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Broken Whispers: Chapter 10

Bianca

When I exit the school building around noon, Mikhail is already waiting for me by his monstrous SUV. He is leaning on the hood with his arms crossed in front of his chest, looking mean and sexy in his all-black outfit and aviator glasses. His casual posture says he doesn’t have a care in the world, but I’m not fooled. He is aware of everything happening around him. I’ve noticed how he scans his environment every time he arrives somewhere, weighing all possible threats in the vicinity. It’s as if he is always expecting someone to jump out of the bushes and start shooting.

“How was the class?” he asks when I approach.

I don’t intend to discuss the fact that the class went great, or that they asked me to come again next week. Mikhail owes me something from last night, and I plan on taking it. I stop in front of him, cock my head, and regard him through narrowed eyes.

“Is something wrong, Bianca?”

I nod. It certainly is. Raising my hand in front of me, I curl my finger, asking him to bend down. Mikhail lowers his head. I wish he wasn’t wearing those sunglasses, because even without them, it’s hard to read him. I focus my gaze on his lips, still a couple of inches from mine, and see them curve up slightly. His hand cups my chin, and in the next moment, he crashes his mouth to mine.

It’s not a soft kiss, but a raw, hungry thing. He is always so perfectly controlled, but the few times his composure has slipped have me wondering what lurks below. I can’t wait for the moment when the reins on his control snap completely.

He lets go of my chin but doesn’t move away. “And now? Something still wrong?”

I smirk and shake my head. He is learning. I place my hand on his face, but the moment my fingers touch the skin of his right cheek, he lifts his head abruptly and steps back.

“We should go if we want to avoid traffic,” he says and opens the passenger’s door for me.

We are halfway to the apartment when Mikhail takes out his phone and calls someone. He’s speaking Russian again, and the only words I catch are “Ford Explorer”. The person on the other end says something, and then Mikhail cuts the call.

“We’re taking a small detour,” he says.

We keep a steady pace, driving for about twenty minutes. Soon enough, we leave the hustle and bustle of the city traffic behind, and there are fewer buildings fronting the highway. We’re headed somewhere out of town. Suddenly, Mikhail floors the gas pedal. I grab the door handle and hold on as if my life depends on it. The speedometer on the dash starts climbing, fast, reaching almost one hundred miles per hour. Mikhail looks in the rearview mirror and makes a sharp right turn, taking a narrow dirt road. I look behind at the black Ford Explorer taking the same turn and speeding after us. Mikhail keeps driving, maintaining the distance for twenty more minutes, then turns onto another dirt road leading to a factory visible in the distance. His phone rings once, then stops.

“Take my phone,” he says. “Send a message to Denis. It’s the number I just called.”

I grab the phone, find the call in the log, and open a message window.

“Type… I need one of them alive.”

I tense, my fingers freezing above the keyboard for a second, then type the message and send it.

“Now, listen to me carefully,” he says, glancing at the rearview mirror again. “I’ll park in front of the factory. You lock yourself in, get down onto the floor, and don’t leave the car. No matter what. Do you understand?”

I nod and try to control the panic building in my chest.

“If things go south, you start the car and leave. Go downtown, park somewhere crowded, and wait. Someone will come to pick you up as soon as possible. The car has GPS tracking.”

And leave him in the middle of nowhere? Is he insane? How will he get back?

“Do you understand what I’m saying, solnyshko?”

I don’t plan on leaving him, but it’s not the best moment to have that discussion, so I nod.

“Good.”

The car screeches to a stop in front of the factory entrance. Mikhail takes off his sunglasses, reaches under his seat, and takes out a gun.

“Lock yourself in.”

He jumps out and slams the door closed behind him, and then he’s gone.

 

Mikhail

 

I run inside the abandoned factory, cock the gun, and stand by the broken window, which gives me a direct view of the road and the entrance gate. The vehicle that followed us rushes through the gate a moment later and stops about five yards from my car. No one gets out for a couple of minutes. They’re probably debating what to do. Eventually, one of the back doors opens and a man gets out, holding a gun at the ready. He aims for the back window of my car, and shoots. Nothing happens, so he tries three more times.

It’s an armored car, you idiot.

I throw a quick look toward the gate. Where the fuck is Denis? If I start shooting, they might hightail it out of here, and we’ll lose them.

The other back door opens and a bald man in his forties gets out, carrying a shotgun. Shit. I’m not sure how many rounds the glass can take, and I don’t plan on risking Bianca’s life. I aim at the bald guy’s head, visible above the car door, and shoot. His head jerks backward and he crumbles to the ground at the same moment I off the second guy. There are a few seconds of silence, then the two front doors open. I duck before the driver and another guy open fire in my direction.

Glass from the window starts raining on top of me. One of the larger pieces embeds itself into my back, up by my shoulder. I reach back and take it out, slicing my hand in the process.

An engine comes to life, and for a second, I think Denis has finally arrived. But the sound is too close. A second later there is a sound of a crush and the gunfire ceases. I look through the window and shake my head. My sophisticated little wife has just rammed the pursuers’ vehicle.

