No wind is too cold for lovers
- Ukrainian Proverb
I stared at the TV screen, at the eyes which bore into my own. Eyes which held pure evil.
My hand dove for my phone. I hit the button as I brought it to my ear. Laryssa picked up on the first ring. Her voice held laughter. “You came up for a breath? What, did you have to take a break for some Khortitsa? For fortification?” She chuckled.
I snapped, “He’s here.”
She was all business. “What? In New Haven?”
“Just landed at Tweed. With Colonel Sokolov. You need to find them.”
“Don’t spook them,” I warned. “We can’t lose him. Not now. Get Sasha, Karl, the others, but tell them to be careful.”
“We know. Believe me, we’ll be as delicate as a morning mist.”
I raised my phone, switched to camera, and zoomed it in on Mikhaylo’s image on the monitor. Seeing his face grow larger on my screen sent shivers of emotion down my body. I snapped the shot and sent it to her.
Her voice was rough. “Jesus Christ.”
“I will be when we get the bastard. Call me the second you track him down.”
“Will do. Bye.”
I hung up and jammed the phone back into my pocket.
My tone was sharp as I spoke to Marcia. “Got any more photos of him?”
She stared at me, her mouth open.
I realized all of them were looking at me with stunned faces.
I bit in my impatience. They had no idea, the fools. They were oblivious to what they’d stumbled upon.
I pointed at the screen. I reined in my frustration and strove to speak more calmly. “Please. Please cycle through the photos of him.”
Alex repeated my question, which was completely inane of him, but Marcia nodded and looked down at her pad. She selected another photo of Colonel Sokolov. Then a third from a closer angle.
I growled, “What are you doing? Not him!”
Alex stepped between me and the TV, which further twisted my anger.
He held my gaze. He said to me, low and quiet, “Nadiya, you’re speaking Ukrainian. They don’t understand you.”
I stared at him.
Realization hit me. Clearly he was right.
I nodded and drew in a breath. I said, in English, “I’m sorry. It was a … a shock, seeing him. Do you have any more photos of him?”
Alex said, “Clearly you don’t mean Colonel Sokolov.” He turned to Marcia. “Marcia, go back to that first photo.”
I knew it was coming, but the force of that stare slammed into me like a fist. It was all I could do to hold my ground. To keep breathing.
Alex saw it now. He looked between me and the man at Sokolov’s shoulder. He asked, “Nadiya, who is he? Who is the man behind Sokolov?”
My throat closed up.
He took my hand. “Look at me, Nadiya.”
I pulled my eyes away from the screen. But I knew he was still there.
His evil could not be stopped.
It was all-powerful … all-reaching ...
Alex said, softly, “Nadiya, who is he?”
I wet my lips. I kept my eyes solely on Alex.
My throat was closing up. I could barely whisper the words.
“Mikhaylo Vladamir Krushny.”