Getting Personal with Lieutenant Sasha Andreyev —Executive Office Series by Tal Bauer
MM Book Escape is honored to have Lieutenant Sasha Andreyev here today to answer a few questions for us, the readers, fans, and admirers.
Sasha—may I call you Sasha or do you prefer Lieutenant Andreyev?
Sasha is fine. I am not, truly, member of Russian Air Force anymore. Sergey has reinstated me, but I serve with no unit.
I know you’re probably uncomfortable being here but after what you just endured this should be a piece of cake. :D
If it’s alright with you, I’d like to go back to your life as a young boy, for a moment. What was your childhood like? Where did these feelings come from of self-hate?
My boyhood was normal, I suppose. My father was in Russian army, so he was gone all the time. One time, he went to fight in Chechnya and never came back. My mother drank a lot. Brought many men home. I knew I wanted to be like my father. A strong man.
Everyone around me, everyone, talked about how terrible it was to be pidor. How being gay was the worst possible thing for a man to be. The jokes everyone said. The government – Putin, then – putting gays down. Being gay was to sign your own death sentence. Either the government would get you, or someone would find out and attack you. Or, you would take your own life. I was scared, from the first moment I realized that I …
What age were you when you realized you may be different from the other boys in respect to not liking girls “in that way?”
I was young. I do not remember what age. There was a boy in my school. He was older. Tall, slender. I used to watch him all the time. I wanted to know him, be close to him. I didn’t care about any girl I met. When I started to… fantasize… all my thoughts were about that one boy. I cried the first night, the first time I… I knew then that I was one of those bad people. One of those pidors. I thought the government would come and arrest me, take me away. A ten year old boy, guilty for being a perversion.
I tried to bury it. I tried to change. I though, I am stronger than this. I can ignore it.
I joined the Russian Air Force because I thought it would push this out of me. I thought I could be a hard man, like my father. I thought, if I just tried hard enough, it would go away. But… it never did. I always saw men who caught my eye. Saw men who made me want. Desire them. I hated myself, truly, I did.
You were the best of the best MiG fighter pilots in the Russian Air Force, a god amongst mortals, flying your dreams.
Truly amazing Sasha!
The morning of your attack, your wing mates—fellow pilots—turned on you and left you to die. I can’t even imagine the betrayal you felt, and continue to feel. It had to cut you deeply. My question is this…
Is it pride or fear that keeps you from pressing charges against them? Or both?
I do not want to be a symbol, or a cause. I do not want to have everyone looking at me, and saying, “oh, this man, this is the pidor who was attacked.” I do not like attention. I never wanted anyone to look at me. If they looked too close, would they find out about me? I hid, always. No, pressing charges, that would be too public. And, the Russian justice system… It is very corrupt. Or, it was, before Sergey’s actions. If I pressed charges, maybe the charges would be turned against me. I would be the one to go to jail, not them.
As horrible as these things are, they brought you to President Sergey Puchkov, and, I think you will agree with me, that your life definitely started looking much better.
From the minute Sergey met you, he gave you encouragement and acceptance. What did these things mean to you, especially at such a low point in your life?
I did not know how to handle these things. How did this man, the president, care about me? Why did he care? I was nothing. I was a failure. And, I was pidor. Sergey… I will never forget that night, when we met. Everything in my life was gone. Everything I had worked for. I had nothing. I wished I had died. What would I do? Where would I go? I was still pidor. I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t change it. But Sergey—my president!—came and told me to be proud of myself. That I was a great Russian. I could not understand these things that he said. I broke down, and he held me. A stranger! He held me. I have never before, never, had such acceptance.
Tell us about Sergey, the man. The one who sits at your bedside—all hours of the night—and the one that sits and talks about his thoughts and ideas with you in front of a fire.
How to describe Sergey… It is impossible to put into words all that he is. Smart, wickedly funny, a joker. He is a dedicated man. He puts his heart and soul one hundred percent into something he believes in. He is also too Western. The American president, Jack Spiers, has influenced him more than he realizes. He thinks the world is a good place, that people will accept things and welcome equality. I think he is crazy about this, but maybe I am wrong.
Sergey is… beautiful, in every way. He is a good man. What kind of heart does he have, to love everyone like he does? To accept me? How could I not fall in love with him, when he was so perfect? He showed me friendship, and cared for me – me, without hiding. He is best man I have ever known.
When did you know that you were falling in love with him?
He used to sit by my bedside while I was recovering. He would talk to me, listen to my thoughts, and want to know more. He seemed to like to be with me. I thought, no, this is a trick, he just feels sorry for me. It is pity. But, he kept coming, and coming, and spending more time with me. Offered me a job. Again, I thought, this is pity.
