Merciless Saints: Chapter 19

WINTER

When I wake up, Damien’s not in bed. I sit up and rub the sleep from my eyes. He kept me up until the early morning hours, and I can still feel him inside me.

A smile forms around my lips as I climb off the bed and walk to the bathroom. I open the faucets so the water can fill the tub while I brush my teeth.

Mrs. Vetrov.

I knew our first night together would be intense, but damn, Damien wasn’t joking when he said he’s going to claim me.

And I relished every second.

Turns out instead of destroying me, Damien’s lifting me up out of the ruins left of my life.

I rinse my mouth and then lift my eyes to my reflection in the mirror. I’m no longer the Blood Princess. Last night Damien made me his Blood Queen.

Warmth spreads through my chest, and then I realize I’m falling for him. Fast and hard. At first, the thought makes fear slither through my heart, but then I remember how he claimed my body, and it quickly retreats.

Damien might be merciless, but only when it comes to the enemy. He’s a devastating potency no one can escape. Not even me.

I no longer want to escape him. I no longer fear him.

I know with absolute certainty I made the right decision when I married Damien, and it makes me want to get to know everything about him.

I step into the bath, and as I begin to wash my body, I take in the marks he left between my thighs. Love bites are scattered over my breasts.

God, the man branded me.

Another smile forms on my lips as I continue to clean myself. I soak my stiff muscles for a short while and then get out. After drying myself and applying my favorite cherry blossom scented lotion, I get dressed in black cargo pants and a shirt. I pull on my boots, and tying my hair back, I go in search of my husband.

I only find Dana in the kitchen, and while she fixes me a cup of coffee, I stare at the table where Damien made me beg for him to fuck me raw.

“Mr. Vetrov and the other two are out back,” Dana informs me as she hands me the steaming cup of coffee.

“Thank you.” My gaze drifts over her face, and knowing she must still be hurting, I give her shoulder a squeeze. “We’re safe with them,” I assure her.

She nods, her blue gaze meeting mine. “You’re my family.”

“You won’t lose me as well,” I murmur. “Damien can protect me.”

She nods, and I drink half the coffee before setting the cup down. I walk out the backdoor, and glancing over the grounds, I see Damien walking toward me.

“What are you busy with?” I ask when he’s close enough to hear me.

Damien doesn’t answer me immediately but instead wraps his fingers around my throat, pulling me in for a kiss.

“Morning, Wife,” he murmurs against my lips.

“Morning, Husband,” I chuckle, but it quickly fades when I see his grim expression. “What’s wrong?”

Damien drops his hand to mine, and linking our fingers, he pulls me in the direction he just came from. “Alexei and Demitri got word Adrian was sniffing around Finland. They went to meet with him.”

“What?” I gasp. Instantly anger begins to bleed into my chest, and I yank back against Damien’s hand. “Why would they meet the man who murdered my father and brother?

Damien tightens his hold on my hand. “To kill him.”

The words wash the anger from me, and I immediately calm down.

His eyes meet mine with a hard stare. “They got him to talk. He was contracted by Antonio Blanco.”

“But Alexei killed Adrian? Right?” I ask to make sure.

“He did,” Damien mutters as he leads me in the direction of the birch and pine forest.

This is what happens when you marry into the right family. They take care of your problems.

After a couple of minutes, Damien tugs me to a stop. His eyes drift over my face and seeing the worry tightening his features, I ask, “What else?”

“Madame Keller sends her apology. Alexei and Demitri went to retrieve your father and brother’s remains last night. As well as our belongings.”

His words are a blow to my broken heart, and I struggle to get the words out, “They’re here?”

Damien pulls me against his chest, and placing a hand behind my head, he presses a kiss to my hair. “They are. It’s time to bury them.”

A funeral.

I get to lay Dad and Sean to rest where Mom was buried. My family will be reunited in the afterworld.

The thought gives me some comfort, but it also makes my sorrow engulf me.

When I nod, Damien keeps an arm around my shoulders, and tucked against his side, we walk the last of the distance to the family cemetery.

When we break through the lining of trees, my eyes scan over the two holes, ready for the burial. Seeing the guards who’ve been with us for years reminds me of Dana.

“Dana should be here,” I whisper.

“I’ll get her,” Demitri offers, and he immediately jogs away.

My gaze stops on the two coffins, and knowing Dad and Sean are inside them makes sorrow twist my heart into a painful lump.

Alexei comes to stand in front of me, and it has me bringing my eyes to his.

“Thank you,” I say, my voice hoarse. “Thank you for killing Adrian and bringing them home.”

Alexei surprises me by pulling me into a hug, and for a moment, I stiffen in his arms. Then he murmurs, “I tried to find Cillian, as well, but the scene was cleaned before my contact got there.”

Oh, God.

Cillian.

What happened to his body? Ugly thoughts begin to swarm in my mind that he was dumped or burned with the rest of the dead.

My shoulders quake under the onslaught of grief, and it makes Alexei tighten his hold on me.

“I’m sorry, little Winter,” Alexei whispers.

I nod against his shoulder, and the moment he lets go of me, I step closer to Damien’s side.

Damien wraps his arm around me, and I press my cheek to the side of his chest as I try not to cry.

