Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  165 / 194 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 165 / 194 Next Page
Page Background


men’s skin too. Santa must need makeup remover, at the

very least. I flirted back; it reinforced my identity as a man.

Was Merja sharp enough to see behind disguises? Perhaps

she sensed that I wasn’t an ordinary Santa Claus, but rather

keeping an eye out for thieves.

By Saturday evening I was so beat I decided to stop at a bar.

I changed clothes in the secret room as usual. Security

Chief Bruun had assured me no one knew of its existence

besides the store management and him, not even the house

detectives. It wasn’t even marked on the building’s official

floor plan. I checked the security camera to make sure no

one would see me leaving the secret room. I circled the

parking garage so it looked as if I’d come by car and then I

entered the elevator. I was myself again, a tall blond woman

who looked like a white version of Grace Jones. My jeans

and black suede jacket offered little protection from the

wind that blasted in from the Mannerheimintie Street

doors. I darted across the street to the Hotel Marski bar and

ordered a tequila. That would get my blood flowing. There

was old-time jazz playing, soothing as a bubble bath after

listening to endless Christmas carols. I pretended to read

the free newspaper while I played with my phone. I was

used to sitting alone in bars and chasing away any

unwelcome company.

A familiar-looking man was seated beside the window. He

had an athletic build, and black hair cut very short and

spiked with gel. The thick-rimmed glasses confused me for