Tears Of Salvation: Chapter 31

ALEXEI

As soon as we’re back home, I head to the security room.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking of Madame Keller and St. Monarch’s.

Taking a seat behind the security system, I make a couple of calls to government officials in Switzerland that are on my payroll. It takes me three hours and a substantial amount of money to sweep everything under the proverbial carpet.

 Demitri looks at me when I let out a sigh. “This couldn’t wait?”

I shake my head as I dial Madame Keller’s number.

‘Mr. Koslov.’

“Thank you for leaving the premises,” I say, needing to get it out of the way.

‘You didn’t give me much choice in the matter,’ she replies, her voice tight.

“I’m calling to make a deal,” I get to the point.

Madame Keller lets out a burst of laughter. ‘For entertainment value, I’ll listen.’

“I’ve already covered things in Switzerland. I’ll rebuild St. Monarch’s and reimburse your losses while the doors are closed.”

There’s only one thing on this planet Madame Keller is interested in, and that’s money.

A chuckle sounds in my ear. ‘Add a one hundred percent fine, and we have a deal.’

I pull a pained face. “What amount are we looking at?”

‘How long will it take you to rebuild St. Monarch’s?’

Christ, probably a year at the quickest.

“A year?”

‘You don’t sound certain.’

“A year, Madame Keller,” I repeat.

‘I expect a payment of a hundred million for the loss of income and another hundred for the fine.’

I take a deep breath that makes my ribs ache and let it slowly. That’s one hell of a blow to my bank account. “Deal.” I glance at Demitri. “Transfer two hundred to St. Monarch’s.”

“Thousand?” Demitri asks.

“Million. Euros.”

Demitri gives me a look, silently asking if I’m crazy.

“Do it.”

He shrugs, then turns to the system, and after making the payment, he nods at me.

“Done. Is there anything else I can do to apologize?” I ask.

‘Hmm… a partnership, so something like this never happens again. You just bought a ten percent share in St. Monarch’s, Mr. Koslov. Congratulations.’

I let out a soft burst of laughter. “There’s always a plot twist when it comes to you.”

‘Of course, at my age, I have to get my kicks where I can.’

“So the war is over?” I ask to make sure.

‘It’s over. I trust you’ll make every effort to rebuild St. Monarch’s to its former glory.’

“I will.”

‘Will there be anything else, Mr. Koslov?’ Madame Keller asks.

“No. Thank you for your time and leniency,” I reply, and then she ends the call.

“Care to explain?” Demitri asks, leaning back in his chair.

I set the phone down on the desk. “I just bought ten percent’s shares in St. Monarch’s, and we have to rebuild the castle.”

“Doesn’t explain shit,” he mutters.

I lock eyes with him. “Madame Keller is old, Demitri. She’s making sure there’s someone who will take over St. Monarch’s once she’s gone.”

Demitri begins to laugh. “And that someone is you? Christ. God help everyone.”

I shake my head, and it has him saying, “I’m not fucking taking over St. Monarch’s.”

“Not you. Carson. He hates being an assassin, and he has a fondness for Switzerland.”

Demitri’s eyebrow pops up. “That’s actually a good idea.”

I give him a scowl. “Do I ever have bad ideas?”

Demitri starts to laugh. “You? Never.”

“Fucker.”

Climbing to my feet, an ache spreads through my chest.

“Where are you going?” Demitri asks.

“To look for sympathy from my fiancée,” I mutter as I walk out of the security room to go look for Isabella.

I find her in our bedroom, where she’s pulling clothes from the walk-in closet.

“What are you doing?” I ask as I gingerly sit down on the edge of the bed.

“I don’t need these,” she says, pointing to the bunch of dresses. “I only wore them to fool my mother.”

Tilting my head, I ask, “Why do you call Sonia your mother?”

Isabella glances at me. “Because she is… was.”

“Did she do anything to deserve the title?”

Isabella drops a dress on the pile. “You have a point.”

“Of course,” I smirk.

She walks toward me, and pressing her palm to my jaw, she leans down and kisses me, then she asks, “How do you feel?”

“Like I need tender, loving care,” I say as I scoot back on the bed. Lying down, I watch as Isabelle begins to pull off my boots.

You’d think it would be degrading to have her tend to me, but it’s not. I fucking love that she’s doting on me. 

Isabella comes to sit on the side of the bed. “Is there anything I can get you?”

I shake my head. “Come lie down next to me.”

She gets up and moves around the bed, then lies down facing me.

We stare at each other for a moment, and then she asks, “When did you fall in love with me?”

A smile spreads over my face. “The moment I learned my party crasher was the goddess of mischief and chaos.”

Her lips curve up. “You really have a way with words.”

“Is that why you fell for me?” I ask.

“No.” Isabella scoots a little closer, careful not to jar my body. “I fell for you because you were my salvation.”

I give her a questioning look, and it has her explaining. “I wouldn’t have lasted long on my own. You might’ve taken me in the beginning, but in return, you gave me the freedom to be myself.” 

“Which is a badass woman who doesn’t listen to me,” I mutter.

Isabella lets out a huff. “You’re back to that again? Winter needed my help.”

