Iseabail regarded Cannon with some skepticism. “Cannae ye tie yer tie any straighter?”
Cannon lifted his chin and looked at his neck in the mirror. “It isn’t any different than it’s been.”
“Aye, but we were nae tryin’ tae fit inta yon cap’n’s circle then.” She waved him over. “Let me have a look tae.”
“Isea, you aren’t going to retie my tie.”
“Ye said yerself we’re aye to do everythin’ we can tae get tha’ invitation from Volkov.” Iseabail raised her eyebrows, daring Cannon to object. He said nothing, and stood in front of her.
He caught her hand on the way toward his neck. “Not a word to the crew,” he said.
“Ach, it’s nae as though you’d get teased as much as me anyway.” Iseabail’s hands moved faster than Cannon could follow, and in fifteen seconds, she was done. “Better, aye?”
Cannon turned to the mirror. Iseabail poked him in the side, once, then again. “All right, all right. You win.”
Iseabail smiled a broad smile, delighted. The clock chimed twice. “Tha’s our cue.”
Cannon offered her his arm. “Shall we, Mrs. Smith?”
The steward waiting outside their stateroom led them forward, through a nondescript door a few yards shy of the end of the main corridor. It led to another corridor, paneled in dark wood and carpeted in crimson, which took them further forward. They passed a few doors—officers’ quarters, Cannon suspected—before the steward stopped and ushered them into the captain’s dining room.
The room was a long rectangle, centered on the table. Unlike the rest of the zeppelin, it was the picture of opulence. Even through his shoes, Cannon could feel himself sinking into the carpet. The table looked to be solid wood, an unheard-of luxury on a zeppelin this size, and though there were no windows, paintings all but covered the paneled walls.
A dozen people milled around in shifting twos and threes. The captain detached himself from a little knot of conversation and came up to them. “Good evening, Dr. Smith, Mrs. Smith!”
“Cap’n Rokossovsky,” Iseabail replied, dipping her head with a smile. “Once again, our thanks for yer invitation.”
Rokossovsky waved his hands. “I should be thanking you,” he said, “for returning such a treasure of Soviet art. You will dine with us for remainder of voyage.”
“How generous,” Cannon said smoothly. “It would be our pleasure.”
Rokossovsky gestured to the rest of the room. “Mr. Wailani will be seated next to you. You are across from Comrade Volkov—” he pointed out the largest man in the room “—and his assistant Comrade Kopeikin.”
Kopeikin was scarcely taller than Iseabail. “Rather a study in contrasts, wouldn’t you say, captain?” Cannon remarked.
The captain nodded. “They are fastest of friends. They met during the war.”
“I see,” Cannon said. “Well, thank you again, captain. We should say hello to Mr. Wailani.”
“Yes, yes,” Rokossovsky replied. “Make rounds. Meet passengers. Stewards will ring us to the table when dinner is served.”