We are taking book requests on our companion website. You can request books here. Make sure, you are following the rules.

Silent Lies: Chapter 9

Sienna

I open my laptop and click the email icon in the upper right corner of the screen. Calling the don would be easier, but with so many people in the house, I can’t risk that someone will overhear. I start a new message, enter the email address the don gave me, and move to the subject line, typing: The Alpha’s Chosen Mate, Episode One.

I shift my attention to the email body, my fingers flying over the keys.

Dear Silvia,

 

I hope you’re well. As agreed, I’m sending you the first episode of my new paranormal romance that you’ll be publishing in your online magazine. Please take a look and let me know your thoughts and suggestions for improvement.

 

Love,

Sienna

I add a few blank lines, then resume typing.

It was a cold, starless night when Georgina first set foot on the land owned by Darius, the Alpha of the Black River Wolves pack. Her heart was beating wildly, easily at double its usual rate, as she passed by her new mate and walked inside the den carved into a mountainside. Footsteps echoed off the walls along the narrow hallway as it wound deeper and deeper, broken up periodically by the offshoots leading to many smaller caves set all around her. The den was brimming with members of the pack. She tried to count them, but couldn’t get the exact number. It seemed like they all lived within the den.

I stop for a moment, my fingers hovering over the keys. It’s been almost three weeks since I arrived at Drago’s home, and I kept finding reasons not to call the don. At first, I told myself that I had nothing meaningful to share, then there was always someone around or it was too late to make the call. But an hour ago, I received a one-word message from Don Ajello: SIENNA! It flashed across my screen in all caps, and I couldn’t delay checking in any longer.

My fingers lower onto the keyboard once more, but my eyes wander to the big vase on the dresser that’s filled with beautiful sparking crystals. I found it on the nightstand when I woke up this morning. Drago must have noticed that I like the multicolored glass when we were at the store the other day and bought these for me. The colors of the crystals are not as intense as those of the marbles at the supermarket, but these are cut into shapes of little diamonds which makes them so pretty. I moved the vase to the dresser where I can see it as soon as I enter the room and stuck my collection of pens and pencils into it.

I take a deep breath and look back at the email, but it’s as if a heavy weight has settled over my chest. Putting the laptop aside, I get up from the bed and walk to the window that faces the driveway.

Keva is standing at the edge of the lawn with her hands on her hips, arguing with Jovan. I smile. He probably forgot to call the repairman to come out and take a look at the fridge, which has been humming strangely for the past few days. A bit to the right, Filip and Drago are getting into Drago’s car. Both are wearing suits, so they’re probably headed to a meeting. I haven’t seen my husband in a suit too often, maybe twice so far. It looks good on him.

Just before he gets behind the wheel, Drago looks up toward my window, and our gazes connect for a brief moment. A wave of guilt overwhelms me as the reality of what I’m about to do hits me again. My eyes follow Drago’s car as it pulls away. I stay rooted in place until it’s out of sight, only then do I head back to my laptop.

I resume my typing, but the sour taste in my mouth refuses to dissipate.

Shortly after Georgina’s arrival, it seemed like the pack was facing new challenges. She wasn’t certain about the reasons, but from the hushed conversations she managed to overhear, it appeared that the Black River Wolves started a feud with the Transylvania Hills Bears. The Bears lived in the same territory as the Wolves, and both claimed ownership over the specific hunting ground.

Georgina’s stay with the Black River Wolves pack was bound to be much more interesting than she originally thought.

To be continued . . .

My mind is still racing as I hold the mouse over the send button for almost a minute before finally hitting it.

The phone rings ten minutes later. Don Ajello’s number lights up the screen.

“Silvia,” I say as I answer the call, “you got my submission, I assume?”

“Pack?” Ajello’s grim voice comes across the line. “Transylvania Bears?”

“It’s a code,” I whisper into the phone. “Transylvania Bears stands for the Romanians.”

“I can’t decipher your nonsense, Sienna. Start speaking.”

I slump down on the edge of the bed and sigh. “Drago is handling everything around here. Filip, his second-in-command, oversees the execution of things. They launder the money through the club.”

“I already knew all that. What else?”

“They have some problems with the Romanians. I didn’t catch much, only that Drago upped the security.”

“Your husband had a big deal go down the week you two got married. Did it have anything to do with the Romanians?”

“I haven’t heard any details.”

“And what was that garbage about caves?”

“Many of his men are living here, in Drago’s house.”

“How many?”

I grind my teeth together and bury my hand in my hair. It feels wrong to tell him all this.

“How many, Sienna?”

“Forty-eight,” I mutter.

“And how many men does he have overall?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, find out. Fast,” he orders and cuts the call.

