Copyright 2010, RiverHouse Publishing, LLC & Latrivia S. Nelson
Anatoly Medlov: Complete Reign
The late morning sun’s fiery blaze awoke Anatoly from his peaceful sleep. His blue prisms slowly opened to the clear skies shining brightly across the room. He squinted a bit, wiped his tired eyes and yawned. Why didn’t his folks have real curtain in their bedroom? How did they wake up to this every single day?
Sitting up in the bed, he looked over at the black woman lying in bed beside him. Her dark skin gave dramatic contrast to the silver sheets that barely covered her long, slender body. She slept as if she did not have a care in the world. A small grin colored her full lips. Long, dark, thick hair spilled over onto her pillow.
Bending toward her, he looked at her chest slowly rise and fall. Peaceful bliss for her but not for him. Resting his head back on the headboard, he ran his hair through his blonde tendrils and gripped the back of his neck, massaging his aching bones.
Unfortunate for her, he had that familiar feeling again now that he had her – the urge to flee. At the very moment that she committed, he disassociated. It was cause and effect for him. He knew it as soon as he finished making love to her the night before and laid his head on the pillow.
Sweaty and exhausted, he had collapsed beside her, feeling a million miles away from her body even though it was so close to his own. She had looked into his eyes and confessed her love for the first time in their pseudo-relationship. And he had whispered in Russian, “Ya ne lyublyu tebya,” (I don’t love you), in response.
She had gone to sleep smiling and oblivious. He had gone to sleep thinking about his dilemma – how to undo what he had done far too spontaneously. The tightness in his chest had started immediately, as soon as she spooned beside him and closed her big, brown eyes. His father was right. It simply would not work.
Now, curled up beside him, wrapped in the sheets, she never felt him when he stirred, when he pulled his body from the bed and quickly slipped on his jeans.
Once fully dressed, he stood by the bed for a while, staring at her and thinking of all that he had put her through and vice versa.
Finally when he had reasoned enough, he grabbed his wallet and keys and slipped out of the bedroom.
The family could take care of her arrangements to get back to Italy to the winery. He knew that his father would at least – Royal may not.
All he knew is that he couldn’t stay in the condo with her a moment longer. Now that he knew that she was okay, that she had not been harmed because of him, he could release her.
In fact, he had already released her, whether he liked it or not. She wasn’t the one. It was sort of refreshing when he thought of it. To fall in love with Victoria would be too easy and far too dangerous. She was like him. Cunning. Forward. Greedy. His decision would be best for the both of them or at least for him.
It would have been cruel to leave her stranded at his parent’s condo alone, so he left the keys on the kitchen counter for the Bentley. But he didn’t leave a note. That was too much.
Words couldn’t express what he was feeling right at the moment anyway. What was the use of trying? He’d walk for a while and clear his head. He just had to get out of the condo with her, had to get away from the commitment that was coming. The looming inevitability of a bad relationship choked him out of the space – drove him to flee.
Opening the front door to the house, he looked back one last time up the stairs and then left.
The sun was just as bright outside as it was in his family’s bedroom. It shone down on him and fed him the energy he needed to get on with things. He took a deep breath, savoring the fresh air, slipped on his Aviator shades and headed down the steps towards the walkway.
Looking around at all the well-manicured lawns, the expensive cars and the people walking up and down the sidewalk, he felt a calm that was not possible a minute ago.
This place was such a far cry from the life he had known when he was a boy. Everyone here was privileged. They had no clue what it was like to struggle, to fight for every crumb. But then again, neither did he, not anymore.
Life was good, but his was pushing him to get back to Memphis. His business could not run itself. There were things to do, people to see, money to make, guns to sell.
Catching a taxi a few miles outside of the upscale, gated community, he ordered the small Indian man to take him straight to the airport. He would bypass heading back to the countryside to his father’s chateau. Dmitry would understand. His father was like that. He was wise in his years because of the women that he had gone through before meeting his wife, Royal. Only Victoria was not his Royal. There was nothing anyone could do about that.
Within the hour, he was on the tarmac of a private airstrip with a cup of tea and cigarette, preparing to board his jet and head back to the states from Prague.
