Tears Of Betrayal: Chapter 1

DEMITRI

Demitri; 31. Ariana; 23

Staying two steps behind Alexei, I’m on high alert for any sudden movements from the guards as we enter Jakub Kaminski’s compound in Poland.

I’ve been a custodian to Alexei for seven years, and our relationship has gradually changed from protector and assassin to business partners and best friends.

I was trained to protect Alexei Koslov, an elite assassin, which makes me the best protector in the world. While Alexei carries out a job, it’s up to me to keep him alive. Together we’ve become an unstoppable force.

He is my life’s purpose. The one who owns my loyalty.

Where Alexei is charismatic, I’m quiet.

He’s in the spotlight, and I’m his shadow.

Over the years, Alexei has branched off into the shipping of illegal goods, and lately, we’ve only been taking out high-value targets.

“Ready?” Alexei mutters under his breath.

“Yes.” My eyes move from one guard to the next as we’re taken down a hallway. Alexei is assassinating Kaminski as a favor to the Bratva. We’ve arranged a meeting with Kaminski under false pretenses of purchasing weapons from him.

Getting in is easy. Getting out will be a bloodbath.

The tiles gleam under our feet, the walls of the compound white, with plants and art pieces breaking the sterile atmosphere. It’s in total contrast to what happens on the grounds. Kaminski is also a sex trafficker, and one would expect the floors and walls to be covered in all the blood he’s spilled.

Reaching the door that leads to the room Kaminski is waiting in, a guard holds up his hand and orders, “No weapons. Leave them here.”

Alexei lets out an amused burst of laughter. The guard moves to search Alexei, but with a shake of my head, the guard pauses.

“Don’t touch him,” I warn, my tone filled with the promise of death.

“Let them in,” Kaminski calls from inside the room.

Frustration flashes over the guard’s face, not happy that we’ll remain armed.

I stay behind Alexei as we walk into what seems to be a dining room. The weapons Alexei asked for are spread out on the table, which is big enough to seat twenty-four people.

There are only two men in the room with Kaminski. Three in the hallway. Five stationed out front, and I’m guessing five to ten at the back of the house.

The compound easily holds between thirty and fifty men.

Like I said, a bloodbath waits for us.

Alexei begins to talk business with Kaminski, and I watch as the two guards relax. That’s Alexei’s specialty. He makes you think you’re safe instead of seconds away from dying.

I’m four steps away from the one guard, seven from the second.

“How’s business?” Alexei asks.

Three.

“Good, but I lost a shipment,” Kaminski answers, his eyes narrowing. “You wouldn’t know anything about it?”

Yuri Ivanov was responsible for the shipment of weapons being ‘lost.’ That’s when he asked Alexei to take out Kaminski. Yuri wants to expand because he’ll take over from his father soon as the head of the Bratva, and I suppose he wants to show his worth.

Two.

Alexei lets out a chuckle, shaking his head.

One.

I move at the same time as Alexei. My elbow meets the first guard’s nose, slamming the bone into his brain while I turn, and using his body as a shield, I take out the other guard with the first one’s semi-automatic. I drop the dead guard, and pulling both my guns from behind my back, I turn toward the doorway as the first man comes running in.

Opening fire, I take them out one after the other while staying near Alexei, who has a gun to Kaminski’s head. It only takes seconds for me to dispose of the nearest guards.

“For you, I thought I’d make an up-close and personal appearance,” Alexei chuckles darkly. “For the Bratva.” He pulls the trigger before Kaminski can bite out a threat or plead for his life. After the body slips from his hold, Alexei buries two more bullets in Kaminski. I spare the head of the Polish Mafia one glance, watching as his eyes turn glassy as his soul leaves his body.

“Stay behind me,” I instruct Alexei. Not that I have to. After all the years of working together, we’re completely in sync with each other.

We begin to move, stalking out of the room and down the hallway. A guard comes running around the corner, and as his lips part to let out a shout, I pull the trigger of my Heckler & Koch. The bullet hits him between the eyes, making him drop on the spot.

When I started as Alexei’s protector, I used to keep count of how many people I killed, but I stopped when I reached two hundred. Now everything in me is quiet as chaos erupts around us. There’s no thundering heartbeat. No quickening breaths. No sweat beading on my forehead.

I hear commotion explode around the compound, boots on the ground, orders being shouted, weapons being readied. When we turn the corner leading to the front door, instinct takes over, and I start firing one bullet after the other.

Heads snap back, feet stumble, and knees hit the floor – death bleeds on the tiles, splattering against the white walls – revealing the true horror this compound holds.

