She came here in her early to mid-teens, from a country east of the border. Learning the language was never a problem, for she was still young enough. And neither was snagging a man, despite, or because of the stipulations she placed on herself. He must be rich, because how else could he maintain the lifestyle she’s accustomed to, or – and this truth must be told to keep things fair and square, in the spirit of honesty – the lifestyle she hopes to become accustomed to and will forever maintain. Catherine the Great is nothing if not thorough in her stipulations, which to her local sisters would be more of a wish list. First and foremost he must be rich. Age doesn’t matter, but twenty years older and counting is very much preferred. This is for two reasons. One, at that age his wealth is pretty much established and is more likely to remain that way. Secondly, the older he is, the more likely he is to die soon. Catherine loves her husband, of course, but she can also love him from a distance. And nothing spells love more than being six feet under.
Catherine knows only too well – for her mother, grandmother and various aunts (and sometimes uncles) have coached her well in this regard – that it takes two to make a relationship work. And she is more than willing to keep up her end of the bargain. She is more than willing to major twin her girlish figure by starving herself for a little bit of financial security. For what’s a little bit of hunger when you know your life is secure. Pleasing her man will only go so far – though for Catherine the process will last longer than for her local counterparts seeing as how she had the best coaches (family is everything to her for this reason). And nothing connects you to someone else more than your own flesh and blood. For blood, as we all know, is far thicker than water. Nine months of worrying whether she will be able to maintain her girlish physique once she has given birth and figuring out ways how to go about this later – plus twelve hours of labor – are nothing compared to the financial security an heir – or two – will bring. If timed right, this should see her well into retirement but before she gets too old to find another man. Once the appropriate period of mourning husband number one has passed.