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World of Gods

The goddess Veta looked feverishly into the world of people, looking for a person in whose body she could hide a part of herself.

She could already feel death approaching her and she knew there was no chance to escape in this world. And so she made the decision to save at least a part of herself, hiding it in another world, where it might be found by someone one day and Veta would be saved.

She could clearly hear approaching footsteps of her doom, but it didn’t matter. After all, she managed to find a child in the world of people, in which she breathed a spark of her life.

Breathed a spark of Freedom.

Because Veta was the goddess of Freedom.

She was, of course, also known as the goddess of justice, fairness and retribution. But it was her decision that gave or took away Freedom.

She was the one who granted Freedom in all its manifestations and took it away when Laws of the Creator was violated.

But at this moment they were trying to take away her Freedom to make her disappear in all other worlds.

But Veta wasn’t going to give it them so easy. After all, this would mean that many worlds will be doomed to eternal captivity and slavery.

No, no, no!

She must do anything to give a glimmer of hope for saving Freedom!

And she did.

She saw the beginning of the dawn and Veta felt a cold hand that laid on her shoulder from behind. At his touch her body turned to stone slowly, until it became a stone statue.

But Veta didn’t bother anymore.

After all, she found a newborn baby in the world of people, to whom she managed to pass her last Testament.

The Testament to preserve the Freedom.

Chapter 1

World of people

Yekaterinburg, Russia. June 2019.

Anastasia Vetaeva stood in front of the mirror and selected carefully what to wear for tomorrow’s business meeting in the office of the company where she worked.

Although the word “work” didn’t quite fit her kind of activity. She was not an ordinary employee who got a job at the firm.

She was the daughter of the founder of a large building company. And as much as she liked her father’s business, she worked in her father’s company as a full partner. In fact, it was her company too, because she had invested a lot of time and efforts in developing of their company to the level that they had now.

So she could confidently say that she was not working for her father’s company, but working with him on their common business.

The next day there would be a meeting with investors who wanted to invest a large sum into the building of elite house complex and she needed to look the part.

Although there wasn’t need to overdo it, because she looked really gorgeous without preening.

Nature or God managed to give birth to her not only in a wealthy family, where she didn’t know any refuse and was free in all her aspirations and also gave her an extremely attractive appearance that was ideal in every sense of the word.

In her opinion, she was the impersonation of what a woman should be.

Beautiful and free.

And the first one suited absolutely everyone. But the second one gave no one any peace, except for Anastasia herself.

Her freedom-loving and independent nature drove everyone crazy.

Women and men were equally furious. Women were not satisfied that such a beauty still was unmarried and it was a threat to their marital status. And the men were furious that they could not get this headstrong and obstinate beauty.

Every successful man who appeared in her way felt it his duty to try to get her. And not only to get her, but also to tame and bend her to their will. After all, everyone in their circles knew that Anastasia Vetaeva is not easy thing and it was very honorable and prestigious to have such a diamond in their collection. And it wasn’t enough for men to have such a woman. They wanted to show that they had managed to tame this headstrong lioness.

And this was infuriating her!

She sighed heavily.

There would be men at the next day’s meeting and one of them would probably have an idea to get to know her better and to demonstrate his taming skills and then flaunt in front of everyone what a cool guy he was, since he was able to tame and rein Anastasia Vetaeva.

She didn’t mind starting a relationship with some decent and calm man. After all, she was thirty-two years old. But this obsession with possession and taming of the shrew infuriate her. And in revenge, she ruffled temper of all the men, driving them to white heat.

For that she earned a reputation of a nasty woman.

But it didn’t bother her at all. She didn’t care what anyone said or thought about her. The main thing was that she was free and independent. And this was the main value of her life, that she clung to with tooth and nail and she was ready to turn into dust anyone who encroached on her freedom and independence.

No one could understand her obsession with her own freedom. She didn’t quite understand why it was so important to her. But the fact remains that as soon as she saw a threat to her freedom, she turned into a real fury and simply smashed this man, so that he would never dare to encroach on the highest value of her life.

Anastasia took a stylish business dress in pale blue from the wardrobe and decided to choose it.

“I don’t want to look like a plain girl, either,” she said aloud, twirling in front of the mirror. “I don’t really give up on men. I reject male idiots with unhealthy ambitions against women. What if there would be a worthy candidate at tomorrow’s meeting? I need to look at least a little prettier than usual.”

With these words, she finally confirmed her choice in favor of this dress and went to the kitchen to cook the dinner.

Nikit Ognev (Ognev — Fiery in Russion) parked his bike near a high-rise block.

“Oh, Dasha, Dasha…” he sighed, heading for the entrance. “Now I have a lot more headache.”

He tapped the numbers on the intercom of the front door, waiting for an answer.

“Who’s there?” a woman’s voice said.

“Aunt Lyuba, this is Nikit Ognev.”

“Come in, dear.”

The door opened and Nikit went to the elevator and went up to the ninth floor.

“Hey, Uncle Petya!” he shook the hand of an elderly man who met him in the doorway of his apartment.

“Hey, Nikit! Go to the kitchen. Lyuba is making the tea there.”

“Yeah, thanks!”

Nikit went into a bright cozy room, where a nice scent was already wafting.

“Well, Hello, dear!” a woman smiled at him, she was in years, but still beautiful.

“Hello, Aunt Lyuba! I’m sorry for inviting myself so unexpectedly.”

“Oh, come on! Stop it!” the woman waved her arms at him. “You’re like our own. You grew up before our eyes. So don’t make it up! We are always happy to see you and Dasha. How is she doing?”

“I actually came to talk about it,” Nikit made a sour face. “My sister behaved oddly once again.”

“Oh, really?! Well, sit down and tell me.”

The woman pointed to a chair and began to pour out the scented tea.

“Here’s the thing, Aunt Lyuba…” Nikit began. “She’s a cleaner in your company.”

“I know,” the woman laughed. “It was me who hired her.”

“Well, Yes,” Nikit nodded. “So, summer is here and somewhere Dasha saw a job ad for the position of a counselor in a youth summer camp for three months.”

“So-o-o,” the woman listened patiently.

“Well, in short, this silly girl quitted and ran away to work in this camp. For three months.”

The woman slowly put the cup down on the table.

“How could she run away?” she asked again incredulously.

“Well, that’s it!” Nikit spread his hands.

“So she’s not going to work tomorrow?!”

“No,” Nikit shook his head.

“How can it be?” the woman asked. “I interceded for her! Asked the management to hire her! And she gave everything up like that and left?! Without a warning?!”

“Well, that’s what she is, Aunt Lyuba” Nikit sighed. “I told you not to get screwed to your managers because of that. You should let her make her own way but not to get this post through good connections, so you wouldn’t have to blush for her.”

“What is it, Nikit? When will she grow up and learn some responsibility at least?!” the woman was indignant.

“I don’t think it can be cured,” Nikit shook his head. “At least, as long as everyone decides for her and helps her she will flutter and take everything lightly.”

“She worked absolutely normally. I could not be happier that Dasha finally calmed down and began to do everything consciously. She came to work on time. She cleaned everything perfectly. There were no complaints or criticism about her. And here you are! She threw another unpredictable trick.”

“Yeah,” Nikit nodded. “Obviously, she had a relapse. She was drawn to adventures again.”

“But she’s twenty-five years old, Nikit! What an adventure? She should have a head on her shoulders but not run around the camp as a counselor.”

“Apparently, she’s looking for her place in the world. She can’t spend her whole life as a cleaner,” Nikit stood up for her.

“That’s right,” the woman sighed. “She should give advance notice! I’m the human resources director. I need to find a replacement right away! This can’t be done in one day!”

“I understand, Aunt Lyuba,” Nikit said. “She also told me that she would be back to work in three months. After all, your cleaners are paid a good salary.”

“How could she come back?” the woman protested. “Who’s going to wait for her for three months?”

“Well, that’s what I’ve told her.”

The woman clutched her head.

“Oh, what is it then?! Anastasia Mikhaylovna will go off on me and will reproach me more than once for hiring her by an acquaintance.”

