“It was a rainy night in Dusseldorf?” Felicia nearly snorted her tea. She gave Yevgeny an arch look and stole his last bite of cake. “Tell me you’ve got more than that.”
Yevgeny’s ears and neck burned, but his smile never faltered. “A KGB caper, a femme fatale, all set in a steampunk version of cold-war Germany.”
“Sugar, if you can pull that off, I will be officially out of work.” She picked up his neatly typed pages and her signature purple pen. “Let’s ignore the first line for now and move on to the rest of the paragraph.”
Yevgeny looked up to see his roommate approaching the recreation desk. Lev signed the register, hoisted his messenger bag across his chest, and disappeared towards the billiard tables. It was no surprise to him when Utkin and Orlov followed a moment later, conspicuously ordinary in their hockey jerseys.
The center and the right-winger grabbed Smartfood and Cokes from the vending machines and thumped down at a nearby table, laying open their physics textbooks amongst the junk food.
“I’d like to see you streamline your phrasing a little,” Felicia was saying. Yevgeny loved to watch the way she rested the end of her pen on her bottom lip. It was a juvenile fantasy, but he always imagined himself leaning across the table and smudging the damp spot with his thumb. She would raise her kohl-dark lashes and he would see his own lust reflected in her eyes…
His pocket buzzed. He flinched, nearly spilling Felicia’s tea. He slipped his phone out of his pocket and read the text message that had so rudely interrupted his admittedly flowery daydreams.
Felicia scribbled lilac notes across his story. He snuck a glance at her progress—would she see herself in his luscious, if clumsily portrayed, Katya?
“I have to use the men’s room. I’ll be back in a minute.” He stood. His reflection in the mirrored wall was sleepy and rumpled. Hardly the type to write a sci-fi spy thriller.
“No problem.” She didn’t look up from the manuscript.
He pushed his sandy hair back from his forehead and tugged at the hem of his shirt as he walked away.
On his way through the game room, Yevgeny silently sought out his roommate. Lev had nearly cleared the fourth table on the left. Yevgeny paused to watch his friend deliver a flawless dead ball shot. The cue ball rested at the point of contact as the eight ball sank into the corner pocket.
As he passed, Lev gave him a slow nod. “Time to go.”
Yevgeny’s eyes widened. He peered back around the corner. Their table was empty, cleared of his papers. Felicia’s mug sat next to his empty plate; her purple pen lay abandoned on the banquette.
Lev laid his cue on the table. “She got too close, Zhenya. I’m sorry.”