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Silent Lies: Chapter 7

Sienna

The moment I open my eyes, I know I’m in the wrong room. Instead of a small curtainless window, I’m looking at long navy drapes covering French doors that lead to a balcony. My husband’s room. He probably carried me here while I was asleep. And my suitcases are back as well, lined along the wall. A small smile pulls at my lips.

I roll over, finding the other side of the bed empty, and an unwelcome pang of disappointment stabs me in the gut. Did I secretly hope Drago would be next to me? I guess I did, a little. The bedroom door is shut, and he’s nowhere in sight. I reach for his pillow and pull it to my face. It smells like him. I might like waking up in Drago’s bed, but I’m still going to move my stuff back into the small room again, later. I’m not sleeping with a man I don’t know, no matter how hot he is.

The thump of approaching footsteps resonates in the hallway. I throw the pillow away as if it burned me, jump out of bed, and head toward the suitcases.

“You missed breakfast,” Drago’s voice rumbles through the room from the doorway. “Keva put something aside for you in the kitchen.”

“Thank you, dear,” I say as I rummage through the contents of a suitcase. “Hey, I was wondering—”

“We’re taking a quick tour of the property before I’m headed to work,” he interrupts me midsentence. “I’ll be waiting for you in front of the garage. Hurry. I don’t have all day.”

“Oh, that’s so nice of you to offer, but I’m not into taking a stroll this early in the morning. How about we leave it for the afternoon, huh?” I look over my shoulder. He’s already gone.

“That was rude!” I yell after him.

I dress in under ten minutes and dash down the wide stairwell to the ground floor. Two of Drago’s men are standing by the front door, completely engrossed in their discussion while getting their coats on.

I approach and offer them a beaming smile. “Such a lovely morning. Going to a meeting?”

They both glare down at me. The man on my right is wearing a black suit and a crooked, half-knotted tie around his neck. I think his name is Iliya. I had a chance to explore the house with Jelena yesterday, and she pointed out a few people we passed. There are so many who live here, though, it’s going to take me a while to get to know everyone.

“Oh, you can’t go out like that, sweet cheeks.” I shake my head and adjust his tie. “There. Much better. Did you two have breakfast?”

When I look up again, I find them both looking at me with wide eyes and brows creeping toward their hairlines.

“Yes,” they mumble in unison.

“Oh good. Have a nice day, then.” I wave and head across the foyer.

As I make my way to the kitchen, I think back to last night’s after-dinner episode. The kitchen looked like a bomb went off there—stacks of dirty dishes everywhere, and the girls running around, putting away the leftovers and stuffing plates into dishwashers. There are three, and I’m certain they are constantly running with the number of dishes that every meal produces. I’m surprised they don’t have one of those commercial units, like a restaurant. The scene was chaotic, but I actually found it calming somehow.

Drago wasn’t at dinner, as I hoped he would be, and I was feeling a bit down because of it. So, when Keva noticed me standing in the doorway, she asked if I’d like to help. I shrugged and readily agreed. The next second, she shoved a burned pot into my hands. It took me more than thirty minutes to scrub that thing, but it probably would have been two hours if Nata hadn’t noticed that I was using a sponge and gave me a metallic-looking thingy to use instead.

I’m not accustomed to housework—we had a maid for that—but I quite enjoyed helping Keva and the girls. The women laughed and gossiped about their boyfriends, throwing curious looks in my direction every once in a while. Then, at one point, they suddenly switched to English and pulled me into a conversation. We busied ourselves until Keva shooed us out. I ended up with a chipped nail, but it was fun.

The kitchen is less frantic now, but there are still plenty of activities happening. The morning meal is long over, so three girls are loading up the dishwashers and tidying up. I spot Filip and a couple of other guys having their breakfast at a small table off to the side. They must have missed the main event just like I did. Keva is across the room, absently stirring the contents of a big bowl she’s holding, her eyes on the TV suspended over the counter. She stills, her attention completely engrossed on the screen blasting the local news. There’s never a shortage of drama in New York.

I spy an almost empty juice jug in the middle of the table the guys are sitting at, so I head over to the huge fridge and take out a full one. I noticed Keva putting a few of these in to chill yesterday.

“Here,” I say as I set the juice on the table and smile before I take the empty jug to the dishwasher.

Adam, the big dark-haired guy who’s in charge of the foot soldiers, according to Jelena, enters the kitchen.

Pop se zabavio sinoc, vidim.” He nods toward the TV as he takes a can of soda from the fridge.

The priest had fun last night? What is considered “fun” for Serbian priests? Maybe he runs a church choir? I look up at the TV screen. A reporter is standing in front of a five-story building, speaking to the camera. Several police cars are parked behind him, and a yellow crime scene tape restricts entry to the premises.

