Walking in this place I could tell my husband had put a ton of thought into dinner that night. It was dark, secluded, lit candles on the tables with barely enough ambient lighting to see what you were eating. Nolan, who was wearing a charcoal gray suite walked up to the hostess desk where, to my shock, THEY greeted HIM!
"Hello Mr. Ritchie. Wine tonight??" I was in such shock I didn't even hear the rest of the conversation, but simply followed my husband to his "usual seat". Vera, our 3 year old daughter, was walking beside me and wanted to know when they were going to turn the lights on. I laughed and told her they didn't have anymore lights to turn on. Our babysitter had canceled on us this evening so we decided to bring her along. She was loving it.
When we arrived at the table, another surprise awaited us. Our table already had 2 people sitting there. The woman was a short, with thin, square glasses. She wore her red hair in a neat bun at the back of her neck and a simple, long, black dress with short-sleeves. The man at the table was wearing a suite. But in the dark I couldn't tell if it was black or dark gray. His hair was black and gelled into a slick backward swoop - not attractive. He too wore glasses but they were clearly only for reading as he was looking down his nose through them, seemingly engrossed in a russian novel called под землей or Underground (I learned a bit of Russian in college, but nothing enough to speak it fluently).
He looked up at us as we approached and with worry in his voice said, "Ritchie. Glad you made it. Sit down. Something has come up."
Next the woman (who's name I later learned was Jean) turned the computer she was ferociously typing on toward us. It was a video of a tank driving through a city and gunning down whomever happened to be there. Nolan covered my eyes just as a pregnant woman and her small child walked around the corner of a building into direct view of the tank. When he uncovered them again the video had ended and Jean was turning the computer back toward herself.
Suddenly Nolan started speaking russian in a low, dangerous voice. I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW HE SPOKE RUSSIAN! I know he said 'wife' and 'daughter', 'danger', and 'night off'. Next Case (the man) and Jean started to argue back - not in english, thanks. My head was spinning by now, what in the name of all that is sweet and savory was going on?? That's when I spotted it... the bottle of my favorite wine, Moscato d'Asti. I grabbed it up, ripped out the cork and poured myself a generous glass. I downed that, and poured another; which I had the good sense to drink a bit slower.
While these strangers were arguing with my husband the server showed up again with a booster seat for Vera and she and I sat down. Thankfully I brought crayons and a notebook and that kept Vera entertained. Eventually Nolan also sat down, but the frown on his face went almost to his knees. I asked him what was going on, and who were these people. I should have drank another glass of wine before hearing what he had to say next. "Darling", he said (I nearly swoon when he calls me that) "I am a member of THE counter intelligence agency - as in CIA. And the people sitting across from me are my bosses. They have decided that tonight we will not be having a nice quiet dinner, but instead taking out the top 12 leaders of the russian mafia.
It took a few minutes of silence for me to process this. And yet, when I finally spoke, "Ok, but we have to feed Vera first. Otherwise she'll be cranky the rest of the night.", was what came out. Really?? Mom mode?? Always?? My husband is taking me on the first ever CIA take-out mission date and I'm worried about food?? Well, luckily Jane had already taken care of this. Immediately a server came out with 2 large bags filled with to-go dishes and a giant container of warm garlic bread.
In the blink of an eye Case, Jane, and Nolan had all swooped out of their seats, packed away anything that needed to be taken with us and hurried Vera and I out the door (I made sure to tuck away the rest of that bottle of wine) and into a white SUV that happened to be waiting for us. Our driver was a woman about my age with straight black hair. We piled in, (Vera's car seat was already strapped in???) and off we went. Vera and I were all the way in the very back with the food, so I proceeded to open the bags and pass things out. Vera snacked on bread while I passed out the rest. Jane and Case ate hungrily as if they had not consumed a bit of food for days. Nolan crunched through his food while reading the report on tonight's mission. While chewing through my wild mushroom and pumpkin ravioli it occurred to me that we were not IN Russia. Um, were we GOING to Russia? So I asked. As it turned out, the 12 men we were after were in the United States and planning another tank killing spree in the nations capital. But for now, they weren't even in D.C., they were holding a jam session in a bar just 20mins drive from the restaurant. As our driver, Case, Jane, and Nolan kept talking about The Plan, I began to feel sick. Really sick. What if Nolan got killed. What if Vera got killed. What if they killed everyone but Vera and then took her away to live in Russia?? What if, what if, what if......???? But I didn't have long to stew because just then the SUV slowed down and the three operatives jumped out. They were heading for an old style building with a lot of people inside having a meal and apparently singing. We kept driving, but slowly and in circles around the block trying to keep an eye on our agents. I wasn't sure what was happening, but suddenly I knew that something had gone wrong. The mafia had Case and were chasing Nolan and Jean in an antique black Ford. Jean ran toward us and I reached out the window just in time to grab the front of her coat and dress. I pulled her in through the window and yelled, "Where's Nolan??!!". She pointed to a fierce looking woman driving the vintage car. She had ahold of Nolan's collar and was dragging him along the road.
Just in front of us the rest of the mob had Case and were beating the daylights out of him. They threw him into the car and I shouted to the driver to run over the mob men. She did so and they tumbled like bowling pins. As we passed the car I jumped out of ours and into the Ford. Then I began to beat the fierce woman with every part of my body I could use. She let go of Nolan to fight me off. When her attention wasn't split she surely had the upper hand and began to bash me about the face. Fortunately Case woke just then and shot her in the head. The blood spattered on me.... at this point I threw my head over the side of the car and hurled. When I'd recovered, I noticed Nolan was holding my hair back. Somehow he'd gotten into the car and was swiftly taking out the remaining mob members who had survived the run down with the SUV; which was about 30 yards in front of us now. Once the mob was dead, we signaled to our vehicle to stop. Case, Nolan and I climbed out of the Ford and into the SUV. I hugged my baby girl and cried while Nolan held me until we got home. He first carried Vera in, she had fallen asleep on the ride, and then came back for me. I told him I could walk, but he just carried me anyway. He laid down in bed next to me and I cried myself to sleep.
And this is why I never get good sleep. Because in my dreams I'm helping to fight the Russian Mafia because my husband is in the CIA.