Tears Of Betrayal: Chapter 2

DEMITRI

After I get back from Seattle, Alexei and I settle in our state-of-the-art security room and begin to search for everything we can find on Ariana Robinson.

I spent the morning following her around and relay the information to Alexei, “The girl seems to lead a normal life. Nothing interesting. I didn’t see anyone else watching her.”

“Not yet,” Alexei murmurs. “The contract was just accepted. Check her digital footprint and see if there’s anything that will help us.”

I start to check Ariana’s social media accounts and scroll through her posts on Instagram. Most of them of her posing in different places in the city and putting on makeup. Which she really doesn’t need.

“How the fuck did Sergei manage to have a daughter who looks like this?” I ask as I stare at a close-up shot of Ariana’s face.

Alexei leans closer to me and looks at the picture. “You should see Beth, the girl’s mom. If Sergei’s marriage to Olga wasn’t arranged, he would’ve divorced her for Beth.”

I glance at Alexei. “Seriously, how do you know all these things?”

Alexei just shrugs as he relaxes back into his own chair, his eyes focusing on the screen that shows incoming and closed contracts for assassinations. “People like talking when they’re drunk. Sergei told me everything.” Alexei turns his gaze back to me for a moment. “And I mean everything about his affair with Beth Robinson. The man had it bad for her. Yuri might be the oldest and next in line, but when Sergei spoke of Ariana, you could see the love he has for his daughter.”

When I keep scrolling through the Instagram account, I finally come across a photo of Ariana and Beth. “Oh…” I mutter, “I see what you mean. She’s the spitting image of her mother.”

“Yep.” Alexei’s phone begins to ring, and while he takes the call, I go to Ariana’s TikTok account.

I watch a random video of Ariana showing how to put on makeup. She makes a mistake and burst out laughing… and all I can do is stare.

Christ, she’s even more beautiful when she’s smiling.

Soon I realize it’s a blooper video, and Ariana is laughing through most of it. When the video ends, I watch it again.

When Alexei ends his call, he gives me a what-the-fuck look. “You plan on watching that all day long?”

I quickly exit the video and shake my head. “Just trying to get a feel for the girl.”

“Yeah…” he lets out a chuckle, “right.”

“Don’t start,” I mutter as I check the address we found for her. She lives in the city. From what we’ve learned, she moved into the apartment a year ago.

“Beth is in a nursing home,” Alexei says, a frown forming on his forehead. “Alzheimer’s.” He shakes his head. “What a pity.”

Leaning back in my chair, I look at my friend. “Why only take a contract out on Ariana and not Beth as well?”

Alexei keeps quiet for a moment, then he says, “Beth isn’t a threat.”

“How’s Ariana a threat? The girl doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the Bratva.”

Alexei lets out a chuckle. “Doesn’t mean shit. She can be used to form a strong alliance.”

“True. She’s twenty-three. Maybe Sergei is already busy arranging the marriage,” I muse.

“Sergei’s got one foot in the grave already,” Alexei mutters. “Last I heard, he won’t be around for much longer.”

“Will Yuri take over?” I ask.

“No. There will be a vote.”

“Oh, fun,” I mumble, not looking forward to that shitshow.

Alexei stares at the screens, drawing his bottom lip between his teeth as his mind starts to work. A frown settles on his forehead, then he says, “Either someone wants to take out Sergei’s entire family or…”

When he’s quiet for a while, I ask, “Or?”

“Yuri took out the contract to get rid of the other heir, so he’ll be the only one to inherit when Sergei dies.”

“Won’t be the first time,” I say. “What are we going to do if Yuri’s the one who took out the hit?”

We’ve been working with Yuri for almost ten years. He might not be the head of the Bratva, but he runs all of Sergei’s businesses.

Alexei turns his face to me. “We need to talk with Sergei.”

“When do you want to leave for Moscow?”

Alexei shakes his head. “If Yuri took out the hit, he’ll be suspicious if we suddenly met with Sergei. Yuri knows we don’t kill innocent people and go after the person who ordered the kill. I already rejected the contract, so he’ll be on guard around us.” Alexei lets out a sigh. “I’ll have to think of another way to contact Sergei.” Lifting his arm, he places his hand on my shoulder. “In the meantime, you should go back to Seattle and watch the girl.”

“And you?” I ask.

“I’ll be here trying to figure out what the hell is going on.”

Taking a deep breath, I glance back at the screen showing a photo of Ariana. At least it will be an easy job watching her.

 


 

ARIANA

 

I dial my dad’s number hoping I’ll get to talk to him. The line connects, and it just rings before going to his voicemail.

“Hi, Dad. I just wanted to check in on you. Give me a call when you get the message. I hope you’re feeling better. Love you.”

Letting out a sigh, I end the call and open my messaging app to send my brother a text.

Ariana: Hi, I hope you’re doing okay. I tried to call Dad, but he didn’t answer. How is he?

It shows the text is delivered, and knowing Yuri probably won’t answer soon, I grab my kindle and settle on the couch.

I’m reading a romance by one of my favorite authors. She always makes me laugh with the hilarious scenes she writes.

The book’s about a girl who keeps running into a man and fights with him every time. He ends up being her boss.

I begin to read where it’s the girl’s first day on the job, and she’s about to learn the pain in her ass is her boss. Soon I’m cracking up as I get lost in their world.

After reading for three hours, I put down my kindle so I can go for my walk.

The weather is growing colder with winter just around the corner, so I grab my coat for the ride to where I usually park my scooter near the entrance to the forest.

The ride is only fifteen minutes, and there are two other cars in the parking area. I check my backpack to make sure I have my phone, a bottle of water, and my sandwich, then walk toward the trail that leads to a picnic area overlooking the ocean.

Birds chirp in the treetops, and dead leaves crunch under my sneakers. I love this trail because it’s quiet, and I get to forget about my worries for a little while.

The hike takes me forty minutes, but there are two couples by the picnic area, so I head down to the stretch of beach. The ocean is calm today, and sitting down on a rock, I take the water and sandwich from my backpack.

Instead of forgetting my worries, they’re the first thing I think of as I stare out into the distance.

With Mom in the nursing home and Dad sick, I feel more alone than I ever have. Yes, I still have Yuri, but we hardly talk to each other.

Mom was never close with her side of the family, so I don’t know any of them.

Right now, it’s just me, and it’s a scary place to be at twenty-three. I have no support system in place. I have no one to call if I get into trouble.

Letting out a heavy sigh, I pull my phone from the bag and check if Dad or Yuri have responded, but there’s nothing.

Holding the phone in my hand, I glance around me and notice a man walking toward the other end of the beach. I watch him for a while, then turn my gaze back to the ocean.

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