Still smelling like sex from the night before, he threw his cigarette down and headed up the stairs to his plane. The metal clanged under the weight of his heavy boots as he quickly made his way up. When he got to the top, he turned around and looked over the airstrip.
Finally, so far away from the condo, he could breathe again. The tightness in his chest had subsided. But he did wonder if she was awake yet, if she had found the keys, put the pieces together and figured out what he didn’t have the nerve to tell her. Goodbye. Take care. Don’t call.
“Welcome back, Mr. Medlov,” the flight attendant said, offering to take his nearly empty cup.
Turning away from Prague, he passed his Styrofoam container to her and took off his shades.
“Thanks, Karen,” he said, feeling a sense of relief.
“Let’s get out of here, da.”
Memphis was already reaching scorching heat in early April. Anatoly raced through the city on his motorcycle from his father’s mansion to the restaurant with his mind on the meeting that would take place in less than an hour. He gripped the handlebars and jolted down Walnut Grove past the people in their family cars obeying the speed limit. Their slowness annoyed him. Or maybe it wasn’t them at all. Maybe it was his need for the fast life. Fast all the time. Fast until death. His new mantra was completely against his father’s old school teachings, but he embraced it happily.
Reluctantly, his men followed as best they could a few cars back. He didn’t really like bodyguards very much, even though according to the council they were a necessity. However, they made him feel more vulnerable than when he was alone.
Alone, he could take care of himself. He felt like the true recluse that he was. Plus, there wasn’t much he couldn’t handle with the heat he was packing under this coat. Cop or Thug. He could take them all out, if needed.
Most days, he felt utterly invincible. Like today. He was roaring inside, but he didn’t know why. There was just something in the air. Something urgent was on the horizon.
He accelerated as soon as the stop light turned green. Digging in and pulling off hard, he was just about to switch gears when he felt a jolt from behind. A sudden jerk took his bike off the ground. He propelled forward in the air helpless to the power of the strike. Then his body hit the hard pavement with an earthquake-like thud. He rolled twice feeling chunks of flesh tear apart as he clumsily bounced.
On his back, he looked up at the sky and tried to breathe when the momentum slowed. His chest felt as though it would cave in. He heard cars screeching around him, trying to stop for the man lying in the middle of the street. Then he heard a car door open, heels pound the pavement and a woman screaming.
“Oh, my God! I’m so sorry,” she squealed from afar. She ran up to him and dropped to her knees. “Can you move? Oh my God!”
Anatoly tried to move, tried to breathe. He reached for his helmet, to pull it off and inhale fresh air. She helped him remove his head gear. Her perfume greeting him as he emerged. Sparkles of white light and funny speckles blinded him. Sweat formed on his forehead from the pain. Then he heard familiar, Russian voices. His men. They came running and pushed the woman out of the way.
“Boss, boss, are you alright?” one voice asked.
“Call an ambulance,” another voice ordered.
“I’m so sorry!” the woman said again.
“Help me up,” Anatoly finally ordered as his vision came back to him.
“Boss, I don’t know if you should move,” one of his bodyguards said concerned.
“Help me up,” Anatoly insisted, making his body move. If they wouldn’t help him, he’d get up himself, then there would be hell to pay.
His men pulled him up while a few others picked up his bike. Anatoly looked around. Cars stopped, and people looked on with their hands on their mouths. Great, he had become a spectacle.
Limping, he went over to the sidewalk and sat down on its edge near a gutter. His men gathered around him as if he had just been shot. He wanted to scream at them, to demand some space, but he was too tired to bark. Instead, he slumped over and rubbed his bloody knees. He hated road rash. This shit will leave scars for years, he thought to himself. He winced as he touched the exposed, torn flesh mingled in denim jeans. Fucking bad driving women, he thought to himself.
As he looked across the street at the woman who had evidently hit him, Anatoly could tell that she wanted to come over. She stood in her red suit with her cell phone to her ear talking to someone – probably the police – about the accident and staring at him.
“Should we get you out of here?” Vasily, his right-hand bodyguard asked.
