From Russia With Love
I always appreciate feedback...Good, bad or in between, I want to hear what you have to say. Enjoy & thanks for reading.
Special thanks to those who put my story on alert/favorite and to my reviewers :
koolawantxox4u – Russian words will probably slip here and there quite a lot, so better brush up on your Russian...Ah yes, didn't even think about it, nice catch ;) I'm glad you like it.
Shelley421 – Wait til you see her temper...
I have it on good authority that their path will cross again sooner rather than later.
theoneandonlyts – I hope you like this chapter just as much
UnrehearsedPatterns - To be honest, I thought about it. She even tried to wrestle Rosalie's part away from her. There was a mud fight, it wasn't pretty, she lost and got the sister-in-law gig...But I might still do something, after all she's the one with the goddamn Russian name lol...
casp43va – They're biding their time ;) If everything goes according to my plans ( and that's a big if ), then yes. I'm not completely dismissing a Tanya POV though if the inspiration steers me in that direction.
Torni – Training, training and more training...nah, I kid. There will be training, yes, but also exploring, awkward Skype calls, tensions and I'm not saying any more...
Juiny24 – L.L.L – Ask and ye shall receive...TADA!
tlc125 – Wow...That's some high praise and kind words, hopefully I won't disappoint such a high standard ;)
Zombie35 – It's not gonna be all rainbows and unicorns, I can give you that :D
Iceyulookin – No worries, I'm glad you took the time to leave a review at all
Kara-24 – I have a confession. I don't speak Russian at all and don't read Cyrillic. I do my research though, to get more insight on Russia, its language and its culture. So, when I got your review I did what any person living in the 21th century would have done- Yeah, I'll shamefully admit I used an online translator lol, you will have to forgive me if the translation mislead me but I think I got the gist of what you meant.
About the Russian law, I do know that the law voted by the Duma forbids what they called "gay propaganda", and I know that it stems from the very conservative right wing. Two things on that. First, defining propaganda is actually very sketchy...Would a talk explaining homosexuality (in a neutral, informative way) made in school to kids be considered as such? And is a manifestation pro-gay rights viewed as such? From what I've read and seen, it would be a glaring yes. In that respect, I think it can fairly be viewed- especially by foreigners- as an anti gay policy. I didn't want to give a black and white perspective to this story, you'll see some love for the Russian culture later on..I think Russia is a country with a strained history, yet an important country -on a world scale, in many aspects ( as shown in the Ukraine crisis...We'll never be able to solve the problem without Lavrov, Medvedev or Putin at the negotiation table), but it might be stuck on its "glorious past". Perhaps people spend too much time worrying about conservatism and religion to see the world is changing? Ultimately, I'm not saying every Russian is homophobic, just like you cannot say the USA has no homophobes; but that law is a big step backwards and sometimes in the future, it'll have to change. And don't get me started on the "children protection" argument lol-
On English, who said she didn't? She might surprise you yet, and you know how that goes, not everyone speaks the language, despite schools teaching it. Besides, it is actually a very US thing to do, to expect people to speak English wherever Americans travel so, one might say Americans need to learn more languages as well ;)
Hopefully I answered some of your concerns and again, I'm trying not to give too Manichean a perspective to this story- there will be some criticism of the USA as well... Though you will have to remember, the POV is that of a US girl, and as I said in the story, there's a lot of History there (and probably many past resentment & stereotypes in the way on both part), hopefully it won't deter you from reading the next chapter.
Guest – I was right in the middle of writing when I got your review, it re-motivated me to finish sooner ;)
ScarlettArcher – Here, I'm feeding the beast...Let it be known that I'm not one to avoid taking responsibility!
I own nothing but my ideas and words. Everything else belongs to its rightful owner.
[chapter 3 – b`lyad'! ]
She was going to let it go, really she was. Bella figured she'd be the adult there and let the ice princess go on her merry way, but at the last moment, she decided otherwise.
