Saturday, May 9, 2009

Shadows Chapter 20
Girls Talk

“So are you still friends?” Irissa asked Jalonia.
She couldn’t quite believe that her sister and Frank had broken up. They had been dating for over a year.
“Kind of. But he was talking engagement, for heaven’s sake. I’m not even sixteen. I’m not ready to get engaged. I think he’s panicking because he’s going to College in the fall. Wants me pinned down.”
“Do you still love him?” Irissa asked.
Jalonia looked thoughtful.
“No. I don’t think so. He’s been irritating for a while, being so possessive.”

“So is there someone else?” Irissa asked, raising her eyebrows questioningly.
“Well ... have you seen the new guys that started at school last week?” Jalonia asked.
Irissa peered out from under her fringe at her sister.
“Chad and Kurt?” She asked.

“So you noticed them too! Isn’t Kurt just the cutest?” Jalonia demanded.
“I didn’t notice. I was looking at their bikes,” Irissa admitted.
“I saw them. I thought that you would love them, biker chick!” Jalonia laughed.
“You can have the urges to ride the guy. I’ll settle for riding the bike,” Irissa said deadpan.
“Bitch!” Jalonia slapped her sister jokingly on the arm.

“Are you going to fall asleep here again or are you actually going back to your own bed?” Irissa asked.
“I can’t be bothered moving,” Jalonia replied.
“Then don’t snore again tonight.”
“I don’t snore! You do,” Jalonia protested, scandalised.

“Mum said we can take the car because we slept in,” Jalonia called next morning.
They had missed the school bus yet again.
“You slept in. I was up in plenty of time and I made you both coffee,” Irissa said tartly. "And that was in spite of you keeping me awake all night.”

“Are you going to say that I was snoring again?” Jalonia asked.
Irissa wiggled her eyebrows and smiled slyly.
“Oh, snoring I could have put up with. It was all the sexy moans. ‘Oh Kurt, oh yes...mmm, kiss me again.”
“I didn’t! Say I didn’t!” Jalonia cried.
“I stuck a pillow between us. Didn’t want you thinking I was someone else,” Irissa shook her head tragically. “The girl has it bad."
“Did you put the dresses in the trunk?” Blushing, Jalonia changed the subject.


The full moon rituals had been continuing all through the year, in all but the most inclement weather. Tonight, though, the girls were meeting to work for a sick friend.
They sang out the chants that Irissa had taught them, their voices rising in tempo and intensity to build the energy within the circle.

Irissa caught the strands of voice and energy and channelled them into the spiral that passed around the circle and up, forming the cone of power as the chant reached its climax.
Her arms rose slowly from her waist to her shoulders as the tension built until, suddenly she dropped them and let the power fly.

They sat afterwards grounding themselves, sharing the ‘cakes and ale’, in their case using fruit cookies and apple cider.
Jalonia looked at her sister with slight concern. Irissa always put so much into healing spells, and they usually drained her a little, but tonight she seemed very distracted.
“What is it?” She asked.
“The feeling of someone watching has been stronger the last couple of times,” Irissa replied. “We should close the circle now.”

As always after the circle was dispersed they moved to the fireplace and sat chatting.
“We won’t be able to be together as often after the summer break,” Zara complained.
“You’ll be at College,” Jalonia nodded. “Too far to come out here.”

“Are you going to stay in a dorm?” Jalonia asked.
“No. Jack and I have arranged to rent a house,” Zara said.
“Now there’s a relationship for keeps. They’ll be getting engaged soon,” Jalonia teased.
“I don’t know about that, but we are happy for now,” Zara smiled.
“You’re becoming a habit,” Jalonia teased, not unkindly. “You need to try being with someone else.”
“That’s just because she has a new heartthrob,” Irissa sighed.
“It isn’t as if Jack is the only guy I’ve kissed ... and more. But I like being with him,” Zara shrugged.

