The Hunt

The sun streamed through Cass’s window onto her bed. She felt her knees come up to her stomach and the rush of saliva to her mouth. She managed to drag herself to the bathroom in time to bring up most of her Saturday evening’s extravagances.

As she rested her head against the cool porcelain of her toilet, she realised was still in her clothes from the night before. She could not understand how she had become so drunk, so fast. She could not remember getting home. She heard loud snores coming from her living room.

She wasn’t normally sick. She must be due a period. That was it. Definitely. Then she calculated backwards and realised in horror, she was two weeks late. Stress. She couldn’t be pregnant. Could she? No. Definitely stress. If she stopped thinking about it, she would be fine and come on tomorrow. She just had a hangover. Her dehydrated brain was making her paranoid.

She heard the snore again from her living room. She went to investigate and found the only culprit, not that she was pregnant, lying in his pants and t shirt on her tiny sofa. His lionel head was hanging slightly off the edge of the sofa and his huge feet protruded over the side table. Why couldn’t she get rid of Semyon? He was like an attractive and likeable form of herpes.

She made him coffee, and he grunted his approving thanks from the sofa. She perched herself on a stool by her tiny table. She finished half her own coffee and looked at her work phone. There were 10 text messages and four missed calls, from Rebecca and Dolores.

Julian had escaped from the rehab centre. Have you seen him? Has he contacted you? What should I do? Rebecca’s messages had a sense of resignation. One of the voicemails from Dolores was just tears.

Guilt and slight fear washed over Cass. What if he had done something stupid? What if he wanted to do something stupid to her?

Cass decided to call Rebecca, because her messages were less hysterical,” I will go and check the office. If he is not there, I will go to that club again. Is there anywhere else? Can you call Dolores? She is very upset. Have called the hospitals? How long has he been missing? Have you called the police?”

Semyon lay quietly on the sofa through the conversation, nonchalantly rearranging his testicles in his pants. When Cass finished her call, he asked,” What is it with you? Why do you chase after him? Cleaning up his mess. Why do you care?”

“I don’t know,” Cass said honestly. “He has done some really good things as well as bad. He looks after Delores and all the other damaged goods, which are in the office, including me, I suppose. I have already let him down. I can’t do it now.”

She pulled on her coat over her day old clothes and headed for the door. “Wait. I am coming with you,” sighed Semyon.

As they opened the main door to the office, they could smell vodka. As they reached Julian’s office door, they could smell death.

Julian was sat upright in his leather chair behind his desk staring at them as they entered.   The waxy grey sheen of rigamortis made him look like a grotesque mannequin. His mouth gaped open as if he was surprised by his own condition.

Cass was shocked into silence. Semyon walked over to the body, he was about to close Julian’s eyes, when Cass snapped, “No! Don’t touch him.”

“He’s dead, let him have some dignity,” Semyon plead, shocked at her tone.

“I can see that, but if you touch him, there will be questions,” Cass said. “Get away from him, you idiot.”

“I think you’re going to do well in the FSB,” Semyon smiled ghoulishly.

“I don’t give a fuck about your stupid Bureau. He is dead because of them! Now shut up and let me think,” lashing out made Cass feel better. Her own sense of culpability began to dissipate.

She went to Julian’s desk to use the telephone, but changed her mind when she realised the floor near Julian was covered in piss and other bodily fluids. She felt a wave of nausea come over her again and backed away.

“Come with me,” she ordered Semyon, pushing down the desire to vomit.   She called Rebecca from her office. Cass recalled the same visceral wail, when she heard about Jason’s death. Cass then rang Delores. Delores calm chilled Cass. Semyon waited with her as the police, paramedics and doctor arrived. He did not know why he did this, Cass was right, there would be more questions if he was there. He just felt that he could not leave her.

The police eyed them both with suspicion. Police officers can smell guilt, even if it is misplaced. Cass and Semyon gave statements and showed them the telephone messages. Their stories were confirmed on the arrival of Rebecca and Delores who took over the practicalities.

Semyon had to return with Cass, he had left all the paperwork at her flat. Not that it mattered now, but Cass could still be useful. She understood the business and she was malleable.

When Cass saw Semyon out and bid him farewell, she decided to check her postbox.   There was a hand delivered package in it. She opened it gingerly. She recognized the scrawl as Julian’s manic penmanship.   “You were always a clever girl. You will work it out. I trust you to do the right thing – you always do. ” The package contained his watch. The receipt for the watch was in the package as well, confirming it was worth a small fortune. She turned the watch over, there were numbers purposely engraved in the back of the watch. She looked at the receipt again. The watch had not just come from any jewelers but one of the biggest stores of safety deposit boxes in Hatton Gardens.

