"Katerina Goes to Studio City," by Thomas Perry, in The Strand Magazine, LXII, 2020.
This story puts me in an awkward position. I always publish my best-of-the-year list in my final SleuthSayers column of January, to give me a few extra weeks to catch those last stories. But this issue of The Strand didn't arrive until late February. I will have to go back and add this tale to my list. Ah well.
Katerina is a teenager leading a miserable life in Moscow with no hint of a better future. Then her best friend escapes to the United States and Katerina, a very resourceful girl, arranges to go as well.
Naive as she is, she does not realize why a Russian oligarch ("He's like a king,") would be willing to help a beautiful young girl come to California. He sends a different man to her apartment every night and Katerina develops a wide assortment of tricks and games to keep them out of her bed.
Does this begin to sound familiar? Are you perhaps humming a few bars of Scheherazade?
Before this very clever story ends Katerina will ring in a different and also very old tale.