“Madame,” Anya stood in the kitchen doorway, “There are two men here.”
Natalia glanced out of the window and wondered how that could be possible. The blizzard had risen at dawn and a fierce, bitter wind hurled snow against the steamed glass, “You’re not telling fairy stories again are you Ana?” she asked.
“No, Madame. Madame Tanya is crying with one of them and the other is asking for you.”
She stared at the girl as the knot inside her uncoiled, “Did he say what his name was, Ana?” she asked, softly.
Anya giggled and ran away, squealing with laughter, her quicksilver footsteps fading down the hall. Natalia returned to her chopping, wishing that the fairy tale was true.
“Natasha?” his voice was faint, a hoarse whisper colored with relief.
She set the knife down and wiped her eyes, wishing that her longing did not summon up ghosts.
“Beautiful girl,” The longing in his voice was like the twist of a knife, boot heels whispered across the floor.
Natalia turned around, “Aloysha?”
This apparition cast a thin shadow in the lamp-lit gloom of the kitchen and smiled behind a few days growth of gingery beard. Alexi held out his arms, “Are you just going to stand and gawp at me?”