1995, London, United Kingdom
Heathrow, they took the train to Central London, checked
into the Park Lane Hotel on Piccadilly, because it was
close to where they were going to the meeting. The Baroness
had arranged for them to meet somebody, and after a
quickie and a shower, they got dressed again in nice
suits. Vadim called the tailor on Savile Row, who assured
him he'd have time for him the next morning, 'I'd be
delighted, Sir', and went out into surprisingly nice
They crossed Green Park, walked past Buckingham Palace
and got to one of those light grey Victorian buildings.
GCP stood there on a polished brass plate, which, Vadim
soon learned, meant 'Grosvenor Capital Partners'. A
pretty - wrong, stunning young woman greeted them. Blonde,
good make-up, and one of the friendliest, most heart-warming
smiles Vadim had ever seen. The woman introduced herself
as Lynne, and she told them that George would be with
them in a moment. She then ushered them into a very
comfortable meeting room, offering tea, coffee, juice,
water, sparking and non-sparkling, and left them, telling
them it would just be a minute, George was still on
Vadim stirred his coffee, glanced out of the window,
which had a view over the garden behind the house. The
faint rattle of trucks driving past, but otherwise,
the place was serene, clean, open, a place for thinking,
for precision. "Wonder what the dirt is,"
he murmured. "Nelson's money? Is that the lead?
Can we get him for evading tax? Or laundering money?"
sure, but Maggie mentioned that we should be extremely
discreet and careful." Dan absentmindedly scratched
the back of his scarred hand, when the door opened and
a man entered in a damn nice suit, but the man
still outshone the suit.
Vadim had very rarely seen hair that was dark red, a
colour like blood, rich in ways that made the memory
of carrot-head Mitch a caricature. The hair was relatively
long by English standards, reaching the collar of that
fabulous suit. The man wore a goatee, which stood out
on his skin that was the clarity and colour of milk.
The eyes, framed by dark red lashes, were light blue-grey,
and reminded Vadim of spring in New Zealand. But the
first impression was wrong, the man wasn't as young
as he looked, rather somewhere in Nelson's generation,
a few silver threads in that brilliant dark copper red,
and lines around his mouth and nose. Yet, the man was
strikingly beautiful, tall, but not bulky, and he didn't
just have Vadim's appreciation. Dan had to keep himself
afternoon," the man said, offering his hand. "
George Holloway. Please."
Krasnorada," said Vadim, before Dan shook the man's
hand, introducing himself.
Vadim nodded. "We're ..." Pausing when the
man indicated the conference table and chairs, and they
all sat down again. "We appreciate your time."
friend of mine, Baroness de Vilde, assured me that you
might be able to help us in an important and
delicate matter." Dan leaned back in the chair,
watching the man from under his lashes.
Baroness," George said, and his voice complemented
his looks. He seemed sincere in an altogether friendly
way. "I hope she is in good health? I'd be delighted
to help her friends ... she has been nothing but the
finest judge of character I've ever encountered."
Giving both Dan and Vadim a smile, very polite, but
Vadim had the distinct feeling he could trust this man.
George Holloway had to be a great salesman, Vadim thought.
Whatever he did, whatever he made his money with. Something
with finances. He'd buy a house or stock market option
from him any time.
is very well indeed. I spoke to her only yesterday."
Dan smiled back, his own smile less polite than open.
"May we be frank with you?"
George leaned forward, folding his hands on the polished
glass table. Manicured hands, no ring, and an understated
gold and titanium watch.
Vadim cleared his throat, "Dan and I work as consultants
in the security business." Dan would have said
'mercenaries', most likely, which might have been the
wrong way to go. "In that capacity, we have encountered
somebody the Baroness told us you know as well. A certain
George visibly swallowed. Whatever he had expected,
it hadn't been this, and Vadim saw how the man's calm
and confidence took a hit from the mentioning of the
George held up his hand, head lowered, like he did not
want to hear more. "In what ... relation are you
to Nelson?" he asked, not meeting their eyes.
Except for wanting to get rid of that creep. Once and
for all." Dan charged forward.
he ... done it again?" George asked, still not
meeting their eyes, but his body had tensed up, even
his hands were tense, gripping each other like he was
trying to crush his own bones. "What ... what has
Dan glanced intensely at Vadim, George's reaction had
been entirely unexpected. "I believe it is more
of a matter of what he would like to do than what he
has done, at the moment." Checking with Vadim once
more, to ensure he said the right things. "Vadim
had one encounter with that man a few months ago, and
now it turns out he is obsessive, a stalker, does not
take no for an answer. If I am not mistaken - and trust
me, I have a lot of experience in this - he is potentially
George gave a choked sound. He stood abruptly, fast
enough to almost topple the chair. "Just ... give
me a moment." He left the room and Vadim was about
to follow him, then decided he didn't want to spook
the man further. Instead, he placed a hand on Dan's
shoulder and remained standing, while Dan sat straight
I really want to know what happened," Vadim murmured
Dan cursed under his breath. "I hope we didn't
go too far." Looking up, he frowned. "Only
few things that can create such a reaction."
Vadim nodded. "I guess it was 'not taking no for
an answer'." He said in Russian.
Dan murmured, "I should have guessed."
The door opened again, and the beautiful blonde assistant
came in. Vadim expected her to get them to the door
and tell them in the friendliest way to get the fuck
out, but instead she asked whether they wanted anything
to drink. Vadim opted for another coffee and Dan went
for tea. The beverages appeared just a little later.
must feel awful," Vadim said quietly.
feel guilty. Damn." Ladling sugar into his tea,
Dan stirred it thoughtfully.
George eventually reappeared, pale, but collected. His
smile, this time, had faded, he was clearly mustering
his confidence, and he seemed vulnerable for the first
time. "I have to apologise," he said, voice
betraying emotion. "It was ... a rather unexpected
topic." He sat down.
would have never breached it, if we hadn't been desperate."
Dan reassured. "Nor would we have asked the Baroness
for help in the first place, had we not exhausted all
options and venues already."
don't know how the Baroness knew about it ... I imagine
there were rumours. No cover-up is always complete,
but it has been a while that I was ... confronted with
the rumour." George folded his hands on the table
again, but Vadim could see how the glass misted where
he touched it. The man was sweating.
Nelson ..." A faint smile, as if George was morbidly
amused that he could speak the name at all. "We
both studied at the same university. You could say we
were friends. I was very flattered that such a well-bred
gentleman would extend his hand in friendship to me.
I was there on a stipend." Telling the whole story
just in hints there. He hadn't been born to money and
privilege. "Mr Nelson deemed it acceptable to avail
himself of my body," he said, saying this as if
it meant nothing.
Dan sat as straight and stiff as a ramrod. He'd never
met anyone before, not knowingly, with whom he shared
more experiences than he'd wanted. "Was this an
isolated incident?" He asked carefully, keeping
his voice soft.
invited me to a house he owned at that time, to play
Polo." George stared at the table, his pale skin
was translucent now. "I stayed there for a week,
but only on the last two days did he cross the line
between friendship and what he'd had in mind. I assume
he was counting on my consent at first and then decided
it wasn't strictly necessary." He exhaled, closed
his eyes. "In the end, I did what he wanted. I
thought I would never make it home if he suspected I'd
turn against him. I had to fool him to live."
Dan looked at Vadim, when a sudden thought entered his
mind. "This is going further than we thought."