"Wouldn't have killed you to answer me, Princess," she shouted to the Russian's retreating back. There. Childish, true, but satisfying nonetheless. And come on, she acted as if she couldn't be bothered to be nice when really, it was her own damn fault they collided in the first place. If she had looked where she was going, then maybe she wouldn't have to talk to Bella, who had just been too well brought up by her parents not to be polite.
Yeah, OK, so maybe the fact that the blond was easy on the eyes hadn't hurt. Still, she had apologized nicely because that was the thing to do. That was the thing civilized, normal people did. But hey, one could dream...Maybe a death glare and a grunt was Russian code for "apology accepted".
Angela, who had jogged back to her side, teased her, "well well well...Look at you, Swan, making friends already?"
Both of them had been friends since high school, attending the same dreary place in bumfuck, USA. They had trained together for years and Bella was glad to have her there. While she held no doubts about her abilities as a player, she relied heavily on her friend on the ice. Every player did; a hockey team is only as good as their goaltender, and she knew that old NHL saying to be true. She could score all the goals in the world, if Angela did not back that up with solid saves, her efforts would be in vain, and their team nowhere near that good.
They had shared a lot of firsts together- among which their junior days, championship titles and of course, making the National Team; wearing their country's colors on their jersey for the very first time. All those had been glorious, humbling, rewarding and incredible adventures they had been fortunate enough to be a part of; and figured prominently in both player's top five life experiences. Yet none of those could ever compare to their first Olympics. They had worked so freaking hard for it, and were glad to be able to share it with each other once more. If she hadn't won that coin toss, they would probably be rooming together; though as things stood, Angela had gotten lucky enough to agree with Kate, their best left wing defense player, upon housing arrangements.
"Yeah, yeah, mock me...Not everyone has a significant other, some of us actually have to work for it" she berated Angela.
"Ah, but I do have to work for it! Do you know how many goddamn pole dancing lessons I took last year just to give my man a freaking show and a lap dance?"
Bella could not help her laughter, "I do remember actually, and I'd say a dozen off the top of my head?"
"Exactly. If that's not love-"
"Sure, if love is a cheap whore in a dingy bar on the Las Vegas strip," she cut her off.
The whole thing was hilarious. Angela's boyfriend, Ben, had declared after a long night of drinking, at Bella's house, with a few friends; that he'd never had a lap dance even though it was on his bucket list. Long story cut short, her friend had drunkenly promised him his wet dream, and they ended up shagging in her guest room, while she cleaned up the mess and had a last drink with an ex. Problem was, the next morning, poor Angela had found out her man could be extremely attentive while wasted and very much lucid while hungover.
Decided to own up to her bragging about giving him everything he'd ever dreamed of- her words, however slurred- she had taken the lessons to give him a killer routine for his birthday. He hadn't seen it coming, but Ben was still in starry-eyed wonder the next day, she could attest to that.
"Shucks...Stop spoiling my fun. What did you do? Can't you try to be nicer when you meet people?" Angela asked in an exasperated tone.
"Well fuck, don't hold back huh? I didn't do anything. The Russian bumped into me, I apologized, she was rude. End of story-"
"Oh come on, Swan, can't you see I'm living vicariously through you? I need some sparks, a little something to whet my appetite...Was she hot? Did she find you hot? What did you say to her?" Angela grabbed her arm and dragged her along as she enthusiastically questioned her.
"First of all, she's Russian. And she was OK," Bella did not want to throw the bubbly goalie a bone. Angela was her friend, one of the best she had in fact, but the woman was a terrible gossip. She couldn't help it, things just slipped out of her mouth as if she had no control over it. Come to think of it, she probably lacked a regular brain-to-mouth filter, sometimes babbling endlessly without realizing what she revealed- unlike Lauren, a bitter, aging player on their team who was plainly vicious and would literally do anything to outshine people, on and off the ice. The woman was a bitch, there was no other word for it. She took a particular pleasure in demeaning others, which Bella thought said a lot about her own self confidence. She had to know that she was a lesser player- barely a few steps beyond average these days- than some of their roster's girls, most of them couldn't even comprehend why Coach Black would even bother putting her on the team at all. Rumor had her alternatively fucking a Team USA executive, an IOC member or the head of their PR staff.
