Stolen By A Sinner: Chapter 22

Gabriel

Hearing Lara laugh, I know I did the right thing by having the conversation with her last night.

I follow the sound until I find Lara outside in the garden where’s she walking with my grandmother.

Babaanne points at a bush of flowers. “Those are my favorite. Peonies. They’re easy to grow.”

“They’re pretty,” Lara says, leaning closer to smell one. “They almost smell like Nisa Hanim.”

“It’s her favorite as well,” my grandmother says before dragging Lara toward the rose garden.

I did the right thing.

Nisa and Lara joined us for breakfast. From today, they’ll be having their meals with us in the dining room.

I kept finding my eyes wandering to Lara, and watching how much she enjoyed the food brought a smile to my face.

Nisa, on the other hand, was watching me as if she was trying to solve a riddle. Give the woman half a chance, and her mind will run away with her. I know what she’s thinking. Why the sudden change of heart?

Heading back into the house so I can go to work, I’m cornered by Nisa, who’s waiting at the front door. She lifts an eyebrow. “So, what made you change your mind?”

I let out a chuckle as I pull my jacket off the hook and shrug it on. “I had to ease up on Lara at some point or you and Babaanne would never let me hear the end of it.”

“Oh.” She deflates right before my eyes. “You better get to work.”

I watch as she walks toward the kitchen, then I shake my head and leave the house.

While Mizar drives me toward Reckoning, which is situated near the Space Needle, I check my messages. There’s one from a number I don’t recognize, and opening it, it’s to find a photo of Lara, Nisa, and Murat. It must’ve been taken when they went shopping a while back.

Frowning, I read the accompanying text.

Give her to me as a peace offering, and I’ll forgive the attack.

I quickly dial Daniel’s number.

“Boss?”

“Go to my house with two men and help Murat keep everyone safe.”

“On my way.”

I end the call and dial Emre’s number.

“Are you on your way?” he asks the instant he answers.

Evet. Twenty minutes. Mazur made contact. I’ve sent Daniel to the house to watch over everyone. You don’t move around alone any longer. Have Kerem with you at all times.”

“Okay. And you?”

“I have Mizar.”

“What did Mazur say?” Emre asks.

“He knows Lara’s alive. He somehow got a photo of her, Nisa, and Murat when they went shopping.”

“How do you want to handle this?”

“We wait. Mazur wants Lara back, so he’s bound to make a rash decision that can count in our favor.”

“Let me know if anything else happens.”

After we end the call, I get Elif on the line. I give her the number the message came from, ordering her to trace it when I make the call.

Knowing Elif’s waiting, I press dial on the number. I’m actually surprised when it rings, thinking he would’ve gotten rid of it.

“Demir,” a hoarse voice comes over the line.

Too many cigars, old man.

“Mazur.”

“I see you got my message,” he mutters arrogantly. When I remain silent, he demands, “Return the woman to me.”

I let out a chuckle. “I’ve been wracking my mind trying to figure out why she’s so important to you? Are you afraid she’ll tell me something of importance?

“She’s an imbecile,” he scoffs.

Then maybe…

“Is she related to you?”

“She’s nothing more than a dog I like to keep on a leash,” he spits out.

“I’ve grown rather fond of her,” I say to taunt Mazur. “She’s so eager to please my every command.” Wanting to piss him off, I add, “So submissive.”

“I don’t care what you do with her. Fuck her and send her back, and I’ll forgive the attack. I won’t make the same offer again.”

“I don’t want your fucking forgiveness, old man,” I growl. “I want your blood dripping from my fingers.”

“Why?” he demands.

“When we meet, face to face, I’ll tell you why.” Cutting the call, I take a deep calming breath before checking with Elif whether she was able to trace the call.

“It’s pinging all over the world. I was able to narrow it down to Poland. He’s definitely there. I’ll check any CCTV footage for signs of him.”

“Have you received proof from the contact you have in Poland?”

“Not yet. He’s gone silent.”

Fuck. He’s probably been killed.

“Let me know the second you find something.”

Evet.”

By the time we reach the club, I’m so fucking tired of my phone I want to throw it out the window. Instead of doing that, I tuck it back into my pocket and climb out of the SUV. On guard, I glance around the area, my hand beneath my jacket and resting on my gun.

Now it’s only a matter of time.

After talking with Mazur for the first time, it’s hard to focus on my work. I’m walking toward the docking bays with Emre to check on shipments.

Why the hell does he want Lara?

No one fights for a person unless they’re of value to them.

I stop in the middle of the hallway as the realization hits – I’m willing to fight for Lara.

Jesus.

When Emre notices I’ve stopped walking, he turns back and asks, “What’s wrong?”

I shake my head. “Nothing.

I start walking again, my thoughts inundated with Lara.

I’m willing to fight so she can keep smiling. So she’ll remain free.

Again I stop, and this time Emre frowns at me. “Is it the call with Mazur that’s bothering you?”

“Why the hell does he want Lara?” I ask the question for what feels like the millionth time. “She has to be related to him, right?”

“But you said he denied it.”

I level Emre with an impatient look. “Would you admit a person is family if your enemy had them?”

“Right.” He shrugs. “How old is Mazur? Did he have children?”

I lock eyes with my cousin. “She could be his daughter.”

He shrugs again. “But she was a maid.”

“We know Mazur is fucked up, Emre. He’s not the kind of man who cares about family.” I think for a moment. “He just doesn’t want her in his enemy’s hands. It’s a matter of wounded pride, not love.”

“That makes sense,” Emre agrees.

I shake my head again. “But he never told Lara he’s her father? It still doesn’t add up. He would’ve used it to keep her in line at the very least.”

“Fuck if I know,” Emre gives up, trying to solve the puzzle.

After getting the shipments on the road, we wait at the back of the club for a client to arrive. I keep going over everything I know about Mazur. I’m sure the man doesn’t have children.

Lara said she came from Poland with her mother. What the hell did she say about her father?

I have to set my thoughts aside when a Mercedes pulls up. A woman in her early fifties gets out, looking like she just stepped out of a fashion magazine.

Carrying a briefcase with cash, Julia Liotta smiles at me as if I’m her next meal. The woman is ruthless. She deals in drug trafficking and sex slavery.

“Gabriel,” she purrs. “It’s been a while.”

Not long enough.

“Julia,” I nod. I gesture for Emre to take the briefcase.

Once he’s checked the contents and indicates it’s all there, Julia hands me a piece of paper with three number plates printed on it.

“I trust my trucks will have safe passage through Seattle?” she asks.

“They have one week,” I warn her. “Only product is allowed to pass through my city.”

The snake gives me a tempting smile before she turns around and casually walks back to her car, her guards flanking her.

When the Mercedes drives away, I mutter, “I hate doing business with that woman.”

“She pays well,” Emre reminds me. “At least we don’t have to deal with her often.”

Evet.” Turning away from the loading docks, I head back inside so I can go home and ask Lara about her father.

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