Quietly, he knew that Vadim would understand. "You
were talking about a cover-up." Dan returned his
attention to George. "I assume this means the police
was never involved and thus no prosecution?"
I tried to hide it, but I was injured and I needed help.
The doctor was a friend of my father's, and I didn't
have the strength to hide. My parents threatened legal
action, but he bought his way out. We didn't touch the
money, it went to charity."
Dan wanted to ask why he hadn't pressed charges, but
then he remembered how he'd hidden the pain and pretended
he was fine. He just nodded, trying to smile a little
to convey his understanding. The realisation hit him
that he really did not want to deal with that confrontation.
After all those years and the peace he'd made, he was
still uncomfortable to the bone.
George was pallid, blue veins shining through the skin.
"After the traces had gone, I changed courses and
went to Harvard Business School. I honestly thought
I'd never hear that name again. But that was not so.
He called the firm I worked for and got me into an impossible
situation there, so I quit and that was probably for
he ever get into contact again?"
He lost interest - or maybe he returned home. I didn't
inquire, but I counted my blessings that I was
still alive and it had stopped. Work helped. I got into
asset management and I had no time to face what had
happened. I went out of my way not to have a life."
George shook his head. "I pay my therapist three
hundred pounds an hour and haven't told him this."
am sorry." Dan's dark eyes rested on the other
man. "I truly am, for bringing this up, and asking
for your help." He reached across to touch George's
suited arm, briefly and lightly, barely there.
George looked at him. "How can I help you deal
with that man? With something that happened so long
you be willing to make a statement?"
front of a judge?" George shook his head. "No.
No. I have
a career here, I can't have people
talk about me. I've built this for years
clients hear what happened
would you trust a
man to be balanced and sane who
faltered, too many thoughts, panicked.
I would trust that man. Trust him for the strength and
courage to stand up and do this: to prosecute a predator."
Dan's attention was on George, while Vadim felt sorry
for him, sorry for the man they'd bared, who was that
naked emotionally that he lost his composure like this.
maybe. The men I'm dealing with
in this world.
" George looked at Vadim, as if expecting
help - or hoping for help.
Poor deluded fool, Vadim thought, because he could see
what Nelson had seen in him. The confidence, that red
hair, and he was sure Nelson must have, at some point,
hit or bitten him and just watched the pale skin turn
red and then white again, maybe had bruised him just
to watch the colour change. And what a sick thought,
but he could even imagine what this man looked like
being raped - playing the captor to survive, maybe agree
to whatever sick little game Nelson had wanted to play,
only to escape alive. And it turned him on. He shook
his head, forcing himself to think something else, but
the man was exquisitely beautiful, once he'd been shaken.
Dan continued after a moment, "I guess we might
be asking too much. Even though I am convinced that
it would not come to a trial, Threatening the bastard
should be enough."
can't make that decision," George said,
again not meeting Dan's eyes.
Dan nodded slowly. Damn, there went their chance, but
he couldn't press the issue any further. "I admire
you and what you have achieved." He paused, watching
George, who didn't relax at the praise, expecting to
be played. "Perhaps, if you can't make that decision,
you could come to dinner with us?"
George considered that, then nodded, slowly regaining
his cool, which, Vadim thought, was strangely attractive
again. The man's fight between weakness and the façade
was breathtaking. And Dan clearly thought so, too, why
else the invitation.
course." It was unlikely that he'd be able to continue
with his usual work. "French, Italian, Japanese?"
you prefer." Dan smiled, incredibly well behaved
so far. "I, for one, eat anything. Especially if
there is plenty of it, and a dessert. The sweeter the
better." He leaned slightly forward with a grin,
as if telling George a secret. "I am a peasant.
Too many years as a soldier and then as a merc. It is
Vadim who has the refined tastes. He is the cultured
George looked at Vadim, then at Dan, giving them a smile,
almost back to his professional self again. "That
sounds like Italian
the Japanese aren't that
good on desserts." He reached up to readjust his
tie, even though there was no need to do that. "Where
are you staying? I'll have a driver pick you up at your
hotel, at eight?"
Park Lane Hotel on Piccadilly." Dan stood up, reaching
for his cane. "I am looking forward to tonight."
Smiling, he held out his hand, while he couldn't help
but look at the man just that little bit too long and
just a smidgen too appreciative.
will see you later, then." George, Vadim thought,
probably got this kind of look a lot, or he trusted
them, or he was oblivious. He shook Dan's hand, then
Vadim's, who noticed that the hand was still a bit damp
despite the re-won control.
Lynne saw them out of the door, polite and beautiful,
and not much later they were back on the street.
say Nelson doesn't have a good taste in men," Vadim
murmured in Russian.
Dan exhaled, didn't say anything for a while, until
they were far enough away. "I definitely agree.
He wants you, after all."
is more of a fucking bastard than I thought, and more
dangerous. What the hell do we do if George doesn't
want to help?"
Vadim smiled. "Never thought they made bankers
Dan shook his head. "I want him to help us, and
... I guess his story just made me damn uncomfortable.
I don't think the man's straight, but I do think he's
been fucked up, and that gets to me. Because I can't
imagine living a life as a victim."
didn't get any vibes from him. If he's a red-blooded
male, he's certainly fucking the PA." Vadim smiled.
"Both are outrageously good-looking. Damn. Wherever
their clients come from, they must leave with a hard-on."
he isn't fucking anything." Dan shrugged. "Only
one way to find out, aye?"
They went back to the hotel, where Vadim had a shower
and a full shave, every now and then thinking those
thoughts. Of the redhead, suffering. They were only
flashes across his mind, but they were distracting,
and he was glad when reception called them to tell them
that Mr Holloway's driver was waiting to pick them up.
Dan had refused to dress in a suit again, and was wearing
prohibitively expensive but comfortable clothes in those
desert colours that Vadim liked best on him. Brushed
and spruced, his wildness tamed to within an inch, except
for the scars he could not hide, and the lapis lazuli
beads, wound around his wrist. Vadim had matched Dan's
style, then had decided on a classical shirt and a grey
waistcoat from one of his three piece suits, that matched
the jeans in colour. The driver held their doors open
- a very nice, shining limousine that even had a bar.
While he drove them through London, the phone rang and
the driver answered, listening to orders, then took
a turn left, towards Kensington, past grandiose architecture
that still very much proclaimed London to be the centre
of an Empire.
Holloway asks whether you would accept an invitation
to his house instead?" the driver asked, impeccably
course." Dan leaned forward, a miniature glass
of beer in his hand. Impressed that there was such a
profane drink in such a posh vehicle.
They arrived not much later at a walled villa that had
a lot of security. The gates opened, and while the front
court wasn't very spacious, it was impeccably groomed.
The house behind was covered in evergreen creeper vines.
The driver got out and opened their doors again.
Holloway himself opened the door. He, too, had dressed
down, if in more businesslike trousers and shirt, but
without a jacket and tie, which made all the difference.
"Welcome," he said, and nodded to the driver.
"My favourite Italian is booked for a birthday,
and I didn't feel like dining in public today."
you for inviting us." Dan smiled, briefly touching
The hall was furnished with antiques. Vadim was sure
that every piece had been chosen to complement another
piece - the impression was that of unity, and elegance,
and a lot of money. The oil paintings were genuine,
too, he recognized a Canaletto - one of the guys who'd
had several paintings in the National Gallery.
