Chapter 11 – Wednesday Morning

Wednesday Morning in Moscow:

01:30AM – Kirill and Victoria were standing in the frozen air beside the row of personal security vehicles, and Kirill was looking forward to a cigarette and some solitude. Those thoughts soon disappeared as Victoria asked if he was finished for the night or did he know of any small, and fun places to be. He surprised himself by replying that he did, but she must be exhausted, and tomorrow would be another long-day. She smiled took his arm waving her associates away as he escorted her towards the black Range Rover at the end of the queue of vehicles.

This was not what he had planned at all, but he knew a good place where he was also allowed to smoke without freezing to death outside. He instructed the driver to take them to the Kvartira 44 as they shuffled on the soft leather, the inside was warm and there was music surrounding them. Kirill always had music on and the driver was always prepared, he was lucky in that Kirill was a very good employer and generous in a very non-Russian way.

The tiny jewel of a restaurant was hidden away in an unremarkable block of old Moscow apartments with old propaganda posters and faded carpets, a throwback to the middle of the 20th century but none of the miserable Soviet austerity. Kvartira 44, or Apartment 44 has bookshelves filled with old and new classics and furnished with both period décor and antique furniture. People enjoy the European style dining particularly French with a menu of fish, meats and pastas or they call in for glass of wine and the live music from an old piano and maybe accompanied by double bass and guitars. Kirill loved this bar not just for the freestyle music but that fact that it also allowed smoking inside which was unusual in many Moscow establishments.

The owner waved at Kirill as they entered, it was not what Victoria had expected, but she loved it instantly. Two guests were spoken to at a small table beside the piano, some notes exchanged hands and they were ushered to the now vacant seats. Kirill took her coat, I’ll have what you’re having, and she floated away to the rest room situated at the back. The owner nodded at him and quickly appeared with a bottle of vodka in an ice bucket, two small glasses, coffee would come later.

Victoria came back, but her braid had been released, her long black hair was falling free over her shoulders and she was wearing golden yellow coloured glasses. She was happy, relaxed and smiling, she had also removed the ostentatious Rolex watch and blended into the friendly atmosphere. The musicians were playing some local favourites, Kirill had just put a cigarette to his mouth and Victoria asked if she could try one, “I have never had a Sobranie Black Russian before”. She took one and Kirill opened the Zippo lighter and flicked the flames alive for her as he poured two generous amounts of vodka, passed her one, then clinked her glass “to the music”, she nodded and they both drank as one and slammed the glasses down, laughing.

The song finished, and loud applause erupted around the small room, Kirill shouted for three glasses for the band, they appeared as if by magic, passed over the heads at the bar to the small table. Victoria stood to grab them before placing them beside the ice-bucket towards the three players who stood only a couple of feet away, they moved forward smiling while Kirill poured generous measures into all five glasses. They were all standing, and again Kirill toasted “to the music” and they all repeated it in unison before downing the shots in one and banging the glasses on the table. Kirill refilled the glasses and the players returned the compliment and toasted “to the audience”, the room was alive, and the drinks were flowing, this was more lively than usual thought Kirill, but he was enjoying it more, oh yes, a great deal more than usual!

Victoria asked him if the piano player would mind if she could join them for a quick tune, before Kirill could reply the pianist smiled and with an open hand pointed at the keyboard, he grabbed another guitar and asked what she could play and the chords of “Waterloo” followed a few seconds later and the room was bouncing with energy. The owner appeared with more vodka and enquired who his friend was, and why had he not brought her there before?

Kirill sat there with his vodka and cigarettes while Victoria knocked out several songs with the band, he was pleased for himself, not having to do small talk and for her being wrapped up in her music. And she did look good in her cocktail outfit and yellow glasses, like a female Elton John, she looked and played like a star. He could not believe this was the same dull secretary he had considered her to be for so long!

A short break between songs, more vodka for the band who appeared to be enjoying the gig immensely and he lit another cigarette for Victoria, it gave her voice a huskiness that made her even more attractive. The evening had turned into a fun time, the sort he did not have enough of as he blew more fumes above his head. He was far, far away and did not realise the music had stopped, the clapping and cheering had finished, and she was sitting next to him, her hand touched his and he nearly jumped through the roof before apologising profusely.