But I wanted it. I wanted every moment he had. Every time he was near, I felt better. I looked forward to him being with me. I craved him, his attention, his acceptance. I knew this was dangerous, but I still did.
I wanted to make him proud. Wanted to be worthy of his attention. The more time I spent with him, the deeper I fell for him, until he was everything. He was everything in my world.
When you and Sergey visited Ethan and Jack in the US for the State Dinner and Ethan hinted that he knew of your feelings—tried to sooth your worries—did you think the same could be possible for you and Sergey, or did you just think Ethan was crazy for even mentioning it?
Never, I never thought it would be possible for him and me. I was jealous when Jack and Sergey danced together, but I also knew it could never happen.
The day of your final mission comes and you’re taking your MiG over the Arctic, knowing it may be the last time you ever see Sergey again. If the situation had been different and you knew you would be coming home, would you still have kissed Sergey at the airstrip?
No. I never should have kissed him. It was mistake, huge mistake. He should never have known how I felt. I never wanted him to know. But he was chasing me, telling me he didn’t want me to go, he didn’t want me to die. I snapped, and I kissed him.
Were you prepared—in your heart—to never see Sergey again? Forget about the mission, I would like to know what Sasha, the man whose loyalty, love, and devotion to one man, seems limitless.
Of course I did not want to die. But, doing this for Sergey, so he could become president again? That was a good thing. I always knew I would never be allowed to stay by Sergey’s side forever. If I died for him, that would be better than being sent away, no? I would give him everything, always.
I often wondered why you never considered—within the close group (Aleksey, Vasily, Ilya, and Anton) that they would be okay and give you and Sergey the same treatment they gave Ethan and Jack. They tease and joke and have fun but it’s all in the name of fun…wasn’t it?
All my life, everyone said it was bad. Being gay was a bad thing. Why would I suddenly think people think this is okay, when every single thing I have ever heard is different? My comrades in the Air Force tried to kill me. Trusting anyone after that… is not easy.
I, also, wondered if you never had any friends that you felt you could share some of your burdens with. That’s when I realized when people start getting close to the truth of your heart, you cut them off. You get defensive and don’t want to hear what they have to say.
Is that because you don’t want to acknowledge it yourself, or you don’t want others to realize they’re right? Or both?
Both. I must keep people away, so they do not know the truth. If they know the truth, then would they beat me, like my comrades did? No one could ever be close.
Except Sergey. He knew. And Ilya, I think, knew. I think Sergey told him. But Ilya never said anything. He treated me like he treated anyone else. I didn’t want to know if he knew or not. If he did not know, and I told him, would he change? For once, I had friends. But I kept everything to myself, still.
I don’t want to get into the mission too much because I’m sure it’s classified, but I must say that your survivor skills, your quick thinking, your ability to out-maneuver, are all truly, truly astounding and you ARE a hero. You endured torturous conditions that most mortals would never live to tell about.
What kept you pushing forward?
I thought I could see Sergey again. Maybe he would allow me to help him still, even after I kissed him. Maybe he would let me still fight for him, with Aleksey, Anton, and Vasily. I could keep my distance. But I would still be near him. And, if there is anyplace I want to be in the world, it is by Sergey.
You encountered reindeer herders, tribesmen that saved your life on more than one occasion. They had some inspirational and spiritual wisdom they shared with you. Did any of that hit a nerve or did you consider it nonsense?
At first I thought it was nonsense, but then Kilaqqi said something that was impossible for him to know. How could he know what was deep inside me just by finding me in the snow? He made me think. He still makes me think. I would like to find him again.
Your love for Sergey is beautiful, selfless, and knows no bounds. Your pride and stubbornness, while understandable—even commendable—were very frustrating. Do you think you will ever be able to push that to the side and give yourself a chance at happiness with the man you love?
I do not know. I want what is best for Sergey, always. Is that me? How could it be me? I would ruin his presidency. How could he ever love me? How could any of what I want ever come true?
Last question—thank goodness, right?
What’s next for Lieutenant Sasha Andreyev, Russia’s Gold-Star Medal Hero?
Find out in Enemy Within, book 3 in The Executive Office! Out at Amazon, Smashwords, and other ebook retailers!
Thank you, Sasha, for being here and answering questions that were personal and I’m sure not easy to explore again. You are a remarkable and courageous man that deserves a lifetime of happiness and love. I hope you find everything you are searching for and I wish you the best of life.
Thank you very much.
Tal Bauer is an award-winning and best-selling author of LGBT romantic thrillers, bringing together a career in law enforcement and international humanitarian aid to create dynamic characters, intriguing plots, and exotic locations. He is happily married and lives with his husband and their Basset Hound in Texas. Tal is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Mystery Writers of America.