“You must be certain this is what you wish to do Anastasia, once we do this there is no going back!” His voice softened, “I only want what’s best for you.” His voice, so much like his fathers’, made my eyes sting and took me back in time. Back to the time when I lived in the mesmerizing world of Tzars and Empresses, of grand palaces and elegant parties. It was a beautiful, enchanting time, that was gone much too soon.
Laughter infused the air amid the brilliant lights and alluring melody drifting from the orchestra. “Come Mashka, dance with me, dance with me!” My sister Maria turned and smiled at me. “My lady, would you honor me this dance?” she said with a smirk, bowing and extending her hand. A giggle escaped my lips as I curtsied and accepted, and grew as she spun us around. We continued around the ballroom with much enthusiasm, gaily prancing round and round to the orchestras’ serenade. “Now now, what have we here? It seems my little kotyata are up past their bedtimes, no?” We froze at the deep timbre of my father’s voice. Slowly turning, we sheepishly grinned at him. Through his stern glare, we could see the sparkle of his eyes and the subtle tilt of his lips he was struggling to suppress. “No, no, no, this simply won’t do. What would your mother say if she saw you, hmm? No, we must quickly hide ourselves in the crowd. Hurry, let us dance to remain unseen,” He said with a wink. He dragged us to the center of the ballroom: shrieking with laughter we whirled, the bright lights fading into a memory.
“N-n-no...,” I responded, entirely unconvincing. “You’ll be fine. It’s time you take back your birthright. Bring justice to your family. I’ll be right here alongside you, I swear it.” Gleb said encouragingly. “No matter what?” I pressed. “No matter what.” He affirmed. "Okay, let's do this." Gritting my teeth as I shoved through the double doors, voices starting shouting, bright lights blinding. Walking to the podium, I throw my shoulders back, a sudden surge of fortitude coursing through my veins. Despite my firm resolve, it was as if I could feel the doubt, judgement, and resentment radiating off every person in the conference room as I waited for the commotion to die down. I cleared my throat, “Before I begin, I know there are many who are confused at my reasons for waiting so many years to speak out about my identity. I understand your skepticism. I only ask that you have an open mind as I relay my story. Many of you know of the late night on July 17, 1918, when my family was executed. I was asleep on a small cot in the corner of the room, between Maria and Tatiana. Mama had fallen asleep in a chair by us, and Alexei on her lap. Papa sat in a chair on the other side of the small room, saying he’d stay up a while. Shortly after midnight, a group of about fifteen Bolshevik soldiers came barging in. One, who seemed to be in command, told us to get dressed, because there were revolutionaries rallying outside, and we were being moved...