The plan

The execution

The execution
 The Soft Life
 A Piece of Cake
 B.E.A. Takes You There ...
 Darko Kerim
 Background to a Spy
 The Tunnel of Rats
 Killing Time
 Strong Sensations
 The Mouth of Marilyn Monroe
 Black on Pink
 Orient Express
 Out of Turkey
 Out of Greece
 Out of Danger?
 A Tie with a Windsor Knot
 The Killing Bottle
 Ten Pints of Blood
 La Tricoteuse
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     The execution
          Black on Pink

Part Two

The execution

Chapter Twenty

Black on Pink

Bond whirled round. He looked over to the bed, but his eyes were blind from gazing at the moon. He crossed the room and turned on the pink-shaded light by the bed. There was a long body under the single sheet. Brown hair was spread out on the pillow. The tips of fingers showed, holding the sheet up over the face. Lower down the breasts stood up like hills under snow.

Bond laughed shortly. He leaned forward and gave the hair a soft tug. There was a squeak of protest from under the sheet. Bond sat down on the edge of the bed. After a moment's silence a corner of the sheet was cautiously lowered and one large blue eye inspected him.

`You look very improper.' The voice was muffled by the sheet.

`What about you! And how did you get here?'

`I walked down two floors. I live here too.' The voice was deep and provocative. There was very little accent.

`Well, I'm going to get into bed.'

The sheet came quickly down to the chin and the girl pulled herself up on the pillows. She was blushing. `Oh no. You mustn't.'

`But it's my bed. And anyway you told me to.' The face was incredibly beautiful. Bond examined it coolly. The blush deepened.'

`That was only a phrase. To introduce myself.'

`Well I'm very glad to meet you. My name's James Bond.'

`Mine's Tatiana Romanova.' She sounded the second A of Tatiana and the first A of Romanova very long. `My friends call me Tania.'

There was a pause while they looked at each other, the girl with curiosity, and with what might have been relief. Bond with cool surmise.

She was the first to break the silence. `You look just like your photographs,' she blushed again. `But you must put something on. It upsets me.'

`You upset me just as much. That's called sex. If I got into bed with you it wouldn't matter. Anyway, what have you got on?'

She pulled the sheet a fraction lower to show a quarter-inch black velvet ribbon round her neck. `This.'

Bond looked down into the teasing blue eyes, now wide as if asking if the ribbon was inadequate. He felt his body getting out of control.

`Damn you, Tania. Where are the rest of your things? Or did you come down in the lift like that?'

`Oh no. That would not have been kulturny. They are under the bed.'

`Well, if you think you are going to get out of this room without . . .'

Bond left the sentence unfinished. He got up from the bed and went to put on one of the dark blue silk pyjama coats he wore instead of pyjamas.

`What you are suggesting is not kulturny.'

`Oh isn't it,' said Bond sarcastically. He came back to the bed and pulled up a chair beside it. He smiled down at her. `Well I'll tell you something kulturny. You're one of the most beautiful women in the world.'

The girl blushed again. She looked at him seriously. `Are you speaking the truth? I think my mouth is too big. Am I as beautiful as Western girls? I was once told I look like Greta Garbo. Is that so?'

`More beautiful,' said Bond. `There is more light in your face. And your mouth isn't too big. It's just the right size. For me, anyway.'

`What is that``light in the face''? What do you mean?'

Bond meant that she didn't look to him like a Russian spy. She seemed to show none of the reserve of a spy. None of the coldness, none of the calculation. She gave the impression of warmth of heart and gaiety. These things shone out through the eyes. He searched for a non-committal phrase. `There is a lot of gaiety and fun in your eyes,' he said lamely.

Tatiana looked serious. `That is curious,' she said. `There is not much fun and gaiety in Russia. No one speaks of these things. I have never been told that before.'

Gaiety? she thought, after the last two months? How could she be looking gay? And yet, yes, there was a lightness in her heart. Was she a loose woman by nature? Or was it something to do with this man she had never seen before? Relief about him after the agony of thinking about what she had to do? It was certainly much easier than she had expected. He made it easymade it fun, with a spice of danger. He was terribly handsome. And he looked very clean. Would he forgive her when they got to London and she told him? Told him that she had been sent to seduce him? Even the night on which she must do it and the number of the room? Surely he wouldn't mind very much. It was doing him no harm. It was only a way for her to get to England and make those reports. `Gaiety and fun in her eyes.' Well, why not? It was possible. There was a wonderful sense of freedom being alone with a man like this and knowing that she would not be punished for it. It was really terribly exciting.

