She Took One for the TeambyJMaxwell69©
There was a hollow spiral scratching sound as the bald Russian spun off the bottle top. The clear liquid sloshed onto the thick slab of glass at the bottom of the tumbler, and little speckles of the beverage found their way to freedom on the desktop. After Anatoly poured the first glass, he slid it across the desk's dimpled wood surface. He then poured a second for himself. The third of the room's occupants had declined.
"What brings you to my little home?" Anatoly asked, looking at the two figures seated on the other side of his mahogany desk.
The young man, Ted Hanson, took a quick shot of the beverage in the hopes it would instantaneously steel his nerves. It didn't work. He had only taken the drink because it seemed the polite thing to do, but, now, it seemed like it couldn't hurt. His young wife, Jen, had turned down the vodka because she wasn't certain her nervous stomach could take it. She was there for morale support only. She thought her husband a good man, and the occasional dumb things he did would not have been tragic if it were not for their recent unfortunate turn of financial fortune resulting from a lay-off. He hadn't asked her to attend the meeting, but she thought if they looked like a cute young couple, the man might ease his natural proclivities.
"Well, uhh, you see, Mr. Dragonov, I came to ask a little bit of a favor... I just need a little more time... just a little" Ted said.
All the time Ted was speaking, Anatoly was not looking at him, but rather at Jen. There was something about her Anatoly found appealing. She was not gorgeous in the conventional sense. She had long brown hair that was naturally curly. Her breasts were but slight swells under the soft sweater, and her nose was just a tiny bit too large for her face. Still she had a natural beauty about her, and her sweater and skirt, while not revealing, were soft and feminine in a way that tempted the hand. Anatoly had his fill of the tan blond anorexic girls who still managed to maintain D-cup cans packed into their slutty finest. A simple beauty like this made his blood run hot, and her shy anxiety only added to her allure.
Jen averted her eyes downward, and, when she occasionally looked up to see the Russian staring at her, her heart nervously skipped a beat and she looked back down quickly.
There was a long pause after Ted finished during which Anatoly continued to consume Jen with his eyes. Then he spoke, "So you brought your lovely wife here, figuring I would not beat you like the proverbial 'red-headed step-child' in her presence?"
"Uhhh. No, sir, I didn't want her to come." Ted said trying to sound manly and confident, but his frat boy appearance made such conviction unconvincing.
"What kind of man are you?" Anatoly said, and then he walked around the desk to sit on the front edge directly in front of Jen's chair. He fed off her almost visible attempt to retreat into the cushions of the chair.
"Uhh..." Ted began to speak, but then he went silent as Anatoly looked over with a piercing stare and disgust-wrinkled nose that clarified that it was a rhetorical question.
"Leave me a moment, and wait outside while I ponder whether I should be generous or not." Anatoly said.
The couple rose to leave, but Anatoly spoke, "Not you, dear, I believe I would think much better with your company, and, in truth, I might be more agreeable to leniency."
Jen looked at her husband with an expression of mild panic.
"Sir, I'd much prefer that my wife stay with me." Ted said.
"Oh, I see, 'you'd .... prefer'... How about, as an alternative, I smash your freakin' skull in with a sledgehammer right here in front of your little darling." Anatoly said.
"Just go, I'll be fine." Jen said, now more concerned for her husband's well-being than her own.
Ted looked at her as she tried to screw on a convincing happy face. He was not pleased with the idea, but when Anatoly came over and took him gently by the arm, he did not resist being led to the door.
"See, she'll be fine." Anatoly said as he led Ted out into the lofty foyer that lay just beyond his office.
It was only when Ted heard the scratch of the office door's deadbolt lock sliding into place that he began to feel like he would experience a bout of guilt-induced vomiting. There was a big goon sitting half on the receptionist desk talking to the bleach-blond bimbo that answered phones and provided other office services. The goon turned his attention to Ted when the young man began to look like he might try to kick the office door down. Ted, instead, nervously sat upon an upholstered wooden bench that was in the foyer right next to the office door.
Ted strained to hear. He thought he heard muffled, strangled vocal sounds, but could make nothing out through the heavy hardwood door.
The better part of an agonizing half hour passed, and only the occasional muffled voicing could be heard. Then he heard footfalls just before the deadbolt slid open.
Ted rushed in. Anatoly was moving to take a seat behind his desk again. Jen's hair did not seem as neatly brushed as it had been when Ted left. Was her sweater slightly rumpled? Neither of those ambiguous factors was as disturbing as the sheen of tears streaked across Jen's face and her reddened nose. As Ted was taking this in, his hands were involuntarily balling into fists.
"Relax, Mr. Hanson, your wife convinced me to give you a three week interest-free extension, and I'm even going to knock a hundred dollars off for good measure." Anatoly said.
"Are you OK?" Ted asked his wife, while ignoring the Russian loan shark.
Jen didn't speak but rather just nodded in the affirmative, and walked over grabbing her husband's wrist to try to get him to move toward the door before he did something that would get him killed. She wiped her cheek again with the sleeve of her free arm. Ted, once again, let himself be led away.
When they got to the car, Ted leaned in to kiss his wife. Jen pulled back, like she did sometimes first thing in the morning when she was afraid her breath might not be so fresh.