05:30AM – The time had flown past and there would be no point trying to get any sleep, Kirill had a very good idea where they might enjoy the coffee they had missed, he suggested the idea, and Victoria smiled in agreement. Café Pushkin it was, he was hoping she would be equally impressed, because Kvartira 44 would not have been a perfect venue for all or most of the other women Kirill knew, maybe that was why he had never taken them there!

Café Pushkin is set over three floors in a beautifully recreated 19th century mansion, radiating an historic decadence of the old imperial Russia, with full liveried waiters, elegant furnishings and fine antiques. Three themed floors comprise the restaurant, the pharmacy, the library and the fireplace room all sumptuously decorated and each offering a different menu. Café Pushkin is open 24hrs a day serving both Russian and international favourites, offering great breakfasts and fantastic views of Tverskoy Boulevard from the library floor.

They were lucky, at this hour they were still very much on their own, sitting with delicious coffee and watching Moscow awaken through the large paned window. The meeting was not due to start today until 11:00 and Kirill was due to meet the delegates for 10:30 which meant he had to be there ready for 10:00. He had ordered ham and poached eggs with dried toast but had only managed to eat half, not that it wasn’t excellent but this morning his mind had been unusually pre-occupied, and food was the last thing on his mind.

Victoria on the other hand enjoyed her food, but it had to be the right food for the right occasion and today she needed her real favourite, a full English with devilled kidneys and plenty of toast and strong breakfast tea. The combination was probably her most favourite meal of all, and what a way to start the day, especially after the long night she had just so thoroughly enjoyed. She had not been so relaxed and let her hair down for such a long, long time and could not remember the last time she had played some of her all-time favourite songs with a band and in front of an audience. She knew that to most people she gave the impression of being the ultimate “Plain Jane” and should lose a few pounds and did not realise that she did have that certain something that made her most appealing to a certain type of man that she had always wished for but knew that under the T&Cs she could now never have. The tight basque was making her feel a little full and she stopped spreading the lashings of butter across the last piece of warmish toast, but then, why not and continued.

Kirill had surprised her, she had always thought of him as a real, conservative tight assed Russian bore but she had certainly been hit left field tonight. The last place had been tremendous fun and totally unexpected, but then she did not know where he had come from and how music had affected him so much. She had not smoked since the packet of Gitanes French cigarettes in Paris a few years before, she had stopped smoking them after the move to manufacture them in Poland, she had respected and supported the Parisiennes boycott after that. She had enjoyed Gauloises before that and they too were now made outside France in Germany. Origin had no respect anymore, she had no idea where the Sobranie Black Russian cigarettes were made and today she didn’t care at all, she had enjoyed them together with the copious amounts of vodka and the music. And now she was having breakfast in a wonderful restaurant while watching the day dawning with the “Wolf” and loving every minute of the experience.

There was very little time left before the morning meeting, but a hot shower and strong coffee would certainly help. She did not give a second thought to the other delegates or to what or how they had spent the remain of the last evening. One more night in Moscow and maybe she would experience something else that had also been a very long time ago, but she knew not to wish for too much in this world. Both she and Kirill knew it was time to go and joined the Moscow rush hour to prepare for another day that could not beat the last or could it, hope was a wonderful thing!

Floor 28 – Taya Morozov

07:00AM – Taya had not reset her alarm and struggled to awake to the combined sound of the alarm clock and the coffee machine. The meeting was not due to start until 11:00 and she was seriously tired and needed sleep a lot of sleep. Yesterday she had eaten too much and drank too much alcohol and was feeling years older and pounds heavier, very depressing and even more depressing than the miserable Moscow weather. The coffee machine was pinging, the double espresso was ready, but she could not face it.

She was wriggling around inside the king-sized bed which was hot, the electric blanket was still on, she stretched her arm out of the warmth, reached down to the controls and flipped the switch to off. She was wearing the same black silk romper suit with delicate lace down the sides, but she was not feeling either comfortable or sexy. She felt even more uncomfortable realising that the silk felt even tighter around her breasts than yesterday morning, the dark moodiness was building.

