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Silent Lies: Chapter 5

Drago

“Dear God,” Filip chokes out, staring at something behind me. “What the hell is that thing she’s wearing?”

I turn around just in time to see my bride exiting the car. She’s got on what some may call a puffy faux fur jacket. It might look rather nice if it was in another color, but hers is yolk yellow. And she’s wearing silk pants that are the same shade.

Sienna catches my eye, says something to Arturo, then rushes toward us, expertly jumping over the rain puddles in her sky-high heels. And those are the same color as the rest of her outfit. She reminds me of a baby chick on LSD.

My bride stops in front of me, speaking while she searches in her purse, but with her head bent, I can’t read her lips. She finally finds whatever she was looking for and looks up at me with a big grin. “If that’s okay with you?”

“Yes,” I reply with no idea what she said.

Her smile widens. “Perfect.” She leans her back on my chest, raising her phone in front of us. “Say cheese.”

She looks toward the phone and snaps a selfie.

“What are you doing?” I ask, staring at her yellow-painted nails as her fingers fly over the keyboard.

“Sending the photo to my sister. She asked why I accepted an arranged marriage to a stranger.”

I reach out and take her chin between my fingers, tilting her head up. “And why did you accept, Sienna?”

She blinks at me and, for a quick moment, a smidge of panic flashes across her face, but the next second it’s gone, replaced with a grin. “Because you’re hot. And rich.”

Her smile seems genuine and her tone sounds sincere, but as I focus on her eyes, I notice something else. Something she’s trying her best to hide with her sunny performance. It looks very much like hurt.

I move my thumb to trace the curve of her lower lip. It trembles slightly under my touch.

“Come. Let’s get this over with.” I turn to Filip. “You can go. Call Keva and let her know I’m bringing Sienna home with me.”

Sienna doesn’t say anything when I take her phone from her and drop it back into her purse. She stays silent as I take her hand and lead her up the wide stone steps to the city hall entrance, Arturo following a few paces behind. We are at the top when Sienna suddenly turns around toward the parking lot. I follow her gaze, spotting a heavily muscled man exiting a car, and immediately push Sienna behind me. I’m reaching for my gun when Sienna pulls her hand from mine and dashes around me down the steps toward the ripped bastard.

Rage sparks inside me until I notice the guy is helping a woman out of the vehicle. I release the hold on my gun as I watch the spitting image of my bride, minus the crazy outfit, make her way toward Sienna.

“It’s my sister and her husband,” Arturo’s deep voice penetrates my momentary daze.

He comes up to stand beside me. For just a moment, the ever-present lines of worry on his face ease as he looks at his sisters and gives a brief nod to his brother-in-law.

Well, shit . . .

I knew Arturo had two sisters, but I wasn’t aware they are twins. My heart squeezes and bleeds as I behold the two women falling into each other’s arms. Sienna says something and hugs her sister again. Then, she leans and drops a kiss on her twin’s cheek before tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. Her sister does the exact same thing to Sienna. Even their mannerisms are identical. I forgot how twins can be sometimes.

It hurts to watch them, so I turn away from the sight and open the door to the building.

 

Sienna

 

I regard my new husband from the corner of my eye while he drives. He was very closed-off during the quick wedding ceremony, and also after, when everyone was leaving city hall. We’ve been on the road for almost two hours, and he hasn’t said a word to me. I spent the time sorting through my photos and posting them on social media, but I finished that five minutes ago.

“Is everything okay?” I ask.

Drago throws a sideways look at me, then returns his attention to the road. “I don’t talk while I drive.”

Raising my eyebrows, I mouth, “Oookay.” I type a message to Asya, asking if she and Pasha got to the airport. I still can’t believe she actually came. It’s not as if it was a real wedding. It felt more like going to a bank to open an account. The rings were a nice touch, though. Drago’s is a thick gold band and mine has a huge pale-yellow diamond. It goes quite nicely with my jacket and reflects the light beautifully. I lift my hand and snap a picture to upload to my Insta later.

We make a right turn, and I look up from the phone to see a narrow road leading to an entrance set into a high fence. The gate slides to the side, and we continue along the tree-lined driveway toward the beautifully landscaped island with a marble fountain in the middle. At the end of the lane, stands a massive four-story mansion. The light-beige brick and brown woodwork of its façade glow in the late afternoon sun. The house is so big, it looks more like a hotel than a residential home. I count the windows on the upper floor. Ten are facing the front. Just how many rooms are there? Greenery and trees surround the palatial citadel, making it look like a setting of a fairytale.