“I know, but as soon as I can move without feeling like I’m dying, I’m still going to spank you for giving me a heart attack.”

Grinning, she leans closer, pressing a kiss to my lips. “That’s if you can actually pin me down long enough to spank me.”

“Is that a dare?” I ask.

“No, I’m just giving you some motivation to get better faster.”

 


 

ISABELLA

 

Three months later.

“Where are we going?” I ask again as Alexei steers a speed boat across the water of Lake Superior.

“And people say I’m impatient,” he chuckles.

As the sun begins to set, I glance around us but can’t figure out where we’re heading.

Soon enough, I finally get my answer as Alexei steers the boat into the private bay of an island.

“Really? You could’ve just told me,” I say as I glance at the double-story house that has the same Mediterranean feel as the mansion in LA.

My gaze drifts over a helipad and pine trees. I notice half the island consists of rocks.

“Welcome to my home away from home,” Alexei says as he steps off the boat. He holds his hand out to me and then helps me step onto the dock.

“It’s beautiful.”

“It’s our safe haven,” Alexei explains.

Liking the sound of that, I smile as we walk to the front door. Alexei keys in a code, and then the door swings open.

I step inside and glance around the lavish décor of the open-plan kitchen and living room.

“Did you purchase it like this?” I ask.

Alexei sets our luggage down next to a couch, then walks to a side table to pour two tumblers of vodka. “No, I had it built.”

“It’s impressive.”

He comes to stand in front of me, handing me a glass, then he meets my eyes, “I have a fondness for beautiful things.”

I take a sip of the vodka, then say, “I’m more of a tequila girl.”

Alexei’s eyebrow lifts. “I’ll keep that in mind.” He sets his tumbler down on the coffee table and picks up our bag. “Let me show you upstairs.”

I place my drink next to his and follow him to the upper level.

“These are guest rooms,” he says as we pass closed doors. “Demitri’s room.” He gestures to our left, then he opens a door. “Our room.”

Seeing it’s black and silver, the corner of my mouth lifts. “It has a similar feel to our bedroom at home.”

Alexei places the bag on the bed and zips it open, then he takes a box out of it and puts it on the covers. “Change into this, then come downstairs.”

I give him a questioning look but answer, “Okay.”

As soon as Alexei leaves the room, I lift the lid off the box. Taking hold of the shimmering black fabric, I hold it up, and then laughter bursts over my lips.

It’s a replica of the dress I wore the night I crashed the party.

I lay it down on the bed and walk to the bathroom to take a quick shower. When I feel refreshed, I take my makeup bag from the luggage and sit down by the dressing table.

I don’t go overboard, even though I wish could do the skull look myself.

I slip into the risqué dress, sans underwear, and step into a pair of stilettos. When I leave the bedroom, my heartbeat speeds up, excited to find out what Alexei has planned.

Coming down the stairs, I don’t see Alexei. I begin to look through the rooms, and when I step into an entertainment room, it’s dark, except for the light shining on Alexei, where’s he’s sitting on a chair as if he’s a king on his throne. Music is softly playing as I walk to the middle of the room, and then I stop. My eyes lock with his. “You’ll do.”

“I’d fucking hope so,” Alexei says as he rises to his feet.

“That’s what I thought when I saw you at the club.”

His lips curve up as he slowly walks toward me. “My party crasher.”

“My devil,” I murmur as he stops in front of me.

Alexei takes me in his arms, and then we slowly begin to dance. Soon intimacy weaves a spell around us, and everything else fades away.

Alexei’s eyes hold mine prisoner, and then he says, “Whatever happens in the future, I want you to remember this moment. I mean everything I’m going to say.”

I smile, remembering the words he said to me on the cliff. “Okay,” I murmur.

Alexei stops moving and lifting his hands, he frames my face. Then, staring deep into my eyes, he says, “I love you so fucking much, Isabella.”

Emotion warms my chest. “I love you, too, Alexei.”

He lets out a chuckle. “Shit, you weren’t supposed to say that right now.”

“Oh.” I raise an eyebrow. “I must’ve missed the script.”

“Don’t sass me, woman. I’m trying to be romantic,” he chastises me.

“I’ll give you an A for effort.”

“I was hoping for a BJ.”

I let out a burst of laughter. “Of course.”

His features grow serious again. “I trust you with my life.”

This time his words hit me right in the heart, knowing how rare trust is in our world.

“I trust you too.”

A smile tugs at his lips, and then he lowers himself onto one knee. Taking hold of my left hand, he rubs his thumb over the engagement ring. “Isabella Terrero, will you marry me?”

And then I finally get it. Alexei is proposing to me – the me with all of my memory intact.

“I accept all of you, Alexei. Your devil’s side, your ruthlessness, your amazingly big heart, and your demons you hide from the world. I love everything about you. There isn’t a man on this planet I respect more.”

  Absolute devotion shines from Alexei’s eyes, then he grins, “Is that a yes?”

“Get up,” I mutter, and once he’s standing in front of me, I wrap my arms around his neck. “That’s a hell fucking yes.”

Lifting myself on my toes, I crush my mouth to his – the man who stole my heart and saved my life in more ways than one – the man who turned out to be my salvation.

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