The Soldier

One of the Snowdrops looked down at the money given to him. He had not been begging. He did not beg, he just could not find a place in one of the homeless shelters. It was a mild night and his shop door alcove was one of the better places he had slept recently. His kids kept him going. At least he would see them tomorrow. At least they had a roof over their head and their mum was looking after them, the best she could.

He had been on the streets for 6 months, since their landlord had decided to sell up and keep their deposit. The Council had moved his girlfriend and his children into a hostel. It was one room but at least they had something and Jeanette could get to work and the kids could get to school.   He was not permitted to stay at the hostel.

They just had to wait until they moved up the list. He had been keeping clothes at his work and showering there. He sometimes slept under his desk, but he had to be careful because of the cleaner. His military training meant he was good a roughing it. He had not turned to drink or drugs yet but it was tempting. He had to remember his kids. It was like being deployed, it would not be forever. Well, that is what he kept telling Jeanette. He hated to see the tears in her eyes when he came to the visitor’s room of the hostel. The love of his life was fracturing in front of him and he was helpless.

He thought he would treat himself to some fried chicken. He could see his alcove from the shop. He laughed to himself how ironic life was. If you don’t have a home, everything becomes more expensive. Food becomes more expensive when you do not have a kitchen and beds are expensive when they are rented by the night.

As he got up he was accosted by an extremely drunk well-dressed man in expensive tweed,   “Could you help me? I will give you money.”

“It’s alright mate, what’s the matter? Lost?”

“No, no,” chuckled the man to himself. “I found the place, I was looking for just fine. No, the problem, you see, is the bars don’t seem to want to serve me or let me in.”

The drunkard lent heavily against the alcove, rooted around in his heavy over coat and pulled out an expensive ostrich leather wallet. He started fishing in it, finally pulling out a £50.00 note. The drunk waved it expansively at him, “If you get me some vodka, you can keep this.”

He thought this man had more than enough vodka, but 50 quid could get him quite a nice room for the night. “Alright,” he held out his hand. The drunk was not stupid and gave him £20.00. He went into the off license next to him and bought the vodka.

“Keep the change,” said the drunk happily. “And here is your reward.”

“Cheers,” he replied. Then he felt guilty for taking advantage. “Look mate can I find you a cab or something? You don’t look like you should be out here like this. “

“No, no I am fine,” slurred the man staggering along the pavement away from him towards the City. ” This is the greatest night of my life. I am free!”

“Poor fuck, he doesn’t know he is alive,” he thought as he gathered his sleeping bag into his rucksack.

Free speech disappearing in Turkey — Why Evolution Is True

Under the despot Recep Erdoğan, the wonderful country of Turkey is becoming a nightmare, with people arrested for insulting the President (this includes a former Miss Turkey), the media muzzled, social media shut down when it calls attention to the President’s malfeasance, and an increasing censorship that is going to take a once-enlightened Nation back […]

via Free speech disappearing in Turkey — Why Evolution Is True

Snowdrops

They wobbled through Covent Garden past the rear of St Martins. There was a queue for the soup kitchen. This was an evergrowing queue in the last five years. There were more and more homeless in London, even though there was perpetual propaganda on the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation that we had the strongest economy in Europe and London was a Global City.   She was sure she was going to see children living on the streets in her lifetime.

She told Semyon, she had walked once with her niece through the City. People looked at her niece with confusion and surprise.   The City, no matter what people said, was an old boys club where children and family were not allowed. Childcare was for pussies and what they did, just did not matter. Only the money matters. People out did each other by bragging they had not been home and not seen their kids for days. Outdoing each other in their dedication to the job. Child neglect was cool and successful.

Cass pointed out the empty new apartment blocks to Semyon on the way back home. “I don’t mind selling them, but there should be some rent controls. To leave these new homes empty is disgusting, when ordinary people can’t afford to live in London. The world cannot survive on lawyers and bankers alone. You can’t eat or live in money. You only need so much in a lifetime. “

“You sound like a revolutionary,” he laughed. “You could be Russian!”

“I am no revolutionary,” Cass said sadly. “ I am a fraud and I disgust myself.”

“You have drunk too much. I will take you home. I will even take Tube! I love London,” Semyon now had boundless alcoholic enthusiasm.