Bella didn't particularly care, that was their private life. But if it impacted her team, then that was another matter altogether. Their team was very competitive, mostly due to their nation's international rank in hockey and the love people had for it. There was no shortage of players to choose from for the Olympics roster, so every spot had been fought for, well maybe most of them...
"Yeah, true, but she looked pretty damn fine to me. And I only got a glimpse. Wouldn't that be romantic? You could get back from Sochi with a gold medal and a wife. Not bad for two weeks, huh?" Angela eagerly interrupted her train of thoughts, making her chuckle at her friend's never ending excitement.
That was one of the reasons she loved her; she could get on with anything, see the positive in most things. Her teammate was a vibrant woman, she brightened everything she touched, and was friendly with everyone...hell, the woman probably never had an enemy in her whole damn life, while Bella could come off as more feisty, opinionated, to put things mildly. She had a sarcastic streak a mile wide and a slight temper that could not be helped any more than her friend's lively, babbling ways.
"Right, absolutely...And what, live happily every after with my Russian mail ordered bride? Not to burst your bubble Angie, but for starters, I'm practically sure she's not gay. And again, she's Russian. How cliche would that be? I can already see the headlines. Shockingly treacherous love affair in Winter Games, or something along those lines...So yeah, I'll pass."
"You're such a fucking downer. OK, so maybe I was too enthusiast, but-"
"As I was saying," she started again, with a bite, "maybe I went a bit overboard, but think about it. Don't you want to settle down, B?"
"With the woman I know nothing about and had about 2 whole minutes of actual human interaction with? Are you out of your goddamn mind?" Bella stopped walking in front of their compound to gape at her friend while their security detail warily observed them.
"Quit being so fucking dramatic, Swan. I meant in general. In a keep your options open kinda way, not in a get her back kicking and screaming; drag the woman by her hair to throw her over your shoulders, and lock her in your cave for a shotgun wedding, Jesus." Angela smiled at her, with an exasperated look on her face and a wagging finger.
"Thank fuck for that. Why didn't you say so in the first place? I figured too much happiness had finally killed your common sense," she replied as they entered the compound; agents still on their tails as most of their teammates had already gone into their room to put their gear away.
"Ugh, you-" Angela's phone rung, interrupting their friendly little squabble. She took out her phone to see her fiancee's name flash and turned towards her. "It's Ben, I have to take it before debriefing. Meet you here in ten?"
"Sure, tell him I said hi."
Literally saved by the bell, Bella went upstairs to her room. She took a quick shower, dressed in jeans, a white tank top and her warm Team USA sweater- no debate on that term, it was their official, Ralph Lauren designed uniform. Though she had mixed feelings about it at first, she had to admit that the sweater was warm and comfy. And there was something kind of cool about having an actual fashion designer tailor their outfits, or at least most of their fellow American athletes thought so, her included.
Obviously, there was the matter of the design itself, which many had deemed ridiculous and much too conspicuous. One thing was for certain however, no one could mistake them for any other country delegation but the blind. White stars dotted the entire thing; the rear was more plain than its front- in dark blue color with USA written in big, bold red letters circled in white and stars sprinkled all over it. The other side was another story entirely...At first, she had thought it might be her, that she was just not fashionable enough to appreciate such a style. But no, the outfits had been ridiculed quite a bit all over the country.
With their patchwork of red, white and blue, its strangely shaped stars and red pocket lining, not to mention anything about the blue Sochi written on it; the design made for a flashy garment. The right side breast pocket emblazoned with their flag above the Olympics rings didn't help and neither did the year, 2014, sewn underneath it. Overall, there was a lot of criticism around them, though some people did find them fantastic. She figured a sweater was a sweater, no matter what color or shape it was and the only thing she really wanted out of it was warmth. Obviously, she was thankful they weren't neon green or something; still, it mattered very little in her opinion.
