Sergei Kourdakov, a former KGB agent and Soviet naval intelligence officer, defected from the USSR at the age of twenty. A year later we met at my Federal Government office in Washington DC. We were watched and followed. “Even you could be spy,” Sergei whispered. My book, A Rose for Sergei, is the true story of our time together.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Expecting the Best

Now that the e-book version of A Rose for Sergei is complete, I am finalizing plans for the hard copy version.  The electronic format, where you view a book on your computer, Ipad, or e-reader doesn’t seem quite as real to me.  A book is tangible . . . you can hold it and know that it is real.

My former boss is one of the key people in the book—he introduced me to Sergei Kourdakov.  Mr. Logie called me right after he finished reading A Rose for Sergei on his e-reader.  I was glad to hear how much he enjoyed the book.  He and I both agreed that reading about oneself does seem a little strange.  Mr. Logie commented that I was very good with details.  I recall that when I worked for him he always expected the best of everyone—including himself.

He asked when the hard copy of A Rose for Sergei would be ready.  I replied that it would be available in a few months because that format takes a lot longer to produce than an immediate e-book.  “You have to put pictures in the book,” he informed me.  “People will want to see photographs of Sergei.”

I should listen to him, I thought.  His entire career was in the radio and television service business.  He knows what he’s talking about.  I told him my photographs were quite old and the quality was not very good, but I would try to make them work.

Mr. Logie is now in his mid-nineties, and I had not worked for him for over thirty-six years.  Yet, once again he became my boss.  I smiled to myself as we finished our phone conversation.  He was still expecting the best from me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Irony of Existence

My heartfelt thanks to those of you who have read A Rose for Sergei—and a special thanks to those who took the time to write a review.  Reviews help people find books and my purpose in writing this book was so everyone would learn more about Sergei Kourdakov.

One recent review on the Amazon web site caught my attention because it captured the very reason I wanted to write this book . . . so you would know Sergei better.  Reviews on Amazon are in the public domain; therefore, I have reprinted this moving story below.

Close to My Heart
Reviewer:  BethySim

Ah, Sergei.  What can I say?  I couldn’t have been gladder that he came back, that we can read more about him and get to know him better.  This story is touching and bittersweet, embodying the reality of life and at the same time the magic of love.  I highly recommend.

Kolleen and Sergei’s story lies especially close to my heart (as the title of the review suggests) because of my own dealings with a young Russian.  I, like K., am from German descent.  I met a tall, muscular Russian at the end of 2013 when I took a job as an administrative assistant, and I was enraptured by him.  We hit it off very well although we never dated or anything, I treasured the time we were able to spend together before he moved away.  I wish I had an opportunity to know him better, but some things are not meant to be.  It was curious, however, because I met him barely two weeks after finishing “The Persecutor.”  And his middle name is Sergei.  Oh, the irony of existence!

Monday, August 11, 2014

All of Chapter 1

It occurred to me that not everyone was able to read the end of Chapter 1 of A Rose for Sergei on the Amazon website.  And I felt I would be remiss if I didn’t include the ending of Chapter 1 on my blog.  Truth be told, it was my favorite chapter to write.  It sets the tone for the book.

For those of you that were left wondering what happened when Sergei Kourdakov returned to our table in the restaurant you can catch up now.  Chapter 1, in its entirety, is printed below!

A Rose for Sergei

Chapter 1

Key Bridge Marriott

Fall 1972

“Excuse me; I would like to go to the men’s…how do you say in America…restroom?” Sergei asked in his broken English.  “Is that the right way to say that?”

“Yes, that is the right way; you could also say men’s room.  And it’s okay to excuse yourself,” I said.  “It isn’t rude.  I’ll be fine sitting alone a few minutes at the table until you return,” I assured him as I smiled and tried to refrain from laughing.  He was so incredibly polite.  The way he spoke, his broken English combined with his Russian accent, could be very amusing at times.

We were having dinner at the JW Steakhouse at the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington, Virginia.  My date was Sergei Kourdakov.  He was twenty-one years old, and he had defected from the Soviet Union over a year ago.  He had been a member of the KGB, the Commissariat for State Security or secret police, and a Soviet naval intelligence officer—intimidating credentials for sure.  He was also very good looking, which I found even more intimidating.

