Escaping from an importunate ex-husband, recent heiress Alice Monaghan accompanies her friend Jeanine to Stuttgart to visit the famed and extensive Christmas Market. It seemed an innocent enough trip - until she gets lost and rescued by Grigori Brcko, their oddly attractive waiter, and life is never the same again.
Taken hostage by a conscienceless criminal who believes she knows the location of a fabled emerald, she is rescued by Grigori, whom Alice realizes cannot really be just a waiter. As they flee across Stuttgart in an attempt to save their lives, Alice is distressed to find her ex-husband, still intent gaining part of her newly inherited fortune, is also in Germany and determined to find her. Then things become as complicated as they are dangerous making Alice realize that if she and Grigori are to survive, everything depends on her courage.
He couldn’t see Wynocki’s thugs bringing an American woman in a brilliant red coat in through the front door, whether she was struggling (and somehow he knew Alice Monaghan would fight) or physically subdued. Especially if she was still in that gaudy red coat. People would remember that.
The cellar. Doubtless there was a door off the alley - buildings this old nearly always had one - and there would be no one there to question anything. It was the work of mere minutes for him to find the alley door, slip the ancient lock and creep inside.
He had been right. Beneath the stink of coal and a badly-maintained furnace he caught the slightest whiff of the sweet floral fragrance the woman had worn.
Or was he just being romantic? It was a bad habit he thought he had burnt out of himself years before.
She was there, blindfolded and seated on the edge of a long packing crate. On either side of her were two thugs, both of whom he recognized. He had disliked them years ago; now he hated them, for one of them slapped Alice Monaghan viciously, so hard that he knocked her over.
Grigori must be slipping; instead sliding into the room unseen, he must have made some sound, for one of the thugs turned to him and fired, making the other one turn and shoot as well. Their first shots went wild, but the rest were too closely accurate for his comfort. The first shot decided Grigori, though, who with a precision he had thought lost fired several times, making sure that both thugs went down permanently.
Alice Monaghan went down as well, falling off the edge of the crate and sprawling on the floor.
His heart in his throat, Grigori crept over the floor, careful in case either of the men should prove more threat, and put a gentle hand on her shoulder.
He didn’t anticipate the blow that sent him backward.