Nikit chuckled.

“Is it your nasty Vetaeva?”

“Yes she is,” the woman sighed.

“Dasha said that she is no angel.”

“It is not the word,” the woman said dejectedly. “She’ll tear the heart out for any misstep.”

“But it’s not your fault that Dashka ran away,” Nikit tried to cheer her up. “Do you want me to meet her and explain everything? Let her yell on me and you’re not to blame.”

“Oh, Nikit, you’d better find me a cleaner for tomorrow, not your explanations.”

“Where am I going to find her now on Sunday and at eight o’clock in the evening? Only if I replace Dasha until you find another cleaner.”

The woman looked at him thoughtfully.

“You know, that’s a thought…”

“What a thought?” Nikit didn’t understand.

“To replace Dashka while I’ll find a new cleaner.”

“No way,” Nikit drawled, smiling. “Your Vetaeva will tear off your head for this.”

“You know, in some situations, it’s better to lie and cheat than to tell her truth. Moreover, there is no cheating and fraud here. Dashka really needs someone to be replaced while we are searching for a permanent employee.”

“And the best candidate for replacement is the eldest brother of a runaway girl,” Nikit grinned. “Another friend hired by an acquaintance.”

“What about it? We can say that you work for the required two weeks for your sister before she quit.”

Nikit stared at woman in disbelief.

“Aunt Lyuba, you can’t be serious.”

“I’m quite serious!” she said sternly. “I was kind with Dashka, gave her an opportunity and she set me up. Help me out, Nikit.”

“So you want me to work two weeks instead of Dasha?”

“Well, maybe it will take less time if we find the right person quickly.”

“There we go, hell!” Nikit scratch his head. “If I see Dasha, I’ll kill her! And how will everybody take it that there is a man among the cleaners?”

“Don’t worry,” the woman said. “It doesn’t matter, as long as the work is done. I’ll just change cleaners for a few days and give you a post where no one of the management goes. They don’t care who works. The main thing is to clean.”

“Aunt Lyuba, you’re just like Dashka” Nikit smiled. “The same adventuress.”

“Oh, life can force you,” the woman sighed. “It is easier for me to do this than to explain to Vetaeva why the offices won’t be cleaned for several days. Well? Will you help me out?”

The woman looked at Nikit with hope.

“There is no way out. I’ll pay you back.”

“You are my savior!” the woman kissed him on both cheeks with happiness.

Nikit was sitting there wondering what a nasty woman you need to be, to make your employees be so afraid and ready to do to such strange things.

“Aunt Lyuba, just tell me do I need a rabies vaccine or I won’t face an evil dog?”

The woman laughed.

“Don’t worry. You won’t run into Anastasia Mikhailovna for sure.”

“Let’s hope so. Because I’m a cowardly, non-confrontational boy and can’t stand for myself.”

The woman laughed.

“That’s ridiculous! How old are you? Thirty-two?”

“Thirty-four,” Nikit corrected her. “But my age doesn’t make me brave. Why do you think I’m so fit and brutal? To make everyone thinks that I’m a cool guy and do not get into a fight, so I don’t have to conflict with someone.”

The woman clapped him on the shoulder, laughing.

“It’s true. As long as I can remember, you’ve always been a quiet calm boy. That’s why I’m not afraid to bring you to the firm for a couple of days. I know I can rely on you and you will definitely not pull any tricks like your Dasha.”

Nikit leaned back in his chair and ruffled his hair.

“Yeah, she did us a bad favor. Never mind. We’ll get through it.”

They sat for about half an hour while aunt Lyuba briefed hum and then Nikit went home.

“Maybe it’s for the best that Dashka wasn’t in the town,” he thought, riding his bike. He would have given her a beating. He was quiet and non-confrontational, but he could not stand injustice and meanness. And on his opinion, his sister was very unkind to aunt Lyuba.”

But all right. It wasn’t the end of the world. He would keep Aunt Lyuba’s back covered for a couple of days and everything would be settled.

Chapter 2

The cold of the dungeon pierced out this whole place.

The moaning and wailing of many living things came from all sides through the walls. They all begged for help.

They all begged for freedom.

Veta could hear their begging and moans through her stone oblivion, but she could do nothing to help. After all, she also was a prisoner of the cold stone.

“Fire,” her mind whispered. “We need a blue fire…”

Unfortunately, no one heard her.

Nikit was finishing cleaning floors in the last corridor.

It was the fourth day of his, let’s say, “community service” and aunt Lyuba could not find a replacement for his Dashka yet.

More precisely, there were a lot of candidates for the position of cleaner, but they didn’t suit the administrative manager. These employees were selected very selective in this company.

And Nikit was scrubbing floors instead of Dashka for the fourth day already, because he didn’t want to frame a woman, who was like an aunt to him.

That aside, he had his own job.

Although, it wasn’t a job, it was his own business. But still. A few years ago, he opened a small health food shop that sold a variety of chemical-free, healthy, and nutritious foods. And he was messing about with it. It was his brainchild and his business.

He offered Dashka to join him, according to her trade was not for her. She wanted to make her own way, so she tried different directions. That’s how she happened to wind up in a large building firm as a cleaner.

To Nikit’s surprise, she was scrupulous about this work and for all the time there were no issue with her. But the fact that he was scrubbing the floors instead of her show that the quiet ones you got to watch.

Nikit finished with the corridor and he had to wash the women’s toilet. According to aunt Lyuba’s idea, this place was not part of his duties, but today another cleaning lady was ill and Nikit just volunteered to cover her up and not to give aunt Lyuba more headaches.

It was evening already and Nikit left cleaning of the toilet for last deliberately, when most of the employees had already gone home and he would not shock the ladies with his male presence.

He looked at his watch. 18:32.

“Well, I guess I can get started,” he muttered and went in the direction of the ladies’ room.

Anastasia stood in a stall of the ladies’ room and waited when the nausea would stop.

Somehow she managed to eat that stale salad.

There was no vomiting yet, but she went to the toilet in case just to be at the right place in case of feeling nauseated.

Of course, she had already drunk all the necessary remedies to calm her tumultuous stomach, but precautions would not hurt.

She wouldn’t have dinner tonight!

She heard the front door to the ladies’ room opened and a cart rolled in with someone’s footsteps.

“Cleaners are the last thing I need here!” thought Anastasia, annoyed. Just give them a reason to gloat over it. And the news that Anastasia Vetaeva was sick in the toilet would instantly spread throughout the office and as usual would lead to God know gossips and speculations.

She heard the cleaner began cleaning floors and toilets methodically, moving from stall to stall.

No, it would be better to leave now, while her stomach was behaving properly and she could walk to her office. It would be better if she vomited there in private. She’ll avoid unnecessary gossips and speculations.

She opened the handle of the stall and got out.

Nikit was cleaning the sinks with a rag when he heard the click of a handle in one of stalls.

“Oops,” he muttered and turned his head in the direction of the figure that had appeared. “Hello,” he said.

The girl who appeared literally stood as frozen.

“What does „Hello“ mean?!” she said indignantly. “Who are you?”

“I’m Nikit” he said good-naturedly, trying to smooth over the awkward situation. “Your cleaner.”

“What are you talking about? What kind of cleaner you are?!” she said angrily, looking down at his tall figure and solid build. “Get out of here!” the girl ordered, gesturing him to leave.

“Dear girl, don’t you worry so much. I’ll just finish and leave. Your toilet won’t clean itself and if I leave, there won’t be anyone to clean it.”

“Don’t call me girl!” she yelled back. “I’m the Director of this company!”

“Are you Vetaeva?” Nikit was surprised, sweeping the girl at a glance. “I should have known. I never thought that this is what a nasty woman looks like.”

Nikit got such a slap that he staggered.

“I didn’t understand… what was that?” Nikit muttered, taken aback by this turn of events.

“Get out of here right now!” the girl shouted in his face furiously.

“Why?” he asked quietly. “I’m just doing my job and I haven’t done anything wrong.”