I worked as a secretary at the Office of Information for the Armed Forces, a division that came under the Office of the Secretary of Defense.  I was also twenty-one years old.  We had recently met at my office in Rosslyn, Virginia.  Sergei had flown in from Los Angeles and was meeting with Government Officials in Washington DC.  Sergei’s incredible story was making headlines in the United States.  Future plans were being considered for Sergei to record/broadcast his story in another section of our office, the American Forces Radio and Television Service.  My boss was the liaison officer tasked with assisting Sergei.

As Sergei got up from the table and sauntered off in search of the men’s room, I could see that all eyes in the restaurant were on him.  Both men and women stared at him, even the wait staff.  I was not surprised at their seemingly awestruck reaction.  He was very tall with huge broad shoulders and muscular arms that strained at the seams of his shirt, the result of years of body-building.  His stride was confident, purposeful, and he definitely commanded attention.  He stood out in any crowd.

While I waited for his return, I leaned back in my chair and enjoyed the view out the windows.  The restaurant was on the top floor of the hotel, and you could see all the grandeur of Washington DC, Georgetown, and Georgetown University right across the Potomac River.  The view was breathtaking at night with the city lights twinkling ever-so-slightly in the reflection on the water.  It was captivating; I never tired of that view.  In the early evening the city lights illuminated the streets and radiated a soft, peaceful glow over the city.  The lights also helped hide the scary, dark parts of the city, and I liked that.

I wrapped my fingers around the stem of my wine glass just a little too tightly.  It must be a case of “second date nerves,” I thought.  Just take a deep breath and try to relax, I told myself.  I had been on many dates; however, nothing even came close to this.  Sergei was so different from anyone I had ever met, let alone dated.  He was a Russian defector whose past history with the KGB was nothing to take lightly.  It was serious business, and the element of danger was not lost on me.

My thoughts flashed back to security briefings from when I worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).  We were taught to be on the lookout for anyone trying to coerce secret information from us.  These people could be friends or neighbors, someone that you would not ordinarily suspect.  They had a word for people like that…spy.  The thought that Sergei could be a spy did cross my mind, but I knew I had never told him I used to work for DIA.  I brushed those thoughts away for now since I knew I tended to be overly suspicious sometimes.  But then, I always did love mystery and intrigue.

It was hard to believe that Sergei was my date for the evening.  When I was a child I was afraid of Russians.  I never forgot the air raid drills we had in elementary school.  My father was a pilot in the U.S. Air Force and my family lived on military bases.  When the air raid siren blasted we practiced hiding under our desks at school, using them for protection from shattered windows, as we prepared for an attack that might one day come from the Soviet Union.  And yet, here I was now, having dinner with…the “enemy.”

In fact the whole scenario did not seem real, meeting like we did.  We were attracted to each other right from the first introduction.  That surprised me, not me being attracted to him, but him being attracted to me.  Next to Sergei, I thought I seemed rather ordinary—petite, five feet tall, slender, blue-green eyes and long, straight sandy blonde hair that flipped up at the ends.  “Cute,” is how most people would describe me.  Although just recently a DC taxi cab driver told me, “A pretty girl like you should not have to pay for anything!”  That taxi ride was definitely one of those scary parts of the city moments.

I jumped as I set my wine glass back down on the table.  Sergei had quietly returned by way of sneaking up behind me and grabbing my shoulders with both of his hands.  His enormous hands seemed to totally engulf my shoulders and upper arms.  He had startled me, and he found that rather funny.  I looked over my left shoulder and I could see him leaning over me with a huge grin on his face.  I had to laugh at myself for being so jumpy.  I turned my head back towards the table.

He bent down lower and whispered in my ear, “No, wait.”

He then placed one hand at the base of my neck and slowly traced a line with his fingers up my neck.  As soon as his fingers reached my chin, he tilted my head upright and straight back so I was looking up toward the ceiling and directly at him as he leaned over me.  I was totally entranced; his touch was gentle and cool on my warm skin.  It was very sensual, and I felt my heart beating rapidly as I let out a slightly inaudible gasp.  I was motionless as he lowered his head and his lips touched mine, ever-so-tenderly.  He kissed me several times in this strange, exciting, upside down position, his hand still holding my chin, his fingers caressing my neck, his tongue brushing against my lips.  And then suddenly, it was over, and he took his place across the table from me and broke into a huge, satisfied smile.

