You pulled the zipper on your suitcase close and let out a sigh.
“It will only be for 6 months.” you told yourself.
You lugged the suitcase from your room and down the stairs. Just as you set your suitcase down your doorbell rings. You quickly answer it, well aware of who would be behind the door. Just as you suspected Ivan stood on your front step a smile on his face and bundle of sunflowers in his hand.
“Good morning, my sunflower.” he said.
“Morning, Ivan. I see you brought me flowers.” you said.
“Da, of course. The love of my life deserves our favorite flowers. I dare even say they pale in comparison to you.” Ivan said.
He closed the door behind himself and pulled you into a kiss. His right arm held you close, his hand resting on the small of your back. You wished you didn't have to leave. You didn't want to go to Germany or anywhere else. You wanted to stay right here, right in this perfect moment with Ivan.
He pulled away, but only an inch. His hot breath tickled your face.
“I wish I didn't have to do this.” you said softly.
“But you volunteered?” Ivan said.
“I know, because I wanted to do something to help you and Russia for taking care of me.” you said looking down.
He pressed his forehead against yours.
“You're sweet. I don't want you to go either, but my boss wouldn't be too happy if didn't go.”
He pulled away and looked down at you, “We'd better get going. You don't want to miss your train.”
He handed you the sunflowers and then grabbed your suitcase for you.
“Come.” he said walking out.
You quickly followed him and shut the door behind you.
The train ride was uneventful. You read a book to pass the time. It became exhausting to switch trains after a while. For an important mission, you think Russia could afford a plane ticket. Then again a majority of the ballet's things were being transported by train, at least through Europe. Some of the sets and equipment required careful handling and couldn't just be thrown on to a plane.
You finally reached Berlin, Germany and got off the train. You let out a contented sigh, you were finally here. You saw a hand waving to you from the crowd. The company had sent someone to take you to your hotel.
“Hello Miss _______. May I take your bag?” he said.
“Yes, thank you.” you said handing it to him.
“This way to the car miss.” he said leading the way out of the station.
A nice black luxury car was waiting. You got in and the man got in at front. Your face was glued to the window the whole way to the hotel. Germany was more beautiful than you imagined. You remembered passing through here a long time ago with the Gypsies, but you didn't really pay much attention to things back then.
The architecture was similar to what you had seen in the rest of Europe, but Germany had it's own unique style to it. You loved all of it.
“We are here miss.”
You looked out the other side of the car as you pulled up to the hotel. It was a very grand hotel. Matching the more regal German architecture or a classic. You got out before the driver could open the door.
“Wow...it's beautiful.” you said.
“Yes it is. Come miss, they already have a room prepared for you.”
You followed the man in. The inside was even more grand than the outside. The lighting was soft and gave the hotel a warm feeling. The man took your suitcase and handed off to the bellboy.
“Penthouse suite 21.” the man said and then turned to you, “He'll show you the way.”
“Thank you.” you said as you followed the bellboy.
You boarded the elevator and went up several floors. Then the busboy showed you to your room.
“If you need anything, feel free to call for room service or the front desk.” the bellboy said leaving you.
You thanked him and walked into your room. You could hardly contain your excitement. The room was gorgeous. The furnishings were modern, but everything else was old fashioned. You felt like a princess.
Throwing yourself on the bed, you couldn't help but giggle to yourself.
“Maybe this won't be so bad.” you said to yourself, hugging one of the pillows.
Just then the hotel phone rung and you rolled over to the side table to answer it.
“Miss you are receiving a call from a Ludwig Beilschmidt. Would you like to accept?” the desk clerk said.
“Yes, put him on please.” you said.
“Hallo. Miss _______?” a familiar voice said.
“Hello Mr. Beilschmidt, yes this is _______.”
“Please call me Ludwig. Vould you like to start your tour tomorrow?” he asked.
“That sounds wonderful. I have rehearsal in the mornings, so how about we have lunch and then go around town?” you suggested.
“Ya, that sounds fine. I'll pick you up at the theater if you vish?” he asked.
“Let's make it the hotel, I'll need to change after rehearsal.” you said.
“Sounds gut. See you tomorrow at noon, Miss _______.” he said.
“Yes and you can call me _______.” you told him.
“Very vell, _______. Goodbye.” he said.
You bid goodbye too and hung up the phone. You let out an exasperated sigh, he was so rigid. Formal you could understand, but a little enthusiasm wouldn't kill the man.
You sat up and glance out your french doors. The light outside was growing dim as the sun slowly sank behind the buildings. Exhaustion swept over you and you went to your suit case to grab you pj's.
'A good night's sleep would do me good.' you told yourself. You quickly changed into your pj's, brushed your hair and climbed into the bed. It didn't take long for you to fall asleep.
“Good job today, ______.” you instructor said tossing you a towel.
You smiled and wiped off the sweat of you face, “Thanks, I'll see you tomorrow then.”
You tossed the towel in bin on your way out and slipped on your sweat jacket and pants. Your car was waiting for you out front of the theater. Getting in you told the driver to head back to the hotel. You had forty-five minutes before Ludwig would pick you up for your outing.
As soon as the car pulled up to the hotel, you bolted out before the driver even had a chance to get out, let alone get the door for you. You stopped at the front desk first.
“Hey, a Ludwig Beilshchmidt will be coming around noon. Let him know I'll will meet him in here in the lobby.” you said to the desk clerk.
“Yes Miss ______. I will tell him.”
