Tears Of Salvation: Chapter 13

ALEXEI

I’ve called a family meeting so we can all get our stories straight for when I bring Isabella home.

So far, everything is playing right into the palm of my hand, and I’ll be fucking pissed if anything ruins it.

My eyes go over Demitri and Ariana. Then I look at Nikhil and Sacha, the two men who mainly protect the women whenever Demitri and I have to take care of a job. Lastly, I glance at Tristan and Hana.

These are the six people besides me who’ll have direct contact with Isabella.

All eyes are on me as I say, “My plan is not negotiable. If anyone lets anything slip to Isabella, there will be hell to pay.” There’s no argument from the people I consider my family. “Isabella’s not stupid. Don’t underestimate her just because she has amnesia. She’s well trained and dangerous. If her memory returns, do not engage with her.” I focus on Nikhil and Sacha. “You won’t stand a chance against her. Just let her go.” They both nod in agreement.

Turning my attention to Ariana, I say, “I’ve told her the two of you are friends. I don’t expect you to go out of your way for her, but try to make her feel at home.”

“But will I be safe being alone with her?” Ariana asks.

“Isabella won’t hurt you unless you’re a danger to her. She’s similar to me in a lot of ways.”

Ariana rolls her eyes. “I don’t think I can handle two of you. You’re difficult enough.”

I let out a chuckle. “I’m sure you’ll get along with Isabella.”

“So, what’s the story?” Demitri asks.

“I told her we met at St. Monarch’s while she was training as a custodian. I stayed as close as possible to the truth. The only thing I changed is that we dated for three years, we’ve been engaged for one year, and we were going to get married in a month. I also told her she got hurt during an attack from Sonia.”

“Sounds easy enough to remember,” Tristan says.

Which reminds me of Hana. I turn my attention to her. “I’ll tell her you’re an acquaintance.”

“I’ll just wing it,” Hana chuckles.

“Isabella is high value, and this is my one chance to get her. Don’t fuck it up for me,” I warn them all.

Everyone nods, then Demitri says, “If this is what you want, we’ll make it happen. Hopefully, her memory doesn’t return before you’re married.”

Ariana frowns at me. “Taking advantage of a woman who has amnesia doesn’t sit well with me.”

I lock eyes with Ariana, and she’s only able to hold my gaze for a moment before she glances at Demitri.

“I’m taking advantage of the situation, not of Isabella,” I bite the words out. “Don’t mix the two. Isabella will still have her free will. I’m not going to fucking lock her in my bedroom.”

Ariana takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. “Fine.”

Rising to my feet, I say, “I don’t care what any of you think. I will have Isabella. Don’t get in my way of making that happen.”

Tristan lets out a chuckle to alleviate the tension in the air. “We all owe you, so we have your back.”

“Now I need to go shopping for Isabella.” I look at Ariana again. “If you’re not too pissed off with me, would you mind coming along?”

“Of course, I don’t mind,” she replies as she gets up.

“Let’s get back to work,” I say.

While Nikhil and Sacha leave, Tristan comes to give me a hug before he and Hana head back to Koslov & Hayes to take care of our company.

“Let’s make a list of everything Isabella will need so we don’t forget anything,” Ariana says, and then she pulls her phone out.

Fuck, I’m going to have to find the perfume Isabella wears even if I have to sniff every bottle there is on this goddamned planet.

 


 

ISABELLA

 

With my left arm in a brace, I’m dressed in a black pair of leggings and a t-shirt. Sitting on the side of the bed, my eyes are on Alexei’s back, where he’s talking to the doctor.

When he turns around and starts to walk toward me, it feels as if I’m being stalked by a predator. But, instead of feeling fear, it causes a fluttering in my stomach.

I climb to my feet, my body still weak. My left side aches, and I’m covered in bruises. Alexei said it’s because I fell on that side and took two bullets.

A tender smile curves his mouth, softening his dark features. “Ready?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” I say.

Alexei holds his hand out to me, and I get a feeling he wants to make it feel like this is my choice.

My eyes lift to his. “If I wanted to leave on my own, would you let me?”

He turns and gestures to the door. “The choice is yours.”

Just to test him, I walk past him and out of the room. I spare the nurse a glance, murmuring, “Thank you.” I feel Alexei behind me as I open a door and walk down a hallway.

“Straight ahead. We use the back entrance,” Alexei murmurs, sounding amused by my actions.

When I step out of the building and into the bright sunlight, I instinctively glance around, taking in the buildings, the windows, the rooftops – every single hiding place a sniper can use.

