Tears Of Betrayal: Chapter 15

ARIANA

The past two days, I’ve mostly been living in the memories I have of my father.

The peacefulness of the island has helped, and Demitri hasn’t pushed anything. Instead, he’s been a silent force, always close by.

It’s as if he knows exactly what I need without me having to say a word.

It’s weird but in a good way.

But today, it’s hard getting out of bed. When the sorrow sweeps through me again, I pull the covers over my head.

I was wrong. In hindsight, I knew this was coming. I knew I’d lose Dad, I just didn’t want to face it.

And now he’s gone.

I need to find out when the funeral will be.

The thought pushes me to throw the covers back. Climbing out of bed, I go through my morning routine and then go look for Demitri.

I find him in the kitchen, where he’s leaning back against the counter, sipping on a cup of coffee.

“Morning,” I say, my voice sounding like I’ve lived a hundred years.

“Morning.” I feel his eyes on me as I pour myself a cup of coffee.

He clears his throat, but before he can say anything, I jump in. “Can you find out when my dad’s funeral will be?”

Slowly, I glance at Demitri, and I see the answer on his face before he says, “It’s tomorrow, but the whole Bratva will be there… as well as the person who wants you dead.”

Lowering my eyes, there’s a weird mixture of anger and grief swirling in my heart. It’s unfair. But I also knew I probably wouldn’t attend Dad’s funeral with me living in the States and him being in Russia. I don’t have the money to travel.

Still, it’s unfair.

Nodding, I take a sip of my coffee.

Demitri reaches for me, and taking hold of my chin, he forces me to look at him. His eyes search mine, then he asks, “How are you holding up?”

I just shrug because it’s not like things are going to get any better. “I’m okay,” I lie. I finish my coffee and rinse the cup out. Wanting to go for my morning walk, I head toward the sliding door, but as I pass the stairs, movement from the second floor catches my eye.

I glance up, and then my feet come to a sudden stop. My mouth dries instantly, and my heart stutters before it begins to beat like crazy.

A man, who I assume is Alexei, slowly comes down the stairs, his movements casual. He has white-blond hair like me and black eyes. Same build as Demitri… but… the danger coming off him in waves hits me so hard, I freeze like a deer before a freight train.

Oh shit.

His eyes lock with mine, and then it feels like I’m being hunted, and it makes my entire body tense until I start to tremble.

Fingers wrap around the back of my neck, and instinctively I move closer to Demitri. His thumb brushes against my skin as if he’s trying to set me at ease.

The man comes to a stop in front of me, and then his eyes slowly move from me to Demitri and back again.

“Alexei Koslov,” he murmurs, his voice filled with the promise of death. And then he smiles, and I can’t stop myself from taking a step back. Demitri’s hand on my neck is all that keeps me from running to find a place I can hide, because Alexei’s smile makes him look even more dangerous. Like a cat that’s playing with a poor mouse before biting the head off.

Alexei’s eyes sweep over me, and then he turns his attention to Demitri, and I can finally take a full breath.

Holy shit.

Alexei tilts his head, and then he grins at Demitri. “She’s in one piece. I’m impressed.”

What the hell? Did he expect to find me in pieces?

Frowning, I glance between the two men.

Demitri lets out a chuckle. “It was touch and go the first couple of days.”

Alexei turns his attention back to me, and I tense up again. “My condolences. I had a lot of respect for your father.”

I can barely manage a nod.

For a moment, Alexei just stares at me, then he says, “Relax, little one. I’m the nice one.”

Nervously, my tongue darts out to wet my dry lips, then I ask, “You’re the nice one?”

Alexei gestures to Demitri. “Between the two of us, Demitri’s the dangerous one. If you can survive him, you can survive anything.”

My eyes dart up to Demitri, and then his thumb brushes against the side of my neck again. “Don’t worry. We’re on your side, remember?”

I really needed the reminder because I forgot that crucial fact for a moment.

“Demitri,” Alexei says. “Security room.”

Alexei walks toward the stairs leading down to the basement as Demitri steps closer to me. He presses a kiss to the side of my head. “Don’t worry about Alexei. He won’t hurt you.”

I nod and then watch as Demitri follows Alexei. Once the men are out of sight, my legs actually feel weak. I walk to the couch, and plopping down, I take deep breaths.

Crap, that was intense.

Alexei’s the nice one?

Seriously?

I doubt that.

I glance to where the men disappeared and bite my bottom lip.

Will I get out of this alive?

I’m not going to lie, coming face to face with Alexei Koslov was intimidating as hell… and scary.

Thinking back to that first day, I have to admit I was just as terrified of Demitri. Obviously, it changed during the last couple of days. It did a one-eighty turn because I’m not scared of Demitri anymore. Not in the fear-for-my-life kind of way.

Nope, now I’m more afraid of how I feel around him.

Slumping back against the couch, I let out a groan. 

I’m starting to feel bipolar. All these emotions are giving me freaking whiplash.

 


 

DEMITRI

 

As soon as I shut the security door behind us, Alexei begins to chuckle, amusement all over his face.

“Don’t,” I mutter, giving him a look of warning.

He arrived at the crack of dawn, and finally, the tension in my chest eased. I’m back in control of his safety, and it makes my world feel balanced again.

“Don’t what?” Alexei asks as he glances over the monitors.

“You know what.”

We sit down, and then Alexei stares at the screen showing the living room. “How’s she doing?”

I look at Ariana where she’s sitting on the couch, her body tense as if she’s ready to bolt up at any second.

