Tears Of Betrayal: Chapter 29

ARIANA

I only managed to keep Demitri in bed another day, and then he wouldn’t have any of it no matter what I said.

Holy crap, he’s a difficult patient.

Demitri’s moodiness has made me forget about my own problems because if I turn my back, he’s forcing himself to walk around.

I just get back from using the restroom when I catch Demitri on his feet again. “Oh my God. Sit your ass down!”

He shoots me a deadly glare as he moves back to the couch.

“Don’t give me that look. It doesn’t work on me anymore,” I say as I move closer, and lifting his shirt, I check the bandages. This morning one came loose because his stubborn ass wouldn’t listen to me. “If you don’t stop getting up, I’m going to have Alexei tie your ass down to this chair.”

Just then, Alexei comes into the living room with two plates of food. He must’ve heard my threat because he chuckles. “Say the word, and it’s done.”

“You’re taking her side?” Demitri mutters. “The sooner I’m back on my feet, the sooner these goddamn wounds will heal.”

“Not if your stitches rip loose,” I snap at him as I take the two plates of food from Alexei.

“Need me to hold him down while you feed him?” Alexei asks me.

I scowl at Demitri. “Do I?”

“Just give me the damn plate,” he grumbles. “Fucking ridiculous.”

Alexei chuckles again, then looks at me. “I have a meeting to attend, then I’ll take over watching him while you get some rest.”

“What?” Demitri growls, setting the plate of food aside and pushing himself back to his feet. “You’re not going anywhere without me.”

Luckily Damien comes into the living room, saying, “Carson and I are going with Alexei. Sit your ass down.”

Demitri hesitates, then sinks down on the couch again, sweat beading on his forehead from all the unnecessary strain he’s placing on his body.

Alexei pats Demitri’s shoulder. “Eat your food. I’ll be back in an hour.”

Clearly unhappy, Demitri watches as Alexei leaves the room with Damien.

Picking up his plate of food, I sit down next to him and scoop some mash and gravy onto the fork. When I lift the utensil to his mouth, he gives me a dark look. “I can feed myself.”

Stubborn jerk.

I hand him his food then watch as he takes a bite.

“Are you always this grumpy when you’re sick?” I ask as I grab my own plate of food.

“I’ve never been sick.”

I stare at Demitri, realizing he’s probably never had anyone take care of him. He’s the one taking care of everyone, and now he doesn’t know what to do with himself.

“Baby,” I say, and when he turns his head to me, I lift my hand and place it on his jaw, “You’ve done so much for me. Please, let me do this one thing for you. It makes me feel needed.”

He takes hold of my forearm and presses a kiss to the inside of my wrist, and then he nods.

“So no more biting my head off and giving me glares.”

He nods again as he scoops more food onto his fork.

I reach for the remote and turn on the TV. It’s all in Russian, though, and I hand Demitri the remote. “Find us something to watch, and then you can translate it for me.”

Demitri scrolls through the programs, and then he stops on a show as it starts.

We finish eating, and I set our plates on the coffee table, and then I take hold of Demitri’s hand and listen as he translates. Soon I’m clutching his hand because it turns out we’re watching a zombie movie, but they’re not the real threat. Instead, the army is killing people left, right, and center. I’m loving the suspense.

Hoping to make Demitri feel better, I shriek and bury my face against his shoulder every time a gruesome part comes on, even though The Walking Dead is one of my all-time favorite shows.

During one scene, I actually get a chuckle from him, and I feel pleased that I’ve succeeded in my mission.

“How are you scared of this, but you watch that vampire show?”

I grin up at Demitri. “The vampires are hot.”

I get another chuckle from him before he continues to translate what the actors are saying.

Before the show is over, Alexei comes back, and I feel Demitri relax next to me.

“Did everything go okay?” he asks Alexei, who takes a seat on the other couch.

I switch off the TV as Alexei answers, “Yes. Semion and Lev will take over Andrei’s business, so they’re happy. I told them you’ll be taking Sergei’s business on behalf of Ariana.”

“So it’s official?” Demitri asks. “You’re head of the Bratva?”

“I am.”

The two men stare at each other and feeling like I’m intruding on a private moment between them, I pick up the plates and take them to the kitchen.

The moment I’m alone, my thoughts turn to my problems. When we get back to the States, I’ll have to leave Demitri, and just thinking about it breaks my heart.