“No, go on to restaurant. Tell McNamara that I’ll be late for our meeting. See if he can reschedule for later this evening. Find out when his flight leaves and make any arrangements that he needs,” Anatoly said, still looking at the woman.
“What about her? You want us to…”
“No,” Anatoly said, looking back at his knee. “Just go and do what I told you to.”
“Yes, boss,” he said, taking a few of the men with him.
The woman couldn’t help herself any longer. She put away her phone and ran through traffic across the street to him. Her hair had fallen down out of its neat ponytail and her wide doe-like eyes were filled with tears.
Anatoly looked at her and automatically thought of Victoria. Her chocolate skin glistened with sweat and her full lips curved into a pensive frown.
“Sir?” she looked over at the bodyguards who sat with him. Stepping back a few feet, she raised her voice. “Is there anything that I can do? I’m so sorry. I didn’t look up in time enough…it was my fault.”
“I know it was your fault, I couldn’t have done this to myself,” Anatoly snapped. “Do you have insurance?”
“Of course,” she looked over at her Audi. “I can go and get my card. Are you alright?” She looked back over at him.
“Do I look alright?”
The woman sighed and put her hand on her hip. She wiped the tears quickly from her face. “I’m so sorry. I was…not paying attention.”
A police car pulled up with its lights on and siren blaring. Anatoly looked over and rolled his eyes. Great. Now the pigs were here.
A fat, stubby, white officer pulled himself out of the car and slowly made his way over, wobbling with every step and determined to take his time. He looked at the odd group with a frown. A black woman, a biker and a group of misfits in suits?
He pulled out his notepad and pen as he got closer then stopped when he saw who was sitting on the sidewalk. Not just any biker. IT was Boss Anatoly Medlov. Turning around, he grabbed the radio on his shoulder and called in something.
The woman looked at the officer then at Anatoly with a confused look on her face. “He sure is taking his time,” she said offended. “Officer!” she called out. “Is an ambulance on its way?”
“I don’t need ambulance,” Anatoly said gruffly, getting up without his men. They knew better than to help him in front of the cops.
“But you’re bleeding and injured,” she said, putting her hand on her hips. “Excuse me, officer?”
The fat cop turned around and swallowed hard. He walked up to the group and looked at Anatoly. “Can anyone here tell me what happened?” he asked in a slow, southern drawl.
“We had an accident,” Anatoly said, ignoring the pain. “We were just about to exchange insurance information and be on our way.”
“Who was at fault for the accident?”
“Me,” the woman said, raising her hand. Anatoly eyed her. Damned right it was her fault.
“And what’s your name, ma’am?” the officer asked.
“Destiny,” she answered with a ring in her voice. “Destiny Palmer.”
Anatoly looked over at the woman as she explained what happened to the officer. She had a Southern accident, sounded like she was from Memphis, looked like something out of a magazine with her busty curves and striking features.
Her thick, naturally arched eyebrows brought out her bright, brown eyes covered by wing-like lashes. Her cheekbones were high and rosy; her nose was carefully carved and her lips were covered in a gloss that made them perfect for kissing. Her long neck led down to a tailored red suit – red being his favorite color – that discreetly covered her well-kept body.
He trailed her long arms down to her long fingers. Manicured nails. No rings. Not married. She wore red, leather heels that highlighted her thick, muscular legs, and she clenched her Blackberry as if it was her only lifeline.
What was odd to Anatoly was that she smelled like sex. It was strange that woman dressed so conservatively would smell like something so lustful, but the perfume that she wore screamed words that were so provocative until he was certain that under all the layers of fine clothing, she was wearing lace. He looked at her hips as she stopped explaining.
She and the officer looked over at him for his version of the story and caught him before he could take his eyes off her perfect derriere. He smiled as he looked up – didn’t even bat an eye.
Anatoly’s bodyguard pulled up to his boutique, Dmitry’s Closet, and dropped him off at the front door. Aching from head to toe, he limped inside, letting the door slam behind him.
The patrons looked up as he made his way through the store, to the back office with his head down and his leg dragging.
In the corner by the dressing room, Renee, the store manager, watched him dumbfounded by his appearance. Excusing herself, she left her assistant, Miriam, to see to the customers while she followed Anatoly to the back.