“. . . what is possibly another gang-related execution. The victim, Wesley Powells, was found by a neighbor. According to the eyewitness, Mr. Powells was nailed to a wall with spikes thrust through his hands. A sign of a cross was carved into his chest. Police, however, have not provided a further statement at this time.”

“Dear God,” I mumble as a shudder passes through me. Their priest must do much more than give spiritual guidance. “You need to be seriously disturbed to do that to a person.”

Keva grabs the remote off the counter and quickly turns off the TV.

“I didn’t notice you there,” she says and resumes mixing whatever she had in the bowl. “I left those sandwiches for you.”

“I kind of lost my appetite.”

“You won’t be leaving my kitchen until you’ve had your breakfast, Sienna.”

I sigh and pick up the smallest sandwich off the plate. Her nickname definitely suits her.

“Why are you still in your pajamas?” she asks.

My mouth is full, but I mumble, “They’re not pajamas.”

Keva’s eyes slide down my body, over my matching set of turquoise silk pants and a blouse with big fuchsia flowers on it. “Are you sure?”

“Yup.”

She laughs, sounding like a mischievous squirrel. “Drago is going to love it.”

“I was thinking the same thing.” I grin.

I leave the kitchen and hurry across the dining room and entry hall. My yellow jacket is hanging on the wall next to several dozen other coats. I slip it on, smile at the scowling dude standing by the door, and head out of the house.

Drago is standing by a car parked on the driveway, speaking with the two guys I met by the front door earlier. They see me coming, give a head nod, then get inside the car and drive off. Well, a nod is better than nothing.

“I’m not sure that outfit is a good choice,” Drago says, looking me over.

“Oh? Why?”

“You’ll scare my dogs.”

I stiffen. “I’m not interested in seeing your dogs.”

“You don’t like dogs?”

I meet his piercing gaze and smile while bile rises up my throat. “I hate dogs.”

“Too bad. You’re meeting them, anyway.” He takes my hand and leads me across the lawn.

“I don’t want to see your damn dogs!” I try to pull away as we walk around the house. “Drago!”

He stops and takes my chin between his fingers. “They’re guard dogs, Sienna, but they don’t know you or your scent. You need to meet them so they can take a sniff and see that you’re with me. You don’t have to be scared.”

“I’m not,” I choke out.

“No? You seem pretty terrified to me.” His thumb brushes the side of my chin and stops at the corner of my lips. “Nothing will happen while you’re with me, mila.”

I close my eyes, enjoying his touch. His other hand is still holding mine, and I’m overwhelmed and so damn tempted. I’m trying hard not to lift onto my toes and kiss his hard mouth. We didn’t kiss at city hall before we signed the marriage certificate. How would it feel to have his lips on mine?

Loud barking erupts on the other side of the back lawn. I open my eyes and look behind Drago. An iron fence divides the area, and beyond it, three rottweilers are jumping around, barking in our direction. They look excited, chasing each other and rearing back on their hind legs to brace their front paws on the barrier.

“Let’s go say hi.” Drago’s hand falls away from my face.

While we slowly approach the fence, he keeps squeezing my hand lightly, as if to assure me that everything is going to be okay.

“Sit,” he commands when we reach the enclosure. All three dogs immediately sit down, their eyes focused on him. Drago moves to stand behind me and wraps his arms around my middle.

“What are you doing?” I ask but completely forget about the question when a kiss lands on the side of my neck. The hold on my waist tightens as his lips move up to my chin.

“Keep your eyes on the dogs,” he says next to my ear and wraps his fingers around my wrist, raising my hand to his lips.

The dogs are watching us with interest, their heads slightly tilted to the side. I keep my gaze on them as Drago’s lips press to the back of my hand. My fingers begin to shake slightly as he turns my hand and kisses the center of my palm.

“Now, the other one,” he says.

The simple act of breathing becomes hard as I lower my right hand and lift the left one, because I can still feel the caress of his lips on my skin. He takes my hand and pulls it closer to his mouth, but not close enough for another kiss. His hot breath fans across my palm. He’s obviously doing this for the sake of the dogs. I don’t understand the reasoning behind his actions, but I’m certain it has something to do with them. And I wish it didn’t.

Drago runs his lips across my wrist, just over my pulse point, and I swear my heart skips a beat. It’s as if a low-intensity electric current is running through me. Everywhere his lips touch, thrilling energy enters and spreads through my body, zapping every nerve ending in its path. Another kiss falls to my wrist, and then he moves my hand and presses my palm against his cheek. I take a deep breath and lean more onto him, my entire back plastered to his front.

“I think I’ve made my point.” Drago lowers my hand and ushers me closer to the fence, beyond which the dogs are still sitting at attention.

“What point?” I ask and look up to find him watching me.

“That you’re mine.”

Not breaking our eye contact, he lifts my hand to the gap between the iron posts. All three rottweilers rise and, one by one, come over to sniff my hand. A wet, warm tongue licks my knuckles. Bonbon loved licking my hands and face.

