Danger In Havana -Episode 27

BRYONY could feel her mind ticking over. She’d thought about things so much in the dark, quiet hours of night, but sparking ideas off someone else was much more fruitful.

“Do you think, perhaps, it might have been something to do with the fact that he heard her speaking in German to the lad in the queue?”

“Quite possibly. It’s definitely a point linking Otto Weber and Anna together. I can’t imagine there are many people in Cuba who speak German. How good is she at the language?”

“Very good,” Bryony said, “almost fluent, in fact. She had a German penpal, Gisela, from a very early age. They’re a lovely family and every year, Anna spends two weeks at Easter at Gisela’s and Gisela comes to us for two weeks in the summer.” She smiled.

“I used to joke with Warren that those two girls had secrets we would never know because neither he nor I speak a word of the language yet they used to natter endlessly in German. When they weren’t together, they’d be writing letters, and they often phoned one another. Gisela’s due to come and see us soon for her summer visit. German was one of Anna’s A-levels and she flew through the exams with top marks. She even reads novels in German just for fun.”

“That could explain possibly why Otto Weber was following Anna – that she speaks near-perfect German, and he needed a German speaker for some reason.”

“Do you think he was following her, then? That’s pretty creepy. And why would he be taking photos of her?” Bryony frowned.

“I do think he was following her, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence you saw him so much around the hotel. He was definitely tracking your movements.

“I hate to say it, but I don’t think her disappearance was some sort of chance meeting. For some reason, it looks like Otto Weber plotted her abduction or, at the very least, tricked Anna into going with him.

“She was interested in art,” Mark continued, “and he obviously knows a lot about it. It wouldn’t have been difficult for him to lure her off, maybe with some promise of seeing interesting artworks, or meeting someone who might further her future career. Was she hoping for a career in the art world?”

“Yes, she was. In fact, she was desperate to do that for a living. She said to me on more than one occasion that her idea of torture would be to spend the rest of her life in an office. She was keen on working in a gallery or an auction room but as we don’t know anybody in that field she realised it would be an uphill struggle.”

“So, we know that Otto Weber was interested in Anna’s looks, otherwise why would he take photos of her? We also know that he was interested in her ability to speak German. And that he’s an art dealer and that he’s wealthy, with that big house in Havana and the one here tucked away in the hills.”

“What else? There must be something that made him target her?”

Mark thought long and hard.

“Darn it, we missed a trick by rushing off like this on the first lead we were given to Anna’s whereabouts. I should have done more research into Otto Weber’s background.

“What we do know is that his servant is frightened of him, or frightened of something. She certainly didn’t seem very open when we called at the Havana house. I thought she was very cowed, and anxious to get rid of us.”

“That’s true. It certainly indicates he’s into something dodgy.”

What they also knew, Mark thought, though he couldn’t share it with Bryony just at that moment as she had too much else to deal with, was that Bryony’s husband Warren was mixed up in some way with trading in art, quite possibly stolen.

What was it Mark’s police contact back home had said he’d discovered? That Warren Kemp was dealing in art in a small way to fund his gambling habit.

That he had been acquiring paintings from somewhere and had been selling them on the quiet.

*     *     *     *

As they rounded a bend, Norelvis stopped them, and unusually for him, he looked serious.

“That is Otto Weber’s plantation house.”

There in the distance, in the lee of a hill stood a mansion with wide verandahs. Once grand, it had a neglected air. Paint which had once been peppermint coloured now looked sad and faded.

One of the shutters had come from its moorings and hung on a slant. Columns at the front supporting a balcony above were chipped and needed painting. Around the house palm trees stood like tall green ostrich feathers, their plumes waving gently in the breeze.

“At one time,” Mark said, “that would have been a magnificent house. It looks, though, like Otto Weber needs an injection of cash to keep such a fine place in order. It can’t be easy financing this house as well as the one in Havana.

“I wonder if that’s a clue as to why he’s taken Anna.”

“But we don’t have any money.” Bryony sounded bewildered. “He can’t have imagined that kidnapping Anna would result in a huge ransom. I’d gladly mortgage everything I’ve got to get her back, but it wouldn’t amount to much.”

“We will tie up horses here.”


Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, Tracey has found her perfect place on The Friend as she’s obsessed with reading and never goes anywhere without a book! She reads all the PF stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!