Stolen By A Sinner: Chapter 8

Gabriel

It’s been an entire week, and Lara keeps giving me the same answers. It’s clear as fucking day she’s scared shitless, and my gut tells me she hasn’t lied to me.

Yet.

Still, I’m no closer to finding Mazur. The fucker vanished into thin air.

Walking into the cottage, I ask, “Still the same?”

Evet,” Murat answers. “She eats, showers, and tries to get out of the shackle. She hasn’t asked Nisa Hanim to help her escape again. Nothing new.”

Nodding, I walk to the bedroom and let myself in. Just like every other day, Lara moves to the side of the bed, her body tensing with fear. Since yesterday she’s been wearing the dresses I had Nisa bring to the room. The colorful patterns make her look even younger.

Some color is returning to her face, and she seems to be gaining weight. She doesn’t look as gaunt anymore, her striking eyes sparkling brighter.

Lara never keeps eye contact because she’s always on guard and scared shitless.

That doesn’t mean she’s not brave.

Not once has she cried, and not a day has passed where she hasn’t tried to break the fucking shackle.

Yesterday, Dr. Bayram removed the IV and said Lara was recovering well.

Trying a different strategy today, I shut the door behind me and take a seat on the chair. Removing my gun from behind my back, I release the clip.

As I lift my eyes to Lara’s, I say, “For every right answer, I’ll remove a bullet. By the time I’m done questioning you, I’ll use the remaining bullets on you.”

I watch as fear darkens her eyes until they almost look like the night sky, light blue flecks shining like stars.

The woman’s eyes are something else. She can keep her facial expression neutral, but her eyes give away her emotions.

“Why were you at Aqua?” I ask for the hundredth time.

Lara takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. “To get dinner for Mr. Mazur.”

Again, my thoughts turn back to the scene outside the restaurant. Lara’s shocked expression. Her outburst. Her fear. How she ordered another meal and left without looking at our table.

Unfortunately, I’m really starting to believe her.

My thumb moves, ejecting a bullet. I set the round down on the armrest.

Lara’s eyes widen, and I watch as relief trickles into them.

“Does Mazur have any romantic relationships?”

Her brow creases, and for a split second, she looks repulsed. “Not that I know of.”

I focus on the emotion she let slip by her defenses. “Why are you repulsed by the question?”

She shrugs. Her gaze darts to the clip in my hand before meeting my eyes again. “It’s hard to imagine Mr. Mazur being intimate in any way.”

“No girlfriends? No wives?”

She shakes her head. “None that I’ve seen.”

I remove another bullet. When I set it down next to the other one, Lara relaxes more.

Questioning the woman, I’ve learned a couple of things. She has zero loyalty to Mazur. I have no idea what her life was like, but I can imagine it wasn’t good. I’ve heard Mazur has a habit of killing his staff for the slightest offense.

Lara might have expressive eyes, but I’ve never seen a flicker of hope in them. This woman has been conditioned to survive at all costs, which means if she had information on Mazur, she would’ve given it to save herself.

My only hope is that she knows something she’s unaware of. Working in the mansion, she could’ve overheard something of value that meant nothing to her.

“How have you managed to survive twenty-two years?”

There’s a flash of a frown before her features become expressionless again. This time the light in her eyes dim.

When she doesn’t answer me immediately, I slowly repeat. “Working for Mazur, how did you survive twenty-two years?” To get a reaction out of her, I add, “I can only assume you’re of value to him. He must care about you.”

Lara’s features tense with a flash of hatred. Again it’s only for the slightest moment.

“I mean nothing to him. I survived by doing my job and not causing any trouble.”

To encourage her, I take another bullet from the clip and set it down on the armrest. “How did you explain the ruined meal to him?”

I watch as all emotion leaves her eyes until they almost seem lifeless. “I didn’t tell him.”

I stare at her for a moment, but this time there’s no increasing fear on her part. “But something happened,” I murmur.

“I was late.”

For the first time since I took her prisoner, Lara seems to shut down completely. Having done it myself many times before, I recognize the emptiness in her eyes.

Out of curiosity, I ask, “And?”

“I was punished.”

Which reminds me. “Does Mazur keep a bullet with your name on it?”

She immediately nods. “Yes.”

“Do you know of someone close to Mazur who doesn’t have a bullet with their name carved on it?”

Slowly, she shakes her head, and only then do I realize she has her hair up in a bun.

“I’ve never looked inside the box,” she answers.

I slip another bullet out of the clip. “Still, I find it interesting that you’ve lasted this long.”

There’s a spark of life in her eyes again. “Mr. Kowalski worked for Mr. Mazur since I was five. I’m not the only one who’s managed to stay alive.”

“Who is Kowalski?”

“The head butler.”

I remember the elderly man who spoke on behalf of the group in the basement and assume he’s Kowalski. I have men stationed at the house in case Mazur is stupid enough to return. I’ll get them to question the butler.

Wanting to test Lara some more, I ask, “If I were to let you go, would you run back to Mazur?”

Lara’s fair complexion turns pale, her eyes looking twice their size. Her breathing picks up until they’re short bursts of air over her lips.

Her reaction tells me everything I need to know. She can’t go back because he’d probably kill her.

Fuck, this woman is of no value to me. She knows nothing.

I gather the bullets from the armrest and slowly push each one back into the clip. When the clip clicks into place in the gun, Lara closes her eyes. A visible tremble shudders through her, her fear palpable in the air.

“You have no documents, no belongings, and nowhere to go.”

Slowly, her eyes open. They’re dull and empty again.

She thinks I’m going to kill her and is already mentally checking out.

Rising to my feet, I move closer. I lift the gun, training the barrel on her. “Give me a reason to not kill you.”

She lifts her chin, and her gaze locks with mine. “I’m a good maid.”

“I already have a housekeeper.”

Downright terrified, she whispers, “I won’t tell anyone about you.”

“That’s not a chance I’m prepared to take.”

Her shoulders hunch as if she’s trying to make herself a smaller target, then the woman surprises me when she drops down on her knees.

I’ve never had anyone kneel before me. No one has lived long enough to beg for their lives.

“Please.” The word is strained with unshed tears, yet her cheeks remain dry. “I’ll work my fingers to the bone.”

Nisa could use the help, and should Mazur find out I have Lara, it might piss him off enough to make contact with me. I know I’d hate it if he had one of my employees.

Tucking the gun behind my back, I turn around and walk to the door as I say. “You start tomorrow. You’ll do exactly as Nisa instructs. Break any of the rules, and you won’t get a second chance.”

I open the door and glance back at Lara, who’s gaping at me in utter shock.

“Under no circumstances are you allowed to enter the east wing of the house. The punishment will be death.”

Still kneeling, she respectfully murmurs, “Yes, sir.”

Stalking out of the bedroom, I stop to talk with Murat. “From tomorrow, Lara will start helping Nisa Hanim. You’re to keep an eye on her at all times. Move her to the room next to Nisa Hanim’s. She’s not allowed near the east wing. I don’t want any contact between my grandmother and the woman.”

Evet.”

Only time will tell whether I did the right thing by sparing Lara’s life.

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