In a desperate attempt to save her daughter's life, an unemployed microbiologist falls into the Russian underworld and a plan to export a deadly biological weapon.
In one of Siberia's formerly closed cities, Alexandra Pavlova, an unemployed microbiologist, struggles to save her daughter’s life. When she turns to Vladimir, her oldest friend, for help, she's drawn into Russia’s underworld. His business dealings with the Iranians come to the attention of Sergei Borisov, an FSB (formerly the KGB) agent. Alexandra finds herself joining forces with Sergei to stop the export of a deadly virus in a race to save both her daughter and the world.
She’d heard nothing, merely became aware of his presence beside her. She flinched, dropped her keys, and bolted toward the stairs. The man picked up her keys and grabbed her arm in one fluid movement.
“Don’t run off, Alexandra Alexandrieva. You won’t get very far without these,” he said in a low voice.
He straightened himself and dangled the ring from one finger in front of her face. He gave her a slight smile, as if amused by her attempt to get away from him. “Besides, I’m not going to hurt you.”
“I thought you were someone else,” she said, glancing down at the hand still on her arm.
He released his hold.
“Your acquaintance Kamovski, perhaps? Or maybe Ahmed, Vladimir’s friend?”
She squinted at him, trying to make out his features in the hallway’s half light. “Who are you?”
“So rude of me. Borisov, Sergei Andreivich, at your service,” he said, giving a short bow. “I work for the FSB.”
She swallowed hard, trying to keep her face still and hide her shock. The KGB by any name still made her stomach jerk in fear. “I’ve done nothing.” Her level voice didn’t betray her racing heart. “What interest would federal security have in me?”
“We’ve been watching you for a while.”
“You’ve mistaken me for someone else.”
“Pavlova, Alexandra Alexandrieva. Born August 16. Widow of Yuri Ivanovich Pavlov. Daughter, Nadezhda Yuriyevna Pavlova, currently spending the night with her grandparents. Shall I continue? We do have the right person. You caught our eye some time ago. As soon as you left your job at the Institute.”
“That was several years ago. Any information I have would be of no use to anyone.”
“We’re not interested in what you used to do. We already know that. We’re interested in what you’re doing now.”
“Typing letters? I’m afraid that’s rather boring.”
A sound from a floor below made the man cock his head. Footsteps clicked on the tile floor and echoed in the stairwell as their owner descended the stairs. “Perhaps we should continue this discussion inside?”
“I have nothing to share with the FSB.”
“Did you know your friends Vladimir and Ahmed have been seen recently in the company of an Iranian?”
“No one has asked you about your work at the vaccine lab?”
“As you can tell, Alexandra Alexandrieva, we know a lot about you and your family. I can assure you we plan to keep our eye on you.”
“The FSB must have nothing to do these days if you’re following me around.”
“Your father died in service to his country. We want to make sure you don’t dishonor his memory.”
“I’ve done nothing to dishonor him. And I resent the implication I have or would.”
“We want to make sure you continue his memory. We’re here to make certain the Motherland he so unselfishly served remains for the future. You do care about the future, if nothing else, for your child?”