Stolen By A Sinner: Chapter 13

Gabriel

When I walk into the kitchen to grab a bottle of water and find Nisa working alone, I ask, “Where’s Lara?”

The woman that’s like a second mother to me makes a disgruntled sound through her nose, then pins me with a scowl. “She’s resting. You do remember she was shot less than two weeks ago, right?”

How can I forget? I was the one who shot her.

Not answering, I open the fridge and take a bottle from it.

“Lara’s been through hell. Tymon Mazur is the scum of the Earth,” Nisa begins to rail, visibly upset.

Leaning back against a counter, I take a sip of the water, my eyes resting on Nisa. Once something’s upset her, all you can do is listen while she offloads whatever’s on her mind.

“I’ve never wished ill on anyone, but I hope you find that monster and make him pay.”

My eyebrow lifts. “You must like Lara a lot that you’re out for blood on her behalf.”

Nisa drops the rag she was using to wipe the counter, plants her fists on her sides, and locks eyes with me. “My heart bleeds for the poor young woman, Gabriel Bey. Watching her struggle isn’t easy. She keeps asking if she’ll get in trouble, and she’s terrified out of her mind that you’ll punish her.”

It probably didn’t help that I threatened her life.

“She’ll grow accustomed to how we do things here,” I murmur, already annoyed again even though Lara’s not in the kitchen. Just the mere mention of the woman is enough to make me feel frustrated. It’s really starting to bother me.

“Do you know,” Nisa moves closer, the expression on her face secretive as she glances around to make sure we’re alone, “Lara won’t even cry. She fights it so hard that it makes me want to cry on her behalf.”

Letting out a sigh, I set down the bottle on the counter and cross my arms over my chest. “Why does it feel like you want me to fix the problem?”

Nisa jabs a finger at me. “Because she’s terrified of you, Gabriel Bey. Just give Lara a kind word and set her mind at ease that you won’t beat her if she accidentally breaks a plate. It’s not right for someone to live in so much fear.”

The woman is becoming a bigger problem than I anticipated. She’s already wrapping Nisa around her little finger.

“I’ve given her a job, a bed to sleep in, and food to eat.” And I fucking spared her life. “I’ve done more than she deserves.”

Nisa starts blinking, her head snapping back as if I physically struck her. “Allah Allah! You almost had Lara Hanim killed. You practically kidnapped her and brought her here. Of course, it’s your responsibility to take care of her. Alya Hanim and I raised you better than this!”

I let out another sigh knowing this is one argument I’m not going to win. “Fine, I’ll tell her I won’t beat her. Happy?”

Nisa gives me a look filled with warning. “Evet. Now hurry and leave so I can prepare breakfast before you complain about starving.”

God help me.

Letting out a chuckle, I press a kiss to Nisa’s forehead, then mutter, “You drive me insane.”

As I walk out of the kitchen, Nisa calls after me, “I’ll add extra pastrami to your eggs.”

To keep the peace in my house, I walk to Lara’s room and knock once before opening the door. Just like before, Lara’s sitting at the table. With wide eyes and visible fear tightening her features, she darts up, folding her hands in front of her.

I step inside and glance around the room that’s neat, not a single thing lying around to say the woman now lives here.

My eyes rest on Lara, who’s wearing another dress. It doesn’t suit her. She’s only twenty-two, and wearing something a fifty-year-old woman would wear is unflattering on her slender frame.

I let out another sigh, then notice her hands are trembling. Moving forward, I take a seat at the table and murmur, “Sit down, Lara.”

She instantly listens, dropping down in the other chair. Cautiously, her eyes flit to mine before lowering back to her lap.

I stare for a moment, wondering if I shouldn’t just send her back to Mazur, but something tells me not to. My gaze sharpens on her as I try to figure out why it would bother me to send her back.

She gives me another cautious glance, worry knotting her eyebrows together.

“Nisa tells me you’re living in fear that I’d beat you for the slightest mishap.”

This time her eyes fly to mine, and with a look of alarm, her lips part, but she doesn’t say anything.

She just looks fucking terrified.

I glance out the window as I inhale deeply. “I don’t find joy in beating people, Lara. That’s not how I punish my employees.”

She nods, and even though I can see the questions forming in her eyes, she doesn’t say a word.

Those goddamn eyes. They’re so expressive… and wounded.

“I’ll never hit you. You can relax. I’m not Mazur.”

Her eyebrows knot tighter together, and she looks extremely vulnerable. The sight makes my heart melt.

Now I understand why this woman has Nisa wrapped around her little finger. Hurting Lara would equate to kicking a puppy.

Suddenly I have the urge to set her at ease, not because it’s what Nisa wants, but because I don’t want this innocent creature living in terror.

Tilting my head, I settle my hands on the chair’s armrests. “Is there anything you want to ask me?”

