Sunday Serial LXXV

Anna wasn’t destined to find out how far maternal protectiveness would drive her oldest friend, because the sound of running feet and a voice crying “Mama” interrupted her uncomfortable train of thought.
“Yuri. My son…” Valentina called.
The door was thrown open with such force that it all but bounced off the wall. The man that rushed into the room at the head of a group of heavies wearing combats and toting an industrial quantity of weaponry was slightly built and obviously labouring under the kind of worry that ages even the hardest.
He was across the room in two strides and on his knees in front of his mother. He laid his head in her lap and she smoothed his disordered hair. For a long moment nobody moved or spoke, then Yuri looked up at his mother and asked a gentle question. She replied, indicating the injured man on the ground and Yuri snarled. He snapped out a series of orders and three of the heavies picked Alexei up. They were careless of his shattered arms and Anna winced mentally.
Yuri stood up and bowed to Patsy, on whom it was obviously beginning to dawn that she had just shot a man. Anna went to her side and gently removed the pistol from her now gather shaky grasp.
“I don’t think you need this any more.”
“I hope not.” Patsy laughed a bit shakily. “Ever since Jim had me taught how to use a pistol I sort of wanted to shoot somebody, but now the adrenaline has subsided I feel a bit sick.”
Yuri smiled at her. “That is a normal reaction. If it made you happy that would be worrying.” His English was almost as good as his mother’s although a little more accented. “But I am grateful that you found enough anger in you to pull the trigger. If you had not, I believe we would have been too late.”
“Indeed,” Valentina spoke softly. “Without Mrs Cracksman, I would be dead now.”
“I think we would all have been dead,” Anna realised Pats was in no state to say any more. “But what brought you here in such haste?”
Yuri raked his hands through his hair. “A call from a priest. A video. The deposition of a dying woman.”
“Explain, please, my son.”
“Our priest contacted me with some information about the brother I had worshipped. What he told me and showed me turned my thinking on its head. Not only was Boris a paedophilic monster, or also became evident that certain people had been lying about his activities to protect themselves. When I discovered who killed him and why it was as if the scales fell from my eyes. And then I found out that Alexei was part of the filthy conspiracy. And I came here as fast as I could. But I wasn’t fast enough. Had it not been for…” Then it seemed he could speak no more.
Pasty stepped forward and laid a hand on his shoulder.
“Can I assume you no longer want a war with my family?”
Yuri Stephanovitz took her heavily ringed hand in both of his.
“You can. Before you saved my beloved mother I knew I had been wrong. But now. Now it is I who owe you a life.”
Patsy made a very rude noise and favoured the embarrassed oligarch with a grin.
“As long as we are no longer at war, you owe me nothing. Except maybe a Range Rover to replace the one that got trashed out there…”
The Russian looked into Patsy’s astonishing eyes and managed half a smile.
“Your husband,” he said slowly, “is a very lucky man.”
Anna’s phone chose that moment to render Bat Out of Hell slightly off key. Feeling a little de trop, she pulled it out of her pocket and, seeing it was Sam on the line, moved slightly away from the group in the window to answer.
“Are you okay there, love?” Sam sounded strained and not at all his usual self.
“I’m fine. But what has happened?”
“Long story. Though I will say it’s been a peculiar sort of a day…”
She was tempted to demand details, but something in the weariness of his voice made her hold back.
“As long as you are all okay.”
“We are. Just don’t ever play poker with the Cracksman twins, they have about fleeced Geordie Jackson for everything he owns.”
“They cheat… and Geordie? But I guess he’s part of the long story.”
“He so is. Most of it really. Turned up here with the cavalry. Loaded for war. I was beginning to feel like I was living in the Alamo. Then pfft. Everybody relaxes. I now feel like a balloon that has even hanging around too long. Sort of half-inflated and deeply unattractive.”
Almost in spite of herself Anna began to relax. “Beautiful though that image is, you didn’t call just to put it in my head did you?”
“No. I called because Jim said somebody needed to tell you and Patsy that the heat is off. I won the toss.”
“Yeah it is. We got that. And will you tell Jim that our tame oligarch is about halfway in love with his wife.”
“I will. He will be enchanted. When will you be home?”
“As soon as we can. We’re a bit stuffed for transport, because the Range Rover got trashed.”
“Oh. We do have a lot to talk about. Miss you.”
“Me too.”

Jane Jago

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