The afternoon was pleasant enough to seek out the clear air; the sky blue with promise and tree branches still weighed down with the morning snow.
A flash of happiness stole over Anna’s face, when before long, Yakov Platonovich unexpectedly appeared at her reading spot. She had settled in front of the entrance of the yellow Mironov home, rather than the gazebo in the garden as if she had predicted this very moment.
Anna was sure that yesterday had been the turning point of something, whether it be a shift in their friendship or in their professional partnership.
Therefore, it came as a surprise when he sharply commented on the book she had borrowed from her uncle, yet before she could find out the reason for his prickliness, another carriage could be heard, crunching along the frosted driveway.
“Anna,” Pyotr’s voice rung out from a short distance, “Anna!”
Her uncle jumped out of the vehicle with a spring. Not wasting any time in reaching the duo, where he took up an almost protective position between the bench and Detective Shtolman.
“Did something happen,” Anna demanded, looking up between the two man, who both seemed out of sorts.
Pyotr raised his eyebrows. “I suppose not. Have you finished the book already?”
She smiled, surprised, giving the hefty tomb a little tap with her gloved hand. “I’m on the second chapter of Physical Manifestations, which I ought to have read before.”
“Oh, I meant the chess book.”
She gave him a singular look. “I have quite given up on that endeavor. I could not get passed the openings.”
During this short exchange, Yakov Platonovich had remained tense but silent, then turned to Anna with an inscrutable expression. “Good day, Anna Viktorovna. Pyotr Ivanovich” he added, before stalking over to the carriage her uncle had abandoned.
Mystified, Anna hit Pyotr on the arm with the book. “What has gotten into you?”
“I fear I have misinformed the good Detective about your abilities.”
“As a medium?”
”No, as a chess player. Though the two undoubtedly connect.”
She frowned. "Yakov Platonovich knows I can't play chess to save my life."
"I fear I disillusioned him of that."
"So he came all this way to yell at me?"
"He ran out of his office like it was on fire," Pyotr replied, grimacing. "I didn't really image I would catch up; we will never know."
It was with bittersweet disappointment, that Anna stood up from the bench, looking towards the gate like there was nothing she wanted more than to take her bike and give chase.
"I can teach you poker," Pyotr said, in a clear bit to distract her, and he offered his arm. "I heard Shtolman is also fond of that."