“We’re here.” Drago exits the vehicle and walks around the back to open my car door.

I step out, still gaping at the beautiful house, just as the front door flies open and an apron-clad woman in her late sixties rushes outside. She marches toward us, yelling something in Serbian so fast that I can’t grasp the meaning, only catching random words.

“. . . dinner . . . Filip just told me . . . married . . . no cake . . . kill you . . .”

Stopping in front of Drago, she pokes her finger into his chest. “Sram te bilo.

I’m still processing the fact that my husband allows a woman, who seems to be part of the staff, to yell at him and tell him he should be ashamed when she turns to me and grabs me in a tight hug. Three loud smacks explode in my ears as she kisses my cheeks in quick succession—right, left, then right once again.

“Drago didn’t tell me he was bringing you today. I thought he went to a business meeting! Let me look at you.” She leans away and takes my face between her palms. “Oh, you are so pretty and . . .” Her eyes move down over my outfit. “Why are you wearing a chicken costume, sweetie?”

The look of confusion on her face while she’s staring at my jacket is so hilarious, I burst out laughing. When I catch my breath, I say, “I’m Sienna.”

“I know, sweetie. Drago was so nice to inform me he was getting married.” She looks up at my husband, who’s been watching the whole exchange in silence, annoyance written all over her face. “But he must have forgotten to tell me that it would be today.”

“Sienna.” Drago places his hand on my lower back, and an excited shiver passes through my body from the light touch. “This is Zivka, my late father’s ex-wife, who should have introduced herself first.”

“Just call me Keva,” she says. “Let’s eat. Everyone has been waiting for you in the dining room for almost half an hour.”

I furrow my brows. Keva? Drago just called her Zivka, so is Keva a nickname?

As we follow Zivka into the house, I try to think of a reason why Drago would have his father’s ex at his home, but I lose my concentration as his hand slips under my jacket. My pants have a low waistline and my blouse has ridden up, so his fingers are touching the bare skin at the small of my back, igniting a small shiver of pleasure that shoots up along my spine. I steal a look at him to find him typing something on his phone with his free hand, seemingly oblivious to what his touch is doing to me.

We step inside the house where a man in jeans and a plain black T-shirt, and wearing a shoulder holster carrying two guns, greets us. Drago’s hand slips away from my back, the tips of his fingers brushing my exposed flesh in the process. It’s just a light stroke, there one moment and gone the next, but it still feels like I’m on fire where his caress slid across my skin.

The man with the holster nods at Drago and takes his jacket, then moves to help me take off mine. My husband’s hand wraps around the guy’s wrist before he has a chance to reach for my faux fur.

“No touching my wife,” Drago says in Serbian. His tone is calm, but the hold he has on the man’s wrist tightens. “Make sure everyone in the house knows that.”

The guy freezes and blinks nervously.

When Drago turns toward me and helps me take off my yellow jacket, I pretend to be confused, expecting him to explain what just happened. He doesn’t, just passes my coat to the man, who’s now pointedly looking at the floor. Drago places his hand on the small of my back again and ushers me across the foyer.

We walk toward the double wooden doors, which seem to contain cheerful and boisterous chatter behind their solid frame. As we approach, the voices become a cacophony, dozens of people in a battle for who can hold the loudest conversation. The moment we step through the doorway, all noise ceases, and silence descends over the huge dining room like a blanket. I stop midstep and gape at the long table which has at least forty people sitting around it. Most are men, casually dressed—more or less—but all of them wearing a shoulder holster with one or two guns. And every single person is staring at me.

“This is Sienna,” Drago says and guides me toward three empty chairs at the head of the table. He stops and pulls out one to the right of the host’s—the place of honor. Before I can take a seat, the sound of several dozen chairs scrapping the floor fills the room as everyone around the table stands up.

“Um . . . what’s going on?” I mumble and look at Drago sideways.

“Sit.”

I lower myself onto the chair. Drago takes a seat at the head of the table, and everyone else sits back down.

I turn to face my husband and whisper, “Is there a hidden camera?”

Drago’s gaze moves from my mouth to my eyes, and the corner of his lips lifts. “No.”

The door on the other end of the room bursts open, and Zivka, followed by four women and two men, walks in. They bring in enormous platters of food and set them on the dining table, then return to, what I assume, is the kitchen. Moments later, they come back with salads and bread. When they’re finished, Zivka sits at Drago’s left and the other serving staff take the remaining empty chairs around the table. Everybody looks at Drago, waiting. He nods. The chatter resumes as people start spooning food from the big serving dishes onto their plates. I blink at the strange scene several times, then shrug and grab the salad bowl nearest to me.