She hesitates but then lifts her chin and asks, “How do you punish your employees?” Her fingers start to fidget with the fabric of her dress. “If I’m allowed to know, sir.”

I either dismiss or kill them. It all depends on how much they know about me and what the transgression is. “Unless you betray me, there is no punishment.”

“Betray, sir?” The fear in her eyes lessens, and slowly the blue becomes lighter, filled with an eagerness to please me.

The punch to my gut is instant and forceful.

Jesus.

“Don’t speak to people about what happens in my house. Don’t disclose any information about me.”

She nods quickly. “I won’t.” Her teeth tugs nervously at her bottom lip, then she says, “So I’m not to talk to anyone about you, and I must stay away from the east wing.”

“That sums it up.” For a moment, we stare at each other, then I ask, “Do you have any other questions?”

Again she hesitates, and it’s clear she was never allowed to question anything. It makes her uncomfortable, but still, she pushes through and asks, “Are relationships allowed?”

She has a love interest?

Instantly I frown, totally caught by surprise. “Why do you ask?” She better not start parading men through my house.

“Ah… it’s just, Nisa Hanim is really kind, and it’s becoming hard to keep my distance from her.”

I end up blinking like Nisa did earlier, then anger unfurls in my chest. “Are you asking me whether I’ll allow a friendship between you and Nisa?”

“Yes, sir.”

With a pissed-off frown, I stare at the woman, wondering just what kind of life she’s had until I shot her.

Lara squirms in her chair, then she quickly murmurs, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“You didn’t upset me.” Mazur fucking did. “Of course, you’re allowed to be friends with Nisa. In fact, I encourage it.” Just to save myself from a future headache, I add, “But no boyfriends. If you’re going to have a romantic relationship, it better happen outside and nowhere near my house. Don’t bring men here.”

I watch as absolute confusion washes over her face but then understanding sets in, and the woman blushes something fierce. The color in her cheeks actually makes her look pretty. “I… I’ll never do that.”

Hold on a minute.

I find myself leaning closer, my eyes inspecting her strong reaction of discomfort. “You’ve had a boyfriend before, right?”

Lara quickly shakes her head. “It wasn’t allowed.”

Jesus.

A wave of protectiveness rears inside my chest, and before I can think about the consequences, I say, “In that case, you’re not to get romantically involved unless I approve of the man. You’re living under my roof now, which means you’re my responsibility.”

Instead of arguing because I’m placing a restriction on her personal life, Lara looks relieved by my request. “Yes, sir.”

It’s probably because she doesn’t have a fucking clue how to navigate through life. Mazur seriously did a number on this woman.

The fucker.

“If there’s anything you’re unsure about, just ask. You’ll never get in trouble for asking a question.” I might be a criminal and murderer, but I’m not a dick.

More relief washes over her features. “Thank you, sir.”

The fact that she’s thanking me for allowing her to ask questions fills me with more compassion.

Now that Lara seems to be more at ease, I decide to add, “If you remember anything about Mazur you think might be of worth to me, please tell me.”

She tilts her head. “Like what, sir?”

“Any relationships he had. Phone calls you overheard. People you saw coming and going.”

Lara nods. “I’ll think hard, and the moment I remember something, I’ll let you know.”

“Good.” Climbing to my feet, I glance around the room again. “Did they bring your belongings from Mazur’s house?”

“Yes, sir.” Lara stands up and walks by me to open the closet. “I placed it in here because it wouldn’t fit beneath the bed. I hope that’s okay?”

My eyes land on the plastic box. Without thinking, I remove it from the closet, drop it on the bed, and take off the lid. I stare down at the meager clothes, pair of shoes, and children’s storybook.

Unable to believe this is all Lara owns, I grab the maid’s uniform and toss it on the bed. Disgust fills my chest as I turn to look at Lara. “This is everything you own?”

Her gaze touches on the worn items with a fierce possessiveness that lends more color to her cheeks. “Yes, sir.” Moving around me, she gathers the clothes and starts to fold them neatly.

Jesus Christ.

Pulling cash from my pocket, I take a couple of thousand dollars and drop it on the bed. “Have Murat take you shopping when you go to open the bank account. Take Nisa with you and get yourself decent clothes.”

Lara stares at me with the same expression as yesterday when I told her how much her wages would be – as if I just gave her the fucking world.

“It’s so much, sir,” she breathes, the emotion on her face making her look vulnerable and downright beautiful.

Again there’s a tug at my heart.

Needing to get away from Lara and the unwanted emotions she’s making me feel, I mutter, “Take a couple of days to heal properly while you get settled.”

“Yes, sir.” Her words are soft as I stalk out of the bedroom. “Thank you, sir.”

After the emotionally loaded moment in Lara’s room, I need to fucking kill someone to restore my equilibrium.

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