I look down at the phone in my hand, then throw it on the bed and dash out of the room.

“Sienna!” Jelena calls after me as I’m heading across the foyer “Would you . . .”

I ignore her and burst through the front door. It’s a bit chilly outside but I don’t head back to get my jacket.

There are several men loitering in front of the huge garage building that houses multiple bays for over a dozen cars situated to the left of the mansion, so I turn right and run toward the trees, away from everyone. The sour taste in my mouth won’t leave me and only becomes worse with each passing minute. What will Ajello do with the information I provided? When I agreed to this stupid plan, it didn’t sound too bad. But now . . .

I gave him the number of people who live here, in the house. That has to be one of the least meaningful pieces of information. It’s not as if the don is planning on invading Drago’s home, but still, divulging that detail makes me feel so dirty.

I like the people here, and it feels like I’m betraying them. Most days, Drago is already gone by the time I wake up, except for the mornings when he drags me out jogging with him. But that only happens three times a week, and we spend about an hour pounding the dirt around the estate grounds. After that, he leaves, and I rarely see him again until dinner time. I’ve already read all the books I brought with me, which leaves me to spend my days writing in my new notebook or helping Keva in the kitchen.

If Asya saw me now, she would die laughing. At home, I don’t think I’ve fried eggs on my own more than a handful of times. Here, though, I find it surprisingly fulfilling to be involved in the kitchen. The house is always teaming with people. Yes, it can get insane with everyone speaking at the same time and bumping into each other, but it’s fun. Before, when it was just Arturo, Asya, and me, it was nice, too. But here . . . It’s one big, strange family and, despite my obvious inexperience, I enjoy the mayhem even more. It’s hard to feel alone with so many people around.

They hardly know me, but among them, I don’t feel like an outsider. When I went into the kitchen the other day, still shaken after meeting Drago’s dogs, Keva made me a hot chocolate and demanded I tell her who had upset me so she could whip their butts. And yesterday, when I was complaining that the shoes I wanted were sold out online, Mirko heard me and told me to email him the link so he could “handle it.” The shoes arrived the same evening.

And then, there is my husband. Sometimes, I catch him nearby when I thought he wasn’t even home. He watches me when he thinks I’m not looking, but I can feel his eyes on me every single time. The sweep of his gaze is like a light brush of a feather tickling the back of my neck. Every nerve in my system ignites with awareness.

I keep up my charade, pretending I don’t notice his looks. But I’m fairly sure he knows he’s not fooling me and sees through my bluff.

Even so, Drago continues to observe me as if he’s trying to figure me out. At times, he reminds me of a gargoyle perched atop a great stone wall. Always watching. And waiting. I’m not sure what he’s waiting for, but one thing I do know is, I like it. I like the excitement that stirs within me when he’s near. And I love sleeping in his bed.

But what would he do if he found out I’m ratting him out to Ajello? I don’t think he would kill me. He might be the head of a criminal organization, but excluding the incident with the plumber, he doesn’t strike me as a violent person. So far, I haven’t seen him hit or even yell at any of his people. Perhaps that’s what he has the priest guy for—to dispose of those who oppose him rather than killing them himself.

I spend half an hour meandering the grounds around the mansion, no particular destination in mind. Eventually, I end up in the backyard. Drago’s dogs are running inside their enclosure, but when they notice my approach, they stop playing and focus their attention on me. Whenever I’ve stopped here previously, I’ve always expected them to bark, but they never do. They don’t do it now, either. They simply regard me. Just like their owner.

Usually, I leave after observing them for a few minutes, but this time, I take one tentative step forward. Then another one. The largest of the three props himself on his hind legs, pressing his front paws onto the iron fence. Cautiously, I approach the barrier and raise my hand to the dog’s snout. He sniffs my fingers for a bit, then licks them. I crouch next to the fence and offer my left hand to the other dog smelling my pants.

 

Drago

 

“When can we expect payment from the Russians?” Keva asks and turns the page of her thick old ledger.

“In two days,” I say as I approach the dining table and take a seat across from her. “Why the fuck won’t you let Mirko get you a laptop? You can’t keep our financial records in that.”

She looks at me over the rim of her glasses. “I’m not leaving sensitive information in some electronic box where anyone can access it.”

“There are things called firewalls, Zivka. No one can access your stuff with one of those installed.”

“Oh, yeah? Tell that to Yahoo.”

I rub my temples and sigh.

“Sienna came down to breakfast looking super cheerful this morning,” Keva says while a small smile pulls at her lips. “When I asked the reason for her good mood, she said you left her a present. A vase of multicolored glass crystals, which sparkle adorably, apparently.”

“So, she liked it?”

