In a town where everybody practices domestic discipline, a girl needs to be careful about who she tests…
Annika hesitated in the hallway. She’d put a skirt on and she was glad she had, for in the interim someone new had arrived. She only saw the back of his head and his shoulders, but she already didn’t like him. He was too broad, too wide, too fat, and American. Like the man she’d come to meet, the man who’d turned out to be nothing like he’d pretended to be online.
The man Annika was supposed to meet was twenty-eight years old, a professional with his own home and a sports car. In his pictures he’d looked handsome. A man with a full head of dark hair and brown eyes. A lot like Steven Soames actually looked. She’d become quite fond of the man who sent her the nice emails, who told her how much he was looking forward to making her his wife and how happy she would be with him. For months, Annika had built up a picture of the life she would lead when she reached America, and the man who was rescuing her from her drab, dour, and deprived existence in Russia.
It had all fallen apart the moment she set foot on US soil. The man who had met her at the airport was at least fifty, three hundred pounds, and smelled of cheese. He owned a mid-sized sedan and lived in a noisy, rented apartment. He was a liar. A liar who stole her passport, told her to ‘get over it’ and wanted to have sex within hours of meeting. He was grabby and greasy and she’d only barely fought him off before running away.
“Annika?” Steven stepped around the corner and gave her a reassuring smile. “We’re about to eat, but first, come meet John. He’s Mary’s husband.”
Hearing their conversation, the man named John stood up and turned around. She realized she’d made a mistake in judging him so quickly. He was nothing like the man Annika had come to marry. He wasn’t fat, he was just… huge.
He didn’t smile. Neither did she. He was looking at her with an analytical gaze, taking her apart piece by piece. She was doing the same. She reached her conclusion before he did.
“Police,” she said. “You are police.”