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The Deconstruction of Agent Black

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The Price of Patriotism

On the evening of the third day in Rothenburg, Jenny deemed it time to put her pawn into play and wandered into the rathskeller hoping Stefan showed.

Her hair loose and curly, she slipped on a pair of jeans with a long sleeved light blue sweater, and descended the stairs from her room.

The rathskeller was noisy, with dim lighting, wood floors bearing stains centuries old and clusters of small wooden tables and chairs. A long oaken bar flowed along one side of the room where the majority of the patrons leaned, chatting and drinking. Mounted shelves behind the bar boasted an array of dusty liquor bottles and beer steins from regions throughout Germany, including a large collection fashioned by famed local craftsmen.

She chose a table in the rear of the small beer hall, well away from the bar where the clientele was almost exclusively male. Since Stefan varied his schedule in stopping in for a lager, she had no idea how long she'd have to wait, or even if he'd show up at all, but she had time.

Intelligence indicated he was still lining up potential bidders for the computer chip and was far from closing a deal.

For the next few hours, she nursed a pilsner and pored over her laptop.

An appreciative, deep baritone voice interrupted her musings. "I'm not sure how you can read anything in this light."

So engrossed she flinched, Jenny turned toward the sound and looked up. The dark clothes told all. Even in casual attire, a black shirt opened at the collar tucked into black sport slacks over black boots boasted his impeccable taste. Stefan.

He leaned over, scrutinizing the photos layout on her computer. The smell of his cologne wrapped around her nose and enveloped her in an ephemeral hug.

She pretended surprise. "Why thank you. Well, you really are here. You were right. This is an amazing village. I've had the most fun wandering the streets studying the architecture."

"Mind if I join you?" Without waiting for a reply, he pulled up a wooden chair. "You've been in town three days and didn't call?" He drew his eyes away from the pictures and gazed at her, his eyebrow cocked.

Her stomach twisted and tossed like a ship lurching through a storm.

Can she convince the government of Stefan's innocence?