Monday, June 22, 2009

First Impression of Belarus

A few years ago while traveling to Belarus on business trips, I fell in love with the country. While writing my book TO LOVE A HERO, I practically lived again my fabulous trips to Belarus.

My story highlights the hospitality and warmth of the gorgeous and gallant Belarussian officers who sing, toast with vodka and make a woman feel like a goddess. When reading about the sizzling romance of an American chemist with the gorgeous Major General of Belarus, who made her pulse race and stole her heart, I hope you will discover a new country and interesting culture.


“We’re going into the city now,” Tania announced as they left the countryside and entered the outskirts of Minsk. The car steered from the highway to a broad avenue. The traffic grew and the streets swarmed with a colorful mix of civilians and militaries.

Cecile blinked, perplexed by the number of uniformed men strolling down the sidewalks. Banners extended across the width of the avenue and a cluster of people hid from the wind under a plastic shelter.

Tania lowered the driver-side window, allowing an alcohol smell to waft into the vehicle. “Few Belarusians own cars. The bus stations are always crowded. You often see people eating sandwiches or drinking vodka while waiting.” The van stopped in front of a modern high-rise. “This is Hotel Nievol and down there, Szwifloch River.”

Roussov dashed out of his Jeep to open the van door for Cecile. “It is our most luxurious hotel. I hope you will be comfortable here. Have a good evening, Dr. Lornier, Mr. Gordon.”

In the lobby, Cecile rubbed her gloved hands. The marble floor, flickering chandelier and old furniture created a dark ambiance, even at three o’clock in the afternoon.

After taking care of their reservations, John said, “Cecile, I’ll see you at six-thirty in the lobby. We’ll have dinner at the second floor restaurant. Tania, we’d like you to join us.”

Tania nodded. “I will wait here.” She raised a questioning gaze toward Cecile. “Unless…Dr. Lornier would like me to help her unpack?”

“Sure. I can use some help,” Cecile hastened to reply. She wouldn’t leave Tania waiting alone in the cold lobby.

They juggled the suitcases into a narrow elevator and stopped on the fourteenth floor. Cecile struggled to open the door with the oversized key. With Tania’s help, she dragged her suitcases into the bedroom.

The room felt as cold as the North Pole. A crisp chill seeped through the thin gaps of the window frame. Freezing, Cecile rubbed her hands.

Tania gave her an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry, there is no heating. Our government allows heating only in the winter months, from November first to April thirtieth. But maybe I can do something.” She tucked a pillow against the windowsill for insulation, then pulled a wool blanket and bedspread from one of the twin beds and piled them on top of the other bed, building a warm cocoon. “This way you’ll feel warm tonight.”

Cecile went to inspect the bathroom. Nice, quite elegant with green tiles. Hmm, the toilet paper is brownish, looks like sandpaper. She touched it. It felt like sandpaper. Thank heaven, the faucet delivered hot water. She sighed with relief.

“Mr. Gordon mentioned you fell at the airport. How are you feeling now?” Tania asked.

“Much better, thank you. But my back is still sore.”

“I wouldn’t mind falling into the arms of our Major Generalle.” Tania giggled. “He is sooo handsome. Every woman in Minsk is a little bit in love with him. He is our big hero.”

“His wife doesn’t mind?” She fumbled with the lock of a suitcase, waiting for Tania’s answer. But of course she wasn’t interested.

“He’s been a widower for some time. They never had children.”

“I see.” Cecile released the breath she’d been holding. She opened her luggage and organized her bottles of water in the refrigerator.

“You brought only dark suits, Dr. Lornier?” Tania asked as she hung the severe attire.

“Of course. They’re suitable for meetings and conferences.”
The girl fixed a stunned gaze on her. “What are you wearing in the evening? After work?”

“I’m here only to work.” She had come to Minsk to set up a laboratory and fulfill a contract, not to go out and waste time. At least, that was her plan, the plan she’d carefully devised while sitting for long hours in the plane. So why was she scowling at her outdated wardrobe?

“Just work?” Tania’s lips drooped in a grimace. “Maybe I can take you shopping?”

“I doubt I’ll have time for shopping.” On second thought, she could make time if the General… Forget it. Remember the mess with Rob. Never again would she muddle business with personal fun. You’re here to work, work, work. “How do you say ‘work’ in Russian?” She should learn the useful word.

Robota. You’re not married, Dr. Lornier?”

“You should have some fun in the evening, after a whole day of robota.” Tania shook her head as she folded a beige turtleneck.

Cecile shrugged, preferring not to discuss her social life, or lack of it. The excitement of the trip was enough to alleviate her loneliness and break the monotony of her work.

“You wouldn’t understand. I really love my work.” Ignoring her driver’s scowl, Cecile watched the freezing rain batter on the windowpane. After her extraordinary encounter with the general, nothing could be boring about work and the new project. She just hoped he wouldn’t interfere in her professional decisions.

“But still, a pretty woman like you should have a special man,” Tania insisted boldly.

Wrapping her arms around herself, Cecile remembered brawny arms and a steel chest. A special man? Hadn’t she met one a few hours ago? His sensual mouth had fanned a warm breath close to her face, scalding her all the way to her toes.

Cecile lowered her eyes, recalling the feeling of his body against hers and the smell of his after-shave. He had been gallant and courteous.

Actually too gallant.

His lips had lingered on her hand, long enough to melt her apprehension and boggle her mind.
The image of her virile savior danced behind her closed lids, increasing her anxiety. A special man. None other than the Major General, the hero of Belarus she’d have to impress with her work.

She pursed her lips in defiance. Whether he liked it or not, the handsome general would have to work with this woman.

I will announce the winner of the sixth contest in my next post.


Jane said...

Thanks for the excerpt. I would like to visit Minsk.

Mary Marvella said...

Definitely got my attention here!


Nice excerpt!

Eva S said...

Thanks for the excerpt! I'd love to read more....
Belarus isn't so far from here, maybe I should visit it someday!

Babyblue22 said...

Great Excerpt Mona!!! Sounds Great!

Mona Risk said...

Thank you my friends. I was very busy and tired today, and wasn't around much.

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