6. He was waiting for her. Smolenskaya appeared ten minutes later

September 8, 2006

Long legs, short denim shorts, white T-shirt, decisive walk.

‘I said get away from the entrance,’ was her way of greeting.

‘I don’t play by the rules if I don’t understand them.’

‘Ooh wee, Corleone!’ she said scathingly. Then, most unexpectedly, took him by the hand and pulled forward, ‘C’mon.’

‘Where’re we going?’ he asked curiously. ‘And why Corleone?’

‘To your room,’ Milana replied tonelessly, ignoring the second question.

Too good to be true.

‘Why there?’

‘You wanted to talk. If Kamila sees us together, she’ll turn my brain inside out, but guys don’t like to think.’

‘I don’t get it, but I like where it’s going,’ Arkadiy grinned.

Milana didn’t reply and kept a chilly silence that contrasted strangely with the warmth of her palm. Finally, they entered his room.

‘So?’ she leaned against the door, looking expectantly at him.

‘Why do you write Russian words in English letters?’ Arkadiy asked, stopping at a considerable distance from her.

‘I like it,’ she replied simply. ‘Is that all you wanted to know?’

Let’s get to business.

Arkadiy smiled.

‘Milana, I’ve heard you help people with essays.’

‘You have to listen better,’ Smolenskaya said with the most daring smile so far. ‘I write essays only for very special people.’

‘I’m special. Very special.’

‘Novikov, everyone’s special in this school. That’s not enough for me,’ Milana turned the door handle.

‘Wait.’ He covered her hand with his.

‘Step back,’ she said firmly.

He made a step backwards. She glanced at her watch. Rolex?

‘The rules are simple. You study, you socialize, you don’t annoy me, you go out with Kamila. Got me?’

Boss. She’s so funny.

He approached her for the second time, pulled her close and kissed her. Milana stiffened but didn’t resist, and a moment later she hugged him.  Awesome.

‘I’ll go out,’ Arkadiy said, breaking the kiss. ‘With you.’

Smolenskaya drew back and smiled.

‘Thank you,’ she replied in a polite dismissive tone commonly used when addressing hotel porters or waiters, or someone helpful whose service you no longer need.

‘What for?’

‘A person needs eight hugs a day to be happy.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘We won’t date. And this,’ she touched his lips with her index finger, ‘is our big secret. Welcome to school.’

Milana left his room, closing the door behind her. Some pleasant perfume lingered in the air, adding confusion to his thoughts.

Arkadiy went to the window. Smolenskaya was walking towards her dormitory, and did not look back.

What was that about? Welcome to school. Awesome welcome, thanks. Does a person really need eight hugs a day to be happy? 


She was lying on the bed, looking up at the ceiling.

What was that about? Never before did I say such utter nonsense. But he was the one who started it! Who does he think he is? And why should I write him essays? Pfft. He’d better date Kamila. Seriously.

Milana rolled over and pulled the MacBook closer to herself.

Press play to continue watching? Damn, it got interrupted on the most interesting part!

New text-message. Novikov. Ha ha, now he’s writing Russian words in English letters too.

‘You’re awesome’

‘Thnx. You too.’

Fucking awesome, I’d say, but not my type.

‘Go to Terry’s bday tomorrow?’

‘Of course.’

Pause. Then the phone rang.

Novikov. Too much of him for today. Got tired of transliteration, obviously.

‘Milana, what should I give him?’

‘Cough up the cash.’

‘What for?’

‘The club. Family party’s for daytime.’

‘Awesome! How much?’

‘Ask George, OK?’

‘Will you go to the club?’

‘Why not?’

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Next episode: 7. Castle in the air? Can't she buy it?

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Contents. Part 1