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Tears Of Betrayal: Chapter 24


It’s one thing knowing Yuri wants me dead, but it’s a whole different ball game actually being shot at.

My heart hasn’t stopped thundering in my chest since Demitri fired the first shot. A bullet hit my dad’s gravestone right where I was standing.

So close.

There’s a metallic taste on my tongue, my skin tingling like I just touched a live wire.

Another wave of bullets spray the SUV, and I slap my hand over my mouth to keep from letting out a shriek.

Don’t make a noise. Don’t distract Demitri.

My eyes are glued to him as he looks over his shoulder at whoever’s shooting at us. Then his eyes flick to me, and he says, “We have to stop and take care of the problem. Stay in the car until one of us comes to get you.”

I lower my hand to my racing heart. “Okay.”

“You’re doing good, Malyshka.”

I can only nod, and then I glance out the back window at the sedan and something that looks like a smaller version of a truck that’s behind us.

“Ready, brother?” Alexei asks as we turn up the road that leads to the compound.

Demitri lets out a chuckle. “Always.”

Damien and Carson have parked the other two SUVs on either side of the road, leaving enough space for Alexei to speed through.

Alexei turns the steering wheel sharp while yanking up the handbrake, and it makes the SUV spin.

God. Hello, motion sickness.

The tires screech and Demitri throws open his door, stepping out of the vehicle before we’ve even stopped.

I swear my ovaries combust from how hot and badass it looks, and then we come to a jarring halt.

Winter runs toward us, and when Alexei climbs out, she tosses him a machine gun, and then they open fire on the two approaching vehicles.

This time the blasts are loud, and I cover my ears as I watch bullets fly.

Holy. Shit.

I manage to blink and breathe, but that’s all.

A voice in the back of my mind tells me I should be horrified, but all I feel is worry for Demitri and my new friends. I don’t want any of them getting hurt.

While the war begins, one realization sinks deep.

There’s some of my father in me, after all.

Up until now, I was worried about not getting to return to my old life. But now that I’m finally in Russia and people are shooting at me, people are dying right before my eyes, I’m calm.

I feel a rush of anger, and it feeds my will to live.

I’m going to fight for the legacy my father left behind. I’m going to fight Yuri.

My eyes lock on Demitri, and seeing the power rolling off him in waves, makes me lift my chin and lower my hands from my ears.

Maybe this is my destiny.

Maybe these people fighting to protect me were meant to become my new family. Because, God, no one has ever fought so hard for me.

I’m overcome with affection for each of them as they put their own lives on the line for me.

When the final shot is fired, the other two vehicles are shot up, and blood and bodies litter the ground.

Demitri comes to open the back door, and I hurry to get out. Throwing my arms around his neck, my breaths race over my lips.

I hear Alexei make a call as Demitri’s one arm wraps like a steel band around my lower back. “You okay?” he asks, his tone calm.

I nod, and pulling back, I press a kiss to his jaw and then his mouth. Not caring who sees, I kiss Demitri with every pounding heartbeat. He breaks the kiss, and lifting his head, his eyes search over my face before locking with mine.

Whatever he sees in my gaze makes the corner of his mouth lift in a sexy smirk.

“Clean-up crew will be here soon,” Alexei says, and it makes me take a step back from Demitri. Alexei might still scare me, but I walk to him and give him a hug.

He lets out a chuckle, and when I let go of him, he asks, “What’s that for?”

Glancing up, I give him a grateful smile. “Thank you.”

Lifting his hand to the side of my head, he brushes his palm over my hair. “You’re welcome, little one.”

“Are we staying or going?” Damien asks.

When I turn toward Damien and Carson, Demitri mutters, “You better not think of hugging them.”

Everyone chuckles at Demitri’s possessive tone.

“We’re going,” he mutters, and taking hold of my hand, he pulls me back to the SUV.

When we get back to the compound, Demitri waits for the others to get out of the vehicles, then he says, “They probably know where we are. We’ll have to keep watch. Who’s taking the first shift?”

“I will,” Carson says. I watch as he pulls a rifle from his SUV, and then he walks toward the house and climbs up the side to the roof without much effort.

It feels like I’m surrounded by my own small army of superheroes.

Everyone seems calm while my heart’s still beating a mile a minute. Glancing at Demitri, I ask, “Is it always like this?”

A slight frown forms on his forehead. “Like what?”


“You get used to it,” Winter answers on behalf of Demitri. “After doing this a while, the excitement fades.”

Yeah, I don’t think that will happen to me.

“Let’s drink,” Alexei says as he turns to the house.

“It’s not even nine in the morning,” I remind him.

He lets out a chuckle. “It’s night somewhere.”

I give Alexei a worried look, and then Demitri explains, “It’s his way of celebrating.”

“Celebrating what?” I ask as we follow after Alexei.

“Not dying.”

Hell, I can’t argue with that.





Ariana’s handling everything so much better than I expected. She just keeps getting stronger the more they come at her.

It’s a sight to behold. Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes.

We’re all sitting at the dining table after having something to eat, and while the others talk, I stare at Ariana. She listens to what they say and asks questions when she doesn’t understand anything.

Right now, Alexei is telling her that Ilia, Sergei’s attorney, is coming to meet with her. “The weapons smuggling business won’t be mentioned, of course.”

“Right.” Ariana lets out a chuckle. “Probably wouldn’t be wise.” She gives Alexei a questioning look. “Is there someone who can tell us about it? How do I take over?”

Alexei gestures at me. “Demitri and I will handle that part. We know who your father dealt with.”

Ariana glances at me, and then she crosses her arms over her chest. “So, how much do you charge for your services, Mr. Vetrov?”

Remembering the conversation we had on the island about the same thing, I let out a burst of laughter, shaking my head.

