The End of the Movie
Chapter Seven-I Wrote This Novel Just for You
"You okay?" Vange eyed Francis, who had sprawled out on one of the Hyde Park benches, one arm draped over his eyes, the other hanging limply at his side. He nodded, slowly, letting his arm fall from his eyes and squinting up at the sky. "I was wondering…"
"Hm?" he finally sat up, eyeing her as she sat against the trunk of a large tree, toying with the material of her pants.
"I wanna see my family. I wanna make sure they're okay," she muttered, yanking a loose thread from her pants and tossing it to the grass beside her.
"So you do have a family, then," Francis smiled, softly, leaning forward, slightly. Vange shrugged, rubbing her hands on her pants before standing up.
"They're not the most normal family in the world," she shrugged, walking towards the bench and sitting beside him. "My father's Russian. My friends used to be scared to come over to my house because he has such a thick accent sometimes it's hard to understand him. My mum's dead. She died from a heart condition when I was seven. My grandmother's beginning to get Alzheimer's, so she gets confused a lot. My cousin, Randy, he's lived with us since he was ten. He's American, so he gets a big kick out of teasing me for everything English I do."
"Sounds like a great place to be," Francis nudged her shoulder with her own and she turned her head, smiling up at him.
"Honestly, Vange? I'm about to shit myself."
Kevin eyed himself in the mirror, struggling to force his hair to stay a certain way. Vange smiled as she walked into the bedroom, pulling a brush through her own hair and clipping it towards the back of her head.
"You look amazing. Don't worry about it," she wrapped her arms around his waist from behind, setting her chin on his shoulder. "Besides, my family will love you as long as I do."
"Your dad hates me," Kevin scowled as Vange pulled away, shaking her head and laughing. "He does! Least…I think he does, it's hard to understand him. But he knows about what happened, doesn't he?"
"What kind of girlfriend do you think I am? All I told them was that we had a fight. I didn't tell him exactly what happened," Vange looked offended for a moment before going back to finding an outfit to wear. "Kevin?"
"What if they're not as…normal as you may think they are?" she frowned, pulling a skirt from the closet and laying it out on the bed.
"Normal? Who said I thought your family was normal?" Vange stuck her tongue out at him and he laughed, shaking his head. "'Sides, they can't be any worse than my family. Remember what my brother did when we visited?"
Vange shivered, pressing both hands to her forehead. "Don't remind me."
Sighing, she pulled her sweater over her head and sliding out of her jeans, reaching for the pair of back tights she'd finally dug up from her dresser drawer earlier that day. "Luv?"
"Could you…could you maybe…maybe talk to him? I think he'd appreciate that," she muttered, pulling on her skirt over the tights and struggling to find her turtleneck in the pile of sheets she'd put out after the laundry had finished.
"Talk to him? About what?" Kevin raised an eyebrow, finally opting to leave his hair flat against his head, turning away from the mirror to watch Vange finish dressing.
"Just…talk to him. He's not so bad once you get to know him," she answered, finally discovering the bright orange turtleneck and yanking it over her head. Kevin sighed, leaning back against the dresser.
"Only if you'll be my interpreter," he announced. Vange rolled her eyes, smiling.
"I don't wanna do this."
"Your dad'll murder me."
"He will not, now shut up."
"Couldn't you just…walk in?"
"We're guests, Kevin."
Kevin fidgeted as Vange rang the doorbell to her grandmother's rather large home. Honestly, he felt like throwing up. He'd been feeling nauseous since she told him about the plans for their Saturday. But what could he do? It had only been a week since their fight, this was the least he could do for her.
After a long moment, the door swung open to reveal the grinning face of Vange's American cousin, Randy.
"Well, well, well. What've we got here?" he eyed them both and Vange rolled her eyes, stepping forward and nudging him out of the doorway to let Kevin in.
"Randy, this is Kevin Douglas, my fiancé. Kevin, this is Randall Boricov, my cousin," she introduced them as she and Randy fought to keep the other out of the way. Kevin watched in amusement, his fiancée reverting back to a five-year-old girl right before his eyes.
"Randy, come on. Let them in, don't be such a child," a heavy Russian voice called from inside the house and Kevin immediately felt his muscles tense. This was not what he needed, not now. Meeting fathers had always been hard, but this had to be the worst.
