This below is a scene from an unfinished, untitled novel.
Carrie, the protagonist, is visiting her friend Natasha and her mother, Victoria for dinner. Victoria is also Carrie’s new ballet teacher, who she hasn’t quite yet figured out.
Let me know in the comments if you’d like to read more about these characters!
“You seem to be improving. At least, you are making fewer mistakes than when I first arrived.” Victoria said through a thick Russian accent. She caressed the rim of her empty glass as she eyed Carrie, waiting for a response. Carrie slipped a cautious glance to Natasha.
“Thank you, Ms Petrova. I have been practising in the evenings.” She watched as Victoria picked at her plate. Her vulture eyes barely moved away from Natasha. Carrie fidgeted in her seat, waiting for her to leave the room so she could talk to Natasha in private.
Unsmiling, Victoria pushed herself out of her chair and prowled to the door. “I need a refill. I’ll be right back.” Carrie waited until her graceful, upright figure had disappeared into the kitchen then turned to Natasha.
“So? What was it you needed to tell me?”
“I think I’ve found him.”
“Your father? Oh my gosh, Natasha, this is amazing.”
“Shh. Yes. I have his name and his address back in Russia. But please don’t say anything. There’s still so much I am trying to wrap my head around.” Natasha’s eyebrows creased as she spoke. Her eyes flicked between Carrie and the doorway. “He’s a dangerous person; he’s caught up in some dodgy business. And… and I think my Ma is too.”
Carries eyes widened as she listened. She went to respond but Victoria was back. With exaggerated grace, she placed her serviette on her lap and re-joined the table.
“You girls are quiet tonight. Did I push you too hard in class today?” Victoria took a sip of wine. “You children are so weak these days. Not like back in Russia. We were worked sixteen hours a day! People ask why, an internationally successful ballerina like myself, would move here to Boulder? It’s no California! But, it has better opportunities for my Natasha and her dancing, and that is the most important thing.” She smiled without warmth before turning her attention to Carrie. Why did she feel such contempt emanating from her? If she didn’t like her, why would she invite her to dinner?
“How long have you lived here Carrie?”
“All my life, Ms Petrova. My Mom & Dad moved here after they got married.”
“They must like it here to stay all these years.”
Carries heart lurched as it always did when she was reminded. She looked down at her plate as she replied. “Well, my Mom does. Dad passed away about five years ago.” Her mind flooded with the images of flashing lights and sirens, and her father’s lifeless body being pulled from the mangled car.
“I’m sorry.” Victoria murmured. “What was your father’s name?”
“Eddie Roberts.” She kept her eyes down and took a sip of her water hoping the line of questioning would end there. Why did it feel like she already knew he had died? Her insides tightened and she glanced at the clock on the wall. How much longer did she have to stay here?
“Ma this is a lovely meal, thank you very much for preparing all of this for us.” Natasha spoke to cut the tension.
Her mother broke her gaze with Carrie and nodded as she sliced into her meat. “You’re welcome, darling. Someone has to do the work around here. Not all of us can waste so much time in our room painting silly pictures.”
Natasha blushed and avoided Carrie’s gaze. What a bitch! Was it always like this at home? No wonder Natasha liked to paint – anything to escape her mother. Carrie wanted to tell her how much she’d like to see some of her paintings one day, but she kept quiet. She looked around the dark room. The heavy drapes blocked out almost all the light and warmth from outside. She wondered, was it the outside world she was blocking out or was she hiding something within?
“Excuse me, whereabouts is the restroom?” Carrie asked. Natasha gestured toward a door and Carrie made her way down a dim marble hallway. At the end of the corridor were two ornate doors leading all the way to the high ceiling. She pushed open the one on the right and stepped inside a bedroom. She was already backing out of the room when she noticed a large canvas on an easel next to a bed that was smattered in pink blankets and cushions.
This must be Natasha’s room. She quickly checked the hallway was empty then slid back inside, leaving the door ajar. She walked over to the canvas and smiled at the lines and swerves and textures. The painting was abstract and unfinished – but it was beautiful. Carrie was amazed at the expression she could see on the canvas. Her mother may want her to be a professional dancer, but it was obvious Natasha’s passions lay elsewhere.
On the other side of the easel was a desk scattered with sketches and folders and newspapers. Carrie smiled as she glanced over her friend’s drawings, but it was a stack of papers covered in messy scribblings that caught her eye. She picked up a printed photograph on top of the pile.
MIKHAIL PETROV, MOSCOW 2003.
Natasha’s father. Carrie gasped as she flicked through the papers underneath.
MOSCOW. KGB. HEIST. MURDER.
Natasha was right. He was dangerous. Carrie felt the hairs on the back of her neck prickle as she read further through the highlighted pages.
VICTORIA PETROVA. KGB AGENT. ASSASSIN.
Carrie’s chest became tight. Was this saying her ballet teacher was a Russian agent? Surely not. What on earth would she be doing in Boulder? Her stomach dropped when she read the next page.
EDDIE ROBERTS. CAR CRASH. COVER UP.
Carrie’s hands began to shake. Why on earth did Natasha have this stuff about her Dad? Articles; scribbles; photos. Carrie felt like she was going to vomit.
The door creaked behind her and Carrie turned to see Natasha standing there.
“What the hell are these Natasha?”
“Carrie, please, I can explain. But you need to be quiet!”
“Be quiet?” She hissed. “Tell me why you have all this?”
“It’s my Ma’s. I found it in her study. That’s also what I wanted to talk to you about. But not here. Not now!”
She leaned back and looked over her shoulder down the hallway.
“You should go, Carrie. I’m not even sure if it’s safe here. She already suspects I’ve been snooping. Please. Before she finds us whispering.”
“Not safe? Natasha, who is your mother?”
Natasha bit her lip as tears pricked the corners of her eyes. “Go Carrie. Quickly. I’ll make something up.”
Still shaken, Carrie saw Natasha’s face and fear crept through her body. Without a word she slipped passed her friend and fled down the hallway to the entrance way. The marble was cold beneath her feet as she shoved them into her shoes, opened the front door and snuck out into the warm air.
Why would Victoria be investigating her father’s crash? What did she want to know? Who was she, and why was she really in Boulder?
Carrie stopped at the end of the driveway and looked back at the house. The curtain in the front window pulled back revealing a figure in the shadowy room. Carrie locked eyes with Victoria and shuddered. She knew she was no longer safe.