A winding staircase dominated the hall, and Holloway
gently ushered them into a room with a fireplace. "Drinks?"
he asked, and the fire made his hair come alive in a
way that was breathtaking.
Dan was looking around, just to keep his eyes from the
man himself. "Single Malt Speyside, please."
Sitting down on one of the leather sofas, he placed
the cane beside him and out of the way, before he stretched
out to sit comfortably. "I must say, I am impressed.
Aren't you getting lost in here?"
know, it's an outrageous property, in this location."
Holloway poured them drinks and handed them to Dan and
Vadim, then poured himself another one. "Some rock
star was going for it, too, I think they wanted me to
buy it." He shook his head. "I told the cook
about the Italian, and the desserts - she selected the
menu, I hope you'll enjoy it."
cook ... what I'd need." Dan sighed, then flashed
a grin at Vadim. Raising his glass for a toast. "Slainte."
The door opened a crack, Holloway looked towards it,
then nodded, and the door closed again. "Dinner
is served. I hope you're hungry." He set the glass
down and led them through another door to the dining
room. He could probably have gone for the whole glass
and silverware look, but this was, Vadim assumed, what
he'd done as 'low key'. The table was covered in small
dishes, some kept hot, others were cold, fingerfood,
a wide range of courses all served for ease and comfort,
with the desserts set a little aside because there was
no more space. "This was easier than having the
cook or a serving girl around," Holloway murmured.
certainly looks mouth-watering." Dan glanced around,
noticing the lack of personnel. They got seated, with
George between them. There was even beer available,
and Dan was thankful for the less than fancy beverage,
even though it was from a specialised independent brewer.
Holloway ate, too, but didn't appear hungry, even though
each and every bite was excellent. Vadim thought it
was probably generosity, or a strange notion of what
was expected from him with that paycheck. "I assume
you know the Baroness professionally?"
I'm investing part of her assets," George said,
almost glad for somebody beginning a conversation. "Maybe
she learned of that sordid story when she had me researched
but over the years, we became friends, and I
trust her assessment of character. That is why you are
here, in this house, even though I hardly know you."
Dan smiled. "Maggie is certainly thorough."
Realising what he had said, he corrected himself. "Her
ladyship, of course. The Baroness." He was eyeing
the dessert, which was a selection of tiramisu, mousse
au chocolat, crème brulée and some other
not quite Italian but French ones. "She is my friend,
one of my best friends, in fact. No matter how odd that
seems. A gay, scruffy ex-SAS soldier who was her bodyguard
for a while, and an Ambassador? She never even managed
to teach me chess properly, but she plays a mean poker
his partner," Vadim added, knowing exactly what
Dan was getting at. Weaving things into conversation.
And it was interesting to see that Holloway didn't bolt
Dan nodded. "She would not have told us to contact
you, had she not understood the severity of our situation.
You know that she never does anything lightly."
is the only sordid story she has on Mr Nelson."
Holloway had a way to say 'Mr' that condemned whatever
man he called that. "He must be covering his tracks
better these days."
it is the only evidence she has, that could destroy
the bastard." Dan's eyes held George's for a moment.
will show you something, but please have the dessert
first. I don't want you to lose your appetite."
Holloway, both Vadim and I were soldiers, what we have
seen and done can most likely not be imagined by a civilian.
I think there is nothing that could shock us."
Dan kept his voice soft, but to Vadim's eyes the sudden
alertness and tension was obvious.
me get them." Holloway stood and left the room.
Vadim looked at Dan. "You think he's cracking?"
he asked in Russian.
Dan shook his head slightly, sticking to Russian. "I
have no idea, and I don't want to take advantage."
Holloway came back, holding a file in his hand that
had been pale blue and had faded further into grey.
He placed it carefully at Dan's side, who picked it
up and opened it on his knees.
Inside were papers - medical reports, dated, signed,
on injuries sustained by George Holloway. It listed,
in meticulous detail, what had been done to George.
The medical terms meant little, but each injury was
photographed, and Dan saw Holloway as a much younger
man, in his early twenties, but with the same hair,
the same pearly skin. Only it had been blackened and
bruised in far too many places. He looked like the victim
of a car crash, if car crashes involved whipping and
anal trauma. His chest was a mess, too, with one nipple
blackened and swollen beyond anything Dan had ever seen.
Holloway didn't look at the folder, but at Dan's face,
which remained stony. He then poured himself more of
the dessert wine, a strong, clean, crisp and sweet taste.
Dan closed the folder and put it onto the chair beside
him. "Mr Holloway ..." the decision was made
within a split second. "Mr Holloway, I would like
you to know that while your ordeal goes above and beyond
anything I have experienced myself, that you are not
alone. You are not the only man who became a victim."
He paused to take in a breath. "Fifteen years ago
I was raped. In a country far away and in a situation
that was entirely impossible. I killed my rapist."
Vanya, and the old Vadim was dead. He was not lying,
because the Vadim who had raped him had died begging
for a soldier's death.
Holloway had become the same translucent white he'd
been in the office after Dan had mentioned Nelson, and
his eyes moved quickly over to Vadim who seemed genuinely
shocked that Dan would speak of it, and reached over
to touch him, Dan's hand curling around his.
survived the assault without help, but I never told
anyone about it, outside of my relationship. "A
second's glance at Vadim. "I tell you now, because
I want you to understand that I was an SAS soldier when
it happened, at the pinnacle of my physical and mental
strength. What I am trying to say, is that it can happen
believe you," Holloway said, voice low,
very nearly strangled off. "And you still ask me
to testify? Would you testify if your
if he was
still alive? If he still had the means to destroy what
is left of you? Would you want your SAS comrades to
know what happened to you - for the rest of your life?
The media to lay siege to your house and office, because
you've accused a man of power and wealth and importance?"
Dan swallowed hard, and he knew he had been put to the
spot. There was no escape. "No." Then, firmly,
dark eyes on George. "No, I would not want my comrades
to know. Everything else I could and would deal with,
but I would not want my comrades to know." His
hand tensed in Vadim's. "I am the last man on earth
to blame you if you choose to remain silent."
your life to become somebody new is not easy,"
Vadim murmured, both hands on Dan, soothing and relaxing
him with his presence. Hoping, in a way, to apologize
for what he'd done, but Dan smiled slightly and shook
his head, as if to say that no apology was needed. Not
George looked at him. "What exactly is Mr Nelson
doing? To you?"
has decided he wants me," Vadim said calmly. "We
had sex, which was strictly mutual. But he must have
decided he wants me as some kind of
Like a trophy."
What he wants, Mr Krasnorada, is a slave. He'd make
you scream his name. He'd make you throw up with his
evil. He'd control every thought, every breath. He'd
threaten to kill you, and then rape you in any way he
can think of. I'd be surprised if he hasn't learned
new ways since then." Holloway's voice was dead.
Dan's hand tensed in Vadim's. "I'll fucking kill
that bastard." Hissed under his breath, but audible
Holloway looked again at the folder. "I have a
life. My job depends on my reputation, on the respect
of the financial community. We are a small group
everybody knows everybody else. We know the names and
birthdays of each other's mistresses, in addition to
the wife's, and we never slip up. They wouldn't say
it, but everybody would know. They'd know, and
I'd know that they know. My peers
don't." Dan meant it. "We'll find another
way, Mr Holloway. Even if that means to take him out
of the equation before he does it to either of us."