"Come on in," Vange called from the doorway, holding her hand out to Kevin. Tentatively, he took it, cringing as he realized he was sweating. Vange smiled, bringing her lips to his ear. "Calm down. He'll love you because I do. Don't worry."
"Easy for you to say," Kevin muttered, allowing her to pull him into the house, past the scrutinizing gaze of her twenty-four-year-old cousin. She led him into the kitchen, where her seventy-eight-year-old grandmother stood near the stove, cooking a meal that smelled both foreign and heavenly to Kevin. Damn, he should have eaten something before he got here. Now his stomach was growling.
"Nanna?" Vange called, softly, and the old woman turned, smiling.
"Oh. Hello, dear. Who's this?" she gestured to Kevin with the spatula and Vange smiled, a hint of sadness in her voice.
"This is Kevin Douglas, Nanna. My fiancé, remember?" she answered, gently. The old woman frowned, eyeing him for a long moment before shaking her head, slowly.
"No. No, I'm sorry, luv, I don't remember him," Kevin saw Vange wince a bit, then instantly put on a pleasant smile, walking towards her grandmother and giving her a kiss on the cheek.
"What is that? It smells wonderful," she quickly changed the subject, laying her head on her grandmother's shoulder. The old woman smiled, patting her cheek.
"It's German. It's called Rösti and Wienerle. A friend made it once and I've always wanted to make it. Alexey told me this was a special occasion," she answered, motioning towards the living room Vange's father was occupying at the moment.
"Alright. We're going to go say hello to him. I can't wait to try that, it smells so good," she kissed her grandmother's cheek once more before turning and taking Kevin's hand once more, leading him towards the living room.
Kevin grimaced as they reached their destination, wondering if it was possible to wish for something so much it comes true. In the living room, classical music played rather loud, the furniture shoved to one side of the room to create a wider expanse. In the middle, Vange's father had been practicing ballet, doing moves Kevin never knew a man could physically accomplish. He had to admit, he was impressed.
"Papa! Papa, Kevin's here!" Vange called over the music and Alexey Boricov halted his movements, turning his attention to the doorway. He grinned at the sight of his daughter, quickly turning off the music and walking towards her, gathering her into a large hug.
"I'm so glad the two of you could make it," he announced as he released her, turning his attention to the man standing timidly behind her. Kevin noticed a slight iciness slide over the older man's eyes as he held out a hand. "Good to see you again, Kevin."
"Uh, yeah. Yeah, likewise," he cursed himself for his stuttering, shaking Alexey's hand and hoping he wouldn't notice the sweat that had sprung up on his palms.
"I hope you two are hungry. Vange's grandmother is making a big meal for all of us," he informed them, gesturing towards the kitchen.
"I know. Nanna told me," there was that disappointment in her voice again. Apparently, Kevin hadn't been the only one to notice it.
"Your grandmother's old, sweetheart. The doctor said she'll be getting worse and worse. There's nothing we can do," Alexey stroked Vange's cheek with one hand and she sighed, nodding.
"And we're lucky that she's not horribly sick and she still knows who we are, I know I know. I've heard it all before," she muttered, running a hand through her hair.
"Oh, hey, Vange. Your uncle sent something over for you. Some more of your mom's stuff he dug up in his attic or something. Said he'd bring it over this week," Randy announced as he sauntered into the room. "I didn't know if you wanted him at your house since…you know, he's a cunt."
"Don't say that word, Randy, you know it doesn't make any sense," Vange answered, rolling her eyes. Randy frowned, finally taking his concentration off of the handful of grapes he'd been working on.
"But he is," he cried, sounding more like a small child than a full-grown adult. Vange laughed, shaking her head and taking Kevin's hand in hers, pulling him beside her. No hiding now, Douglas
"Can I get you two something to drink?" Alexey questioned and Kevin was surprised to find he could understand him clearly now. Maybe his accent was thicker when he was angry.
"What d'you have?" he found himself asking.
"We've got soda, lemonade, water and beer," Alexey named off the contents of their fridge and Kevin grinned.
"Beer sounds great."
"Shut up, Randy."
