Tears Of Betrayal: Chapter 12

DEMITRI

Ariana finally fell asleep on the couch, and during the early morning hours, she woke me when she snuggled against my side.

I haven’t moved a muscle since, just processing the fact that in her sleep, she gravitated toward me.

And it feels good.

It feels right.

Glancing down at Ariana’s sleeping face, her cheek pressed against my chest, I allow the emotions she makes me feel to spread through me.

I never thought this would happen to me. But then this little stick of dynamite was thrown into my life, and the explosion she’s causing is changing everything I thought I knew about myself.

I’ve always been strict and unmovable. I always had complete control over myself and my surroundings.

Until Ariana.

My thoughts turn to the questions she asked about the Bratva.

Slowly I lift my right hand, and I touch her silky hair.

As feisty as she is, she won’t survive a day on her own.

Ariana rubs her cheek against my chest, and it sends a burst of warmth through me. She lets out a soft groan as she starts to wake up, and I drop my hand to my thigh.

I watch as her eyes flutter open, and sleepily she tries to make sense of the position she finds herself in. A second later, her eyes widen, and she jerks away from me. Her gaze snaps up to mine, and then the blush I’m really starting to like creeps up her neck.

“No more nightmares?” I ask.

She shakes her head and then gets up and quickly walks toward the stairs.

I rise to my feet, and stretching my body, I head to the security room. Unlocking my phone, I see a message.

Alexei: Lucian will be in touch soon. Keep your phone on you.

Demitri: Will do.

Tucking the device into the pocket of my cargo pants, I glance at the monitors. The camera in Ariana’s room shows her sitting on the edge of her bed, her hands covering her face.

I turn up the volume and hear her mutter, ‘Seriously? You freaking slept on the man. You need therapy.’

The corner of my mouth lifts as I leave the security room to get some exercise in before taking a shower. Going to my bedroom, I change into a pair of sweatpants, and grabbing my phone and a towel, I head back out.

As I come down the stairs, I hear Ariana in the kitchen. She glances over her shoulder, and for a moment, her eyes widen on my bare chest, but then she mutters, “I’ve seen the shirts in your closet. Wear one.”

“And deprive you of a chance to see all of this?” With a smirk, I wave over my chest and abs. “I told you I’m not a monster.”

“Ugh,” she snorts and then focuses way too hard on the cup of coffee she’s making.

I let out an amused chuckle as I walk to the gym. Setting the phone and towel down on a bench, I begin with pull-ups.

Halfway through my workout, I feel Ariana’s eyes on me, and without glancing behind me, I ask, “Enjoying the view?”

Letting go of the bar, I drop to my feet and look to where she’s leaning against the doorjamb with her arms crossed over her chest.

Before she can say anything, my phone begins to ring. Ariana immediately pushes away from the doorjamb, her eyes following me as I move to the bench to pick up the device. Seeing Lucian’s name flashing on my screen, I answer, “Give me good news.”

“Hold for Sergei.”

It takes a moment before labored breaths come over the line. “Get my… daughter. Put me… on… speaker,” Sergei says weakly.

I do as he orders, then say, “You’re on speaker. Ariana’s here with me.”

Ariana comes to stand right next to me, her eyes locked on the device in my hand.

“Demitri… protect… her… please. No… matter… what it… takes.”

Meaning if it comes to choosing between Yuri and Ariana, Yuri must die.

“I will,” I assure him.

Sergei takes a couple of seconds, then he continues, “Ari…ana.”

“Dad, are you okay?” she asks, concern tensing her voice.

“Trust… Demitri.” His breaths grow more labored. “Only… Alexei… and… Demitri. No… one… else.”

“Dad?” She moves even closer to me and takes hold of my arm as if she’s scared I’ll rip the phone away from her.

“I’m… sorry,” he gasps.

There’s silence, and then Lucian’s voice comes over the line. “Sergei’s unconscious again.”

I turn off the speaker, and pulling Ariana’s hand away from my arm, I put the device to my ear. “How are things there?”

“Fucking tense. Everyone’s waiting for Sergei to die. I’m leaving Russia today. I’m not sticking around for the aftermath.”

“I understand.” Ariana watches me closely. “Thank you for doing this for us.”

I end the call, and then my eyes lock with Ariana’s. When she says nothing, I lift an eyebrow at her.

She quickly crosses her arms over her chest. “I’m not apologizing just because you were telling the truth. How was I supposed to know you’re not some deranged man kidnapping me for a ransom?”

The corner of my mouth begins to lift.

“And my dad telling me I can trust you doesn’t make you any less of a jerk.”

She’s probably throwing up her defenses because she hasn’t processed the fact that she can trust me.

“Hmm,” the sound comes from deep in my throat. “Whatever you have to tell yourself to sleep at night, Malyshka. Fact is, I saved your life.”

Ariana lets out a huff and begins to walk to the doorway, then she suddenly pauses, and without looking at me, she mutters, “I guess I owe you a thank you… so… ah…  thanks.”