He shook his head.
Holloway looked at him, appearing suddenly forlorn,
like he'd awoken from the nightmare of that weekend.
"I will have to think about it. This is
of too great an importance."
it is, and you should not let yourself be guided by
what we are asking for." Dan kept his eyes in the
other's for a moment longer, while placing a kiss on
Vadim's hand, all the time watching George. "And
what do you need?"
win my honour back," Holloway said. "Like
Dan was stunned by the answer. "You have never
lost it, but you feel like you did, aye?" He let
go of Vadim's hand, reaching for George's instead, merely
covering the hand on the table. His scarred, tanned
hand that had seen a life of work, lay on top of the
fine, almost translucent, exquisitely manicured one.
The touch reassuring.
you have a partner, Mr Holloway?"
as job lingo." George kept looking at Dan.
we tried to seduce you," Dan's voice had taken
on a deeper quality, "would you throw us out or
Holloway glanced towards the folder, looking about to
say "no thanks" - when Vadim left Dan's side
and moved behind him, hands open, as if cutting off
the escape route of some wild animal. "Are you
worried about the scars?" Vadim asked. "We're
soldiers. We know scars."
" Holloway glanced at him, then at Dan, whose
hand was still covering his own, almost missed the fact
that Vadim stepped closer, then froze when Vadim touched
his shoulder and murmured. "Just 'stop' will do
Dan smiled, lifted the fine hand off the table, and
lowered his head to kiss it in an old fashioned way,
which seemed oddly appropriate. Lips lingering on the
porcelain skin, while he opened the buttons of his shirt
with his right. Pulling it apart, he bared his abs,
the landscape of destruction and survival. George, who
seemed too conflicted to be polite - stared at the scars,
surprised, but not disgusted. "You're not the only
one, and neither is Vadim."
Holloway nodded, his free hand reached out to touch
Dan's scar, the most vicious one that slashed upwards
towards his chest. "I
I usually pay
hookers," said Vadim with humour, opening his waist
coat and dropping it over one of the chairs.
Dan let go of George's hand, but only to shrug out of
his shirt, which he let fall onto the expensive Persian
rug. "Lucky indeed." He stood bared to his
waist, leaned closer, and carefully slid the top button
of George's shirt out of the buttonhole. "You call
the shots." Dan smiled, "just like with a
hooker, only that we are not for sale."
The man was still petrified, but the way his pupils
had diluted spoke of his desire, and Vadim stood behind
him, touching his shoulders, his arms, pleasantly surprised
how firm the muscles were, even though that also meant
the man was very tense.
Holloway woke up from the haze when Dan opened his shirt
to reveal his nipples. The left one was gone, simply
gone, like it had been cut out, but Dan didn't flinch,
didn't show any reaction. He had seen worse in his life.
would go on my knees," Dan murmured, while pulling
the shirt out of George's trousers, then lifting it,
to let Vadim slide it off the man. "But I'm a bit
of a cripple."
George got to his feet, and Vadim could see that the
rest of his body had long healed, even though the man's
back, with that white skin, still remembered the whipping.
He noticed fine lines on the skin, and when he ran his
fingertips across Holloway's shoulder blades, he could
feel the scars. He had to fight the urge to hurt that
skin, make the man shudder and scream.
Dan stepped closer, lifted George's hands to his own
shoulders, leaving one there, right above the bullet
scar, guiding the other towards his hip, placing it
onto skin. Treating the man like a wounded animal, every
movement was slow and deliberate. Leaning down, he lightly
kissed the side of George's throat, then down the neck,
while his hands travelled up the chest, over the nipple,
towards the back and shoulders, meeting Vadim's hands
George's lips opened carefully, as if he was taking
an enormous risk, his eyes closed when Dan continued
to touch him, and Vadim was there, too. "Should
go up?" George asked, the first coherent
sentence he'd spoken in minutes.
Dan came back up to his full height, "that's a
good idea. Let's take some drinks with us."
George nodded, reaching for the bottle of whisky. He
lead the way out of the room, the next one, up the staircase,
towards the left on the landing, and Vadim exchanged
a glance with Dan, who held his gaze for a moment, careful
not to speak Russian, he didn't want to spook the man.
Watching George walk through his house was like watching
an impossibly lonely man get lost in his own world,
furnished with all the trappings of power and success.
The master bedroom was vast, furnished in the same style
as the rest of the house, the four poster bed an antique,
dark wood, heavy fabrics. A small pile of books on the
nightstand - all serious-looking text, nothing as frivolous
as a novel.
Dan took the bottle out of George's hand and placed
it onto a side table. He stood in front of the man,
gently coaxing him backwards and towards the bed. Dan's
hands were on the belt buckle, eyes searching for George's.
George's lips moved into a smile, as if he'd been caught
by the odd politeness. "Just
you don't have
to do this
won't influence my
Dan opened the belt and button, "it's not about
'having', it is about wanting. You, Sir, you are breathtaking."
He slid the trousers down, hands on the boxer shorts,
fingers slipping into the waistband to push them down,
making the man tremble and his abs tighten, flat stomach
Vadim shed his own shirt now, and saw the appreciative
look from George. It was nice being seen with those
eyes - from a man who was easily more stunning than
Baring George's cock, Dan moved his hands back to the
hips and gently nudged him, so that both of them sat
down. He leaned forward, placed his lips on George's
cock, which made the redhead shudder and open his mouth.
George reached for Dan's face, who's tongue was exploring
the cock that began to show unmistakable interest.
Vadim moved closer, taking off George's shoes, socks,
pulled the rest of his clothes off. It was the only
thing he could do right now. Control. Control would
Dan sucked down, but not with his usual greed, because
this was about relaxing the man, trying to get him to
stop thinking. Every touch, each movement of his head,
tongue, lips, was designed to increase the arousal.
Not using his hands, merely his mouth and occasionally
as deep as his throat.
George soon squirmed, his responses uncoordinated, eyes
closed, partly as if he didn't want to see and partly
as if he trusted. Vadim joined him on the bed, naked
himself, his cock rock hard. He moved his head down
as well, sucked on George's balls, which made the man
yelp and buck, almost unable to deal with the added
Dan lifted his head, let go of the cock, and Vadim took
over without any hesitation. Quickly taking off trousers,
socks and shoes, Dan returned his attention once more
onto George, whose face was beautifully flushed. The
pale skin took on a rose hue and George's hands fluttered,
as if he didn't know where and what to take hold of.
Scooting up, Dan lifted himself onto one elbow and looked
down at those long lashes and the parted lips. This
man was delicious. "May I?" Dan didn't
wait for an answer, capturing George's lips with his
George reached up to touch Dan's neck, kissing, but
his focus shattered after a few seconds when Vadim did
something clever with his lips. "Yes, yes, but
" He couldn't say it,
his lips so close to Dan's. "I
do that, can't
what?" Lips against lips, Dan caressed the one
remaining nipple, which responded by turning into a
hard bud. When he brushed over it once more, flicking
it gently, George became even more desperate, repeating
his stammer. It took a while before the desperate words
clicked and made sense to Dan. "Can't get fucked?"
When George nodded, Dan kissed him again, murmuring,
"no one's going to fuck you. On the contrary. Would
you like to fuck one of us?"
