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Silent Lies: Chapter 20

Sienna

“I think we should take Lollipop to a vet,” I mumble, following the orange fish with my eyes as it dashes this way and that between the water plants.

“Lollipop?” Tara raises an eyebrow.

“I like candy names,” I say and point my finger at the fish in question. “See that stripe on his right side? It wasn’t there before. Maybe he developed a skin condition.”

Tara leans forward, pressing her nose to the glass. “It looks normal to me. Just a part of the pattern on the scales.”

“No, I’m sure it wasn’t there before.”

“Then, it’s got to be dermatitis. Or should I say ‘scaletitis’?” she giggles. “Oh, there’s Adam, he had an aquarium once. Hey, Adam! Come here.”

Drago’s head enforcer steps into the dining room, somehow shrinking the space with his huge presence. He crosses his arms over his chest, making his biceps bulge and the artwork on his full-sleeve tattoo pop. “What is it?”

“Sienna thinks one of her fish is sick. The one with the stripe on its side.”

Adam crouches next to Tara, his head tilting askew as he observes his “patient.”

“I see nothing wrong with it.”

“He didn’t have that mark before.” I point at the fish. “See?”

“No, it’s just a patt—” He snaps his mouth closed. “Oh, yes, it can happen sometimes with that specific species. They change their coloring all the time. Nothing to worry about.”

“Really?” I look back at the fish. The pet store salesperson never mentioned it.

“Of course. Don’t worry if it happens again,” Adam quickly adds.

“And what about its fin?”

He glances at the fish tank nervously. “What about it?”

“His left fin was torn. And now it’s full again.”

“Yes, they have amazing healing abilities and can regrow fins and tails.”

I narrow my eyes at him. “It’s not the fish that I bought, is it?”

“Um, not exactly.” Adam raises his hand and brushes the back of his head, guilt written all over his face. “The previous one kind of . . . died. The boss had Iliya send us all a photo of it with an order to find one that looked the same and swap it.”

Tara falls into a fit of laughter.

I look back at the fish tank and imagine Drago instructing his men to comb the city, looking for a specific fish for me. A warm tingling feeling floods me as it does each time I think about my husband. It threatens to drown me.

I close my eyes, and my mind instantly drifts to two nights ago when Drago pinned me under him, claiming that I’m in love with him. Panic explodes in the pit of my stomach. It’s not true. I like him. When he’s away the entire day because of work, like today, I feel empty somehow. But I’m not in love with him. And he’s most definitely not in love with me, regardless of what he said. Our marriage is just a business agreement that worked out well. Nothing more. Nothing less.

“Um, Sienna . . . Can you pretend you don’t know about the fish?” Adam asks, pulling me out of my thoughts.

“Sure.” I nod and make myself smile.

“Thank God.” Adam lets out a sigh of relief.

Once he leaves, I untie the string on the pouch with my new glass pebbles and take a handful of stones. My hand hovers over the water as I let the crystals fall. I’m watching them sink to the bottom of the tank when Tara shrieks beside me.

“Sienna! Are you crazy?”

I look at her, confused. “What?”

“Where did you get these?”

“The rocks? It’s colored glass Drago got for me. Aren’t they pretty?”

Tara opens her mouth, then closes it, only to open it again as if unable to form words.

“He . . . he knew they would be used in a fish tank?” Her voice sounds kind of strained.

“Yes. He even asked what color I wanted. Why?”

“Um . . . because it’s not glass.” She picks up one of the crystals from my palm and looks it over. “That, my dear, is a ten-carat emerald, worth at least fifteen grand.”

I blink, bewildered, and look at the fish tank where at least twenty similar stones grace the sandy depths.

“But, he told me . . . He told me it was just glass. Why would he do that?” I gape at my “decorations.”

“Yeah, I wonder why.” Tara snickers. “Prince Saeed won’t be happy.”

“Who’s Prince Saeed?”

“The billionaire who ordered those months ago.”