As she came through the door, she saw him wince and sit down behind the credenza. After making sure the door was locked behind her, she strode over to the office refrigerator and pulled out an ice pack, then walked over to the desk. He looked up at her with a don’t-even-ask scowl.
Renee ignored him. With a smirk, she put the ice pack on his forehead, applying more pressure than needed to his reddened face.
“What gave me away?” he asked, putting his hand on hers as she applied the ice. He looked up at her with a boyish grin. His lip was busted and bruised, but he smiled anyway, forgetting the pain.
“You’re all scarred up,” she said quickly. “Pretty hard to miss. What happened?”
“I got hit by car,” he explained. “On my bike,” he continued.
“I told you that thing wasn’t a good idea,” she stood back up and crossed her arms. “Now look at you?”
“Ugh. You are so afraid of everything, Renee. I had to buy you a Hummer to keep you from being afraid of road.”
“That’s the company car, remember? My name isn’t on it,” she corrected him.
“Well, you’re the only one who drives it…so…,” his cell phone rang. He rolled his eyes. Who was it now?
The pain shot through his arm as he reached into his pants and pulled out his phone. His bloody knuckles scrubbed against the denim and stained his pants. Renee winced for him.
“I’m alright,” he said more for her than him. Renee didn’t blink an eye. She didn’t believe him. He needed a doctor.
Sitting back in the chair, he looked at the number for a minute. His face turned pale.
Turning away from Renee, his voice lowered, and he nodded as he talked in Russian. There were a hundred pauses between his stuttered words.
Renee watched him from across the room in awe. She’d never seen him talk to anyone with such careful measure. He finally looked up at the ceiling and then grunted, then finished his conversation and hung up.
Turning around, he slipped his phone in his pocket and bit his lip. Renee was compelled to stay and pry. Unable to obey her instinct to leave him alone, she cleared her throat.
“Bad news?” she asked.
Anatoly snapped out of his daze and looked up at her. He swallowed hard again and tried to shake something off.
“You could say that,” he finally uttered. He swallowed hard and gave a weak smile. “My…my mother just died.”
Like his father before him, Anatoly sat at the head of Medlov Crime Family table in the basement of Mother Russia as the council talked. As he listened on while they argued, his mind traveled back to the voice on the phone, a young, desperate boy of a voice – his little brother.
It had been so long since he had laid eyes on his family, so long since he had hugged his mother. When he left many years ago, his mother had told him to never return, to never look back. He had taken her advice. Even when he was in Moscow, only miles away from his childhood home, he never returned. His mother never answered his calls, even when she knew that it was him. Word had traveled to her that her son was a Vory, was a boss, was a somebody. But how could he ever remain, if people were to know where he had come from? So she disowned him out of love, and now she was dead.
Anatoly snapped out of his daze and cleared his voice. The loud room quieted. They were all sympathetic for the boy’s lost, but they had seen him harden over the years. The quiet lion had grown from a cub to the king through crafty business deals and cold-hearted killing tactics. They knew that he would recover soon from his newest wound.
There would only be a few more evolutions before Anatoly was the exact replica of his father -an act of betrayal so cruel, he would never recover, the loss of a true friend or a lover, and the torn ties of family bliss. Each boss had experienced each pain in a different way, but the story was always the same.
They looked on at him now, going through one of the three pains he was promised as boss. His mother had just died and with her any thought of kindness or conscious. The death of a mother was one of the two leg weights lifted off a man in Anatoly’s position.
When his mother passed, what was left of his humility would shed like old snake’s skin. The new man who emerged would always be tougher, more resilient and more dangerous.
The older men in the council had nearly applauded when they heard the news of his lost, realizing that the boy’s alienation from outside people only made him more astringent.
“I’ll be gone at most two weeks. There are a couple of meetings that were coming due anyway,” Anatoly said, looking down at his pale hands. His voice was dry. “I’ll make the best use of my time while I’m there.”
“Before you leave, we should discuss one looming problem,” an older man on the council, Yuri, said from the far end of the table. He sat forward and looked around. The other men watched on.