The redhead shook his head, but clung to Dan while Vadim
continued to drive him up the wall, alternating quick,
deep strokes with just licking and brushing the cock
oh god," George groaned,
forcing himself to focus. "
won't. I promise. Just tell me who you want." Dan
moved down, took the nipple between his lips, flicking
with his tongue, gently using his teeth, then laving.
George was panting, mind very nearly blanked by what
Vadim did, but then Vadim circled his cock in his hand,
forming a tight ring to control him and pulled back.
"Blond or dark, Sir?" he asked with a grin,
but George was still reluctant, repulsed not only by
the possibility of getting fucked, but as much by the
thought of doing the fucking to somebody else. He broke
away and glanced at Vadim.
sure you prefer blond," Vadim ventured. "Your
PA is beautiful, and I love getting fucked. What about
that? No way you can hurt me." You're not fierce
and strong enough, was what he was thinking, and at
the same time, he wanted to fuck this guy, but he knew
Dan wouldn't let him. Dan kept his darkness under control.
George shuddered, face showing the conflict between
need and fear, his own demons tangible in the room.
Vadim was about to rummage through the guy's nightstand,
when Dan held him back. "Condoms and lube, in my
Vadim grinned, found the trousers, the lube - the usual
minipack. Dan, ever hopeful, had planned ahead. He squeezed
most of it into his hand, slicked his fingers, then
pushed them into his arse, while Dan watched and kept
stroking George's cock. Adding more lube, Vadim opened
the condom and pulled it down over George's cock, using
the rest of the lube on him. Nice and slick and safe.
want you to watch Vadim's face closely, George."
Dan kept his voice soft. "The lust, the feeling,
what it does to him, and what it does to you."
Dan sat up on his hip, right leg stretched out, reaching
for Vadim's nipple and twisting it the way he knew would
affect him, making Vadim gasp and shudder. George watched,
licking his lips, which made Vadim almost self-conscious
as he straddled the man, took his cock and positioned
himself. George stared at him, wide-eyed, but very aroused.
Vadim took him slowly, making the man squirm with the
slow, controlled tightness.
Vadim said, sinking down further, feeling the man's
cock go deeper and deeper, until he'd taken all of it,
and George was sweating, that brilliant red hair now
think you are hurting Vadim?" Dan asked George,
while reaching out to caress Vadim's arse, then moved
his hand towards the front, taking the balls and squeezing
them. "Does he look as if he's in pain?"
George shook his head, groaning when Vadim shifted and
bent forward, kissing him, before he began to move.
Slow, grinding motions that drove George up the wall,
and Vadim relished it. A different kind of power, he
was fucking this guy, mentally, emotionally,
in all ways that counted. Pushing and thrusting, stopping
when he felt George got too far, feeding on the desperation
and need much like Hooch did to him.
Dan kept watching and touching, but not interfering.
Stroking himself, he didn't want to stoke the fire too
Vadim's muscles stood out in stark relief as he moved
slowly, weight fully on his thighs, grinding and shifting
until he found the best angle for himself. He began
to ride George, making more of a show of it than usual,
for Dan, groaning, hissing with the thrusts. When George
got to the edge again, Vadim mercilessly drove him over
it, feeling the man buck beneath him, groaning like
he was being tortured. That agony showed Vadim exactly
what he'd looked like when he had been tortured. Small
wonder Nelson had needed two days to get his fill. Vadim
bent down, kissed the man, relishing the feeling of
the beard, running a hand through the damp red hair.
Dan watched for a moment longer. He could do with release,
but he merely rolled onto his side, looking at Vadim.
Vadim gave him a sideways glance, his eyes very blue
in the low light, his face flushed, and a strange smirk
on his lips, which told Dan he'd enjoyed that power
enormously. He shifted, slid off George, plucking off
the condom and knotted it, then stretched out right
next to Dan, kissing him, still tasting of the other
Dan broke the kiss after a while, hands on Vadim's muscular
buttocks, as he lifted his head to look at George with
" The man visibly forced himself to string
a sentence together, his pride demanded it. "Don't
even know what to say." He studied them, his eyes
roaming across muscles and hard angles, flushed skin,
and scars. Scars that made his body next to them look
like it fitted in, like it was nothing special, maimed
as it was. "I don't normally
over night. I pay them and they leave, but
He carefully asked permission, as if all that touching
and kissing hadn't happened. "I have a guest room.
If you want to stay the night."
Dan sat up on his hip, hand on Vadim's shoulder. "I
would like to stay. Vadim, what do you think?"
Vadim shrugged, turned to lie on his back, yawning.
"Why not. This bed seems a bit small for three.
Guess in that century people weren't quite that tall
or adventurous." He grinned.
George smiled. "No. Allow me to show you the room."
He stood and found his boxers, slipping into them, decidedly
ill-at-ease with being completely bared. He stepped
into the bathroom attached to this room, with a bathrobe
covering most of him. It was the nipples, Vadim assumed.
He was squeamish about showing any area that had been
tortured, and he wondered just exactly what Nelson had
done to ruin that area of his body so completely. The
scar was too precise, it hadn't been biting.
They picked up their clothes, following their host.
When George led them across the landing, the whole archaic
splendour of the house was visible - it seemed it had
never changed from somewhere around the beginning of
the nineteenth century, which, with the blood red hair
and all, gave George a decidedly gothic touch. As if
Count Dracula had joined the banking world. Vadim grinned
at that thought, wondered why on earth anybody would
want to live in a mausoleum. Especially since the office
had been old from the outside and modern on the inside.
The guest room was hardly any different from the master
bedroom, but it had a view out over the street, which
served almost as a reminder of the world outside. "It
has a small bathroom, but the larger bathroom is across
the hall. Please feel at home." George tactfully
Dan dumped his clothes over a chair and sat down on
the bed. "Well." Leaning back and looking
up at Vadim. "What do you think? I've certainly
never met anyone like him. Poor bastard."
can see why Nelson was fascinated." Vadim joined
him on the bed. "He has 'victim' written all across
his forehead." Vadim stretched out. "And if
he does what we want him to do, he's ruining the rest
of his life. All this
" He gestured, including
the house. "That's protecting him. If people begin
I don't think he can cope. He's
too fucking scared to touch a guy."
and that's why I think we need to find a different way
of getting rid of Nelson." Dan shrugged. "I'm
sure Maggie didn't know the full extent of what happened
and the consequences to this man, or she wouldn't have
sent us here."
think we should drop it
I mean, this angle, and
" Vadim pondered. "You mean, kill him?"
the only option isn't it? The question is just how.
How to achieve this without getting caught." Not
a shred of doubt was visible in Dan's face, not a moment
of moral pondering. He'd taken many lives, and this,
too, was combat - only of a different kind.
Vadim nodded. "Good alibi, make it look like an
accident." He turned onto his side, kissing Dan's
biceps. "I'll think about it. I have
done this before, he thought, in this city, long ago.
The thought brought back the memory, of the two guys
in Soho, and the shame and guilt he'd felt. "
my best ideas in the morning."
Dan smiled, then scooted up the bed to get under the
covers. "And I promise I will fuck you raw
until you scream. Tomorrow." He winked, then waited
for Vadim to come close, so they could fall asleep in
their usual embrace.
