Into a nest of vipersHer sister had vanished, trapped in a human slavery ring. To find her, FSB agent Yanna Andrevka arranged her own kidnapping into Taiwan's sex-trafficking trade. And found herself with no way out. Until Yanna discovered an ally deep undercover: Delta Force captain David Curtiss. He was after the kingpin of the Twin Serpents, the organized crime syndicate that had Yanna--and hundreds of others--in their clutches. With opposite agendas, David and Yanna had to rely on each other to outwit their cold-blooded enemy.
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May 31, 2008
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Excerpt from Wiser Than Serpents by Susan May Warren
Yanna Andrevka hadn't spent the past ten years of her life putting her kid sister through college to watch her throw it away on some pudgy, bald American named Bob.
Then again, she wouldn't be doing cartwheels if Elena were marrying a hip, urban Russian named Sergey or Ivan, either. The very fact that her bright, beautiful sister put any man before finishing her law degree had Yanna turning the beet she was chopping into a blood-colored mash.
"About finished with the salad, Yanna?" Katya asked as she drained off the water from the mashed potatoes into the sink. Steam rose, cooking the already stifling galley kitchen. The tourists who thought that Siberia in summer still meant glaciers and bitter winds should spend a day in her apartment in August. The Gobi Desert was probably cooler; certainly it was less humid. Yanna scraped the beets into a bowl along with onions, pickles, diced cooked potatoes and cooked carrots. She picked up a wooden spoon and began to stir.
"Where's Elena? She's supposed to be back by now." The fact that her sister had lifted nary a finger for the goodbye send-off she'd planned gave Yanna sufficient ammunition to let her anger simmer. It felt better than facing the fact that in twenty-four hours, she'd be alone in their two-room flat, no one to greet her when she stayed too late at volleyball practice, or harass her about having no social life.
She had a social life. Namely, Elena. Especially now that Yanna's other friends--Vicktor and Roman-- had ladies who took up their free time. Ever since Elena had moved back to Khabarovsk two years ago, after getting her undergrad degree in Saint Petersburg, Yanna's life had taken on new vibrancy. Maybe it was watching Elena come into her own and blossom into a beauty like their mother. Or maybe it was living vicariously through her soap-opera romances, or listening to her dreams of life after school. Until two years ago, Yanna had seen her kid sister as a nuisance, a leech, just another price Yanna had to pay for her mother's foolishness.
Now, she wasn't sure just how she'd survive without Elena snuggling up to her when she arrived home from a date, or a class, regaling her with her latest drama.
Bob had better be worth it. Or Yanna would cross the ocean in a single bound and spike his head across his two-story beach house. The pictures did look nice, however.
"She's picking up her wedding dress," Katya said.
"I told her they have dresses in Seattle, but she says she wants a Russian dress. You can take the girl out of Russia, but you can't take Russia out of the girl." Katya looked up from the potatoes she was mashing. Skinny as a sixties-era model and wearing a pair of jeans and a sheer white blouse, Katya looked like she hadn't the strength to mash a pea. With long, bottle-bleached hair and brown eyes, the twenty-two-year-old English teacher had a ticket to Seattle with Elena. She'd continue on to Jersey to meet her prospective groom. She poured more milk into the potatoes. "I'm getting my dress from a store in New York. I already told Mario that."
Yanna swallowed a remark and turned back to her salad. She added oil, salt, pepper, and tried not to let her cynicism leak out. She should be happy for the two girls. They'd won the lottery, according to too many Russian women. American husbands. Life in the promised land. True, most women in Russia today struggled to find jobs and, when they did, pulled in less than eighty percent of the salary men did. Yanna had to be twice as good at her profession to get half the respect a man did. Still, after seeing what loving the wrong man--too many times--and living with a permanently shattered heart had done to their mother, well, Yanna wasn't about to mess with the good thing she had going. Decent friends, a solid job, an apartment to come home to...she had more than most women could hope for.
Besides, she had already found her true love. And, even if he never knew it, their e-mail relationship was enough for her. Actually, it was probably safer, even more rewarding her way. If he never knew how she felt, he could never reject her, could he?
Yanna poured the salad into a glass bowl then, lifting it above her head, squeezed past skinny Katya and out into the family room. She'd set up her dining-room table, pulling it out from the wall and placing it in front of the sofa. Three chairs were set opposite the sofa, and with an end table added from her bedroom, she'd made seating for at least eight. The rearrangement left little room to maneuver, what with her shelving unit running across one end of the room and her television on the other. Khrushchev forgot to leave room for breathing when he designed the tiny single-family flats.
The doorbell buzzed. Yanna grabbed her key from the latch by the door and peered out the peephole. Elena smiled broadly. Her teeth looked huge in the domed view.