“There’s been someone else?” Jalonia yelped. “Do tell! Who?”
“You don’t know him. Irissa does. From my old school. We had sex before he went to College. You know his dad, though,” Zara revealed. “Sergey Solarin’s son Ladislaus.”
“Wow. Is he as hot as his Dad?” Jalonia asked, looking from one to the other of them.
“Oh, yes,” Zara nodded enthusiastically.
“He’s okay. We should go. It’s getting cold and the fire’s gone out,” Irissa said, standing up.
They changed back into everyday clothes, packed up the cushions and made their way back to the car.
Chapter 19

“There’s no doubt we have someone selling us out,” Sergey told his brother. “Three times now we have had information that would have given us a chance against the Cappelli’s and three times it has slipped through our fingers.”
“I know. We’ll find who’s leaking to them, Serge. Damn I’d like to see those bastards dead. As well as Sava’s house mate, there have been two other kids dead from bad drugs this week,” Nikita answered.
“I was paranoid about that at first. I thought the kid might have been some kind of plant to get close to my boy,” Sergey admitted.

“I can see why you were worried. How is he coping?” Nikita asked.
“Badly. He’s blaming himself. He says he saw what was happening and didn’t act quickly enough. I think that he wasn’t sure enough of what he was seeing. He’s still just a kid himself. And his girlfriend thought that he was overreacting.
“He needs a break. He’s been studying hard and didn’t need this added stress. The holiday will do him good. I see Brooke’s coming with us,” Nikita gave his brother a mischievous look. “Getting pretty serious with her, isn’t it?”

Sergey smiled to himself, his mind drifting from the discussion in hand back to the night before and the hot tub. He had discovered several months before that his girl liked to make love in the hot tub.
“She’s a wonderful woman, Serge. You’ve been lucky, finding two great women in your life. I’ve had girlfriends since the accident, but nobody like Brooke.”
“I know. I want to marry the girl, but I haven’t asked her, because I’m scared, Nikita. We’ve been together for more than a year and she hasn’t come to the Cappelli’s attention. She’s stayed over a few nights but mostly she goes home.”

“We’ve kept it really low key in work, too. I don’t want her to become a target,” Sergey worried.
Nikita said nothing. He could see his brother’s point.
“Slava gets home this evening. Are you guys still coming over for dinner?” Sergey asked.
“Of course. Sasha wants to bring his new girlfriend. Is that all right?”
“No problem. See you about eight?”
Which, Sergey thought, gave him the late afternoon and early evening with Brooke alone.
“And don’t worry. We’ll get this traitor,” Nikita assured him.


Brooke had already been at his loft when he had got home. He had given her key months before. She had been swimming steady, hard working lengths of the pool. She hated other forms of exercise but loved to swim. He changed and joined her. After, they moved to the hot tub.
He took her hand laughing as they sat side by side in the water.
“You are either going to wrinkle into nothing from being in the water so much or you are going to grow a tail,” he teased.
“Well I hope not the tail,” she grinned. “I thought that you liked my legs.”

He turned around and pinned her against the edge of the tub.
“Damn right I do. Especially when they are wrapped around me,” he growled hoarsely.
Brooke settled back against the side of the tub and pulled him closer, her legs around his waist.
“Like that?” she asked sweetly.

“Exactly like that,” he agreed, kissing and nibbling her neck and ear.
Brooke moaned contentedly as he planted soft, light kisses over her face and neck. His mouth moved down across her shoulders, the depth of the kisses changing, the pressure of his mouth becoming firmer.

He crushed her against his chest and played his mouth across hers, light and teasing, his tongue flicked over her lips and barely entering her mouth.

Brooke wriggled out from beneath him and grabbed him, almost submerging him as she kissed passionately, pushing her tongue deep into his mouth. She could feel the vibration of his laughter inside her own mouth.
“Pushy woman,” he said, still laughing, as she tugged at the waistband of his trunks.
His fingers found the bow fastening of her bikini top and tugged at it.

