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Tears Of Salvation: Chapter 28


After stopping in Italy, we fly to Damien and Winter’s island.

Stepping off the plane, I glance around, and then I hold my hand out to Isabella. Her fingers interlink with mine, and I tug her right to my side.

Looking at Ana, I say, “Beautiful, isn’t it?”

Ana nods as she takes in the island, partially covered by a forest.

When Demitri and Ariana join us with the other women, I say, “Can you take the women inside?”

He nods. “Sure.”

I watch as Carson and Lucian’s women follow Demitri to the house, and I pray I’ll be able to return their men to them.

I turn to Ana. “Will you be okay here?”

She takes a deep breath before answering, “Yes.” Then she glances at the house, and her chin begins to quiver.

Ana’s still a child in so many ways, and it makes me feel protective of her. I let go of Isabella’s hand and crouch down in front of Ana. “Hey, no tears, little one.”

She tries to reign in her emotions but fails, and a tear rolls down her cheek. “Bring Isabella safely back to me.”

“I’ll make sure she returns to you,” I say.

Then Ana adds, “And you.”

Our eyes lock, and I tilt my head as Ana creeps into my heart. This time I only nod.

“Promise,” she demands, her silent tears falling faster.

“I promise.” I’ll do my best, little Ana.

She wipes the tears from her cheeks then lifts her chin. “I’ll be okay here.”

Just then, Cillian and MJ walk toward us, and I stand up, turning to Isabella. “You two go ahead.”

Isabella places her hand against my chest, right over my heart, and presses a kiss to my mouth, and then she walks away with Ana.

When Cillian and MJ reach me, Cillian nods at me. “Alexei.”

I glance between the two people who’ll guard the women. “Ana’s sensitive. She’ll need her own space.” They nod, then I add, “Let MJ deal with her.”

“Okay,” Cillian agrees.

I take a deep breath and then order, “Shoot down any unauthorized aircraft or watercraft. No one sets foot on this island.”

“Of course,” Cillian replies.

I take another deep breath. Christ. “If we don’t make it back, I’ve made arrangements with Demitri and Damien’s uncle. He’ll be in touch.”

Cillian’s features tighten because that includes him losing Winter, who’s like a daughter to him.

Patting him on the shoulder, I say, “I’ll do my best to bring everyone back in one piece.”

Cillian nods, then gestures to the group of men he managed to gather for me. “I trained them myself.”

“And they can be trusted to do the job?” My eyes stop on each man, knowing most of them won’t make it out alive.

“Yes. They know their families will be well compensated,” Cillian answers.


I turn my attention to MJ, the custodian Carson got to guard Hailey. “I know Hailey’s your first priority, but I need you to protect Ana.”

MJ nods. “I’ll guard them both with my life.”

I hold MJ’s stare for a moment. “The payment will be made no matter what happens to me.”

MJ nods again.

Placing my hand on Cillian’s shoulder, I say, “Tell the men to board the plane. I’ll send out Winter for you.”

I walk to the house, and when I step inside, Damien’s waiting for me. “Ready?”

“I just need a moment.”

He nods and gestures to the living room, where everyone’s gathered. When I walk inside, I place a hand on Winter’s back and lean into her. “Cillian’s waiting outside for you.”

When she leaves, I turn to the women and make eye contact with each of them, and then I stop on Ana. “Come with me.”

I go to the dining room, and then I turn to face Ana.

She begins to shake her head. “You already promised.”

I step closer to her and then catch myself before I place a hand on her shoulder. Crouching, I look up at her. “Just in case I can’t keep my promise, I’ve made arrangements for you with Ariana. There are funds so you can study or start something of your own. Until you’re twenty-five, Ariana will help you with the trust fund that will be set up.”

“Don’t say that,” Ana bites out, her face a second away from crumbling.

I take a deep breath, and meeting her shimmering eyes, I say, “I’m sorry for what happened to you. We’re not all monsters.”

“Then come back and prove it to me yourself,” Ana demands.

I nod, praying I’ll get the chance.

Standing up, I let out a heavy breath, and then I go back to the living room and hug Ariana. “Take care of Ana.”

She nods against my chest.

I press a kiss to Ariana’s forehead, then pull away and walk out of the house.





