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Friday, June 2, 2017

#FreeDailyThriller - Lust, Money & Murder - Book 10, "Black Widow" - Part 55


* * *
Twenty minutes later, Dmitry arrived in the village of Oia, where he would be staying. As he rolled slowly along in the SUV, his pleasant state of mind began to evaporate. From his research online, the room that Luna had reserved for him appeared to be at the most luxurious hotel on the entire island. A five star establishment, naturally, another damn “czar palace.”
He spotted the elegant sign and arrow pointing down the hill to the hotel, and he felt even more uneasy and out of place. Bits and pieces of the description popped into his head that he had read last night online. Spectacular designer-chic living spaces...oozing with charm and sophistication...unsurpassable luxury. The mere thought of these English words made him shudder. Even the flowery language describing the place seemed to be dripping with gold. He’d had to drag out his English-Russian dictionary just to understand some of the elaborate vocabulary.
He finally brought the SUV to a full stop—he thought he could see the brilliant white hotel entrance from here. On the website, he had read that the entire hotel was built into the cliffs, like most of the other houses, with spectacular panoramic views of the Mediterranean.
Bozhe,” he muttered. He had absolutely no business staying in a place like this. Who stayed here but top Mafiosos and crooked heads of state? And God only knew what strange devices he would encounter at this one! He had spent some time last night online researching Greek habits and customs, too, but hadn’t run across anything unusual. Unlike the French, the Greeks seemed like fairly normal people. He was still smarting from the humiliating moment at Elaine’s farmhouse when he had casually told everyone around the dining table about his time at the hotel in Sudan when he’d washed his big, stinky feet in the bidet. How the hell was he supposed to know what that ridiculous piece of equipment was used for! Only the French would think up such a crude gadget for personal hygiene and have it sitting smack out in the open! To him, there was something immodest about a bidet—he was sure such an intimate household device that was used to wash your private parts would never catch on in Russia.
Still sitting in the SUV, he pulled out the burner phone he had bought at the airport, removed the packaging, and got it working.
He called Luna, punching in her mobile phone number from memory.
As soon as he heard her deep voice on the other end of the line, he said, “Why must I stay in hotel?”
“Dmitry—is that you?”
Da.”
“What’s the matter?” Luna sounded alarmed. “You should be on Santorini Island now.”
Da. I there now, in village of Oia, near hotel.”
“Well, I’m relieved. Now what is the problem, exactly?”
“No problem, I just ask why I must stay in so expensive hotel.” Dmitry looked down the hill at the entrance with trepidation. Looking at it filled him with an overwhelming sense of dread. “Maybe I stay some cheaper hotel?”
“You have to stay there because it fits with the cover story we came up with,” Luna said firmly. “You’re a businessman, you’ve been sick with bronchitis, and your doctor told you to go rest for a few weeks in a Mediterranean climate.” Luna paused. “It’s not just a hotel, it’s a health spa, too.”
“I can sleep in jeep.”
“No, you can’t ‘sleep in jeep.’ You don’t know the area.”
“I find safe place to park, do not worry.”
“I said no, Dmitry! It’s too risky. You don’t want any encounter with the police, not even traffic cops.”
“But—”
“Listen to me—you stay in the damn hotel I reserved for you, and that’s an order! I have no intention of flying to Greece and bailing your ass out of jail!”
“But—”
She hung up on him.

* * *
Why only my ass? Dmitry thought, as he dragged his suitcase out of the SUV. Luna’s angry words were still ringing in his ears as he rolled the bag down the winding cobblestone path that led to the hotel’s front door. It must be some American idiom, he thought it made no sense to say such “bail your ass out” in Russian. He would have to ask Janet about it.
A framed plaque was attached to the wall just outside the hotel entrance, and he slowed to read it.

RATED THE 6TH BEST HOTEL IN THE WORLD
- UK GLOBETROTTER MAGAZINE.

A low, miserable groan escaped from his lips.
Bracing himself for the worst, he stepped inside the lobby. It was all white, except for the inlaid pink marble floor and a “floating” marble front desk. The walls were decorated with sleek mirrors and modern paintings. The air smelled of lilacs and a heady mixture of expensive perfume. There were two beautiful young female clerks who might have been Greek goddesses standing there, looking at him.
One gave a dazzling smile. “Good afternoon, sir, may I help you?”

