Lyn has traveled the world, always trying to escape problems with what should've been a perfect relationship. Will a chance meeting in Russia be the solution she's been looking for?
She took another sip of champagne, not to calm her nerves as much to provide a distraction, something to help her forget. But she knew it would take something much stronger than a frilly, bubbly party drink to do that. Whiskey, maybe, or vodka. That wouldn’t be hard to find, considering where she was.
A glimpse of movement outside, blocking one of the yellow lights lining the boat’s deck, was all it took to convince Lyn she had a reason to get away from the crowd. She quietly stepped away from the mass of mingling socialites and out into the cool night air, shivering a little from the chill on her bare shoulders. She closed her eyes for a moment after closing the door, reveling in the silence.
The rhythm of footsteps to her left caught her attention, and she silently followed them, careful to keep her weight in her heels so as to quiet her own clicking feet. She passed through the glowing lights swiftly, somewhat relieved when they ended in a wall of darkness lit only by the moon, held high above the water as if on an invisible string. Her eyes had not yet adjusted to the sudden changes in light, so she was startled when she stepped forward to place a hand on the boat’s railing and grabbed someone’s arm instead.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said abruptly, pulling her hand away and moving to one side. She received only silence in response, as if the person had not even noticed her presence yet. She ignored him for the moment and folded her arms atop the railing, leaning on them slightly and staring out at the black water of the river.
“You are cold.”
The words hit her like a shocking wave of the icy water slapping the boat’s hull. She blinked a few times and turned toward him slightly, unable to get a good glimpse of his face, silhouetted against the night sky.
“You’re shaking. Does this not mean you are cold?” he said again. He had, without question, the strangest accent she had ever heard. It was definitely Russian, but with some other tone, something brighter and warmer, that she couldn’t place. Realizing she hadn’t answered his statement yet, she gave a swift nod and looked away. It was impolite to stare.
“I guess s-” Before she could finish speaking, warm fabric encircled her shoulders, and she instinctively clutched at it with one hand. She glanced back at him, taking a full ten seconds to realize he had just given her his jacket.
Apparently she wasn’t the only one who knew the rules.
“Better?” he asked, again in the strange mix of accents. She wasn’t sure if he was a world traveler who had spent too much time away from home, or maybe someone who had learned another language with extreme ease and now could not keep the two separate. The quiet thought crept into her mind that he was one like her, but something too good to be true never was.
She nodded again, this time also giving a soft smile. “Thank you.”
“Is no problem.”
At first she was afraid for a fleeting moment that he might get cold soon after her, which would make her feel guiltier than she needed to be, but when she spoke this aloud he simply gave a small laugh and shook his head.
“You do not live in Russia without knowing cold.”
“Are you from St. Petersburg?” she asked as the boat took a humming turn around a corner, tall buildings hiding the moon from view. He shook his head.
Lyn found herself wanting him to keep talking. She was beginning to realize just how much the rest of the world butchered the names of the famous Russian cities, taking all the harsh beauty and meaning from the words. She almost asked why his accent was so unusual, but there was no need to be insulting.
“You are wondering why I speak this way, yes?” he offered. She blushed a little. Was it really that obvious that she wanted to know? “Everyone does, don’t worry.”
She gave a small, nervous laugh.
“I was born in Moscow, but I lived in Italy until I was twelve. My father wanted to live here, but my mother wanted to be near her crazy family. So they separated and I left with him. School is better here.”
She was getting lost in the strange combinations of sounds again. The longer words were clearly Russian, as she had guessed, but anything under two syllables sounded sharp and staccato, a trait so Italian she wondered how she had missed it before.
“What about you? You look as if you could be from Italy yourself,” he continued.
“My family is, but I’ve never actually been there,” she said with a faint trace of sadness. “I’ve always wanted to go, but…”
“What is stopping you?” he asked, now staring directly at her. She had to look away just to continue speaking, pulling the jacket tighter around her shoulders.
“…He never wanted to let me leave. He was afraid I might not come back.”
She sighed heavily, holding up the hand where the ring had glittered just a few days ago. “My husband.”
He seemed shocked by her statement, his eyes widening slightly as he leaned away from her. It took all her energy to keep from bursting into tears at the cruelly fresh memory burning in her mind, the day all the anger and hurtful words crashed over the wall that had been holding them back, the moment when she finally ripped the ring off her finger and hurtled it to the floor-
“Are you alright?” he asked suddenly. Lyn felt a single tear spill over her eyelid, but that was all it took to let her release every ounce of anguish she had felt since that moment. She had never been happier to be so far away from someone, and at the same time, so close to a complete stranger.
“No crying,” he said as he wrapped her in a hug. “I hate to see beautiful women cry.”
She felt herself calming down instantly, as if the simple command was all she needed. Still, it felt good to cry and let everything out. Maybe things would turn out alright after all.
