Today's Reading

PROLOGUE
BERLIN, GERMANY

Moser trudged down the sidewalk, the overcast sky making it appear later than it actually was. He was on his way home after a scheisser-day at the auto shop and, of course, it had started to rain. It always rained here. Always.

He popped the collar on his leather jacket and thrust his hands in his pockets. Water droplets trickled down his neck to his back, giving him gooseflesh. He missed the snow. Snow was clean, picturesque, even dry, relatively speaking. Rain was wet—it was only wet—and on days like today it was miserably cold.

Rounding the corner onto Prühßstraße, he sidestepped a puddle and spat, muttering a curse that only he could hear. Then, as he did every day at about this time, he looked up. His eyes honed in on the second building from the corner, three floors up, fourth window in. Except for the occasional light inside, the window was usually empty...but tonight, a clay pot with white flowers rested on the sill.

Calla lilies.

Moser stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, a knot forming in his stomach. He pulled a crinkled pack of cigarettes from his pocket and lit one. Raindrops fell on the shaft, causing the smoke to go limp, but he didn't notice. He glanced at the window again just to make sure he wasn't mistaken.

Yes. The flowers were displayed in the fourth window in, third floor, second building from the corner.

Taking one more drag, he tossed the soggy smoke on the wet pavement with a hiss and continued his walk home. He fought the urge to hurry—he wanted to—but he didn't. He followed the same route he always did and maintained his usual pace, but on the inside his mind churned and all his senses tingled.

Once in his apartment, he took a Märzen from the fridge, popped the top, and took a long pull. He grabbed a worn paper map of the city from his bookshelf and spread it out on the table, surveying Berlin's streets and underground stations. It'd been a while since he'd used this route, but that didn't matter. He knew it blind. Polishing the pavement would be the easy part.

Moser woke at five the next morning and got dressed. He didn't put on his mechanic overalls like a typical Tuesday; he wore jeans and a T-shirt, along with his black leather jacket. He called his boss at the shop and said he wasn't coming in. He was sick. The cranky bastard could piss off, too. He didn't expect to be working there much longer.

The sun was cresting the tops of the gray apartment buildings as he set out, and for the next two hours he walked around the city, rode the U-Bahn twice, and took a taxi. He visited a café where he got a coffee and a strudel, a hardware store where he purchased three twenty-centimeter lengths of pipe, an outdoor store for a new pair of gloves, and a handful of other stops at precisely timed intervals.

There was no evidence of any shadows on his tail, so he decided he was clean, reaching Bahnhof Alexanderplatz at exactly 8:48 a.m.

Inside the main level of the terminal, he sorted his way through the morning crowd until he reached Blumen Röwer, a flower shop run by a woman with short white hair and bottle-cap glasses. He'd always thought they made her eyes look like blue marbles ready to pop out of her head.

"Guten Morgen," Moser mumbled, browsing the fresh bouquets. Carnations, lilies, roses, tulips. His mother would have liked the yellow tulips, though he'd only ever given her those kinds of flowers once, and that was twenty years ago. She was dead now, but she deserved to have some flowers placed on her scratch in the earth. Perhaps soon.

But this morning, blossoms and memories of his mother weren't his thing; he was more interested in what was happening outside.

He maintained a clear view of the escalator, able to see everyone coming down from the S-Bahn platform one level up. Checking his watch, he saw it was 8:56 a.m. The train from Jannowitzbrücke would have just pulled in.

He pictured the passengers debarking the train on the level above, some hustling across the platform to get to work, others taking their time. There would be a man with a gray beard and black raincoat among them.

How long had it been since he'd seen him? Five months? Maybe six? The time didn't really matter. All according to protocol. That's how things worked. It's why he'd been sent to Berlin.
...

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Today's Reading

PROLOGUE
BERLIN, GERMANY

Moser trudged down the sidewalk, the overcast sky making it appear later than it actually was. He was on his way home after a scheisser-day at the auto shop and, of course, it had started to rain. It always rained here. Always.