He threw the wet handful of their clothing away from the tub and brought her naked flesh against his, telling her that she was beautiful.
She wound her long legs around him again, angling her hips to take him inside her. She clenched her muscles, tightening around him. Sergey’s breath hissed between his teeth and he rocked against her.

“I love you,” he told her breathlessly as he moved within her, keeping his eyes locked on hers.
Brooke said nothing, but her heart leapt in her chest. It was the first time he had said those words. She slid her hands to his buttocks and pulled him further inside her, wrapping her legs more tightly around him moving with him to their explosive climax, the best she had ever experienced.


Ladislaus looked pale, Brooke thought, and he was far quieter than was usual for him. He listened to the conversation around the table and smiled at the jokes, but he did not contribute as he usually did.
Alexei’s little girlfriend Anita was a little livewire, though, and kept the table amused with her stories and jokes. The flame haired child seemed to be somewhat prone to landing herself in scrapes and had a wealth of hilarious tales about her antics.
“I wish I was going with you guys on holiday,” she complained. “We’re staying home this year and I hear Tikki Island is gorgeous.”
“This time of year isn’t the best. There’s quite a lot of rain. But it’s the only time we can all get away together,” Sergey told her.

After the meal Nikita, Alexei and Anita cleaned the kitchen, laughing and joking still.
Brooke took the contents of the trash compactor outside to the main dustbin.

Walking back to the stair case she froze as three men suddenly approached her, cutting her off from the way back in to the loft. Their movements were swift and calculated.
“Solarin’s bitch,” the blond man grinned.
“You’re being watched, slut,” the creepy one in the top hat leered.
Terrified, Brooke tried to back away from them. They closed in around her like a pack of hyenas.
Suddenly, as the men moved closer she heard Sergey’s voice yelling and he was running towards them with Ladislaus just behind him. She cried out with relief and tried to walk around the men to get to Sergey.

The blonde and the redhead quickened pace to move past her and out onto the main street. The strange one waited long enough to tip his hat and mutter that they would meet again, chilling Brooke to the core... She ran past him trembling.
She almost fell into Sergey’s arms, sobbing with fear, her legs shaking.
Sergey picked her up and held her against him. Ladislaus walked on out to the main street.
“There was a car waiting. They’ve gone,” he reported back.
“Let’s get back inside,” Sergey said quietly.

“This is what I was worried about,” he told Brooke as he held her against him. “That they would try to get to me through you. Brooke, honey, maybe we shouldn’t...”
“Don’t! I won’t let them split us!” Brooke cried. “I love you and I won’t let them win.”
Ladislaus laid a hand on Brooke’s arm and smiled at her. His face was even paler than it had been.
“We just have to be even more careful about everything this family does,” Brooke said emphatically. “Protect each other.”
Sergey smiled to himself at her words. ‘This family’. He glanced at Ladislaus. The boy’s eyes were filled with tears. Brooke was seriously concerned for him.

“Sergey, how did you know I was in trouble?” Brooke asked.
“Ladislaus. He realised you had gone out and was worried. He looked out into the street and called me when he saw those guys. He’s pretty edgy right now. Rightly so it seems.”
“He needs that break,” Brooke said.
Shadows Chapter 18

Ladislaus worked his way through his term paper,trying to get as much done as possible before his new housemate moved in. He had taken six weeks now to find the right person. There had been a lot of interest in sharing this well equipped house.
Some of the people he had interviewed he had disregarded right away. They were party animals, more interested in having a good time at College than in serious work.

While Ladislaus was making friends and had been out a few times to the social facilities on campus, his grades were what mattered to him most.
In fact, he was working later tonight than he had expected to be, but Melanie White, a really hot girl from one of his classes had invited herself back for dinner, having teased him that she had heard how good his cooking was.

As he was loading the dishwasher she had made it very obvious that she expected more than just food.
Not that he was objecting. Her flirtatious conversation throughout the meal and the way she had been playing footsie under the table had made him realise that the last time he had had sex had been with Diane, and that had seemed like an age ago.

