Anna sat in the hotel room. Quarter to eight in the evening. He would be here in five minutes. Why? Because she had to know…
Know what? Everything. Who was he? Why did he help her? Why is he still in the vory v zakone?
One month has passed since he left her with Christine standing in front of the Thames. And as that month passed her curiosity grew. But somewhere there was that nagging feeling that she didn't care about who he was. The feeling that all she wanted was to see him one more time.
About a week ago she wandered at the bar beside the Trans-Siberian. She didn't know why but something told her that perhaps there was that slightest chance in finding him there. And two days ago she did. She was sitting at the bar stand sipping herbeer slowly. He she heard the door creek open. Someone came towards the bar stand at sat beside her. The deep Russian accent ordered 30gramms of vodka. Her breath froze. It was him. She slowly turned around saw that he was already looking at her. Taking the vodka he quickly gulped it down and brought his kerchief to his mouth. He then took a deep breath and looking at Anna again said,
"Hello, Anna Ivanovna." Taking the beads from his jacket pocket he started flipping them again. "What are you doing here?"
"Nothing. I just came in for a drink."
"This is nowhere close to your home or the hospital…"
"I might have come to see you…"
"Well I'm here. Anything you wanted to ask me?"
"Well," she sighed, "yes." He looked at her and the expression told her to continue. "Who are you, really?"
"I'm just the driver." He said with a slight curl on his lips.
"I don't believe you." She pushed further.
"That's your problem, not mine." She looked at him with a face that meant she was going to find out the truth sooner or later. He smirked and laughed. He emptied another glass of vodka and putting away the beads studied her closely.
"If you want to continue the interrogation later then I suggest a better place than a bar."
"Ok. If it means I will get the answers to my questions, fine! Where and when?"
"Thursday at the Plaza Hotel. About quarter to eight. I'll send you the room-key tomorrow. I will have business before that but I should arrive by that time." Paying the bill he put on his glasses and went out.
Why did she ever agree to this?
The door creaked open. She stood up. Nikolai came in and took off his sunglasses. He studied her.
"Well. What did you want to know?" he took a step closer. She took a step back. He stopped and took out a cigarette.
"Who are you for the vory v zakone?"
"Just a driver…"
"Is that why you were nearly killed? Just because you're a driver?"
"It is." She looked confused. "I was almost killed just because of that fact. Because I am no-one, where as their intended victim was someone of a higher rank than me. The killers didn't know what the person looked like, so I was pointed out to them."
"And you still continue to work for them!"
"Why not? I cannot prove that it was them who showed me to the bastards and if I am to leave then I'll get killed."
Her face softened, but just a bit.
"If I were you, Anna Ivanovna, I would keep away from people like me. For your own safety."
"I go where I want and with whom I want."
"Kak pojelaesh!" Anna looked at him. "As you wish! Anything else? I still have to send a customer to Ireland."
"The vory v zakone want a certain man to be dead and I am to send him to heaven anyway I can. But I think that Ireland might be better for him…" he turned round and walked towards the door.
"Wait!" she said.
He turned again and came towards her. This time she let him come as close as he wanted. He took up one of her hands in his.
"Anna Ivanovna! I do not want you to have anything to do with a man with such marks on his hands. Your hands are clean and should stay that way." He leaned towards her slowly. She, amazingly for him, didn't step back. Slowly he placed a kiss on her lips. "That will be yours for whatever time you wish it to be. And for that time, keep away from them and me…"
He left the room.
When she came home her mother handed her a letter.
"A police officer delivered it. Do you know what's in it?" she questioned her daughter.
"Not a foggiest idea…"she said slowly as she opened it. She froze in mid-step. And let her back rest on the wall. Her eyes scanned through the letter further and further amazement came onto her face.
"They've arrested Semyon. The father of Christine I mean." Her voice was shaken. "They want me to be a witness against him at the listening of the case at court."
"When is it?" her mother asked.
"This Sunday." She turned her gaze to her mother. "How come you're so calm?"
"Why shouldn't I be? They've arrested a criminal. It's how it is meant to be." With that she went into the kitchen to make tea.
Anna glanced at the note again. There were a few lines hand-written at the bottom.
My dear Anna Ivanovna, I highly advise you to keep out of the Trans-Siberian restaurant area before the listening and possibly move out of London all together for your own safety. I think it is needless to say, that because you might give the deciding evidence you might be wanted to be seen with a bullet in your head.
Yours truly, Nikolai Luzhin.
This made her even more confused. Who was Nikolai Luzhin, that he worked for the Russian mafia, but wanted her out of harms way. And how did he appear in this official document?
Her mother came and took the letter from her. Anna still stared into nothingness.
"Who's Nikolai Luzhin?" she asked. "Anna?"
"Hmm? What?" Anna asked.
"Nikolai Luzhin. Who is he?" getting no response she continued, "Is he their driver? Anna tell me!" Anna didn't know what to say. "Well that settles it." Anna slowly put off her coat and went to see Christine. She was asleep.
"Why are you so late by the way?"
