Tears Of Salvation: Chapter 30

ALEXEI

‘Sonia,’ Isabella’s voice comes through the earpiece. ‘East side.’

My already simmering anger explodes like a volcano as I break out into a run with Demitri by my side. My chest is on fucking fire as if molten lava is filling my torso, but I push through the pain.

When I round the west corner, it’s to see Sonia kick Isabella’s in the chest. Isabella drops, and as she tries to sweep Sonia’s legs from beneath her, Sonia jumps, almost delivering a knee to Isabella’s chin.

Isabella flips back and onto her feet, and then she storms Sonia, getting in a strike to her mother’s shoulder.

My heart leaps from my chest when Sonia grabs the gun from behind her back, and then Isabella struggles with her mother to keep the barrel pointed away from her.

My pain takes a back seat as I push forward, leaving Demitri behind. Jumping, my feet hit the wall, and then I spin into the air, the heel of my boot connecting with the side of Sonia’s head. The gun flies to the side as she drops to the ground.

As I land on my feet, a relentless ache vibrates through me. Sonia darts up as I pull a KA-BAR from the holder by my belt, and then I lunge for her.

As I strike at her, she blocks the blow, her palm connecting with my right shoulder. It sends a searing ache through me, which Sonia notices.

Turning sharply, I avoid a hit from her while managing to slice her across the chest.

Fucking armored vests.

Isabella gets in a kick from behind, but Sonia uses the momentum to swing at me. I lean back, the move taking its toll on my broken ribs as I narrowly avoid the blow.

Isabella lunges onto her mother’s back, her arm wrapping around Sonia’s throat.

Darting forward, I plunge the knife deep into her side. I come face to face with Sonia, our rushing breaths mingling. She lets out a manic, strangled chuckle. “Koslov.”

“Terrero,” I hiss as I pull the blade out so her blood can flow freely. “You never stood a chance.” I bury the KA-BAR into her side, where her lung is. “Fucking die.”

Isabella tightens her hold, letting out a growl as she yanks back, and then there’s a sickening crack.

When Sonia’s body drops between Isabella and me, I suck in a labored breath, the ache in my chest returning with a vengeance.

I wrap my left arm around my waist, and then I just stare at the woman who’s been the bane of my existence.

It’s done?

Relief floods my veins.

It’s done.

I drop to my knees, finally defeating the greatest enemy I have… had.

Looking up at the sky and the smoke billowing into the air, a smile spreads over my face.

Now there’s no one left to challenge me.

Then Isabella comes to stand in front of me, smiling triumphantly down at me.

“Hi, baby,” I murmur.

She leans down, and framing my jaw, she presses a kiss to my lips. “Hi, baby,” she echoes my words.

“Let’s get out of here,” Demitri says.

Isabella takes hold of my right arm, helping me up. I wrap my arm around her shoulders, then say, “We’ll talk about the stunt you pulled as soon as we get home.”

She lets out a chuckle. “You’re in no condition to give me a spanking.”

“Then we’ll talk after I’ve healed.”

She smiles up at me as we walk toward the front of the castle. “Can’t wait.”

As my people gather at the entrance, I take in the wounded and the losses we’ve suffered.

Damien supports Winter while Carson helps Lucian, who seems to have taken a bullet in the leg.

Semion’s standing by Lev’s body, and I shake my head, feeling the loss deeply. I glance at Demitri. “Help Semion with Lev’s remains.”

Even though most of us are injured, we move as fast as possible to get to the vehicles.

Demitri has to drive because my left arm and chest are fucked. As he steers us away from St. Monarch’s, I rest my head back against the seat and close my eyes.

Thank God Madame Keller wasn’t there.

Thank God.

I’ll have to face her at some point, but not today.

“Where else are you hurt?” Isabella asks.

“Sounds like broken ribs,” Demitri mutters. “And a gash to his right thigh.”

I let out a tired chuckle. “Not bad for a day’s work.”

“Only you’d say that,” Isabella huffs from behind me.

When we reach the building we’re operating from, it’s clear everyone’s exhausted and hurting.