Right now, I can still hide from it, but too soon, I’ll have to face the horrible truth that my being with him places him at risk.

I won’t survive it if Demitri dies because of me.

I’d rather leave him and know he’s alive.

I’ll love him from a safe distance. 

 


 

DEMITRI

 

The trip back to LA was exhausting, and having someone else fly the plane only increased my frustration.

I’m used to doing everything myself, and letting other people take care of me is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.

As we walk into my and Alexei’s house, Ariana glances around at the luxurious furnishings and expensive art.

“Wow, this is your home?”

“Yes.”

Sacha, who works alongside Nikhil as our backup security, walks toward us. After we’ve greeted each other, he heads to the security room with Alexei.

“Let me show you our room,” I say, placing my hand on Ariana’s lower back. I take her to the left wing, where my bedroom is, and when we step inside, we put our bags down by the foot of the bed.

Ariana will move in here with me. But I’m putting off that talk because I can feel something’s bothering her.

Ariana glances around then says, “I didn’t expect your home to look like this.”

“Like what?”

She shrugs. “Like a home. I was expecting a bachelor pad with weapons decorating the walls.”

Chuckling, I say, “The weapons are in the armory.”

“Right.” She smiles, but it doesn’t reach her eyes. She’s been tense ever since we left Russia.

It’s been two weeks since I got shot, and my strength is returning faster by the day. Ariana’s been the perfect nurse, taking care of all my needs. But her smiles are too wide. The happy tone she injects into her voice is fake. She’s putting on one hell of a show, and I’m trying to figure out why.

I watch as Ariana walks to the window, staring out over the backyard.

I move to her side, and lifting my hand, I brush strands of hair out of her face, then ask, “Are you going to tell me what’s wrong?”

She pretends to give me a what-are-you-talking-about look, then says, “Nothing’s wrong.”

I keep staring at her, and after a minute or so, she mutters, “You’re staring.”

“I am,” I murmur.

“Do you want to show me the rest of the house?” she asks, trying to divert my attention. I catch her arm before she can try to walk away.

“No.” My eyes don’t leave her face. “I want you to be honest with me.”

She shrugs. “I am. Nothing’s wrong.”

Taking hold of her shoulders, I turn her, so she’s facing me, then I tilt my head to meet her eyes. “Talk to me.”

She shakes her head, and I see the crack in the walls she’s slammed up around herself when the corners of her mouth tense.

I move my hand to her chin and force her to make eye contact with me. Slowly more cracks appear, and then her chin quivers. She swallows hard, pulling her face out of my hold. Looking out the window, she says, “It’s just been a really long six weeks.”

I keep staring, and it has her finally admitting, “It’s been hard, Demitri. You getting shot was an eye-opener.” She begins to lightly shake her head, the mask falling from her face, and the pain she’s been hiding from me is now clearly etched into her features. “It made everything real. I think I was living in this bubble where I thought nothing can hurt me as long as you’re there. I never thought you could die.”

I brush my hand over her hair as she takes a deep breath, and then she continues, “I thought I could be a part of your world, but I can’t.”

My muscles tighten, and it sends a wave of pain through my chest that has nothing to do with the healing wounds. Bringing my other hand to her face, I take a step closer to her, my eyes locked on hers.

Ariana swallows hard, and her voice trembles as she says, “A relationship between us can never work, Demitri. Our worlds are too far apart.” Her eyes begin to tear up. “I’d appreciate it if you manage the business for me. I’ll leave all the decisions to you.”

Her mouth is saying one thing while her eyes are telling me it’s killing her to lie to me.

“Don’t lie to me, Malyshka.”

Ariana pulls back and puts some space between us. “I’m not.” Waving a hand between us, she continues, “If I got into a relationship with you, I would have to change my entire life. You don’t have to change a thing.” 

I feel the first trickle of panic as it begins to sink in – Ariana might really want to leave.

Lifting my hand to my jaw, I brush my thumb over my bottom lip before I move closer to her again. I stare deep into her eyes, searching for the real reason why she’s doing this.

“If you really want to leave, you’re going to have to give me the truth. I see right through your lies.”

She waves around the room, her features tightening. “I can’t live like this. I’m selfish. I want all the attention, and Alexei will always be too important to you.”

This time the words rip right through my heart.

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