Alex had told me that her mother was back to running brothels in Russia, working for the FSB, in a way, feeding them information about the criminals that visited her business, and sharing information she got from them. In theory, she worked for one of the branches of the Russian mob, however, I had a feeling, my aunt didn’t work for anyone but herself. I didn’t remember her well, but if she was anything like my mother, she had her own agenda, and was a strong willed stubborn woman that wasn’t going to be told what to do, by anyone.
Another woman walked out from the doorway my aunt had come from. She was also beautiful, but she didn’t look like my aunt or any of the women in our family, so I guessed she wasn’t related to me. She sauntered up to me in impressively tall heels and motioned for me to put my arms out. I was about to be frisked by a prostitute. This was preferable to being roughly moved by a mob goon, and I appreciated the gesture and wondered whose idea it had been.
As she patted down my boots, I felt her slip something cold and hard into one of them. I was pretty sure it was a small knife, probably a small dagger. She put it in the boot that didn’t already have a knife in it. I was positive she had felt the blade strapped to my calf, but she ignored it. Obviously, she was just supposed to remove things like guns from my person.
My male companions were patted down by the goons. Nickolai did not object, but he didn’t look happy about it. However, the real danger wasn’t with me, it was outside looking in a window with a sniper’s scope.
Of course, with Nickolai here, it was possible there were other men out there with scopes and large caliber rifles. Nickolai lead the FSB’s organized crime division. For him, this was mostly work related.
“Niko, you can’t go in,” Tatyana told him. “You have to wait out here, with me. Only Nadine, her husband, and her escorts are allowed through the lobby.” If looks could have killed, Tatyana would have been dead where she stood. The look Nikolai gave her was one that would have frozen molten steel instantly. It didn’t look like anyone else seemed to notice it. I wondered if it was partly for Nikolai’s benefit. He was only here because he had insisted. I was sure it violated some oath he had to take for his job. Then again, this was Russia not the US and Nikolai had been the one to get most of the phone numbers I needed. Plus, the Zeitzev family didn’t always play by a single set of rules, if they had, most of them would still be in Russia, instead of being transported to the US as guests of one alphabet agency or another.
Tatyana walked over and pulled me into her arms, wrapping them around my back and leaning into my hair. Russians were huggers as a general rule, especially with family, and aunts were very important in the life of a Russian female, but it was still unexpected after such a long time.
“There is a bomb on the floor below the office where your meeting is, there is a fire escape attached to the window outside that office. If I suspect things have gone wrong, I will blow the floor below you and hope to give you time to escape.”
“Thank you,” I whispered unsure what else to say.
“Don’t let the manners fool you Nadine,” Tatyana continued to whisper. “This is still the Russian mob, they will double cross you if they can.”
I nodded but said nothing. My aunt was right, these were mobsters, regardless of how polite they seemed. Mobsters didn’t get into positions of power because of their mercy and benevolence. However, a bomb seemed a little strong. Especially one that was going to blow up the floor. If I had trouble walking through a doorway, I didn’t imagine I’d be graceful fleeing across a buckling floor towards a window, hoping a fire escape that probably hadn’t been inspected since I was born would hold all our weight.
A bomb still seemed extreme. Also, what kind of bomb. That seemed like an important question I wouldn’t get answered until I was safe and sound. My aunt was already pulling out of the embrace and I didn’t fight to keep hold of her just, so I could ask. That would have drawn attention to her whisperings.
“I’ll let Alex know,” I told my aunt, covering up the whisperings, as best I could think, at the last moment. My aunt nodded and turned away from me, heading towards the room she had come out of. Nikolai followed after about a minute.
I kept trying to think of a way to tell Zeke there was a bomb upstairs, but nothing was coming to me. I couldn’t exactly shout the word bomb at him, in any language. More Russians spoke French than Americans. There was a logic to it, but I didn’t fully understand it, because like most things about Russia, I hadn’t really paid much attention when I’d been told about it. There was the added complication of my not speaking French even though French was my husband’s native language. Even though France was a really long way aways from Tahiti, the small island nation was a French territory. Ironically, it was a beautiful country, a paradise really, and the French had used it as a test site for nuclear weapons. Zeke’s father had been a dual citizenship Frenchman. His father had been American and French, his mother was Tahitian. It made citizenship complicated for Zeke and he had served in the US armed forces to help earn his citizenship.
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This book is a work of fiction. Any names, places, characters, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination and are purely fictitious. Any resemblances to any persons, living or dead, are completely coincidental.
Copyright © Hadena James 2016
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