From the novel: The_Russians_Are_Coming!
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It was St. Patrick's Day, and the weather was perfect for being outside. The tender sun peeped at times from behind the white and cobalt clouds, and neither showers nor wind marred the day.
Wearing green colored clothes, Vera Grach, Nina Lapina, and Megan VanStein, with their kids, were standing on Main Street waiting for the oncoming parade.
They stood there for a while, then the Russian women exchanged whispers and moved down the road, leading Hannah and Larisa. Megan was surprised, as the first place was not bad for observation.
But Dylon in her arms demanded all her attention, so Megan just followed her Russian friends. She tried to put her son in the baby carriage, but the boy started crying and she lifted him out again. Then Vera pulled the conveyance, and Nina took the girls' hands.
They went down the street about two blocks, and stood next to a police cruiser parked at the corner.
Hannah waited, hopping with impatience, but Larisa came close to the vehicle and stroked the door, and Vera neared too. She saw Jeff, and this is why they moved here, but another police officer was next to him, so Vera pretended to just watch the girls.
Jeff could not help his smile, and he addressed Larisa, "Do you like that car?"
The girl nodded.
"Would you like to be in the front or the back seat?" he asked, glancing at Vera.
"I'd like to be in front," Larisa replied seriously.
"You betcha." Jeff smoothed the girl's head.
"The back seat is for bad guys," Larisa explained, and, remembering her rides, Vera blushed.
But Jeff misunderstood the reason why her cheeks became the color of a robin's breast.
Inspirited by her presence, he continued to talk to Larisa, and Vera kept her eyes fixed on him, enjoying their game and suffering with guilty feelings about it.
Trying to act naturally, she took up her notebook for making sketches.
"Why did we go here?" the puzzled Megan addressed Nina. The woman looked at her.
"Are you tired?" she asked, not answering the question. "Give me Dylon, I'll hold him."
Megan passed the boy to her friend, and, watching how the Russian held her son, showing him around, Megan smiled and forgot what she wanted to ask.
Helping him, Nina put Dylon down. The boy stood, stomping with his legs, and he hooted, excited. His green hat made him look like a real leprechaun, and Megan laughed.
"Have you ever seen the St. Patrick's parade?" she asked the Russians.
"Yes," replied Vera, to her surprise. "In Moscow it's an annual celebration since 1992."
"Wow." Megan said. "I didn't know that this holiday was so famous around the world."
"Marina told me she saw a parade in Saint Petersburg also," Nina added, and the name of Marina aroused unpleasant feelings in Megan's heart.
"Where is she now?" Megan asked, trying not to show her concern.
"Marina told me she will come for sure." Nina hoisted Dylon and made him comfortable on her chest. "But later. She has some business to attend to."
"Hi Megan," they heard, and saw another woman, one of Megan's pals. Megan beamed, but the friend's question put her smile out.
"You're alone again," the woman said. "Where is David? At work, eh?"
"Yes," Megan answered, sighing.
"On Sunday?" The woman stared at Megan, and she felt a chill, sensing some hint in these questions.
Still carrying Dylon, Nina looked at the woman, attentively listening to their dialogue.
"Yes," she cut in. "My husband, Vlad, is working today also. At the weekdays the students use the equipment. Our husbands have time to do the research only during weekends or breaks."
The woman narrowed her eyes at Nina. "Have you ever called to the lab to check it out?"
"First of all," retorted Nina. "I did call a few times, and he was there. I even visited the lab. But this is not because I don't trust Vlad. Maybe it's an American tradition to spy after your husband, eh?"
"I was just thinking," the woman drawled with a dreamy voice. "How it's romantic, the evening, the empty lab, the closed doors, no one around…"
"Yeah," Nina snorted. "I bet you never were in the chemistry lab. Very romantic. Chemicals stink, the machines are buzzing. One little mistake and you lose the results of the day's work."
But her words only increased Megan's worry.
"Hannah!" shaken, Megan called her daughter. "Do you want to see Daddy?"
"I want to see the parade."
"It's not good for kids to go to a chemistry lab," Nina said in a calm tone. "Go, Megan, we'll watch them."
* * * * *
Megan drove to the campus and went to the laboratory.
Nearing the door, she knocked, but nobody answered, and, growing cold, she started pounding. All her anxiety fell onto the woman like an avalanche.
Unexpectedly, the door opened so fast that Megan almost fell inside barely avoiding punching Vlad. He did not greet her, just ran back, and the amazed Megan went in.
"Vlad!" she heard the worried voice of her husband. "Hurry up!"
She drew close and looked at the men, then around.
They were the only people here, and the scientists worked hard with some apparatus. From time to time Vlad flung himself to the computer, typed, and moved back to his boss, who kept his eyes on the monitor of his machine.
"Oh, no," David gasped with an upset voice, and, remembering Nina's words, Megan scolded herself. 'My stupid jealousy can cost my husband's work's results!' she thought. 'Why did I come here? I only disturb him!'
She stared at his stern concerned face, and all her love for this man painfully jammed her heart.
"Hold on, hold on," mumbled Vlad, typing hurriedly. They all gazed at David's monitor. Megan did not understand a thing, but she crossed her fingers praying for luck for her husband.
Suddenly Vlad gasped, and a joyful smile showed on his plump lips.
"Professor!" he exclaimed. "We did it."
"Yes!" they uttered at once, and triumphantly clapped their hands, giving five to each other, then they looked at the woman.
"Megan?" wondered David. "Why are you here? Where are the kids?"
"With Nina and Vera," she replied timidly. "I just missed you…"
"Oh, honey." David hugged his wife. "We're almost done, I'll join you soon, I promise."
'Of course,' Vlad said to himself. 'Because you'll leave all the routine work up to me. At best I'll be able to go home about eight, not earlier. Don't they think how much I want to see my family? My poor girls, another holiday we have to spend being separated. Damn money...' He sighed, and tried to cheer himself up, 'It's okay, buddy, someday you will be a professor. Moscow wasn't built in one day.'
"Where is Marina?" Megan could not resist asking.
The men gazed at her, and the woman felt her worry return.
"I don't know," David replied slowly. "I didn't see her today."
He did not dare ask his wife why was she interested.
Megan nodded. "See you, guys," she said, then left.
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