I signal the bartender for another Bloody Mary, adding to the collection of empty glasses in front of me. Somehow, I’m not even feeling tipsy yet. And I need it if I have to put up with any more of Paul’s boring business chat.
I did plan to just have a quiet drink by myself in the booth.
That was until I spotted the same guy from the taxi watching me from the corner of the room. Call me paranoid, something about it is just screaming Frankie.
He’s powerful enough to have allies all over the country. Whoever this Mikhail is that Frankie has been talking about with Enzo, I bet my life it’s them.
Which is when Paul entered. I thought I’d test my theory. Just like that, one drink later, a few fake laughs, and my Russian friend is on the phone.
I’m pretty sure he even took a picture of me.
The bartender slides over my drink while carefully avoiding eye contact with me.
I swear, Paul has been gone for ages now.
My new stalker is also missing. I need to get back to my room and lock the door. I can’t do anything tonight. Other than suck it up and call the one person who probably wants to strangle me right now.
I shouldn’t have left. I’m way out of my depth here.
Holding my phone in my hand, my purse under my arm, I keep my head down and make my way as quick as I can to the elevators and jab the button. With my heart in my throat, I step in and let the doors close. As soon as I’m safe, I blow out a breath and rest against the mirrored back wall.
I have no doubt I am going to be in serious trouble for this.
It will be worth every second, I’m sure. He doesn’t need to know I secretly enjoy it.
As soon as I get back in my room, I slam the door shut, pulling the chain across and locking the door. The deep Russian voices echo outside my door, and I step away and dial the only person in the world that can help me.
I start to shake as I listen to it ring.
“Shit,” I whisper.
I pace the room, calling him over and over.
“Pick up, Frankie,” I whisper-shout into the empty room.
The talking in the hall stops. I hold my breath and tiptoe over, placing my ear against the door, and wait. After a few minutes, I’m confident they’re gone. Frankie still isn’t answering. Disappointment fills me.
I unzip my dress and put on my nightgown before slipping under the covers and pulling them tight around my neck. It was probably all in my head, anyway. I’m safe in my room, I hope.
I wake up with numb arms, causing me to shake my head in confusion. I try to move them to rub my eyes, but they feel heavy and unresponsive.
What the hell?
As my eyes focus, I realize there are several men staring back at me. Those dark figures in the room come into sight.
The Russian accent slams into me, and I instantly recognize him as the guy from the airport.
I swallow hard, trying to suppress the bile that threatens to rise up my throat.
They all laugh. One steps to the foot of the bed. It’s the huge guy from downstairs.
“You’re in a lot of trouble, Zara.”
“W-what? I’m a cop, you know that, right?” This is not a good place to be in. Might as well throw out all my cards.
Their eyes go wide, then they shrug it off.
My arms are pinned above my head. As I struggle, the ropes dig painfully into my wrists, causing me to quickly abandon my attempts.
“Don’t do that,” another familiar voice says from my right.
The taxi driver. My stalker from last night.
“We can’t have any marks on you. Deal’s off otherwise.”
I suck in a breath.
The room falls silent as the main guy at the foot of the bed pulls out his phone. “Sit tight, angel.”
I stiffen at his use of the word. There’s only one person who calls me that. I look down and I’m still under the covers, my body hidden from them.
The three guys all walk out, and the silence becomes deafening. I kick out on the bed, thrashing my body, trying to free my wrists. No matter how much it hurts, I have to get out.
The door clicks again, and my heart rate spikes as heavy footsteps draw closer.
Through teary eyes, he comes into view. In his navy suit and an expression I can only explain as pure fury on his face. Despite his anger, relief washes over me, followed closely by my own rage.
“Took you long enough?” I spit out, tugging my weak arms at the ropes.
He stops at the foot of the bed, his eyes fixed on me. “You don’t get to run from me, dolcezza.”
A lump forms in my throat.
I really am in trouble.
“Look, untie me and we can go back and talk about this.” I give him a small smile to try to appease him.
“Do you honestly believe that’s how this is going to go, Zara?”
He reaches the edge of the bed, his fingers closing tightly around my throat. Desperate for air, I strain my neck, trying to inhale.
As he eases his grip, I gasp for breath, my heart pounding in my ears.
“Frankie, please,” I choke out.
He tips his head to the side, his thumb brushing against my lower lip.
“There isn’t a single corner you could run to where I wouldn’t scorch the earth to find you. I told you, you belong to me. Understand?” His dark eyes pierce into me.
I’m not scared of him.
The way he touches me has the opposite effect.