Monday, August 27, 2012

Excerpt II - Aleksandr Voinov's Gold Digger

The cover is quite suggestive; I love a suit!
Part II "Gold Digger" Novella by Aleksandr Voinov Excerpt

I'm very excited to be able to share this second excerpt, from Aleksandr Voinov's upcoming novella, "Gold Digger". The book focuses on Vadim Krasnorada's son, Nikolai.  Presumably that's sexy Nikoli on the, just revealed, cover. 

At the time of writing this I don't have a release date but will follow with that information as soon as it's available.  If you're as anxious to delve back into the Special Forces world as I am, I know you'll be checking back here and at the Riptide Books site often.  I'll keep you up to date.

A very special "thank you" to Aleks for sharing these sneak peaks with us.  You're the best Aleks!

Excerpt II

“So, how is everybody,” Vadim asked once they’d filled up the car and were heading down towards Wellington. What Nikolai really liked about the roads here (and which made up for their pretty poor quality otherwise) was that they were empty. It was quite easy to drive in New Zealand and not encounter another car for twenty or thirty minutes.
“Well, Katya is big in real estate and busy buying up Tbilisi. Anya is getting really quite famous as a surgeon. Last thing I heard, well, really previous-to-last, was that she saved the son of a big industrialist who’d nearly killed himself in a car crash. She has nerves of steel. Quite possibly the same stuff her heart’s made of.”
“Did you fight?” His father had that talent to ask the important questions without any preamble.
“We’re cats and dogs, really. Always were. So the last thing I heard was that Liz had left her, with their son. Seems Anya cheated, but I don’t know the details. I’m not that interested in the family dirt.”
Vadim reached down
into the glove compartment and pulled out his sun glasses, then carefully and methodically polished them. “Have you talked to Lizabeta?”
“No. I . . . was too busy. I figured I should leave her alone for a while. I don’t want to crowd her as Anya’s brother. I guess she has more important things on her mind than talking to me.”
“Can you make sure she’s all right?”
“In what way? Financially?”
Vadim shrugged. “That, too.” He didn’t elaborate, and Nikolai really wasn’t sure what was going on in his father’s mind. “She does have a kid.”
“Yeah.” Nikolai fell silent, unwilling to think about Szandor. Every single father-child relationship in his family was messed up. Fathers weren’t really fathers, but if they were, they weren’t very good at it. He’d heard little about Vadim’s father, his grandfather (except not), but he did know that they’d never really been on good terms, diverging too far in intellect, politics and overall character. Vadim’s father had been bookish, intellectual, allegedly good with people; Vadim had turned himself into a cold-faced killing machine until he’d been too messed up to continue, too old to do anything but security advisory.
Nikolai suspected that Vadim’s financial comforts hadn’t exactly been earned by comforting orphans and protecting widows, and the people he’d advised likely hadn’t used Vadim’s knowledge to protect and safeguard civilians. War was a dirty business, and Vadim was likely filthy to the elbows from it, if not further. Once, they’d been driving up to Rotorua, and, to mask the heavy silence in the car, Nikolai had switched on the radio. A story came up of the Afghan elections, and Vadim had switched the radio off without a word, his lips pulled into the closest thing to a sneer. Thirty years on, he still hated that place.
“Have you met them? I know Liz and Anya were at your wedding, but Liz was pregnant then.”
“No. Too busy, too . . . hostile.” Vadim stared at the sun glasses in his hands. “Can’t fault her.”
Nikolai reached out and placed a hand on Vadim’s powerful wrist. “One day, Anya will probably realize that holding grudges is a wretched way to spend her time.”
Vadim placed his hand on Nikolai’s and squeezed gently. “Not likely, but it took me a long time to understand some emotions, myself.” He looked out of the window, clearly thinking his deep thoughts and mulling things through. Vadim always wore his thoughts like a long veil trailing around and behind him, and Nikolai decided to leave him to it for the moment. To interact with his father (not) at all, he had to give him a huge amount of time and space, much more than with anybody else he knew. Talking to him was always like that tenuous first contact with a stranger when you just didn’t know how he’d respond.
“She is quite like me,” Vadim then added, fifteen minutes later.
“You’re not . . .”
“Like I was her age.”
“Oh.” He’d seemed distant, not-really-there, but not really actively hostile. Or maybe that was what he’d seemed like to his family. Vadim Krasnorada on a good day. “Well, I hope she and Liz find a way to let Szandor see Anya every now and then.”