“Are you kidding me?!” the girl screamed. “An adult man in the women’s toilet set up for a cleaner, snooping something around, insulting people and asking why you are being sent away?!”

“I didn’t insult you,” Nikit said calmly. “I was just quoting what people say about you. And if you don’t like what people say about you, then make sure that they say something else. Something that will satisfy you.”

The girl’s face turned purple.

“Are you going to teach me what to do?!”

“Well, I guess a few lessons won’t harm you if you’re lashing out at people like that.”

Nikit received a new slap.

“Definitely a nasty woman,” he said.

Another slap arrived.

“That’s enough!” he threw the rag into the washbasin. “Lady, calm down! I’m just cleaning your bloody toilet! That’s all! Understand?! That’s all! There is no conspiracy here! Let me finish my work and I’ll leave!”

“You won’t finish anything!” she hissed furiously. “I’ll call security and get you out of here!”

“What is that?!” Nikit held his head. “What a fool?!”

The girl straightened up and said with the highest degree of arrogance:

“It seems to me you’re shallow-minded as far as you’re a cleaner! But I hope you’re smart enough to understand that you’d better leave the room right now!”

Nikit felt a red flame of anger flame up inside of him.

This was a rare occasion in his life, but everything burned in this fire when it happened. He hated injustice, the humiliation of people and allusions to the higher and lower classes of society so much.

He bent down and picked up the bucket in which he had been rinsing the rag after washing the floors and toilets. He swung and doused the girl standing in front of him with all its contents.

A high-pitched squeal echoed across the ladies’ room.

“Have you gone nuts??!” she shouted.

Nikit took the floor rag and folded it in half, twisting it into a braid.

“I was just doing my job!” he shouted back at her. “Just worked and didn’t touch anyone! And you lashed out a man and offended him for nothing!”

“I will destroy you!” the girl screamed.

“If you open your mouth once again I’ll punch you!” Nikit showed fight.

“Don’t you dare!” she spluttered.

Nikit swung and slapped her serious enough with the floor rag.

A squeal spread across the toilet once again.

“I’ll put you in jail!” she shouted, trying to run out of the bathroom.

Nikit hit her with the rag again, blocking her way at the same time.

“The sooner you shut your nasty mouth, the sooner you’ll get out of here!” he said harshly.

It came to the girl at last that every word she said provoked another blow with the floor rag. She stood as she frozen and stared at Nikit in silence, panting and glaring at him furiously.

Nikit slowly lowered his hand.

“Now you will turn around and walk out of here quietly,” he said threateningly. “And I will finish my work quietly and calmly. Understand?”

He saw that the girl was seething with anger, but she turned around and left the ladies’ room quickly, slamming the door behind her in a rage.

Nikit sighed with relief, at the same time trying to stop the feverish trembling in his entire body. Such bursts of anger were rare for him and they always left him in a shivering state.

Today’s fight had been won, of course, but judging from what he’d heard about this lady his trick would come back to haunt later. It is good that he was not a full-time employee, who valued his work, and he wasn’t afraid of being fired.

He stood still for a few minutes, recovering himself and then returned to his temporary duties.

Anastasia shot into her office, slamming the door.

Quickly lowering blinds on transparent walls, she began to take off her wet rages.

She was shaking all over! She had never met such rudeness in her life! Moreover, rudeness was not verbal.

She had not responded to various epithets about herself for a long time and they did not affect her. Today, she was just taken off her guard by the sight of a strange man in the women’s bathroom, that’s why she reacted so sharply to his words about her character. But the way events unfolded further was so unheard for her!

No one had ever treated her like this and no one had ever allowed such actions!

She had practically torn up a pack of wet wipes and was feverishly wiping off the last of the dirty water.

“You’ll pay me back!” she hissed as she dialed the guards’ number.

“I’m listening to you, Anastasia Mikhailovna,” she heard the guard’s voice.

“Do you know anything about the male cleaner Nikit?!” said sharply, without greeting him.

“Ugm. Y-yes,” the guard replied hesitantly.

“Do we really have such cleaner?” Anastasia could not believe her ears.

“Yes, Anastasia Mikhailovna.”

“How come I didn’t know it?!” she cried.

“You’d better ask Lyubov Sergeevna from the Human Recourses Department for details,” the guard said with restraint.

“I’ll ask! Be sure!”

She slammed down the phone.

So what did this mean? This boor didn’t lie to her?! Was he really a cleaner?!

She tried to calm her raging temper. She was well aware of her freedom-loving nature, which knew no bounds or limits. And this feature could take her very far in a blind rage. Therefore, it was necessary to slow down urgently.

“Come on Nastya, calm down. Remember your promise!” she told herself as she took out the spare dress that always hung there for emergencies.

At an early age Anastasia and her parents faced the fact that she could treat people unfairly in an effort to protect her freedom and independence. Then she had a serious conversation with her father and they agreed that he would not restrict or control her in anything, but in response Anastasia herself should learn to admit her mistake and own that she is wrong if such a circumstance turns out.

She gave her father her word that every time she realized that she was wrong, she would definitely admit it and try to correct it and not make the situation even worse with her natural stubbornness and desire not to concede victory.

This agreement with her father was sacred to her, because her father kept his word and she had to keep hers. And as life had shown, this promise had repeatedly saved critical situations when Anastasia was really wrong.

Over the years she learned to find the strength to “slow down” quickly if she realized that she might actually be wrong.

“Is this really the case now?!” she was still angry. She didn’t want to apologize to this boor!

Anastasia screwed up her face.

Tomorrow, she would find out everything with human resources and decide what to do with him. To apologize or to boot out.

“But how could such a thing happen that such a man became their cleaner?!” she was perplexed. Even with all her anger, she could not help but notice the man’s figure. These are usually found on the covers of magazines or in the Director’s chair of a company.

Tall, slender, fit, bursting with health, intelligent, clearly engaged in some kind of sports, judging by the relief of the physique.

How could such a man get into the cleaners?!

She was tempted to go back to the ladies’ room and shake the answers out of him. But the incident with the bucket and rag had thoroughly restrained her impulses.

“God forbid if anyone finds out about this!” she whispered. “People will talk for a month.”

She finally calmed down, took her things and left the office.

Tomorrow would be another day.

Chapter 3

“Lyubov Sergeevna, please explain me, what is this story with the cleaner Nikit?“Anastasia blurted out as she entered the HR Department’s office the next morning.

“Good morning, Anastasia Mikhailovna!” the woman greeted her timidly.

“We’ll find out whether it’s good or not,” Anastasia said sternly, sitting down opposite the HR Director. “So I’m listening.”

“You see… there’s this thing…” the woman began.

“Without the fluff, please!” Anastasia looked sternly at the woman. “Let’s get right to the point.”

The woman swallowed, nervously.

“Our cleaning lady Dasha has run away and Nikit, her brother is working for her until we find a new employee,” the woman blurted out.

Anastasia stared at her with heavy look and then one eyebrow went up.

“And why is he so noble?” she continued her interrogation.

The woman shifted nervously in her chair.

“The fact is that Dasha was taken on my recommendation. She’s almost like a niece to me and I helped her to get a job here. And then she ran away and it turns out that she’s setting me up before you… So Nikit volunteered to back me up until we found a new employee.”

Anastasia stared at the woman without blinking.

“Do you understand that you are now saying some kind of insanity?” she asked sternly. “How could you think of such a thing? She run away and what?! Found another one to her place! Why was it necessary to involve a person who had nothing to do with it?!”

The woman lowered her eyes guiltily.

“I was afraid that you would fire me,” the woman said honestly.

“For what? For another person’s running away?!”

The woman was silent, and Anastasia sighed heavily.

“It’s a nightmare,” she muttered. “Did you take him on non-permanent contract?”

“No,” the woman said quietly.

“What do you mean, no?!” Anastasia snapped, unable to stand it any longer. “He is hacking for us in the truest sense of the word! What if he sues us for using his work illegally and not paying for it?! What if something happens with him on our company’s territory and they find out what he was doing here and it turns out that he is working for us for free?!”

