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Slipping Into
The Dark Side

This is a Beta version. There will be grammar and editorial problems. This is a sneak peak. Changes will be in final draft, expected to release November 2024

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Chapter 1:
Soviet Russia 1980


There was something about funerals that made Tatianna feel…
Bored out of my fucking mind. 
She lit a cigarette leaning against the iron fence to someone else's grave. The cemetery was cramped with the dead, with massive tombstones and extravagant statues of Jesus, Mary, or some angel. Tatianna was not religious, but everyone around her seemed to be. Truthfully she didn't understand how killers and rapists could still believe in a higher power, but that's how it was in the mafia. The hypocrisy was everywhere. 
With judgmental blue eyes, she watched the burial, blowing smoke into the wind. Over four hundred people were in line, ready to throw in dirt or coins, honoring the old bastard. Their black Moskvitch cars lined up the paved road. So many wore the ugly Soviet Uniform, black with gold buttons and red sashes, while the women wore headscarves and stockings with their dull, tight dresses. She thought she'd see more invigorating outfits by coming to Moscow, but instead, it was the same lame outfits her mother used to wear. She couldn't wait to move to another country; she'd even take America as a last resort. But families like hers never moved far from each other. She was stuck in Russia for the rest of her life.  
Novodevichy Cemetery was beautiful, with big trees full of shade and well-cared-for grave sites. How Yaroslav got into such a pristine cemetery made no sense to her. A Stalin lover should be chained and dropped to the bottom of the ocean. But the fact that there wasn't much grief aside from the forced sniffles and the mocking pats on the back made the funeral entertaining. Yaroslav Morozov had never been anyone's favorite boss, and he lived much longer than anyone had hoped. 
Tatianna was searching for the men who would want to take his place as leader of their illegal operation. Her father wasn't ambitious enough. Andrey Nevsky was a small drug lord in the South and was content with his life. After her mother was killed in a car crash when Tatianna was thirteen, Andrey preferred to be out of the spotlight and raise his ten kids, hoping they would live long and prosperous lives. But it didn't work out. Tatianna's sister killed herself at sixteen, and her brother had a rare cancer that devoured him from the inside out. He died six months ago, nearly on Tatianna's nineteenth birthday, leaving her to take the place as the eldest child
I was bored at that funeral, too.
 
