From the novel: The_Russians_Are_Coming!
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Jeff went to the gift shop to browse through Valentine cards.
He dearly wanted to make a special card for Vera. This is why he borrowed the dictionary. He wanted to write something in Russian to her. He spoke Spanish, and in school he studied German, so he understood that this task would not be easy, as most of the cards contained words that would lose their meaning in translation.
In addition, he did not want his card to be too open-hearted, so he made his choice very carefully.
Finally he chose a card.
At home he attentively read the instructions on how to use the dictionary. He paged through the book, and he was glad to find a lot of examples.
He wrote a few phrases, chose one of them, and hesitated for a while.
'It's okay,' he said to himself, checking the sentence again. He thoughtfully copied these strange looking letters, sighed, and put the card into an envelope.
* * * * *
Vera Grach collected the mail, and quickly sorted it as usual, separating the personal mail for her husband.
She opened the envelope with the phone bill and checked it. Gleb called Russia sometimes twice a week; he needed to control his business. However she was surprised to see that during the last month he called Moscow more often.
But he never let her into his business, so Vera only shrugged her shoulders. Taking a pencil, she marked her calls, then checked the other mail.
This small red envelope had no return address. Vera ripped it open, saw a Valentine's Day card. She opened it with curiosity.
She saw a picture of a bee holding a heart. The big hand-written letters caught her attention, and she was astonished when she realized it was written in Russian.
'You to be mead,' she read, amazed, and looked at the English text: 'You are honey.' Then she understood and gasped. "Oh, Jeff..."
She pressed the card to her chest. Although there was no signature, she realized at once from whom it had been sent. Her gaze fell on a huge bouquet of fourteen scarlet roses that Gleb had given her today, and the woman blushed, feeling guilty.
"Oh, Jeff," she whispered, not noticing the tears running down her cheeks. "Why are you doing this? I can't, I simply can't..." And, sobbing, she hid the card in her jewelry box.
She heard a knock, hastily rubbed her eyes, opened the door, and saw Nina and Larisa Lapina there. She invited them into the apartment.
"Auntie Vera!" The girl hugged her mother's friend. "Happy Valentines Day!"
Larisa held out a card that she had made all by herself. Vera gave the girl lessons in art, and she noticed with pleasure that Larisa had used her acquired knowledge.
Taking up her painting equipment, the girl started working on a new picture. Today was not a lesson; she was doing it just for fun, so the women went to the kitchen to talk without disturbing her.
"Are you hungry as usual?" Vera teased Nina, who demonstratively frowned.
"That's not hospitable to ask like that," she said, then laughed, taking a piece of chocolate cake that Vera held out for her.
"How many times have I had lunch at your home?" Vera smiled with her memories. "I can't forget all those delicious dishes that your mother, Alla, cooked. Do you miss her?"
"I miss her badly." Nina sighed. "All my life, I lived with her. It's the first time we've been separated for such a long time. But for Vlad I'm ready to leave even Larisa. I know it sounds awful, but we're friends, I can speak openly to you."
"I wish, I could love my husband so," Vera said slowly. "Have you ever thought about another man?"
Nina giggled. "Of course." She dreamily closed her eyes. "Yes, sometimes I imagine a man who loves me, even knowing that I'm married. He suffers with the desire and hopelessness of the situation..."
Listening to her, Vera stood still, thinking about Jeff. She suddenly realized that all that Nina was talking about fit the actions of this policeman who touched her heart.
"He sends me love letters and small cute gifts," continued Nina rocking herself with those dreams. "When he sees me, he gets shy and ashamed. He looks at me, like a mouse looks at cheese, and I see his heart wants to jump out of his chest. He pants and sighs, and finally he declares his love. 'Alas!' I reply. 'I'm touched by your feelings, but I'm married, and I won't betray my husband!'" and, making a theatrical gesture, Nina laughed, but her smile went out when she saw that her friend was certainly depressed.
"But if it really happened?" Vera asked in an unusual voice, and Nina looked at her very attentively.
"It's just a fantasy," Nina replied shrugging her shoulders.
Okay, thought Vera. Next time I see Jeff, I will talk to him, and I'll say to him... What can I say? I'm married? He knows. I don't like you? It's not true . The worst part is I do like him.
She could not forget that erratic feeling, when inside his police car he touched her hand, linking their skin and their souls. Memories about it filled the woman with a hot and sweet sense, like fragrant, spicy, boiling mead, and, recalling his card, Vera thought that the Russian text was also correct despite the grammatical error.
"Do you remember that police officer who drove me home?" Vera asked casually.
"The black one?" specified Nina gazing at her friend.
"Yes." Vera became ashamed. "His name is Jeff. He's a good and kind man. Please, don't make fun of that."
"I never would," Nina answered very seriously. "You are my best friend. But you know that people started talk about Marina? Be careful, buddy, we are not in Moscow."
Vera nodded thinking: She's right. I should avoid any communication with him. But how? Do I have to ask Jeff not to contact me, not to talk to me? He could take it as racism. Well, I will just be polite with him, that's all.
Vera was lying to herself, yet deep in her heart she knew the real reason that she would still keep in touch with Jeff. But remembering her marital status, this honest woman was afraid to confess it even in her soul.