Anastasia did not notice how she almost started shouting. And the woman’s face was already burning.

“I understand you, Anastasia Mikhailovna,” the woman said quietly. “I’ll do everything.”

Anastasia glowered at all the employees sitting in the office.

“I don’t want to see any more that you are illegally carrying out some kind of fraud with the staff!” she said sternly.

Everyone nodded quickly in agreement.

“Have you found a new cleaner already?” she asked.

“Yes. Tomorrow she can start her duties,” another employee of the HR Department hastened to assure her.

Anastasia became thoughtful.

“So from tomorrow, this man will no longer be cleaning our floors?” she asked.

“No, Anastasia Mikhailovna!” she assured. “You won’t see him again from tomorrow!”

Anastasia walked around the office.

“No, not like that,” she said firmly. “Call the new employee and tell her to start in a week. And tell your Nikit to work for his sister for the two weeks before he leaves. He had already worked for five days, and there were still five days left.”

Women looked at each other, puzzled.

“What’s in it for you?”

“I told you to do this!” Anastasia said imperiously. “And don’t forget to make out documents in a human way for these two weeks and pay his salary for this period.”

With that, she turned and left the office.

Well, it seems she would be satisfied that way. She had done the right thing and at the same time her injured self-esteem would be revenged.

She smiled contentedly. Now she needed to find this boor and look in his eyes triumphantly.

Nikit was cleaning one of the corridors when he heard the measured click of heels. It was as if someone was being solemnly nursed on a podium.

Raising his head, he saw his yesterday’s acquaintance, headmistress Anastasia Vetaeva.

“Hello, cleaning lady Nikit!” she sang sweetly.

“Hello, nasty Nastya,” Nikit answered in the same tone.

The girl smiled at him so radiantly and dazzlingly that a passing employee stumbled enviously.

Nikit leaned on the mop and asked:

“And what brings you here, Madame? Do you want to help me?”

“No,” the girl said playfully. “I’ve come to tell you some good news.”

“No way?!” Nikit asked theatrically. “Is there anything good coming from you?”

“Yes! Believe it or not!” she said solemnly.

“In that case, I’m all ears,” Nikit said peacefully.

“I found out all about you and I admit I was wrong. I did misinterpret your presence in the ladies’ room. In this regard, I apologize. In addition, I asked the HR Department to register you for the entire time that you work for us and pay you a salary.”

Nikit whistled frankly.

“What a twist! You are a miracle, not a woman! In that case, please accept my apologies too.”

“I accept it.”

“Great!” Nikit said, moving closer to the girl. “Now that we’ve exchange civilities, why don’t you tell me where’s the catch?”

The girl also came closer to him and whispered tenderly and confidentially:

“And the catch is that you will work the entire prescribed period for your trick. That means you’ll be scrubbing floors in my company for five more days, not counting today.”

Nikit smiled broadly.

“And here on my eyes a wonder-woman turns into a worthless woman.”

The girl looked at him almost lovingly.

“I’ll correct you a little,” Anastasia continued in unctuously tone. “Not a worthless woman, but a vindictive retributionist who gives her abusers what they deserve.”

“Oh, that’s what it’s called!” Nikit said. “Heavy! Well, do you understand that I don’t have to comply with your whims and can leave you at any time?”

“No, you can’t,” the girl smiled triumphantly. “Otherwise I will fire Lyubov Sergeevna. And that’s why you signed up for this, isn’t it? To keep her out of trouble?”

Nikit’s cheerful mood began to fade slowly.

It was one thing to exchange civilities playfully and quite another to be bound hand and foot. He was already aware that a new cleaning lady was supposed to start her work tomorrow and he was already planning the next day and all things related to his shop.

And then there came a nasty lady who decided to manipulate them for the sake of consoling her own offended self-esteem and control his life and fate in such way.

Tiny spurts of fire began to rise from the depths of his soul.

“So, Nastya (short name of Anastasia in Russian),” he said quietly and dangerously. “Please help me clarify a few moments.”

The girl sensed the change in his mood and took an unintentionally step back.

“I have always believed that we must return good for good and evil for evil. Am I right?”

The girl looked at him blankly.

“Well, actually, yes…” she said carefully.

“Then explain me how come that I do good, which is expressed in the fact that I helped a woman I care about and helped the company not to get bogged down in garbage and I receive evil in the form of slaps, humiliation and slavery for five additional days?”

Anastasia’s eyes widened slightly.

“I believed that good always wins over evil,” Nikit continued. “And the good things always outweigh the bad. And here it turns out that your evil and your resentment are more important and they win over my kindness and my good deeds.”

Nikit was hanging over the girl and she took a step back again, looked all over for him.

“Do I understand everything correctly, Nastya?” he asked softly. “Will the evil win over the good?”

Nikit saw that the girl was breathing heavily and her face was covered with red spots. Nikit waited for an answer, but the girl kept silent stubbornly, glaring at him.

“Let me tell you something in different way,” Nikit said. “I don’t want the evil to win over the good. I never allow it, if it makes sense to you. Therefore, if I find out for myself that evil is beginning to win, then we will continue to talk in a different way.”

Nikit paused, letting Anastasia digest what she had heard.

“So, as I said at the beginning, please help me to clarify one moment for myself. Tell me, what is going to win in the end? Evil or good?”

Nikit saw the girl clench her teeth stubbornly and lifted her head arrogantly.

“I’m waiting, Nastya,” Nikit said quietly.

The girl walked nervously in front of him, showing how much she didn’t want to give up. Finally, she stopped and turned to him.

“Okay!” she said, raising her hands. “You win!”

Nikit put his hands in the pocket of his jeans and asked patiently:

“More specific?”

“You are free!” Anastasia blurted out angrily. “You will be paid for days you worked and from tomorrow you are free and do not owe anything to our company!” she said irritably.

“And there will be no repressions against Lyubov Sergeevna?” Nikit asked.

“No, there won’t be any,” Anastasia grumbled.

Nikit smiled slowly.

“And here is the wonder-woman again.”

Anastasia snorted frankly, turned and walked away quickly.

“It was nice to meet you!” Nikit called cheerfully after her.

“Well really!” the girl growled.

Nikit chuckled.

She surprised him, certainly. He didn’t expect her to be able to control her explosive temper and make a fair decision.

He picked up the mop again and enjoyed finishing off his last day as a cleaner. The mood rose at the highest level of satisfaction at once.

After all, today the good had won over the evil.

Anastasia paced around her office nervously.

She was seething inside. It wasn’t rage or anger. This was something new and unusual.

First of all, it turned out that she was evil, although she always believed that she was the purest good. Although she was quarrelsome, she tried to do what was fair.

But today this cleaner literally nuzzled her into it and showed her which side she was on.

Of course, she was not always so wrong and as a rule, she always did justice. But this time a sense of revenge clouded her eyes and she even didn’t want to figure it out. And she had always considered herself capable of listening to all the arguments and facts before making a final decision.

“I guess the bucket of dirty water is putting a lot of pressure on my head,” she grumbled as she made a path in the floor of her office.

Second of all, inexplicable emotions were caused by the course of the conversation itself. How had this man arranged everything so neatly! How had he put everything in its place, so that it became clear who was really the victim and who was the criminal.

This was such an unexpected move and trick that Anastasia decided to borrow a page without fail. It seems to be a postulate from children’s fairy tales! But it was so sobering when applied at this angle!

It left a lasting impression on her.

Thirdly, her soul was in awe of the fact that she was able to make the right decision and release a man from any obligations.

It was a particularly sweet and quivering feeling.

To give someone freedom! Release from any obligations!

M-m-m, Anastasia squinted her eyes at the sweetness of it.

She valued freedom so much, but before that she lived without much thought how valuable it could be for someone else.

And today it was as if there was a small court session, where it was found out who is right and who is guilty and the decision was made fairly and correctly. As a result, the accused was released.

It was interesting why she was so concerned about everything related to freedom, justice and fairness? Sometimes she thought she could become a good and incorruptible judge.

