It’s time for the second prequel to “The Elephant Girl”, and this time we’re seeing the action through the eyes of…
It was Vitali who informed him, in those clipped tones of his, so devoid of any feeling – or so it seemed to the listener – that police had found the body of Dmitri’s wife. Beautiful, desirable Mimi had met her inescapable end on a deserted London park lane, in the early hours of a chilly autumn day.
Drawing a deep breath, Arseni tied the dressing gown tighter around him and peered down at the tree-lined street. It had rained in the night, and the pavement was littered with glistening russet leaves, creating hazardous conditions for joggers and early morning dog walkers.
Behind him, in the large four-poster bed, his current girlfriend Irina was stirring, drowsily stretching her perfectly sculpted arms above her head. An elegant foot with red-painted toenails poked out from under the covers.
‘Go back to sleep,’ he replied in Russian. Irina gave a contented little sigh and rolled over to sleep on her stomach.
Arseni turned away and continued to stare out of the window. Irina was tall and slim with a glorious head of thick chestnut hair. She had a sweet nature too, but boy, did she irritate him with her habit of sleeping on her front, taking up more than half the bed so whichever position he lay in, he would always brush against her half-naked body.
A lot of men envied him, he knew, but despite his endless supply of pretty girlfriends, something was missing.
His thoughts returned to Mimi. Beautiful, desirable Mimi. Suddenly tears welled up in his eyes, and he allowed himself a moment of grief that it had all gone so horribly wrong. If only she hadn’t rejected him. Hadn’t teased him with her knowledge of his inner-most desires.
‘Pull yourself together,’ he muttered in his adopted English and wiped his eyes. He took a sip from his tea glass, then pulled a face. How many times did he have to tell that useless maid he preferred coffee in the mornings?
Vitali had also told him – and this time there had been a hint of emotion in his smirk, an undercurrent of glee – that Mimi’s five year-old daughter had been in the car at the time. A child so easy to overlook. Many difficult questions surrounded that child, but right now the thought occupying him most was what she might have seen.
He put the tea glass back on the breakfast tray with a clack, and shook Irina awake.
‘Get up and start packing. We’re going back to Moscow.’
Irina sat up, her dark hair artfully tousled. ‘Why you wake me?’ she pouted.
‘What are you, stupid?’ He slapped her on her naked thigh. ‘I said, start packing!’