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If I have to eat one more bowl of this shit, I'm going to barf or die of culinary boredom. Chara rolled her eyes as she swallowed another spoonful of the tasteless stew, and decided she'd had enough.

"Alexei..." she called. He was in another room. He'd been letting her sleep on the bed the past few nights, and sleeping in another room, she guessed. They'd been spending their days taking care of the puppy and getting to know one another.

He opened the bedroom door and popped his head in. "Yes?"

"I don't suppose that you have anything else to eat?" She tried to put it as gently as possible.

He stepped into the room and considered her request for a moment. The puppy jumped down from the bed and ran to him. He crouched down to pat it. "Hello little guy," he crooned. After a minute or so, he looked up at Chara. "You know how to cook?"

Her heart jumped with excitement. Was he really going to let her out of the room? She'd been stuck inside these four walls for nearly a week, and she was dying for a change of scenery. "Yes, I can cook. I've been cooking my whole life!" she responded, almost too quickly.

He nodded. "OK. I have maid who cook for me but I have to tell her to stay home. Police make reward 1 million baht for you. I think she tell them if she see you. Your photo everywhere."

Chara was silent for a moment on the bed. He had to fire his housekeeper just for me? Wow...

"So this why I make same thing every day. Only dish I know to cook. Borscht. You can make something else?"

"Oh yes!" Chara said, swinging her legs onto the ground and standing up.

Alexei stood up as well, and opened the bedroom door. "OK. You can use kitchen," he offered, holding the door with his back, allowing Chara to walk past him, and out of the room. "You tell me what you need and I buy."

Chara stepped into the big, open living space and looked around her. The first thing she noticed were two muscular men standing with their backs to the front and back doors. They didn't make eye contact when Chara looked at them, instead staring past her. Chara screwed up her face and looked at Alexei.

"For protection," he explained.

Are they for my protection, or are they to stop me from escaping? She wondered.

The dark living room was centered around a huge L-shaped sofa, which was, like her bed, a pink and red floral pattern. A pine coffee table sat in front of it, atop a vintage red and yellow rug. It faced a huge, curved TV. The back wall was one big floor-to-ceiling bookshelf, completely jam-packed with leather bound books.

The windows, which would have allowed plenty of sunlight in, had their shutters closed and locked. The only natural light that squeezed into the room was through the thin cracks in the front and back doors. Floor and ceiling lamps provided adequate artificial lighting.

To the right-hand side of the living room was the open-plan kitchen, which had a large island, a big metal fridge, and spacious cabinets. Chara walked to it and started poking around. The fridge was bare; there was milk, cabbage, half a block of cheese, some eggs, and meat inside. In a basket on the counter, there was some stale bread, potatoes, and some sunflower oil. There was a large oven with a stove top range, which Chara had learned was a rarity in Thailand. Inside a drawer were pots, pans, large spoons and spatulas that she could use for cooking.

"OK. If I give you a list of things to buy, can you go to Thong Sala? I can make some nice Greek dishes. You'll like them, I think."

He considered her request for a moment and nodded. "Yes, my staff go. You give me list," Alexei agreed, turning and walking into another room. He returned holding a notepad and pen, which he placed in front of her on the kitchen island.

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