When we step out into the sunlight, Alexei moves next to me, and while he takes over shooting, I quickly reload my Heckler & Koch.

Alexei begins to move, and with my steps matching his, I keep taking out the threats as we head toward our jeep.

“You’d think the men would be better trained,” Alexei says, disappointment coating his words as he buries a bullet in another guard.

I let out a sigh because even I expected more action, but this is like taking candy from a kid. Extremely anti-climatic. With my heartbeat steady, I take out the last man, then grumble, “Let’s get out of here.”

Alexei slides behind the steering wheel, so I’ll have my hands free should we encounter any problems. Once I’m sitting in the passenger’s side, he says, “This job is starting to get boring.” He gives me a chuckle. “I’m blaming you for killing everyone too quickly.”

Shaking my head, my eyes scan for any sign of a threat as Alexei steers the jeep off the compound’s grounds. “You wanted the best protection.”

“I also wanted action. Heart pounding, cock hardening exhilaration,” Alexei says, the corner of his mouth lifting.

Raising an eyebrow at him, I mutter, “I can always take a vacation.”

I have no idea what I’d do with a vacation. The concept is foreign to me.

This time a burst of laughter explodes from my best friend’s lips. “Not a chance of that ever happening.”

Alexei’s phone vibrates, and taking it from his pocket, he hands it to me so he can keep his attention on the shitty dirt road we’re on.

“A text from Carson,” I say as I open the message.

Carson: She looks like an innocent. Check it out.

I quickly type a reply on behalf of Alexei. On it.

Opening the other message, my eyes scan over the information Alexei’s younger brother forwarded to us.

Contract: Ariana Robinson

Business: Illegitimate heir – Ivanov.

Time: 2 Weeks

Location: Seattle, USA.

Fee: $15 000 000.00

“Carson wants us to check out a contract that’s been ordered on Ariana Robinson. Do you know her?” I ask, not recognizing the name.

“Seriously?” Alexei asks, his eyebrows lifting with surprise. “Read the contract to me.”

I relay the information to him, and then he shakes his head. “Fuck. She’s Sergei’s daughter from an affair he had.”

“Someone’s trying to take out the head of the Bratva’s daughter? I didn’t know Yuri had a half-sister.” Then frowning, I continue, “I shouldn’t be surprised anymore, but how the fuck do you know everything?”

Alexei gives me an arrogant grin. “Because I’m God.” Then his expression turns serious again. “Once we’re airborne, I’ll try to get in touch with Sergei. Find out what Ariana’s address is and if anyone has accepted the contract.”

“Why? I thought you were all-knowing,” I taunt him.

 


 

ARIANA

 

Turning off my camera, I let out a tired sigh. Creating makeup tutorials is exhausting, but I need to push through and get the videos out there if I want to broaden my following on social media.

I upload the video onto TikTok and Instagram, then put my phone in my bag. Checking the time on my watch, a pleased smile forms around my lips.

Eleven O’clock. Perfect.

I have a list of things to get done today before I can stop by the nursing home where my mother is. She has Alzheimer’s Disease, and when it first started, I was able to take care of her. But since she’s forgotten who I am and where I live, I had to place her in the nursing home for her safety. I now visit her every Saturday afternoon.

At least I don’t have to worry about the monthly payment for the nursing home. The money my father sends from Russia every month covers it. I had to sell our house and move into a smaller apartment, so my own income would be sufficient for my personal needs because I still haven’t told my father about my mother’s deteriorating health. He hasn’t been well, and I don’t have the heart to make my problem his.

I could always reach out to Yuri, my half-brother, but we’ve never actually been close growing up, and it would just feel awkward.

Besides, it’s not like I’m struggling. I like the smaller apartment. It’s easy to keep clean, and I don’t feel as lonely as I did in the bigger house.

Making sure I have everything I need, I leave my apartment and make my way to where my scooter is parked. I strap on my helmet and climb onto my scooter. Starting the engine, I carefully move onto the road, and soon I’m zipping from one place to the next.

There’s a smile on my face as I stop at my favorite Starbucks to grab a vanilla latte. I love my independence and being able to do what I want whenever I want. My life is exactly the way I like it, uncomplicated. I don’t have any close friends, but I have many acquaintances I can hang out with whenever I feel like a night out on the town.

Besides my mom and dad’s deteriorating health, I have no other problems.

I’m happy.

Walking into the Starbucks, I head over to the counter.

“Hey, hon,” Jessie, the barista, says, grinning at me.

“Hi.” I glance around at the other patrons. “You’re not as busy as I expected.”