Melanie got down on her knees and fumbled with the button on his jeans. Ladislaus helped her, wondering what it was with him and sex in kitchens.
It was in the kitchen of the loft that he had had full sex for the first time, several months before. And had that ever been unexpected. He, Zara and his father had returned there after the meeting in the diner.

Sergey had been called into the station and had told Zara that if she waited he would drive her home. She had been more than willing to avoid the train journey back to Silversprings. As soon as Sergey had gone she had stunned Ladislaus by turning to him and kissing him passionately.
Giggling at the expression on his face she had turned and hitched her already short skirt higher on her hips and wriggled her butt at him.
“I thought that you were still with Jack,” Ladislaus had frowned.

“We aren’t going steady, Ladislaus, and I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be with you,” she had said seriously. “Britt got to you first.”
Ladislaus had moved closer to her and stroked the soft skin at the top of her bare thighs, sliding his hands up under her skirt.
She had laughed again at his gasp of astonishment when he had found that she had removed her panties when they had returned to the loft.

They had moved from the kitchen to his bedroom where Zara had insisted on undressing him, peeling his clothes off slowly.
Then she had done a seductive striptease for him. He had been almost bursting with need before she had knelt on the floor and raised her bare rump to him.
It had astonished them both that he had managed to hold on long enough to make her gasp and yell with pleasure before he came himself.

And that he had recovered enough for a repeat performance in the bed less than half an hour later.
“Ladislaus, this was a one off,” Zara had told him as they had cuddled together under the blankets.
“Okay,” he had murmured sleepily.
At the back of his mind was the realisation that meant Zara was still with Jack.
“And we need to get out of bed now. Your dad will be back soon.”

This had something else in common with that afternoon, Ladislaus thought as Melanie had taken him in her mouth. Another woman making the running.

Kelvin Henderson proved to be as hard a worker as Ladislaus himself. The guy had a good sense of humour, too. He was a lousy cook but was more than willing to do a fair share of all the other household chores.
Melanie gradually spent more and more time at Ladislaus place. She worked, too, not quite as hard as the two boys. She had a love for bad soaps and chat shows that took her away from her studies. Ladislaus found it hilarious the way she talked to the TV when caught up in a program.

For Ladislaus the first part of his freshman year consisted of late nights studying.
A lot of coffee during those nights. Sometimes he wondered if he was becoming just a bit too addicted to the stuff.

Melanie began to spend more nights at his place than she did at the dorm. When the stress of studying got to him she was a creative and eager sexual partner.
Ladislaus was sometimes very concerned that the noise they made must keep Kelvin awake, but his housemate never commented or complained.
While he enjoyed having Melanie in his bed while they were making love, Ladislaus never slept as well on the night she was there, though.

He always ended up in the kitchen where the lights would not disturb Melanie and Kelvin, reading.
It was during the second half of the year that he started to get concerned about Kelvin. The other young man seemed to become increasingly edgy and fidgety. At first Ladislaus thought that, like himself, he was overdoing the caffeine.

When he was studying Kelvin would seem engrossed for a while, then he would start to sigh and fidget. Sometimes he would stare into space and bite his nails.
When Ladislaus tried to talk to him he would be vague and unfocused in his answers. Other times he would be sharp and aggressive.
Ladislaus tried to talk to Melanie about his concerns, but she didn’t seem to understand what he was talking about, or why he was concerned.
“It’s just pre exam nerves, Ladislaus. We’re all edgy,” she said.

Ladislaus’ concerns deepened though, a few weeks later, when he saw Kelvin talking to a man he was sure that he recognised in front of the house.
A week or so later he saw the man with Kelvin again. He was returning from a run and Kelvin was standing with the man, looking furtive.
“I’m sure that’s one of the Cappelli brothers,” he thought.
He turned away, chewing his lip. Should he intervene and try to find out what was happening?

