Chapter 1: Svetlana
never let them know their eyes affect you
Svetlana Sergievskaya's flight lands in Bangkok's Don Mueang International Airport on a sunny afternoon. A junior KGB officer, one of the staff from the delegation, is there to escort her. He carries her luggage and leads her to the waiting limousine, which whisks them to the Russian delegation's hotel. All the way there, she can feel his eyes, like everyone else's, staring at her.
They soon arrive, and she is left to settle herself in her room, finally free of public scrutiny. Although she has always been a public figure to some extent, the strain of remaining calm and dignified in public this past year has taken its toll on her.
Too soon, her solitude is interrupted by a quiet knock on the door. The butler enters, carrying a folded note on a silver tray. She takes it, reads the inevitable summons: Molokov wants to see her. Resignedly, she draws what remains of her dignity and pride around her into a protective shell, her only shield against rumor, gossip, and scandal.
Svetlana Sergievskaya leaves her hotel room to play the role of abandoned wife once more, for the benefit of those watching the game, and her fellow players in it.
never let it show; they won't suspect you
Chapter 2: Molokov
a pity how the innocent must suffer
Molokov's eyes rest constantly on Svetlana, trailing over her possessively and following her as she walks. She can feel the relentless weight of his gaze and his self-satisfied smirk always on her. She represents the success of all his plans: she is the last pawn needed to trap Anatoly, the straw that will break him, the final touch in a complex web of treachery designed to catch him and bring him home. So he watches her like a hawk does its prey to prevent its escape, but that is impossible, for like Anatoly, she too is caught in his net.
but if he wins, you're not going anywhere
Chapter 3: Anatoly
we did not bring you to Bangkok for a holiday, my dear
Anatoly looks at her like a ghost come out of his past to haunt him. He still cannot believe she is actually there; his eyes reveal his astonishment and incredulity at her presence. When he left her two years ago, he trusted that the Party and the Curtain he escaped would be more successful in caging her. Separation, he thought, would be his freedom. But cages have latches, and distance is but an illusion. Svetlana knows her duty, to coax her straying mate back to the nest. She was let out not to fly, but to sing for her supper.
always a pleasure to see my husband
Chapter 4: Florence
this — it affects nothing
Florence looks at Svetlana with a level gaze that does her credit. She does not shy away nor permit her eyes to linger more than they should, yet there’s a vulnerability present, a guilty, self-destructive curiosity. The mistress looks at the wife the way a moth is drawn to fire, hopelessly resisting. Svetlana’s work is half done already: Vassy set herself and Anatoly on an inevitable course to destruction, and they will become aware of their peril too late to escape it. Svetlana had no part in this. She is merely Molokov’s catalyst, the flame, and she has no regrets.
it had already gone wrong between us
Chapter 5: Freddie
a normal person must dismiss you with disgust
Trumper pities Svetlana as another victim of Molokov, and expects sympathy from her in turn, as if it weren’t because of him that Anatoly defected. Svetlana endured twenty years of Molokov’s interference. Trumper did not last two weeks, and when he broke, his self-destruction took her marriage with him. Trumper was a fool to trust de Courcey as she never trusted Molokov: he is a warning. She will not repeat his fate. Their interests may overlap now, but she owes Trumper nothing. Svetlana is neither his mother nor his lover, and she will gladly ruin him as he did her.
and weep for those who trusted you
Chapter 6: Walter
though it gives me no joy adding to your satisfaction
De Courcey thinks himself kinder than Molokov. He treats Svetlana with a deliberate sympathy borne equally of guilt, promising Anatoly’s return as if it were his to grant as once he took. This is more than mere chivalry; de Courcey wants an asset, not a liability, and he understands a desperate woman is the latter. In assuring her cooperation, he can soothe his lingering regrets from Merano. For a partner can be a victim no more, and a player has equal stakes in the outcome — but aware or not, the players in one game remain pawns in someone else’s.
you have to forget anyone else's ambition