“Szandor?” Vadim turned his head. “Is that what they called the child?”
“Yes, friend of our mother, and, oh.” Damn. He’s totally forgotten that Szandor had been Vadim’s friend. Considering Szandor had been flamingly gay, Nikolai wondered for a moment where that friendship had begun and ended. He did not want to think of it too much. “He was kind of Uncle Szandor to us. Before he died, I mean.”
“Tell me about it.”
“Taught us fencing while he still could. He had a very soft spot for Anya, said she was extremely talented. He was . . . a perfect gentleman, I guess, very soft, very kind. Extremely generous. Was he your lover?”
“Yes.” Vadim said it without emotion. Or maybe he’d buried it so deeply that he himself couldn’t access it anymore, either.
“He had a partner up until he got ill. When the . . . when he developed AIDS, the guy couldn’t deal with it and left him. Funny, well, ‘cept it’s not, he came back a year or so after Szandor’s death and . . .”
Asked me for forgiveness. As if I could give it. As if I’d been Szandor’s family, or something even closer.
 Vadim watched him carefully from behind those mirrored glasses. “What happened?”
“I was really angry at him and told him that leaving your dying partner is beyond the pale. Funny, I just didn’t have it in me to forgive him for it. Now I’m thinking maybe I should’ve. You know, be half as generous as Szandor was in life. He never really held a grudge or anything.”
“He had some strange sense of honor, that Hungarian,” Vadim said, wistfully. “I’d have punched his boyfriend.”
Nikolai laughed. “Yeah, you would’ve. That’s very you.”
“What was your relationship?”
“It was a good one. He listened to me. Helped me when I got into trouble or needed to talk to an adult who’d listen and not shout at me. He had this way of making you feel better by asking about things that I cared about rather than whatever was troubling me until I could come out with it at my own speed. He was wise like that. Not pushy.”
“A bit like a real uncle? Or more like a father?”
Vadim was slowly encircling him, it felt like it. Whether it was intuition or whether Nikolai was too shaken up to realise that he was dragging a wing and drawing an attack. “I don’t know. He just seemed an adult who was always on my side. A nice guy. An ally.”
Vadim frowned, thinking, then took off his sunglasses. “He was my mentor, too, just in a different way.” He glanced over, and Nikolai’s breath caught. Before he could protest that Szandor had never touched him in any way, Vadim lifted a hand to kill that protest. “I know he’d never have taken advantage of you. For all his razor sharp reflexes to exploit a weakness on the piste, he’d never take advantage off it. Correct?”
“Yeah.” Nikolai fell silent, thinking, remembering the man, his slight, athletic built and the perfect fencer’s posture. He’d been the embodiment of dignity and a quiet, calm confidence that came from inside. “You know, I think maybe I resented you a bit because he died of AIDS.”
“Katya said that gay guys screw around so much, they are bound to catch something. I’m not sure she meant it, though back then, she did. She was shaken up more than most when he was diagnosed, she looked after him and told us to treat him normally. And we did. We didn’t really understand why he was so ill. But I remember when I asked her what was wrong, she explained that Szandor being gay and ‘screwing around’ meant it had been the ‘logical conclusion’. When I learnt you’re gay, the first thing I thought was that you’d die like he did.”
Vadim’s lips tightened, and the silence settled like a third person in the car. “By now you know that even straight people catch and and died from it.”
“Being a soldier and then a mercenary was more dangerous than being gay. Much dirtier, too. Less fun. Though I certainly made the most of both.” He shook his head and fell silent again.
Nikolai breathed deeply, examining those thoughts, too. That he’d always considered that being gay was risky and might lead to death—possibly as a logical conclusion, like Katya had said. And where exactly did that leave him?
“I think he loved you a great deal. Szandor.”
“I know he did,” Vadim said calmly. “Wish I’d appreciated it more.”
Nikolai reached over and touched Vadim’s hand. Dry, powerful, large, and gentle. It was so weird to see Vadim so tempered rather than withdrawn, though he was that, too. By Vadim’s standards, he was positively chatty and lively, and Nikolai appreciated the openness. If only he could have broken into the one topic that he really cared about, that he kept worrying like a broken tooth that he couldn’t keep away from.


Ah, well, isn't that typical Voinov for you?  Just keep twisting it up until you have no idea where it's going.  I LOVE IT!  What exactly, is on Nikolai's mind?  Leave a comment and let's see what we come up with.

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