I rush out of the building and run toward the shooters, who are lying on the ground. Their doors must have been open when Bianca hit them. Seems like the driver is more or less unscathed, already reaching for his gun that’s lying on the ground a few feet from him. I shoot him in the head before he gets to it, collect the gun, and circle the car. The last guy is crouched on the ground, vomiting. Based on the amount of blood at the back of his head, he hit it pretty hard. I kick his gun away from him when I hear the sound of another approaching car. Five seconds later, Denis parks behind me and jumps out.

“I see you have everything already handled, boss.” He smiles like an idiot.

“Where the fuck were you?”

“I took a wrong turn. Sorry, boss.”

I curse and point to the other three bodies. “Check them. Then call for a cleanup.” I turn toward the vomiting guy. “Bag this one and take him to the east warehouse. I’ll question him tomorrow. Call the doc in to see him, if necessary. I need him alive.”

I turn around and head off toward my car.

 

Bianca

 

The first thing my husband says when he opens the door after I just saved his life?

“You smashed my taillights.”

I raise my eyebrows, snort, and move over into the passenger’s seat. Mikhail gets in, and when he reaches to turn on the car, I notice the blood on his right hand. I suck in a sharp breath and place my hand over his. He lets go of the keys and lets me inspect his palm. There is dirt mixed with the blood. I can’t see where he is bleeding from, and I don’t want to risk making it worse by trying to brush the dirt away. I take the hem of my T-shirt, tear a piece of the material, and then carefully wrap it around his hand. When I look up, I find him watching me. I point to myself, then to the wheel.

“It’s just a scratch, Bianca. I can drive,” he says and starts the car.

Mikhail spends the entire trip back to his place talking to someone over the speakerphone. I’m not sure who it is, but the voice is familiar, probably their pakhan. I have no idea what’s said because the whole conversation happens in Russian, so I lean back in my seat and close my eyes.

I’ve been shot at. Again. In less than a month. Will this become a norm for me now? Being married into the Bratva seems to be much more life-threatening than I expected. So why the hell am I not more shaken by that fact? I open my eyes just a sliver and watch my husband. There is something incredibly sexy in the way Mikhail speaks Russian, he sounds less guarded. I don’t know if it’s because he is using his native language or because he’s close with Petrov. Will he ever be that relaxed with me?

Mikhail parks the car in the underground garage, and when he leans to open his door, I notice a red stain on the beige leather seat. He’s hurt. Why hasn’t he said anything, damn it? I follow him with my eyes and spot a wet stain on his shirt, near his left shoulder blade. What the fuck is wrong with him? I jump from my seat, slam the car door, and look up at him.

“Mad at me again?”

I point to his shoulder and throw my hands in the air. Of course, I’m mad!

“It’s nothing, Bianca. Relax.”

Relax? He’s bleeding all over the place and wants me to relax? I turn and start marching toward the elevator.

When we get inside the apartment, I go right to the kitchen, open the bottom drawer where I stored the first aid kit the previous time, and start taking out the supplies. Mikhail watches me from the doorway, while I line up the stuff on the kitchen counter, then scrub my hands. With that done, I turn toward him and wait.

Mikhail keeps standing on the same spot, staring back at me, and I swear, if he doesn’t come here this second, I’m going to drag him over myself. Finally, he moves and goes straight to the sink. After he removes my makeshift bandage and washes away the blood, he puts his hand on the counter in front of me, palm up.

Three of his fingers have been cut, probably with glass, but it’s rather shallow. I clean the cuts, apply some antibiotic cream, and put a Band-Aid on each. I close the box, point to his shoulder, indicating with my finger for him to turn around.

“No. I’ll handle that one.”

And how does he plan to treat the wound on his back himself? I cock my head to the side and mouth the words to him, “The shoulder.”

He ignores me and reaches for the antiseptic spray. Oh, for God’s sake, he is so bloody stubborn. I place my hand over his and press my other hand to his chest. Slowly, I trace the letters on his chest with the tip of my finger.

P-L-E-A-S-E

He watches my finger, then meets my eyes and there is this look on his face . . . I can’t quite define it, but it seems vulnerable.

“Okay,” he says, and grabbing me around the waist, he lifts me to sit on the countertop.

For a few moments he just stands there—his hands gripping the edge of the counter on either side of me, his body leaning forward, and his jaw is set in a hard line. Our faces are so close, I can feel his breath on my skin while the deep blue of his eye watches me closely.

“It’s not a pretty sight, Bianca,” Mikhail says in an even voice, his face closed off. “If you can’t stomach it, just say so.”

I don’t have a problem with blood. He knows that already. I’m missing something. Mikhail turns his back to me and starts unbuttoning his shirt. A feeling of dread collects in my stomach. I remember his arm from that one time I saw it. He always wears long sleeves, and the other night when I placed my hands on his back, I felt ridges on his skin. Although, it was too dark to see anything. His hesitation isn’t about the wound at all. He doesn’t want me to see his back.

