Alexander said as soon as it got cold, they would leave. September came and it was still warm; he liked that. Better still, not only was Tatiana making them a little money, she was drinking some sparkling wine, some Bisol Brut, for which she developed a bit of a taste. After work, she would sit with Anthony, have bread and cheese, and a glass of sparkler. She closed the winery, counted the money, played with the boy, waited for Alexander to finish work, and sipped her drink. By the time they drove to the B&B, had dinner, chocolate cake, more wine, a bath, put Anthony to bed, and she fell down onto the goose down covers, arms flung above her head, Tatiana was so bubbled up, so pliant, so agreeable to all his relentless frenzies, and so ceaselessly and supernally orgasmic that Alexander would not have been a mortal man if he allowed anything to come between his wife and her Bisol Brut. Who would do a crazy thing like quit to go into dry country? This country was flowing with foaming wine, and that is just how they both liked it. He started whispering to her again, night by night, little by little. Tania . . . you want to know what drives me insane? Yes, darling, please tell me. Please whisper to me. When you sit up straight like this with your hands on your lap, and your breasts are pushed together, and your pink nipples are nice and soft. I lose my breath when your nipples are like that. The trouble is, as soon as I see you looking at me, the nipples stop being nice and soft. Yes, they are quite shameful, he whispers, his breath lost, his mouth on them. But your hard nipples also drive me completely insane, so it’s all good, Tatia. It’s all very very good. Anthony was segregated from them by an accordion room partition. A certain privacy was achieved, and after a few nights of the boy not being woken up, they got bolder; Alexander did unbelievable things to Tatiana that made her sparkler-fueled moaning so extravagant that he had to invent and devise whole new ways of sustaining his usually impeccable command over his own release. Tell me what you want. I’ll do anything you want, Tania. Tell me. What can I do—for you? Anything, darling . . . anything you want, you do . . . There was nothing Gulag about their consuming love in that enchanted bed by the window, the bed that was a quilted down island with four posters and a canopy, with pillows so big and covers so thick . . . and afterward he lay drenched and she lay breathless, and she murmured into his chest that she should like a soft big bed like this forever, so comforted was she and so very pleased with him. Once she asked in a breath, Isn’t this better than being on top of the hard stove in Lazarevo? Alexander knew she wanted him to say yes, and he did, but he didn’t mean it, and though she wanted him to say it, he knew she didn’t want him to mean it either. Could anything come close to crimson Lazarevo where, having been nearly dead, without champagne or wine or bread or a bed, without work or food or Anthony or any future other than the wall and the blindfold, they somehow managed for one brief moon to live in thrall sublime? They had been so isolated, and in their memories they still remained near the Ural Mountains, in frozen Leningrad, in the woods of Luga when they had been fused and fevered, utterly doomed, utterly alone. And yet!—look at her tremulous light— as if in a dream—in America—in fragrant wine country, flute full of champagne, in a white quilted bed, her breath, her breasts on him, her lips on his face, her arms in rhapsody around him are so comforting, so true—and so real.