Ruthless Saints: Chapter 8

CARSON

When the motion sensor begins to beep, I turn it off and walk to the front door. Opening it, I watch as the armored SUV comes to a standstill, and then Alexei and Demitri get out.

My lips curve up as I walk toward my brother and his personal guard.

With Alexei being five years older than me, we look like twins, both of us taking after our father. The only difference is the worry lines etched between his eyebrows. It makes him look deadlier than I remember.

As soon as Alexei’s eyes land on me, a grin spreads over his face, and then he opens his arms wide. When we hug, the heaviness that’s been weighing on my heart lifts a little.

We stand holding each other for a long moment before Alexei pulls back. With his hands resting on my shoulders, his eyes meet mine. “It’s been too long.”

I nod, then turn to give Demitri a quick hug.

“Come in,” I say as I lead the way.

Alexei takes in the place I call home, and I let him inspect every room. He doesn’t make any comments until we walk into the armory.

“Good,” he mutters, seemingly happy. “Did you get the weapons from Lucian?”

Lucian’s the head of the Italian Mafia and a close friend of the family.

“Yes.”

“Good,” Alexei says again. “Let’s drink.”

I let out a chuckle, my brother’s favorite words settling warm in my chest.

We head up the stairs and walking into the living room, Alexei and Demitri take a seat while I pour each of us a vodka.

When I’ve handed them their drinks, I sit down on the other couch.

“Na zdoróvʹje,” we toast, and after Alexei’s taken a sip, he asks, “Who’s the girl?”

Fuck.

I should’ve known better than trying to hide Hailey from him.

“How did you find out?” I want to know who betrayed me.

“Demitri,” Alexei mutters.

When I glance at my brother’s custodian and best friend, he only shrugs apologetically.

My brother’s tone turns hard as he asks, “Who’s the fucking girl?”

“Just a local in the village. She works at the bar.”

“A fucking local,” he barks. “Have I taught you nothing?”

“There’s nothing to be worried about,” I snap back at him.

Alexei stares at me for so long, I can actually feel the minutes tick by.

“Christ,” he mutters, and then he downs his drink. Getting up, he goes to pour himself another. “You’re going to get her killed. She’s not from our world.”

“I know.”

“Do you?” Alexei asks as he turns around with the tumbler in his hand.

“I do. That’s why I broke all contact with her.”

Slowly Alexei nods, and then he takes his phone out of his pocket, and a moment later, my own beeps. I pull the device out and open the message from him.

Fuck.

It’s photos of Hailey and me in Zürich, outside her house, and in Bern.

“Lie to me again, and I’m going to beat you up,” Alexei threatens.

I drop my phone on the couch, and letting out a sigh, I slump back against the cushion.

This is why my brother is the best in the world. He fucking knows when you’re going to take a shit before you even think of taking one.

“I like her,” I admit out loud for the first time.

“You liking her is what will get her killed. You know this.” Alexei comes to take a seat next to me and turns his body so he’s facing me. Placing his hand on my shoulder, he continues, “She’s an innocent. She’s not from our world. Are you willing to risk her life?”

My eyes lock with my brother’s. “I’m trying my best to stay away from her.”

Alexei shakes his head at me again. “Why this girl?”

Staring into his dark gaze, I only see worry where the rest of humanity would see death.

“She makes me feel alive. I’ve never experienced anything like the emotions I have when I’m around her.”

“Does she know what you do? Who we are?”

“Of course not,” I snap.

“Exactly my fucking point.” Alexei’s fingers begin to dig into my shoulder. “What do you think this girl will do the second she finds out who we are?”

She’ll probably be horrified.

Hailey will never look at me the same way again.

For a moment, I close my eyes, and it has Alexei pulling me in for a hug. “You can’t live in her world, and she won’t come into ours. It will never work,” he says, his grip on me tightening.

I know.

“I’m trying to stay away from her,” I mutter.

Alexei pulls back, and his sharp gaze searches my face. “How much do you like her?”

Way too fucking much.

Alexei sees the answer on my face, and it has him cursing. “This isn’t like Damien and Winter. I can’t arrange an alliance. I can’t do anything to fucking make this work for you.” His fingers wrap around the back of my neck. “I’m sorry, brother. If you care for her the way I think you do, you’ll let her go.”

I fucking tried.

“I can’t,” I answer honestly.

“How do you plan on keeping her safe?”

“I’ve arranged safety with Madame Keller. Hailey has the number and knows to phone them if anything goes wrong.”

“And?”

“And what?”

“You have enemies, Carson. You’ve just gained a whole Albanian family, and it’s going to take me a while to silence them all.”

“I’ll take care of it. It’s my mess.”

Slowly, Alexei shakes his head. “I’ve dealt with them before. Tristan almost lost everything because of the Albanians. I’ll handle it.”

Tristan’s my brother’s business partner back in LA. I haven’t met him yet, but I know Alexei is close with him.

“There is a way,” Demitri speaks up for the first time. “Come clean with her. If she accepts who you are, then you can get a custodian to guard her when you’re away for work. St. Monarch’s has two custodians in training who are pretty good. They’ll be up for auction soon. The girl will have to come over to our world, or you’ll have to let her go. Let her make the choice.”

Alexei gestures at Demitri, then he asks me, “Are you willing to tell her you kill for a living?”