Mikhail finishes unbuttoning his shirt, takes it off, and throws it onto the floor. I stare at his back as tears start pooling at the corners of my eyes, and no amount of self-control can keep them from falling. Long, slightly raised but faded with age marks crisscross his torso. Old wounds. So… so many of them. There are a few patches of untouched skin, but other than that, his whole back is a tapestry of scar tissue.

I close my eyes for a second and brush off the tears with my hand. When I look again, Mikhail is still standing in the same position, his back to me, looking straight ahead and letting me take my fill. I take a deep breath, reach for the compress pack and the antiseptic spray, and turn my attention to the cut on his left shoulder blade. It’s not very deep, probably won’t need stitches. I clean the cut with sterile gauze several times, coat the cut with an antibiotic cream, then place butterfly bandages to hold the skin together. With that done, I put a layer of gauze over the wound and secure it with a few pieces of medical tape. I take another breath to prepare myself for the pain that will come and place my hand on his upper arm.

“Turn around, Mikhail.” My voice is so faint, barely a whisper, but it feels like I’m yelling because my throat hurts like someone is scrubbing sandpaper over my vocal cords.

Mikhail turns to face me, and the movement is so quick and sudden, I flinch. He’s looking at me like I’ve grown another head. I move my gaze down to his chest. No whip marks here, but there are burns on his side and stomach, as well as numerous scars from knife cuts, like those on his arms. Dear God, how is he even alive?

I look up at his closed off face, raise my hands and bury them in his hair. Without removing my eyes from his, I hook one finger under the string of his eyepatch and wait. He doesn’t say a word, just grinds his teeth and nods. I nod in reply and remove the patch.

He still has both eyes, but while his left eye is clear and deep ocean-blue, the iris on his right one is much paler and foggy. There is some heavy scarring on the skin around it, and on the eyelid, as if someone tried to remove his eye.

“I have around five percent of sight left in my right eye,” he says in a detached voice, “but it interferes with the sight in my left one, making everything blurry. I wear the patch all the time, except when sleeping, working out, or showering.”

Oh, Mikhail . . .what happened to you? I wonder if he’ll ever tell me. With me sitting this high up, we’re almost face to face, so I lean forward until our noses touch and put my palms on either side of his face, feeling the harsh ridges marring his skin.

“Jesus, Bianca.” He closes his eyes and touches his forehead to mine. “How can you bear to look at me?”

I reach out with my hand to remove a strand of his hair that has fallen over his forehead, and brush the back of my palm down his right cheek. The pain he experienced sustaining this must have been unbearable. The longest of the scars is breaking his right eyebrow into two parts, and I trace my finger along it, then down his nose, until I reach his mouth.

“I think . . .” My throat screams in pain, but I continue anyway. “You are . . . hot.”

I cup his face with my palms and place a kiss on his lips. Then another one. I am obsessed with his lips. I think I could spend hours just kissing him.

“You are crazy, solnyshko.”

Nope, not crazy. Just in love with him.

I don’t care about the scars or his eye. To me, he is the most handsome man I have ever met. Slowly, I glide my hands down his chest and abs until I reach the waistband of his pants and start unbuttoning them. Mikhail lets out a sound that reminds me of a growl, grabs me around the waist, and carries me toward his bedroom.

“Clothes off,” he says as he deposits me on the bed.

I scramble out of my T-shirt and jeans in record time, and fumble with the clasp on my bra while he hooks his fingers on the waistband of my panties and slides them down my legs.

“You are”—he places a kiss on my ankle—“so fucking beautiful.” Another kiss, this one on the inside of my thigh.

I watch him as he bends down, buries his face between my legs, and licks my pussy.

“I’m not much to look at,”—another lick—“but I’ll make sure you never think about any other man, Bianca.”

He thrusts one finger inside me and starts sucking my clit. It’s too much, but at the same time, I want more. He adds another finger, and oh God, I think I’m going to combust. His fingers are straining my walls, his tongue circling my clit, and I arch my back from the bed as a wave of pleasure rocks my body. Mikhail removes his mouth from my pussy, and suddenly, I feel the tip of his cock at my entrance, but he doesn’t thrust inside me right away. Instead, his big body looms over mine, his hand clutching the back of my neck as he looks down on me with mismatched eyes.

“Mine!” He growls as he starts sliding his cock inside so slowly, I feel as if I’m going to lose my mind. “If I see any man touch you, I’m going to kill him, Bianca.” He places his palm on my cheek and thrusts himself inside me, then retreats.

I take a sharp breath and my eyes roll back into my head. Mikhail lifts my legs to rest on his shoulders to get deeper inside of me. He hits that spot again, and I can feel myself getting closer to climax. When he forces my hips up off of the bed and drives into me, tremors start rocking my body. White stars explode behind my eyelids as I ride out my orgasm, while Mikhail continues to pound into me, destroying me in the best way possible.


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