“Yes,” Anatoly gave his permission to speak.
“Lieutenant Nicola Agosto,” he said with a deep growl. The room tensed with the mention of the Italian police officer’s name. “His investigation is getting closer and closer. We have only two options, turn him or kill him.”
“Killing a cop at his level isn’t that easy to do,” Anatoly answered. “I have contacts in his shop. Let me reach out to them to see what can be done to neutralize him, but per the request of my father,” Anatoly tapped his pen on the table, “We have been advised to tread very carefully with Agosto.”
“Why?” Yuri asked.
“Because it brings far too much attention back to us in ways that we won’t be able to hide. There are ways to muddy the waters for Agosto without actually touching him.”
“Does he have something on us?” Yuri asked. “We do not negotiate with police officers…”
Anatoly snarled. “Don’t mistake my youth for ignorance, Yuri. I know that we do not negotiate with officers, but we also do not expose ourselves and show our hand without cause.” His hand hit the table and he looked around the room. “I’m getting really tired of being reminded of the code, like I do not know it.”
“We meant no disrespect, Anatoly. We only wanted to address the issue with the pig,” Yuri retracted.
“Agosto’s a boy scout. I doubt that he has anything, otherwise, he would have already used it, but we have men close to him who know what he’s up to and keep us ahead of him.” Anatoly sat up in his seat. “So, nothing happens to Agosto or his family while I’m away.” He stood up and stretched his aching back. “I’m done…anything else comes down the pike, pass it through Vasily. I’ve gotta get some rest.”
The sun had finally set by the time that Anatoly walked outside of Mother Russia. The wind blew through his blonde locks and filled his nostrils. He took a deep breath and looked up at the stars shining down on him. A tight pain was growing again in his chest – too much stress. He bit his lip and slipped into the back of the car at the front of the restaurant waiting to pick him up.
His driver, Vasily, drove quietly through the streets without bothering his friend. He watched Anatoly look out of the window, staring out into nothingness. He wanted to ask him if he was alright, but he knew better. A Vor thrived on pain, on anger. It only made him more powerful. Their type was bred on hopelessness, so when hope emerged, they knew where it came from.
Pulling up to the gated compound only minutes away from downtown, the bodyguards standing guard in the hut stood on the outside, watching their boss as he was escorted up to the front of the large, plantation-style mansion, lit up at dusk with lights. In the drive was a black Hummer. Evidently, Renee was visting.
Anatoly looked at the truck and gave a sigh of relief. He needed to see her face tonight.
Grabbing his backpack and his Ipod, he walked up the stairs slowly. As Vasily opened the door for him, he smelled food drifting through the corridors. Anatoly tried to conceal a grin. Dropping his backpack, he checked the mail on the table in the foyer and yawned.
“Do you need anything else, boss?” Vasily asked, standing at the door with his hands clasped in front of him.
“Net.” Anatoly grabbed an envelope off the table and slipped it in his pocket. “Take the rest of the night off.”
“Spesiba,” Vasily said, bowing his head. He turned and headed down the back corridor to his room.
When his man was out of view, Anatoly headed toward the kitchen. He walked softly down the marble floors, in the darkness of the house into the large kitchen.
Renee had the television going while she cooked up a small feast. With her back turned and her MP3 player attached to her hip, she sang as she put the final touches on the fried chicken that she placed on the platter.
Anatoly stood in the darkness of the corner watching her with his arms folded in front of him. He could watch her all night if she left him. Outside of his mother and his step-mother, she was the only woman that he knew who loved to cook. She took immense pride in it, but because she was alone in Memphis, away from her large family in Atlanta, she only got to cook for more than herself when she came to see him.
In her favorite apron, she whirled around the kitchen moving plates and flatware to the island bar for the two of them and in between drinking straight out the bottle of wine on the stove and singing Al Green.
“Are you just going to just stand in the corner like a pervert, or are you going to help me fix the table,” she finally said, without looking away from the mixed greens stewing on the stove.
Anatoly stepped out of the darkness with a clever grin on his face. Without talking, he went over to the cupboard and pulled out two wine glasses. As he sat them down, he looked at the table and noticed the card by one of the plates.