He popped the collar on his leather jacket and thrust his hands in his pockets. Water droplets trickled down his neck to his back, giving him gooseflesh. He missed the snow. Snow was clean, picturesque, even dry, relatively speaking. Rain was wet—it was only wet—and on days like today it was miserably cold.

Rounding the corner onto Prühßstraße, he sidestepped a puddle and spat, muttering a curse that only he could hear. Then, as he did every day at about this time, he looked up. His eyes honed in on the second building from the corner, three floors up, fourth window in. Except for the occasional light inside, the window was usually empty...but tonight, a clay pot with white flowers rested on the sill.

Calla lilies.

Moser stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, a knot forming in his stomach. He pulled a crinkled pack of cigarettes from his pocket and lit one. Raindrops fell on the shaft, causing the smoke to go limp, but he didn't notice. He glanced at the window again just to make sure he wasn't mistaken.

Yes. The flowers were displayed in the fourth window in, third floor, second building from the corner.

Taking one more drag, he tossed the soggy smoke on the wet pavement with a hiss and continued his walk home. He fought the urge to hurry—he wanted to—but he didn't. He followed the same route he always did and maintained his usual pace, but on the inside his mind churned and all his senses tingled.

Once in his apartment, he took a Märzen from the fridge, popped the top, and took a long pull. He grabbed a worn paper map of the city from his bookshelf and spread it out on the table, surveying Berlin's streets and underground stations. It'd been a while since he'd used this route, but that didn't matter. He knew it blind. Polishing the pavement would be the easy part.

Moser woke at five the next morning and got dressed. He didn't put on his mechanic overalls like a typical Tuesday; he wore jeans and a T-shirt, along with his black leather jacket. He called his boss at the shop and said he wasn't coming in. He was sick. The cranky bastard could piss off, too. He didn't expect to be working there much longer.

The sun was cresting the tops of the gray apartment buildings as he set out, and for the next two hours he walked around the city, rode the U-Bahn twice, and took a taxi. He visited a café where he got a coffee and a strudel, a hardware store where he purchased three twenty-centimeter lengths of pipe, an outdoor store for a new pair of gloves, and a handful of other stops at precisely timed intervals.

There was no evidence of any shadows on his tail, so he decided he was clean, reaching Bahnhof Alexanderplatz at exactly 8:48 a.m.

Inside the main level of the terminal, he sorted his way through the morning crowd until he reached Blumen Röwer, a flower shop run by a woman with short white hair and bottle-cap glasses. He'd always thought they made her eyes look like blue marbles ready to pop out of her head.

"Guten Morgen," Moser mumbled, browsing the fresh bouquets. Carnations, lilies, roses, tulips. His mother would have liked the yellow tulips, though he'd only ever given her those kinds of flowers once, and that was twenty years ago. She was dead now, but she deserved to have some flowers placed on her scratch in the earth. Perhaps soon.

But this morning, blossoms and memories of his mother weren't his thing; he was more interested in what was happening outside.

He maintained a clear view of the escalator, able to see everyone coming down from the S-Bahn platform one level up. Checking his watch, he saw it was 8:56 a.m. The train from Jannowitzbrücke would have just pulled in.

He pictured the passengers debarking the train on the level above, some hustling across the platform to get to work, others taking their time. There would be a man with a gray beard and black raincoat among them.

How long had it been since he'd seen him? Five months? Maybe six? The time didn't really matter. All according to protocol. That's how things worked. It's why he'd been sent to Berlin.
...

Join the Library's Online Book Clubs and start receiving chapters from popular books in your daily email. Every day, Monday through Friday, we'll send you a portion of a book that takes only five minutes to read. Each Monday we begin a new book and by Friday you will have the chance to read 2 or 3 chapters, enough to know if it's a book you want to finish. You can read a wide variety of books including fiction, nonfiction, romance, business, teen and mystery books. Just give us your email address and five minutes a day, and we'll give you an exciting world of reading.

What our readers think...