Cass leaned against Semyon on the way home. He put a protective arm around her waist to steady her against the judders of the Tube.

They took the short walk to her flat. Semyon noticed several crumpled heaps of humanity in doorways. He gave a few of them five pound notes, mistakenly thinking it was small change. He turned to Cass took her hand, “We call them Snowdrops in Moscow.”

“Why?” Cass was confused at the beautify euphemism for such unnecessary tragedy.

“Because we know when Spring is coming, when their dead bodies emerge through thawing snow, just like snowdrops.”

Dear President Putin

Dear President Putin

I want to say how sad I was at the assassination of Ambassador Karlov, a man who was a true diplomat. He was a victim of a mindless act of terror and hate. Ambassador Karlov’s family must be devastated at his barbaric slaughter.

With his family in mind, please stop irrationally blaming the West for this horror. Your words degrade Ambassador Karlov’s diplomatic legacy and belittles his family’s pain.

Yours truly,

Cass

Donald Trump Is All Vladimir Putin Wants for Christmas on Saturday Night Live — TIME

Saturday Night Live skewered Donald Trump‘s relationship with Vladimir Putin following President Obama’s warning to Russia over election hacking this week. The cold open sketch for the show’s final episode of 2016 featured Alec Baldwin returning to play Trump and Kate McKinnon as his senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, with the two discussing cabinet picks and…

via Donald Trump Is All Vladimir Putin Wants for Christmas on Saturday Night Live — TIME

Gordons

Cass decided to take Semyon to Gordon’s on Embankment. She pointed at the entrance, a thin door that looked like a derelict Nineteenth Century shop. He looked at her suspiciously, “You are not serious. This is not a bar.” She ignored him and ushered him down the stairs. Semyon found himself in an ancient wine cellar.  Cass remembered fondly when the bosomy French Landlady used to smoke by the bar, considering what ever you ordered with disdain. The sadly the disdain was all that remained of Gordon’s edge. Cass loved this place.

It was early enough for them to find a table in the vaults. The candle light was the only light. She went and ordered a bottle of vino verde. The Landlady had seen Cass’ taste improve over the years, she even managed to smile at Cass as she passed over the glasses and the bottle.

“Someone told me this place has been a cellar since Roman times,” Cass informed Semyon.

“English people are so sentimental,” Semyon was not impressed.

“Have a drink and lighten up. Enjoy the ambiance,” Cass ignored his brattishness. Semyon did start to relax. By their second bottle, they talked about Moscow and the Kremlin. He was sure that the sanctions were unjustified. “Crimea had been Russian since Catherine the Greats. How would you feel if Scotland won independence?” he muted.

Cass was not so sure it was comparable. She could not imagine government backed Georgies charging Hadrian’s Wall to liberate English settlers, but still she listened with interest. It then got onto Putin in general.

“But Cass, if people want change they will make it. You forget we are people of revolution!” he laughed expansively. “It is one thing we are very good at.”

Cass suddenly hunkered down in her seat, she should have thought about this, “Fuck, it is my friends.”

“Invite them over,” Semyon was in full flow now, they had not eaten anything and he was enjoying the light fizz of the wine. He turned around and then asked loudly, “Where are they?”

Alec, Luke and Shaheen joined them. Semyon was quite taken by Shaheen. Cass tried to bury her irrational irritation.

Luke was acting over chummily with Semyon. Cass found Luke’s enthusiasm even more grating. She did not want Semyon to know more about her. She was showing him London and hoping he would disappear thereafter.

At the bar Alec helped Luke with the order, “Dude, what the fuck?”

Luke looked down at the tray, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”

“She is on a date. If you want to stay friends, get over it.”

“I am being absolutely delightful,” Luke retorted. “I am just getting to know the guy. He could be Russian Mafia for all we know.”

“You are territorially pissing, and you know it. We will finish this round and leave them to it,” commanded Alec.

“Yes darling,” flirted Luke.

“Fucking repressed Brits,” Alec smiled at Luke.

They all left together. Semyon bear hugged Cass’ friends goodbye and their wobbly separate ways in the June evening.

Cass walked Semyon up Charings Cross Road into Theatre land. “ I want Sushi,” Semyon insisted expansively. Cass was not too sure it was wise having sushi with a secret FSB officer, but she needed to soak up the booze and she could not see a Nandos.