I look back at the emeralds in my palm, and the familiar feeling of panic surfaces again. Letting the rest of the green stones fall into the fish tank, I watch as they make a small splash before settling down next to the others.

“I think I’m getting a headache,” I say, avoiding looking at Tara. “I’m going up to crash for a bit.”

“Don’t be sad about the fish. It happens.”

“I know.”

Reaching our bedroom, I head straight to the dresser and grab the vase filled with “glass crystals” Drago gifted me, then take a seat on the edge of the bed. Dozens of colored rocks scatter onto the bedcover when I tilt the container. I slide my pens to the side and pick up the nearest stone. It’s fiery red and shaped like an oval, with many facets that reflect the light spilling through the window. A ruby, most likely.

There are a few more red stones among the others of various hues. I don’t know much about precious gems, but based on the colors alone, there are sapphires, amethysts, and many others I don’t recognize.

“Silly man,” I choke out as I collect the stones back into their vase.

When I have my “pen holder” back on the dresser, I walk to the closet to get my notebook from its hiding place between my sweaters and take a pen from the nightstand drawer.

Georgina had a secret, I write, as my hand shakes slightly. A huge, horrible secret. It was so bad, that she would rather die than confess it to anyone. Especially to herself. She’s fallen in love with her grumpy wolf man.

 

Drago

 

The door to my office opens and a short, almost gaunt man in a charcoal three-piece suit walks inside. His white hair is slicked back, contrasting with his thick black eyebrows visible above the rim of his black-framed glasses.

“Mr. Dubois.” I motion toward the chair on the other side of my desk.

When the Frenchman takes a seat, I pull out a big velvet box from the drawer and set it before him.

Most jewelers purchase precious stones exclusively through regular channels because they want to assure their customers of gemstone authenticity by delivering certified products. Some buyers, however, are not interested in paperwork. They just want the best rocks. Mr. Dubois caters to that kind of clientele. Arabian princes. Business moguls. Oligarchs from all over the world. They don’t give a fuck about certificates as long as their wives or lovers can wear the most expensive piece of jewelry in the room.

“This isn’t what we agreed on, Mr. Popov,” Dubois says.

“I know.”

He takes off his glasses and points them at the box. “Prince Saeed was very clear in his request. Emeralds, not sapphires.”

“I’m afraid the emeralds are no longer available. The sapphires I’m offering are worth 20 percent more,” I say and reach into the drawer. “And I have a gift, as an apology.”

“His Highness has specifically asked for emeralds. It’s absolutely unacceptable to—” He stops midsentence, staring at the gem on my palm. “Is that . . .”

“Yes. A G SI1 five-carat round diamond.” I place the diamond on his outstretched hand and lean back. “Call the prince. Ask if my gift is enough to compensate for his disappointment about receiving sapphires instead of emeralds.”

The jeweler takes out a small magnifying glass from his pocket and inspects the rock from every angle. Once done, he pulls out his phone and makes a call. I assume he’s speaking French since I can’t read his lips and I’m having difficulty understanding what he is saying. But, based on Dubois’s excited tone, he must be conversing with Prince Saeed.

“The money will be wired within the next five minutes,” Dubois says after ending the call. He carefully returns the diamond to me. “His Highness asked me to convey his gratitude for the gift, and he confirmed that sapphires are an adequate substitute.”

I nod and place the diamond inside the box. “As soon as I get a confirmation about the receipt of the money, our business is concluded.”

Dubois closes the box but keeps his hands on it as if he’s concerned the thing may disappear. “If I may ask, what happened with the emeralds?”

“My wife needed them.”

“Oh? Would she like them used for a beautiful bracelet? I have an amazing new designer back in Paris, I’m sure we can come up with a magnificent custom piece—”

“They weren’t for her jewelry. She needed them for her aquarium.”

My phone vibrates with an incoming message. I glance down at the screen, seeing a notification from my bank that the payment has come through.

“Excuse me? A what?”

“The glass thing with water and fish inside,” I clarify and offer him my hand. “Thank you for your business, Mr. Dubois. Pass along my best wishes to the prince.”

