Dolores showed Cass, with all the charm and charisma of a prison guard, how to apply for the visa.  By the end of it Cass thought she might have to give a DNA sample and bend over for an internal examination.

Every answer she provided Dolores was greeted with an underhand response. At the qualifications part, “I did not realise that they had a university there” ; “I got better A Levels”.  At the address part, “I could not live in East London.”

Cass decided not to take the bait.  It would annoy Dolores more if she decided not to compete.

At midday Cass had managed to do some work, when she was called into Julian’s office.

“Sit, sit. How are you settling in?” he greeted her warmly.   “Not there, there are more comfy seats behind you.” She noticed that there was a glass of milk. It was making a ring on the immaculate desk.

“Good, I think,” she lied.

“Perfect.  Right you need to know, things are slightly different in this department.  I deal with the offshore side. The majority of your clients, will be me! Or a company run by me.”

Cass was confused, “I am sorry, I do not understand.”

“We act for people who desire absolute privacy about their affairs.  There is nothing underhand going on and it is all within the law.  You will know who the beneficial owners are, but nominally it will be my off shore companies which will be your client,” Julian explained.

“Why is there a need for absolute privacy?” pressed Cass.

Julian looked slightly taken a back, “I thought you understood the situation, I see that I am going to have to explain everything to you. It is because there are people who are scared that their hard earned money will be removed from them, should certain powers in their home countries get wind of their success.”

“I see.  Are we talking about Russia?”

“Yes and others who feel threatened by success. Even a modicum of success.  If certain people in power feel that our clients’ wealth can be used or is proving too much for the status quo, then our clients’ run the risk of scrutiny and sometimes imprisonment. “

“Ivanna calls it tax farming”

“I have never heard it called that before, but yes, extortion  of protection money from the authorities. The level of corruption is rife.”

Cass decided to leave it at that.  She did not want to get into a debate about the rights and wrongs of this work, especially with her new boss.  She needed the money, was lucky to have a job. She knew when to shut up.

The fact that the money flowing out of Russia could be used to better the people of Russia, bothered Cass. However she understood why Russians were afraid. Russia rewarded compliance. Russia did not reward or admire success, both externally and internally. Her children’s success made Mother Russia feel insecure, jealous, old and ugly.

The Mother of Nightmares; always wanting to keep control over her children; criticising every push forward for independence;  locking away or beating the child for minor infringements of the rules; removing friends who might show her up as a hypocritical monster and sometimes strangling the child and burying it in the basement if it became too much of a problem.

At the end of the day the Russians were the only ones who could decide this for themselves.  The Stockholm Syndrome suffered in Russia was not Cass’ problem.

“Right, Ivanna will be here in 10 minutes and we will take her to lunch, Coq D’Argent? My treat!” Julian said affably.

“Yes please!” Cass said a bit too eagerly. Cass remembered that she had Chub Club, her own form of AA, on Thursday, she could work off this lunch before then.

Dolores saw the trio of Julian, Ivanna and Cass pass her open door to the exit.  Why did she have to put up with this spoilt brat, who obviously never worked hard for anything.  Cass was taking her place.  Dolores normally went to lunch  on Mondays with Julian.  Dolores was convinced that Cass was sleeping with him.  This consoled her. Dolores was not a cheap tart, and Cass would soon find out that she was not the only one.

Dolores used to feel sorry for Julian’s wife, Helen, but Helen got compensated with anything she wanted, so fair was fair.  Dolores had been sent out by Julian last Friday to buy a Bulgari necklace for some minor martial infringement.  This proved, to Dolores, that she was like the daughter Julian had never had.  Julian would not choose Cass over her, surely?

Dolores tried to concentrate on her work but could not. It was only when she heard a plopping sound on the document she so  desperately wanted to show Julian, she realised that she was crying.

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