I harnessed this fascination into writing a book. It never really went anywhere. I wrote several drafts over the years but could never really find the heart to finish it. When I was throwing around ideas for stories for the 'Endersley Papers' series, I revisited that story. I finally found a use for it. It's the second book and it's about halfway finished. I took a break to scribble down something else and do some research. There's a lot of research to be done. This story is set, mainly, in Petrograd during the Bolshevik uprising and then moves on to the Civil War, before finishing in the shadowy halls of Endersley House.
I've been lucky enough, in my dim and distant past, to visit Russia. I've been to St Petersburg. I've stared out of a smudged train window at the vast taiga and I've felt the biting kiss of frozen air on the snowy shores of Lake Baikal. Now, I'm trying to recapture those memories to pour into this second book. I'm trying to remember all those fascinating lectures by my former Soviet History professor so that I can do justice to the upheaval and insanity of those days of change. I'm hoping that the end result will finally put my mad desire to write this Great Russian Love Story to rest. So, stay tuned and watch this space.
A sneak peek from a rough draft.
“This is better than sitting in the kitchen, isn’t it?” Alexi ate the last of his piroshky and took a mouthful of kvass.
“It is.” I leant back on my elbows and stared at the river, the water restless and touched with amber. The tall, slender spire of the Peter and Paul cathedral rose into the sky, glinting in the light of the slowly sinking sun. The noise from the crowds faded to a whisper and it was easy to forget that, beyond the river bank, the city rumbled on and the world with all its troubles and turmoil were held at bay.
Alexi laid back in the grass, arms folded behind his head. “I could just fall asleep here.”
“Until the police move us on.” It was tempting just to lie back and close my eyes, lulled to sleep by the constant whisper of the water.
“You are always so practical. Do you have any romance in your soul?”
“I lost that when I started working at the clinic.”
He turned onto his side and faced me. “I don’t believe that.”
“All right, then. Perhaps there’s a little bit in here somewhere.”
Alexi edged closer, resting on his stomach. “Perhaps I should help you to find it.”
“Are you flirting with me?” The question was asked before I could stop it. I couldn’t blame it on the kvass, there was scarcely enough alcohol in it to inebriate a kitten.
He was silent for a moment, clearly finding something of interest in the grass. “I might be. Does that make you uncomfortable?”
I glanced around, there were a few people about, a little further away and clearly more interested in watching the river and admiring the scenery than two young men talking. “Not in the least.” I took a leap in the dark, reached up and touched his face.
We looked at each other in the sudden silence. It seemed that the world paused around us. We were the only two people in it. Alexi covered my hand with his for a moment and turned his head to place a kiss on my palm. He closed his eyes and let his lips linger there. His touch was perfect, electric and I wanted to be alone with him, anywhere but on that riverbank.