It is already dark when, wrapped in white terry-cloth robes, we find time for lunch: thick black caviar on toast, washed down with champagne.
“I hate to let you go, Lolita, but I don’t see any other way. If they unearth our little secret, hell breaks loose. We have to leave now and start to play cat and mouse with them, at least for the time being, until I decide about the next move.”
With a mundane poise, Egon brushes me off his knees and makes it for the bathroom. He comes back his old self again: Egon von Zwettler, the perfect gentleman, masterly handling a tricky situation. I gather my clothes and follow his example. It would feel awkward to cover my nakedness under this man’s cool stare.
He lets me out of his car at a safe distance from my home.
“Forgive me if I don’t open the door for you, Irene. We can’t afford to be careless, can we?” He warns me, remote and strangely watchful, as if he was scared that we are being spied on.
“I won’t phone you in the future to avoid the risk of compromising you. Here’s my personal office-number so that you don’t need to go through my secretary. Though mind, use it only in case of emergency and be most discreet. You’ll find the number of my bachelor flat on the reverse. Leave me a message on its answering machine. When in Prague, I come over daily to check up on them. Learn the number by heart and destroy the card.”
“Of course, Herr von Zwettler,” I jump out of the Ferrari and run, determined this was my first and last lesson with “no hidden extras” I shall ever be given. Hence, Egon’s card is fit for a dustbin and I dispose of it irreverently.
Clean and neat, maybe too spotless for such an advanced hour of the day, I rush home masticating on the peppermint chewing gum as recommended by Egon. I give my grandmother a detailed account of my luncheon, followed by an instructive visit to the Art Museum, as set and rehearsed by Herr von Zwettler in advance. My grandmother is pleased with me and proud of my exemplary behaviour confirmed by the gentleman in question later. Egon found it worthwhile to phone her and apologise that an extremely urgent business appointment prevented him from handing his son’s ravishing fiancée back to her personally.
Thus I discovered the golden rule of my life: let people believe what they like and they will let me do what I like, or almost.