He pushed her away just slightly, then leaned forward and kissed her forehead. “Better?”
She smiled in spite of everything. “I think I’m okay now.”
“This is good,” he said, pulling the jacket higher up on her shoulder. “I have one question, though.”
“Are you a spy?”
Her breath caught in her throat. How had he already figured it out? She hadn’t said anything to give herself away; she was almost certain of it. He noted the shocked expression on her face and laughed.
“What makes you think that?” she questioned carefully.
“You are the only one who came here alone,” he answered. “I would know; I invited you.”
“…You’re the one I was supposed to meet here?” Lyn asked, hardly able to believe it. He gave a half-smile, showing a few teeth.
“You also have a gun.”
“Just to make sure nothing happens,” she nearly whispered, looking down at the water again. She felt a hand on her back and found it more comforting than she thought.
“So, you say you are married, but you have no ring,” he continued, reaching across to take her left hand in his right. “What happened?”
“I’m still not sure,” she said, sighing. “Everything was fine at first, but then we started fighting…I wanted to stay home more often, he wanted me working more…we just-” She took a deep breath. “We just can’t stand each other.”
“I am sorry,” he said quietly. He ran a hand through her hair and pushed it to one side, then placed a finger behind her ear and trailed it down to her chin, making a shiver run down her spine. She almost asked what it was for, but she couldn’t speak. “You have no microphone or anything,” he noted. His breath was warm on her neck, and she closed her eyes, holding as still as possible. “You are strangest spy I have ever seen.”
“And just how many have you seen?” she murmured. He gently kissed her neck, and though she tried not to move, she couldn’t help but tense up at the feeling. He laced their fingers in response.
“None like you.”
Though her mind was screaming at her to move closer to him, or at the very least to stand still, she pulled away and looked him in the eyes.
“I don’t know anything about you,” she said, trying not to sound as sad as she felt about the whole situation. “I don’t know who you work for, or why I’m supposed to be talking to you…or even who you are.”
He smiled again, taking her hand as he bowed deeply.
“You may call me Gerard,” he said as he placed a kiss on the back of her hand. She found herself smiling a little at the formalities, but as he stood to his full height again, his face turned more serious. “As for my employers…” He pulled what looked like a small leather case from his pocket and unfolded it, revealing a red and gold badge Lyn recognized immediately.
“I believe you are already familiar.”
“The KGB,” she whispered under her breath, not daring to speak the forbidden letters any louder. He closed his eyes as he folded it again and returned it to its place. “I thought they were gone.”
“KGB is never gone,” he answered. “Is a secret.”
“…so…if you work for them…I could’ve told them whatever they needed to know without all this; why bring me out here?” she asked, thoroughly confused. He looked away.
“I wanted to meet you personally,” he said. “Is not often I meet other spies, especially from United States.”
Lyn knew she was blushing at that point. He swiftly wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her closer, tilting her chin up with his other hand so she would look at him.
“I am very glad I have done this.”
“Me too,” she said just above a whisper, trying to keep the tears out of her eyes. No matter how happy she felt just being near Gerard, it meant things really were over for her marriage. She had been holding out some glimmer of hope, thinking that maybe this little trip would be what made them realize how much they needed each other, but that last fight had just pushed her too far. Now that she really thought about it, she never really had loved him, but that didn’t mean she wanted everything to end so painfully.
“You do not love him,” Gerard said suddenly, brushing her hair out of her face and tucking it behind one ear. At this point she had given up on trying to keep anything secret from him and simply shook her head.
“I doubt I ever did. But it still hurts.”
“It does not have to.”
He pulled the jacket around her shoulders again, noticing when she shivered, then hugged her close and kissed her. She froze for a single second before returning the motions, not even caring when the jacket fell to her feet. It had been too long since she had truly felt this way about someone, since she had really let herself feel so overjoyed, and she made a silent promise to herself to never let it happen again.
All too soon, he broke away, giving her another smile before he picked up his jacket and slid his arms through it. Lyn noticed with a touch of sadness that the boat had arrived back at the dock; the passengers were already starting to gather on the deck to watch and wait until they could disembark. She waited until the rest of them were gone before walking over to the short bridge herself, stepping down onto the stone with ease, even with her painful shoes. He followed close behind her.
“It’s late,” she said with a sad sigh. “I should get going.”
He nodded in agreement. “Is not a very safe city, let alone at night.”
“…Will I ever see you again?” she asked hesitantly, not wanting to get her hopes up only to see them fall.
“I will find you tomorrow,” he assured her. “No worrying about that.”
“Goodbye, then,” Lyn said with a small smile, turning and starting to walk away. A hand on her shoulder caused her to turn around, and Gerard kissed her again, this time only for a few seconds.
“Dasvidania,” he said with a smile before disappearing into the night. Lyn sighed almost dreamily as she walked back to her hotel.
Maybe she would enjoy Russia more than she thought.