scount and his wife did make a statement that the girl was bed ridden with some ailment, but no one believed the story.

   “What are we going to do if she doesn’t turn up to the rowing competition?” Peter said, through a yawn.

   “Don’t tell me she won’t be there for the greatest event of the summer.” Said a man Bjorn had never gotten the name of.

   “It’ll be hard if she’s so ill she has to stay in bed.” Peter said, still yawning.

   “Health problems isn’t just about health.” Leonard said.
“Maybe she’s taking a break from all the scandal, waiting for things to die down.”

   It seemed, at that moment, that everyone in the social club looked at Bjorn, who was calmly eating an apple and only half paying attention to the conversation.
He was watching the entrance like a hawk.

   “Give it up, Bjorn, no matter how stupid he might be, he ain’t crazy enough to show his face.” Peter said. He finally finished yawning and was pouring a drink for Bjorn.
As if the universe was determined to prove Peter wrong, Robin Heinz waltzed into the social club.

   “He is crazy.” Leonard said sadly.

   Bjorn calmly bit into his apple and only rose when the group had settled down.
His footsteps were loud as he approached Robin Heinz, sitting at a table of loud gentlemen sharing stories and jokes.
The atmosphere had generally been cheerful, but everything went silent when Bjorn stood next to Heinz.

   “Long time no see, Heinz.” Bjorn said.

   Heinz had tried his best to ignore Bjorn, turning his back on him and burying his nose in the tabloid that had been the centre of many jokes made at the table.
Bjorn lowered himself into the chair next to Heinz and everyone watched.

   “Here, have a drink.” Bjorn said and grabbed the bottle of wine the waiter had just brought over.
He poured out a splash into the tumbler in front of Heinz.
He then snatched the paper out of Heinz’s hands and eyed the article; he already knew what he was looking for, but made a pantomime of reading it first.

   “Lady Hardy, who had seduced me first, had also seduced the Grand Duke.
It was her intention to create a rift between the Grand Duke and myself.
That is why the fight with the Grand Duke occurred, it was coercion from Lady Hardy who sought to test her potential suitors, in some sordid game only she knows the rules of, to entertain her bored little mind.”

   More and more people had speculated that Heinz was the one who had instigated a fight with the Grand Duke, throwing the first punches.
In order to save face, Heinz abused his role in the tabloids to justify himself and use Erna as a scapegoat.
It was a pretty solid strategy as he knew no one would willingly take Erna’s side in the matter.

   “Is that really what happened?” Bjorn said with false intrigue.
“My memory is a little fuzzy.” Bjorn signalled the waiter, who came over and filled his glass.

   The mood in the social club was usually calm, providing a place to relax, especially during the long, hot summer days when the mood became languid, but things turned tense very quickly.

   Robin Heinz, who could now feel the bind he was in, looked about the room without making eye contact with anyone.
Bjorn moved to be directly in front of Robin Heinz, providing him no room to avoid the Grand Duke.
The silence from the man was grating against Bjorn’s nerves and his patience was nowhere near deep enough.

   “I’m getting impatient, Heinz,” Bjorn said, putting down the half empty glass of water.
“If you continue to ignore me, you’ll make me look like an intruder to an otherwise pleasant little gathering here.” Bjorn gently placed his hands on Robin’s shoulder.
“Did you honestly think you’d never see me again, especially here?”

   “What the hell do you want me to say?” Heinz blurted.

   “Nothing grandiose.” Bjorn removed his hand from Heinz’s shoulder and stood up.

   Heinz started to breathe properly and at that moment, the chair collapsed from under him and his world spun around.
When he opened his eyes again, he was staring up at the ceiling.
Bjorn came into view and stared down at him with intense grey eyes.
Just like that night, he was smiling.

   “You, you,” Heinz stammered.  He tried to get up and wailed when Bjorn’s foot came down heavily on his chest and pinned him to the floor.

   “You said it yourself, we’re rivals, aren’t we? Rivals fighting for the affection of the same woman.
I’m sure you said something like that.”

   “Bjorn, you…”

   “Oh, you didn’t know, did you? This is how I treat my rivals.” Bjorn grabbed the bottle from the table and leaning over the stricken Heinz, he poured the contents over the red face of Robin Heinz. He smiled as Robin Heinz struggled and screamed for assistance, but no one came to help and Bjorn did not stop until the bottle was empty.
He took his foot from the chest of the pathetic man and wandered back to his own party as if nothing had happened.

   Heinz laid on the floor for a long while, wailing at the ceiling.
The rest of the lounge was abuzz with chatter and whispers.

    When Bjorn was finally done at the social club, he went to his carriage and the waiting footmen.
These hot summer days had made him lethargic and lazy, it was nice to get some excitement back in his life.
He felt energised.

   He had glee in his heart again as the carriage trundled along the road, back to the palace.
When it turned down Tara Boulevard, he caught a glimpse of Lisa, Erna’s maid.
She was carrying a very large bundle alone.

   “Hmm, Erna is still absent.”

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