Tears Of Salvation: Chapter 14


Fuck, I worked my ass off to get everything ready for Isabella. My eyes are glued to her as she looks through the clothes I got for her.

Seeing her move around in my personal space feels… right.

Because she’s the one.

The only woman who can survive being at my side.

My breaths are slow and steady as I assess every facial expression from her.

Isabella glances at me, then she frowns. “Why are you looking at me as if you’re about to attack?”

Relaxing my features, I say, “It’s just good seeing you here.”

She takes a deep breath then walks toward the bed. “Our bedroom.” It sounds as if she’s tasting the words. Isabella turns to face me. “I’ll feel more comfortable using a guest room while I adjust.”

Nodding, I begin to walk to the door, saying, “I’ll have some of your things moved.”

“Ah… no.”

I stop and glance over my shoulder at her. She gestures at the dressing table and closet. “Leave everything as is. I’ll just sleep in another room until I’m used to the idea of us being a couple.”

A grin spreads over my face, liking the sound of that. “I’m putting you in the suite next to mine, so you’re close to me.”

Isabella follows me next door and glances around the room. “So if I scream, you’ll come running?”

“Butt naked and armed, but I’ll come,” I joke, and it makes laughter burst from her. Closing the distance between us, I say, “And there you make me want to kiss you again.”

Isabella lifts her right hand and places it behind my neck. Her fingers run through my short hair, her eyes locking with mine, and then she lifts onto her toes and presses her mouth to mine.

I let her control the pace even though frustration ripples through me when there’s no tongue.

Pulling back, she stares at me. “I wanted to see if I’m comfortable initiating intimacy with you.”

“And?” I murmur. “Are you?”

A pensive smile curves her lips. “I’m surprisingly comfortable.”


“I can’t place my finger on it.” Stepping away from me, Isabella walks to the expansive windows and stares out over the backyard. “It’s just frustrating not remembering any of this. I feel strange.”

I move in behind her, and careful not to jar her left arm and shoulder, I wrap my arms around her. I press a kiss to the side of her neck. “Just give it time.”

“It’s so weird. This feels familiar,” Isabella murmurs. “Having you behind me.”

I hold her for a couple of minutes as we stare out of the window, wanting her to become used to me touching her. Isabella leans back against me, resting her head on my shoulder.

So far, everything’s working out exactly how I hoped it would. Now it’s only a matter of time.

I’ll make Isabella love me, marry her, and then she’ll be mine. Together we’ll rule the world.



After making sure Isabella eats something, I close the curtains while she climbs into bed.

I pick up on her frustration of feeling weak and say, “Your strength will return soon.”

“I hate this,” she mutters.

Walking to the side of the bed, I lean over her and press a kiss on her forehead. “Get some rest, babe. I’ll be downstairs.”

Isabella stares at me for a moment, then says, “Thank you for understanding… and everything you’re doing for me.”

“Of course.” I smile at her. Placing a hand against her cheek, I murmur, “I’ll do anything for you.”

Our eyes remain locked as I straighten up, and then she watches me until I shut the door behind me.

 I let out a breath, relieved I’m pulling off the act. Not that it’s hard because it almost feels natural to show Isabella affection. I’m more worried about her figuring things out.

With a little luck and a lot of skill, that won’t happen.

Heading downstairs, I go to the security room where Demitri’s checking for any leads on Sonia.

“Anything?” I ask as I take a seat on one of the chairs.

The security system is rigged with state-of-the-art equipment. If Sonia pokes her head from whatever hole she’s hiding in, I’ll know.

“Yeah,” Demitri murmurs, bringing up the underground chat screen where there’s a message from our contact in the Ruin.

Mole: ST spotted in Ethiopia. No POL received yet. Will be in touch.

“It’s something,” I murmur. “The moment we get proof of life, let me know.”

Demitri slants his eyes in my direction. “I really don’t want to go to Ethiopia.”

I let out a chuckle. “If she’s there, we won’t have much of a choice.”

Getting to work, I check in with Semion and Lev to make sure things are still running smoothly in Russia. While I have my phone out, I dial the head of the mafia’s number, wanting to touch base with my friend.

“Wow, and here I thought you dropped off the face of the planet,” Lucian’s voice comes over the line.

“You wish. How are things?”

“Good. Very good.”

“And Elena and Luca? They’re well?” Lucian and Elena named their son after Lucian’s father, who was a great man. At least Lucian’s following in his father’s footsteps, making an empire of the Italian mafia.

“Luca’s growing too fast. Also, I’d rather face a gun than one of his tantrums. Aunt Ursula and Elena let him get away with fucking murder.”

I let out a burst of laughter. “I’m sure if I asked Elena, she’d say you’re the one letting him get away with murder.”

“Yeah-yeah. How’s business? I heard you had an altercation with Terrero.”

“Calling it an altercation is the understatement of the year. I lost ten men that day, and she got away. If you hear anything about her whereabouts, let me know.”

“I will,” Lucian assures me.

“I just wanted to touch base with you. Send my regards to your family.”

“Thanks, it’s good to hear your voice again. Next time answer the phone when I call.”

“You’d be so lucky,” I chuckle before ending the call.

“Everything good in Italy?” Demitri asks.

“Yes, Lucian’s well.”

Demitri climbs to his feet, making me ask, “Where are you going?”

“Ariana wants me to me prepare dinner to welcome Isabella.” As he reaches his door, he adds, “I blame you. If you have nothing urgent to take care of, get your ass to the kitchen.”

