out everything , but I need to stay the hell away from these two. Even the cheapest temptations can break you when you’re being seduced by Russian vodka and expensive caviar.
I relish every variant of caviar served to me, and every kind of vodka they provide to chase it down with. Wow, these Russians can drink. The men have been surprising respectful and have spoken in their broken English for most of the time, but I can tell as soon as they start talking business. They all break out in their mother tongue before quickly reverting back to English, paying me the odd glance to see if I’m listening. It wouldn’t matter if I am right now, I don’t understand a single word they’re saying. This is a slight oversight of the operation. I only know one word in Russian, and that’s thank you. Right now, that isn’t going to help me at all. I feel Tench give me a light squeeze as the conversation becomes less spoken in English than it is in Russian. “I might go and catch up on some sleep and shake this jetlag ,” I speak softly to Tench. “Plus, I really want to get up early tomorrow and go to a book store to get a copy of Pushkin’s Bronze Horseman . I am in his hometown, right?” I smile. Tench smooths my hair back and palms the side of my face . “I have a lot of work to do tomorrow, gorgeous, so we’ll have to leave it for another day.” I nod slowly, purposely showing my disappointment. “Or … you could take one of the boys with you … Luka.” He blasts out Luka’s name. Everyone else’s conversations stop, and Tench speaks to Luka in Russian. I feel eyes on me before they all laugh at Tench when he finishes his sentence. Whatever he said, it was definitely at my expense. I lean in to Tench . “It doesn’t matter. I don’t want to put anyone out. I can just wait around the hotel until you’re done and we can go together.” My tactic pays off . “Nonsense. I won’t have you wasting this trip waiting for me the whole time. Luka will come by the hotel tomorrow morning and take you to a bookstore just around the corner from here called Dom Knigi. It’s the grandest bookstore in all St Petersburg.” Cha-ching . I smile at Tench, hiding the true reason for my delight. “That sounds wonderful , but I wish you were coming with me.” I pout. “Maybe the next day I’ll take you on a tour of this city. If everything goes to plan here, we should be back in Sydney in a week ’s time.” “I’m so glad I came. Goodnight.” I kiss Tench before I get up . “Goodnight, gentlemen. Please go easy on my man tonight. I may need him later on.” I wink at Tench. He grins and slaps me on the ass as I walk away. My performance , although sickening to me, seems to work its charm on my targets. Except Dima; I have a feeling he’s going to be a tough egg to crack.
The weather this time of the year gets close to zero degrees Celsius, which is about fourteen degrees past freezing for me. Like most Aussies, I think anything below ten is freezing, so I rug up as much as possible before I head out into the chilly autumn of Russia. I leave my hat on but don’t wear my coat until I’m outside the hotel—apparently that’s custom here. Thank goodness the entire hotel is heated to a toasty level. Today I wear a white cashmere jumper tucked into a white pair of Ralph Lauren jeans with tall brown knee-high boots and a matching brown belt. I bring my hair into a smooth low pony so that I can wear my Cossack hat for the whole day. I like that the height of my Cossack makes me look even taller than I already am. With the added heels, I look almost at height with Tench as we stride through the foyer of the hotel. I hold Tench’s hand and follow slightly behind him to the hotel’s dinning area to meet with Luka. I still have no clue what to do once I get to the bookstore that Luka’s about to whisk me away to. I just hope Simon and Liz are monitoring and realise someone is