Dressed in red leather, I feel weirdly calm.

With all the mercenaries that have been hired, we have sixty trained men. The bratva, Semion and Lev, arrived with twenty more.

And then there are the seven of us.

“Semion and Lev, you’ll breach the front with your men plus ten of ours,” Alexei says one final time. “Carson, Damien, and Lucian will enter from the south with thirty men. Winter, you’re with us, and then the vent is your baby. Demitri, Isabella, and I will move in from the west with the rest of the men. Once I launch the RPG, it will be a free-for-fucking-all. Be ready.”

Everyone murmurs their understanding.

Just then, Alexei’s phone begins to ring, and taking it out of his pocket, he puts it on speaker. His features are unforgiving as he answers, “Madame Keller.”

‘Mr. Koslov, I hear you’ll be paying St. Monarch’s a visit?’

“There’s still time for you to send Sonia out,” Alexei replies.

‘Reconsider your actions, Mr. Koslov, or I’ll be forced to place an open contract on your head.’

Alexei lets out a dark chuckle. “Don’t let me keep you.”


Placing his hands on the table, he stares down at the phone. “Get out of there, Madame Keller. I only want Sonia.”

He cuts the call and tucks the device back in his pocket, then he says, “Final weapons check.”

I begin with the KA-BARs tucked in my right boot and strapped to my left forearm, then I check the clips in my Heckler & Koch and Glock. A sub-machine gun hangs over my shoulder, and I have a backpack with more ammo.

I tug at my armored vest to make sure it’s secure.

Alexei stares down the engraved steel of his gun, then slowly, his eyes lift to the people who are willing to die for him. He takes a moment to look at each one, and then his eyes lock with mine before settling on Demitri.

He tucks his gun behind his back, then lets out a deep breath as he adjusts the black coat he always wears. “If any of you want to leave, do so now. I won’t hold it against you.”

Not a single person moves. “Where you go, we go,” Lucian replies.

Alexei takes another breath. “If any of you come across Madame Keller and she wants to leave, give her safe passage. I only want Sonia. As soon as Sonia’s confirmed dead, we pull out.”

There’s a moment’s silence, and then Alexei says, “Let’s hunt.”

Semion and Lev file out of the building with their men, but before Carson can leave, Alexei grabs hold of his shoulder, yanking him into a tight embrace.

“Stay alive,” Alexei murmurs.

“You too.” The brothers let go of each other while Damien and Winter take a moment to say their goodbye.

Winter’s the one to push Damien back. “Go, I’ll be fine.”

Damien takes one last look at his wife, and then he leaves with Carson, Lucian, and their group of men.

Winter comes to stand next to me, and then Alexei locks eyes with her. “As soon as you’ve dropped the pepper grenade, I want you to get your ass off the grounds.”

“What?” Winter gasps, frowning at Alexei.

“I won’t risk Nickolai losing both parents. It is not negotiable. You leave the moment you’re done in the vents.”


Demitri steps toward his sister-in-law and snaps, “Winter, think of Nickolai!”

Winter pauses, and then she reluctantly nods, clearly upset.

“Time to leave,” Alexei orders, and then we walk out of the building.

When we reach the SUV, Alexei slides in behind the steering wheel, and Demitri takes the passenger seat while Winter and I climb in the back. The rest of the men load into the other vehicles, and then Alexei steers us away from the building.

As we head toward St. Monarch’s, I think how much everything’s changed.

Six months ago, I was fighting a losing battle against my mother.

Six months ago, Alexei was the devil I heard horror stories about. He was my enemy, not because of my mother, but because I thought there wasn’t an ounce of good in him.

Boy, was I wrong.

Turns out Alexei’s everything I stand for.

I close my eyes, wanting one last moment to relish in the fact that he loves me.

I love him.

And we might both die today.

At least I got to taste some goodness in this life. I got to feel intense raw passion from a man who protected and adored me.

I got to make a difference.

My life might end today, and I’m okay with that – as long as my mother joins me in hell.

Then I allow the horrors I’ve seen to flash through my mind. The broken bodies and destroyed souls. The depravity and unspeakable agony.

It sets fire to my soul, and when I open my eyes, I’m ready to end my mother’s reign of terror.



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