The team met for debrief a little while later. Coach Black drilled them for two hours, highlighting their opponents strengths and weak points, with great accuracy. The man had a good eye for the game and could spot a play from a mile away. Due to their second place in the IHF World Ranking, Team USA received an automatic berth into the Games. Although that was a relief, it also meant that their first games in the Olympics would have lower stakes; and players sometimes let that cloud their judgment. Either they could forget to take their first game, and each one following, seriously and lose to a lesser team; or they could do well in their first game but be too cocky and crack under the higher pressure in the next ones.
There was a million other scenarios that Bella could run through her head, and their coach could input whatever tactics to their plays; it wouldn't matter if they were not strong, maybe even much so mentally, when the day came. There was no exact science to sports, and Olympics were a special brand of competition. There were favorites, sure, but an outsider could surprise anyone in such a rare, international event. Some of those players would not compete in the next one, whether it be because of their age or the injury that hadn't happened yet. Everyone knew that, there was this overwhelming sense of a one-shot opportunity in the Games, the chance of a lifetime to grab a medal and make history. And Bella knew quite well that no one is as dangerous as someone with nothing to lose. Regardless, she listened to her coach attentively and participated actively to their debrief.
Finally dismissed by their coach afterward, she went back to her room, booted up her computer and tried to launch Skype. Operative word being tried. The connection was pretty bad, but it would have to do. She was hoping to speak to her younger brother, who couldn't make it for their last family dinner. Emmett was studying to be a lawyer at Harvard, and he could not take any time off in his busy year to take a trip home. Bella understood, he had his priorities, much like she did and after all, her brother was achieving his life long dream as well. She could remember when they were young, Edward and her would fight to play pretend and be a criminal or a cop, while the youngest of their family would want to argue their innocence and set them free. He had been adamant he would be a lawyer when he grew up, a call to action TV shows had probably raised.
Their brother was a weird child, a perfect mesh of their parents personalities; he could be extremely rambunctious, astute in his observation of the world that surrounded them- a trait all three of them had picked up from their father- although their brother was the one with the most empathy. Edward was a jerk, she could be a bitch too, but Emmett? Never hurt a fly in his entire goddamn life. Edward was easy going, she had a feisty temper and Emmett a gentle soul.
The most funny and awkward thing had been during his teenage years. He had a spur of growth and suddenly caught up to Edward's height; taller than her 5ft9 at that time, in less than a year. He had buffed up too, thanks to their mother insisting they all take self defense lesson. Both boys had hit the gym more than ever after that, sweating away the testosterone that wracked havoc on their mind and body alike.
She wasn't oblivious, Bella knew they-or at least Edward; as their younger brother mainly followed in his elder sibling's steps- had realized women liked men with muscles. Well, most women that is.
Her? She had waited a bit for that magical boy. The one she would want to make "kissy faces" with as a child; only to grow up and lust after said young man. He, so thoroughly advertized to her by Disney, romantic comedies and silly books since her childhood, seemed to elude her. Oh, she had plenty of friends in the male gender category, but none whatsoever to entice her.
Bella listened to her friends talk about boys like the most precious thing on Earth. They wanted to kiss them, hold their hands, pass notes with them during class, and all the stuff little girls can dreamily imagine at a certain age. But none of those things held any appeal to her. Bella would cringe in disgust every time she'd think about one of those gross, disgusting, lizard chasing little boys planting one on her. Back then, the kid she was figured it just wasn't her thing; that maybe she'd end up as a nun or something. She vowed never to let any boy touch her lips, her hand or get near her in any other capacity than as friends.
Her revelation came in the form of Sue Clearwater, a petite brunette she went to school with. That girl, she was the one who made Bella understood why people talked about butterflies in your stomach, tied tongues and dumbstruck expressions. At ten years old, she thought the brunette with the cute pigtails and pink bows was everything she could ever want. No need for a knight when she had a princess. Of course she tried to kiss her, after her brother had told her she needed to take the initiative with the enchanting little lady. He had caught her doodling their names in her notebook, one time at recess, as she gazed at the object of her affection from afar. He had teased her endlessly, but promised he wouldn't say anything to either their parents nor their older brother- only too happy that she had confessed to him, the baby of the family, first. Bella got a broken nose, courtesy of Sue, and a wounded pride.