Ladislaus was not easily frightened. He was well built and had training in martial arts, but he had grown up with stories of how vicious the Cappelli’s could be and more than that, he knew that they carried guns.
He heard Kelvin go back inside the house and the sound of footsteps hitting the sidewalk as the Cappelli man walked away.
He told Melanie what he had seen and this time she listened.
“You think it’s drugs,” she stated.
Ladislaus nodded.
“I’m going to phone my dad in the morning,” he said. “Get some advice.”

A sudden cry from the lounge had them running to that room. Kelvin was doubled over in pain, struggling to breath.
“Oh my God,” Melanie screamed, “What’s happening?”
“Mel, call a doctor,” Ladislaus yelled, hurrying to his friend’s side.
The girl leapt for the phone.
Ladislaus stood up and covered his eyes. It was too late. Kelvin was dead.

The paramedics left, taking the body with them. Melanie was sobbing hysterically. Ladislaus took her in his arms to comfort her. There was no comfort for him, though, only guilt that he had not reacted faster and called his father when he first suspected that the man Kelvin had been talking to was a Cappelli.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Shadows Chapter 17

There was a buzz of excitement in the briefing room. During the night there had been a development that would be a blow for the Cappelli family.
“They say that there was a consignment of drugs stopped at the Darksprings airfield. They were a delivery of soft furnishings,” Bill Adams, one of the beat cops told Richard.
“How much was it worth?” Tony Chisholm, one of the detectives, asked.
“Several million,” Bryan Telford, another detective, replied. “It’s rumoured that it can be linked directly back to the Cappelli’s.”

Detective Solarin called the meeting to order and addressed them.
“I know what you’ve been hearing,” he said sombrely. “I’ve heard people saying that this is the end for the Cappelli’s. I’m afraid that’s not true. Last night it looked as if there was a link between the family and the consignment. This morning it appears that this is not the case.”
Disappointed the cops left the meeting and returned to their various jobs. The look of intense calm on Detective Solarin’s face told the cops who had worked with him for the last few years that he was ready to kill. Solarin was not the type to rage and scream.

He called a meeting of the detectives in his office. His brother had joined him and they chatted together, apparently unperturbed until everyone arrived and the door was closed.

“What’s the story? I thought that we had them this time,” Richard began as soon as the door was closed.
“The pilot and the crew were being transferred to the prison early this morning. They were intercepted and killed. Someone let the Cappelli’s know, is my bet,” Sergey frowned.
There was silence in the room. This was the third time in two months they had thought that they had a major chance at the Cappelli’s and then have something like this happen.
“I think someone is leaking information,” Bryan ventured.

“It’s so disheartening,” Angela Madden, one of the beat cops scowled.
Sergey nodded at her. She was one of the small team he was building up, people who had reason to hate the Cappelli’s and who were sick of the way that bribes and corruption had kept the family in power.
It was Angela who had spent long hours studying all of the traffic through Darksprings airfield. It was her work and that of her colleague Mandy Evans that had led to last night’s raid. Angela looked ready to cry.
Mandy came across to comfort her.
“We’ll get them next time, Ang,” she assured her.
“We will,” Sergey said emphatically.


Sergey had hoped for an evening alone with Brooke and Ladislaus. He wanted to discuss the day’s disappointments without having to be calm and strong for his colleagues. He wanted to rant and vent his rage and frustration. However, Ladislaus had invited his new girlfriend Diane for dinner and it put a damper on Sergey’s plans.
Not that Sergey had any objections to the girl. She was a similar type to Britt in looks. His son seemed to go for sexy little blondes. Unlike Britt, though, this girl was very likeable with a good sense of humour and an eagerness to please.

She had been quick to help prepare the food and to clean up when the meal was over. She had shown a genuine interest in both his work and Brooke’s. Both Sergey and Brooke took to her at once.

A while after the meal Ladislaus went for his usual evening swim.
Diane insisted that they join him and play pool games. She was fascinated by the fact that he had such easy access to a swimming pool in all weathers.
Brooke smiled at the way the girl made use of their lack of clothing in the pool to flaunt her pretty figure to Ladislaus.