“So much that I dropped by your room to see this ‘glass’ that got her so excited.” She takes off her glasses and grins. “Do you know that your wife uses half a million dollars worth of precious gems as a pen holder?”

“She likes them. As far as I’m concerned, she can use them any way she wants,” I say. “You didn’t send me any pictures today.”

“I haven’t?” she feigns surprise. “I probably forgot. But you should have seen her this morning when Jovan drove her to the mall. She was wearing neon-green jeans and a yellow blouse with ruffles.”

“She paired them with the chicken jacket?”

“But of course. And her yellow heels.”

I furrow my brows. “You should have sent me a picture.”

“Or you could have been here in person to see for yourself.” She points her glasses at me. “You need to stop stalking her around the house, Drago.”

“She’s my wife. I can stalk her as much as I want.”

Keva snorts. “Kovac called earlier. He’s getting married on Sunday and has invited you and Sienna to attend.”

“I don’t do weddings, as you very well know. Especially not Serbian weddings.” Going to a party with live music and several hundred guests, all of them yammering and singing in constant glee, is the personification of fucking hell for me. Two minutes of that shit is enough to turn my brain to mush.

“Maybe you could make an exception? Just a quick drop-in?”

“No.”

“Shame.” She lets out an exaggerated sigh. “Sienna would love it.”

I lean back in the chair and imagine my wife in the middle of that madness. Yup, she would be thrilled. “Kovac did mention a new investment opportunity the last time we talked. Maybe we could stop by for a bit. Maintaining good relationships is beneficial for business.”

“Perfect. Make sure you take Sienna to buy a dress for the occasion.”

I raise an eyebrow. “Have you seen all the clothes that woman owns?”

“There is never ‘enough’ when it comes to ladies’ outfits, Drago.”

I roll my eyes and nod toward a small fish tank set on the corner shelf. Several orange fish zigzag among the water plants and other aquarium decorations. “What’s that doing here?”

“Sienna bought it today at the mall.”

“I don’t like fish.”

“I know.” Keva is already reaching for her phone. “Sienna was very excited about them, but I’ll tell Jovan to return the fish tank back to the store.”

I clench my jaw. “Just leave the damn thing.”

“Are you sure? I can have him do it right away.”

“No one touches her fish,” I say through gritted teeth. “And where is my sunny wife?”

“I don’t know. She didn’t come down for dinner, so I assumed she wasn’t hungry.”

Nodding, I stand up and leave the dining room, on a mission to find my wife. I was half an hour late for a meeting with a business associate this morning because I was waiting for Sienna to wake up so I could see her reaction to my gift. Eventually, I had to leave and it put me in a really bad mood. It got worse as the hours dragged on because I had too much work and couldn’t drop by the house to see her, as I try to do at least twice a day. Keva not sending me photos was the icing on the cake of a shitty day, and I’m certain her lack of texts was purposeful.

The great rec room on the east side of the ground floor is packed with people, but Sienna isn’t there.

“Anyone seen Sienna?” I ask.

More than thirty heads swivel in my direction. A bunch of noes and shaking follows.

I head to the top floor next, but she’s not in the bedroom, either. Closing the door behind me, I return downstairs. Keva gapes at me as I sprint past her and shove the kitchen door open with enough force that it hits the adjacent wall.

“Where is my wife?!”

Four heads snap in my direction.

“She’s not here,” one of the girls cleaning the countertop says.

“I’m not fucking blind. When was the last time anyone saw her?”

“Maybe she’s still outside?” Jelena says. “I saw her go out earlier, but that was about three hours ago.”

I turn on my heel and run.

“I can’t find Sienna,” I bark at Iliya, who’s standing by the front door, and grab my jacket. “Jelena says she saw her going outside. You and Relja take the front yard. I’ll take the back.”

When I burst outside, I head to the garage first in case she’s wandered in there. She hasn’t.

“Fuck!” I hit the wall with my palm and run back out.

What if Bogdan discovered our location and his guys somehow got to her? She could be gone. Off the grounds. Gone! Or they’re still here, biding their time to slip away under the cover of darkness. Our security is tight, so they can’t be too far.

I change course and take off toward the other part of the backyard. That’s where the dogs are, so I doubt they’ll be there, but I need to check just in case.

Something yellow by the fence attracts my attention. Dusk has fallen so I don’t realize it’s Sienna until I’m halfway to her. She’s kneeling on the ground next to the dogs’ enclosure with her arms pushed through the gaps, petting Zeus’s head. The other two dogs are lying close by with their paws pressed to her legs.

“Jesus fuck.” I take off my jacket and put it around her shoulders. She’s still dressed in her outfit from earlier, and that ruffly shirt is way too thin for the rapidly dropping temperature. “What the fuck is wrong with you? Are you trying to freeze to death?”

