there you go - she's a fucking princess. what more could you ask for? she can sign."
the ambassador cleared his throat. "i still think we should wait a little longer for lampeduse himself."
"yeah we'll wait. we'll wait until i finish my beer."
“very well, “ the ambassador agreed wearily.
gustav picked up his beer and drained it. “all right,” he told the ambassador. “give her the papers to sign.”
the ambassador hesitated, but picked up the small case he had brought with him, and put it on his lap. it had three small combination locks on it and he began spinning them.
as he did, he made one last appeal to gustav. “i can imagine roscroft questioning the authenticity of the signature - “
“no problem, we’ll take her with us.” gustav smiled at laurene, who did not attempt to meet his gaze.
“i can also imagine her authenticity being questioned,” the ambassador replied as he opened the lid of the case. but before gustav could answer he turned to laurene. “i assume you have some i d, miss?”
but gustav just laughed. “nobody cares about i d. roscroft will sign and we will do what we are going to do. you think things are going to stop now?” he stood up.
the ambassador took a stapled sheaf of about twenty closely printed pages from his case and flipped it to the last page, which had spaces marked for signatures. he got up and handed the papers, and a pen, to laurene.
“sign here, miss,” he told here. “on any of the lines.”
“with your full name and title,” added gustav.
there was no suggestion that laurene actually read the document. she signed, as “princess laurene di lampeduse”.
gustav took the document, glanced at it and handed it back to the ambassador. he looked at laurene. “let’s go.”
laurene remained seated. “why do i have to go? i signed what you wanted.”
“i think it would be a good idea,” gustav answered evenly.
the ambassador put the document back in the case and locked the case. now he stood up. “yes,” he said, “it probably is a good idea. we will need pictures, and she can be in the pictures.”
“that’s right,” gustav agreed. “pictures. everybody likes pictures.” he laughed. “everybody thinks they are faked, but they still like them.”
“but,” laurene said. “you can take a picture of anybody. you can get some actress, or model, and say she is me. i’m nobody. nobody knows what i look like.”
the ambassador considered this. for a couple of seconds. “it is always best to get as many details right as possible.”
“even when it is all fake?” asked laurene.
“especially when it’s all fake,” the ambassador answered. “come. we are are wasting time.”
laurene looked back at joanie lee. but joanie lee was just staring straight ahead, looking terrified. she was obviously not going to be any help.
“um - i will have to pack something,” laurene appealed to the ambassador.
“no, you won’t,” said gustav. “we can provide anything you need. the empire will be at your disposal.”
“i want to get my handbag.”
“all right, get it - and get your i d,” the ambassador agreed.
“in one minute,” gustav added. “or i will come after you.”
unnoticed by anyone, stephanie had come back into the room. “go with them,” she told laurene, “you will probably be safer with them than you would be here.”
joanie lee gasped, and everybody turned to look at stephanie.