The Frenchman slowly rises and shakes my hand, gaping at me from behind his thick-rimmed glasses. Holding the box under his right arm, he heads toward the door but then stops at the threshold.

“Why didn’t you keep the diamond for your wife?” he asks over his shoulder.

The corner of my lips curl up. “It’s colorless.”

Filip walks inside my office just as the jeweler leaves.

“Any activity?” I ask.

“No. No one’s spotted Bogdan’s men near any of our locations.”

“Good. They’ll need some time to organize before they hit us back. Did Roman Petrov confirm the meeting?”

“Yes. He will be here in half an hour,” Filip says and clasps his hands in front of him. “Tara just called.”

“What did she want?”

“To let me know she and your wife are on their way here. They should arrive any moment.”

“What?” I spring out of my chair. “I gave a specific order that neither of them is allowed to leave the grounds.”

“It looks like Mrs. Popov was very persuasive with the guards at the gate.” He takes his phone out of his pocket, holds it up to his ear, and listens to the person on the line. “They just arrived at the back entrance.”

I slam my palm on the desk and sprint across the office into the narrow hallway. It’s unlikely that the Romanians will retaliate today, but I don’t want either my wife or sister at the club—the most probable target. Kicking the back door open, I step outside just in time to see Sienna exiting a car, wearing a green dress with feathers all over the bodice.

I march across the parking lot until I’m standing right in front of my wife and pin her with my hard gaze. “What the fuck, Sienna?”

“Drago.” She smiles. “Tara and I decided to pay you a visit.”

I grit my teeth and look over the women’s heads to glare at Relja and Iliya, who dared to bring them here against my orders. They are hanging back on the other side of the car, fidgeting.

“Explain!” I roar.

Both men cringe and take a retreating step.

“Drago.” Sienna wraps her fingers around my wrist. “It’s my fault. I insisted.”

“Why?”

“I just wanted to see you.” She shrugs. “And I am carrying the gun you got me.”

Some of my rage dissipates. I reach out and stroke her chin with the back of my hand, then look at my sister. “You should have known better.”

“I wanted to cheer up Sienna,” Tara says, but then mouths the next sentence. “She knows the fish had died.

The rest of my anger disappears. I drop a quick kiss on the top of Sienna’s head and look at Iliya. “I want twenty men positioned around the club while the women are here.”

Iliya nods and reaches for his phone. I take another glance at my wife’s short dress.

“And, Iliya, make sure the same warning as last time is delivered to all male guests upon entry.”

 

* * *

 

The Russian pakhan narrows his eyes at me, then looks at the older man sitting next to him, saying something in Russian. I place my palm on Sienna’s knee. A small smirk breaks across her lips as I slowly stroke her skin while she continues to mess around with her phone.

“I’ll take an entire load of the Romanians’ ammunition,” the pakhan states, “but I want an additional five percent discount for getting rid of the truck for you.”

“I’m already selling you the goods way under the market value, Roman.”

“That’s my offer. Take it or leave it.”

I give him a pointed stare and nod. This transaction is more about the principle. I want Bogdan’s shit gone.

“The word around is that you also have another type of product to offer,” he adds. “I’d like to pick something out for my wife.”

“You won’t get any discount on that.”

“I’m not concerned about the price when I buy things for my wife,” he barks, visibly offended.

“Let’s go to my office, then.” I kiss Sienna’s bare shoulder. “I’ll be back in ten minutes.”

“I’ll go check if Tara needs help.” She turns toward the other side of the club where my sister is standing with two guys, both seem to be trying to get her to the dance floor.

“All right.”

I follow Sienna with my eyes as she leaves the booth and heads toward the group. The men standing with Tara notice Sienna’s approach, their heads snapping in my direction a moment later. I let them see in my eyes what will happen if either is still there when my wife reaches them. Both men mumble something and hightail it out of there. Good.

 

Sienna

 

“The vibe here is super weird tonight,” I mumble.

Tara casually takes a sip of her sangria. “How so?”