I should’ve brought Dr. Oberio, but at least Demitri has medical experience.

Turning to Demitri, I say, “Take care of the other’s bullet wounds first.”

His eyes settle on my left arm. “And yours?”

“I’ll dig it out myself.”

“Like hell,” Isabella mutters. “I’ll do it.”

The corner of Demitri’s mouth lifts. “Good luck.”

As Demitri walks away to tend to the wounded, Isabella asks, “Was that meant for me or you?”

“Me. I’ve seen what it looks like after you’ve removed a bullet,” I joke.

She slants her eyes at me. “One more comment like that, and I won’t give you painkillers.”

Not caring about the blood, I lift my right hand to her neck, and then I stare at her. “You were amazing, reckless, but amazing.”

Taking hold of my hand, she leads me to a chair and table. “Sit.”

My eyes settle on the woman I love as she begins to remove the strap around my palm.

“You okay?” I ask.

“Better than you,” she says, her focus on the cuts.

“I meant, are you okay after killing Sonia?”

Isabella lifts her eyes to mine. “There was only hate between her and me. I don’t feel anything but relief.”

My lips tug up into a smile. “Thank you.”

A slight frown forms between her eyes. “For?”

“Saving my life.” It’s proven to me Isabella is one hundred percent mine.

I can trust her.

With her gaze on mine, she smiles at me. “Of course. If anyone’s going to kill you, it will be me and on my terms.”

“You love me too much,” I tease her.

“Lucky for you.”

 


 

ISABELLA

 

When I step off the plane after Demitri landed us safely on Winter’s island, I brace myself as Ana runs to me.

“Isabella!” she shrieks, and then she throws herself at me.

My arms envelop her, and then we just hold each other.

“Told you I’d come back,” I whisper.

Ana nods against my shoulder, then she pulls back, her eyes searching behind me. She walks around me, and I turn to see where she’s going.

Alexei stops a couple of steps from Ana, and they stare at each other.

Ana’s chin begins to quiver, then she says, “Thank you for keeping your promise.”

Alexei nods. “Couldn’t let you down.”

Ana lets out a sputter, and then she moves closer. Alexei lifts his bandaged hand and pauses midway to touching her. When Ana nods, he places it on her shoulder, and then she closes the last of the distance.

“Careful, Alexei has broken ribs,” I warn her.

She pulls back, but then Alexei tugs her against him, wrapping his right arm around her.

Emotion wells in my chest, and my eyes begin to burn, knowing the significance of this moment. Alexei’s the first man to touch Ana since she was raped and almost killed.

Ana only lets him hold her for a couple of seconds before she moves away, wiping the back of her hand over her cheek. “Now, I can hold you to your other promise.”

Frowning, I ask, “What promise?”

Alexei chuckles. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

I narrow my eyes at him. “You still have a couple of body parts I can break.”

He moves in behind Ana. “You need to get through our Ana first.”

Letting out a burst of laughter, I shake my head at them.

Winter comes to stand next to me. “Can I talk to you?”

Nodding, I follow her a short distance. “What’s up?”

Winter’s eyes meet mine. “I just want to say thank you for coming after me when I fell.”

“Of course.”

She shakes her head. “You didn’t have to, Isabella. It means a lot to me.”

Nodding, I accept her gratitude.

Lifting her hand, she gives my arm a squeeze. “It’s nice to know there’s a woman I can count on. If you ever need me, I’ll be there.”

Hearing the words from the woman who inspired me so much brings tears to my eyes. “That means a lot coming from you.”

She smiles and then slowly makes her way to where Damien is waiting with their son.

I head back to where Alexei and Ana are waiting. Throwing my arm around Ana’s shoulders, I tug her against my side, and then the three of us walk to the house.

Ariana runs toward the plane, and I glance over my shoulder, watching as she jumps in Demitri’s arms, kissing the living hell out of the man.

Letting go of Ana, I glance up at Alexei. I lean closer and whisper, “You’re going to be out of action for at least six weeks.”

“Action?” he asks.

‘Sex,’ I mouth the word.

