Her Russian Surrender

By: Theodora Taylor

“Okay, you spit amazing game. Well played, Mount Nik. You’re like an expert in getting women all hot and bothered, I can tell.”

“Thank you,” he said carefully, because he had no idea how else to respond to that seeming compliment.

She slightly turned away from him, her eyes scanning the party.

“Hold on, I have someone I want you to meet.”

“You have someone you want me to meet,” he repeated. “Who?”

“I’m not sure yet,” she answered, her eyes still surveying the room. But then her face lit up. “No, no, no, I take that back. I see her. She’s definitely the one.”

She waved enthusiastically at a tall, beautiful brunette in a black evening dress who was standing with a couple of blondes also wearing black evening dresses. When she got the brunette’s attention, she motioned for her to join them like they were long, lost buddies.

Nikolai’s curiosity was fully piqued at this point. The truth was, the brunette, with her high cheekbones and classic features, was much more his usual type, but why would the woman in the green dress be calling her over? Perhaps for a threesome?

“Hi! Hi! Hi!” the minx in the green dress said when the brunette reached them. “What’s your name?”

“Katrina,” the brunette answered, smiling cautiously as if she weren’t sure if the woman who’d called her over was just friendly or insane.

Nikolai was beginning to wonder the same thing.

“Katrina. That’s a beautiful name,” the woman whose name he still didn’t know said. She looked up at Nikolai. “That’s Russian, right? Like you?”

“Yes, but I’m American,” Katrina answered, throwing Nikolai a flirty smile.

“Well, Katrina, let me introduce you to Nikolai Rustanov. He’s a fan of private conversations on balconies, and pleasurable times with ladies, and, and…” She looked up at him, her face and tone completely serious. “What else?”

“Hockey,” Nikolai answered, wondering what she was getting at.

The woman in the green dress snapped her fingers, like he’d just given her the perfect answer. “And hockey! Do you like hockey, Katrina?”

“I love hockey,” Katrina answered. She turned fully toward Nikolai now. “I have season passes for the Indiana Polar, and you’re actually one of my favorite players.”

“That’s awesome,” the woman said, patting Katrina on the shoulder. “I’ll just leave you two to it, then.”

“Oh, okay,” Katrina answered with a wave, seeming more than happy to be alone with him.

“So is that a friend of yours? Someone who works for you?” she whisper-asked Nikolai when the woman in the green dress was out of earshot.

Nikolai didn’t answer, just watched the strange woman walk away with a scowl on his face.

“Excuse me,” he began to say, preparing to go after her, but then his cousin Alexei appeared and got in front of him.

Alexei was a businessman, not a hockey player, but his face was a match to Nikolai’s in that moment. Same Rustanov bone structure, same green eyes, and for some reason, the same grim look.

“What is it?” he asked, immediately knowing something must be wrong. The Alexei he knew would have teased him mercilessly about getting turned down in such a ridiculous fashion by the minx in the green dress.

“Fedya is here,” Alexei answered, his voice low. “Your assistant came to me since you were… otherwise engaged.”

Nikolai inwardly cursed as he watched the beautiful woman disappear into the crowd. No, he wouldn’t be going after her right away as planned.

He’d have to deal with his brother first.


SAY what you want about the crazy palatial design scheme of Nikolai’s Rustanov’s house—and its owner, Sam thought, but at least it had lots of nooks and crannies for hiding.

She knew this, because she was currently nestled in a little laundry alcove just off the kitchen. From what she’d seen of the house, it might be the only “normal” room in the place, with straight ahead white clapboard cabinets and the same kind of front loading washer and dryer sets that could be bought at any major appliance store in America.

The regular room with its ungilded anything brought back some measure of the inner peace she’d lost during her conversation with Nikolai Rustanov. Also, it was just far enough away to be out of earshot from the catering staff, and hidden enough that no one would bother to look for her here, including the house’s hulking owner—well, not unless he just really, really felt the need to do some laundry in the middle of his party. But mostly it was perfect for a secluded phone conversation with her best friend, Josie.

“You did WHAT?” Josie yelled on the other end of the phone.

“Josie, Josie, it made total sense. He was coming on way too strong, right? So I thought, why not set him up with someone else, and you know… run? Like, really fast.”

“Sam…” she could almost see her friend rubbing her temple in exasperation. “We’ve talked about this. If someone at one of these parties starts flirting with you because you’re wonderful and gorgeous, what are you supposed to do?”