* * *
Miraculously, the check-in process went smoothly. Dmitry did not put his foot in his mouth even once. He was rather pleased with himself. Luna had told him to “cut his English ability waaaay back” to avoid much communication, and that had flattered him immensely—apparently she thought his English was fairly good.
One of the clerks at the front desk gave him an electronic room key in an opulent white folder. He was almost afraid to touch it for fear of soiling the paper.
“I’ll show you to your room,” the older of the two Greek goddesses said.
“I find myself,” he replied, taking hold of his suitcase handle.
“Oh, no, sir, it is such a maze here, you will never find it!” She gave another brilliant smile that was worthy of a toothpaste commercial. “And I have to show you all the special features!”
 Dmitry sighed and followed her through the door and down a paved sidewalk. It wound between several of the Cubist white-washed buildings that had made the island famous.
When they reached the room and they stepped through the door, Dmitry could hardly believe his eyes. The space was so large the only word that he could think of was the Russian equivalent of “obscene”—it was much bigger than his entire apartment in Moscow, with a separate living room, dining area, bedroom and patio. The view of the sea from the patio might have been on a postcard and probably was. The brilliant white, sugar-cube-like houses of Oia cascaded down the cliffs to the water. The volcanic island he’d read about was visible in the distance across the glittering Aegean, which was just catching the soft amber hues of the late afternoon sun. The patio was so spacious that there were several lounge chairs, an outdoor dining area, and something called a “plunge pool jacuzzi” that left Dmitry speechless.
He felt dizzy as the pretty clerk led him through another sliding glass door and into the bathroom, which was also gigantic.
“This is the tropical rain shower,” she said enthusiastically. She motioned to a touch-screen control next to a large rectangular bath cabin.
Dmitry half-expected to look up and see a rectangular gap in the ceiling that revealed a patch of the blue sky, but there was just a panel with rows of small holes in it. He supposed the rain water must have been collected in a tank on the roof.
The clerk pushed some buttons. Suddenly the air was filled with the sound of chirping birds and monkey cries. She pushed another button and multi-colored lights swirled across the shower cabin walls.
Clever, Dmitry thought. They saved on the water bill, and all those tropical sounds and colored lights distracted you from the fact that you were bathing yourself with ordinary rainwater, which wasn’t all that clean.
“Do you have any questions?” the girl asked, with another knockout smile.
Nyet,” he said. “Thank you.”

* * *
As soon as the clerk left, Dmitry locked the front door and then went back in the bathroom to take a shower—traveling long distances by plane always made him feel dirty. He glanced up at the “rain shower” as he unbuttoned his shirt. At least the rain water was probably cleaner than he was.
Then something in the mirror caught his eye, and he turned around.
Hanging on the back of the door was a posh-looking plastic bag in baby blue.
He pulled it off the hook and looked inside.
Blyat,” he muttered. The person who had stayed last in the room had forgotten their slippers.
He pulled them partially out of the plastic—they were made of soft white terrycloth and looked brand new. A small size. Obviously belonged to a woman.
Dmitry sighed, and he started buttoning up his shirt. Better to take them over to the lobby now—whoever they belonged to might call and the clerk would come knocking on the front door while he was in the shower. He was terrified that someone might see the huge Russian mafia tattoo on his chest. That was his worst fear about staying at a place like this.
With the baby blue plastic bag in his hand, he found his way back through the maze and into the lobby.
There was now a family of four checking in, helped by both of the clerks. From their accents they sounded Spanish.
Probably the Prime Minister of Spain, Dmitry thought, on the run for embezzling millions in government funds.
He stood there impatiently holding the bag, but said nothing.
The clerk who had showed him the room noticed him.
“Can I help you, sir? Is there a problem with the room?”
Dmitry stepped up beside the Spanish man and his wife. “No problem with room. Person who stay there before me forget this.” He slid the slippers across the counter.
“No, they belong to you.”
Dmitry shook his head. “Nyet, not mine.”
She smiled indulgently. “They’re complimentary.”
Dmitry frowned, puzzled, and looked down at his own huge feet. Complimentary? What was she saying, they would look good on him? They were so small his big toe wouldn’t even fit in one!
Noting his confusion, the clerk said, “No, no, they’re provided free, by the hotel, for each guest. You use them and then you can take them with you when you leave, if you wish. They’re disposable.”
“Dispo—” Dmitry gasped. “You mean you throw away?”
“Yes, that’s right.” She slid them back across the desk to him.
Now the whole family was watching him, and smiling, too, for some strange reason.
Dmitry turned around and left the lobby, dumbfounded. No wonder the Greeks had financial problems! These people needed a lesson in basic economics—the rain shower was a step in the right direction, but giving away these expensive slippers free of charge to everybody in the hotel was just plain crazy.
Still, he was glad to have them—the plastic bag itself was of very high quality.
They would make a nice present for his wife.

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