woman, but she has nothing outside her family. You have a career, and
you’re damned good at what you do. I would never ask you to give that
up, you know that. Yet you expect me to be willing to give up my career
His voice was rising as he spoke, and growing more and more angry. Maybe
she wasn’t the only one who’d been bottling things up.
She shook her head, the worst of her own anger already drained. “I’m
beyond that, Matt. I know you won’t give up the Navy. It’s a part of
you, and you wouldn’t be who you are, wouldn’t be the. .. be the man I
love, if you were the kind of guy who could give it up easily. But it’s
one of the things that just makes us completely incompatible.”
He looked up sharply, a glimmer of hope in his eyes. “You still love me?
Pamela took his hand and held it for a brief moment. “Sometimes. ..
sometimes love just isn’t enough, Matt.”
She released his hand and sat back. “Matt, I’m sure we’ll be seeing each
other while you’re here in Yalta, but I really think it best if we not
see each other. .. that way again. It’s. .. it really has been wonderful
knowing you, and I’m sorry it has to end this way. But it does have to
The rest of the dinner was completed in an uncomfortable near-silence
and was cut short before dessert or the obligatory after-dinner tea.
All the way back to the hotel, she could feel the tension winding up
inside of him.
2315 hours (Zulu +3)
Yalta Hotel, Crimea Tombstone was still digesting what had passed
between him and Pamela that evening. He didn’t know what to say, was
afraid to say anything for fear that either he or she would explode.
He’d known she was hurt by his frequent absences, knew she didn’t like
them, knew she’d rather he left the Navy. .. but he’d never imagined it
coming to this.
“Good night, Pamela,” he told her in the hotel lobby. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault, sailor,” she said with something approaching her
old twinkle. “It has been fun. At least until recently.”
She turned and walked away toward the elevator.
Tombstone turned and started for the stairwell, less because he still
mistrusted Russian elevators than because the thought of riding up
several floors in close proximity to Pamela was suddenly unendurable.
The prostitutes were gone, at least, he was relieved to see.
As he started up the first flight, however, he was aware of a sudden
movement at his back.
“Stoy! Nee sheeveleetes!”
Tombstone turned, looking down at a young man–he probably wasn’t out of
his teens–with long, wildly disheveled hair and a knife held
threateningly in his right hand.
“Rukee wayrh!” His right hand held the knife, weaving it back and forth
at Tombstone’s throat. The left was extended, palm up. “Ya hachu
“I don’t speak Russian,” Tombstone told the youth, keeping his voice
cold and level. “Understand? La plaha, uh, ya plaha gavaryu!”
“Money!” the boy repeated, and he rubbed the fingers of his left hand
together in a universal sign. “Money! Dollar! You give!”
It was almost ridiculously easy, given that he was already on the first
step of the stairway, and the kid was waving the knife carelessly less
than a foot away, well inside Tombstone’s reach. Had it been a pistol
the kid was waving, Tombstone would not have considered doing what he
did next. He was neither a brawler nor a practitioner of martial arts,
but he outweighed the kid by at least thirty pounds, and his reflexes
were those of an aviator.
Besides, he was in no mood to be pushed around.
“Da,” he said, nodding and reaching up with his left hand to open the
front of his jacket. “Da. I give.”
The kid’s eyes gleamed and he stepped closer as if to grab the expected
wallet from the inside jacket pocket himself. Instead, Tombstone lashed
up and across with his left forearm, blocking the knife hand and
smashing it aside; he pivoted left with the movement, shooting his right