Chapter 1

"You're kidding!", gasped Carol folding her arms in front of her chest as a horrified look passed through her eyes.

"No, I'm not. You know that", retorted her good friend and co-worker.

"Are you sure that it shall be me? Not your father? A boyfriend? How about relatives?", she tried again.

Mary shook her head and explained: "No. Dad's in England - searching for relatives. And you need holiday. Your thoughts need to be free. Think outside the box. Here you are always focused on cases."

That's why, Carol thought. "Who gave that idea to you? I'm going to arrest him", she said instead of speaking out loud what she really thought.

Mary inhaled deeply and grinned. She already sensed she would win this argument.

"It was one of these guess-who-is-the-bad-boy-stories on the radio. Where a story is read and the dear listeners are able to guess who the murderer is. Hundred times easier than reality, if you ask me. The prize was a ´Wellness-Week´ in a hotel somewhere in Moscow - for two. And I won it! You should be happy for me!" In one moment her expression was overly excited and in the next she made a sad face. "But please, please, please, please, please. It's just a week", Mary pleaded.

Carol hated herself for agreeing to that plan. "Oh my, okay. Someone is going to replace me. But if there is just the slightest trace of danger down here - I´m gone," she warned.

"I know." Although she smiled, because she knew more. She promised to herself that her friend will have a wellness week, without any work.

"When are we leaving?", asked Carol, not really wanting to know the answer.

"In four days. Half past six in the morning. We will be there at eight o´clock, Moscow evening time. Whatever it is in relation to our time zone." Now, Mary Blythe wasn't a high educated and great psychologist anymore, but in that case, a pretty normal human.

"But why?" Tony plumped down into Alex' office chair and eyed her questioningly.

"You're supposed to be the shrink, not me", replied Alex, hoping not to have to explain something more.

"You are sending me away. So, you are supposed to explains this", he replied and, of course, was right.

"We decided that you need a bit free time." Alex sighed.

"We means Ben and in the end...just you."

"Paula, Kev and me." She hated it when he squeezed it all out of her. After all she was not a criminal.

"What if there is a new murder-case while I'm away?", he asked in hope to tip over her decision.

"Tony! It's just a week. And before you desperately wanted to help me, I already absolved ten years of successful police work. We're not sending you to the other end of world. It is Moscow." She stretched the o extra long.

"Sounds as if you've got some other ideas, too?", he asked.

"First I thought of India, but Paula said that you need someone to go with you... Russia is very nice in autumn, you know."

"When exactly, have you planned my holiday?" He attempted not to sound insulted.

"Tomorrow, in the early morning hours." She smiled a bit regretful.

"What exactly dou you mean by the early morning hours?"

"So, that you can eat lunch there." Alex headed for the door.

"How shall I get there?"

"Already arranged. There is a bus picking you up at the airport, unloading you at the harbour. A ferry will take you to the hotel..." Alex opened her bag and searched for something. "Here, take care of it."

Tony took the little square package from her and looked at it curiously from every side. It was buff, nothing more. Nothing was written on it to indicate something about its contents.

"What's that?", he asked waggling with the package.

"A card game."

"Ah yes, a card game." Before he could even think of asking Alex more questions, she was gone and left him alone.

"A card game - why not?", he repeated.