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Tears Of Salvation: Chapter 15


As we walk down to the dining room, I’m thinking I need to ease up on the sugar and add some spice.

At some point, I’m going to have to pick a fight with Isabella. I could fucking feel the suspicion coming off her in waves and just blurted out I love her.

I think I defused the situation. I fucking hope so.

Walking into the dining room, I gesture at the seat to my left instead of pulling out the chair for Isabella. As I sit down, Ariana comes in with two plates of food, and Isabella pauses.

Every muscle in my body tenses as the two women stare at each other. Then a wide smile splits over Ariana’s face, and she comes to set the plates down where she and Demitri will be sitting.

“I’m so glad you’re back.” She begins to move in on Isabella, then asks, “Is it okay if I give you a hug?”

Isabella’s eyes dart to me and seeing that she’s uncomfortable, I jump in. “Maybe hold off on the hugs until Isabella’s had time to settle in.”

“Everything just feels weird,” Isabella explains. “You’re Ariana?”

“Yes. If you need anything, just let me know.”

“Thank you.” Just as Isabella sits down, Demitri comes in with two plates of food, and it has Isabella saying, “This wasn’t necessary.”

“Demitri’s practically a chef,” Ariana boasts.

Demitri places a plate in front of me, and leaning over the table, he sets the other one down in front of Isabella.

I glance at the pasta. “Looks good.”

“You better eat everything,” Demitri mutters.

“Yes, Daddy,” I taunt him, making Ariana chuckle. I look at Isabella and notice a smile is tugging at her mouth.

For a moment, silence falls around the table as we all dig in.

After swallowing a bite, I ask Demitri, “Did you tell Ariana about the house we’re going to have built for the two of you?”

“A house? Where? Why?” Ariana rambles the questions off.

“Slipped my mind,” Demitri says, and then he smiles at his fiancée. “On this property. It’s just so we’ll all have more privacy, but I’m still close to Alexei if something happens.”

“Yes!” Ariana exclaims, then she smiles at me. “Not that I don’t like living in this house.”

“Just want to see you happy, little one,” I say, affection lacing my words.

“I want a room just for my makeup,” Ariana demands.

“Only fair, seeing as I’ll have one for weapons,” Demitri replies before taking a bite of the pasta.

“You like makeup?” Isabella suddenly asks.

“I used to be a makeup artist. It’s now more of a hobby since I started the charity,” Ariana explains.


Demitri and I continue to eat while the women talk.

“I’m more like a benefactor for the elderly who don’t have anyone. Especially those with medical conditions,” Ariana says. “My mother has Alzheimer’s, so the project’s close to my heart.”

Isabella’s features soften. “I’m sorry to hear that, but I think it’s amazing that you want to help… others.” A frown forms on Isabella’s forehead, and she stares at the table.

When her eyes narrow, my heart kicks up a gear. “You okay?”

Slowly, she shakes her head, focusing way too fucking hard on something.


“Isabella?” I ask, leaning a little forward.

“It’s weird. It feels as if it’s on the tip of my tongue,” she murmurs, deep in thought. “It’s right there.”

Reaching a hand out to her, I place mine on the back of hers. “It’s probably the thing about helping others. It’s something you and Ariana have in common. Where she helps the elderly, you help slaves.”

“They’re not slaves,” she says, strength brimming in the words.

“The innocent,” I correct myself.

Again the frown on her face deepens. “It feels like déjà vu.”

A feeling that Isabella’s memory might return sooner than I’d like has me thinking I’ll need to speed things along. Somehow. Fuck.

Suddenly Isabella smiles. “Don’t mind me. Crazy talk.”

“Don’t say that.” Ariana gives Isabella a comforting smile. “It must be hard. We’re here to help you through this.”

The moment passes, and we resume eating.

When I’m done, I get up and walk to the side table. “Want something to drink, Isabella? It might help you relax.”


I pour three tumblers of vodka and carry them back to the table.

Isabella glances at Ariana. “You don’t drink?”

“Not that poison. I’m okay with a glass of wine once in a while.”

Isabella picks up the tumbler. “Vodka?”

“The best.” Holding up my glass, I say, “Na zdoróv’je.” I lock eyes with Isabella. “To your health.”

I take a much-needed sip and then relax back in my chair.

As I enjoy the drink, I start thinking about speeding things up without making Isabella uncomfortable or suspicious. It feels like I’m stuck in a catch twenty-two, and I fucking hate it.

When Isabella glances at me, I smile at her. “You okay?”

She nods. “The first day wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I expected a lot more awkwardness.”

“That’s good to hear. I want you to feel at home.”

Demitri finishes his drink then gets up. “I’m going to check the security.”

 Once he leaves the room, Isabella asks, “Is Dimitri always so quiet?”