Shaking my head, I put on a serious face. “I have so much work.”

“Sure you do,” he mocks me, and as he leaves the room, I hear him add, “Fucker.”

Chuckling, I turn my attention to the screens in front of me, and then I begin to search through all the information, hoping to stumble across something related to Sonia.





After having a nap, I feel a little better.

I go to Alexei’s suite where my clothes are, and taking a shower, I glance down at the left side of my body, where it’s covered in bruises.

I must’ve taken one hell of a fall.

When I’m done in the shower, I try to pat my hair dry, using only my right hand, then give up and throw the towel against the wall. Frustrated, I glare at my reflection in the mirror, and then my eyes lower to the two gunshot wounds.

I wish I could remember what happened.

“Isabella?” I hear Alexei call.

“I’ll be right out,” I answer. With a huff, I grab another towel and pat most of my body dry. I clench my teeth and power through the pain in my left shoulder and arm as I do my best to wrap the fabric around my body.

As soon as I step out of the bathroom, Alexei’s eyebrows shoot up, then he says, “It doesn’t look like you had a relaxing shower.”

“I didn’t,” I grumble as I start to walk to the closet. “Let me just get dressed while screaming in frustration, and then I’ll be with you.”

Alexei darts in front of me, and giving me a caring look, he says, “Let me help. You don’t have to do this on your own.”

“Help me get dressed? You?” I ask incredulously. “Yeah, I’m going to pass on the offer.”

Instead of being upset because I’m declining the offer, Alexei grins at me. “You’re hot when you’re pissed off.”

Letting out an annoyed huff, I shove past him and walk into the closet. “I get you’ve seen me naked a million times, but do you mind giving me some privacy?”

“Of course. Just shout if you need help.” When I shoot him a glare, he adds, “Or don’t.”

I watch as Alexei leaves the room, and then I turn my attention to the rows of clothes. Frustration bubbles over in my chest, and I clench my right hand into a fist, needing to beat the shit out of something.

I hate feeling helpless.

God, I hate it so much.

Grabbing a pair of panties, I bite through the pain of using my left arm and drag them up my legs. I drop the towel and decide a bra isn’t worth the amount of pain it will take to struggle through clipping it on.

Reaching for a black t-shirt, I pull it over my head, and then I take a moment to breathe before I carefully push my left arm through the sleeve. By the time I have the shirt on, my shoulder and forearm are on fire.

Closing my eyes, I try to control the anger and frustration swarming inside of me before I get overemotional.

“Alexei,” I call out.

The door instantly opens as he comes in. I hear it shut, and a couple of seconds later, I’m pulled into a hug. I rest my cheek against his chest and just focus on my breathing.

“I hate this,” I whisper. “I feel… weak.”

“I know.” Alexei presses a kiss to my wet hair. “But you’re not, Isabella. You’re a fucking force. Right now, you’re just injured. There’s a difference.”

I nod and then pull back to look up at him. “Can you help me put on my leggings?”

Wagging his eyebrows at me, he grins. “Mhhh… that kind of thing is foreplay to me.” His eyes sweep over my body. “I mean, you have killer legs.”

“Shut up and help me,” I playfully snap at him, appreciating that he’s trying to make me feel better.

Alexei turns to my clothes and pulls a pair of leggings from the closet. When he crouches in front of me, I place my right hand on his shoulder to keep my balance as I step into the pants, and then he tugs them up my legs.

Alexei adjusts the hem of my t-shirt then tilts his head as his eyes meet mine. “That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

I shake my head then take a deep breath. I fucking hate this. “Will you help me dry my hair?”

Alexei drags his bottom lip between his teeth then says, “I like this wet and wild look on you. It’s sexy.”

Letting out a chuckle, I ask, “Is everything a turn-on for you?”

“When it comes to you, yes.”

Our eyes lock for a moment, and anticipation begins to build between us, dimming the anger and frustration I feel.

Alexei has been nothing but good to me the past week. From the moment I opened my eyes, he was there to make everything better.

I probably would’ve lost my shit by now if he wasn’t around to calm me down.

Closing the distance between us, I turn my head and rest my cheek against his chest again. Alexei’s arms wrap around me, and it makes me feel safe… as if I belong… as if this is how things were between us.

Lifting my right arm, I place my hand on his back, then I whisper, “I just need a moment.”

“Take as long as you need, baby. I get to hold you so you won’t hear any complaints from me.”

Everything he says is perfect.

Everything he does is perfect.

Too perfect?

“I love you, Isabella,” he murmurs, and it sounds like he means it.

Pulling back, I meet his eyes. “Why do you love me?”

A slight frown flits over his forehead before disappearing. “I love you because you’re so fucking strong. There’s not much you’re afraid of. You’re a fighter, intelligent, caring, breathtaking. Honestly, there isn’t one thing I can say I don’t love about you.”

I can see he means every word, and it eases the worry that popped up.

“Come on. Let’s dry your hair. Demitri made dinner to welcome you back home.”

I follow Alexei to the dressing table and take a seat on the stool. My eyes track his movements as he pulls the hairdryer out of a drawer, and when he begins to dry my hair, it feels as if he’s done it before.

I relax and use the time to watch Alexei, memorizing his movements as his fingers comb through my hair… and every inch of his face.

I can see why I fell for him. I don’t think it will take much for me to fall for him again.

The longer I stare at him, the more familiar he becomes, and by the time he’s done drying my hair and looking down at me with pride, I feel warmth spreading through my heart.


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