I close my eyes for a second, then pull my hand out of Drago’s. “Well, I’ve met your dogs, so I’ll be on my merry way now. Have fun at work.”

I turn toward the house, but his arm wraps around my waist, pulling me back and crushing me to his body.

“I’m sorry if they scared you,” he says next to my ear. “I’ll tell my men to only let them out to run around at night.”

“Thank you,” I say.

Apparently, he still thinks I’m afraid of dogs. Whatever. I don’t plan on explaining myself.

 

Drago

 

She’s not afraid of dogs.

I pause with my hand on the doorknob. I’m not exactly sure why that realization suddenly hits me now, hours later, but I know I’m right. Whatever the reason for Sienna’s reluctance, it wasn’t fear.

“Where is my wife?” I ask Jovan who’s on guard duty at the front door.

“In the rec room.”

I step inside and turn right toward the great rec room that takes up a good part of the ground floor on this side of the house. There are several big-screen TVs and gaming consoles, as well as a pool table and pinball machines Mirko bought last month. A small wet bar with a variety of beverages is in one of the corners. With nearly fifty people under the same roof, you need to provide some sort of entertainment unless you want your life to become a living hell. Especially during evenings.

As I enter the room, I expect to find my wife watching a movie or gossiping with a few of the women. Instead, I find her sitting with three of my men at the poker table that’s set up close to the bar, with half a dozen people watching the unfolding game. The main overhead lighting is off, and only a pendant light above the table is illuminated, creating a very film noir ambience in the room. I stop by the bar to pour myself a drink, then lean on a nearby wall and observe what’s happening.

My wife is perched cross-legged on a chair, holding the cards in her left hand while chewing on the pad of her right thumb. Mirko is to her right, wearing a smug expression. On her other side is Adam, and while his poker face doesn’t show it, he believes he’s going to win. We’ve been friends since high school, and I know all his tells. Across from Sienna is Relja. I found him freezing on the streets when he was still a kid and brought him here. As usual, he’s completely enigmatic. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a man who’s been as hard to read as Relja.

There’s a minuscule heap of money at the center of the table, probably no more than a couple of hundred bucks in small bills. Hardly a high-stakes game; they’re obviously playing for fun. My attention shifts back to my wife as she takes off her big gold hoop earrings and drops them on top of the cash pile. Sienna resumes chewing on her thumb, her eyes flitting from one man to another in rapid succession. Anyone else may think that her cards are crap. My lips tug into a smile.

All three men at the table think that my wife is losing.

And all three of them are wrong.

I leave my empty glass on the counter and stride toward the group, then come to a stop behind Sienna. Grabbing the side of her chair, I turn it one-eighty and shove the back of it against the table’s edge. She must have given a little yelp when I spun her around because she’s looking at me with a slightly wild look in her eyes.

“Drago?” she gasps. “What . . .”

My hands land on Sienna’s waist. I lift her off the chair and take her place, then deposit her astride on my lap. Blinking at me in confusion, my wife presses the cards to her chest to hide them from view of her opponents. I can hear the guys behind me subtly clearing their troats as they take in our new position, and spot more than a few curious looks in my peripheral vision from the onlookers around the room.

“Feel free to continue,” I say, my eyes sliding back to Sienna’s face, just inches away from mine.

“Like this?”

“Yes.”

Her lips curve into a mischievous smile. She looks down at the cards in her hands, then leans toward me, reaching over my shoulder for a card on the table. I move my hand to the small of her back and pull her closer until her breasts are crushed against me and her pussy settles over my rapidly hardening cock. The chatter around the room dies down. By all outward appearances, Sienna remains unperturbed, but she can’t hide the rapid rise of her chest from me.

“Getting distracted?” I ask and lean back slightly so I can see her reply.

“Not at all.”

“Hmm . . .” Taking the cards from her hand, I throw a quick look at what she’s got.

A winning hand, just as I thought.

“She won. You can all leave,” I say and toss the cards over my shoulder onto the table.

There is a sound of chairs scraping the floor and footsteps hurrying away behind my back. The crowd around us slowly disperses, as well.

“You ruined my game,” Sienna whispers, staring into my eyes.

“I did.” I lift my hand and stroke the line of her jaw. “What’s the deal with the dogs, Sienna?”

Her body goes utterly still, but the very next moment, she relaxes and smiles. “What do you mean?”

I tilt my head to the side and just watch her face. Her smile seems genuine. But it doesn’t reach her eyes. And she knows exactly what I mean.

“Well, I should get going now. I need to wash my hair,” she blurts out and climbs down off my lap. “See you later.”

I follow her with my eyes as she rushes to collect her earrings and the money from the table, then quickly leaves the room. Crossing my arms over my chest, I regard the door she disappeared through.

I will find out her secrets. It may take time since I suspect pushing her won’t yield any results. Doesn’t matter. I am a very patient man.

 


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