“Depends. Whenever I piss him off, he doesn’t shut up,” I joke.

“Which you do a lot,” Ariana sasses me.

“I keep him on his toes.”

Ariana chuckles, shaking her head at me.





It’s been a week since I got home, and I’m starting to feel more settled. Things don’t feel as foreign anymore.

The pain is also more manageable with all my wounds healing.

But I’m bored.

Ariana tries to include me in many things, but they don’t scratch the itch that’s formed. It feels as if it’s creeping beneath my skin, needing to burst into action.

I’m sitting outside, ready to bang my forehead against the table when Alexei comes out of the house. “Come with me.”

Getting up, I ask, “Where?”

“You’ll see.”

When Alexei holds his hand out to me, I place mine in his and walk back into the house with him. We head down the stairs, and then I’m led into one hell of an impressive room.

I’ve explored most of the house, but I haven’t been down here yet.

Glancing around the armory, I pull my hand free from Alexei’s and move closer to the cabinets lining the walls. “You’re well-stocked.”

“I like to be prepared,” he chuckles.

“For a war?” I tease him.

“Amongst other things.” Alexei comes to open a cabinet and removes two Heckler & Kochs. He checks the clips then hands me one. Nodding to the other end of the room, he says, “Want to shoot some targets with me?”

“God, I love it when you talk dirty to me.”

Alexei takes a step closer to me. “Hmm… wait until you see how I handle my gun.”

My voice comes out low and sensual. “You better be good at it.”

Just as my heart begins to speed up, Alexei moves away from me and walks toward the shooting range. “Best shot wins.”

“Wins what?”

“What are you willing to bet?” he asks, giving me a mischievous look.

I think for a moment, and as we reach the shooting range, I say, “If you win, I’ll move back into the bedroom.”

Alexei raises an eyebrow at me. “There’s no fucking way I’m losing now.”

“But…” I go stand in one of the cubicles, “if I win, I can start training without you telling me it’s too soon.”

“Fair enough.”

I watch as Alexei raises the gun, and then he begins to fire at the target. For a moment, I can only stare because it’s freaking hot watching him handle a weapon. Then I glance at the target, and my eyebrow lifts.


He’s good.

Obviously, he’s good. He’s a trained assassin.

Every bullet hits the head of the target.

Taking a deep breath, I turn my attention to my own target, and raising my arm, I take aim. When I pull the trigger, there’s a rush of exhilaration in my veins, and then I just keep firing shots until my clip runs out.

God, that felt amazing.

Letting out a satisfied breath, I glance at Alexei. He’s smiling at me. “Was that as good for you as it was for me?” I ask, my words brimming with double meaning.

“I think you got a little more pleasure out of it than me,” he smirks.

Then we check the targets, and it has Alexei giving me a wolfish grin. “I guess you’re moving back, babe.”

“Best out of three,” I begin to negotiate, not because I’m against sharing a room with him, but because I’m really enjoying this.

Alexei pretends to think about it, then he says, “We can do best out of three, but I want payment for changing the rules.”

“What kind of payment are we talking about?” I ask as I set the gun down on the counter.

“Nothing big.” Alexei also places his gun on the counter then closes in on me. Lifting a hand to my jaw, his thumb brushes over my bottom lip. “Just a kiss.”

Locking eyes with him, I murmur, “Deal.”

Alexei’s hand moves behind my neck, and I only have a second to suck in a breath before his mouth comes down on mine.

It’s quickly clear he didn’t mean a peck when his tongue drives into my mouth and his other hand grabs hold of my hair, tugging my head back to give him better access to me.

A rush of adrenaline hits me, and then I kiss him back, our tongues starting to war for control. It quickly turns hungry and downright erotic as Alexei’s mouth devours mine, his teeth tugging until it’s bordering on forceful.

So good.


So good.

It feels as if I’m being drugged until all my focus is on Alexei. His power calls to the strength in me, the strength I haven’t felt since I woke up in the hospital. And for a blissful moment, it reminds me of who I am. How Alexei sees me.

My body melts against his, and I move my right hand up to his jaw, my fingers drinking in the feel of the dark stubble dusting his skin.

Alexei breaks away from my mouth and presses hungry kisses over my jaw and down my neck, whispering, “Fuck.” His teeth nip at my skin. “Fuck.” And then he yanks away from me, hissing, “Fuck.”

Our eyes lock as my breaths rush from me, my body still tingling from the shot of adrenaline that’s Alexei.

He stands still, the predatory expression on his face telling me the last thing he wants to do right now is stop.

For a moment, I actually contemplate taking it further, but then I catch myself, and I clear my throat. “Price paid. Time to shoot.”

“I’m going to fucking lose this round,” he mutters as he walks to the other side of the room to get more clips for us.

Somehow I doubt that.


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