Not at the moment.

I let out an empty-sounding chuckle as I shake my head. “I have to make her love me before I drop that bomb on her.”

Alexei pats my shoulder. “It’s going to take me a couple of weeks to clean up the Albanian mess. If you can’t make her fall for you before I have to go back to LA, then you let her go.”

It’s better than nothing.

“You take no jobs and guard this girl. If she dies on your watch, I’ll be fucking pissed with you.” When I nod, Alexei adds, “Just lay low for a while.”

I hate that he has to clean up the mess I made, but it will give me precious time with Hailey. Even if I have to let her go at some point, at least I’ll have more memories of her.

There’s a sudden burst of excitement in my chest, and Alexei immediately picks up on it. “You’re fucking in love.” He shakes his head. “I really hope this works out for you.”

 


 

HAILEY

 

It’s been two long weeks since I last saw Carson, and I’ve gone from hoping to run into him to trying to accept the fact that I won’t see him again.

It sucks. Huge, hairy donkey balls.

It’s also put a damper on the excitement I usually get while traveling. Honestly, I just want to curl up in my bed and cry.

I don’t understand why, though. It’s not like I knew him for that long. But, still, it feels like I lost something important.

Stop, Hailey.

I’m irritated with myself, and the constant feeling that I’m being watched is wearing me thin.

Maybe I should just pack up and move?

I’ve just left the bar after my shift, and walking home with my arms crossed over my chest, I keep glancing behind me.

This is ridiculous!

Stopping in the middle of the road, I turn around and call out, “Who’s there?” When there’s no answer, I mutter, “Coward.”

Suddenly the shadows move until I can make out a figure. My heart leaps to my throat, and fear ripples through me.

Run, Hailey.

Just as I spin around, I hear, “Hailey, it’s me.”

A gasp explodes over my lips, and my eyes dart to Carson just as he steps into the light of a street lamp.

Darting toward him, emotions rush through me, and when I throw my arms around his neck, I press my face against his skin and take a deep breath.

Happiness hits me like a tsunami, making trembles shudder through my body.

“I thought I’d never see you again,” I squeeze the words out through a tight throat. “I missed you. So much.”

Carson’s arms wrap around me, and it makes everything feel right again.

We stand for the longest time just holding each other, and then he says, “I tried to stay away.”

Pulling back, I slap his shoulder. “You’ve been watching me? It almost drove me insane!”

Carson steps back. “I’m sorry.”

Seeing his face makes another wave of happiness hit, and moving forward, I hug him again. “It’s so good to see you again.”

When I finally let go of Carson, he presses a hand against my lower back. “Can we talk?”

“Sure. My place?” I ask as we begin to walk the short distance to my cabin.

“Yes.”

I keep glancing up at his face, needing to make sure he’s still here even though his hand is on my lower back.

I notice how my fingers are shaking when I unlock the front door, and stepping inside, I turn on the lights. When Carson walks into my temporary home, it really sinks in.

He’s here.

I shut the door behind him before he can change his mind and decide to leave. “Can I make you some coffee?”

He shakes his head, his eyes drifting over me with emotion tightening his features as if he hasn’t seen me for years.

As if he missed me.

As if I mean something to him.

“I needed time to figure things out,” he says, and it has me gesturing to the living room. I wait for him to sit before I plop down next to him.

“And? Did you figure things out?” I ask to get him talking again.

He shakes his head. “No.”

Fear that he’ll disappear again creeps into my heart. “What things are we talking about?”

His eyes lock on mine, and the intensity hits harder than it ever has. “Us.”

Wanting to lighten the tension, I joke, “So you’re admitting there’s an us?”

It doesn’t draw a smile from him. Instead, he takes a deep breath then says, “We come from different worlds.”

“I know. You’re Russian. I’m American. You’re an introvert. I’m an extrovert.” Scrunching my nose, I say, “It can work between opposites.”

“It’s not that.”

I hold up a hand to stop him. “Before you tell me why you think it won’t work…” I take a deep breath and push through, “kiss me. If it sucks, we’ll know, and we can skip the whole talk about why it won’t work. At least then we can be friends because I really like you, and I’d like to keep you in my life. If it doesn’t –”

Carson moves so fast, I barely have time to register it, and then his mouth slams against mine. His hands find the sides of my jaw, and holding me in place, his tongue drives into my mouth.

A second passes before my mind catches up. My emotions explode like fireworks in my chest, setting my insides on fire.

Carson tilts his head, and everything I ever thought I knew about kissing, about dating, about relationships fade away.

His mouth begins to devour mine, making me burn up to the point where I start worrying about spontaneous combustion being an actual possibility.

Carson’s kissing me.

The thought rockets through me like a missile, and then I become aware of how amazing it feels to have his mouth on mine. The way his lips knead mine. How addictive he tastes.

A satisfied moan leaves me as I press closer to him. With my focus solely on Carson, I get swept away on a cloud of pure bliss as our mouths explore each other.

This is what I was scared of never experiencing.

With our lips tugging, our teeth nipping, our tongues stroking, I quickly become breathless.

There’s no sign of my recluse. Carson dominates me, and all I can do is submit.

This is the part of Carson I haven’t seen yet. The side I knew was always there. It’s where the intensity comes from, and it’s one hell of a turn-on to finally experience it.

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