Getting into the fun she decided to do some showing off of her own. She had been in the school swimming and diving team. She climbed up onto the board and took a deep breath. It had been a while....
She bounced on the board, aware of Sergey watching her.
She made a clean, perfect dive. When she cleared the water and came back up the other three applauded, laughing.

Ladislaus left the pool, followed by Diane. Sergey and Brooke moved to the hot tub. Some time alone without the kids, would be nice, Sergey thought. He drew Brooke closer to him and relaxed in the bubbling water, trying to let the irritations of the day fade away.
“This is good. You didn’t show it to anyone else today, sweetie, but I thought you were going to burst a blood vessel when you heard that the Cappelli’s had got away with it again,” Brooke told him.

“You are starting to know me too well,” Sergey smiled, turning her away from him and massaging her shoulders.
She was almost as tense as he was. She and her little team of fact finders, Mandy and Angela, were running through every detail they could find of the Cappelli’s businesses. Hours spent over computers gave them all tense, sore shoulders and frequent headaches.
“You three are doing a great job. Don’t you get disheartened either,” Sergey urged as he pummelled Brooke’s shoulders.
“I’m not. But Angela looked like she was close to tears today,” Brooke said.

“Let’s forget about work for a while,” Sergey suggested, turning her to face him.
Brooke lifted her face to his.
“Sounds very good to me.”
Yes, she thought as he leaned down to kiss her, forgetting work for a while sounded very good.

Diane stood in the lounge listening to the sound of the shower. Ladislaus had headed straight to the bathroom to shower the pool chemicals from his skin. Diane intended to do the same, and the loft had two bathrooms.
Smiling to herself she listened to the sound of water running and tried the bathroom door. The handle turned and the door opened.
“Do you need help washing your back?” She asked teasingly, stripping off her bikini.

Ladislaus half turned and took her hand, pulling her into the shower with him. He brought her round in front of him and kissed her shoulders and neck, gripping her hips lightly and drawing her back towards him.
Diane tipped her hips back towards him, grinding against him. Ladislaus breathed her name, a question.
“Yes, stupid,” she giggled. “I’ve never done it in the shower before.”

“Oh, wow, that is so good,” she gasped, enjoying the sensual feel of the hot water pounding on her body as Ladislaus skin rubbed slickly against hers.
Diane leaned back further and took Ladislaus’ hand, guiding it to her clitoris, encouraging him to add extra stimulus to her pleasure.
Aware that the building had thick walls and that Sergey and Brooke were still downstairs she did not hold back on yelling aloud as she climaxed fiercely. The rapid jerks of Ladislaus’ body behind her and his barely stifled moans told her that he, too, was done.

Wrapped in towels they went back to Ladislaus’ bedroom.
As they dressed Ladislaus gently stroked Diane’s shoulders.
“That was fantastic for me. How about you?” He asked.
Diane closed her eyes, giving herself sensation of the rough skin of his hands on the much softer skin on her shoulders.
“Mmmm, it was fantastic. And that’s good, too,” she sighed.
Ladislaus smiled and kissed her. He loved the way Diane experienced life. Everything was for the moment. Every sensation had to be enjoyed to the full, from eating ice cream to standing in the sunlight to fucking in the shower.

Ladislaus had no illusions about being her only boyfriend, but at least he knew where he stood with her. Nothing of Diane was pretence. She was a sensual creature who focused on what pleased her in that instant. Knowing that her father would be here soon to pick her up, they finished dressing, stopping to kiss each other, making dressing almost as sexy as undressing.
The car horn blared outside. They kissed one last time then Diane broke free of his embrace and ran down the outside stairs, conscious that she did not want to disturb Sergey and Brooke.

Facing Fear

Zara had told him that Irissa was tense eating out, but Sergey had not been prepared for quite how pale she looked when she met him at Bernard’s. He had chosen this restaurant because in summer the folding roofs were left pushed back and the place had a very airy feel.
The waitress brought the starters. Irissa stared at her plate without any obvious interest. Her jaw was clenched and her hands curled into fists.
Sergey stood up and took her hand.
“I want to dance,” he said.

