Emma Chambers slipped between the oak doors into the hushed interior. The air, thick with incense, grabbed at her throat and threatened to bring back the tears she’d been fighting all morning.
From a hidden room in the corner of the church, male voices undulated in Gregorian chant. Emma studied the icons on the walls and pillars. This was one of the new Moscow churches, built with donations from Russian émigrés in America. No dark wood or smoke-blackened surfaces here. Walls glowed with sour-cream paint and the icons were sparkling confections of enamel and glass.
Emma gazed up at the gold-encrusted cupola where pale April sunlight struggled to enter through tiny windows. She glanced around at the other people in the congregation. Several nodded when they saw her looking their way; a couple of the women smiled and gave little waves.
Finally, she took a deep breath and turned to look at the sight she’d been avoiding since she entered the building. The ornate urn surrounded by flowers looked so alone, resting on a table in front of the altar screen. To one side a large photograph was propped on an easel and across the bottom ran the words: GORGITO EVGENYVICH TABATADZE, 1940 to 2005.
The man in the picture seemed to be looking straight at her. The hairline receded more than she remembered, but the curls and bushy moustache were still jet black. The eyes mirrored the slight smile on his lips. They signalled a private joke — or maybe something amusing just behind the photographer’s shoulder.
‘Oh Gorgito,’ Emma whispered, ‘I’m so very sorry.
[Gorgito’s Ice Rink will be published as an ebook for Kindle on Wednesday 8th October. To pre-order your copy go here (UK) or here (USA). You can find a link to the Goodreads Giveaway here]
Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.
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