`You are very handsome,' she said. She searched for a comparison that would give him pleasure. `You are like an American film star.'

She was startled by his reaction. `For God's sake! That's the worst insult you can pay a man!'

She hurried to make good her mistake. How curious that the compliment didn't please him. Didn't everyone in the West want to look like a film star? `I was lying,' she said. `I wanted to give you pleasure. In fact you are like my favourite hero. He's in a book by a Russian called Lermontov. I will tell you about him one day.'

One day ? Bond thought it was time to get down to business.

`Now listen, Tania.' He tried not to look at the beautiful face on the pillow. He fixed his eyes on the point of her chin. `We've got to stop fooling and be serious. What is all this about? Are you really going to come back to England with me?' He raised his eyes to hers. It was fatal. She had opened them wide again in that damnable guilelessness.

`But of course!'

`Oh!' Bond was taken aback by the directness of her answer. He looked at her suspiciously. `You're sure?'

`Yes.' Her eyes were truthful now. She had stopped flirting.

`You're not afraid?'

He saw a shadow cross her eyes. But it was not what he thought. She had remembered that she had a part to play. She was to be frightened of what she was doing. Terrified. It had sounded so easy, this acting, but now it was difficult. How odd! She decided to compromise.

`Yes. I am afraid. But not so much now. You will protect me. I thought you would.'

`Well, yes, of course I will.' Bond thought of her relatives in Russia. He quickly put the thought out of his mind. What was he doing? Trying to dissuade her from coming? He closed his mind to the consequences he imagined for her. `There's nothing to worry about. I'll look after you.' And now for the question he had been shirking. He felt a ridiculous embarrassment. This girl wasn't in the least what he had expected. It was spoiling everything to ask the question. It had to be done.

`What about the machine?'

Yes. It was as if he had cuffed her across the face. Pain showed in her eyes, and the edge of tears.

She pulled the sheet over her mouth and spoke from behind it. Her eyes above the sheet were cold.

`So that's what you want.'

`Now listen.' Bond put nonchalance in his voice. `This machine's got nothing to do with you and me. But my people in London want it.' He remembered security. He added blandly. `It's not all that important. They know all about the machine and they think it's a wonderful Russian invention. They just want one to copy. Like your people copy foreign cameras and things.' God, how lame it sounded!

`Now you're lying.' A big tear rolled out of one wide blue eye and down the soft cheek and on to the pillow. She pulled the sheet up over her eyes.

Bond reached out and put his hand on her arm under the sheet. The arm flinched angrily away.

`Damn the bloody machine,' he said impatiently. `But for God's sake, Tania, you must know that I've got a job to do. Just say one way or the other and we'll forget about it. There are lots more things to talk about.

We've got to arrange our journey and so on. Of course my people want it or they wouldn't have sent me out to bring you home with it.'

Tatiana dabbed her eyes with the sheet. Brusquely she pulled the sheet down to her shoulders again. She knew that she had been forgetting her job. It had just been that. . . Oh well. If only he had said that the machine didn't matter to him so long as she would come. But that was too much to hope for. He was right. He had a job to do. So had she.

She looked up at him calmly. `I will bring it. Have no fear. But do not let us mention it again. And now listen.' She sat up straighter on the pillows. `We must go tonight.' She remembered her lesson. `It is the only chance. This evening I am on duty from six o'clock. I shall be alone in the office and I will take the Spektor.'

Bond's eyes narrowed. His mind raced as he thought of the problems that would have to be faced. Where to hide her. How to get her out to the first plane after the loss had been discovered. It was going to be a risky business. They would stop at nothing to get her and the Spektor back. Roadblock on the way to the airport. Bomb in the plane. Anything.

`That's wonderful, Tania.' Bond's voice was casual. `We'll keep you hidden and then we'll take the first plane tomorrow morning.'

`Don't be foolish.' Tatiana had been warned that here would be some difficult lines in her part. `We will take the train. This Orient Express. It leaves at nine tonight. Do you think I haven't been thinking this thing out? I won't stay a minute longer in Istanbul than I have to. We will be over the frontier at dawn. You must get the tickets and a passport. I will travel with you as your wife.' She looked happily up at him. `I shall like that. In one of those coupes I have read about. They must be very comfortable. Like a tiny house on wheels. During the day we will talk and read and at night you will stand in the corridor outside our house and guard it.'