Dan woke up, it was to rare sunlight streaming through
the windows. They hadn't drawn the heavy curtains, and
a patch of light hit his eyes. Reaching out for Vadim,
he patted the empty sheet. Blinking a couple of times,
Dan groaned while stretching, allowing himself the luxury
of not having to be awake from one heartbeat to the
next. Civilian life did have its perks, after all.
Getting up was always a struggle in the morning, his
knee more sore than ever, but he stretched once he stood,
trusting he'd get into gear soon enough. The sound of
water running from the adjacent bathroom told him it
was occupied, and Dan padded over, opened it to snatch
his towel and tell Vadim he'd be in the master bathroom,
figuring since it was only seven AM, their host might
still be asleep.
Scratching his neatly trimmed groin, stark naked, the
towel slung over one shoulder, he found his way to the
main bathroom. Still bleary-eyed, he stepped into the
large room, closing the door behind him.
He noticed the humid air before he noticed the man,
and looking around, he saw a free-standing bathtub -
with lion feet - with a small table next to it. The
bathtub was occupied by George. His hair plastered to
the back of his head, revealing the downright aristocratic
profile. "Good morning, Dan." George looked
at him, then shifted in the bath, dried his fingers
on a towel, and changed razor blades for an old-fashioned
hell," Dan grinned, "I'm sorry. Didn't think
you were awake yet and Vadim's taking a shower."
fine. Call of nature." George smiled at him. "Early
morning baths help softening the stubble. I don't always
have time for a barber."
better than a hot shave, aye? Was one of the greatest
luxuries in Kabul." Walking over to the bathtub,
Dan leaned against it and looked down at the other man.
"Do you want some help with that?" Pointing
to the razor. "I seem to have a history of shaving
good looking men." He winked, then dropped his
towel over a cast iron towel stand.
George paused, thinking, then slowly nodded. "I
believe I can trust an ex-SAS soldier with a blade."
Dan laughed, while George handed the razor over. "I
am wondering about the goatee
any kind of statement?
Off or on?"
depends on if you want to hide. You are stunning, but
while the goatee suits you, I wonder what lies beneath."
Pulling a stool across, Dan sat down and busied himself
with preparing the lather.
chin." George took two handfuls of water, rubbing
it into his beard.
Dan grinned, "a particularly regal one."
Yes. That's what my therapist says, too. Maybe I pay
him too much, if that's so obvious." George gave
a laugh. "But the boy is trying to fix me. I look
at him and the sentence is right there, but I can't
speak it. I'm not handing him the key but I ask him
to open the door for me."
Meticulously working the lather into the other's face,
Dan included the goatee, and George did not protest.
"You were able to say it yesterday, perhaps you
could say it to your therapist as well?" he smiled.
"I know, it's hard. For me the most difficult thing
of all was to acknowledge that I had been a victim.
I refused to accept that. Still don't."
was fooling myself, all those years."
I would say you were finding a way to live, but not
George tilted his head, offering Dan the far side to
start with. "I found it hard to sleep last night,
even though I was tired
I thought of your partner,
Vadim. How I do not want that the same happens to him
I don't want him to become
what I was.
Maybe still am." His face twitched.
Dan stalled, hand hovering over the other's face. "He
won't. Whatever happens, he won't. We kill that bastard
before he can do anything like that." He offered
a smile to reassure, and began shaving the skin. Smooth,
precise strokes, in between swilling out the lather
in the bath.
was not perfectly honest yesterday, but I hope you forgive
me. I was infatuated with Mr Nelson. It wasn't just
friendship. But that is the official story. I've never
left the closet. My peers believe I'm sleeping with
you blaming yourself for that? Did you ever believe
that because you had been infatuated, it was somehow
your fault?" Dan's brows rose and his hand stalled
again, close to the goatee.
say it made the whole business of falling in love very
risky indeed." George followed the strokes, meeting
his eyes again. "I'm avoiding that risk, and by
avoiding risk, I've put other men at risk of losing
their health and their sanity."
Dan began shaving again and George allowed him to scrape
off the beard, not speaking when the blade was anywhere
near his skin. He brought a hand up to touch the side
where the beard was gone.
were so courageous, honest, and gentle. You put me to
Dan's protest was vehement. "Never think such a
thing. I am not a good man, Mr Holloway," another
echo from long ago, "and I have done things to
avenge myself that I am ashamed to tell. I am less honest
and less gentle than you might think. I have mellowed,
but don't forget what I did for a living." Dan
carefully tilted George's head. "In fact,"
Dan mused, "it is you who puts me to shame here.
We requested something impossible, and I'd like you
to know that both Vadim and I have decided to find a
different solution. We are not asking you anymore to
put yourself out there."
George paused, "Another reason why I didn't sleep
last night - I was busy calculating what I own. Making
money can become its own fascination, adding it all
up was never my primary concern. I have the money to
retire, my portfolio has never looked better, there
is a young hungry partner in the firm who'd love to
take my chair in the board meetings." George looked
straight at Dan, while Dan finished the shave, the face
smooth and even younger looking. Perfect features, simply
beautiful. George continued, "If worst comes to
worst, I can retire. It can't be worse than vanishing
because of drug problems." He took two handfuls
of water again and washed away the rest of the soap.
are you saying?" Dan cleaned the razor and put
am ready to testify against Mr Nelson. I'm ready to
get dragged through the dirt by our lovely British media,
if that is what it takes to stop Mr Nelson from doing
the same thing to anybody, ever, again. In fact, I will
have lunch with my lawyer, I'm sure she'll appreciate
Dan stared at the man. "Are you sure?"
And scared." George pushed himself up, reached
for the towel and began to dry himself, then stepped
out of the tub and slipped into his bathrobe, wiping
his forehead with its sleeve. "But I can't be scared
for the rest of my life
maybe I'll even keep
one client. Or do you think the Baroness would withdraw
she never would." Dan smiled.
George shook his head. "Sorry. I am rattled. I
don't know the details yet, but this is the plan. If
you wish, we can discuss the details with my lawyer
at lunch. I cancelled my meetings for the morning, too,
so we could go somewhere and have a civilized breakfast."
sounds like a great idea. I'll just tell Vadim, I'm
sure he will be out of the bathroom by now. We'll see
you shortly. Half an hour?"
your time." George smiled at him. "I will
be downstairs in the library."
Dan cast a last smile, before he left and went back
to the room. Still naked, the towel in his hand, he
called out, "Vadim? You are never going to believe
Vadim was just closing the last button of his shirt.
"Do you leave me guessing or will you tell?"
His gaze travelled down Dan's naked form, and a smile
formed on his lips.
is going to do it. He will give a testimonial if necessary.
He asked us to meet him for breakfast and then lunch
with his lawyer."
Vadim whistled. "Interesting. He found
a spine last night. It took effort to bite the sentence
off before it could slip out. "His courage? That
actually settles an itch I had at the back of my mind.
I wouldn't have thought he's Nelson's type."
you like them white?
like them strong.
What do you mean?" Dan was at the bathroom door.
told me he likes strong men. This guy isn't
Nelson was looking for a strong guy, like an equal.
He's not interested in victims."
mean George didn't use to be a victim? He used to be
strong and this is why he fought, and because he fought
Nelson went as far as he did?" Dan stood, thinking,
"Nelson went too far, and broke him."
He's smart, I give him that, but
shrugged. "He doesn't turn me on the way he turns
or he does, but not in ways he'd like."
