Tears Of Betrayal: Chapter 30

ARIANA

Demitri closes the distance between us with two quick strides, and then his hands frame my face, and he leans into me.

I see the hurt in his eyes, and it shreds at my already broken heart.

God, this is so hard. Give me the strength to do what’s right for him.

“Don’t do this, Malyshka. I thought you and Alexei were getting along.”

We are. We bonded a hell of a lot when Demitri got shot. That night we sat next to Demitri, fearing for the worst, it changed things between Alexei and me. Since then, he’s treated me like a little sister and not like I’m a threat to Demitri. Even though I am.

“It’s not that I don’t get along with Alexei. I just don’t want to share the man I’m supposed to be in a relationship with.”

If he doesn’t fall for this lie, I don’t know what I’ll do.

Demitri shakes his head, his eyes intense on me. “Stop, Ariana. You’re not a selfish person. Why are you really doing this?”

I close my eyes, unable to feel his breath on my face and look at him, without breaking down and begging him to never let me go.

Pulling back again, I force the words out, “You don’t know me as well as you think you do. I stuck it out with you because Yuri was trying to kill me. I really appreciate all you’ve done, but it’s all over now. There’s no reason for me to be here.”

Still, Demitri doesn’t believe me, and he gives me a look of warning. “Stop this shit.”

“It’s not shit,” I cry, my emotions bubbling over. Sticking as close to the truth as possible without telling Demitri the real reason, I scream, “I’m scared! You terrify me.”

His features soften instantly, and once again, he closes the distance between us and wraps his arms tightly around me. He presses a kiss to the side of my head. “I’d never hurt you. You have to know that after everything we’ve been through.”

“You live this insane life where you’re being shot at and killing people.” In a moment of weakness, I press closer to him, just wanting to stay in his arms. “You’re intense, and it overwhelms me. I can’t think straight long enough to figure out how I feel about you. It’s too much. All the time.”

It’s not. I love every minute with you. I’d give anything for a chance to stay with you, but not at the expense of your life.

I shut my eyes as I tell my biggest lie, “I don’t even know if what I feel for you is real or just a bad case of Stockholm syndrome.”

Demitri’s arms tighten around me, and then he presses another kiss to my temple before he pulls back to meet my eyes. “Then take some time to figure that out.”

“I can’t do that here. I want to go home.” It will be easier to break things off with him over the phone.

Demitri’s eyes bore into mine, and then he finally nods. “On one condition.”

“What?” I whisper.

“Nikhil guards you.”

Knowing I might be attacked because I inherited everything from my father, and his enemies might come after me, I nod. “Okay.”

Demitri gives me a pleading look. “I’ll give you the time you need, but I’m not giving up on us.”

“It’s only been six weeks,” I say, my voice straining from the tears I’m fighting to hold back.

He shakes his head lightly, his eyes filled with emotion. “It doesn’t change the fact that I love you.”

Oh, God.

My heart.

I just want to run into his arms and tell him I love him too. Instead, I stand rooted to the spot and fist my hands at my sides.

Be strong, Ariana.

For Demitri.

You can fall apart once you’re back in Seattle.

My voice is hoarse when I say, “You’re an incredible man, Demitri. I’ll always be thankful for everything you did for me.”

He nods, and then I walk to get my luggage, and standing with my back to him, I say, “I’d like to go home now.”

It’s getting impossibly hard to keep up this act.

 


 

DEMITRI

 

The pain I suffered from the gunshot wounds is nothing compared to what I’m feeling as I drive Ariana to the private airfield where the jet is being readied to take her back to Seattle.

Give her the time she needs. She’s been through a fuck-ton of shit and just needs to process it all.

All I want to do is take her back to the house and lock her in my fucking bedroom. But I can’t do that. I can’t force Ariana to stay.

I’m not sure what Ariana feels for me, I can only hope it’s strong enough to make her realize we belong together.

The ache in my chest grows as the silence between us stretches, and by the time I pull the SUV up to the private jet, it’s hard to breathe.

I throw the door open, and getting out, I walk around the front of the vehicle and open the passenger door. Ariana doesn’t look at me as she gets out, and it guts me further.

Christ, give me strength to let her go.

I take a deep breath as I shut the door and then walk toward the plane. Reaching the steps to the entrance of the jet, Ariana stops and turns to face me. She swallows hard and then lifts her eyes to mine.

My pain reflects in her hazel eyes, and unable to stop myself, I move forward and frame her face. Crushing my mouth to hers, I kiss her with every ounce of love I feel for her. I pour myself into her, praying this won’t be the last time I get to taste her.

My body begins to tremble when she kisses me back with the same intensity.

God, it feels like you love me, Malyshka. How can you kiss me like this and not know what you feel for me?

Ariana breaks the kiss, and I press my forehead to hers. “I love you so fucking much. Don’t ever forget that.”

Her face is torn with emotion as she pulls away from me, and then she climbs the steps and hurries into the cabin of the jet.

I somehow manage to take a couple of steps backward, and too soon, the plane begins to move.

It tears my heart from my body to watch the jet pick up speed until it lifts off the ground.

I take a shuddering breath, and then my sight blurs. I blink quickly so I can see the jet until it fades into the sky.

My legs give way, and I sink to my knees. As the distance grows between the only woman I’ll ever love and me, I manage to press the panic button on my watch because I don’t have the strength to get up again.

What do I do if Ariana doesn’t come back? How do I live without her?

I can’t.

I can’t imagine not ever getting to hold her again. Not kissing her. Not having her glare at me. Not hearing her moans of pleasure.

Christ.

I press a hand to my chest, the pain unbearable.

I hear tires screech, and a couple of seconds later, Alexei crouches in front of me. “What are you doing here?”

Lifting my eyes to my friend’s, I say, “Ariana left.”

“What?” Shock ripples over Alexei’s face, and he glances around the airfield, then back at me. “Why?”

I gasp through the relentless ache. “She’s not sure how she feels about me. She wanted to go home.”

Alexei’s arms wrap around me, and I break down.

For the first time in my life, I fall to pieces.

“We’ll figure things out,” Alexei says as he pulls me to my feet.

I shake my head. “What if she doesn’t love me? I can’t force her.”

Alexei grabs my shoulders hard and locks eyes with me. “Ariana loves you. I saw it clear as day when you got shot. That woman loves you, Demitri.”

“Why would she leave then?”

“That’s what we have to figure out.” Alexei keeps an arm around my shoulder and shouts at Sacha, who came with him, “Take the other SUV back to the house.”

If Alexei is right, and he’s seldom wrong, then why would Ariana leave?

I climb into the passenger’s side of Alexei’s SUV, and when he slides in behind the steering wheel, I say, “I don’t know where to start.”

My ability to focus has been shot to shit. Ariana turned my world upside down, and without her near me, it’s hard to think.

“You’re going to pack a bag and go after her. You’re going to watch her and find out why she ran,” Alexei answers.

“I said I’d give her time.”

“You can give her time and still watch her,” he mutters. “Fuck, I’m never loving a woman if it’s going to mess with my head the way it’s messing with yours.”

 

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