“Dance?” Irissa protested, as he swept her onto the little dance floor between the tables.
“Yup. The birthday girl has to dance. Even if her companion is a clumsy oaf that stands on her feet,”
Irissa laughed, a stilted sound. Sergey put his arms around her and pulled her close, feeling the tension in her body.
“I’ve never known you to be clumsy,” she told him.
“You’ve never seen me dance,” he replied. “My son is the one with the fancy footwork in our house.”
“How is Slava?” She asked.
Sergey felt her relax a little in his arms. He noted her use of his son’s family name.
“Fine. He applied for a number of University scholarships and did pretty well in the awards he’s been granted. He should be starting at College in a few weeks.”

The song finished and they moved back to the table. Involved in conversation now about family, work and school Irissa seemed to have forgotten some of her fear and began to eat her food. Her shoulders had dropped and her eyes looked brighter and more focused.

“I hope you can shoot a gun better than you play darts!” Irissa laughed at how far off the board Sergey’s darts had landed.
“I’m letting you win,” Sergey said, mock serious. “I’m a gentleman.”
It was good to see her laughing that way, he thought. It had been a rare occurrence in the past.
As she took her own darts he asked her more about how she was settling in Silversprings.
“I heard you had a boyfriend,” he commented.
Looking at how much she had grown up in the last few months Sergey could see why the boy Mark had been so hot for her.

“Had. He was a jerk,” Irissa scowled.
Sergey was flattered when she trusted him with the full story.
“Ah, there will be other boyfriends. Better ones,” he told her.
Irissa shrugged, apparently disinterested.
Sergey frowned to himself. Although he thought she was too young for a serious relationship he was concerned that some of her life’s experiences had soured her against men.
Yet she trusted three men for sure. Himself, Richard and Ladislaus. She seemed to regard the three of them almost as father, uncle and brother.

He found himself thinking of the incident Ladislaus had become involved in, when he had helped to save her from the sexual assault at the hands of Ty and his gang. Funny, one of those guys had been called Mark, too.
“Can we use the bubble blower?” Irissa asked suddenly. “I used to love blowing bubbles when I was a kid.”
Sergey laughed and nodded. That had to be a breakthrough that she was choosing to stay in the restaurant.

Leaving Home

“I’ve got my date for heading to College,” Ladislaus told his father. “I’ve been looking for accommodation.”
“You going to stay in a dorm?” Sergey asked.
There was a funny cold ache in his chest. His boy was growing up, leaving home.
“Nah. I’m too used to my privacy and comfort and between my grants and the money I’ve been saving I’ve got enough to rent a pretty good place,” Ladislaus shook his head.

“You weren’t kidding about comforts, Slava,” Sergey commented as he looked around his son’s new home. “Can you afford this all right?”
“I’ve already put out an ad for someone to share. There are two rooms. But yeah, even without help I can afford to live here and to eat. Just. If I need to get a job I will,” Ladislaus assured him.
“I had to have a decent kitchen. I couldn’t have stood dorm food,” Ladislaus grinned.
“Yeah, well the settling in gifts we brought are for the kitchen. A decent coffee maker for one thing,” Sergey told him.

“I checked out your bed. It’s pretty comfortable,” Sergey commented.
“Yeah another reason for not going to a dorm. I don’t know if I could sleep in a single.”
“Me either. I tried out the spare room. If you are renting it out make it just for a couple of years because I’m moving in here when I come to college,” Alexei ordered.
“Sasha, that would be a reason for turning it into a study and getting a job!” Ladislaus cried in mock horror.

Washing his hands in the bathroom Sergey glanced at his reflection in the mirror and thought again how much his son was growing up, and how much like him he looked these days. True, Slava’s features were slightly finer, a little more like his mother’s and his build was still a little slimmer, but Slava was a long way from being his little boy.
A chill touched his heart as he remembered the comment Nikki had made just a few months before. That Stephano Cappelli did not make war on children. Slava was no longer a child.