The Evolution of Elsa Kreiss (The Checkpoint, Berlin Detective Series, Book II)

By Michele E. Gwynn

Crime & mystery, Romance

Paperback, Hardback, eBook

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2 mins

A Very Familiar Monster

“What are all these red tags?” She reached out to touch one attached to a canvas featuring a black figure poking a blue-eyed boy in the back with a lion’s head cane.

Paul immediately brightened. “Those indicate that the paintings have sold. Looks like not many are left untagged.”

“There are numbers on them. What do they mean?”

“They mean that I purchased them. Number twelve is my number.”

A tall gentleman with silver hair and pale blue eyes spoke from behind them. Elsa turned and looked at the man whose sharp features and long nose sat on an angular face. His mouth was a thin line and his eyes emanated both power and cold detachment. His light gray suit had a patina to it, and the only color off-setting the gray palette was a light blue shirt. Even his tie was gray.

Lukas reached out his hand in the age-old gesture of greeting. “Herr Ivchencko. Are you enjoying the evening so far?”

The Russian refused the handshake and clapped Lukas on the arm, breaking their contact quickly. He was clearly uncomfortable with courtesies. “Yes, Trommler. I am.” He eyed the canvas and then turned to Paul. “Truly amazing work, Christiansen. Would that all artists were so blessed with such talent.” Again, his gaze returned to the painting completely unaware of the trace of offense that skittered through Paul’s eyes. His ‘talent’ as the man referred to it was really a culmination, and exorcism of very bad experiences that no child should ever have to endure.

Ivchencko backed up from the painting, and his glance caught Elsa. He turned to look at her directly. “And what do you think, my dear? Is not this imagery disturbing? Does it impress upon you the deepest horror of a young boy forever lost inside a nightmare?” He waited, his cold blue eyes boring into her.

Elsa didn’t understand art, but she understood people, and this man barely hid what she knew was a love of pain. “I think it’s sad. While I’m very happy for Paul and his success, to know people are drawn to this kind of thing shows that there is a festering disease of sick minds out there. These paintings weren’t meant to be appreciated, they were meant as a means to dispel demons.” She knew she’d let her mouth fly off without her brain, but something about this Russian struck her all wrong.

Lukas coughed, then interjected quickly. “As you see, the art has struck quite a chord with our Elsa, a true sign of Christiansen’s genius with a brush.”

“Indeed.” Ivchencko’s eyes remained on Elsa longer than she was comfortable with, and she was glad when he turned back to Lukas. “I’ll expect delivery to my home by tomorrow afternoon.” He turned to Paul. “A pleasure, sir.” He nodded his head, then turned to walk away.

“I’m sorry, Paul. I didn’t mean to belittle your art.” Elsa felt contrite.

Paul began to laugh. “Not at all, Kreiss. I couldn’t have said it better myself.” He reached out and tugged a lock of her hair in a brotherly manner. “That one there…” he looked at Ivchencko’s retreating back as he walked out the front door, “is a very familiar monster.”



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