Princess Irina spread a few drops of Ambre Antique - the French perfume her lover loved so much - on her mons veneris, and she almost felt his stubble gently stinging her inner thighs. This evening, she thought. This very evening. The waiting was deliciously painful. A sinking feeling quickly merging with arousal.
Nikolai Petrovich, the painter, had just left. Her husband the Admiral was planning a long absence from home - nothing that could be of interest of a lady of course, and he wanted the grand painting ready by his return. The Admiral planned to hang the official portrait in the grand gallery of his St Petersburg palace, besides those of his father and grandfather. Each with his trophy wife. But none is as gorgeous and noble as his own. He was a lucky man.
Their marriage had been happy and passionate at first, then it had subsided, leveling to a steady rhythm. He still made love to her regularly, with military precision, but she wondered how much the passion had ceded to the desire to get an heir. As a sailor, he was often away for long periods, so she kept a very coveted shortlist of would-be lovers. A list she sometimes picked a name from. But none of those spent lovers could even vaguely compare to Isaac.
She was brushing her hair, dreaming of his lover’s beloved face, when she heard a commotion outside. Suddenly Natasha Nikolayevna, her most devoted chambermaid, entered, white in the face, breathing hard. That evening’s embassy ball had been canceled. Drago has told her. The Admiral had ordered the Princess strictly confined in her rooms, until his return.
Almost too late. Cadenced heavy steps far away in the corridors of the grand palace were approaching fast. Dragoslav Feofanovich– the Chief of the Siberian Guards - arrived with two muscular men in tow. The chambermaid was just exiting the Princess’ rooms, carrying a tall pile of dirty laundry. He barked orders to the big Siberian guards, and they stood at attention, blocking the Princess’ door. Then – more gently - he instructed the maid to bring a light dinner to the Princess’ room, since Princes Irina was to have her meals in her room, alone, until new order. The maid nodded, then sashayed quickly away toward the kitchen. Dragoslav followed appreciatively the swaying of her ass. He was getting old, and seeking a good Russian girl to marry. But it was a difficult time. War had been declared on Japan and a patriotic mood was on the rise everywhere. He could almost feel the first bars of the national anthem lingering in the air, faintly, and he even whistled the first line: “God save the Tsar...“. Not that he liked the Tsar so much. Scratching his head, Dragoslav Feofanovich knocked on the Princess’ door to notify her of the Admiral’s decisions, then respectfully waited for an answer.
Admiral Orlov was on the main bridge of the monstrous battleship as she was majestically exiting the harbor. Again, he shook his head. He could not believe that. The Princess was missing. He had anticipated she would not have taken her confinement well. But not her escape, her resourceful tricking of Dragoslav Feafanovich and his Siberian guards. A clever, cunning woman, she has flown away under their very nose. But she would not be on the run long, an aristocratic woman, alone, in St Petersburg, in a light maid dress, with the police and the security forces looking for her. The Secret Police, too, had been alerted, and they knew what to do, where to search, whom to ask. What they lacked in competence, they made up with brutality and recklessness. They would have found her soon. She would have been at home well before his return from the long and glorious mission against the Japanese. And she would finally deliver his heir. He already had a couple of sons from different mistresses, but he regarded them as bastards. But when he would have been back from the East, old man Prince Oblomovsky would eventually have to acknowledge his status, not only as a rich man, but as a true Russian hero. And his son would be a true Russian Prince.
Through his binoculars, the Admiral took a last look at the harbor, then a sweeping check of the visiting ships. His attention got focused on the white hull of the American protected cruiser, USS Egeria. Black smoke was boiling over her twin funnels as her boilers were building pressure, about to begin her long voyage towards America, bringing there the American Ambassador for urgent consultations with the President, required by the Russian Japanese war.
