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Z is for . . .

They walked in companionable silence along the Lake Promenade in ZURICH, sidestepping the joggers as well as wanderers with less purpose, of which they were two. They’d spent the morning visiting a number of old churches, planned to go up Üetliberg on the morrow, but for that afternoon they were at their ease. Peter had forgotten how much he liked Switzerland, its lakes and mountains. I could live here, Peter thought as they strolled. If not Zurich, then maybe Geneva, or someplace a bit smaller like Lucerne.

“What will you do?” Charles asked.

“Hm?” Peter worked to switch his thoughts to new tracks.

“Once we’ve stopped traveling. What will you do?”

Peter didn’t know, though not for lack of thinking about it. But Gordon had recruited him out of university, and Peter wasn’t sure what he might do with a first-class degree in languages. Surely it had been Peter’s facility with languages that had brought him to Gordon’s attention to begin with, and now Peter could only vaguely recall what he’d originally hoped to do after graduation had his life taken a more traditional course. Not teach, God no, Peter’s personality did not lend itself to that occupation. While at uni, he’d had the idea of perhaps working with old manuscripts, doing translations, that kind of thing. He’d even helped some of his professors with such projects. An image of Dr Davidson drifted into his mind, Peter sitting beside him at a long table as they scribbled and debated the exact meaning of something in Ancient Greek. He was old even then, Peter thought. He must dead by now. And the realization he hadn’t ever gone back to see Dr Davidson after Gordon had swept him up into the Agency added a little weight to Peter’s heart, slightly darkening the day.

“You’re very quiet,” said Charles.

“What? Oh. Sorry, I just . . . Was thinking about your question.”

“I might like to give tours,” Charles said.

“Here?” Peter asked.

“Oh, I don’t know. Somewhere,” said Charles.

Peter didn’t press the point, though he knew they’d need to have that conversation soon. Where? Where would they go? The world lay open before them, and they’d seen a lot of it. But soon they would have to settle somewhere. And then, Peter reasoned, he would need to find something to do with his time. His life.

But for today: Zurich. The shadows were lengthening and the warmth of the day was giving way to brisker breezes, the water of the lake slowly deepening in color so that soon it would be more black than blue. Surreptitiously, Peter caught hold of Charles’s hand, and when Charles looked up with a question in his face, Peter suggested, “An early dinner, don’t you think? And maybe a long night.”

Peter was gratified by Charles’s blush as he grasped Peter’s meaning. Better still, though, was Charles’s remark that they should probably take dinner in their room.

It won’t matter where we go or what we do, Peter decided. He’d left London and his life’s work for this, and it was a choice he would make again, every day if he had to.

I hope you’ve enjoyed traveling with Peter and Charles for this A–Z Challenge. If you want to read more about them, please pick up St. Peter in Chains and look for the sequel St. Peter at the Gate due out in June.



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