I sat frozen in my chair.  Now that my senses had returned I realized we had created quite a scene right in the middle of the restaurant.  Again all eyes were on him and now on me.  I hoped people thought my red glow was from embarrassment when in reality my cheeks and neck were hot and flushed from his unexpected display of affection.

“What do you think?” Sergei asked.  “Did you like that?”

Did I like that?  Was he serious?  Did I like that?  I was speechless for a minute, trying to compose myself from what was in fact the most incredible kiss I had ever experienced.  It was a kiss that renders you powerless because of its intensity and the meaning behind it.  And yet it was a gentle, yearning kiss.  It was a kiss that exploded through my whole being with a burning desire.  It was like fireworks in my mind, my heart, my soul.  It was a kiss that you wait for your whole lifetime.

“Ummm…well, yes…I did like that,” I shyly responded in all honesty.  I prided myself on my honesty but suddenly wished I had demurred on my answer.  I was still flushed and self-conscious that the rosy glow on my cheeks lingered and that he could tell how I felt about him.  I knew that I was really starting to like him, a lot in fact.  I couldn’t help but wonder why he asked me if I liked his kiss.  I did not have to wait long to find out the reason for his sudden display of affection.

“I kissed you like that because I saw guy kiss girl like that on TV, and I wanted to try it!” he explained in his sexy Russian accent.  He had an expression of delight on his face and looked very pleased with himself.

I couldn’t help but smile back at him; he had an easy way of making me feel comfortable around him, protected, even with the mind-blowing kiss.  How could I be upset about the TV kiss?  He looked so proud of himself regarding that mission.  Mission accomplished, I thought.  Very well accomplished and executed indeed.

We talked incessantly after that, learning more about each other as we enjoyed our dinner.  However, I couldn’t help but notice that Sergei would periodically look around the restaurant, as if scanning the room for something.  What?  What is he looking at, or looking for?  I was curious, but I didn’t mention it then.  We were having a wonderful time together.  And then out of the blue he said the most startling thing to me.

“You are beautiful girl,” he said, dragging out the r’s in his accent as if saying gurrrrl.

His words caught me by surprise, and I blushed slightly.  Well, that comment was certainly unexpected.  I could only smile up at him because once again I was speechless.

“Beautiful girl like you,” he said and then hesitated slightly.  “Beautiful girl like you…you could be spy!” he said in all seriousness.

He stared at me and through me with his piercing blue eyes, a look of concern…or was it confusion…across his face.  My heart sank right then and there.  He thinks I’m a spy!  How did I ever end up in a situation like this?

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Story All By Itself

I called one of my dearest friends last week.  Time and distance seem to keep us from getting together as often as we used to, but our friendship is and always will be a close one.  We go back a long way.  I finally told her about Sergei Kourdakov and my book, A Rose for Sergei.  Patsy was shocked, to put it mildly.  “I have known you for over thirty years and I have never heard you talk about this,” she said in disbelief.  Just like Patsy always does, she stops whatever she is doing, and gives you her full attention.  It is a wonderful trait.  She was getting ready to go out with her husband.  “I have to hear the rest of this story!” she exclaimed.  “You don’t understand . . . my hair’s half done and I’m stopping in the middle of fixing it to listen.  I don’t even know what to say.  You kept this a secret all these years . . . that’s a story all by itself."

After I told her everything, I explained that only my family knew I was writing a book.  I take that back.  Make that my family and a lot of blog readers knew I was writing a book!  You can imagine her surprise when she heard I have been blogging for over a year.  “This story just keeps getting better and better,” Patsy replied in amazement.  We ended the phone conversation with a promise to get together soon.

Keeping something secret all these years is a story all by itself.  But I also feel that A Rose for Sergei is the real story.  It explains so much more than my blog.  The book is about the last few months of Sergei Kourdakov’s life.  It is the true story of our time together.