Carefully, I pull her away from the fence and guide her arms inside the sleeves of my jacket. She doesn’t even look at me, just keeps her gaze glued to the dogs. I lift her into my arms and run toward the house.

“Sienna?”

Her arms come around my neck, squeezing as she buries her face against my shoulder. Why isn’t she saying anything? Where are those snarky remarks? Mischievous grins?

I reach the front door and kick it open. Keva is hurrying across the foyer toward us, but I barrel straight to the stairway. “Bring me something hot,” I yell. “Tea or cocoa. Now!”

When I get inside our bedroom, I place Sienna on the recliner by the balcony and wrap the blanket off the bed around her, then crouch at her feet and start removing her four-inch heels. They have little flowers on the toe part—a perfect choice for traipsing around the wet lawn and mud.

Moya blesava mila.” Shaking my head, I rub her cold feet with my palms.

A few moments later the door behind me opens, and Jelena sets a tray with a big mug of tea and some cookies on the side table.

“Thank you. Now, leave,” I say without looking at her. My gaze is focused on Sienna’s face, which is absolutely expressionless. The only time I’ve seen her like this was at the club just before we met.

“Sienna?”

She blinks, pulls her feet out of my hands, and places them on the edge of the seat, wrapping her arms around her legs.

“I had a dog, you know?”

“Had?”

“Yes. His name was Bonbon.”

I can’t understand the actual words, but I do hear the tone of her voice. It’s strangely flat.

“What happened?”

“He died because of me.” She leans forward and sets her chin on her bent knees, looking somewhere over my shoulder. “He had kidney failure, but I was too distracted with my sister being missing to notice the signs. When I did, it was too late.”

I knew that Arturo’s sister disappeared a couple of years back, because he was inaccessible during that time, searching for her. That was when the whole shitshow with Pisano happened. I’m not aware of the specifics about what happened to the girl, aside from that she was missing for months and then ended up marrying a guy from the Bratva’s inner circle. But, I can well imagine the hell both Sienna and her brother must have gone through not knowing if their sister was alive.

“But your sister is okay?” I ask as the old wound in my heart reopens and aches.

Sienna’s eyes move to meet mine. “Yes. Asya almost died because of me, but she’s okay now.”

“What do you mean?”

“It doesn’t matter.” She quickly looks away. “What are their names? The dogs?”

I adjust the blanket around her shoulders and, not being able to resist the urge to soothe her somehow, brush the back of my palm down her cheek. “The big one is Zeus. The one with tan legs is Jupiter. And the third is Perun.”

“Named after the gods,” she says, surprising me. Zeus and Jupiter are more or less common knowledge, but not many know of the old Slavic god Perun. “I think I’ll go to sleep now if that’s okay with you.”

“Drink your tea first.”

Sienna takes the mug I hand her, and after she’s done with the tea, she disappears into the bathroom. Fifteen minutes later, she climbs into bed, clutches the pillow to her chest, and pulls the covers all the way up to her chin.

I take a seat on the recliner and watch as she lies there, unmoving, while contemplating what I just witnessed. It appears my wife is neither maniacally happy nor shallow like she pretends to be. But I’m sure that once she awakes, she’ll act as if nothing happened and continue with her carefree charade.

Sienna turns on her side, keeping a pillow tightly squeezed to her chest, as she usually does. I thought it was a habit, but now that I think about it, I realize that she only does that when I leave the bed in the morning.

I berate myself and shake my head. No woman could be so blasé about being torn away from her normal life and made to live in a house with people she doesn’t know. Married to a man who’s a complete stranger. Especially someone as young as Sienna, who has already experienced heartache in her life. Her parents were killed when she was just a little girl, and I know what kind of trauma that leaves. Then, her sister was kidnapped. And now this.

Drago, you idiot. I let her carefree act fool me. And on top of it, I tried to keep her at arm’s length because I knew she was spying on me for Ajello. God only knows what’s going on in her head and what’s hidden behind those smiles that reach her eyes only on rare occasions.

After getting up from the recliner, I strip my clothes and approach the bed. Gently, I pull away the pillow my wife is clinging to, then climb under the covers and wrap my arms around Sienna, pressing her to my body. Immediately, she buries her face in the crook of my neck. Something in her hair scratches my chin. I lean back a bit and look down to see a big yellow butterfly-shaped hairpin at the top of her head. Sighing, I carefully remove the pin from her hair and toss it onto the nightstand. She stirs, grumbling something.

“You can’t sleep with that crap in your hair, Sienna,” I say and pull her closer to me.


Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Options

not work with dark mode
Reset