There were just less than four hours before the conference was scheduled to reconvene and she drifted quickly back to sleep. She never heard the hostess enter the room, open the curtains and leave a breakfast selection which was considerably smaller than the previous day on the table by the window. Her clothes had been picked up from the floor and hung up in the wardrobe and the jewellery had been placed in the ashtray on the dressing table together with the hearing aid. The volume had been turned down, just enough to seriously irritate the owner, a bitter little touch from the hostess, but who could blame her.

Time passed slowly, and the tidal wave of bitterness swept over her like a tsunami from hell and then she awoke to the shaking and sharp words from the bodyguard. The hostess had refused to do it, she knew how these bitches reacted and was not taking it today and knew the bodyguard was angry, he had no wish to be anywhere near this one when she woke up. He despised these bitches and although he would very much like to shoot her straight through the ear, it would be a mistake that would also cost him and seriously destroy his plans for the future. He took the abuse and nodded his head, as only a Russian employee would nod as she told him to “fuck off useless bastard”.

She had thirty minutes to get ready, a mouthful of cold coffee and a very quick shower. There was not enough time for the beautifications today and no time for the Blini and Oladi but she did need a fresh coffee and shouted through the door for the associates to sort it out and quickly.

She stood naked looking out of the window into the gloom of the Moscow morning and suddenly felt very much alone. The hostess knocked and entered before she could say anything, the coffee was placed on the table and poured into a fresh empty cup before she disappeared swiftly back the safety of the corridor.

The selection of food looked very inviting but there was no time, another mouthful of fresh hot coffee and grabbing some underwear from the drawer she started the routine in-front of the mirror. It didn’t look right so she discarded the underwear, a fresh cotton blouse and squeezed into the freshly ironed suit. A couple of grey roots were beginning to show, her anger was growing as she placed the hearing aid in her left ear. Face, hair, nails and boots the reflection did not please her!

She felt bad, miserable and very, very Russian.

The meeting was due to start at 11:00 and she would be late of course and regret it!

Floor 27 – Zhen Li

08:00AM – The curtains were drawn and the hostess and delivered the breakfast buffet, which was the same beautiful display as the day before. There were clothes all over the floor, the hostess had instructions not to touch anything and she left as quietly as she had entered. There was giggling and other noises coming from under the bed covers, an alarm sounded on the iPhone on the table and Zhen Li jumped out, she was wearing only the high heels from the night before.

The shower burst into life and the two female associates were moving quickly, they did not bother with underwear as they wriggled into the tight suits strewn across the floor before collecting all their remaining items and leaving. The night duties had been performed, hopefully to an acceptable level of satisfaction but they also needed a good breakfast and to prepare themselves for their daily duties.

After twenty minutes the bathroom had turned into a steam room before Zhen Li reappeared within a beautiful Chinese robe and sat down at the table for breakfast and tea. The night had been very exhausting, her two associates had performed well, it had indeed been the perfect way to end the previous day and she was pleased that both women had been ordered to sleep with her. They had both been well trained and had given her exciting pleasures and she had also enjoyed watching them perform for her and she had more ideas for the following night and hoped they would be up to the tasks.

She ate several small portions using the chopsticks and small bowls, she needed her strength today, and wanted to look her very best. More small mouthfuls of food as she thought about the previous evening and wondered what the others had done after she had left the restaurant.

There was plenty of time as she read some of the reports and drank more tea. Then back to reality and she was in-front of the mirror, today it would be red silk French knickers, a fresh starched cotton shirt again with no collar and double cuffed sleeves and today the cuff links were silver. Fresh trousers which were also too long without her high heels and another beautiful vintage style Chinese folk jacket which reached down to her knees.

Zhen Li looked superb even after so little sleep and she would be a few minutes early as she always was.

Floor 26 – Suzu

08:30AM – Suzu had allowed herself an extra hour of sleep, which had proved very sensible after the previous long day and evening, she did not function properly without plenty of sleep. The curtains had been opened and a breakfast tray was prepared on the table by the window. She had asked the chef to prepare a light omelette and her favourite green tea, yesterday had been an exception with far too much food and drink and she was feeling a little bloated.