And fourthly, the thing that astounded and thrilled her was the man with whom she had a run-in. The way he interacted with her was new and a little strange.

For as long as she could remember, men had tried to re-educate her and turn her into a doll that would suit them. Everyone wanted to mold her into what they needed.

And in principle, she understood their desire, because she made certain demands on men. But their methods of “education” always infuriated and drove her wild since they were always aimed at her surrender to their will, at full and unconditional recognition of their authority and recognition them as the main and her as the subordinate.

“Taming the shrew” was the number one task for every man when they met her. Each of them tried to moralize her how to behave and tried to re-educate her in every way.

This one didn’t behave that way. He didn’t tame and didn’t re-educate, didn’t moralize. He was simply creating a fait accompli of his own rules and principles. And the person decided himself what to do within these parameters.

The person had freedom of choice and there was a sense of satisfaction from the fact that he made the decision himself but not under the pressure of something or from despair.

This was very unusual, and Anastasia could not even really understand what she was feeling and give it an objective assessment. All now she understood clearly only that she had been made to do the right and fair action, without breaking her, without re-education or lecturing her.

And the realization of it warmed her soul with a soft and warm flame.

Chapter 4

The black dark figure walked around a petrified figure of Veta.

“So, goddess?” the pale-faced man asked grimly. “Aren’t you tired of resisting?”

His voice sounded ominous in the dungeon where the stone statue of Veta was located.

“Where are you hiding the spark of Freedom, goddess?” the man hissed angrily. “You’re definitely hiding it somewhere! And most likely, you hide it in the world of people, because more and more free and independent people appear there!”

The man made another circle around Veta.

“Where is it?!!” he shouted, hitting the stone statue of the goddess.

His shout echoed around the dungeon.

“You should not be silent and obstinate,” the man continued. “There may still be freedom in the human world, but no one can free you. Do you hear? Nobody!!! You are doomed to be here forever!”

The man looked at the statue of Veta evilly.

“And if you are interested your ward — the goddess Themis, who dispense justice on the planet Earth-is safely blindfolded and now she doesn’t see in whose favor she actually passes her verdict,” the man hissed venomously and smugly. “Now she’s making all the decisions in our favor! In favor of criminals and invaders!”

A smile of triumph lit up the man’s pale face.

“And there’s nothing you can do to help her. You can’t free her. After all, you’re not free!”

Ominous laughter echoed the dungeon.

“It’s so ironic! Freedom is not free! The goddess of Justice, Fairness and Freedom is not free!!!”

He spread his arms wide, enjoying the moment.

“And all living creatures bleat like sheep and curse the God for doing them such an injustice, taking away their freedom and not restoring justice, they don’t know that their God is not free! How lovely! You can’t think of anything better! Commit a crime and set up the goddess responsible for a fair trial! And they all curse you, not us!”

The man rubbed his hands with satisfaction, but then his face darkened again.

“I still have their freedom to take away finally! And I’ll find out where you’re hiding it, goddess!”

With that, he turned and walked out of the dungeon, where the goddess of Freedom and Justice rested in stone immobility.

The man left, not knowing that in fact Veta could escape from captivity. And the blue fire of freedom could save her.

He didn’t know either that the spark of freedom was hidden in the body of a particular girl. And the more freedom there was in this girl’s life, more freely Veta became. And although outwardly she was still stone and motionless, but inside — the stone walls of the statue were growing thinner inexorably.

And Veta waited impatiently for the girl who had her spark inside to burst into a bright flame of complete freedom and break Veta’s stone shackles forever.

And she, in turn, will throw off shackles of slavery from all over the world and the criminals will have their fair trial and retaliation.

The main thing was — nothing should prevent the girl from fulfilling her Testament.

To preserve the Freedom!

Anastasia was drawing some meaningless patterns in the corner of her notebook, chatting with her friend on the phone, sitting in her office.

“Irin, I don’t want to go there!” she whimpered. “This is another social event where everyone is required to demonstrate their new dress and to show a man who is allegedly crazy about his chosen one.”

“Nastya, stop your depressive moods!” a woman’s voice in the phone ordered her. “This is a great opportunity to meet someone and make useful contacts. Besides, this event isn’t some kind of night club party. It will be attended by influential people from Moscow and St. Petersburg. We can’t miss this evening!”

Anastasia sighed.

“Well, let’s say I go. Again, there is the question — to go alone or with a man?”

“With a man!” Irina blurted out firmly. “The last time you came alone, all the ladies almost ate you alive with their hisses while their husbands and lovers turned their necks on you. Therefore, definitely with a man, if you want to make the necessary and useful contacts quietly. At the same time, you can look at one of them calmly, if you like someone.”

“Ira-a-a!” Anastasia groaned. “Do you realize that all the men I know are ready to give eye-teeth for ring me?! If I invite one of them to a social event, they’ll come up with God knows what and then I won’t get rid of them for another six months!”

“So hire a male escort,” her friend persisted. “A lot of women do that.”

“But I’m not most people!” Anastasia hissed, imagining the idea of an escort. “Escort is necessary for those who are not able to interest a normal man. And I am quite capable to arouse a healthy male interest and do not need escort services!”

“Well, that’s understandable,” the friend agreed. “But we’re talking about a specific party where you don’t need a clingy man to protect you from female envy. You can solve the problem for one night.”

“I’d rather go alone than be disgraced with an escort!” Anastasia muttered.

Her friend sparred a little, but they dropped the subject eventually and moved on to discussing the latest news.

After finishing the conversation, Anastasia went back to work, at the same time thinking about the upcoming event.

Of course, her friend was right, such an event can’t be missed, since many influential people from other cities will come there. Fortunately, she already had a dress in store for such an occasion. She always prepared new outfits in advance, so that at the last moment she didn’t have to worry about it.

And she was right about the male escort, too. This time it was just necessary so that Anastasia could establish new connections easily and no one would stick to her with a closer acquaintance.

But who should she invite as her escort, so that it doesn’t turn out to be a headache for her in the form of annoying courtship and another attack of taming and re-education?

There was a knock at the door.

“Come in,” Anastasia said, making a summary report on the company.

“Anastasia Mikhailovna, I brought you employment orders to sign,” the woman who entered said.

“Yes, Lyubov Sergeevna, put it on the table here. I’ll sign it later.”

“All right.”

The woman turned to leave and Anastasia suddenly had an idea.

“Wait!” she said to the woman.

“Yes, Anastasia Mikhailovna.”

Anastasia leaned back in her chair and looked at the woman thoughtfully.

“And how is our cleaner Nikit doing?” she asked.

The woman hesitated, feeling awkward.

“He’s all right. Working…”

“And where and what is he doing, if it’s not a secret?”

The woman shifted from one foot to foot timidly.

“He has his own health food shop. That’s where he works.”

“Really?” Anastasia was surprised. “Is there any way to contact him?”

The woman stiffened and became alert.

“Why do you need it?”

“Oh, nothing… I wanted to apologize for my temper.”

The woman smiled.

“Don’t worry. Nikit is not touchy or vindictive at all. He is very quiet and calm. Doesn’t hold a grudge against anyone. So even if you said something offensive to him, he won’t remember it.”

Anastasia was itching to ask if they were talking about the same person. Nikit, with whom she had to face personally, didn’t let her let go unpunished after insulting or manipulating his life.

But she said something different out loud:

“Oh, my! Are there such saint people?! But where can I find him or how can I contact him?”

The woman hesitated a bit, but wrote down the phone number and address of the shop on a piece of paper.

“Thank you, Lyubov Sergeevna! You are helping me to purge myself of the unnecessary sin of temper!” Anastasia said solemnly and jokingly.

The woman’s face showed that even Niagara falls would not help Anastasia to wash away all her sins and misdeeds.

The woman gone and Anastasia turned the contact sheet over in her hands, calculating and analyzing how successful her idea was or whether it was not worth getting involved in. In the end, on mature reflection, she decided to try at least and then it would remains to be seen as the occasion requires.

Nikit was sorting boxes with new goods when the girl-seller Olesya looked into the back room.