“It’s for you, “she said, taking the ear buds out of her ear.
“What is it?” he asked with his back toward her.
“Open it and see,” she turned off the eye on the stove and grabbed a bowl. “Fried chicken, greens, yams, beets for you, and cabbage…for you.”
“What’s the occasion?” He opened the envelope to find a sympathy card from Hallmark, praying for his family during their loss.
“I just felt like you needed something to cheer you up. You had a pretty shitty day,” she said putting the food on the table.
The bowls clinked on the granite table top. Placing the mittens by the bowls, she looked up at him.
As she walked off, he caught a whiff of her perfume. He had bought it for her in Jerusalem. He bought it because when he smelled it, he thought of her. She was his little pudgy friend –someone that he could talk to, confide in to a point.
Only tonight, he didn’t want to talk to her. At that very moment, he wanted to kiss her as a way of thanking her and feeling his own need. He clenched his jaw and looked away. This was Renee for goodness sake. The bump on the head today had obviously been harder than he had first suspected.
As she took of her apron, he noticed that she had on a silk, black sundress showing a lot more cleavage than she normally did. He took his seat and put the napkin on his lap, then looked up at her and shook his head. Since she had lost the weight recently, she was starting to look less and less like an employee and more and more like a prospect.
“What’s the dress for,” he asked, pointing at her breasts. “Are you planning to feed a tribe of starving children tonight?”
Renee looked down and smiled. “I’ve got a date,” she answered with a bright glimmer in her eyes. “They do look big in this dress, huh?”
Anatoly chocked. “A date? With?” A territorial jealousy boiled in the pit of his empty stomach.
“A guy that came into the shop today.” Renee turned and went back to get the bottle of wine. She recognized his jealousy but chose to ignore it. Anatoly never liked anyone to have anything that he didn’t already have or hadn’t had. She didn’t expect this to be any different.
“So, am I eating alone?” he continued, trying to put a guilt trip on her.
“No. He and I are just going to Beale Street to watch a band play later. I figured that you and I could eat dinner first and then…”
“Oh,” Anatoly fixed his plate. “You wanted to get me out of the way first, eh?”
“Basically,” she said, sitting down. “So eat fast. I might get laid tonight, and a sister has been on a serious dry spell, you know.”
Anatoly coughed into his napkin.
Renee laughed. “I’m just kidding, Ana.”
“What did I tell you about calling me that? It makes me sound like…sissy,” he laughed.
“We all know that you’re no sissy.”
“You know this how?”
“I’m the one who has to explain to these women that you’re not available, when they come lurking around my shop,” she said, sneering at him. She stabbed the chicken. “They all think that I’m the devil.”
Anatoly grinned. “You are.” He tasted the food and forgot his worries. Man, did he love her cooking. He sank his food in the crispy, golden, juicy chicken and planted his rigid elbows on the table. He winced again as he remembered his bruises.
Renee watched him in complete satisfaction. She smiled and placed the napkin on her lap.
“Is it good?” she asked, tasting her food.
“Better than pu…”
“Watch your mouth,” she interrupted.
Anatoly grinned and quieted down. They sat in silence, enjoying their food as the Food Network played in the background.
His father had never opened the windows of the master bedroom. It was too much of a security risk, but Anatoly couldn’t imagine anything better.
The wind blew in and rustled the curtains, cleansed the room and cleared his thoughts. He lay in bed awake with his hands behind his head thinking of his mother.
It was still early, barely nine, but as early as he had to wake to get a start on his day, there was no need to stay up all night.
In the darkness, he recounted his childhood, the smell of his mother’s hair on Sunday morning before mass, the smells of breakfast. Even though they were poor, she still worked so hard to give them a happy childhood. Her attempts had not been successful, but it was the effort that he had always admired, especially after finding out that his father’s mother had been a whore.
Her photo flapped in his hand under the powerful push of the ceiling fan above him. He looked at her, her thin lips, her pale skin, her bright blue eyes and hopeful smile. A tear formed in the corner of his eye, but he quickly pushed it back. There could be none of that. He simply wouldn’t allow himself to mourn her.