There was too much in this world to do than sit and grieve. Life was just beginning, and she wasn't going to waste it. 
Tatianna glanced down at her watch. She had a job interview at six but doubted she would return in time. It was a crappy little job at a clothing department, but it would be something to stop the boredom from taking over. 
"What time is it?"
Snapping her head over her shoulder, she saw a man approaching in a black suit with his hands in his pockets. His bright blue eyes were the first thing she noticed about him. She blew smoke in his direction, "1 p.m." 
"Got somewhere to be?"
"That's none of your business," Tatianna bit to the stranger. "But yes." Her father was taking his turn around the grave with her sisters and brothers on his heels. Would he notice if she left? Most definitely, she would hear about his 'embarrassment' for weeks. 
"You knew him?"
"Who?" she snapped, bitter at her father and this man who wouldn't let her fume in peace. Then she remembered she was at a funeral. "Everyone knew of him." Tatianna dropped the cigarette on the floor and stepped on it. "I didn't personally know him."
"Can I have one?"
"You ask so many questions." Tatianna pulled one out of her clutch and held it out, propping her hip to demonstrate her aggravation. 
"Got a light?"
Her eyes narrowed, but he didn't seem to care how he was coming off. If this was some form of flirtation, it was failing big time. She made sure he took note of the ring on her hand as she held out the light. He didn't immediately reach for it, observing her with his freaky-looking eyes. She tilted her head in aggravation, waiting for him to pluck it from her fingers. Eventually, he gently slid it from her. 
"What's your name?"
She gave a fake smile, turning back to him. He was probably used to whore names. Any man that wore a Rolex could afford a plethora of whores. "Candy."
A smirk twitched his lips as he inhaled and held out the lighter. 
Tatianna grabbed it, but the man tightened his hold on it. He was humored as she attempted to pull. She stumbled back when he released it, and her 3-inch heel got stuck in the dirt. Humiliation wasn't something Tatianna felt often, and she glared at him as she wiggled her foot. He was hiding his laughter. It made his blue eyes brighter and took the darkness out of his brow. He leaned his elbows on the fence to watch her more closely. 
Wanting to destroy his pride, she snapped. "My Name is Tatianna Nevsky." She got some satisfaction out of his look of surprise. She pulled her leg and stumbled, smacking a hand on the iron gate to steady herself. It put her inches from his face. 
"I thought all of Nevsky's daughters were hideously deformed." 
"We are," she replied with a sweet, tight smile, straightening up. "Some of us hide it better than others."
"Tati!"
Tatianna groaned and rolled her eyes before she put on a pleasant, beautiful smile and turned toward the man approaching. Her boyfriend, Fedor Utkins, was the size of a buffalo with broad shoulders, a slender frame, and a long, thick black beard. At twenty, his facial hair was his pride and joy, and he spent an hour in the morning combing through it, tweezing and shaping it to the perfection that it was today. It was a conversation piece at awkward moments when people focused on his black skin next to his white-skinned father.   
Fedor slowed as he approached, his eyes narrowing on the stranger behind her. Tatianna thought about explaining the situation, but with the man behind her, she didn't want to appear weak, so she said nothing until he was standing right beside her. 
Fedor's fingers slipped around her bicep as he faced the man. Tatianna dutifully introduced over her shoulder, "This is my fiancee, Fedor Utkins."
Fedor held out his hand, "Good to meet you, Mr. Morozov."
Tatianna snapped her head around, wide-eyed, as she met the light blue of Morozov's gaze. He was still fucking humored, and she hated him for it. Did he think she was impressed?  
"My deepest condolences." 
"Yakov," Yakov introduced himself as he shook Fedor's hand. "I'm not the heir. Just another son."
Tatianna turned to face him, forcing Fedor to let go of her arm if only to rest it on her back. "Condolences, Mr. Morozov." 
Yakov blew out smoke, flicking his eyes between the two of them. The quiet was unsettling, and Tatianna ran her manicured fingernails through her blond curls in a mild attempt to move whatever this was along.
"It's such a tragic accident," Fedor finally found something to say.
"An accident," Yakov repeated as he sucked in. "Very tragic." 
It was mocking, and it confused Tatianna. Shouldn't this boy be in mourning for his father's sudden departure? Sure, his father had been nearly seventy, but falling out of a treestand while hunting wasn't the best way to go. 
"I'm sorry," Fedor flustered. "How do you two know each other?"
"We don't," Tatianna assured, resting a hand on his bicep. "Let's go pay our respects." 
Yakov stopped their departure. "The Utkins typically don't come this far north." Yakov blew smoke out. His blue eyes were like X-ray scanners, zooming over them, searching for betrayals and deceits. "I've been to all my father's meetings and never once seen Mr. Nevsky. I'm curious why you all came this way for a man you've never met."
Fedor shifted uncomfortably. "My father's orders, Mr. Morozov."
"Yakov," Yakov corrected again. "Well, I hope you will do more than visit the dead. Come back to the house. I would love to hear how things are going in the South." 
Flustered and excited, Fedor stuttered a reply, "I. I would be happy to. Thank you, sir." 
Yakov stepped on his cigarette and met Tatianna's eyes. "Bring your fiance. We can make a night of it."
Yakov waved as he walked away, but it wasn't until he made it to the casket that Fedor turned to her. "Yakov Morozov just invited us to his house," he slightly panicked. Fedor scratched his massive beard, a nervous habit. "Oh, I can't believe it," he proudly grinned. "I'm gonna get this family on the fucking map. I've got to go tell my father." Fedor kissed her cheek and ran off. 
Tatianna fell against the cast iron gate. 
And daringly, she looked toward the funeral to find Yakov's blue eyes were on her. 

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