“Watching them play together reminds me of us when we were little.” Ana told Vania, as they sat on the porch. It was a beautiful day, and Vania wanted the girls to be able to get some fresh airs, so she decided to grill for lunch and then let them play outside.
“I remember well, we had a good life as children. Despite the harder times, Mom and Dad made sure of that. I want to give my children a good life too. I just wish their Father was more involved.”
“He’s missing out on two great girls.”
“You will hear no arguments from me there.”
“I pray that I am blessed with children one day.”
“I pray you are too, I see how you are with my girls. I know you are going to be a wonderful Mother and I can’t wait to spoil your children.”
“Someday I pray Vania.”
“I am praying for that too Ana, believe me, because I know how much you want a family, and you deserve a family.”
“I know that things have to calm down though, and I don’t know when that is going to be. I don’t want to bring children into this world, or even expect a man to marry me when someone is trying to kill me. I pray this all blows over someday, that these men get thrown behind bars, and the keys get thrown away. I pray Grandfather gets what’s coming to him. Perhaps it is wrong of me to feel like this, but I am tired of having my life put on hold, because I am afraid of what is hidden in the Shadows.”
“Ana I know your scared, the truth is I am too, but I have to believe the Lord is with us, that he is going to keep us safe through this.”
“I’m trying to keep the faith Vania, I truly am. I wish I had the faith of Sosha and Sonya. I wish I had their innocence.”
“Ana I think we all wish that from time to time, but just think of how far we have come, the Lord has blessed us.”
“Yes he has, we are both doing what we love. You’re a police Captain just like Mom was, and I am an author. Jasmine is going to college, and studying to be a Counselor and Ahab is teaching at a school for the deaf. We all are living blessed lives. I know that, but I am tired of having to cower in fear, because I am getting shot at, or someone I love is being shot at.”
“The price of being a Tanya-Alexei I guess. We are the grandchildren of a Russian Mafia boss, I guess we can expect a few threats, and to rub salt to the wombs his daughter, his son and law, and his granddaughter are cops.”
Ana found comfort in being able to talk to her sister. She found great comfort in the bond she had with her siblings, Ana Ahab, Jasmine and Vania were all close. They always had been of course they had their arguments, all siblings did, but when it came down to it, they were a close knit family, and would watch out for one another.
Ana and Vania were especially close, probably because they were only a couple of years apart in age.
Lord why can’t grandfather just see the error of his ways and seek forgiveness, it is hard to forgive someone who doesn’t want it? It’s hard to forgive someone whose one goal is to make sure his family is buried.
Her grandfather had taken the women she thought was dear to her, and turned her into a monster too, her own grandmother. Ana resented her grandfather for that. She had loved her Grandmother, her Babushka, but her grandfather had even had her turning against them.
“Sometimes I miss the days when we had Babushka in our lives.” Ana told Vania, breaking the silence.
“I do too Ana, but I guess that was all a pretense, they only pretended to love us. It broke my heart when I found out the truth, but at least we aren’t living a lie anymore.”
“I know Vania, but we were so happy then.”
“We are happy now too, but at least we aren’t hiding a murderer under our noses. I know he is family, but he did horrible things. I really do not want to be part of that heritage.”
“I don’t either Vania. I just wish we had a different Grandfather.”
“I know what you mean Ana, believe me. I have wished the same thing millions of time, but that isn’t going to change the facts.”
“I guess not.”
Ana longed to know more about her family, the family before her grandfather got tangled up in the evil schemes and then murder. She wanted to know about her roots in Russia, not only for her sake, but for her nieces sake and the sake of her future children, if the Lord saw it fit to give her children.
Lord I want to know about my family to know if any of this is hereditary like some kind of mental illness or something. I mean how else can you explain such evil, but mental illness doesn’t explain it either? Plenty of people suffer mental illness and do not lay a finger on anyone. I guess I just have a desire to know more about where I come from. Maybe it is because of all the time Vania lost with her Mother. I really don’t know what it is, but I want answers. Maybe it is simply just a writers curiosity.
I just have to watch out for that writers curiosity, it keeps landing me in trouble and my family in trouble. I don’t want to put my family in danger. I want to protect them.
“Ana I have questions too, but we just can’t dwell on the questions and the lack of answers.”