“Your friends ran away the moment they saw me approaching.” I glance at the waiter carrying drinks, and his head turns to the side as soon as he sets his eyes on me. People seem to be trying really hard not to meet my gaze. In fact, it’s like everyone is purposely avoiding looking at me. Or, men at least. “Is my dress that awful?”

Tara sizes me up, her eyes halting for a few moments on the feathered bodice. “It’s the most outrageous piece of clothing I’ve ever seen. But nope, it’s not the dress.”

“Then, why?”

“They received Drago’s warning at the entrance.”

“A warning? Oh my God, did he tell people I brought a gun? It’s not even loaded! I only took it because Drago insisted. I’d never shoot at anyone, well, except your brother.”

Tara chokes on her drink, her eyes bulging. “You shot at Drago?”

“Long story.” I wave my hand. “I should have left the gun with the bouncers like everyone else.”

“The gun is not the problem. It’s the spoon that terrifies them.”

“The spoon?”

She smiles into her glass. “Yup. They’re extremely worried about that spoon.”

“Are you drunk?”

Tara doesn’t get a chance to reply because a blond man in his late twenties wraps his arm around her waist from behind.

“I knew it was you, Tara darling,” he slurs. “How long has it been? Three years?”

She rolls her eyes and removes his hand from her middle. “Leave, Gary. You know I don’t mess around with my brother’s business associates.”

“Always a party pooper.” The guy laughs and switches his gaze to me. “Maybe your friend has a more positive attitude.”

Before I can offer a response, Tara grabs the guy by the front of his white dress shirt. “That’s Drago’s wife, you idiot! Leave!”

“You don’t say. Maybe the lady would like to try out something different.” He reaches his hand toward me, staring at my boobs.

“She wouldn’t.” I take a step back, but he still manages to brush his fingers down my arm.

“Gary, please. Drago will come any moment,” my sister-in-law whispers nervously and glances somewhere behind me. “Oh shit.”

I turn around and see my husband standing in the passageway leading to his office, a murderous glare focused on Tara’s friend.

“I’ll be off, then.” Gary’s somewhat frantic voice comes from behind my back.

Drago watches the guy retreat to his booth, then heads across the dance floor toward the bar.

“Fuck, Sienna, he’s going for a spoon,” Tara squeals, grabbing my arm. “You need to go there and distract him while I get someone from security to throw Gary outta here.”

“Why?”

“Because Gary is our investment banker, and Drago is planning on taking out his eyes.”

“Yeah, right.” I laugh.

“I’m not kidding, Sienna!” She shakes my arm. “Men are avoiding looking at you because they all got warned that if they do, they will lose their eyes. Go there and stop him!”

I watch Tara as she rushes toward one of the bouncers by the exit, then glance to the bar where Drago is taking a spoon from a drawer. This is ridiculous. He is not going to take a man’s eyes out because he ogled my boobs.

Behind the bar, Drago raises the spoon in front of his face, feeling the edge with his thumb, then heads toward the booth where Gary is sitting. His jaw is clenched and his mouth is set in a hard line. He’s staring at the banker with murder in his eyes. Shit.

I dash across the dance floor, bumping a few people with my elbows along the way. When I reach Drago, I leap into his arms, clutching his neck and wrapping my legs around his waist.

“Hello there.” I grin and kiss his tightly pressed lips.

Drago’s hand slides under my thigh to support me, but his eyes are still focused over my shoulder.

“Hey.” I take his chin between my fingers, tilting his head so he’ll look at me. “Any chance you can get me more of those pretty crystals?”

“What color?” he asks through gritted teeth.

“Red. They will look nice in the flower pots on the kitchen window. Do you think that shop has some?”

“It does.”

I smile, stroking his cheek while a warm feeling spreads through my chest. “So you consider rubies suitable as flower pot decorations?”

His hand squeezes my thigh. “I was thinking red beryl, but it can be rubies if you prefer those. Was it Tara who spilled the beans?”

“Yes. She was very distressed when she saw me throwing a handful of emeralds into the fish tank.” I smile. “Why, Drago?”

