Sent to Russia to bring home a potential husband, Ekaterine brings not only a wealthy candidate, but one of the the most noble in the land.
"There is no need to stand in the dark," Alexander chuckled. "I have already heard you intend to leave Mother Russia."
"Ah my Czar," Adrik remarked sipping his vodka. "I would be nervous leaving if I did not have complete confidence in your court information."
Czar Alexander entered the room as his servants hurriedly ran behind him to ignite the lamps. Alexander was nearly as tall as his ancestor Peter the Great. His black wool uniform gave him a more impressive stature. His curly silver blond hair, blue eyes, and rose-colored cheeks softened the stern looks of the uniform. In the light he faced his cousin. How often had the court commented on uncanny resemblance of the men? Adrik could have been a twin brother instead of his cousin. It was the Romanov blood in their veins. The blood of Peter the Great. Alexander looked up at the oil portrait of his famous ancestor. He wondered what Peter would have done in his situation. There was war on three fronts. They could not surrender to the Turks or the Persians. Alexander had just returned to Saint Petersburg after signing a peace treaty with Napoleon. "I am now free to retake Sweden and Finland to expand Mother Russia's borders once more."
Adrik walked into the light. There was only one strong difference physically between the cousins. Adrik's right cheek had been scarred from the arch of his eyebrow downward across his cheek to end at the fold of his lower lip. It had been the only time Adrik had lost concentration during a battle. He swore it would never happen again. It had not. "You say this to obtain my approval. You know I cannot."
Alexander sighed. He motioned to the servants to remove themselves from his private study. Once the two men were alone Czar Alexander walked to the large mahogany door, closed it, and set the bolt. Alexander still did not speak. He walked to the large cupboard, retrieved a bottle of vodka, a glass, and poured himself a drink. Leaning his massive frame against the cupboard he stared at his cousin. "I could consider that remark treason."
"You could indeed," Adrik agreed crossing the room to find a comfortable chair. "Before you do, would you mind sitting down cousin. I find I am weary and I would like to sit."
"There is no need for you to leave regardless of our political views of Napoleon or the French," Alexander insisted. "There are plenty of battles for you to win for me. The Russian army respects you. They follow you. You have proven your skills to all of Russia." Alexander sipped his vodka. "I need you cousin."
"I am tired of war," Adrik confessed quietly hoping that would be a reason for the Czar to allow him his voyage to Unalaska.
Alexander arched his regal brow. "That I do not believe. War is in your blood. It is the blood of Peter the Great. It is Romanov blood."
"I am weary of it," Adrik insisted softly. He drank more of his vodka and sat down on the large chair after Alexander seated himself behind the large ornately carved desk on a matching chair.
"You simply prefer to battle the French," Alexander stated. "Your wife is dead sixteen years. Release her from your mind."
"My wife was Polish," Adrik corrected.
"Her benefactor is French and still alive," Alexander replied. "With the new French alliance, you will be able to find him."
"Deveraux is traveling onboard the frigate 'Rouge'. They are probably rounding the Cape right now. I always know where he is. My informants as good as yours, my Czar," Adrik remarked casually twirling the glass and its clear liquid hypnotically before his eyes.
"I do not intend to resign my commission," Adrik responded. The two cousins were so close they knew what the other was thinking without a word being spoken. "The paper is the fifth from the bottom."
Alexander retrieved the commission. He read it carefully. "You are asking me to send you to Baranov's Novo Arkhangel'sk? Now? How long has it been since you began building your house there?"
"Yes, I will take commission there and continue to train my Cossacks. Most of them are already waiting for me," Adrik answered. "My house is complete. The furniture, household staff, and servants were sent by ship last year. All of which you are aware most Noble Majesty."
"Of course I know these things," Alexander replied triumphantly. "You have been building this dream for some time. It is a dream."
"There are new fortunes to find," Adrik repudiated. "It is not a dream."
"These reasons are more believable, but not your true reasons," Alexander countered.
"I have other reasons that you will not try to comprehend," Adrik assuaged.
"You still believe you will find your child there?" Alexander scoffed. "Your Polish bride never even told you if it was a male or a female child."
"When Magda died, Deveraux took the child. They traveled the world and it was reported he left the child at a Russian settlement on the Kodiak. These Russians left with Baranov to resettle in Novo Arkhangel'sk," Adrik informed. "You know this. I have shared the story with you many times."
"This child is now sixteen? A man child he would be in training in the Russian army," Alexander reminded. "If it had been a girl child, she would have been married to a settler in Novo Arkhangel'sk." Alexander reread the commission. "It never made sense to do it. Why send your child to the farthest reaches of Mother Russia?"
"I've never understood it myself," Adrik agreed. His mood remained somber. Alexander had not been aware he had kept in contact with the child's governess. When she married to escape Deveraux she sent a letter requesting Adrik to assign her husband to the colony. It took awhile, but after calling in many markers, Adrik knew his son was indeed living in the Amerikan colony. His mind returned once again somber remembering that day nearly eighteen years ago. The scene played once again in his mind.
The heat of the summer was unbearable. The prisoners had been chained to the tree stumps ready for execution. Catherine had requested him to personally behead the traitors. He was one of her favorite officers and the Romanov blood running through his veins made him her official at the executions. He had not even known the names of the traitors. Young, strong, and in the prime of youth he raised the ax. One by one the heads rolled. He would be lying to himself if the deaths did not make him sick to his stomach, but these were traitors to the Czarina.
He turned to hear his wife crying over the crowd. "Merciful God, Adrik, stop!"
He strained to see her. A voice behind called him back to his duty. He saw the face of his brother in law sneering at him.