You thanked him and hurried off to your hotel room. Walking into the bathroom you started up the shower, undressed and climbed inside. After a quick lather and conditioning you got out and dried off. Putting on your bath robe, you went to your wardrobe closet and sorted through the various dresses you had brought with you. You picked out a simple light blue summer dress. You slipped it on and put on a matching pair of shoes. Then after doing your make up, you grabbed your purse and headed out the door.
The time on the clock on the lobby read 12:00. Yet you figured Ludwig would already be there. You had read he was very punctual. Just as you suspected, he stood waiting by the front desk. He was dressed in a simple white dress shirt and had on beige dress pants. His hair was slicked back as usual and he wore a serious expression. His eyes did brighten a little when he saw you. You took that as good sigh, he probably already was interested in you.
“Hello, Ludwig. Or should I say Guten tag.” you said with a smile.
“Guten tag ______. I didn't know you knew German.” he said with surprise.
“Well, I only know a few phrases. That's about it. Russian and English are my main languages.”
He nodded, “I appreciate the effort though. So vhere vould you like to go for lunch?” he asked.
“I thought I let you decide. You know Germany best after all.” you told him.
“Right, vell then I know the perfect place.” he said leading the way out of the hotel.
He held open the door for you. His car sat at the entrance. He opened the door and you climbed inside and he climbed in the back with you. The car moved away from the hotel and into the heart of Berlin. It only took ten minutes for you to reach your destination.
Ludwig opened the door for you again and you climbed out. He was a gentleman, you would give him that.
You found yourself standing in front of a quaint cafe. You almost sighed in relief. You had hoped that he wouldn't take you to some fancy place. You really didn't like all the glamor that came from being a ballerina, but you loved dancing so much that you put up with it. So it was refreshing to come to a more humbler place. Perhaps you might find getting to Mr. Beilshmidt easier than you thought.
“I hope this place is okay. I often like to come here, because the food is very good and it's not as busy.” Ludwig said opening the cafe door for you.
“It's wonderful. I prefer small places anyway.” you said.
Germany smiled at you and led you to a two-seat table over by a window.
“I'll always sit here when I come. I suppose it's unofficially my 'usual' spot.” he said.
“Let me guess you bring a book usually as a companion?” you teased.
“Ja, always. I don't know if you can tell, but I'm not much of a people person.” he said scratching the back of his head.
“You know I'm not really either.” you said.
“Really? Yet you get up on stage all the time and preform in front of all those people.” Ludwig said.
“Yeah, well dancing is my passion. Even though people make me uneasy. I'm determined to not let my fear stop me from full filling my dream.” you paused and smiled, “Sorry, I don't mean to get so intense.”
“Nine, it's quite alright. I understand.” Ludwig said, giving you a small smile.
Just then the waiter came up. She smiled and said something in German. Ludwig said something back to her in German.
“Oh, sorry. I didn't realize you were foreign.” she said to you in English. “What can I get you today?”
You took a quick glance at the menu, but it was also in German.
“Um...” you said looking up at the waitress and then at Ludwig. “Why don't you order for both of us?” you said.
“Oh, of course.” Ludwig said and looked back at the waitress.
He spoke again in German to the waitress and she scribbled something down on her note sheet.
“So what did you order?” you asked.
“Some bratwurst and a couple of side dishes of vegetables. It's a personal favorite and a German delicacy. If you don't want that I could read the menu to you.” Ludwig said.
“Oh, no it's quite alright.” You reassured him. “I love sausage. Kind of grew up on it actually. Not bratwurst exactly, but still sausage.”
He sighed with relief, “Gut.” he paused and looked out the window. After a few seconds he looked back at you. “So did you grow up in Russia?”
You hesitated. Should you tell him about your past? It wouldn't hurt, you thought, it doesn't reveal your mission as long as you don't mention Ivan.
“Well, not exactly. I started out in an orphanage, but then I ran away to find my parents. Ended up with a band of gypsies, well more like circus folk. Eventually I gave up and ended up in Russia. I pretty much ended growing up with the ballet. It's the closest thing I have to family.” you said.
Ludwig looked sadly at you, “I'm sorry. I don't want to say I know exactly how you feel, because I probably don't, but I can relate.”
You leaned in resting on your chin on your hand, waiting for him to continue.
“Vell, I was pretty much raised by my older brother, Gilbert.”
You did your best not to laugh, for you knew Gilbert, not in person, but reputation. Ludwig was nothing like him.
Ludwig continued, “He vas good as far as providing for me, but he tended to be a little... vell let's just say not much like a parent. Some days he wouldn't come home for veeks, business and such, and I had to take care of myself. It got rather lonely at times. I suppose that's vhy I keep to myself now more. Now that I tell this, it doesn't seem as bad as what you've been through.”
“Everybody has their problems.” you said. You then laughed, “Heh, we're getting too serious, this is suppose to be a pleasant outing.”
Ludwig smiled, “Ja, you're right. It's been a while since I've sincerely talked to anyone. You're easy to talk to.”
You felt yourself cheeks grow hot, “Same to you.”
A slight twinge of guilt hit you. He was really a nice guy. Russia didn't really have a right to be suspicious of Germany anymore. Perhaps you wouldn't find out anything.
Your lunches arrived right at that moment and both of you remained comfortable quiet as you ate your food. Once both of you had finished you talked a little longer before paying and leaving.
You and Ludwig were walking to the car, but you stopped.
“It's such a nice day out. We should walk. I think it would be better for sightseeing.” you said to Ludwig.
“Ja, that sounds like a good idea. The exercise vould be gut for us.” he said.
He walked over to the car to talk to the driver. After he did he walked back to you.
“I told him he can pick us up vhen ve're done.” he said.
“Sounds great.” you smiled.
“Come on,” he said starting to walk down the street, “I have a lot to show you.”