There was plenty of time to read some of the reports and have tea in bed where she would be warm and comfortable wearing another of her favourite luxurious silk teddies and a giant bathrobe.

She would dress in a similar style to the day before, but the ivory silk basque would be a little less tight and she needed to attend to her Brazilian, the thong had been a little uncomfortable.

Yesterday there had been a chill in the air, today she would wear a skirt together with stockings and suspender belt, the straps would be at the side and it would be another long day sitting down. Suzu had the easy ability to look both businesswise and glamorous much to the annoyance of the other delegates

She would follow the same routine and would leave the suite with plenty of time to be early and maintain the tradition of Japanese etiquette.

Floor 25 – Sabrina Belluci

08:30AM – Breakfast had been delivered at 08:00 and she had been unusually hungry considering how much she had eaten the day before. It must be this miserable Moscow weather, and today she had ordered chocolate croissants with both espresso and latte macchiato coffees. She drank the espresso quickly before nibbling on the croissants and taking the latte back to bed.

She was wearing the large rimmed glasses and the La Perla nightshirt, pushed up all the pillows behind her head and scanned over the data for the Zodiac Program, where the hell did all this data come from. It was a comprehensive report and Kirill would be briefing the delegates today on both the operational side of the business and the new investment opportunities which were indeed very exciting but there were potential minefields along the way.

Sabrina needed more caffeine, eased out of the warm sheets and moved towards the suite door. A male associate stood outside in the corridor and she asked for more espressos and a jug of iced water. Nice butt, I could have used that last night she thought.

The coffee would only take a few minutes, she turned on the classical music channel, not too loud and eased back on the pillows and lifted her knees the nightshirt fell back to her waist, rested the file on her knees and opened the files. The associate returned with fresh coffee, she asked for it to be put on the bedside table, and making absolutely-sure, that while she was apparently reading the file her knees were just far enough apart to offer a substantial and clear view of the hair between her legs. She raised her eyebrows with an innocent smile and thanked him before her eyes returned to the pages.

Sabrina returned several times to the coffee and croissants as she became embroiled in the text. Crumbs fell over the sheets and coffee splashed on her legs as she jostled the implications of the report around her politically and economically motivated mind. When she stopped again for more coffee she suddenly heard the sweet overtones of the classical music and ruffled her hands through her long curly hair. The report both excited and disgusted her and she needed to get dressed, to be prepared and on top of her game.

Her mind was somewhere else as the power shower washed her demons away and the soaps left her skin soft and subtle. She felt very much alive and kicking but also very, very jealous of Victoria and what she pulled off the night before.

Today would be a black tailored leather suit, designed in Milan to be both professional and powerful. Underneath a basque to support her bosom and loose-fitting cotton French knickers.

Her long curly brunette hair would take ages to get right but it was worth it. Her nails would take time and the jewellery would be simple but elegant to complete the casual but glamorous Italian look. With her daily ritual she kissed her right index fingers and touched her reflection in the mirror, “ciao baby, bad is good”.

She would take serious pleasure in being late and avoid talking about the musical talents of the very plain and dull Victoria who needed to be put in her place.

Floor 24 – Susanna Bancroft

07:00AM – Susanna was up and working, annoyed that she was an hour behind her normal schedule. She was still wearing her favourite cotton pyjamas and as usual losing her glasses every five minutes as she waded through the reports. It was another miserable Moscow morning which was so depressing, but her mind was sharp considering the tiring schedule and lack of quality sleep.

Breakfast had been served by the same sour faced hostess, and she had requested the chef only prepare scramble eggs with salmon, artichoke hearts, wild mushrooms and Parmesan. Although not a recognised dish it was what she would have ordered in her favourite New York Deli. The chef and his staff had been relieved that the breakfast requests for the delegates had been so much less work than the day before. Her request had included the selection of fresh croissants, butter and jams and the two pots of fresh very strong black coffee and a jug of fresh single cream and no sugar!