“You love sparkly things, just like I do.”

“So, why give them to me?”

“Because the most sparkling one is already in my possession, and her glow can’t compare to any rock.”

It shouldn’t feel so good, to hear him calling me his possession. It shouldn’t make me this wet. But it does. It makes my core ache with the need to feel him inside me, to have him cement that statement with action.

I tangle my fingers in his hair. “Yeah, I do like my clothes to glitter.”

A waiter passes by us, carrying a tray of drinks. Drago throws the spoon he’s been holding this whole time, and it clatters on the surface, hitting one of the glasses.

“I’m not speaking about your ridiculous clothes, Sienna.”

His gaze holds mine, piercing and serious, somehow primal in its intensity. Sometimes, I believe he can devour me with his eyes alone.

Out of the corner of my eye, I can see people throwing curious looks at us. My dress has ridden all the way up my thighs, providing everyone a full view of my legs and, probably half my ass, but I don’t give a single fuck. My whole being is attuned to Drago, to being in his arms. He’s all I see. All I feel. Even with all the scents filling the air around us, the only one I smell is his subtle mint fragrance. I’ve never been so mesmerized by a person.

“Were you really going to take that guy’s eyes out?” I whisper when Drago’s gaze shifts to my lips.

His jaw clenches, and he turns around, carrying me toward his private booth “Tara talks too much.”

I glance over Drago’s shoulder at the exit where two security men are pushing the banker outside, Tara overseeing their efforts. She looks up and, with a wink, raises her thumb.

When we reach the big leather sofa, my legs untangle from behind Drago’s back, but instead of letting me down, he takes a seat with me straddling his lap. I release my hold on his hair and trail my fingers along his chin to his mouth. He parts his lips, his teeth nipping the tip of my index finger.

“What was that for?” I ask.

“A punishment for distracting me from my mission.”

“Do you often have an urge to take people’s eyeballs out?” I ask, even though I’m still expecting him to say that Tara was simply fucking with me.

A small smirk forms on his face. “No. It’s a rather new development.”

I let my thumb stroke the curve of his lips, then slide my palm along his jaw. The music blasting from the speakers changes to a slow melody—“The Sound of Silence.” This song was playing when we met, and I remember how his mere presence affected me at the time.

There was wonder and instant attraction, and I felt a strange pull toward him without even knowing who he was. But, simultaneously, there was another sensation that I couldn’t identify, too overwhelmed by his essence.

I recall it now. A subtle tendril of fear, a primal instinct, as if my subconscious was trying to warn me that a very dangerous man was standing before me. I ignored it.

“There is no pet assassin, is there? When I heard Adam talking about the priest, he was talking about you.”

Drago’s gaze leaves my lips, moving it up to meet mine. He’s not smiling anymore, and his answer is just there, clearly visible in his eyes. I think that deep down, I always knew the truth.

“Pop is an old nickname from when we were young punks, back in Serbia. Adam is the only one who still calls me that sometimes.”

His rough voice reverberates through my being, straight to my heart, each word falling like a boulder on my soul. I was born into Cosa Nostra, and the ways of the Mafia are not unknown to me. Every man I’ve ever met has probably taken a life at least once, but other than our don, none are so vicious in meting out their brand of justice. I wait for my consciousness to rebel, for the feeling of dread to rise, suffocate me. It doesn’t come.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve felt like a circus performer—standing on a ball, trying to keep my balance, the fear of crashing down always present in my mind. No real aim or purpose, other than keeping myself upright while even the tiniest movement of the ball under my feet made me flail my hands in the air, trying to regain my equilibrium.

As I stare at my husband’s somber face, I realize I haven’t felt like that for quite some time. For the first time in my life, I feel as if I’m standing on solid ground, in the arms of a man who nails the bodies of his enemies to the walls.

“Say something, Sienna.” Drago’s eyes are glued to my lips, waiting for my reaction. His teeth are clenched tight, mouth pressed into a thin line.

“Why the cross?” I ask, my voice barely audible.