Vania could always read Ana’s thoughts well. It was hard for either of the sisters to hide anything from one another, because when something was bothering them they always knew. Some may call it a sisters intuition, but the truth was technically they were cousins. Ana could care less about technicalities though, Vania would always be a sister to her, and she would do anything to protect her sister, and her girls.
“I know Vania I guess I am just letting curiosity get the best of me.”
“That’s probably what makes you such an awesome writer.”
“I guess. It’s also what lands me into trouble though.”
“Ana you have to stop blaming yourself for all the trouble. You are not the one who is causing it. He is!”
“I try to believe that Vania but it’s hard when trouble keeps following me.”
“It’s following all of us we are his enemies we were before your first book. You and I both know your books didn’t cause this, he just has evil flowing through his bones.”
“I guess. I really need to stop beating myself up, but it’s hard. He makes sure I am always scared. Just when I think things are good, he keeps popping up with another threat.”
“And he will until the day he dies. I pray that day comes soon. I know it is a sad thing to wish and pray for especially about someone who is your own flesh and blood. Truth be told though I would rather not claim him.”
“I know the feeling Vania, he destroyed so many lives.”
Ana was thankful for Vania, but she worried too that she could be putting her family in danger. More than once she had offered to go stay in a hotel but Vania refused. A hotel could actually be dangerous, but the truth was Ana knew at the moment anywhere could be dangerous.
“I am glad you are staying with us Auntie Ana. I love it when you come and spend the night with us, and when we get to spend the night at your house. When you are done spending the night with us can we spend the night at your house if Mommy says it’s okay?”
“Of course girls, but you are going to have to wait Aunties shoulder is all better.”
“Does it hurt real bad? Sosha asked. Worried about her auntie.
“No the doctors gave me some medicine for that. So if I take it when I am supposed to it doesn’t hurt too badly.”
There was so much more than her shoulder that was keeping Ana at her sister’s house, but she was not going to explain something like that to her five year old twin nieces. She did not want to scare them. She wanted to protect them at least for a little while from some of the evil the family had faced. They were only little girls they did not deserve to worry about such things.
It was not always easy hiding some of the truths from them, but Ana did the best she could. She did not want to have to worry Sosha or Sonya. Little girls should be allowed to be little girls, not have to worry about a history wrought in violence.
As she lay down at night, Ana often found herself turning to her Bible. One night she turned to Isaiah 41 feeling as if she needed the words right at the moment, she knew God’s hand was in her turning to that chapter in Isaiah.
The Helper of Israel
41 “Be silent before me, you islands!
Let the nations renew their strength!
Let them come forward and speak;
let us meet together at the place of judgment.
2 “Who has stirred up one from the east,
calling him in righteousness to his service[a]?
He hands nations over to him
and subdues kings before him.
He turns them to dust with his sword,
to windblown chaff with his bow.
3 He pursues them and moves on unscathed,
by a path his feet have not traveled before.
4 Who has done this and carried it through,
calling forth the generations from the beginning?
I, the Lord—with the first of them
and with the last —I am he. ”
5 The islands have seen it and fear;
the ends of the earth tremble.
They approach and come forward;
6 they help each other
and say to their companions, “Be strong! ”
7 The metalworker encourages the goldsmith,
and the one who smooths with the hammer
spurs on the one who strikes the anvil.
One says of the welding, “It is good.”
The other nails down the idol so it will not topple.
8 “But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
you descendants of Abraham my friend,
9 I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
11 “All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish.
12 Though you search for your enemies,
you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
will be as nothing at all.
13 For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
14 Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob,
little Israel, do not fear,
for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
15 “See, I will make you into a threshing sledge,
new and sharp, with many teeth.
You will thresh the mountains and crush them,
and reduce the hills to chaff.
16 You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up,
and a gale will blow them away.
But you will rejoice in the Lord
and glory in the Holy One of Israel.
17 “The poor and needy search for water,
but there is none;
their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the Lord will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
18 I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
and the parched ground into springs.
19 I will put in the desert
the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set junipers in the wasteland,
the fir and the cypress together,
20 so that people may see and know,
may consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
that the Holy One of Israel has created it.
21 “Present your case, ” says the Lord.
“Set forth your arguments,” says Jacob’s King.
22 “Tell us, you idols,
what is going to happen.
Tell us what the former things were,
so that we may consider them
and know their final outcome.
Or declare to us the things to come,
23 tell us what the future holds,
so we may know that you are gods.
