it but she was absolutely one hundred percent behind it. She said she’d be behind you all the way. She knows that you need your own life and your own career too. She thinks you’d just be wasting your talents as a housewife. I agree with her.”

Sarah shook her head bemusedly. “It’s an awful lot to be thinking about.”

“Well I’m glad that you are thinking about it. To be honest though, I don’t see how much thought this requires; a brilliant future in the place you most love with a person you love and doing the things that you love: how hard can it be?”

“I still have to go to the Ticino.”

“So wind up your affairs there and we’ll expect you back here next week.”

“If only it was so easy.”

Frau Fritzl groaned. “Oh God! When was the last time somebody put you over their knee and spanked your bottom Sarah?”

Sarah looked chastened but before she could reply Angelica entered the restaurant. “Hello Sarah.” she said warmly before bending to kiss Frau Fritzl affectionately.

Frau Fritzl snaked an arm around Angelica’s waist. “You’ve come just at the right moment Angie. You can help me sort this young lady out. I was about to give her a spanking. You can hold her down while I paddle her rump for her.”

Angelica giggled softly. “You can’t go spanking the staff Elke. Think of the scandal there’d be. You can’t spank them if it’s not in the terms and conditions of employment; well not unless they want you to of course. Anyway what’s poor Sarah done to deserve a spanking?”

“I’m trying to make the dozy little baa lamb realise that she belongs here in the Toggenburg with Daniela and not squandering her life away in a foul Zurich suburb with a waste of space for a husband and she’s giving me a hard time about it.”

Angelica laughed. “Is that all it is?” In a fluid movement she stepped around the table and, to Sarah’s embarrassment, sat down on Sarah’s lap and folded her arms about her neck. She leaned close and nuzzled Sarah with her nose. “Sarah’s not going anywhere are you sweetheart? Sarah’s married to this valley Elke. You could no more shift her from here than you could relocate the Churfirsten and she’s not going to leave her Danny either. She loves her too much. Tell her Sarah. Tell her that you’re staying with us and we’re all going to live happily ever after.”

Sarah smiled. She felt slightly uncomfortable about Angelica perching on her knee but Angelica was such a warm and uninhibitedly physical soul that it was impossible to feel put out by her displays of affection. She liked the gentle warm hearted lady immensely and it was easy to understand why her partner adored her so. Sarah cleared her throat. “It sounds like a good ending to me Angie.”

Angelica kissed her gently on the forehead. “Of course it is and none the worse for having been used before. Now give me a kiss and I’ll protect you from our tyrannical boss.”

Frau Fritzl glanced out of the corner of her eye. “Break it up you two. I think that’s the Mannsteins arriving for lunch. Come on, put her down Sarah before we have another scandal to contend with.”

In the end Sarah pottered about in the restaurant for the next hour or so without any real justification for her presence. It really was very quiet and she had little to do. She enjoyed the company of Frau Fritzl and her irrepressible Angelica however. Angelica was flirting with her outrageously, much to Frau Fritzl’s amusement who was completely unconcerned by her partner’s predilection to flirt with anything pretty in a skirt as she put it. Eventually Sarah begged leave to depart. Frau Fritzl told her that if she waited another half an hour or so she’d drive her back but Sarah shook her head firmly and said she’d prefer to walk. She was early and it was turning into a lovely day. In any case she had some thinking to do.

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