Who said he turns me on? George is good looking, but
... and what way does he like what?" Dan shrugged,
" Stupid Scottish peasant, here, you got to explain
to me step by step what on earth you were talking about."
He flashed a grin.
Vadim laughed. "Fuck, Dan, we had sex with this
guy, and he doesn't turn you on? What was that,
then? A mercy fuck? A good way to get another redhead
for the statistics?" Smiling to take the sting
have sex with a robot if it were good looking and responsive."
Dan shrugged. "But what does that have to do with
what you said earlier? You are confusing me, and I don't
like to be confused."
Vadim sobered. "He
turns me on in a bad
way. In a way we both don't like
It's a deep
like the man I was. Something
about him says 'hurt me'."
Dan came back from the door and sat down to the bed.
"let's unravel that. You say this man is a born
victim, and that this doesn't go with what you know
of Nelson. Then you say because that man is a victim,
you want to hurt him, too, want to destroy him, because
that would turn you on. Is that it?" Dan didn't
look any less confused.
didn't say he's a born victim, maybe he's become one
after what Nelson did to him. The guy unnerves me, Nelson,
I mean, and I'm a lot tougher mentally than a banker
or asset manager or whatever." Vadim sat down.
you are saying the same as I was saying." The confusion
lifted from Dan's face and he nodded slowly. "But
what was that about turning you on the bad way?"
bed, I want to hurt him. I wanted to fuck him, and I
I thought I knew exactly what Nelson must have
wanting to mark him, wanting to make him
suffer." He shook his head. "I'm a sick fuck."
Dan inhaled deeply. "Shit." Had he thought
it had just gone away, the darkness, because Vadim wore
his collar and he'd changed? "I know you're a switch."
He took another deep breath, shaking his head. "Difference
is, in moments like this I realise it isn't a game for
you. You really do want to hurt that guy, aye?"
The way Vadim inhaled told him, yes, exactly. Looking
at his hand, Dan figured that he was a piss poor judge,
of all men. "You miss Hooch?"
Yes. Vadim shook his head. "I'm done fucking people
up. I'm not Nelson. But there is an urge
and all I can do is control it. Having you there helps.
I know you'd stop me." Vadim rubbed his face. "Konstantinov
knew. He knew that inside me. He told me I'm a monster,
Dan. I don't think he was all wrong in that. I can still
do the things I did. I'm still capable to break a man
like that. Part of me wants to, and it freaks me out
when I'm sober."
not a monster. Monsters follow their urges." But
he knew that Vadim had done exactly that, once upon
a time. "Shit." Dan shook his head again,
until the unruly hair hung in front of his face. "You
are holding yourself back, you are aware of this, you
..." Trailing off. "Shit, Vadim, you think
I am so much better? Let's face it, I'd kill that Nelson
without a second thought and I'd do it slowly. And if
he ever hurt you? I'd torture him, worse than I ever
tortured you. What does that make me? No better, in
my books. No remorse. No guilt." He looked straight
at Vadim, who reached over and pulled him close, exhaling
deeply, heads touching.
still doing alright. We gave this poor bastard something,
even though he has no idea what we truly are. If that
makes him face Nelson, great. Mission accomplished.
If Nelson recovers from the blow, we take him down.
This is Nelson's last chance to live."
Dan wrapped his arm around Vadim. "Deal. One last
chance. You never know, George might not even have to
testify if Nelson gets his tail between his legs and
slinks off into his rat hole." Dan smiled, ever
hopeful. "For now, let me get ready so we can grab
breakfast and meet that lawyer of Mr Holloway's."
took them to a private club for breakfast, the location
exquisite, but despite it being so refined it was also
effortless to enjoy oneself, and they had small talk
and less small talk, exchanging stories and anecdotes.
George did everything to entertain them, polite, a good
listener, and he did look both younger and less severe
with the rest of his face bared.
The lawyer joined them later, and she, too, was exceedingly
pleasant, but paled slightly when George told her what
he was planning to do. He'd written a statement, telling
the whole sordid story, as he called it, and she raised
several good questions. In so many words warning him
that the media backlash could be enormous, but she said
that she understood the cathartic need and would be
happy to assist him as to limit any damage that could
result from the fallout. Her professional and human
touch were amazingly precise and gentle, helping and
guiding George all the way, keeping him relaxed despite
the huge emotional burden.
Two hours later, the asset manager looked drained and
exhausted as if he'd worked seventy-two hours straight,
but he was smiling. The lawyer promised she'd sent copies
of the papers to the hotel, and she also started her
own research on Mr Nelson - promising to keep them updated.
In the end, the lawyer left with handshakes and smiles,
confident as if they would definitely and without the
shadow of a doubt remain victorious.
Dan had been fairly quiet throughout all of this, listening
and remaining in the background. When the lady was gone,
he leaned across the table, smiling at George. "Is
there anything we can do for you? To ... relax you?"
George looked from one to the other, and leaned conspirationally
closer. "What do you have in mind?" he asked.
Dan grinned broadly, from ear to ear. "Beats everything
else for relaxation."
I thought I'd take you out to a West End show."
George inhaled, interest clearly there. "I better
ask for my driver, then."
Dan glanced at Vadim, then winked at George. "It's
medicinal, you know? Perhaps we could go to a West End
show later. After all, we're not that young anymore
..." he sat back, remembering his comment about
robots, but hell, this man was a rather good looking
'robot', and one never knew, with a lot of coaxing,
he might even become interesting in bed.
That was exactly where they spent the afternoon, until
George fell asleep, completely relaxed for a couple
of hours. Dan and Vadim returned to their hotel and
their clothes and they were picked up that evening to
exclusive seats at a West End show. They spent that
night once more in George's house, being spoiled by
a man who lavished his attention, wit and humour on
them, and didn't spare any costs to please and feed
them. Halfway between guests and friends and lovers,
a confusing triangle that he still manoeuvred with grace.
Taking what they offered, and just as gracefully bidding
them goodbye - in possession of the signed, legally
watertight papers, photos, and medical reports. Their
liaison was the lawyer, who asked to be consulted about
any steps they were taking, as she understood that an
"amiable settlement" might be reached before
she had to ride into battle. Nevertheless, the asset
manager had handed them a loaded gun - to use at their
spent six weeks in Britain, while the Baroness and Mr
Holloway's lawyer were working on tracing and tracking
and finally pinning down Nelson. Some time was spent
with Dan's family, and the rest back in London, where
the Baroness had access to an apartment near the V&A
museum, which was more comfortable than a hotel room.
Vadim managed to visit the museums, some several times,
while Dan found to his surprise that he actually enjoyed
some of them. His favourite was the Natural History
museum, where he got lost for half a day, eventually
meeting Vadim at Covent Garden for a pint.
Throughout all of this he was busy, working on his idea
for the unofficial international group of ex Special
Forces soldiers, and no place was better than London
to do so. The capital of Britain, and a gateway for
the British Forces. It was Vadim who came up with an
inconspicuous name for the group, the 'Spa', and Dan
liked it so much, he used it straight away, when contacting
his former mates. He got Jean to contact his, and asked
Hooch via Matt, and from there on snowballing across
the Forces and across the countries.
They got a phone call from the Baroness that Nelson
was in London, and the lawyer had pinpointed the time
and place. This would be a 'surprise' for the man, and
no back exit to slink out of.