“Nikit Alekseevich, there’s someone there to see you.”

“Who?” he asked.

“Some girl,” Olesya whispered loudly, making round eyes.

“All right. Show her in here, I can’t get out of the boxes.”


Olesya fluttered out of the back room like a bird and a moment later a socialite entered with a royal step.

“No way-y!” Nikit didn’t hide his surprise when he saw the guest. “Is Anastasia Vetaeva graced my humble abode with her presence?!”

“Hello!” the girl smiled charmingly, standing modestly aside.

“Hi!” Nikit said, brushing the dust from his hands. “And what is the appearance of the icon to the people?”

Judging by her appearance, the girl wasn’t confused by Nikit’s frankly sarcastic tone.

“I have a business offer for you,” she said.

“Interesting,” Nikit said, sitting on a stack of boxes of canned mushrooms. “I’m listening.”

“I need a companion for an event.”

“No,” Nikit said at once.

“I’ll pay.”

“How much?”

The girl broke into a dazzling smile.

“Oh, you don’t even pretend to be a noble knight! Like, „I don’t sell out for money“!”

“Because I am not a noble knight, but an extremely rational knight. And extra funds will definitely not hurt rational knight. So, how much?”

“How much do you want for your escort?”

“M-m-m…” Nikit thought. “34 thousand 590 rubles!” — he said finally.

The girl looked surprised.

“What a strange price?”

“This is the cost of an air conditioner that I need to buy for a shop so my employees and customers would be comfortable here.”

“Aha!” the girl nodded slowly. “Interesting sum. I think I can afford it in exchange for your escort. Where should I transfer money?”

The girl reached for her purse.

“Nastya, slow down a little. I haven’t said I agree yet.”

“You named your price!” the girl persisted.

“Right. But I haven’t figured out what I’m supposed to do as part of your escort. If you want soft looks and slobbery words like „honey-honey“, then you’re wasting your time. I’m not going to participate in any of these games and I’m not going to play your boyfriend, who’s head over heels in love with you.”

This made Anastasia think about it.

“Well, in principle, this is fine with me,” she said.

“And I won’t dance to your tune, either,” Nikit persisted. “If there’s anything to say, I’ll say it.”

“That’s not very good,” the girl said. “I have a reputation, actually.”

“Yes, everyone knows your reputation,” Nikit waved his hand. “Nothing can hurt it now…”

Anastasia look daggers at him.

“Watch your words a little!”

“Or what?” Nikit asked softly and in his eyes Anastasia clearly saw a picture of a flying bucket and a floor rag.

He could easily put one of the boxes in the room on her head.

“Good!” she said firmly. “I agree. You don’t pretend to be anyone and you say what you think.”

Nikit crossed his arms on the chest.

“But you don’t need a companion who won’t do what you need to do. So why do you agree?”

Anastasia stamped her foot angrily.

“Because of stubbornness and selfishness!” she said honestly. “You’ve already beaten me twice! I just can’t give in to you this time!”

Nikit laughed heartily.

“A purely feminine logic,” he said, laughing. “But you’re fair.”

The girl stood frowning and every line of her face showed how stubbornly determined she was to go through it.

“So you’re going to be stubborn, even though you know perfectly well that my escort might ruin your evening, aren’t you?”

The girl was breathing heavily and it was clear that common sense and the desire not to give in were struggling in her. Finally, she pulled herself together and said in matter-of-fact tone:

“And I’ll pay you extra to make sure you don’t ruin it!” she said briskly, taking a purse from her bag.

Nikit shook his head in disbelief, still smiling.

“All right,” he said peacefully. “Don’t pay extra. You charge the air conditioner and I charge the escort. Okay?”

“Deal,” Anastasia gave a temperate reply, regaining her straight face and royal air.

“But keep in mind, if you pull any tricks in your style, I won’t be soft on you. And I won’t matter that there are a lot of people around. Understand?” Nikit warned.

“I understand,” Anastasia nodded royally. “There will be no tricks. I’ll be sweetness and light.”

Nikit snorted openly, showing how much he doubted her meekness and humility.

They began to discuss the details of the meeting and the evening, after that Nikit’s bank card received the necessary amount to buy an air conditioner.

Anastasia left the shop and Nikit finished unpacking goods, at the same time wondering how he had managed to get in touch with this girl.

He heard all sorts of things about her from Dashka and any sane man should run from her to the farthest lands. According to rumors she’s the one who’s got ropes out of all men she meets.

But Nikit had not noticed this yet. What he noticed was her ability to step back and admit that her actions were wrong and illogical. This trait didn’t fit in with her portrait, which had already been formed in his head by the stories of aunt Lyuba and Dasha.

It both surprised and delighted.

“Okay. Let’s see what face she will show next,” Nikit muttered, putting away the last box. His aunt and sister have obviously known her longer and know this royal person better.

Chapter 5

At the appointed evening and hour, Nikit stood outside his shop and waited for Anastasia to pick him up, after that they would go to a social event.

The dress code was a suit and evening dress, but he told Nastya at once that he would not hang any ties or bow ties on himself. She got stubborn a little, but finally gave up. As a result, he was wearing black trousers, a black jacket and an equally black shirt with the top button undone.

All the details were discussed with Anastasia and the most important condition was that he would not pretend to be anyone and would not lie.

He was an ordinary man who owned a small shop and he wasn’t going to let other people know that he was a big businessman or anything like that.

He heard the sound of approaching car and saw Anastasia in the driver’s seat, the sight of her could have blinded him.

Nikit clicked his tongue. He felt it was going to be a hell of an evening. Although Anastasia has outlined the point of what she wants from him, he felt that the evening would be full of surprises.

The task, in principle, was simple. Just keep an eye on her and make sure she doesn’t get too much male attention while she’s making her conversation.

But the way she looked said quite clear that this task would be difficult for Nikit. She seemed to be shouting with all her appearance: “Come to me! Get acquainted!”

Nikit sighed and went to the car.

“Hi,” he said, sitting next to her in the front seat, immersed instantly in the subtle scent of exquisite and expensive perfume.

“Hi! Are you ready?” the girl asked.

“I don’t think so, but as long as I gave you my word, let’s go.”

She smiled a little and they started off.

“You look great,” she said.

“And you are too much,” Nikit replied. “Now I understand why you need an escort.”

Anastasia laughed.

“Don’t worry. Absolutely all women at this event will look too much. So I won’t stand out from them at all.”

“I doubt it very much,” Nikit said, looking at her.

Anastasia made a high, complicated hairstyle, decorating her hair with some shiny stones. She had evening makeup and was wearing a black long evening dress.

It was difficult for Nikit to see all the details of her outfit in a sitting position, but what was visible was enough to understand that this woman looks mind-blowing. And if Nikit didn’t have the task to protect this breathtaking woman tonight, then he would certainly appreciate the appearance of this girl. He sat and thought how much her appearance would make it difficult for him to accompany her.

They reached the place and entered the building, where the reception was already began. Soft music and the sound of voices could be heard.

They went to the wardrobe and Anastasia began to unbutton her jacket or blouse. When she took it off, everything swam before his eyes.

“Nastya, you are completely crazy to go out like this?!” he growled in her ear.

“Don’t talk to me like that!” she told him through clenched teeth, keeping the sweetest smile on her lips.

Nikit clenched his teeth until they ached, trying to get used to girl’s outfit. Although it was difficult to call it an outfit, because it consisted entirely of some ribbons and stripes that underlined all parts of her body and forms more than they hid them.

The only decent thing was the bottom of the dress, that fell almost to the floor and flowed beautifully along the girl’s long legs. But Anastasia managed to make a high cut even in it on her right leg.

Nikit felt his palms begin to sweat.

“Nastya, please put on your jacket!” he said.

“No!” she snapped out, smiling sweetly at him so that their slight run-in would not be visible.

“Nastya, I’m begging you!” he descended to pleading.

“Give me your elbow and let’s go to the main hall!” she hissed at him, her eyes flashing.

“God help me!” Nikit breathed out and humbly offered his right hand to the girl, Anastasia gracefully took it with her elegant palm.