“You just missed the rush. The usual?” she asks.

“Please.” I smile at her before I look at the selection of food on display. “Let me have a chocolate chip cookie as well.” I take the right amount of cash from my wallet and hand it to her.

“Your order is coming right up.” While Jessie prepares my beverage, she asks, “How’s work?”

“Good,” I reply. “I got to do a bridal party’s makeup this week which was awesome.”

“Oh, great. That must’ve been fun.”

“It was.” Mostly I’m glad they didn’t complain about the fee I charged. I’ve just increased my prices and was worried it would make it more challenging to get work.

Jessie hands me my latte and cookie. “We should hang out sometime.”

“Sure, I’ll give you a call,” I reply. I take my order and head to the first open table I see. Sitting down, I enjoy my beverage while nibbling on the cookie. I go over the list of things I had to do, and I only have one stop left before I can go to the nursing home.

I check my social media accounts and emails as I swallow down the last sip of my latte. Just as I get up, a man enters Starbucks.

Holy mother.

I can’t stop myself from staring at him as he heads to the counter. Tilting my head, I take a moment to admire him from behind because he’s nothing short of perfect. Movie star good looks with a muscled body that’s… just perfect.

Now that’s what I call tall, dark, and handsome. Sigh.

I take a deep breath and grant myself one last look before I shrug my bag onto my back and head outside.

I’ll definitely be picturing him as my book boyfriend in the romance I’m currently reading.

Climbing onto my scooter, I take care of the last errand and drive toward the nursing home. I park in my usual spot and leave the helmet with my scooter before going inside.

When I see Ashley, a smile instantly forms on my face. She’s been fantastic with taking care of my mom.

“How is she today?” I ask.

Ashley shakes her head. “Not too good. She’s stuck in the past and determined to get ready for a date with Sergei.”

Nodding, I reach out a hand and give Ashley’s arm a squeeze. “Take a break while I visit with her.”

“Thanks, sweetie. Good luck!”

As I make my way to my mom’s room, I brace myself because it’s still hard when she doesn’t recognize me.

I stop in the doorway, and my eyes find her where she’s sitting in front of her dressing table, pulling a brush through her blonde hair. My mom has always been a beautiful woman.

She glances over her shoulder and then frowns at me. “Can I help you?”

I force a smile to my lips, doing my best to ignore the bite of sadness. “I heard you have a date and wanted to help you with your makeup.”

“Really?” she asks, her mouth curving up at the sides. “That’s nice of you to offer.”

Stepping inside the room, I go stand next to her. “So, who’s the lucky man?” I ask for what must be the thousandth time over the past couple of years.

A smitten look softens Mom’s features. “He’s in Seattle for business. A handsome Russian.”

“Yeah? How did you meet?” I ask as I help Mom turn on the chair, so she’s facing me.

“We were on the ferry at the same time and just started talking,” she grins dreamily.

Arranging the makeup supplies I leave in her room, I begin with dabbing primer onto her skin.

My parents had an affair while my dad was here on a business trip. It only lasted a month before he had to return home. Mom never got over Dad, and he couldn’t leave his wife because their marriage was an alliance of sorts. I’m well aware my father is a criminal – the head of the Bratva, to be exact – but I have nothing to do with that world. I’ve overheard some of the conversations Dad’s had whenever he visited me. The names of the men I heard him talking to stuck in my memory, though. Mostly Russian. The Aulov, Nicollaj, and Petrov families are all part of the Bratva. Alexei Koslov and Demitri Vetrov work closely with my father. I once heard Dad mention they’re the best killers in the world.

The memory alone sends a shiver down my spine.

But they all belong to a life I know nothing about. To me, Dad’s just my dad. Since his heart problems got worse, he hasn’t been able to travel, and we now call each other once a month.

While I listen to Mom telling me how in love she is, I take my time doing her makeup. Even though she’s forgotten me, I still treasure these moments I get to spend with her.

When I’m done, she smiles at her reflection. “Oh wow, Sergei’s going to fall for me all over again. You did such an amazing job. Thank you.”

“Would you like to have tea with me?” I ask, then quickly add, “While you wait for your date to arrive.”

“That would be nice. Let’s go sit out in the garden.”

I spend two hours with Mom before she starts to grow agitated because Dad’s late.

Ashley has to step in to keep Mom calm, and knowing our visit is over, I watch as Ashley leads Mom back to her room.

“See you next Saturday, Mom,” I whisper before I head to where my scooter is parked.

I let out a sad sigh as I put on my helmet. Soon both my parents will be gone. I wish I could have more time with them.

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