The Terrorist's Game


It seemed like eons had passed by the time her mother's wedding day finally came. Talia had never been so proud of her. She and Tyrell were the perfect couple. At last, Clarissa Anderson would have her fairy tale wedding and live happily ever after. Talia was confident that her mother's marriage would last forever. It had taken her decades to take the plunge this first time.

Talia wondered if she would ever marry again. Cameron Walker was an amazing man, but he hadn't been willing to come and live in Moscow with the rest of the President's family. Talia wanted to see him, but she felt that it was better to make a clean break of it.

Eduard had taken his oath as President of Russia in January. He was able to make his own decisions about running his country. It was ironic that he became President unwillingly, yet he would rule by his conscience. It's funny how fate works. There had been no contact from anyone that claimed to be a follower of D'mitri/Percival. Eduard supposed that there were no loyal followers and that D'mitri made the whole thing up. Talia wasn't so sure, but she couldn't find any proof that she was right, so she didn't discuss it.

Valentine's Day was coming. It didn't mean much to the average Russian, but Clarissa and Tyrell had chosen the most romantic American day of the year to take their Russian vows in The Palace of Facets. There had been talk of the ceremony being held in St. Basil's Cathedral, but the whole family had voted that it might be bad luck.

With two days to go, Eduard had sent Leonid to Reykjavík to pick up his date for the wedding, Nina Friederichsdottir, the former President. They'd always been close. Talia hoped that they could have a personal relationship now that Nina was no longer in office. It would be the first relationship of its kind if it worked out. No one had ever heard of two Presidents of completely different countries in different parts of the world dating. Everyone agreed, however, that she made Eduard act like a schoolboy, so what could be better? It said a lot for the legitimacy of the global community as well.

Anya seemed to be recuperating well after her experience with her father. Talia didn't know where she got her resiliency. She supposed it came from Clarissa. Talia had changed her view of her mother. Now she saw Clarissa Anderson as one of the strongest women in the world.

Anya wasn't into dating, or so she told Talia. That made Talia happy. The last thing that she wanted was for her daughter to get married too young. She knew all to well what could happen. Michael had volunteered to escort Anya to the wedding. He wasn't seeing anyone, and they were partnered in the wedding party. Talia found the idea acceptable. That way Michael could keep an eye on her. She secretly wondered about the way that her daughter and her body guard spent hours talking about absolutely nothing. She wondered what would happen to that relationship in a few years.

Leonid and his wife. Eduard and Nina. Clarissa and Tyrell. To some extent, Michael and Anya. Everyone had paired off to some degree or other. The whole world was in balance. In two days, Talia's mother would be married for the first time in her life. She figured that it wouldn't be that long before Eduard and Nina followed the same path.

Talia sat in the freezing cold on the front porch of the country house that they spent most of their time at. Eduard still didn't like spending any more time than necessary in Moscow. He much preferred the country. There was a lot of snow in February, but it was still beautiful in the country. They were far enough from the hustle and bustle of Moscow, that the city's lights were only a distant glow on the horizon at night. It was just the family, their body guards, their drivers, their cooks, their housekeepers, and their other staff. It was strange being part of the elite in a country that she wasn't born in. She wanted to spend the rest of her life there. Russia felt like home.

Talia's mind wandered to work. She still did a lot of research and analysis for both the Russian and American governments. She could work from home on her computer. She didn't even have to go to an office anymore. She'd been surprised to hear that the two governments didn't mind getting their information from the same person. It had been said that it had always worked that way—now they were just admitting it. At least once the Percival problem had been laid to rest, she could concentrate on some other groups. Finally, Talia Anderson could return to her post as the most knowledgeable person in the world on matters of terrorism.

Talia sat on the front porch in the freezing cold wondering how her life would turn out. She'd taken care of everyone else. She'd hoped to get on with her life. It didn't seem to be turning out that way. When Cameron had made his decision to go back to Seattle, it had crushed her. He said that he couldn't pick up and move to Russia. He'd said that if she really loved him, she would move to where he lived. Talia hoped that someday Cameron would understand why she couldn't do that.

Clarissa came out onto the porch, wrapped in a blanket over her parka. Clarissa hated the Russian winter. "Are you determined to sit out here and get pneumonia two days before my wedding?"

Talia smiled up at her mother. "I'll be fine. This is your first winter. I've spent many winters in Russia."

Clarissa sat down on the step next to Talia. "Why is it that my maid of honor would rather sit out here and rut in misery, than come inside and have a wonderful dinner with her family?"

"I just wanted to be alone and think for a bit."

"It's not like you don't know his phone number."

"What are you talking about?"

"Cameron. That is what you're thinking about, right?"

Talia smiled at her mother. "It's easier to forget about them when they're dead."

Clarissa smiled back at her. Then she looked up toward the driveway. There was a Nissan Pathfinder pulling up in front of the house. "I guess I'll go inside."

Talia jumped up. "Mother, what's going on?"

Clarissa smiled at her from the open door. "Maybe you shouldn't try so hard to forget him."

The Pathfinder stopped. Cameron Walker got out of it. He was grinning at Talia. He knew that she hadn't expected him. He walked to the porch and directly to her.

"What are you doing here?" Talia asked.

"Nice to see you too."

"I'm sorry. I just wasn't expecting you. I thought you'd be in Seattle."

"I should have known that you'd still be pissed. Clarissa invited me to the wedding. She asked me to walk her down the aisle, since Eduard was busy being her best man."

"Oh. Well, come in. It's cold out here."

"It's not easy to find either. I'm not from around here."

Talia stopped at the door and turned to him. "You know, I am still pissed at you. I thought you were different than other men. I thought you loved me. You ran out on me just like all the other men in the world. Maybe you shouldn't be so cocky."

Cameron grabbed her by the arm and pulled her close to him. "All right, I screwed up. So sue me. I'm here now."

"Yeah, for a wedding."

"So, do you want me here or not?"

"Why?" Talia pulled away from him a little, and eyed him cautiously. "Would you like to stick around for a couple of weeks and then run out on me again and go home?"

Cameron reached into his pocket and took out the slip from his boarding pass that he had for his flight. Talia took it and looked at it. It was a one way ticket. She looked up at him with tears in her eyes. He grabbed hold of her and gave her a long deep kiss. "I am home."