Tears Of Betrayal: Chapter 21

DEMITRI

After landing on Damien and Winter’s island that’s a hell of a lot bigger than Alexei’s, we step off the plane.

A smile spreads over my brother’s face as I walk toward him, and then we engulf each other in a tight hug.

“Fuck, it’s been too long,” I murmur, glad to see him again.

Pulling back, I hold Damien at arm’s length and look him over. “You look good.”

“Life’s been good,” Damien replies, still smiling wide.

We turn to where Carson and Alexei are hugging, and then I step forward to embrace Carson, while Alexei does the same with Damien.

When we’ve all greeted each other, I hold my hand out to Ariana, where she’s been standing to the side. She darts forward and quickly links her fingers with mine while giving me a nervous look.

I squeeze her hand and tug her right to my side, then turn back to my brother and Carson. “This is Ariana Robinson.”

Carson’s one eyebrow lifts, obviously recognizing her name.

I gesture at Damien. “My brother, Damien.”

“Hi,” Ariana smiles at him, but Damien’s a little caught off guard that I’m holding her hand, so he just stares at her.

I gesture at Carson. “Alexei’s younger brother, Carson. He’s the one that got the contract on you and forwarded it to us.”

This time there’s a genuine smile on Ariana’s face as she looks at Carson. “Thanks for not killing me.”

Carson begins to chuckle. “You’re welcome.”

Damien places his hand on my shoulder, then gives me a pointed look.

I glance back at Ariana and feel a burst of pride to have her by my side. “She’s mine.”

Ariana shoots me a disgruntled look, then turns her attention to Damien. “What your brother is trying and failing to say is we’re seeing where this goes.”

Damien tries not to laugh but then fails. “Now I understand.”

Meaning he gets why I’ve chosen Ariana after never being in a relationship before.

Flaming red hair catches my eye as Winter walks toward us, carrying my nephew.

I let go of Ariana’s hand, and moving to my sister-in-law, I lean down and kiss both her cheeks before taking my nephew from her. “Nikolai, look how you’ve grown. Soon you’ll be taller than me.”

I hear Damien introducing Winter to Ariana, and knowing my woman is safe, I focus all my attention on Nikolai, who doesn’t recognize me because I haven’t been around much.

“I’m your father’s brother, remember? Dyadya Demitri.”

The little boy that’s the spitting image of Damien and me gives me a shy smile and mumbles, “Hello.”

When Damien joins us, Nikolai instantly holds his arms out to his father, and I hand him over.

“He’s gotten big,” I mention to Damien. Glancing behind us, I notice how Ariana sticks to Alexei’s side and gesture for her to come while saying, “We’re safe here, so I expect you next to me.”

“Oh, how am I supposed to know that,” she mutters. “You can’t make up the rules as we go.”

After she takes my hand, we all head inside the house, where we’re greeted by Cillian, who’s a father figure to Winter.

Alexei heads to the dining room, and we all follow. Once everyone is seated around the large table, Damien asks, “Why are we going after Yuri?”

I get right to the point. “Ariana is Sergei’s daughter from an affair. Yuri wants her dead so she can’t have any claim to the inheritance. Lucian spoke to Sergei on our behalf, and Sergei asked us to keep her safe at all costs. He also changed his last will, so Ariana’s the only heir.”

Carson lifts an eyebrow. “And Yuri won’t back down?”

Alexei shakes his head. “He’s under the impression he’s already head of the Bratva.”

“And the other members of the Bratva?” Damien asks. “Seimon, Andrei, and Lev? Who are they standing behind?”

Alexei takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. “We won’t know until the meeting where everyone will vote.”

“If they back Yuri, we’ll be going up against four powerful families,” Carson states the obvious.

“Against the four of us,” I say.

“Five,” Winter interjects, and then Damien’s wife, who’s the Blood Princess and head of the largest diamond smuggling empire, gives me a look of warning. “I’m going with.”

My eyes dart to Damien, and he gives me a nod, showing he’s okay with it. Winter was trained by Cillian, and I’ve seen for myself how good she is, so I’m not worried that she won’t be able to hold her own.

“Are you going to ask Lucian to help?” Carson asks.

I shake my head. “This is a family affair. He’s already helped enough.”

“Family affair?” Ariana asks, her big hazel eyes locked on me.

“You’re one of us now, and we look after our own,” Alexei says.

I see how Alexei’s statement hits her. Ariana’s eyes dart over the table, and then she swallows hard and lowers her gaze. Placing my hand on her thigh, I give her a squeeze, then I turn my attention back to the matter at hand.

“We’ll leave for Russia tomorrow.”

“How’s this going to play out?” Damien asks. “Are we attacking first or waiting for them to come to us?”

Alexei shakes his head. “We’ll attend the Bratva meeting and take it from there. If there’s going to be a show of power, I want it to happen at the meeting.”

“Why?” Carson asks, his eyes locked on his brother.

“Because they’ll either kneel to me as the new head of the Bratva or die,” Alexei says, his tone unyielding.

I’m glad to hear Alexei’s made a decision.

Alexei gestures at Ariana and me. “Demitri will take over Sergei’s business, and as always, he’ll be my right hand.”

Damien’s eyes snap to me. “You’re getting married?”

Ariana makes a choking sound, and then she begins to laugh nervously. “No.No.No. We’ve only known each other two weeks.”