They found a restaurant near Covent Garden. Tiny colour coded dishes – check! Conveyor belt – check! Going to eat so much you are going to find it difficult to lie down in bed – check!

Semyon talked excitedly with his mouthful, “I love London. It is so messy and the people are so different.”

“I am not too sure that is a compliment,” Cass laughed as she struggled with her chop sticks and then gave way to her hands.

“Your friend Shaheen. She is so beautiful,” Semyon said gauchely. “And funny!”

“Yes she is,” Cass had no right to disagree.

“I have not met many Muslims who are funny,” he said.

“I don’t think I know many Muslims but she is definitely funny,” Cass found his stereotyping annoying. Cass wondered darkly, why did everyone have to be catagorised. Jewish, you should go into stand up, banking or partitioning the West Bank. Christian, makes a good friend and a good cake but watch out for your kids. Muslim, serious, industrious and will behead you over a bacon sandwich.

“She told me about your fiancé,” Semyon said tentatively.

“She shouldn’t have,” Cass stated flatly. She turned to a waitress, “Please can I get two Saki?”

Trying to change the subject even more ineptly, “Your men friends are funny too. Are they all gay?”

“Not all of them,” Cass was surprised. She had not picked up on Luke’s split loyalties until a few years of knowing him.

“We do not have many open gays in Moscow. It is bullshit. My uncle is gay, he has had the same partner for 40 years. They cannot even hold hands in public. He has to be especially careful now. He is a University Professor. He must not disseminate his lifestyle or he will loose his job.”

Cass now felt a bit guilt for judging Semyon on his “funny Muslim” comment.

“Putin compared gays to paedophiles before Sochi, “ Cass said sympathetically.

“I know and that is why I do not vote for him,” Semyon downed the saki. “My uncle and, well, my other uncle, you know, my uncle’s partner, were like fathers to me. My real father left my mother after my sister was born. I was three. Being gay does not mean you want to hurt children.”

“Does Putin know Tchaikovsky was gay?” Cass asked.

“I don’t know,” Semyon laughed. “But he doesn’t ban the Nutcracker at Christmas for disseminating homosexual lifestyle. “

“I think Putin’s bare chest bareback riding photos have done more to disseminate a homosexual lifestyle, “ laughed Cass.

Semyon looked at her blankly, ”He looks strong and masculine in those pictures.”

“Yes,” Cass smiled. “ A real Russian Bear.”

The Big P.R Question

Semyon had a lot to say about the Underground. “Why have they got fabric seats? I am not sitting, what happens if drunk has pissed himself. It is very dirty, do you not clean this place? Could we not get a taxi?”

“No,” Cass said firmly, “This is quicker or we could walk?”

“Okay, we walk,” they got off at Bank. Cass took him through Pater Nostra Square, “Our cathedral to capitalism,” she quipped as she pointed out the Stock Exchange, “And our cathedral to God, the two go hand in hand in this city.” As she pointed out St Paul’s shadowing it.

“That is very similar to Moscow!” laughed Semyon. “What do you think about Pussy Riot?”

“I think that they should do a show at St Paul’s, it is less likely they will get locked up.”

“You wouldn’t understand, “ Semyon said darkly.

“Try me?” Cass was suddenly interested.

“Lots of people, ordinary people, paid a lot of money to rebuild Christ the Savior. It had been torn down during Communism. Communism took away their religion, made it illegal. You take away religion, you take away hope. “

“I don’t agree, but go on,” Cass said.

“You can tell you come from a wealthy country,” he laughed.

Cass took the criticism on the chin and felt ashamed of her arrogance. Atheism always came with wealth and development. If you had a dying baby, no medicine, no food, no electricity, no water, there was only one hope, even if it was an imaginary friend.

“Anyway, these people held onto their religion, through it all, even if they could be sent to Gulag. It gave them strength and freedom. It gave them hope systems could change.”

“Then you have to see the hypocrisy in the people sending Pussy Riot to prison for freedom of expression,” Cass retorted.

“Of course and they should not have been sent to prison. You have to understand Pussy Riot pissed on everything that day, these people, fighters for freedom of expression, who allowed Pussy Riot to be a feminist punk band and mock Putin.   No one gave a fuck when they did it outside the Kremlin. Once they did the Christ the Savior performance, they gave the authorities an excuse to shut them down.”

“Are you saying they wanted to be arrested?”

“ Did you know about an obscure Russian feminist punk band called Pussy Riot before?”