They moved smoothly into the main room, where the sounds of activity were coming from. As expected, all the guests were extremely elegant and the eye was simply bathed in various colors and shapes of satin, silk and velvet. And although Anastasia said that she would not stand out from the rest of the elegant ladies, Nikit realized in five minutes that she had brazenly lied to him. This nasty woman knew with absolute certainty that she would stand out very much and literally dazzle everyone with her spectacular beauty in the frame of a provocative dress.

“Good evening, Anastasia!” came from all sides.

“We are glad to see you, Anastasia!”

“You are as charming as ever, Anastasia!”

All heads turned in their direction and Nikit saw how the eyes of all people changed.

Women’s eyes narrowed unkindly at the sight of Anastasia and in men’s eyes expanded enthusiastically and carnivorously.

And of course, his person aroused equally great interest. Nikit instantly read the mute question on the faces of many present: “Who is this man with whom Anastasia Vetaeva decided to go out?”

But on the whole, things were working well. Anastasia answered all the compliments and questions masterly and artistically, gradually moving around the hall.

They were offered drinks and snacks. Nikit was on pins and needles so no piece of food could get down his throat. But it would be good to wet whistle, so he picked up a glass of fruit drink from one of the tables.

“Relax and don’t be nervous,” he heard Anastasia’s soft voice. “You’re doing great.”

“Ugm,” Nikit mumbled, gulping down a glass of drink and taking another one. “Never call or write me again. I don’t want to see you anymore.”

Anastasia laughed heartily, unconsciously attracting attention to the two of them.

“Stop it!” she was beaming. “Everything is going well.”

Nikit mumbled something inarticulate and the waltzing between the elegant guests and the tables with snacks continued.

Anastasia occasionally exchanged words with her friends and everything really went well for a good half of the evening, until the guests decided to figure out who had come with her.

“Anastasia! Why don’t you introduce your companion?” he heard the voice of a lady.

“Nikit, Anastasia’s escort,” he said stiffly, getting ahead of Nastya before she started making up stories.

They agreed that she would not make up anything about him, but seeing how well she managed words, juggling jokes and light excuses, it was easy to assume that some light joke or small lie had already been prepared about him.

The guests smiled.

“What do you mean, you’re her escort?” one girl hanging on the shoulder of tough guy asked sarcastically.

“Not the one that your own companion is, Maria,” Anastasia replied unctuously. “Personally I don’t need male escorts.”

Maria’s eyes glared at Anastasia and guests felt that the heat and intensity of passion were beginning and livened up immediately.

Nikit decided to save the situation and the best way to put everything in its place was the truth.

Artless and uncomplicated.

“Maria, Anastasia was not comfortable going alone to this event, so she asked me to accompany her to this evening,” he said kindly.

Guests surrounding them fell silent at once, looking at him and then at Nastya in bewilderment.

And she dug her sharp nails into his right hand, telling him to close his mouth.

“I never thought Anastasia might be uncomfortable to appear somewhere alone,” the young man grinned, openly devouring Anastasia with his eyes.

“As far as I understand she didn’t want to be shown excessive attention this evening by men who are not interesting to her and my person should help to their weeding-out,” Nikit said calmly, looking the carnivorous guy directly in the eyes.

The man turned red, because that was the category the guy belonged to.

Everyone felt terribly awkward and that moment another lady asked her question:

“Nikit, I’ve never seen you at such events before. How did you meet Anastasia?”

“In the ladies ’room,” Nikit said, and almost howled with pain, so hard did Anastasia’s nails dig into his arm.

The guests openly stared at this statement, and Nikit continued:

“I mistook the men’s room for the lady’s and went in the wrong place. That’s where Anastasia and I met.”

All guests laughed, nodding their heads. And Anastasia unloosed her grip on his arm, continuing to smile dazzlingly at everyone.

“How do you like the tonight? It’s your first event, isn’t it?” questions were asked.

“It’s hard to say,” Nikit said. “Anastasia told me that this is a meeting of business people, but it is obvious from the appearance of the ladies that many of them came here for some other purpose. That’s why I’m confused. Whether to establish business contacts or to choose who I want to hook up for tonight.”

There was an eerie silence in their circle and someone gasped in surprise or outrage.

“If someone is interested, I really liked you, Madam,” Nikit said to one of the women, standing on the arm of her escort. “You look ready to spend a pleasant evening on the side. But the thing that confuses me is that you are with a companion. And then the question arises, for what purpose you are dressed like this.”

Anastasia slowly pulled away from him and looked straight at his face.

“Ognev, what are you doing?!”

Nikit was ready to keep fighting.

“Nastya, I begged you as a reasonable person in the lobby to put on a jacket. You didn’t agree. Now you’ve got it.”

The girl simply gasped with indignation.

“So this is all because I didn’t wear a jacket?! Are you taking such petty revenge on me?!”

The guests had already forgotten that they had all just been insulted and they listened with redoubled attention the scandal that Anastasia Vetaeva was arranging.

“No, Nastya, I’m not taking revenge on you. I’m just saying that women who don’t want to offer themselves shouldn’t dress like this. As far as I understand, you don’t plan to offer and sell yourself here, so why you are dressed up as a cheap woman of easy virtue. This is not entirely clear.”

Nikit received the familiar resounding slap in the face.

“Okay. Got a little excited. Not cheap. Personally, you look very expensive.”

The second savory slap was not long in coming.

“Vetaeva!” Nikit barked, making everyone standing nearby shiver.

Nikit took a step toward the girl.

“I’ve already told you that if you want to be perceived in a certain way, then you need to do it appropriately,” he said threateningly calmly, looking the enraged girl in the eyes. “And when your outfit left little to the imagination, but you demand not to think that you can be hooked up for the night, then I’m sorry, my logic does not work here. What you see is what you say. If you want people to say something different, you need to do something different.”

Nikit was one hundred percent sure that if Anastasia opened her mouth now, the dragon’s flames would burst out and incinerate him to ashes.

Guests were both confused and delighted. And Anastasia was reeling, so much she wanted to grab in his throat.

“You-u!” she hissed. “I…I will…”

She threw her drink at him and stormed out of the room. And while Nikit was thinking whether to follow her or stay, she had already returned to the hall with her jacket buttoned up tight.

Everyone stared at this performance and Nikit broke into a broad smile.

“You still amaze me, Anastasia Mikhailovna!” he said sincerely, looking at her admiringly.

“And I still can’t stop hating you!” she snarled, not caring that everyone could hear them.

“Well, it won’t be long,” Nikit said good-naturedly. “I’m cutie.”

Anastasia gave him a look that made everyone feel uncomfortable. But Nikit only smiled broadly and took the girl’s arm.

Guests began to exchange jokes, trying to smooth over the awkward situation. Anastasia decided to get Nikit out of harm’s way and led him further along the hall among other guests. But their encounter had already caused a furor and all the guests were discussing the incident actively.

“Do you understand that everyone will be talking about us now?!” Anastasia hissed. “And now you can’t prove to anyone that there’s nothing between us!”

“And they will be right,” Nikit smiled at her. “Because there really is something between us. Hot incompatibility of tempers.”

Anastasia sighed heavily.

“Why did I invite you?” she said, discontentedly.

“But now everyone knows how good you are at slapping people and they’ll think twice before they get into a fight with you. Not everyone is as strong as I am,” Nikit said optimistically.

Anastasia gave him an eloquent look.

“I’ll kill you!”

Nikit laughed.

“Come on. On the other hand now you are a pleasure to look at rather than the eyes nearly popped out of head from your outfit.”

Oddly to say, the girl calmed down gradually and continued the social evening as if nothing had happened. The event was coming to a successful conclusion and everything was going just fine, until Anastasia finally had an idea.

They were standing in a circle of regular guests, exchanging funny stories, as Anastasia told him:

“Shall we dance until the evening is over?” she turned to him with a seductive smile.

And Nikit immediately understood that now there would be another battle.

“Hmmm,” he cleared his throat. “I’m afraid I can’t ask you to dance,” he said softly, almost tenderly, trying not to provoke another storm.

