Prologue

July 1998.

There was nothing particularly special about Serafina Kuznetsova.

She wasn't smart. She wasn't funny. She couldn't sing or dance or paint. She wasn't even physically fit; preferring to simply spit or bite when violence occurred, and besides, with a gun she didn't even need to raise her fists when a bullet would put someone in their place much more effectively and painfully than even the best of punches.

Serafina was also aware that she wasn't much of a looker, either. She was average height and build and dressed in plain black shirts and jeans and boots and an old Soviet military jacket that she acquired from a former soldier who couldn't pay his debts. In keeping with her efforts to remain as un-feminine as possible, she regularly shaved her hair short to the scalp, reasoning that she was more practical than pretty anyway. Besides, in her line of work, pretty could all too easily work against you.

Serafina was a thief, an aggressive thug and drug dealer.

And, just seven months into her twenty year sentence for possessing and distributing illegal drugs, Serafina Kuznetsova was going to be a mother.