Excerpts from "Gold Digger"
An upcoming, new release from Aleksandr Voinov (Vashtan)
I'm a Lucky, Lucky Girl, and Aleksandr Voinov is a very generous author. Not to mention an all around great guy. As I mentioned in an earlier post he has graced me (us) with two excerpts from his upcoming release based on his Special Forces books. This new work will focus on Nikolai, Vadim Krasnorada's son.
Gold Digger is the working title. Aleks calls this a "longish novella", told entirely from Nikolai's point of view and will answer some lingering questions about Vadim and some of Aleks' other characters from SF.
I'll be posting the two excerpts separately, so please check back for my second post about Gold Digger.
Nikolai picked up his bag and straightened. Vadim wasn’t in the small crowd, but just as he was about to fish out his phone, he came into the tiny hall of Palmerston North airport. He stuck out because he was so tall and still wide-shouldered, never mind perfectly dressed. Nikolai, worn down by more than twenty hours on three different planes, was too exhausted to do more than stare, bleary-eyed, at the man he’d always thought was his father.
“Nikolai.” He came over and paused, as if momentarily und sure whether to take his suitcase off him, offer his hand or a hug. He settled on a hug and then took the suitcase off him. “How are you? Bad flight?”
“Nono, it was good. Just, you know, if I believed in hell it would be sitting in a plane and never arriving.”
Vadim laughed and put a hand on his shoulder, guiding him gently. Nikolai was so dazed from the flip-flopped time zone that he had almost no will left on his own. “Hop into the car,” he told him in front of a shiny new 4x4—how was it that the old gay guy was driving a man’s car and Henri—
He climbed into the car, while Vadim threw the suitcase into the back. When he sat down next to Nikolai, Nikolai just regarded him, the grey hair, the lined face, the big shoulders and very respectable biceps in his shirt. He looked like a supremely active, healthy, happy, sixty-year old. Sixty-something. “You’re looking good.”
“Home? You look like something spit you out.”
Nikolai yawned. “I slept a bit on the plane. What day is it? I’m not completely sure.”
“Our booking starts today, but we can drive there in the evening, if you prefer to sleep.”
Vadim started the car and drove off, and Nikolai glanced at all the large, handsome houses as they drifted past. Then they left the small town and were out in the green. Down into a valley, across a river, and there it was, what Vadim called “home”.
“I can just crash on the couch,” Nikolai muttered, desperate to close to itching eyes.
“We do have a guest room,” Vadim said, regarding him with crossed arms. “Though, no. We moved some furniture in there. We’re re-decorating the office.”
“I can sleep on the floor anywhere. I’ve slept in much worse places.”
“Just go upstairs, use our bed. It has fresh sheets and is the quietest room in the house.”
Nikolai smiled and shook his head. “As long as you’ve . . . removed all the sex toys.”
Vadim gave him a quizzical look. “Don’t open any drawers.”
“God, no. I never do. Anywhere.” Nikolai paused and noticed Vadim’s unease. And now he felt like a dirt bag. Talking about sex with his father—not his father—was just something he’d never thought he’d do, even if it was just about sex in very general terms. He hated that haunted look in Vadim’s eyes. Was he at peace with being gay? Was he at peace with the idea that Nikolai knew he had sex? What was that weird silence between them? “I . . . uh. That was Too Much Information, right?”
Vadim waved him off, but what would have looked like an easy, throwaway gesture for anybody else, became a grave and serious thing with Vadim. “Go to bed. You’re exhausted.”
“Okay. What are you going to do?”
“Fix something to eat and call somebody.”
Wow, he couldn’t make a step without putting his foot in. “Are you all right?”
“Just forgot to tell him I won’t be around for the normal appointment this week.”
“Okay.” He should think, sit and talk to Vadim, but his brain felt like it was swollen and rubbing against the insides of his skull. “It’s good to see you, Vadim. Really good. I hope I’ll be coherent in a few hours. Maybe wake me in the afternoon?”
Vadim nodded, and Nikolai grabbed his bag and headed upstairs. He knew where the master bedroom was. Vadim had shown him the dark wooden panel a native Maori artist had carved from them. Two war chiefs, engaged in what could have been a battle, a dance, or sex, done in a modern interpretation of traditional Maori art. He sat down on the bed, pulled off his shoes, then grabbed a woollen blanket and lay down on the bed, too tired and sore to think about anything.
Somebody woke him, and he opened his eyes. Vadim sat on the bed, and the movement must have woken him. “Coffee?”
“Uh, yeah.” Nikolai rubbed his face and sat up, feeling a great deal more awake than he had been. The sun was low, it had to be later afternoon. He reached over and Vadim put a mug in his hand. The coffee was made with milk, no sugar, as Nikolai always had it. He remembered he’d dreamt of something. Henri. He groaned and shook his head.
“Yeah, just a weird dream.”
Vadim nodded, a measured expression. “How did it make you feel?”
Nikolai shrugged. “Confused, I think.” He sipped the coffee and felt as little bit more awake. A hot drink could sometimes really bring body and soul back together, especially on shift on a North Sea rig. “Damn, this is good coffee.”
Vadim didn’t respond much, he was just watching attentively, and Nikolai reminded himself that this was pretty much normal. Compared to a lively guy like Henri—and why did Henri come up all the time?—Vadim was stoic and impassive most of the time. There was a sense of calm, but it always hid a much deeper sense of disquiet. The trauma. He’d never be able to touch that, or even reach those dark parts of his father. Well, father.
“I’ll grab a shower and come downstairs. Then we can head off?”
“Aye.” Vadim stood and left.
Nikolai yawned and drank more coffee. Shower, re-packing of his stuff, a fresh t-shirt and fresh jeans. He felt a great deal better when he came down the stairs. Vadim stood in the kitchen, mug in hand, zoned out. His weathered face was blank, yet tight, the cold blue eyes slightly narrowed, clear, and staring into the distance. Every muscle in his arm, from his fingers to his shoulder and neck, was taut. The free hand a tight fist against his thigh.
“Vadim?” Nikolai stepped closer, though his hackles rose.
No response. He moved into Vadim’s line of vision, as eerie as it was to step into the sightless and yet laser-focused stare. “Vadim? Dad?”
Vadim tilted his head, eyes stayed focused. It seemed to cost him, but then he blinked and his gaze rested on Nikolai. For a moment, Nikolai wasn’t sure his father (not) even recognized him, but then Vadim put the mug down. “Are you ready?”
“Yep.” Nikolai picked up his jacket. “I think I’ll drive.”
Because there’s no way I’m letting you drive after this little episode.
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