Cass stopped looked at him, and decided that the sisterhood and logic was more important than his cynicism being right,” They should not have gone to prison for singing a song.”

Cultural Exchange

Semyon scanned Cass’ little flat, “We have the same problem in Moscow. I like your map. Is that your boyfriend?”

Cass ignored the final question. Semyon did not need to know and she wanted to get this meeting over as soon as possible.

He looked more like an exchange student today. Younger in nondescript jeans, t shirt, mac, trainers and to top it off, a rucksack. It always confused Cass when she saw colleagues in casual clothes. It always felt like it was a little too intimate. A realization moment, “That is what you are really like.”

She made him coffee and they settled down to go through Julian’s mess. It did not take long. Semyon threw down the papers, “Such a hypocrite. Mister nice guy. My mother’s money to pay whores.”

“What?” Cass had no idea that this was a personal mission.

“He befriended my mother and convinced her about financial structure. To him it is pocket money. Just £100,000.00 but I have disabled sister.”

“I am sorry,” Cass said sympathetically.

“English are very sympathetic,” he said smiling mirthlessly. “Her condition is quite shameful in Russia. Like her disability was mother’s fault. She wanted to make sure the money was in a safe place for my sister. ” Suddenly this Russian giant had his head in his hands.

Cass instinctively put a comforting arm around his shoulders, “It will be alright. It will get sorted.” Internally she was wondering why she was saying these platitudes, “ Just something to fill the void of despair.”

He composed himself and he embarrassedly shook off Cass’ arm, “I must inform Zubov.”

Semyon went out onto Cass’ balcony, she watched him, his mobile in one hand, gesticulating with a cigarette in the other. As he exhaled, he looked like an image from Hades.

The demon transformed into an angel as he walked back through the door. He shuffled up the papers and put them into his rucksack. “Come, it is done. I will take you to dinner. I want to see London.”

“What is done?” Cass suddenly felt her reality shift again.

“I have told Zubov,” he said simply, then laughed. “You think Julian will be killed? Cass, he is worth more to us this way. It has turned into a debt now. He will be more useful. In Russia it is when people owe you money, you should be worried.”

Cass had made up her mind not to have anything more to do with it. She did not like the sound of being “useful” to something she did not understand, “I will hand in my notice. This is getting too much.”

“I wouldn’t do that,” Semyon smiled assuredly. “Wait for further instructions.” Cass tried hard to remain impassive though her very fabric was screaming at her to run. She had not asked for this and now she was being told however kindly, there was no escape.

Cass excused herself. In the bathroom she felt a wave of nausea hit her. She tried to be sick silently but she heard a concerned, “Are you okay?” through the door.

“Fine, fine. Nerves. It has been a difficult week.”

“You will get used to it. Come, you need to eat something. This is your city, show me where to go!” Semyon chimed positively through the locked door.

As she exited the bathroom and got on her shoes, she stated flatly, “Julian will not stop, you know that. Just because we have found him out, he will find someone else to fleece.”

“Fleece? What have sheep to do with this?”

“Pull the wool over their eyes? Deceive. There will be other mother’s money taken. The only logical reason why he did it, is because he enjoyed it. He did not need to do it.”

“ True but that is not my concern,” Semyon said frankly as he put on his shoes. “We have you to keep an eye on him.”

Cass ignored his final comment but continued her musing, ”It is not even that clever. He just needed the gall to take the money and do some convincing lying. People in the office talks about him like he has some sort of magic skill and never asked why or how he did these things.”

“No one ever asks questions things going well. When something looks clever, people never want to ask too many questions just in case they look stupid,” Semyon said sagely as she locked her front door, “Everyone made it easy for him.”

Rehab

Around 13.30 the next day, Cass had come to a decision. She could not live with herself. She needed to confess and her confessor would be Julian. She had made her excuses to leave the office early, collected her car and drove to the clinic. She had to do this in person. He had always treated her fairly and he deserved a chance to change things.

The clinic was a red brick neo gothic Victorian pile. The nurses resembled five star health spa staff rather than a serious mental health facility. The enormous entrance hall was full of subtle plinky plink of meditation music and expensive vapours of frangipane. The relaxing atmosphere grated on Cass. She was finally received by one of the therapists, “We have consulted with Mr. Bauer and though he should not of agreed to see you, we have also asked Mrs. Bauer and we are willing to let him see you. I will have to search you and your bag.”

“Of course,” Cass agreed. “ I should not be too long.”

“You are permitted half an hour,” the nurse commanded.