“Hell fucking no. You haven’t seen me heal. With enough motivation, I’ll be good to go in a week.”

I let out a burst of laughter. “What kind of motivation?”

He winks at me. “I’ll tell you when we’re alone.”

We head into the house where Cillian’s wife, Dana, prepared a feast.

The atmosphere is joyful and full of bantering as we all help ourselves to the food. I fix a plate for Alexei and take it to where he’s sitting in the dining room, staring at the table.

I set the food down, along with the utensils, then take a seat on one of the chairs. “What are you thinking?”

“St. Monarch’s,” he murmurs. “I need to reach out to Madame Keller.”

“You don’t have to do that today,” I say. “Eat something so you can shower and get some rest.”

Alexei’s gaze lifts to mine. “Where’s your food?”

“Here,” Ana says as she brings me a plate. She sits down next to me with her own food. “I helped with the mash.”

Raising an eyebrow at her, I ask, “You did?”

She lets out a chuckle, then shrugs. “I peeled the potatoes.”

“Still counts,” Alexei says as he scoops some mash onto his fork.

We dig in, and silence falls in the house as everyone eats. As soon as Alexei’s done, I take our plates to the kitchen. When I get back to him, he rises from the chair, a flash of pain tightening his features.

Glancing at Ana, I ask, “Will you be okay on your own?”

She nods. “I’ll help Dana clean up.”

I follow Alexei out of the dining room, and he stops by Damien, “Which room can I use?’

“First on the left,” Damien answers as he gestures up the stairs.

Alexei’s much slower as we climb the stairs, and it tells me just how much pain he’s in. I follow into the room and shut the door behind us.

Walking to the bathroom, I say, “All you have to do is stand in the shower. I’ll be quick, so you can get to bed.”

Alexei still manages to chuckle. “Damn, my first shower with you and can’t do shit.”

I shake my head as I shoot him a smile before turning on the faucets. While I strip out of the armored vest and my clothes, Alexei asks, “What happened to your shirt?”

“I used it as a bandage for Winter’s leg.” Turning to Alexei, I’m careful as I help him out of his clothes. Once I have him naked, my eyes scour his body, assessing all the bruises. “God, Alexei.”

He moves under the spray and then leans back against the tiled wall.

Grabbing the body wash and a loofah, I begin to gently clean his body. I avoid his chest because the bruises look feverish and painful.

I take a moment to quickly wash myself, and then I turn off the faucets. I grab a towel and pat Alexei dry and then take care of myself.

When I glance at his face, he’s grinning at me.

“You’re liking this way too much,” I mumble.

“Of course. I can get used to you tending to me.”

“Just don’t make it a habit of getting yourself shot,” I warn him.

When I finally have Alexei sitting on the bed, I walk to the bags we left here when we dropped off Ana and take some clothes from them.

I help Alexei into a pair of sweatpants, and throwing the covers back, he eases down onto his back.

“One week?” I tease him. “I don’t see that happening.”

His eyes roam over my body. “With the kind of motivation I’m looking at right now, give me seventy-two hours.”

“In your dreams, lover boy,” I taunt him as I put on a pair of leggings and a t-shirt. I crawl onto the bed, and lifting a hand to Alexei’s face, I brush my fingers over his jaw.

He turns his head, and we stare at each other.

“Sonia’s dead,” he whispers as if he only realizes it now.

“One down, many more to go,” I say with a heavy breath.

Alexei frowns at me. “Many more? How many enemies do you have?”

I let out a burst of laughter. “Ohhh… just every flesh peddler in the world.”

Admiration shines from his eyes. “You’re going to continue freeing girls?”

I nod. “It feels like I’m actually making a difference. Doing something good to balance out the bad.”

“Kiss me,” Alexei orders.

I lean over him and press a quick kiss to his lips. “It also doesn’t hurt that I have a badass fiancé to save my butt when I get in trouble.”

“Your badass fiancé will be right by your side whenever you find a shipment to free.”

A smile splits over my face. “You want to help?”

Alexei nods. “I’ll always have your back, Isabella. We’re a team.”

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