“He’s fucking expensive,” Alexei comments, then he grins at me.

“Come on,” Ariana insists. “If you’re going to run the business for me, I need to know how much your fee will be.”

“Ten million to get you settled,” Alexei answers.

“Wait? What?” Ariana gasps, her eyes snapping to him. “I didn’t hear you right.” She places a hand over her heart, then asks, “Ten million? You’re kidding?”

Alexei shakes his head. “I never joke when it comes to money.”

Ariana glances between Alexei and me, and worry tightens her features. “Where the hell do you think I’m going to get ten million? I barely make fifteen hundred a month. On a good month, I make two thousand.”

Her worry begins to change to panic, and it makes a dark frown form on my forehead. Placing my arm on the back of her chair, I lean closer to her. “Shh… deep breaths.”

She does as I say, then I explain, “The fee will come out of the business.”

She shakes her head hard. “It’s impossible that my father’s business makes that much.”

I move my hand to the back of her neck and slowly brush my thumb over her skin, and the touch makes her relax a little. “I’m assuming your father never discussed his finances with you?”

“No,” Ariana answers, her eyes locked on mine. “He just sends ten thousand every month, which I use for my mom’s nursing home.”

 Christ, she’d go fucking hungry as long as her mom’s taken care of. If Sergei loved her so much, why didn’t he take better care of her?

“I’m getting her a drink. She’s going to need it,” Alexei says as he gets up.

The others also leave the table, giving us privacy.

Placing my other hand on her cheek, I explain, “Your father was a wealthy man. You’ll never have to worry about money again.”

Before Ariana can reply, Alexei comes back with the tumbler of vodka and Ilia, who must’ve just arrived.

I rise to my feet and shake the man’s hand, and after the introductions are over, Ilia gets right to business. He begins to read the long list of assets. Mainly Properties scattered over the world, and then he moves onto the investments in Switzerland and the main bank account.

“The total sum of movable cash comes to one-hundred-and-fifty-three million euros.”

Ariana grabs hold of my thigh, and her face pales dangerously. “I think I’m going to pass out.”

Alexei gets up and comes to hold the tumbler to her lips, helping her to drink the alcohol. She trembles lightly while we give her a moment to process the news. I pull Ariana to my chest and hold her for a minute.

When she’s feeling calmer, she pulls back and then starts to shake her head. “I can’t even begin to comprehend that amount. What? How?”

“My uncle is an accountant. He can help you manage your finances,” I say.

“There’s also a request from Sergei,” Ilia carries on, obviously needing to get this over so he can leave.

Ariana waves a hand in the air, slumping back against her chair. “Hit me.”

“Sergei approved an arranged marriage between Ariana and Alexei Koslov, with the clause that Mr. Koslov gets thirty percent of the profits the first ten years of their marriage and then sixty percent thereafter.”

A burst of laughter explodes from Ariana, and she has to wrap her arm around her waist. Alexei chuckles at her reaction. When Ariana reigns in her laughter, she shakes her head. “Yeah, no offense, Alexei, but that’s never going to happen.”

I roll my shoulders to get rid of the tension of just hearing Ariana, Alexei, and marriage in the same sentence.

“None taken,” he says. Then his eyes move to me before he looks at Ilia. “Same terms with an arranged marriage between Ariana and Demitri?”

“Uh…” Ariana begins to frown, all the laughter gone now.

“I’m sure Sergei would’ve agreed,” Ilia answers.

“Hold up,” Ariana leans forward. “Stop making plans as if I don’t have a say in this.”

Alexei turns his attention to Ariana, giving her a patient look. “Feel free to join in the discussion at any point.”

“Why the hell are we even talking about arranged marriage?” she snaps. “With the money I’m inheriting, I’ll be financially fine, and I can still give Demitri a percentage of the profits so he’ll run the business for me.” She gives Alexei a pointed look. “And I’m not going to discuss all of this in front of you.”

Oh. Fuck.

“I need to go,” Ilia says, rising to his feet. We shake his hand and watch as he rushes from the room.

It takes all my self-control to sit back and let this play out. Alexei is the one that makes the deals.

Alexei turns his chair to face Ariana, and he leans forward, his facial expression dead fucking serious. “Demitri is my custodian. You’re aware of that, right?”

Ariana nods, her eyes locked on Alexei.

“He’s also my business partner.”


He leans closer still, and Ariana stiffens. “Every fucking decision comes through me. Do you understand, Ariana?”

“Loud and clear,” she bites out, and then she rises to her feet. She glances from me to Alexei, then asks, “How much for your protection until the problem with Yuri is taken care of?”

“Ten million,” Alexei answers.

Ariana nods and begins to walk away, but then she stops and turns back to us. “I think the bond between the two of you is amazing.” She focuses her attention on Alexei. “I’m not going to compete with you, because let’s face it, there’s no reality where I’ll win.” She takes a step closer to him, and her features become hard with anger, “But don’t you ever try to intimidate or control me again. Last time I checked, I wasn’t fucking you.” Then her eyes snap to me, and I see the disappointment and hurt. “Shame on you for letting him talk to me like that.”

With the dignity of a Bratva princess, Ariana swings around and walks out of the room, and then Alexei leans back in his chair, a wide fucking smile on his face.

I tilt my head at him. “What the fuck was that?”

“That’s me creating a queen worthy of you, brother. If she can hold her own in front of me, she’ll be able to destroy whatever enemies come her way.” Alexei gets up and lets out a sigh, “Let’s face it, this is Ariana’s life now, and the sooner she embraces it, the better.”

I get up and shake my head at Alexei. “You were too hard on her.”

Alexei lets out a chuckle. “Yeah, I don’t think so. Did you see how she laid into us?” His expression grows serious again. “It’s your first instinct to protect, Demitri. Don’t clip her wings in the process.”


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