Today she would be wearing the usual dark pin striped suit and dark glasses, not the red she had worn the night before, which had almost given her the tiniest ounce of sex appeal. She had worked hard to be thoroughly prepared for the conference and used the cabin for work and not pleasure for the last few weeks. That would change as soon as she returned to her beloved Beaver Creek in Colorado.

Floor 23 – Victoria Stafford

07:30AM – Victoria closed the door, stripped her cocktail suit off in seconds before pulling the Derek Rose cotton shirt over her head and tunnelling deep into the soft inviting sheets. She was both exhilarated and exhausted after her evening and was asleep in a few minutes.

The hostess had been given instructions to wake her at 10:00 with two large bacon and egg sandwiches served with strong English breakfast tea.

The order was delivered on time and the hostess placed her clothing on the chair before waking her up. This English woman had been the only delegate to treat any of the hotel staff with anything-but contempt and the hostess was not terrified to be in the same room. She picked up a silver stud earring from the carpet near the door and placed it on the dressing table, not knowing that the other was still very much attached to the owner’s right ear lobe. She scanned the room for other possible items before leaving quietly.

Victoria was still half asleep and although she had enjoyed a delightful breakfast only a few hours earlier the aroma from the sandwiches proved too much. She was out of the bed and eating them quickly before getting cold, followed by the strong tea went down with absolute delight. She needed a shower big time and get her act together, she felt good, it was amazing what a great night out could do for your happiness.

Something quite out of character happened as she prepared herself for the conference. Today, standing in-front-of the tall mirror she felt sexy, only a single braid for her hair, open crotch knickers, black silk stockings and suspender belt finished off with a with the silk basque. She usually went “commando” and she had always held a secret fantasy about being taken from behind while speaking at the podium to an audience of really-boring business people. Maybe another time and another place!

A starched white shirt and another tight-fitting pin-striped business suit but this time a dark royal blue with knee length pleated skirt. And today a pair of heels would complete a very sexy secretary look.

Her voice was gravelly after all the cigarettes and vodka, more tea would sooth her throat, before joining the other in the conference room where unbeknown to Victoria she would draw bitchy and sarcastic comments as she joined the other delegates.

Floor 22 – Tamara Krause

07:30AM – Tamara was awake but only just, the hostess had delivered her breakfast and opened the curtains. The breakfast buffet was considerably smaller than yesterday. A delightful selection of hot brown bread, white crusty rolls with butter, sweet jams and honey together with a pot of steaming strong black coffee and skimmed milk. She stood facing the tray in just her boxer shorts, no food, she needed coffee which she poured and returned to drink it in bed, where she sat looking down at her heavy tits, which made her cry.

She was thinking of the previous night and about Victoria, who had the sex appeal of Marlene Dietrich which she could only dream about. The bed was warm and soft but some-how she felt alone and unloved. She had never really thought about Victoria before and had always considered her a plain, dull and boring woman. The reality of the situation was that it her and not Victoria who was that person and more than that she could have fun and entertain people.

Tamara was now in middle age and her life was not the life she had dreamt of all those years ago before the offers of serious wealth took control of her senses. Not only that, but she had seen the same desperation in the faces of the other women as they had watched Victoria from the balcony but had not realised until now. Those same women had left the dinner as soon as possible to return to the loneliness of the hotel. She would never know that Victoria had stayed on with Kirill and enjoyed a wonderful evening at the Kvartira 44 club in an obscure Moscow apartment, where she played the piano, smoked Sobranie Black Russian and drank shots of vodka before going to the Café Pushkin for an early-bird breakfast while watching Moscow awaken.

It was the kind of evening she could never imagine and the kind of evening that she would never have the pleasure of remembering. Salty tears were falling down her cheeks into the coffee cup which was now shaking in her hands as she finally lost control. She had chosen her path and it finally dawned on her that she would be regretting it for the rest of her life. Her stiff conservative, aloof German coldness would be her only solace in the lonely years ahead and that frightened her like nothing before!

Another day wearing the well starched Bavarian shirt with frilly collar and cuffs, the Saville Row business suit, and low-heeled shoes. She did not want to attend the meeting but knew that realistically she had no choice at all in the matter!