 

Drago

 

Laughter and loud conversations ring all around as I covertly observe my young wife. Other than Keva, I didn’t introduce her to any of my people, and I did that on purpose so I could see her reaction. I expected her to be uncomfortable. Intimidated, even. It seems I may need to alter my assumptions because, since the meal started, she’s been happily babbling nonstop with Jelena, Jovan’s wife. From what I managed to catch, they are discussing a book.

High-pitched sounds are the hardest for me to hear. Sienna has a moderately high voice, so it’s difficult for me to grasp her meaning when she talks, even if there are no competing auditory distractions. I can hear her speaking, but I miss too many words. With so many people in one room talking at the same time, the background noise makes hearing her impossible. And since she’s turned toward Jelena, I can’t even read her lips.

I take her chin between my thumb and finger, turning her to face me. Everyone living in this house knows about my situation, so they make sure they look at me when they speak. I’m not sure why I haven’t told Sienna about my hearing loss yet, but she’ll find out soon enough.

“Making friends already?” I ask.

“It looks that way.” Her lips widen into a smile. “Do you have something against it?”

She has an amazingly sinful mouth, and the way it curves as she speaks makes me want to take her lower lip between my teeth and bite it. “No. I don’t have anything against it.”

People start leaving the table, each taking their plate and carrying it to the kitchen. Sienna watches them with amazement in her eyes, then looks down at her own empty plate and reaches for it. I take her hand, moving it away from the plate and back to the table, but I don’t release my hold.

“I think you need to explain to me the rules you have around here.” She smirks, pretending she doesn’t notice I’m still holding her hand.

“What rules?”

“People clearing their own plates. Don’t staff do that? And why was everyone armed at dinner?” She drops a quick look at our joined hands, then snaps her eyes back to meet mine.

“There are seven women and two men in charge of tending to various things around the house like cleaning, preparing food, and keeping up with grounds. But they aren’t staff. It’s just what they do around here.” I reach out and move a strand of her hair over her shoulder. “And when we finish with our meal, we all take our plates to the kitchen to lighten their workload.”

“They are not paid to do that?”

“They get paid. But we still take our plates to show our respect and appreciation. As for your second question—we like to be prepared.”

“For what?”

“Anything and everything.”

“Don’t you have security?”

“Every man in this household is an excellent shot. All of us are part of security.” I lean forward and place my hand on the back of her neck. “You have nothing to fear while you’re in my home, mila.”

She narrows her eyes at me. “My name is Sienna. Not Mila.”

“I know.” I pull her closer until our lips almost touch. “I also know you didn’t agree to marry me because I’m ‘hot and rich.’”

Sienna’s eyes flare at my words, and I expect her to try to pull away, but she just grins. “You don’t think it’s a good enough reason to marry someone?”

“No. You see, I had a very specific reason for saying yes to this marriage. But I have a very hard time deciphering your motive for agreeing.”

The phone in my pocket vibrates with an incoming message. I fish it out with my free hand and look at the screen.

16:22 Filip: Our truck crossed the border early and arrived at the warehouse ten minutes ago. Someone talked. Romanians just got here. Bogdan is demanding your presence and explanation.

“I have to go.” I release Sienna’s hand reluctantly and stand up. “We’ll continue this conversation tomorrow.”

I head across the dining room, and I’m almost at the door when a hand grabs my forearm. When I look down, my wife is standing next to me, a questioning look in her eyes.

“What is it?”

“I asked if I could come with you?”

“I’m going to a business meeting, Sienna. One that may very well end up with blood being spilled. Of course you can’t come with me.”

“Oh, this is an old blouse. I’ll just throw it away if I get blood on it.” She waves her hand through the air.

I lower my gaze, taking in her shirt. It’s white with an image of a yellow, cross-eyed rabbit holding a carrot. Both the carrot and rabbit’s ears are covered in tiny orange sequins. Why am I not surprised she got married in that? When I look back up, I find her still smiling at me. Is she fucking with me or is she just plain nuts?

“Go find Keva. Your things were probably taken to the bedroom already. She’ll show you where it is.” I nod toward the kitchen door and head out.

 

* * *

 

It takes me an hour to reach the abandoned house we use as our storage facility for drugs before shipping them out. We still haven’t received the next load from Ajello, so I decided to use the place to hold the first firearms shipment for the time being. Six of my men, weapons in hand, are guarding a big truck parked in the back. Only half of the cargo has been unloaded. Several yards to the right, there are two black cars. Bogdan, the head of the Romanian crime organization, is leaning on the hood of the car closest to the truck, his arms crossed over his chest.