Damien shrugs. “So?”

His marriage to Winter was arranged two weeks after they met, so my brother probably expects the same of Ariana and me.

“Ariana was raised differently than us,” I explain.

“Like Hailey?” Carson asks. His girlfriend isn’t from our world, as well.

“Yes.”

“So, are you just going to manage the business for Ariana?” Damien asks.

“For the time being.”

The corner of his mouth lifts when he reads between the lines.

Ariana will marry me.

 


 

ARIANA

 

When we got here, I had to suppress the urge to run back to the plane and hide. I’m still getting used to Alexei, and meeting Damien and Carson, who look just like their brothers, was intimidating as hell.

And then there’s Winter. Now that’s one woman I won’t be looking for trouble with. She moves like a jungle cat, her demeanor matching that of her husband’s.

Well, girl, you’re in the thick of it now.

As soon as the meeting was over, I sneaked out of the house. Demitri will probably scold me for leaving his side, but he said we’re safe here.

I walk toward a lining of trees, just needing a little time away from everyone. I’m used to being alone, and I haven’t had much of that since Alexei came to get us from the island.

My thoughts turn to what Alexei said, that I’m a part of their family now.

Am I really?

They’re all cut-throat killers… and then there’s me.

I hear leaves crunching behind me, and glancing over my shoulder, I see Winter coming toward me.

“Hey, I hope you don’t mind me exploring?”

“Not at all.” She falls into step next to me and gestures to her right. “Come this way. It leads to the shore.”

I walk with her, and I’m surprised when she doesn’t say anything. Reaching the shore, we sit down, and then a smile tugs at my mouth as we stare at the Finnish town in the distance.

After a while, Winter turns her gaze to me, and I’m surprised when she gives me a comforting smile. “It’s a lot to deal with, right?”

I nod and suck in a deep breath. “Honestly, I don’t know if I’m coming or going.”

“I’ve been there. You might not see it now, but you’re in good hands. The men will take care of everything.”

“They’ve already done so much for me,” I admit. “Even though Demitri kidnapped me and scared the living hell out of me, I know I can trust him.”

Winter lets out a chuckle. “He kidnapped you?” A smile filled with curiosity forms around her mouth. “This I have to hear.”

She doesn’t look as threatening anymore, and I relax next to her. Needing to talk to someone, I relay everything that’s happened, leaving out the part where I slept with Demitri.

“Talk about being overwhelmed.” Lifting her hand, she pats my back, and then she tells me how she met Damien.

I’m so engrossed in the story that everything around us fades away.

“When did you know you loved him?” I ask.

Winter thinks back to the past, then murmurs, “The Vetrovs are the best, and they’re not afraid of anything, but the moment Damien looked at me and I saw the fear of losing me in his eyes, I knew.”

“But you married him before you loved him, right?” I ask, enjoying getting to know Winter.

She nods. “Alexei arranged our marriage as an alliance.”

“How did you feel about it?”

Winter shrugs. “I always knew I’d marry to form an alliance. I was lucky with Damien because I was already attracted to him.”

A smile pulls at my lips. “You never regretted it?”

She shakes her head. “Damien was the last gift my father gave me, and I love him with everything I am. He’s my rock.”

Curious about Winter, I ask, “Why did you say you’re coming with us to Russia? You don’t know me.”

Her eyes lock on mine. “I’ll always have my husband’s back, and I owe Alexei and Demitri. They helped me eliminate my enemies.”

“So…” I wet my lips, “Are you like them?”

“What do you mean?”

“Dangerous?” I explain myself better.

Winter climbs to her feet and holds out her hand to me. After she helps me up, she says, “I think it’s time for a quick training session. I’m a firm believer that a woman should be able to protect herself.”

I really like the sound of that and feel a burst of excitement. “Really? You’ll show me a couple of things?”

“How much sleep do you need?” she asks, a serious expression falling over her face.

“Four hours or I’m a zombie.”

She glances at my outfit. “First, we need to get you the right clothes. Come.”

I follow Winter back to the house and to a bedroom where she gives me a similar outfit to the one she’s wearing. Black cargo pants and a black shirt that’s super tight-fitting. It turns out we’re the same size, and I grin as I look at my reflection. Now I really feel badass.

“Boots,” she says as she drops them next to me. “I suggest you get a couple of these outfits when you have the chance to shop. It’s best for fighting.”

“Okay,” I nod as I sit down and pull on the boots.

When I stand up, Winter gives me a look of approval, and then she leads me to a barn beside the house. It’s set up as a gym, and there’s even a shooting range.

Winter leads me to the shooting range then takes a gun from behind her back that I didn’t even notice.

Am I getting used to seeing weapons already?

She takes off the safety then takes a stance, saying, “You’re going to spread your legs a little and lock your elbows in so your arms take the recoil of the gun.”

I mimic her, and then she moves in next to me, handing me the weapon. The metal feels foreign and dangerous against my palm, and my heart begins to beat faster.

“Take aim,” she instructs.

I do as she says and make sure to lock in my elbows.

“When you’re ready, pull the trigger.”

This will be the first time I’m firing a weapon, and there’s a weird exhilaration pulsing through my veins.

I take a deep breath, and when I exhale, I squeeze the trigger. The bang isn’t as loud as I expected, and the weapon jerks in my hands, but I have no idea where the bullet went.

I grin at Winter. “That’s so cool.”

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