"I wanted to get some fresh air." She said absently. The doorbell rang. Anna didn't hear it. She was deep in thought. To think that this perfectly innocent child's father was the head of the vory v zakone…
"You? What do you want?" she heard her mother's voice at the door. She couldn't hear the other voice.
"No! Go away and leave us alone!" Anna went to see who it was. She looked at the clock. It was half past nine.
"Anna!" the visitor called her. She looked at the visitor.
"Nikolai! What are you doing here?" her voice was shattered.
"So he is Nikolai Luzhin!" her mother fretted.
"Anna! You should leave the city! Kirill wants you dead so that you can't give evidence against his father."
"Why are you telling me this?"
"Because I don't want to see you dead!" he said concerned.
"Anna get inside. You and all your other criminal friends will not appear here again. Is that clear?" Anna's mother persisted.
"Mum! Please! Leave us alone for a minute!" Anna begged. Helen looked at Nikolai with a look that could kill, left the door and went to look after Christine.
"Anna, please!" Nikolai urged her.
"Am I to leave my mum and Christine here? Am I to walk away for my own safety, knowing that your friends might come here and kill them but not me?" she looked into his eyes.
"Anna, you should all leave the city until the reading and after giving evidence you should leave immediately also. If they find you they will tell Kirill and he will give the order for your murder!"
"One thing that I don't understand: why are you telling me this? You work for them!"
"Just believe me."
"I do. I just don't understand who you are."
"It doesn't matter." He said. "Zabud' menya! Forget me!" with that he left. The black Mercedes slowly drove away.
"What did he want?" Helen asked her daughter.
"He wanted to tell me that we should all get out of the city."
"I don't know about getting out of London, but I think we can get to the other side of it, visit your Aunt Delia."
Anna sat in the car on the way to the court. She would give evidence against Semyon even if it killed her. She shook her head with a slight smile. That was a bit too exaggerated. But what then? She would go back to her aunt, her mother and Christine and continue her happy life? No, she simply had to see him again! Perhaps she would. Perhaps he would be there defending Semyon, or even more unlikely giving evidence against him…
Thursday night. 10:17 pm.
"Did you kill her?" Kirill asked Nikolai as he come in. Kirill put down the bottle of vodka and threw back his head. He was drunk. This wasn't surprising, considering that he might be the new king.
"Yes," he says after a short pause.
"Good. There'll be no-one to show evidence against my father…" Kirill muses. "But! If you are lying to me, because I've seen the way you look at her, I will drown you in the Themes, then bring you out and cut you up, burn you, and fling the ashes into the river again!" he laughed. Drinking another shot of vodka he stumbles out of the room.
The inspector met Anna at the entrance to the court. As they went in Anna thought she had seen a black Mercedes pull up at the corner with Nikolai in the driver seat. She dismissed the thought almost immediately.
"Anna," the inspector addressed her, "did you get the message from Nikolai Luzhin?" Anna stared at him in confusion.
"Well, yes. Why?"
"He asked me to tell you something after the listening, but only if you got his message."
"How do you know him?" she asked.
"You'll find that out after the listening. Ah! There's our courtroom. Wish us luck!"
Kirill sat in the courtroom. He looked at his father. They smiled to each other when their glances locked together. And all seemed well. There was no doctor to describe the death of the girl. But when the witness was called Anna came. Semyon starred at his son. Kirill in his turned gaze towards the door where Nikolai was standing. They looked at each other and read each other's thoughts:
I'll kill you! You know I'll do it!
Do whatever your heart desires.
Kirill smiled. He looked at Anna then back to Nikolai. He kept switching his attention from one to the other. Nikolai's face changed to a grave one. A face that meant that he would kill Kirill. But the new king kept smiling. He sat back and looked at his father. They exchanged nods and continued listening to the judge.
When the listening finished Kirill's men almost ran out to meet Anna at the exit. They were to take her to the Themes. Kirill would meet them there. Her body would be hidden in the river once it was finished with.
Anna slowly walked out of the courtroom and walked towards the exit. As she turned down a corridor she suddenly felt someone's hand on her moth, pulling her back. Then she felt another hand take her throat. She fell silent and stopped her fruitless efforts of trying to twist herself out. She became aware that she and her capturer were coming towards a back entrance this might be her only chance she knew that Kirill would kill her at the first possibly opportunity.
A door opened and they went out. She kicked her capturer's shin and tried to run but he caught her arm and turned her round.
Nikolai pulled her into his arms. She tried to twist but he held her tightly.
"I had to. I'm sorry. Kirill has sent his men to collect you at the front entrance, I couldn't find another way to turn you around in time." He whispered softly. She drew away from him.
"So what now?" she asked.
"We run." He said calmly. "Your family is going to be in Edinburgh. The inspector has collected your mother and Christine from your aunt's house and will take them to your uncle. I'll get you there by car."
"Who are you?" she asked suddenly.
"Does it matter that much?" he replied.
"What will you do after you get me to Edinburgh?"
"Run." Anna stared in confusion. "The vory v zakone will want to kill me for betraying them, one, and because I know most of them in the face. Please! Let me take you to Edinburgh."
It was half past five. They would get to Edinburgh at about midnight…