The next day, in a show of bravery to distract the gossip from his older sister, Emmett had kissed Sue's twin brother, Sam. Turns out her little brother had liked it just as much as her heartbreaker's twin. And while she had nothing but a sloppy kiss, bruises on her face and a slight, permanent deviation on her nose to show for her life changing revelation, Emmett had met his soul mate. Go figure.
Both boys had been together for such a long time, she had trouble remembering a time before that. They shared an apartment near the Harvard campus where Sam had followed Emmett, to study criminal science, in the hope of becoming a cop. As they had been a steady couple for so many years, their parents easily approved their move together and found them a great place to start their life away from home.
She logged into Skype, put her sound on and checked to see if she had any emails while it booted. She was interrupted by a call popping on her screen, with her brother's better half as an avatar. Sitting with her legs crossed on her bed and the laptop across her knees, Bella accepted the call.
"Hi, Bells" Sam waved at her from his couch, in much the same position as she was, his smiling face brightening her day.
"Hey you, how's life in the good ole US of A today?"
Sam laughed, "not that grand I'm afraid. We had a shitty weather all day long and I'm so fucking tired it's not even funny anymore. How are you? Did you see the ice rink yet?"
"Oh, poor thing, we all know how much you love the rain," she replied to her future brother-in-law. "I'm good, yes I've seen it, it's like any barn back home but longer. Still freezing cold and still hurts like a bitch when you fall though. And if you're so tired, I'm sure a Doctor would advise you to cut back on your extracurricular activities with my brother, cut him off or something," she smirked at the dark-skinned Native American young man her brother loved so much.
"Ah ah, smart ass-" he was cut off by Emmett yelling, "I heard that. And fuck you, Bella, don't give him any idea." The voice got progressively louder as her brother came into the frame to throw his arms around Sam from behind he couch. He kissed his boyfriend's head and greeted his sister, "hi B, how's sochi?"
"Well hello to you too, brother mine. One might have thought you'd call your only sister earlier-"
"You didn't call? You idiot," Sam hurriedly said, "I told him to call you," as he whacked her goof of a brother in the back of his head, "that's rude, even for you, Em."
"But, but...I wanted to, I swear I meant to call you Bells, I just forgot," he whined, making puppy dog eyes at his lover.
"It's cool, bro, really I was just teasing. I know you're busy so-"
"I'm gonna watch all your games though, B, scouts honor." The idiot looked at her through the camera and held three fingers up, straight in front of him, taking the most earnest expression he could muster.
"You've never been a scout, Emmett, but I appreciate the support," she winked at her younger brother. Sam turned to his lover with a glazed, lustful look in his eyes, "but you could be..Can't we buy those sexy uniforms online?"
"Anything for you, baby," he replied in a sultry voice, smirking at his boyfriend.
"And that's my cue. I'll talk to you guys later. Have fun," she chuckled at the men on her screen, deep in their love bubble or something similarly hazy; she was nothing but noise to their background. They snapped out of it long enough to say goodbye and tell her to be careful, along with a request to call them whenever she could.
Grabbing her gear, Bella headed downstairs to find an agent to accompany her to the ice rink, notifying Coach Black by text in case he came to check on them, later that evening. Aro, her assigned security detail for the night drove them in an unmarked black SUV, so typically FBI she could have sworn they were back home. He lead her safely towards the dressing room, his eyes sweeping the perimeter before giving her the all clear.
She put her skates on her feet , not bothering to change her jeans or put on her official outfit- with the exception of her jersey and gloves. When she came out of the room with her stick and puck, the agent sat on a bench, in front of the door leading to the ice, playing with his phone. He nodded at her a she went in.
She entered through the double doors, ready to work on her killer aim when she heard music, followed by what sounded awfully like a crash. As she looked around to find the source of the noise, she heard a voice she recognized; screaming among other words she couldn't distinguish, "b`lyad'!"