“Americans, huh?” The taxi driver switched to English as he looked back at his passengers. “Uncle Sam. Yankee Doodle Dandy.” He flashed a thumbs-up sign. “Yippee ki-yay, motherfucker.”

Laramie’s mouth fell open in shock. Her expression was so comical Anastasia had to force herself not to laugh. She knew doing so would make the situation worse instead of better.

Shorty certainly didn’t find the situation as amusing as she did. He looked so mad she thought he was about to climb over the seat.

“Do you care to repeat yourself, bub?” he asked.

The taxi driver shrugged.

“What did I say?” he asked in Russian. “Bruce Willis is an American movie star, no? The little man has never seen Die Hard? Ask him if he wants to watch my copy. I have a DVD he can borrow.”

“What’s he going on about?” Shorty asked. “If he’s trying to get smart, tell him to pull the car over so we can settle this man-to-man.”

“There’s no call for that,” Laramie said. “Calm down, Shorty. He didn’t mean any harm.”

“Could’ve fooled me.”

“He’s like a chicken with wet feathers,” the taxi driver said. “They should call him Rooster instead of Shorty.”

Anastasia shook her head at the absurdity of both men. She couldn’t decide the best way for them to settle their differences: resorting to their fists or splitting a bottle of vodka. Unfortunately, they didn’t have time for either.

“Forget the tour,” Laramie said. “We’ve got a meeting to get to. Just take us to the office.”

“As you wish.”

Anastasia wasn’t surprised to discover Shorty had a quick temper. Most men who were small in stature tried to use every means at their disposal to make themselves seem bigger than they actually were. Some bought fancy cars. Others, like Shorty, picked fights for no reason.

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