Do something, whether good or bad,
so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear.
24 But you are less than nothing
and your works are utterly worthless;
whoever chooses you is detestable.
25 “I have stirred up one from the north, and he comes—
one from the rising sun who calls on my name.
He treads on rulers as if they were mortar,
as if he were a potter treading the clay.
26 Who told of this from the beginning, so we could know,
or beforehand, so we could say, ‘He was right’?
No one told of this,
no one foretold it,
no one heard any words from you.
27 I was the first to tell Zion, ‘Look, here they are!’
I gave to Jerusalem a messenger of good news.
28 I look but there is no one —
no one among the gods to give counsel,
no one to give answer when I ask them.
29 See, they are all false!
Their deeds amount to nothing;
their images are but wind and confusion.
The fact that all his children and grandchildren had given their hearts to Christ had angered Ana’s grandfather to no in. He thought his ways were better that they should follow in his footsteps that they should become killers like he was. It broke Ana’s heart to know what their parents had been through growing up, and what Vania had been through as a baby. She understood Vania’s need to keep her girls safe, her entire family safe, and Ana felt the same way. When and if she had children she was going to protect them to the best of her ability, and more importantly she was going to ask the Lord to lay his hand of protection on them.
“Vania do you have any idea when I can go home?”
“No Ana, I am sorry I do not. They still haven’t been caught. We have someone on your house twenty four hours a day, but nothing yet. I do not feel comfortable letting you go back home yet though. It’s just not safe.”
“I just feel like such a burden to you. You have your girls to raise. I feel like I am going to place them in danger somehow.”
“Ana do you think if I feared for their safety, I would have them here for us right now. I think it is something of yours they wanted. I don’t know what, but maybe the notes from your last novel. You had dirt on Grandfather in that one, it was fiction, but anyone who knows the family would recognize that it was based on truth.”
“I should have never written that novel.”
“Yes I think you should have Ana. I think that novel needed to be written, truths needed to come out, even if it was written in a fictional form?”
“Then why do I feel so guilty? I feel like I am putting everyone I love in danger.”
“Ana how many times do I have to tell you this is not your fault? He is the monster he is the one trying to destroy our lives. It’s not you Ana, you need to stop beating yourself up.”
“I just wish I was back home and that everything was safe. I love being here with you and the girls don’t get me wrong, but I have a deadline to meet, and I am not getting much done. I am constantly feeling like I have to look over my shoulders. It’s a little hard to get anything done when you feel like that.”
“I can understand that Ana, but we have to keep you safe. You won’t be meeting any deadlines if they succeed in doing what they are trying to do.”
They couldn’t even utter the word Murder. But that was exactly what their Grandfather was trying to do, one by one, he wanted to get to the family, and make sure they were killed.
Lord we are all scared of what might happen, of what the monster might do, so we come to you asking that you keep us safe. I don’t think any of us are ready to die, but he wants to make sure we do. Let them catch the men he has hired to hurt us, so we can get back on with our lives. I have books to write, and Signings to go to. It’s not exactly safe to be in the open like that right now. I am tired of having to hide from a monster, and having my family have to hide too.
“I guess I should just enjoy the fact that I can spoil my nieces rotten while I am here.” Ana joked.
“Like you didn’t before?”
“I wouldn’t do something like that, would I?”
“Now that’s funny.” Vania said laughing.
It was nice to push their fears aside for a moments and joke around like the sisters they were. The fact that a madman was after Ana would never completely leave their mind, but she was trying to stop letting him control her life. She was safe for now at her sisters, and she was going to try and get some work done. She couldn’t do her signings write now, but she could still write. Vania had gone back to get Ana’s computer for her. Thankfully without incident, but every noise she heard had her on edge. Especially since she knew her sisters cat was with her, and there was no other animals or people in the house. At least she prayed to God there weren’t. Vania hadn’t told Ana about the noises she had heard at the house, because she hadn’t wanted to panic Ana any more than she already was.
Ana’s computer was safe, and she had her files with her, so if they were trying to find something at the house they never would. Ana could never understand how a few notes for a novel written over two years ago could be so important, that their Grandfather would send one of his goons after it. Of course a lot of things about her Monster grandfather did not make since,
Truth was he didn’t deserve to be called grandfather, she had a lot worse names running through her head, but she was a Christian and was not going to sink to his level.