As she lay still, the door across the room opened and closed. A figure slipped into the room. A woman. In a snow-white parka. But it wasn't Anna. The woman tossed back her hood and pulled down a scarf. She had long white hair and was as pale as a ghost.
Friend or foe?
Lisa kept hidden until she knew more.
There was something too confident about the woman. The way her eyes searched the room. She half turned. A spray of blood marred the side of her jacket. In her other hand, she held a curved katana, a short Japanese saber. Blood dripped from the blade.
The woman danced into the room, turning in a slow circle.
Lisa dared not breathe. She prayed the shadows kept her hidden up here. The library's few lamps lit the lower level, as did the hearth fire. It crackled and shone with a few flames. But the upper balcony remained gloomy.
Would it be enough to hide her?
Lisa watched the intruder make another circle, standing in the middle of the room, bloodied katana held at the ready.
Seemingly satisfied, the ice-blond woman strode quickly toward Anna's desk. She ignored the clutter on top and stepped behind the wide table. Reaching to a tapestry on the wall, she pulled it back and exposed a large black cast-iron wall safe.
Hooking the tapestry aside, she knelt and inspected the combination lock, the handle, the edges of the door.
With the woman's concentration so focused, Lisa allowed herself to breathe. Whatever thievery was afoot, so be it. Let the woman abscond with whatever she came for and be gone. If the burglar had slain the guards, maybe Lisa could turn it to her advantage. If she could reach a phone…the intrusion might actually turn out for the best.
A loud clatter startled her.
A few yards away, a heavy book had fallen from its shelf and landed splayed open on the wrought-iron balcony. Pages still fluttered from the impact. Lisa recognized the book she had half pulled out a moment ago. Forgotten until now, gravity had done the rest, slowly tugging the book free.
Below, the woman retreated to the center of the room.
A pistol had appeared in her other hand, as if out of thin air, pointed up.
Lisa had nowhere to hide.
Gray pulled open the door to the team's BMW. He began to duck inside when a shout rose behind him. He turned toward the entrance to the hostel. Ryan Hirszfeld hurried toward them, hunched under an umbrella. Thunder echoed, and rain lashed across the parking lot of the cottage estate.
"Get inside," Gray ordered Monk and Fiona, waving to the sedan.
He faced Ryan as the young man reached his side.
"Are you heading to the castle…to Wewelsburg?" he asked, lifting the umbrella to shelter them both.
"Yes, we are. Why?"
"Might I hop a ride with you?"
"I don't think—"
Ryan cut him off. "You were asking about my greatgrandfather…Hugo. I may have more information for you. It'll only cost you a ride up the hill."
Gray hesitated. The young man must have eavesdropped on their earlier conversation with Johann, his father. What could Ryan know that his father didn't? Still, the man stared at him with earnest eyes.
Turning, Gray popped the back door and held it open.
"Danke."Ryan folded the umbrella and ducked into the back with Fiona.
Gray climbed behind the wheel. In moments, they were bumping down the driveway out of the estate.
"Shouldn't you be home watching the store?" Monk asked, half turned in the passenger seat to address Ryan.
"Alicia will cover the front desk for me," Ryan said. "The storm will keep everyone close to the fire."
Gray studied the young man in the rearview mirror. He looked suddenly uncomfortable under Monk's and Fiona's scrutiny.
"What did you want to tell us?" Gray asked.
Ryan's eyes met his in the mirror. He swallowed and nodded. "My father thinks I know nothing about my greatgrandfather Hugo. Thinks it best be buried in the past, a? But it's still whispered about. Same with Aunt Tola."p> Gray understood. Family secrets had a way of surfacing, no matter how deeply you tried to bury them. Curiosity had plainly been instilled in Ryan about his ancestors and their role during the war. It practically shone from the man's eyes.
"You've been doing your own investigation into the past?" Gray said.
Ryan nodded. "For three years now. But the trail goes back further. To when the Berlin Wall came down. When the Soviet Union dissolved."
"I don't understand," Gray said.
"Do you remember when Russia declassified the older Soviet files?"
"I suppose. But what about them?"
"Well, back when Wewelsburg was reconstructed—"
"Wait a sec." Fiona stirred. She'd been sitting with her arms crossed, as if disgruntled by the intrusion of the stranger. But Gray had caught the few sidelong glances she gave the man, sizing him up. He wondered if the man still had his wallet. "Reconstructed? They rebuilt that ugly place?" she asked.
Ryan nodded as the castle came into view on the ridgeline. Gray signaled and turned onto Burgstrasse, the road that headed up toward the castle. "Himmler had it blown up near the end of the war. Only the North Tower was untouched. After the war, it was rebuilt. Part museum, part youth hostel. Still bothers my father."
Gray could understand why.
"It was finished in 1979," Ryan continued. "The museum directors over the years have petitioned former Allied governments for documents and such related to the castle."
"Including Russia," Monk said.
"Natürlich. Once records were decommissioned, the current director sent archivists over to Russia. Three years ago, they returned with truckloads of declassified documents related to the Russian campaign in the area. The archivists had also left here with a long list of names to search for in the Russian files. Including my greatgrandfather, Hugo Hirszfeld."
"He was intimately involved in the Thule Society rituals at the castle. He was well known locally for his knowledge of runes, which decorate the castle. He even corresponded with Karl Wiligut, Himmler's personal astrologer."
Gray pictured the three-pronged mark in the Bible but remained silent.
"The archivists returned with several boxes specifically about my greatgrandfather. My father was informed but refused to participate in any way."
"But you snuck up there?" Monk said.
"I wanted to know more about him," Ryan said. "Figure out why…what happened…" He shook his head.
The past had a way of grabbing hold and not letting go.