I park my bike between the truck and Bogdan’s car, remove my helmet, and face the Romanian leader. “You wanted to meet.”

“I want an explanation,” he bites out.

“About what?”

“That!” He points toward the crates piled next to the truck. “We’ve had a nice collaboration for the past ten years. I gave you the best product and great rates. So, I want to know why you suddenly started buying weapons from someone else, and what the fuck are you planning to do with ten times the amount you usually order.”

I take a quick look inside the cars. There’s a guy in the passenger seat of the vehicle Bogdan is leaning on, and one more in the other car. Someone obviously told Bogdan I had a truck full of guns and ammunition arriving, but he doesn’t know I plan on reselling the goods. If he did, he would have brought more men with him. I could tell him my needs have changed, that I need more weapons, but he’ll soon realize what’s happening.

“I made a call to the home country,” I say, “and struck a deal with Lutovac. As it happens, we went to school together. He knows what I like, and we came to an understanding that a partnership would be to both our benefits.”

A mix of surprise and anger flashes across Bogdan’s face the moment he hears the name. There are two major dealers of small firearms and ammunition in this part of the US—Bogdan and Endri Dushku. They both get their product from Lutovac, a Serbian supplier based in Belgrade. The fact I’m now working directly with Lutovac makes it clear I have the product available for resale.

Bogdan pushes off the car. He’s nearly shaking with rage, fists balled at his sides as he comes right up to me. “You won’t be selling arms on my turf, Drago.”

“There is nothing you can do about that, so I advise you to accept the new situation and walk away. For old times’ sake, don’t make me kill you.”

“We’ll see about that.” Bogdan’s nostrils flare as he grinds his teeth, but he turns and gets inside his car.

I watch both vehicles leave, then dismount my bike and head toward my men standing by the truck.

“Load everything back inside. We need to move the goods to another location. This site can’t be used anymore.” I turn to Filip. “How the fuck did the Romanians find this place?”

“The driver says they followed him from the border. He thought he lost them at one point, but they turned up here while the guys were unloading the crates.”

“Who talked?”

“It can only be the man we bribed to arrange for the truck to bypass cargo inspection. Wesley P-something.”

“Find out his full name and address. I’ll pay him a visit tomorrow,” I say.

“What are we going to do with the Romanians? Bogdan isn’t likely to let this go.”

“He won’t. I need you to add more men at each storage location.”

“You think Bogdan will try something? Why not kill him now?”

“If you go around offing past business associates, no one will do business with you. Unfortunately. But if he attacks first, I’ll have cause to dispose of him.” I bend and grab the closest box of ammunition.

 

* * *

 

It’s almost six in the morning when I get home. I climb the stairs to the top floor, heading for the last door at the end of the hallway. The lights are off in my bedroom, but the curtains are pulled back, allowing the faintest morning glow to fall onto the body curled up on the left side of my bed. The plush carpet muffles my steps as I walk across the room and come to a stop next to the footboard.

Sienna is sleeping on her side, clutching a pillow between her arms and legs. Her hair is loose, and some of it has fallen over her face. I cast my eyes down her curled form and feel my lips tilt upward. It seems that my wife’s eccentric fashion extends to her nightclothes, as well. She’s wearing silk pajamas—pants and a top with spaghetti straps. It’s a zebra print set, but the colors are purple and pink.

I watch her for a few moments, wondering why I’m so fascinated by her. From the moment I left her in the dining room earlier this evening, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I don’t like it. The only thing that should interest me as far as my young wife is concerned is her ulterior motive for marrying me, but I find myself completely captivated by her strange essence. It’s as if I’ve discovered a previously unknown creature, one whose behavior is completely contrary to what would be expected.

For a girl as sheltered and spoiled as she probably has been, coming to a new place where she doesn’t know anyone should be stressful. Uncomfortable. I expected her to start whining, asking me to take her back to her brother. Instead, she took it all in stride. All along, she wore a mischievous smile on her face and emanated that irritatingly cheerful energy. It’s as if she’s not bothered by this whole situation in the slightest.

Sienna DeVille is a surprise.

And I hate surprises.

With one last look at my stunning bride, I head into the en suite on the other side of the room to take a shower. Ten minutes later, I climb into bed and sprawl next to my wife. She’s turned away from me, and hell if I know why, but I don’t like it. I wrap my arm around her waist and pull her closer until her back is plastered to my front. Then, I throw one leg over hers, entangling her body with mine, and close my eyes.


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