“You’re welcome.” Letting out a chuckle, I pick up the phone again and dial Alexei’s number.

He answers immediately, “Did you hear from Sergei?”

“Yes. We have to protect Ariana no matter what it takes.”

“Okay.” Alexei lets out a sigh. “I’ll talk to Yuri, but he won’t back down.”

“Lucian says things are tense there.”

“I have a couple of things to wrap up this side, then I’ll join you on the island so we can put a plan in place.”

“Okay. Watch your back.”

Ending the call, I lock eyes with Ariana where she’s watching me from the doorway. “Alexei’s coming.”

 


 

ARIANA

 

Staring at Demitri, it takes all my strength to keep calm. Knowing it’s only a matter of time before my dad dies is more than I can handle after everything that’s happened the past week.

That’s probably the last time I got to talk to my dad.

At least I still have Yuri, but it doesn’t lessen my heartache. I’m not ready to lose my father.

The thought makes me realize how I’ve been living in denial, hoping he’ll get better.

“Ariana,” Demitri says as he walks toward me.

I blink a couple of times. “Uh-huh?”

“I said Alexei will be joining us soon.”

I nod to show him that I heard and then turn and walk back to the kitchen.

Dad said I must only trust Alexei and Demitri.

A frown begins to form on my forehead because Dad didn’t mention Yuri. Then again, it’s probably because he knows I trust my brother.

“What happens now?” I ask as I begin to prepare a bowl of Fruit Loops for myself.

“Alexei and I will take care of everything.”

Turning my face to Demitri, our eyes lock. “Can I really trust you?”

He stares at me long and hard, and his voice is filled with steel as he says, “You can trust me.”

“Good,” I whisper, and then suddenly, I’m overwhelmed with relief, and I quickly glance away from Demitri.

God, things would’ve been so much easier if I had known that from the beginning. Still, it means Demitri really saved me from the assassin coming after me.

“I guess I owe you for saving my butt,” I mutter reluctantly because he still hurt and tied me to the damn bed on the first day.

Demitri doesn’t make this easy for me as he lets out a sigh. “And Christ, did you make it hard. You definitely owe me.”

It sounds like his words carry a  double meaning, and it makes my eyes snap to his. “What?”

A sinfully hot grin spreads over his face. “I’ll let you know when I’m ready to collect.”

Making a disgruntled face, I grab a spoon and plop it in the bowl of cereal. “I don’t like the sound of that.”

After shoveling my breakfast down, I go to my bathroom so I can wash my face and brush my teeth. After I’m done with my morning routine, I look at my reflection in the mirror.

God, I look like shit.

I head to my closet, and taking one of Demitri’s sweaters from it because it’s starting to get cold with winter just around the corner, I pull the fabric over my head. His scent envelops me, and it makes my ovaries do backflips.

Taking hold of the neck of the sweater, I bring the fabric to my nose and take a deep breath.

Do I trust him because Dad said I could, or was I already starting to trust him on my own?

I guess I’ll never know.

I keep inhaling Demitri’s scent like a damn addict while my thoughts turn to the intense attraction I feel toward him. I have no idea how long I’ll have to stay with him, and every day it gets harder to keep up the walls between us. It also doesn’t help shit that the man knows he’s hot as hell.

Letting out a sigh, I leave my bedroom and go back downstairs. I find Demitri out on the deck where he’s staring at the lake. He must’ve taken a shower because his black hair is damp, and he’s wearing cargo pants and a black t-shirt that only accentuates his divinely muscled body.

Sigh.

Coming to a stop next to him, I glance over the beautiful view, then ask, “How long have you known my dad?”

“All my life,” Demitri murmurs, not taking his eyes off the water in the distance. “My father was his custodian.”

My eyebrows lift, and my gaze snaps up to Demitri’s. “Was?”

“He died taking a bullet for Sergei.”

My mouth drops open, and for a moment, I can only stare at Demitri. Finally, I manage to whisper, “I’m sorry.”

He just shrugs. “It’s the way we live.”

Then the realization hits hard – Demitri is protecting me the way his father protected mine.

“I don’t want you to die for me,” I blurt out.

“I won’t,” he assures me. Glancing down at me, he adds, “I’ll only die for Alexei.”

The words make me frown at him. “What kind of relationship do you have with him?”

Demitri goes back to staring at the lake. “He’s the most important person in my life.”

“Do you love him?” I ask.

He nods. “More than my own brother.”

“I always wondered what it would be like to be close to someone like that,” I admit.

“You don’t have any friends?”

“No, only acquaintances.” I let out a hollow chuckle. “It’ll take a while before anyone notices I’m missing.”

“You sure you want to tell your abductor something like that?” he suddenly teases me.

Realizing he’s trying to steer the conversation away from the serious topic we’re on, I shrug, “Yeah, you’re right. My kidnapper is a total asshole, so don’t tell him what I said.”

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