The Romanov Conspiracy

The Romanov Conspiracy by Glenn Meade Read Free Book Online

Book: The Romanov Conspiracy by Glenn Meade Read Free Book Online
Authors: Glenn Meade
Tags: Fiction, General, Suspense, Action & Adventure, tinku
pent-up tension of the last week at sea. “No, I won’t accept the worst. We know nothing without the proof. Now go tell Dinny that we’ll have a German U-boat shadowing us all the way home; it’ll be a comfort. And be quick about it.”
    Finn hesitated. “You really need to get some rest, you know that? You’re on edge. You haven’t had a proper night’s sleep in almost a week. Go down below and try to shut your eyes while you can. One more thing.”
    “What?”
    “I love you, Lydia Ryan, despite your faults. You’re still mo cushla , as Dad always says.” Finn winked impishly, using the old Gaelic term of endearment that always softened her heart. Mo cushla— “You’re the breath of me, the beat of my heart.”
    She smiled back despite herself, her anger diminished. “Go on with you. I’ll be along shortly.”
    Finn moved toward the wheelhouse. She watched him go and was immediately sorry for her outburst. There was a time when her heart was large and gentle and kind, but the war, of course, the war with all its ravages and deep valleys of hurt, had made her temper quicker and her heart much smaller and harder.
    She became aware of something heavy in her right hand—it was the small black Mauser that Ritter gave her. She hitched up her skirt, exposing her legs, and tucked the Mauser into the top of her right ankle boot.
    Just then the Marie-Ann cleared the harbor and a wind gusted out of nowhere, making her shiver.
    The fog disappeared and the infinite gray enormity of the Baltic stretched to the horizon. For some reason she felt utterly and completely alone. “Where are you, Sean Quinn? Curse you for not being here when I need you most.”
    As quickly as it came, her grieving plea was snatched away by the wind, lost in the cold, uncaring vastness of the Baltic.
    Lydia wiped her eyes, straightened her skirt, and went down below.

4

    ST. PETERSBURG
    The city looked like hell on earth, a place gone mad.
    It was spring but winter’s glacial hand still clutched the streets of the ancient settlement built by Peter the Great—huge, dirty chunks of frozen water clogging every avenue and pavement.
    There were plenty of signs of war, of course, and Philip Sorg missed none of them as his hired horse-drawn droshky headed west, past the chaos of St. Petersburg’s sprawling slums and their endless lines of dirty gray laundry hanging from balconies.
    Sorg took mental note of the piles of sandbags outside important public offices and the propaganda posters that adorned lampposts and walls. He paid attention to which streets were pockmarked with holes from artillery shells and where the bloodred flags of revolution fluttered from the tsarist buildings that once managed the vast Russian Empire, stretching from the Baltic to the Pacific.
    He observed the number of motorcars and trucks—very few apart from those commandeered by rowdy gangs of Red Guards—and the numbers of dead horse carcasses and bodies on the streets. He counted people in queues outside grocery stores—they always numbered in the hundreds, if not thousands. He even noted slogans daubed on walls: “Land and Freedom.” “Long Live the Workers.” “Victory or Death.”
    In a country in the grip of revolution’s turmoil, racked by fighting between Bolshevik Reds and tsarist Whites, each trying to gain supremacy, Sorg noticed that children avoided school just as much as civilians avoided making unnecessary trips, for there was more than the occasional boom of artillery and the crack of sniping in the streets.
    Sorg noticed such things. He was far more observant than the average foreign businessman who had made St. Petersburg his home in hope of prospering in the chaos of a civil war.
    But then Philip Sorg was no ordinary businessman.
    “Less than two hours if we’re lucky, sir.” The coach driver cracked his whip on his horses’ flanks as they picked their way along the slushy highway leading out of the city, the snorts of the huge animals

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