“I won’t need that long. How is he?” Cass asked apprehensively.

“We are not permitted to discuss patients but he is improving,” the nurse said officiously.

“Good,” Cass said. The nurse escorted Cass to the “Relaxation Room.” It was a spa. Julian received Cass in a hot tub.

“Cass! Don’t I look improved!” Julian shouted over the bubbles. “Give me a moment and I will be with you.” His skinny frame got out of the tub and wrapped himself in a large fluffy dressing gown. Cass thought it strange he was so thin. She thought alcohol made you fat. She did not realise vodka was Julian’s only calorific intake. Eating hurt him now and it added bulk to the vomit. So in his mind it was a pointless exercise.

“The anti depressants are kicking in now, so I am allowed to see people. Amazing really, I don’t even feel like a drink,” Julian said. Cass cringed as it was obviously for the nurse’s benefit, who smiled and left them to talk.

“Have you brought me anything?” Julian asked furtively.

“No,” Cass looked at the floor suddenly ashamed.

“Don’t worry, one of the gardeners gets me a supply. Expensive though,” Julian smiled boyishly. “Don’t tell, he gets paid nothing and this helps him out.”

Cass was not going to tell. The gardener was just another one of Julian’s victims. Julian had probably convinced him that Rebecca was a neurotic worrier and he was just in here to keep her quiet. Julian would have waved enough money at this poor guy, until the risk seemed worth it. Julian thought everyone could be bought.

“For fucksake Julian!” Cass was angry. Julian seemed hell bent on hitting the self-destruct button good and hard. The realization she was going to make his choice easier for him, made her feel sick. He was not going to sort this situation. He did not care. It was a game for him, but in his mind every time he lost, he felt like a winner. He was pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes and enjoying the hoodwink. He sat there smiling at her and basking in his perverse sense of victory.

“I know what you have done Julian. I was asked by Ivana’s associate to find out and I have to tell this person.”

“No you don’t, you could just help me sort it out,” Julian seemed unfazed. “All I need is a little time and some help from someone like you. Anyway it is all mine after all.”

Cass was talking to a mad man. He did not seem to think that he had done anything particularly wrong. Cass had seen from the accounts that this charade had gone on for years. The money was so mixed up that there was not telling to whom it belonged.

“No one is going to come after me. They don’t want questions. If they were to come after me, it would have been years ago. Cass, stop looking so shocked, you don’t understand business. This amount is nothing to them.”

“Do you know how much you have borrowed?” Cass could not hide the sarcasm in her voice as she tried to pull him back to reality.

“A few thousand, a hundred at the most,” he said nonchalantly.

“How about £50 million?” Cass asked.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Julian laughed.

“Julian, you burnt through 10 grand before leaving for Moscow. The week before that it was 5 and the week before that it was 20. You know it isn’t just a 100k!” hissed Cass. “What about the houses?”

“London house prices always increase. It is only a small discrepancy. They will make it up and the client will never know,” Julian’s eyes glinted with the thought of the bet.

“I don’t call £1,500,000.00 a small discrepancy. And that was just one deal! What happens when the client wants to sell? How are you going to explain the loss? What if they visit? These people are not idiots,” said Cass. “What it they go to another firm and find out that you haven’t even bought the property, they instructed you to buy!”

Then it dawned on Cass, this was exactly what he thought of everyone. He thought they were all idiots. People were there to be manipulated. Golems, simply there to do his bidding. It never occurred to him that he would get caught. He had used smoke and mirrors for so long he began to believe his own illusion. She had a chilling sensation, she was sat with a true psychopath. He was not homicidal. He just had a compulsion to control with charm and destroy with deception.

All the damaged people he kept in his entourage, were just there to make him feel normal. He felt less broken with them around and he liked them to feel indebted. It helped him with his god complex. His employees were like obedient dogs, wagging their tails at any praise or treat.

Cass stiffened her resolved trying not to hate him, “I have to tell Ivana’s associate. I have no choice. I am sorry. I wanted to give you a chance, but I can see this has gone too far.”

“You always have a choice,” Julian seemed completely insouciant.

“I don’t, not this time Julian,” Cass got up to leave. “They have threatened my family.”

He grabbed her wrist, shakily, “You don’t know, who I know. You underestimate who I am.”

Cass shook off his hand, lent towards him and whispered in Russian,” And you don’t know, who I know.”

He shouted behind her, “Cass don’t leave like this. Come back, we can talk about this.”