The great day came.
Joe sat in his office determinedly not looking at his watch every two minutes. It was hard work. He was nervous.
Considering what might have happened at Anneka's birthday party a couple of months previously...
The thought always stopped there because Joe's brain slammed down the shutters on all the things he knew that 'might have happened' could mean. He didn't look at his watch again.
Kirsten had come around to the idea, more thanks to Silja's words of quiet confidence and reasonable sense than Joe's own slightly whiny babbling.
She had come around but, behind the smile, those pools of oriental beauty had held his own with the look that conveyed in no uncertain terms; "If one hair of her head..."
Yup, Joe was nervous. Despite the two guys he had watching the front and back doors of the orphanage, which became four an hour ago because 'just in case'.
Despite making sure the worst troublemakers of the inmates were out of the way for the day. Despite all the other little safeguards he had put in place, Joe was nervous.
Silja and Anneka were due at the orphanage at eleven. Joe didn't look at his watch again. It all hung on Finny.
He had called her into his office and told her what he wanted her to do and tried to explain why he wanted her to do it.
Instead of listening to the 'why' bit Finny had just stuck out her hand and Joe had instantly been transported back a couple of years to the first time he had met Silja.
She had been what? Fifteen? Cocky, arrogant, cheeky, sarcastic, disrespectful, in other words, a typical teenager.
Silja had been all of this but with a hard edge born from a childhood that had not been kind. A hard edge that Silja had been very close to falling from and becoming just another street punk.
But she hadn't.
When push came to shove Silja had stepped back from that edge and was now one of the few people he and Kirsten trusted with their most precious possession.
Of course, she was still cocky, arrogant, cheeky, sarcastic, and disrespectful and often a right royal pain in Joe's butt.
So, Joe looked at Finny's hand with a smile that didn't show on his face. Maybe the trick could be worked again, he had considered.
But now, back in his office and not looking at his watch, Joe was nervous. Finny was only eight. EIGHT! What had he been thinking? It could all so easily go wrong.
Joe didn't check his watch again; he didn't have to.
The last of a stream of factory kids he had sent out appeared and told him that Silja and Finny were now walking past the junkyard towards the orphanage's front door.
Silja stood over the basin and washed her face. It was early, but Joe was up. She could hear him coughing up phlegm in his study. He was enjoying the first smoke of the day. She smirked.
She paused and thought about Finny. As she did so, the face in the mirror was of herself when she was eight. The same Nordic eyes but framed in a mass of tousled blonde curls.
She thought about Engifur Johansson, the camp cook. He had been her guardian angel. Everyone needed a guardian angel, someone to guide, to protect from those who would seek to harm or exploit.
To discreetly guide their charge in the right direction when life could otherwise far too easily lead them astray. Engi had been hers.
Silja had not recognised that at the time but now in this life and the hindsight it brings, Engi's words and actions were so clear to Silja.
The teenager considered Finny for a few moments. Silja saw a lot of herself in Finny. Also eight years, also having to survive in a none-to-perfect environment.
A skinny little girl in a place where many of the older kids could easily take away what she had scavenged for herself.
Silja was still sending the occasional bag of goodies down for Finny, and Silja also knew Joe had an expertly camouflaged soft spot for her.
She knew that despite their differences, She and Joe were singing from the same hymn book when it came to Finny, And Anneka for that matter.
Silja worked on her make-up. She didn't usually bother, but today was different.
Just the right amount,
not too much but just the right amount of scary applied to the eyes to project fear at those among the orphanage kids who may think of taking some advantage or other when Anneka and Finny
went about their business. Silja made a test-glare into the mirror.
"Fullkominn!" Silja giggled.
Next, she carefully selected today's outfit. The correct combination of clothes and make-up to reinforce the image of Joe's 'Ninja Assassin' that the kids seemed to have created of her.
The thought made Silja chuckle to herself
It was time, Anneka was suitably excited. Silja carefully adjusted the bib and braces of Annie's pink shorts, then presented her to Kirsten who hugged Annie tightly.
From over Annie's shoulder, Kirsten looked at Silja and Silja clearly saw the maternal concerns Kirsten's face conveyed. Silja smiled, winked back confidence to Kirsten. Kirsten nodded.
It was time, Silja closed the heavy door behind her then hoisted Anneka up onto her shoulders. Anneka chortled as Silja skipped down the street with her aboard.
They sang a silly song together as they headed toward the orphanage. The song was about an elephant called Nellie.
Anneka was excited about the forthcoming adventure, Silja gave no outward sign of concern. But her eyes were open, ears finely tuned. Deep in her purse was a loaded heavy pistol.
About fifty meters behind, Hanne Berg followed her step-sister discreetly. In addition, she had several union guards under her instruction. All was well.