Chapter 8 of The Holy Lance, a fantasy thriller

Chapter 8, short and sweet, starts to reveal the reason for the kidnapping of Alexei Kotuzov . . . but not too much. As always, comments are welcome.

CHAPTER 8

Fyodor Stolypin’s apartment is modern, sleek, and spacious. It could easily be in Manhattan, Shanghai, Dubai, or Singapore. It isn’t. It’s on the Nevsky Prospect near central St. Petersburg, Russia. Stolypin’s preference for Art Deco, and his personal and family fortunes are on conspicuous display throughout the two-bedroom luxury dwelling, from the hand-crafted Jean Perzel lighting, to the generous collection of Louis Lozowick lithographs, right down to the Gilbert Rohde designed Herman Miller alarm clock gracing the delicate Macassar writing table in the apartment’s foyer. A fire burns in the black marble fireplace of the lounge.

Standing next to the fire is Fyodor Stolypin, 50 years old, just over 6 feet tall, a touch of gray intruding on his light brown hair. He is dressed casually in a black sweater and charcoal gray slacks. As he sips a Highland Park 40 year old single malt scotch, his gaze keeps returning to a set of blueprints spread out on a black lacquer console with a U-shaped base to his right.

Stolypin hears the door to the apartment’s guest bedroom open and close. He is soon joined by Dmitri Bogdanov and two other of Alexei Kotuzov’s kidnappers.

Bogdanov addresses Stolypin.

“He’ll be out for at least three hours. He’s not much to look at. It’s hard to believe we’re pinning our hopes on him.”

Stolypin faintly smiles at his coconspirator’s concern.

“We’re not pinning anything on him, at least not until we have the test results. Don’t worry, Dmitri. His weakness may be our strength. You should go.”

“When will Sasha be back?”

“We should have the results by four o’clock. Now go. Split up. Go home if you want. Just stay off your cell phones until you hear from me.”

Bogdanov nods and motions to the two other men to follow him. The three quickly leave the apartment. Stolypin walks over to a highly polished mahogany bar with mother of pearl inlay. He picks up the bottle of Highland Park refreshes his highball, hoists it in the direction of the guest bedroom, and drains the glass in single gulp.