`Like hell I will,' said Bond. `But look here, Tania. That's crazy. They're bound to catch up with us somewhere. It's four days and five nights to London on that train. We've got to think of something else.'

`I won't,' said the girl flatly. `That's the only way I'll go. If you are clever, how can they find out?'

Oh God, she thought. Why had they insisted on this train? But they had been definite. It was a good place for love, they had said. She would have four days to get him to love her. Then, when they got to London, life would be easy for her. He would protect her. Otherwise, if they flew to London, she would be put straight into prison. The four days were essential. And, they had warned her, we will have men on the train to see you don't get off. So be careful and obey your orders. Oh God. Oh God. Yet now she longed for those four days with him in the little house on wheels. How curious! It had been her duty to force him. Now it was her passionate desire.

She watched Bond's thoughtful face. She longed to stretch out a hand to him and reassure him that it would be all right; that this was a harmless konspiratsia to get her to England: that no harm could come to either of them, because that was not the object of the plot.

`Well, I still think it's crazy,' said Bond, wondering what M's reaction would be. `But I suppose it may work. I've got the passport. It will need a Yugoslav visa,' he looked at her sternly. `Don't think I'm going to take you on the part of the train that goes through Bulgaria, or I shall think you want to kidnap me.'

`I do,' Tatiana giggled. `That's exactly what I want to do.'

`Now shut up, Tania. We've got to work this out. I'll get the tickets and I'll have one of our men come along. Just in case. He's a good man. You'll like him. Your name's Caroline Somerset. Don't forget it. How are you going to get to the train!'

`Karolin Siomerset,' the girl turned the name over in her mind. `It is a pretty name. And you are Mister Siomerset.' She laughed happily. `That is fun. Do not worry about me. I will come to the train just before it leaves. It is the Sirkeci Station. I know where it is. So that is all. And we do not worry any more. Yes?'

`Suppose you lose your nerve? Suppose they catch you?' Suddenly Bond was worried at the girl's confidence. How could she be so certain? A sharp tingle of suspicion ran down his spine.

`Before I saw you, I was frightened. Now I am not.' Tatiana tried to tell herself that this was the truth. Somehow it nearly was. `Now I shall not lose my nerve, as you call it. And they cannot catch me. I shall leave my things in the hotel and take my usual bag to the office. I cannot leave my fur coat behind. I love it too dearly. But today is Sunday and that will be an excuse to come to the office in it. Tonight at half-past eight I shall walk out and take a taxi to the station. And now you must stop looking so worried.' Impulsively, because she had to, she stretched out a hand towards him. `Say that you are pleased.'

Bond moved to the edge of the bed. He took her hand and looked down into her eyes. God, he thought. I hope it's all right. I hope this crazy plan will work. Is this wonderful girl a cheat? Is she true? Is she real? The eyes told him nothing except that the girl was happy, and that she wanted him to love her, and that she was surprised at what was happening to her. Tatiana's other hand came up and round his neck and pulled him fiercely down to her. At first the mouth trembled under his and then, as passion took her, the mouth yielded into a kiss without end.

Bond lifted his legs on to the bed. While his mouth went on kissing her, his hand went to her left breast and held it, feeling the peak hard with desire under his fingers. His hand strayed on down across her flat stomach. Her legs shifted languidly. She moaned softly and her mouth slid away from his. Below the closed eyes the long lashes quivered like humming birds' wings.

Bond reached up and took the edge of the sheet and pulled it right down and threw it off the end of the huge bed. She was wearing nothing but the black ribbon round her neck and black silk stockings rolled above her knees. Her arms groped up for him.

Above them, and unknown to both of them, behind the gold-framed false mirror on the wall over the bed, the two photographers from SMERSH sat close together in the cramped cabinet de voyeur, as, before them, so many friends of the proprietor had sat on a honeymoon night in the stateroom of the Kristal Palas.

And the view-finders gazed coldly down on the passionate arabesques the two bodies formed and broke and formed again, and the clockwork mechanism of the cine-cameras whirred softly on and on as the breath rasped out of the open mouths of the two men and the sweat of excitement trickled down their bulging faces into their cheap collars.

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