Familiarity shudders through me, making me gasp.

Instantly Alexei’s by my side, looking at me with concern. “You okay?”

I lift my hand to my racing heart and press my fingers to my chest. “I just felt something familiar.”

“What?” The worry etches deeper onto his face.

“The first thing I did was check my surroundings as if it’s second nature.”

Relief washes over his features. He must be glad that I recall something.

“It should be second nature with the lives we lead,” he says, then he gestures to a black SUV. “So, what’s your choice? Coming with me or taking a chance on your own?”

I let out a chuckle. “Of course I’m going with you. I don’t plan on sleeping on the street tonight.”

A wide smile spreads over his face, and then he walks to the SUV, opening the passenger door for me.

It’s only as I climb into the vehicle that I think to ask, “Where’s Demitri? I thought you were always together.”

“He’s impatiently waiting at home,” Alexei answers before shutting my door and walking around the front of the SUV. When he slides behind the steering wheel and starts the engine, he says, “Do you want to move some of your things into one of the guest rooms when we get home?”

Oh shit. Right. I probably share a room with him.

When I don’t answer immediately, Alexei gives me a comforting smile. “You don’t have to decide now. See how you feel later. Okay?”

I nod, and then Alexei hands me a phone. “Your old one got crushed in the fall, so I got you a new one.”

“Oh… thanks.” I stare at the device for a moment and then glance out of the windows, taking in our surroundings as Alexei drives us home.

Home.

Still feels weird.

When we come to a stop in front of an impressive Mediterranean-style mansion, I can’t help but admire it. Climbing out of the SUV, I glance around the landscaped garden and then turn to stare at the place I’ll call home.

I’m surprised to not see any guards and glance at Alexei, where he’s watching my reaction like a hawk. “No guards?”

My question makes him let out a burst of laughter. “We don’t need guards.”

True. A person would be stupid to try and attack Alexei in his home.

“You’ll also meet Nikhil and Sacha today. They work for me and keep Ariana safe whenever Demitri and I have a job.”

“Not me?” I ask.

“You don’t need a bodyguard, little one,” Alexei says, admiration shimmering in his voice. “You can take care of yourself.”

I lower my eyes to my left arm that’s stuck in a sling.

Alexei comes to stand in front of me, and lifting a hand, he places a finger beneath my chin. He nudges my face up, and when our eyes meet, he says, “Until you’re healed, I’m not leaving your side. As soon as you’re able to, we’ll start training and get you back to your old self.”

His words make me feel better, and this time when he holds his hand out to me, I take it. Our fingers interlink, and again something hums deep inside of me.

Climbing the steps, we walk into the mansion, and I glance around the interior of the home I share with the man next to me.

My fiancé.

Taking a deep breath, I look at the expensive art on the walls, the lavish décor, and then my eyes follow the stairs up to the second floor.

“Did I help decorate the place?”

“No.” When I turn my gaze to Alexei’s, he explains, “We were going to redecorate after the wedding.”

Nodding, I begin to walk toward the stairs. “Why? I think it looks great.”

Alexei gives my hand a squeeze. “You just wanted to add your own touch.”

When we reach the second floor, I glance around us, then ask, “Which way is our room.”

“We’re in the right wing. Demitri and Ariana have taken over the left wing.”

“Okay,” I glance to my left, but not seeing anyone, I follow Alexei down another hallway.

Stepping into a luxurious suite that’s decorated in creams and black, my eyes go straight to the king-size bed.

Alexei notices what I’m staring at and says, “It’s your choice.”

Nodding, I glance around the suite. There’s a dressing table, and I move closer to it. Reaching for a bottle of perfume, I squirt some into the air to sniff it.

“That’s your favorite,” Alexei murmurs as he comes up behind me. “Your scent is one of the first things I fell in love with.”

I look at the black decanter and read the name, “Fucking Fabulous.” A smile tugs at my lips. “I have good taste.”

“You do,” Alexei agrees.

Setting the perfume down, I begin to walk toward the closet. Stepping inside, my eyes scan over the right side where Alexei’s clothes are, and then I look to the left.

There’s a stark contrast between the expensive dresses and suits and the black combat wear.

I move closer, and taking hold of a leather jacket, I stare at it. There’s a flicker of something familiar, and it has me asking, “What did I wear most?”

“During the day, you were the perfect socialite, and at night you wreaked havoc in black leather.”

I let out a soft burst of laughter then glance at Alexei. “Kinda like the sound of that.”

Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Options

not work with dark mode
Reset