“It’s a signature. A play on my old nickname. A way to send a message to those who might get an idea about coming at me or mine.”

“And what’s the message?”

“That I will absolve them of their sins. Personally. And in blood. The same way I did to the people who killed my family.”

“You found them?”

“Every single one. No one touches my family and remains breathing.” His hand travels along my jaw toward my chin and then back to squeeze my nape. “And no one gets to ogle my sparkling wife. Whoever dares, I’ll make sure it’s the last thing they’ll ever see.”

I suck in a breath and lean forward a bit. With my dress around my hips, Drago’s hard dick is pressing directly onto my pussy. He tilts his head to the side and reaches for a small remote lying on the sofa’s arm. A moment later, the two lamps on either side of the booth turn off, shrouding our immediate space in semidarkness. All around us, the lights above the dance floor, other booths, as well as at the bar are still on, but we’re left in the shadows, mostly hidden from prying eyes.

Drago’s hands land on my thighs, then slowly push the fabric of my dress higher. I can’t hear his ragged breaths with the music blasting overhead, but I can feel his warm exhales on my face.

“Do you remember the wedding I took you to? Where you danced for me?” he asks and captures my lips with his. His hands have reached the elastic of my panties, his fingers tangling with the lacy straps on my hips.

Nodding, I grab a fistful of his shirt and bite his lower lip while my body buzzes with electricity. No matter how close we are to each other, it’s never enough. I feel a tug, and then a tear on the left side of my panties.

“I wanted to pull you off that table and fuck you in front of everyone there. To claim you as mine. And make sure everyone knows it.”

The right side of my panties gets torn, too, and then he slides his palm between our bodies, circling my clit with his finger while unzipping his pants with his other hand. The moment his cock springs free, he grabs me under my ass, positioning me above his solid length.

“Do you have anything to confess, Sienna?”

It’s too dim to clearly see the expression on his face, but every so often, a strobe of light over the dance floor reflects off his light-green eyes. Eyes that are boring into mine. A whirlwind of feelings twists in my stomach, demanding to be let out. I bury my hands in his hair and, staring into his depths, slowly slide onto his cock.

A gasp leaves me as he fills me, lodging himself deep. I squeeze his dark strands between my fingers and rock my hips, taking even more of him in. My gaze holds his captive as I ride him, but no words leave my lips.

I know what he’s asking for. He wants me to tell him that I love him. I can’t. I’m too afraid to voice the truth, to say out loud what we both already know. Each time I even think about it, panic rises within me, gripping me in its claws, squeezing. I’m aware that my fear is irrational. You can’t seal a person’s fate with three simple words. Still, I can’t make myself do it, too scared that I might lose him.

The pressure in my core builds as I rotate my hips, needing to feel even more of him. Drago’s hand squeezes my ass cheek, then moves along my hip to my pussy and pinches my clit. I gasp, my breathing fast and shallow. The brilliant piercing eyes of my husband are still pinned to my own when he leans forward and touches his forehead to mine.

“It’s okay, mila moya,” he whispers, pressing his thumb to my bud. “You don’t have to say it. I know you will, when you’re ready.”

His lips seize mine—biting, claiming. I squeeze my eyes shut and kiss him back as I reach for the remote control he left on the cushion beside us. A slight press of a button, and the elegant column lamps on either side of the sofa come back to life, bathing us in the pale-blue glow and restoring the ambient awareness around us. Over a hundred people are in the club tonight, and each one of them can now clearly see me riding my husband’s cock.

Drago’s eyes widen in surprise, and a corner of his lips curves up. “Why?” he asks.

Throwing the remote to the side, I press my palms on my husband’s face, devouring him with my eyes while I continue to slowly ride him. I inhale his scent, drink in his essence, and embrace the very darkness I once feared when we met. This man. The only one who’s ever understood me. The man I can’t imagine my life without anymore.

“Because I want everyone to know, too,” I say.

“Know what?”

“That you’re mine.” I lean forward so he can feel my rapid heartbeat. “And that I’m yours.”

 


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