She was standing in the middle of the fucking street.
They said it was the quiet ones that you had to worry about. The ones who would kill you in your sleep, or worse, change the world. Except Katerina was only quiet when within herself. Or when she was with him.
But she’d still kill you in your sleep.
Or worse, change the world.
She was a petite little thing; though lately she had put on some weight. She wasn’t quiet about that, either. At one-hundred-and-twenty-five pounds, she had been going around calling herself fat. Many—excluding Ivan’s brother Dominik—would never notice her in the middle of that Fullerton street, hooded in a dark sweater as she was. But as she spun, a strand of her blonde hair cut through the dark night, like a sword through human flesh.
Ivan hadn’t seen her in a while—not since she had escaped from the institution; or rather, since she was broken out—but her form was unmistakable. She was beautiful, and Ivan knew her every curve.
That was a lie. He had seen her after that, for just a moment. She’d told him of the sky at Samuel’s funeral, and how it felt heavy, like it was crushing her. Katerina always described things through the physical, because she was convinced that anything mental or emotional was because your body was fucked up somehow. Ricardo had convinced her of such things. Ivan knew he was a bullshitter, but he was a good bullshitter, which meant he was smart enough to be kept in the company of someone such as Katerina Melikov.
B was approaching her from the other side, which was a big mistake. Ivan had no idea what his given name was. Though no one was allowed to call her anything but Katerina, she had a special nickname for everyone she knew, but she never bothered to properly introduce the man to Ivan. Probably Brian or something equally American.
Katerina was in fact spinning quickly enough for her hair to partially escape her hood, and as it was, she was surrounded by three drunk boys—college kids, probably—who threatened her with their cocks. If they only knew.
Ivan, nor his brother Dominik, nor their late brother Samuel, had taught Katerina how to fight. The lord knew that they certainly could have—they were The Brothers, after all—but they didn’t. Something in her fucked up life had taught her how to beat the fuck out of grown ass men, and the universal truth was that Ivan wasn’t sure he could beat her in a fair fight. She was fast and lethal, and she knew it.
The drunk college boys were laughing like hunters surrounding prey which didn’t have a chance, but when Katerina smiled—directly at Ivan, no less—he knew they were done for. If she were in any imminent danger, Ivan and Dominik would have stepped in and killed them right in the middle of the street, but she wasn’t, and it didn’t matter. The three of them were dead before sunrise anyway.
Katerina crouched, gouging her elbow into Dumbass #1’s stomach on her way down. He tried to grab her hair, but he was already flat on the ground, with Katerina’s knee crushing his balls and her hand crushing his neck. Ivan had no idea how she did it; it was too fast. One thing was for sure, though: the idiot would die if he made a single move. Dumbass #2 thought that he had her in a good spot—back turned to him as she was—and Ivan wanted to laugh. Next to him, Dominik did laugh. The boy was distracted by such a thing, and as he turned to look at the man who was ridiculing him, his face was stomped into the concrete by a tiny white Nike shoe. It was a good thing, too. If Dominik had a chance to react to the way the boy had looked at him, the boy would have stopped breathing about three seconds after. But again, it didn’t matter much. They were all dead, in a matter of time.
The little brat squealed like a rat on fire as the asphalt ripped at the skin of his cheek. Her foot on his face, twisting at his ear, Katerina looked up at The Brothers and smiled again. It was the kind of smile she would give Dominik, never Ivan. The smile she wore was calculating and, in some circles, sexy, while the smile she gave Ivan was damaged and scared and tired. She was so tired.
Balancing on the boy’s face, Katerina spun, kicking Dumbass #3 with the point of her toes directly into a pressure point in his neck. Soundlessly he dropped like a sack of bricks. Katerina took a short walk, positioning herself a few steps away with all three supposed assailants in view, bent over and coughing up their own blood. She crossed her arms and waited.
“Crazy bitch,” the first—the least injured—said quietly, picking up his unconscious friend.
“You rapists always say such outlandish things,” Katerina said in her lightly accented Russian song. “Your wish is to go around raping innocent women, yet I’m the crazy bitch. How does that work, exactly?”
B—watching all of this from the opposite side of the street, cringed, as if after what he just saw, he was afraid for them. He was an idiot. Ivan would have killed him long ago if Dominik didn’t enjoy playing with him so much. He might as well have been Dom’s pet.
Before the dumb college children had enough time to limp away from the pools of their own blood they’d left on the street, Dominik had his phone out of his pocket and against his ear.
“Ano,” he said in Czech. Yes.
“Zaplatíme. Platit, prosim.” We are ready to pay. The check, please.
Ivan waited for the confirmation from his brother. When Dominik said, “Ano, tři,” Ivan stepped from the curb before B could. Ivan stared him down, and he stepped backwards, obviously resisting the urge to put his hands up in submission, though he clearly had a death wish.
Everyone knew that Ivan Ludvik would kill anyone who came within ten feet of Katerina Melikov.
Except of course, his brother.
Stay tuned for Vol. 2 of The Brothers, an OCH Literary exclusive.
A Bestselling Author, NPO VP, and Psychology Today Blogger from Burbank, California, Allie Burke writes books she can’t find in the bookstore. Having been recognized as writing a “kickass book that defies the genre it’s in”, Allie writes with a prose that has been labeled poetic and ethereal.
Her life is a beautiful disaster, flowered with the harrowing existence of inherited eccentricity, a murderous family history, a faithful literature addiction, and the intricate darkness of true love. These are the enchanting experiences that inspire Allie’s fairytales.
From some coffee shop in Los Angeles, she is working on her next novel.