The smile began to fade from Anastasia’s face slowly. The situation was made worse by the fact that many pairs of eyes were looking at them again, waiting to see what would happen next.

“What do you mean, you can’t?” the girl asked incredulously.

Nikit understood that, in fact, he had just refused to dance with her in front of everyone and he was well aware that this could look very humiliating for her. But in any case he was not going to back down and said as it was:

“The thing is, I dance only with the woman I love,” he said calmly. “And since there isn’t one in this room, I prefer to avoid making out with women who aren’t close to me.”

Anastasia’s face worth of being seen.

“Are you kidding me?!” she raised her voice, unable to contain her emotions. “Is it difficult for you to dance with a girl?!”

Nikit already dreamed to get home as quickly as possible, where he didn’t need to explain himself each of his actions.

“Nastya, it’s not difficult for me to dance with a girl,” he said peaceably. “I don’t like dancing with a girl if she’s not close to my heart. So I’m sorry, but I can’t ask you to dance.”

The girl’s face flushed scarlet. In fact, he declared publicly that he did not like Anastasia Vetaeva at all and she was not the lady of his heart. Guests waited with bated breath for what would happen next.

“Can’t you dance with an ordinary girl who doesn’t have any plans on you?!” she cried.

“Not „can’t“, but „don’t want to“!” Nikit said firmly. “Not the usual one! Not with a beautiful one! Not with a rich woman! Nor with spectacular! Not smart! No way!!! Only with my sweetheart! Do you understand, Nastya?! Only with this one!”

The girl stared at him, speechless. The faces of guests were not very different from Anastasia’s. It was clearly that it was the first time they had ever heard such a principled position.

Anastasia stared at him without blinking and it was clear what a variety of emotions were now bubbling in her soul.

“Well, can you at least bring me some juice?” she asked after a few minutes, recovering from her shock.

“I can,” Nikit replied calmly. “Which one do you like?”

“Pineapple juice, please.”


He went to get the juice, breathed with relief. He wondered if she would just let him get away with it. Well, as people said, time would tell.

He brought the juice to the girl and after having a little chat, Anastasia expressed her desire to leave the event to his great joy.

As they went out into the street, Anastasia said in her sweetest voice:

“Thank you for tonight! I hope you have money for a taxi.”

Nikit raised one eyebrow.

“Will you give me a ride?”

“No,” the girl said flirtatiously. “You see, I drive in my car only the man I love. And since you’re not him, I’m sorry.”

Nikit laughed.

“I was wondering when you’d start getting back at me. I should have known at once that you would not delay your revenge for long.”

The girl waved gracefully and opened the door of her car.

“Good night!” she said.

“You didn’t forget? Never call or write me again,” Nikit asked, smiling.

“I didn’t forget it,” Anastasia smiled venomously. “Don’t even worry about it.”

“I’ll hold you to that.”

With these words, the girl gracefully disappeared in the car and then disappeared into the depths of the night. Nikit stood still for a few minutes, recovering and catching his breath and then dialed the taxi number.

Oh, she tickled his nerves today. God save him from getting involved in something like this again.

One joy — there was an air conditioner in his shop. At least he had a reason to work so hard today.

He stared up at the starry sky as he waited for a taxi, thinking that Anastasia Vetaeva was a woman who certainly struck the imagination.

Either her appearance or her actions.

Chapter 6

Anastasia stood at the window of her apartment, looking out at the night city.

It had been two hours since she had returned home and it was late at night.

But she was not the least bit sleepy.

The events of the previous evening didn’t allow her to sleep, popping up bright pictures in her head again and again.

Her right hand stung a little from the slaps she’d been given and Anastasia reflected that she’d given them away too often in the last few days.

She’d used them before, of course, to put men in their place and it always worked. But in the case of Nikit Ognev, this had the opposite effect.

After slaps he always put her in her place.

She could almost feel everyone at the party talking furiously about her run-in with Nikit today.

It wasn’t surprising. No one had ever seen a person who could put Anastasia Vetaeva in her place. And no one had ever seen a man who could get what he needed out of her.

And Nikit Ognev got it.

He wasn’t the first man who got sick of her shocking outfits and he wasn’t the first to ask and insist on not dressing like this.

But he was undoubtedly the first to make her submit to his will. And it was publicly witnessed.

Anastasia leaned her forehead to the cool glass.

The most surprising thing was that he did not bend her to his will. He was just voicing how he saw the world and how he felt about it. And the person himself chose whether to fit into the framework of his worldview or not.

This was highly unusual for her! And as she could already see it was just the way she liked it!

She had never been given the freedom of choice before. Men always demanded something from her and tried to convince her of their rightness with various morals.

Nikit Ognev didn’t do this.

He simply spoke how it was customary in his world and the person made the decision whether to enter this world or stay outside. It was as if he was opening the door to his house, but he wasn’t dragging anyone in. He just stood there and waited for the man to enter or not.

And the great thing about it was that you could enter his world voluntarily, freely, without blackmail, threats or pressure.

Only by your own decision and your own choice. And it was incredibly beautiful!

As long as Anastasia could remember, men had always set her conditions:

“If you want me be with you, you must comply… you must to do what you required… must to dress a certain way… must act as needed… must be able to cook, must be able to keep house… must be beautiful…”

Must! Must! Must!

It was just the men’s age-old claim: “A woman must!”

At the same time, the men’s duties were only to earn money.

It always seemed to Anastasia that a woman in their world was in some kind of monstrous slavery. Sometimes it seemed that she was buried in a deep grave, where she went through all the circles of hell.

And this hell was not in the next world in a room with a fire.

This hell was to be married to a man.

Anastasia always broke out in a cold sweat at the thought of getting married! She knew that sooner or later she would meet someone, love him and want to start a family with him. But every time she thought that she, as a wife, would due something, she literally had butterflies in her stomach.

“To marry” to her was the equivalent of “to be captured”. It seemed that she would go to a different level of her life, but at the same time she would enter a total bondage in which she would not belong to herself. And in which she constantly was obliged to do something!

Anastasia kept her mind off marriage as best she could and constantly avoided marriage proposals in order to preserve her freedom for as long as possible. And her famous nastiness was partly fed on this. So men didn’t want her too much and didn’t gain her too much.

However, this nastiness was like a red rag to the bull and they drew to it to demonstrate their Matador skills to Anastasia and everyone else.

To tame, to force, to break, to subdue.

And the harder they tried to put a noose around her neck, the harder and more painful Anastasia square off with them.

She wasn’t going to give up her freedom under any circumstances.

But the situation with possible marriage was a problem that she could not solve in her head.

How to be with a man and still stay free and not be obliged to him?

She had been solving this problem since she was eighteen and until now she had never been able to find a solution or a compromise to this dilemma. After all, their society didn’t presuppose the freedom of women.

It was customary to do so in their society. After leaving the custody of her father, a woman should immediately be under the care of another man — her husband.

And it seemed to Anastasia that they were being passed from one stable to another like mares, never allowing a moment to run in the wild and feel the wind of freedom.

And if in the father’s stable the woman was simply tied to a stall, then in the husband’s stable she was also ridden, considering her full property and bringing to complete exhaustion.

And she could not understand why a man is free in all his decisions and choices but a woman is not. She didn’t understand why a man had the status of a master in their society and a woman — the status of his servant.

And it was considered an honor if a man called a woman his wife! It was a great honor to be a servant to a man and give birth to his kids.

And the whole point of a woman’s life was to please her master. To feed him with delicious food, to dress him, to clean the house and to caress at night.

To do everything to make the master happy and not angry. It seemed as though a man didn’t have exactly the same hands to cook his own food or clean up his house.

And the woman run around all day, fussing over all the things that the man thought were unimportant and the men themselves were busy with very important things. And the matter was to sit and watch which football team would win all day long, which country the troops were sent to and how military operations were unfolding there far away. Watch how one politician comments the statements of another politician. When the End of Days would come. If there was or if there wasn’t a worldwide conspiracy.

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