 


 

DAMIEN

 

When Demitri returns with Dana, I lower my mouth to Winter’s ear. “Would you like to say something?”

She nods and then steps out of my hold. My eyes don’t leave her as she walks to the coffins. Her fingers brush over the wood, and then she asks, “Which one is Sean?”

Alexei gestures to the other coffin, and Winter goes to kneel by it. She swallows hard and presses a kiss to it. “I’m sorry, Sean. I’m so sorry I didn’t protect you.”

She closes her eyes, and her body jerks once as she fights to keep her emotions under control.

I fist my hands at my sides, so I don’t rush to her side. After making her mine, it creates a vicious storm inside me to see Winter in so much pain. My jaw tightens as the need for revenge begins to form in me.

Winter gets up and goes to kneel by her father’s coffin. “I’ll kill them all. I promise.” She swallows hard, then whispers, “Give Mom a hug from me.”

She rises to her feet and glances between the two coffins, and then she takes a quivering breath. Softly, she begins to sing, her Irish accent more evident than ever. The guards, who are Irish, softly join in.

The song is the same as the one she was listening to right after we got home. It’s filled with reverence, and the love Winter has for her fallen family makes each lyric sound achingly sad.

When the last notes of the song fade, Winter whispers, “Goodnight.”

She begins to walk away from the coffins and passes right by me. When she keeps going, I glance at Demitri, who quickly says, “We’ll bury them. Go with her.”

I rush after Winter, and when I catch up to her, she lets out a heartbreaking sob as she wraps her arm around her middle as if the sorrow is threatening to tear her in half.

Without giving it another thought, I sweep her up into my arms and continue to walk toward the house.

“The shore,” she squeezes the words out, and as I change direction, she wraps her arms around my neck and buries her face against my shoulder.

“Shh…” I whisper.

When I reach the shore, I sit down and position Winter, so her back is resting against my chest. I keep my eyes trained on the land in the distance so she’ll have some privacy while she grieves.

“Cillian,” she gasps. “I can’t even bury him.”

I wrap my arms tightly around her and press a kiss to her hair. As my wife breaks down in my arms, I promise to make the Blancos suffer the way she’s suffering.

Knowing it will help calm her a little, I murmur, “We’ll take our revenge soon.”

She begins to nod, then turns a little so she can see my face. I take in her tearstained cheeks and the bruised look in her eyes, and once again, I pull her to me.

My arms keep tightening around her until she lets out a whimper. When I slacken my hold, she presses closer to me.

I press my mouth to her forehead as I fight to restrain the incessant need to kill her enemies.

My enemies.

Bringing my hand to Winter’s chin, I nudge her face up until our eyes meet. “You’re not alone.”

Winter nods, and wrapping her arms around my neck, she straddles my lap and presses herself hard against me. I position a hand behind her head and wrap my other arm around her. For a long while, I give Winter the comfort she needs as we just hold each other.

She’s grown quiet, but I don’t move. As a breeze picks up, she whispers, “I’m falling for you. Please catch me.”

I pull back so I can see Winter’s eyes, and my gaze drifts over her face. My heart expands until it’s brimming with my devotion to her. I’ve never felt such strong emotions for another person, and it has me murmuring, “I’ve already caught you. Give your heart to me, Princess. Love me.”

Winter pulls her arms back and frames my jaw with soft palms. We stare deep into each other’s eyes, and then she leans forward and presses a tender kiss to my mouth. “You have my heart, Damien.”

I don’t let her pull back but hold her to me as I take her mouth. My tongue brushes over hers, wanting to taste the words she said. Our lips fuse together, and minutes pass while our tongues dance before we slowly pull apart.

Winter rests her cheek on my shoulder, and I feel her breaths skim over my neck. After a couple of seconds, she whispers, “Tell me about your childhood.”

Frowning, I ask, “Why?”

She lets out a chuckle. “Growing up, I heard scary stories about the Vetrovs. Cillian made it sound like you’re the boogeyman.”

“Baba Yaga,” I murmur. “Cillian wasn’t wrong.”

Winter lifts her head and frowns at me.

I glance out over the water. “I fired my first gun at the age of seven. By the time I was thirteen, I never missed. For my sixteenth birthday, my father took me hunting.”

“What did you hunt?” Winter asks.

I turn my eyes back to her. “My father had a contract to assassinate someone, and he had me do it.”

“So, you killed the contract?” she asks.

I nod, then ask, “How old were you when Cillian taught you to fire a weapon.”

“Fourteen.”

I lift my hand to her neck and brush a finger over the scar. “Tell me what happened.”

Winter takes a deep breath. “We were leaving a shopping center. Halfway to the car, they opened fire on us. My mom… she grabbed me and pushed me to the ground. We both got shot, only she was shot in the head. Cillian grabbed me and got me out of there. He fixed me…” her voice drifts away, and long seconds pass before she murmurs, “Cillian was everything to me. He took over the role of my mother. He was my best friend. He’s every good memory I have.”

I brush my thumb over the scar again. “You loved him a lot.”

“More than anyone.”

Our eyes meet, and tilting my head, I say, “I’m sorry you lost him.”

We sit for a while longer, then I get up and pull Winter to her feet. As we walk back to the house, I look at the island with new eyes. This place is now my home, and Winter is the only thing I live for.

 

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