“As well as can be expected.”

“What does she know?”

“Everything except that Yuri’s the one who ordered the contract,” I answer.

“What’s her relationship with Yuri like?” Alexei asks as he turns his gaze to me.

“She’s mentioned him a couple of times and wanted to call him after Sergei died. She has no idea he’s behind the hit.”

“Can she handle the news?” he asks, and letting out a sigh, he adds, “The last thing we need is a hysterical woman.”

I shake my head. “Ariana doesn’t get hysterical.” Taking a deep breath, I ask, “How do you want to handle Yuri?”

“I’m hoping for quick and discreetly, but I doubt it’s going to turn out like that,” Alexei mutters. He takes a moment to think. “Yuri won’t back down. He thinks he has all the power, and it will make him blind to the fact that he’s on the losing side of this war.”

“Meaning?”

Alexei gestures to the screen showing Ariana. “She’s the one with the power.”

I seriously doubt that.

Before I can give my opinion, Alexei continues, “Right before he died, Sergei changed his will. Lucian signed as a witness.” He turns his gaze to me. “Ariana gets everything. Yuri is going to lose his shit when he finds out.”

I stare at Alexei as the news sinks in, then I say, “Ariana can’t run the businesses.” Protectiveness surges through my chest.

“How do you know?”

I turn my gaze back to Ariana. “There’s no reality in which Ariana will be able to kill someone. She won’t be able to control Sergei’s men. They’ll eat her alive.”

“Still, she’s expected to take over,” Alexei mutters, his eyes locked on me. “Unless she puts someone in charge that she trusts.”

I shake my head. “She has no one.”

“You sure about that?” Alexei asks, his eyes sharpening on me.

A dark frown settles on my forehead. “You better not be thinking what I think you’re thinking.”

Alexei just shrugs.

Wanting to stop the direction this conversation is heading in, I rise to my feet. “I’m going to make breakfast.”

Alexei immediately darts to his feet. “Good, I starved the past week.”

Shaking my head, I let out a chuckle as we leave the security room.

When we walk into the kitchen, Ariana quickly gets up from the couch. Alexei changes direction and heads toward her. Keeping one eye on them, I open the fridge and grab the eggs and bacon.

Alexei’s eyes drift slowly over Ariana’s body, and it makes my eyebrow rise. I stop moving, watching as Ariana begins to fidget, unable to meet Alexei’s gaze.

Alexei reaches a hand out and brushes his fingers over her shoulder. “You’re wearing Demitri’s shirts?”

“Ahh… I didn’t exactly have time to pack for my kidnapping.”

Alexei lets out a burst of laughter. “We’ll stop by your place when we go to Seattle.”

“We’re going to Seattle?” I ask.

Alexei’s eyes snap to me. “Tao.”

“Right.”

“Why will we only be stopping by my place?” Ariana asks. Her eyes dart between Alexei and me. “When will I get to return to my life?”

“Sit,” Alexei says, gesturing at the couches.

“I’d rather stand.” Ariana lifts her chin, and it makes a smile tug at my mouth.

Alexei nods, then he locks eyes with her. “After the stop in Seattle, we’re going to Russia.”

“But…” Apprehension flickers over her features, “The person who wants me dead is there.”

“And we need to take care of that problem. We can’t leave you here.” Alexei takes a step closer to her, and it makes my muscles tense. “This is your war, Ariana.”

“I didn’t ask for it,” she snaps at him, her fear from earlier gone.

Yep, piss off my girl, and she goes into fighting mode.

I cross my arms over my chest and lean back against the counter, the breakfast now forgotten.

Alexei frowns at me. “You said she knew everything.”

“She does.” I wave a hand at Ariana. “I didn’t say she wanted any part of it.”

Alexei turns his attention back to Ariana. “Your father was the head of the Bratva.”

“I know that, but it has nothing to do with me. I was raised by my mother.”

Alexei takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. “You’re an heir, Ariana. What will you do with your father’s businesses?”

Ariana frowns, confusion flashing over her features. “Yuri will take over the businesses. I don’t understand what it has to do with me.”

Pushing away from the counter, I walk towards them. “She’s not ready, Alexei.”

He locks eyes with me. “We don’t have the luxury of time. Either you tell her, or I will.”

“Tell me what?” When I get close to them, Ariana gives me a worried look.

Lifting my hand, I wrap my fingers around the side of her neck, hoping my touch will offer her some strength.

“Tell me what?” Ariana asks again, her eyes vulnerable as she stares up at me as if I’m all that stands between her and the hell that’s being unleashed on her.

It makes my protectiveness toward her increase ten-fold.

It makes me want to kill anyone who’s a threat to her.

It makes me want to keep her on this island where life can’t touch her.

It makes me want to keep her.

To make her mine in every possible way.

It hits fucking hard, the emotion raging through me until it’s right up there with my loyalty to Alexei.

I force myself to focus on the problem at hand and shove my increasing feelings for Ariana down.

“Come,” I say, and lowering my hand to hers, I link our fingers and pull her to the couch. She’s really going to need to sit for this conversation.

Alexei walks to the sliding doors, and shoving his hands into the pockets of his black cargo pants, he stares outside.

When I take a seat with Ariana next to me, I keep hold of her hand. Locking eyes with her, I say, “This is going to be hard to hear.”

She straightens her shoulders as if she’s bracing herself. “Tell me.”

“The person who took out the contract on you is Yuri.” I watch Ariana closely, expecting heartache or anger, but instead, she just stares at me.

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