Randy gave Vange a mock-offended stare from across the table. "I'm just trying to tell you that you're eating wrong."
"I'm not eating wrong, where did you get that idea?" she struggled to look angry, her faint smile betraying her.
"You're cutting with yourleft hand. That's weird," he answered, pointing to her hand with his fork. Vange rolled her eyes, crumbling a napkin and throwing it at him.
"I feel like I'm raising two children again," Alexey muttered and Randy grinned, revealing his half-chewed food poking out from between his teeth. Despite himself, Kevin found himself chuckling. The atmosphere in the house had gotten considerably more pleasant since Nanna Keef had finally finished the food.
"Yank wanker," Vange muttered her head down as she ate.
"English hooker," Randy shot back, looking equally distracted by his plate.
Kevin raised an eyebrow at his fiancée, who grinned, cheeks turning a pale shade of pink.
"What? I revert in this house," she shrugged.
"I noticed," he answered and she leaned towards him, pressing her lips to his, lightly.
"So, Kevin," Alexey announced, clearing his throat and standing up. "Could you come outside with me for a smoke?"
"I don't smoke," Kevin protested. Alexey smiled and gestured towards the back door.
"Don't worry. I won't kill you," he cracked as Vange nudged Kevin. Feeling his food churn in his stomach once more, Kevin stood, falling the Russian man out into the backyard where he sat in the wooden chair on the patio. "Come on. Sit down."
Slowly, Kevin eased himself into the chair beside Alexey, gripping the arms. Alexey watched him for a moment, amused, before finally speaking.
"She was seven when her mother died. I'm sure you know. Her mother-her name was Elizabeth-she sent me a letter in Russia a month before. 'I don't know if you even remember us, Alexey. But either way, I'm dying. And Evangeline needs a parent. If you care for that child at all, you'll come to London and take care of her. Give her a father.' You see, Vange was born in Russia, before the iron curtain collapsed," Alexey took a long drag from the cigarette he'd lit on their way outside. "I had to get them out of there. So I made her believe I didn't love her or the child. To get her to leave. I knew it would be harder for me to leave, so I stayed. I stayed after the curtain collapsed because I was afraid. I thought of them every day and every night I was away. I loved her mother. There was no doubt about that.
"When I found out her mother was dying, I decided I had to go back. I didn't want my daughter to be an orphan, you know? When I got here, her Nanna didn't let me in for months. Said I couldn't be a good father. Not after what I did to them, abandoning them. But she didn't understand. It took a long time for them to trust me again. A long time. Evangeline used to tell me she hated me. A nine-year-old knowing what hate was. That hurt," Alexey sighed, taking another drag from his cigarette and running his other hand through his hair. "That girl means the world to me. And I don't know what you did to her or if it was your fault. But you made my daughter cry."
"I know," Kevin whispered, eyes glued to the wooden floor of the patio beneath them. "But I love her, too. Just as much as you do. I know I don't deserve her. But I don't know where I'd be without her. I could be dead."
Alexey sighed, scratching the back of his head with his free hand and slouching back into the chair. Kevin chewed his lower lip, glancing up, suddenly terrified that the Russian man would murder him. He'd seen this man dance. There was no doubt in his mind that Alexey could probably snap him in two.
He'd have to remember not to tell Vange that interesting thought.
"The two of you are serious about getting married?" he questioned after a long moment. Wiping his sweaty hands on his jeans, Kevin took a deep breath, finally making eye contact with Alexey.
A slow, half-smile emerged on Alexey's mouth and Kevin felt the knots in his stomach unravel a great deal. "We're both lucky, you know that?"
"Course," he nodded, running both hands through his hair, ignoring the fact he most likely ruined almost half an hour of work on it.
"Oh, by the way," Alexey pointed to the younger man with his half-gone cigarette and Kevin felt his stomach twist itself into a painful position. "If she becomes pregnant anytime soon, I'll be forced to kill you. We Russian fathers have rules, you know."
For a moment, Kevin's body turned to ice. Hell, he didn't know anything about Russia or its inhabitants. Alexey burst out laughing, leaning forward and hitting Kevin's shoulder with his free hand, nearly throwing him to the ground as his shock wore off.
"Lighten up, Kevin. I'd only beat you beyond recognition."