A couple of days before that day, Dan planned the first
meeting of the 'Spa'. He booked a conference room in
a hotel, right in the centre of London, with access
to a bar, not knowing how many ex-soldiers would turn
up and how this crazy idea would work out.
He was surprised when a dozen men arrived, and the night
ended long after the bar had closed at 2 AM. There were
no fights, except for a few 'almost' ones, and only
one man left when he realised that Dan and Vadim were
a couple. The others cared less about that than the
opportunity to be themselves, talk about things a civilian
would run away from screaming, and get pissed while
being once more together with those of their own ilk.
It was a roaring success, and the word spread from there
on, Dan said, when he raised a glass to Pascal in the
early hours of the morning.
Two days later, after they'd recuperated from the event,
they were ready to face Nelson.
hotel lobby was a vision of beauty and splendour, polished
brass, elegant marble and glittering crystal everywhere.
Only the crème de la crème - or those
who believed they were - frequented the place as guests.
Both Dan and Vadim fitted amongst the exquisitely dressed
clientele in their dark tailored suits, and if it hadn't
been for Dan's slight limp, the cane and the longer
hair, they would have blended in even more. Two gentlemen,
well groomed, expensively dressed and certainly well
kept and extremely fit for their late forties. They
turned more than just a few heads.
They headed straight for the tea room, speaking quietly
to the waiter, who led them to one of the small tables,
set in an alcove in the splendidly decorated art nouveau
Nelson did not wear the uniform when he showed up, but
the expensive suit still worked to highlight his importance,
and Vadim thought, damn, he was gorgeous. If he hadn't
been such a freak ... and if he hadn't heard the stories
- and seen the evidence - he'd be too tempted to burn
his fingers again.
Dan stood, drew himself up to his full height, and looked
straight on at Nelson. He had the big guns the lawyer
had prepared for him in the briefcase. Nelson turned
his head and looked over, his eyes narrowing. Then he
looked at Vadim, who stood up too and invited him over
with a gesture. Nelson squared his broad shoulders and
came over. "I was supposed to meet a lawyer here
..." he said.
arranged this for us," said Vadim.
see." Nelson seemed taken aback.
sit with us for a few minutes."
Nelson sat down, but Vadim could see he wasn't comfortable.
The man didn't like surprises.
Vadim opened the conversation once they were all seated,
"as you might imagine this is not a social call.
We have a proposition to make, a deal, if you like."
Nelson was, again fixated on Vadim, studying his face,
trying to read warnings or what all this was about,
and Vadim answered the gaze levelly. His best Soviet
officer mask. The man had fucked him, but that was it.
It had been nice enough, at a point in time when he'd
needed it, and Nelson had been obliging, but in the
end, he'd been nothing but a tool. Nelson only turned
to Dan when he couldn't read Vadim. "What is this
you will never contact Vadim again, never pester any
of us, never come near either of us or anyone we know.
Nor that any of your 'affiliates' should ever have anything
to do with us." Dan looked at Nelson without a
twitch. "In return, we will not expose you."
Nelson laughed, incredulous. "Excuse me, but that
is very amusing. What can you possibly expose apart
from your pathetic, drunken self?"
Dan leaned forward, only slightly, a mere angle of his
upper body. He pulled his lips into a smile which never
reached his eyes, while Vadim was on the edge of simply
jumping over the table and strangling the man.
happen to be able to expose the crime you inflicted
on a British citizen, twenty years ago. Said gentleman
is willing to testify in court." Dan kept that
fake smile on his face as he continued to talk, keeping
his voice low throughout. "I am sure this would
not sit well with your position in politics and military.
They do have draconian punishments for rapists and torturers
in most countries."
What was probably the most fearsome thing now was that
... it was obvious that Nelson had to actively think
about which British citizen Dan meant. Were there
more than one? Or had Holloway simply slipped from his
Who are you talking about?"
you like us to dig any further to find other victims
of your crimes? Very interesting, Colonel." Dan
leaned back. "Perhaps I should remind you of this
particular case." Reaching over, he snapped the
briefcase open and took out copies of the medical report
photos. The first three didn't show the face, but they
clearly showed the extent of damage on the body. Dan
placed them in front of Nelson, keeping the other two
in his hand.
Nelson looked at the photos, and especially at the one
that showed the mess of the chest, the swollen, bloody,
discoloured area where the nipple had been. He stared
at it, his face showing half hunger, half disgust, in
one long, unguarded moment. He then looked at Dan again.
"There was a settlement. They took the money."
afraid there was never any legally valid settlement.
This argument won't uphold in court, while there is
evidence for the settlement having been give to charitable
purposes. Besides," Dan glanced at Vadim, "every
court would believe the matter of coercion." He'd
carefully remembered the right words, practising like
an actor. "Apart from that, paying money to hush
a crime does not make the crime disappear. You are a
rapist, a torturer and a sadist, Colonel, and we will
make this public, and trust me, we will make the public
Nelson's jaw muscles tightened visibly, up to his temples.
He looked at Vadim. "You talked to George?"
long ago," said Vadim. "But it doesn't matter,
because he'll back us up as a witness. As will his doctor,
his parents, and anybody else who knew of this. There
is no way this was done consensually ... and everybody
will see what happened. You paid once before ... I don't
think you have a leg to stand on in your defence."
the deal is ... I let you go."
of us. No contact. Vanish out of my life, Dan's life,
and don't even approach anybody we know."
can I know you'll keep your word?"
can't. Call it deterrence."
Dan shuffled the photos together. The bastard had remembered
after all. He hadn't even needed to show the face shots.
"You got one chance, Nelson. I suggest you take
it, even though it comes from ..." he smirked,
"a 'pathetic, drunken' man."
Nelson's jaw muscles didn't seem to relax, he was clearly
worried. Crimes against British citizens weren't taken
lightly, everybody knew that. He stood. "Mr Krasnorada,
it was a pleasure knowing you."
won't say anything now to encourage your obsession,
Colonel. Have a good life, and if I hear of our mutual
red-headed friend being harmed or pestered, we will
bring you down."
Nelson's face was pinched. "I understand."
He turned around to leave.
fact," Dan gave the parting shot, "if we ever
hear that you harm anyone again, we will bring
you down. And don't underestimate our resources. You
are not safe anywhere."
Nelson gave him a baleful stare, then walked away.
Vadim exhaled. "Fuck."
that it?" Dan stared at the retreating back. "Feels
like I would have missed it if I had blinked. Could
it have been that easy?"
George was the real piece of work ... but I guess Nelson
has a lot of things to lose."
Dan nodded, then looked at Vadim. "It's time to
make a few phone calls." He smiled. "I know
someone who will be very relieved."
Vadim reached over and pressed Dan's arm. "Yeah.
Somehow ... I thought he'd fight back."
never know what other skeletons he has in his closet.
Smacks to me of trying to hide potentially more."
Dan closed the briefcase and reached for Vadim's hand
to squeeze it briefly. "Come on, Russkie, let's
think we could tell him the good news over dinner."
Vadim grinned. "Maybe he gets a bit more interesting
if he comes out of his reserve often enough ..."
George took their call, and they met for dinner a few
hours later, to celebrate. The rest of the evening went
as foreseen - George trusted them more now. It seemed
like a massive weight had been lifted off him, and he
appeared more relaxed and less scared. Which, thought
Vadim, was almost the same level of reward as the fact
that Nelson would stop sending him emails and calling