USS Egeria was an impressive warship, not that it could rival the Russian new capital ships, of course, but it was fast-looking and heavily armed, with her eight-inches guns in twin turrets and the complex arrangement of secondary batteries. The white hull seemed fast, over twenty knots for sure, the Admiral estimated. However, the American technological prowess was not matched by their military discipline, he was thinking as he focused on the lone lazy cadet, just leaning to the rail at the ship’s low stern, under the blue, red and white flag, looking at the Russian city, doing nothing. A tall officer appeared behind the cadet but, instead of scolding him and sending him to jail, he just approached the younger man, and from a distance, it almost seemed he was hugging him. The Admiral had heard that homosexuality was somehow overlooked in the American Navy, but he didn’t believe that.
His thoughts were interrupted by the changing rhythm under his feet, almost a sexual vibration as the huge triple-expansion steam engines gained momentum and new torrents of black smoke erupted toward the sky. The Baltic Squadron – now the Second Pacific Squadron – was finally on its way, in full complement. They were the most powerful and modern ships of the World. Nobody would have guessed that most of them would soon have rested down the depths of the Tsushima Strait.
With a last gaze to the American cruiser, the Admiral’s thought returned to his wife’s clever escape. How could the cunning Princess have tricked inept Dragomir Feofanovich and all his stupid guards, flying away under their very nose?
The coarse cotton fabric of the Navy cadet uniform was brushing Irina’s legs and buttocks, just when her silk stockings ended. Fortunately, her small breasts had been easily compressed in a tight corset. And her long hair had been cut and was covered by the sailor hat. But her shapely butt was apparent under the white Navy trousers. So, she had been confined in the officers’ mess, there at the stern. She was leaning to the rail, looking at the long line of monstrous battleships leaving for the long and perilous trip to the Pacific, wondering if any of the bearded men on the upper bridge could be her husband. But then, all Tsarist Navy officers wore huge black beards.
Irina was fervently hoping Natasha Nikolayevna would not be punished for switching clothes with her. Dragomir would have understood she had to obey the Princess. To be loyal. The man cherished Natasha. And he had a penchant for Irina. She even suspected he had deliberately leaked the Admiral’s order.
She felt someone moving behind her. Her lover had arrived, and his strong arms were grabbing her waist, keeping her close. She felt his hardness through the fabric, the urgency of his desire, and she already imagined him sliding the white coarse trousers down her legs from behind, his surprise and delight and arousal in discovering the jewel inside. She has not planned to steal Fabergé’s masterpiece, her escape had just been too fast, and she hoped she would have been able to send it back to the Admiral. But it was hers until then, here, under the big flag with the star-spangled banner. She would need to get used to this flag. But she already liked it. It had saved more than her life.
Again, she felt a pang of guilt. Natasha. But there had been no alternative. It was not just her own life that had been at stake. Her husband – preoccupied for the war, always busy – had not touched her for weeks. But Isaac had. He gingerly caressed her belly, still very flat. But she knew it would have become very round, very soon. She felt that stirring that irradiated her from inside mixing with her desire, and she felt happy, happier than she had even been. And she wondered if what she was feeling was, finally, love.
It was. Like all the fairy tales, Irina’s story had a happy ending. The legend of the Russan Doll, as she was remembered, with a mix of admiration and envy. After all, she had stolen the most eligible bachelor in Annapolis. The legend of the Russan Doll was a story of eternal love, to be passed down the generations. A long, happy marriage. Great-granduncle Isaac, declared persona non grata by the Tsarist government – and then by the Revolutionary government as well, never returned to Russia. Nor did Princess Irina.
Closing my eyes, I see an old woman holding hands with a little girl. The old woman stops in front of one of the white stones in the middle of a great lawn. This is their stone – she says. The little girl caresses the old woman’s face, unable to understand why grandma is weeping. But now she remembers the old woman’s hands, and the bas-relief she was lovingly touching. The bearded man and the beautiful woman.
I can’t forget Orlov’s parting smile. There was not just anticipation and lust in that smile. There was something more. Something deeper. And harder. A profound emotion. A long-lasting longing. And now I know was it was. What it is.
Desire of revenge.