Sitting up in bed, he reached over for the bottle of vodka on the nightstand and thought of his newly recovering step-mother and put the bottle down. Was there no solace? He had no friends, outside of the men who called him boss and followed his orders, outside of Renee who was on a date with a strange man, outside of Anya, who was a child thousands of miles away.
Even his last lover Victoria crossed his mind. He hadn’t called her since he left her in his family’s condo two months ago. The word from his father was that she had been extremely angry. The last thing that he needed was to talk to her. Even after a few months of silence, there was absolutely nothing to say. So, he was alone. His father had warned him of the cost of being boss. It was the worse form solitude. Everyone feared him. No one would risk getting close to him, not even his own family.
A knock at the door disrupted his thoughts. He recognized the hard tap on his door. It was Vasily. He sat up wiped his tired eyes, then turned on his night light.
“What is it?” he asked loudly.
“There is woman at your door. She’s from this morning, boss. She said that she needed to talk to you. Should I send her away?”
“What woman from this morning?”
“The one who hit you on bike,” Vasily explained.
“How did she…”Anatoly stood up by the bed and slipped on his jeans. “Tell her I’ll be down in minute. Put her in living room.”
The woman stood in the living room in the same red suit from earlier. Anatoly rounded the corner and walked into the room with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. His faithful dogs followed behind him. Barefoot, he walked up to her with a frown on his face. She turned and smiled at him.
“Hi. I know it’s late. And it took me forever to find you, but I just had to come by and make sure that you were okay,” she said, offering a small box. “It’s a little peace offering.”
Anatoly looked down at the box and walked past her. “Don’t they have some kind of rules against contacting people after you assault them?” he asked sarcastically.
She looked at the box and raised her brow. “Yeah, they do. Look, I know that this is…odd, but I can’t tell you how horrible I felt about nearly killing you this morning.” She placed the box on the table.
“Have a seat,” Anatoly said, lighting his cigarette. “How did you find out where I live?”
“Well, up until this morning, I’d never heard of you, and then I went to work and told my co-worker what happened, and I remembered your last name, and they told me about that incident that happened a few years ago with your dad, and then I Googled you and there was few pictures of your house.”
“I need to buy a new house,” Anatoly said under his breath. He took a drag of his cigarette and slapped his knee. His dogs came to him and settled by his bare feet.
“So you saw all that shit that they said about us online, and you still came over here in the dead of night?” he asked intrigued.
“Well, it’s only nine. Actually, I just got off work and…I wanted to leave this with your butler, but he said that he would come and get you.”
Anatoly heard Vasily’s footsteps moving away from the room. He looked back at the woman and shook his head. “Where do you work?”
“For Memphis Metro Magazine,” she said pulling out her credentials. “I’m a food critic. I just started. I moved here from Birmingham about two months ago.”
Anatoly reached out for the box. It was more of a test, to see how gullible the woman actually was. She quickly picked the box up and took it over to him. He opened it and removed the wrapping. It was bike reflector. He looked back up at her and grinned.
“I thought you could use one,” she smiled.
“I could probably use a sense of humor more,” he said, putting the reflector back in the box. “What is your name again?” He already knew but he wanted to hear her say it.
“Destiny Palmer,” she said, standing up a little straighter.
Anatoly stood up. “I tell you what. If you really want to make this morning up to me, then come by the restaurant tomorrow and do great interview on my manager and my food, but don’t show up at my door with reflectors and jokes like I’m someone to play with, da?”
“Okay,” she said, taking the box back. “I just wanted to break the ice.”
“Ice broken,” he said putting out his cigarette. “Vasily, show Ms. Palmer out of my house.”
“Sorry,” she said realizing that she had offended him. “Maybe this was the wrong thing to do, but I just wanted to see you again.” Her voice was softer now. She gave a nervous smile and turned to follow Vasily.
Anatoly watched her walk away and felt a little guilty for being so hard on the woman. In truth, he wanted to see her again too.
“Tomorrow at noon. Lunch with me alone,” he said, rubbing his dog’s head. “Then you do my interview.”
She turned and smiled. “See you then.”