A Romanov Returns

Chapter One

It was cold. The snow was now falling more heavily and Mikhail was running, but not making much progress. It seemed with each step his legs sank deeper and deeper into the sticky, wet stuff. Worse, he knew his enemies were drawing nearer as he could clearly hear the barking dogs chasing him through the muffling of the falling snow. He knew once the dogs caught up to him, their masters would not be far behind. He had talked his way out of tough spots before, but doubted he could this time. His pursuers hated him because of who he was and so there would be no discussion, no negotiation. A quick death was the best he could hope for.
All his forward progress had stopped and the dogs were upon him, snarling and snapping. He lashed out at them with a stick he broke off a nearby tree and they kept their distance. He saw in their frenzied eyes that they wanted to rip him to shreds, but now they waited for their masters. Over their barking and growling, he heard his chasers crunching through the snow, closer and closer. Then, out of the mist they approached, weapons drawn. There were two of them and he saw both hatred and relief in their eyes. For them the chase was over and in a matter of seconds, their mission would be completed.
Mikhail knew he was without hope or options and he felt an emptiness born of frustration. So many unfulfilled dreams, so many missed opportunities. Life had been too short. He watched helplessly as they raised their weapons and took aim. Time slowed. He saw them pull the triggers and puffs of smoke came from their guns. He felt the bullets strike him.
Darkness came immediately.
He awoke with a start, bathed in sweat. He sat up in bed and looked around, but no light penetrated the room. It was March and he was cold, having thrown off his blankets during sleep. As his head began to clear, he realized he was in his bedroom and not alone. Lying next to him Yvette slept soundly. He’d had the dream many times before, but still didn’t understand it. Nonetheless, he believed that great things were in store for him in the very near future for he had plotted and planned and finally felt his time had come. Nothing would stop him, of that he was certain.
He shivered and grabbed for the blankets, God! It was cold, even in this fine house. It was still winter here in Saint Petersburg, but it felt more like January, particularly since a late winter storm had blown in off the Baltic and erased any hint of spring. Of course Saint Petersburg was balmy compared to Moscow and Moscow was where he would have to go to fulfill his destiny.