Bound to the Beast: Russian Hitman Romance

BOOK: Bound to the Beast: Russian Hitman Romance
2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons--living or dead--is entirely coincidental.


Bound to the Beast copyright 2016 by Ada Stone. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission.






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Chapter One




The alarm was red and bleary, or maybe that was just my vision. It was early, too early for my alarm, which meant I was losing valuable sleep instead of rejuvenating for the exam I had in just two hours in Renaissance Paintings of Europe—a boring, “easy” class for most who were naïve and picking based on nothing more than the category it fell under, art in this case, but it was part of my major. There was a lingering image in my mind, something about a dream and a man and something dark and hot. I blushed at the thought that maybe it was a
dream, but then I felt my forehead and decided my blushing had nothing to do with the dream.


I felt sick. Bad sick.


When my stomach roiled and gurgled, angry for being woken, yet doing the waking itself, I knew that I had only moments to get to the bathroom. I tumbled from the bed, which was so close to the hardwood floor anyway that I couldn’t stick a textbook under there, much less anything else. The sheets tangled around my legs, but I scrambled away from them, half crawling and half running for the little bathroom that was stuck between my bedroom—which was really just curtained off from the rest of the living room and kitchen—and the open living space. I ducked into it, not bothering with the door.


It was hanging off its hinges, leaning against the doorjamb at an odd angle, precarious enough that I thought more than once that I’d knock it over and have it fall on top of me while I was trying to pee.


Today I didn’t worry about it though. All I cared about was getting to the toilet.


When I reached the porcelain bowl, I got my face over it just in time to retch up anything that might have been lingering in my stomach. I ached and burned, flushed with what was probably a nasty fever as my body tried to expel whatever toxins were in my system. I had enough forethought to hold my long blonde hair away from my face, keeping it mostly out of the bowl. When I thought the throwing up portion of my morning was finished, I flushed the toilet, but I didn’t get up right away.


I felt awful. And not just a little bit.


Leaning against the wall beside the door, I sat on the cool tiles and tried to calm my still queasy insides.


Maybe it’s just nerves,
a very stupid part of my brain tried to convince me.


Nerves over this huge test which I
to pass to get a good grade in the class, which I
to have since my major was art. And it wasn’t one of those classes that was all “portfolio work” and “sketchbook time” and whatever else came with those kinds of classes. This was all history and studying and long winded fluff filled papers. All of the stuff that didn’t come necessarily naturally to me. If anything, I was working harder in this class than I ever had before in my life.


Who would have guessed college was so hard?


I groaned, slumping further so that I could press my forehead against the tile. It was delightfully cool and brought me some modicum of relief. Just a little, but it was enough. Until I felt my stomach lurch again and then I was back over the toilet.


The flu. It’s definitely the flu,
I thought, and continued to heave until there was nothing left.


I took a shower directly after that. Mostly because I felt so gross that
taking a shower wasn’t an option. I understood that bodily functions were bodily functions and everyone did them, but that didn’t mean I was cool with throwing up. Ew. So I showered. I washed my hair and I brushed my teeth about ten times. I nearly threw up again, but just managed to avoid it. And by the time I got out of the shower, I felt better. Not
better, in fact my stomach was still bothering me, but a little better. Better enough to go to class.


At least that was what I was telling myself. I
to get to that class. Period. My exam could not wait, nor would Mrs. Sanders cut me any slack, no matter how sick I was.


“Maybe crackers,” I mumbled to myself as I slunk out of the bathroom with a fuzzy robe wrapped around me. It was periwinkle blue with birds on it. A gift from my dad, who was worried I’d end up in one of those dorms with the communal bathrooms down the hall on the same floor as crazy, lecherous boys.


It hadn’t turned out that way, but I was grateful for the robe all the same.


I headed into the kitchen intending on crackers, but I couldn’t find anything like that—I didn’t even have bread for toast right now—and made a mental note to go grocery shopping. The only thing in the fridge was a jar of half gone pickles, mustard, and what might have been bologna, but maybe not.


Shuddering, I closed the fridge, started the coffee pot, and pretended that this was just like any other morning. Everything was fine. I wasn’t sick. Business as usual.


It would have been a lot more convincing if I still didn’t feel awful, but there wasn’t much to be done about it. So while the coffee was brewing, I went back into my bedroom, lifting the light drapes—just a sheet me and Tyler decorated with goofy-looking stars and what might have been a cow at the time—to the side and heading in. A sudden wave of nausea swept me and I had to stop. I breathed through my nose until it passed.


My closet looked like a shoebox, but that was about right given that the whole dirt cheap studio apartment was like a miniature size of a real apartment. It almost made me feel like the Barbie dolls I used to play with as a kid. I was grateful it wasn’t all baby pink at least.


I didn’t have a lot of clothes, so at least digging in that small closet wasn’t too difficult. I grabbed a pair of sweats that used to belong to Tyler and a tank top, because I wasn’t doing glamorous today. Cheryl, one of the girls I met out here when I moved, told me a thousand times that you should always dress to impress, that way when you met the love of your life you’d look appealing and he wouldn’t just walk right past you. But I only half listened to Cheryl, and our definitions of “dressing to impress” were a little different anyway.


I grabbed a sweatshirt, too. Go Tigers.


By the time the coffee was finished, I was dressed. I didn’t put on the sweatshirt, because I was still feverish and didn’t feel like sweating. I poured myself a cup of coffee—my stomach gurgled uncertainly at the smell of it, making me frown; I loved coffee—just as my phone went off.


I glanced at the caller ID: Tyler.


“Hello?” I said, leaning over the counter and feeling suddenly exhausted.


“Hey, what’s the matter? You sound…not awake. Are you okay?”


Tyler was like that. He just knew when something was up with me, like he could sense it or something. It was both sweet and a little unnerving sometimes.


We’d been friends since we were children, best friends actually, and when I moved out to the city to go to college, he followed. We’d been planning something along those lines anyway, but some part of me thought he wouldn’t really go, and some part of him thought
wouldn’t really go.


Either way, here we were.


“I think I’ve got the flu,” I groaned, feeling miserable. “You should probably steer clear of me. I’m a wreck.”


I could practically hear the frown in his voice as he answered. “The flu? Shit, you’d better stay home. Have you talked to Mrs. Sanders? I’ll ask her for an extension; she’s a marshmallow when you play on her maternal side. Have you seen the doctor? ’Cause the flu can be—”


“Tyler.” I said his name just a little sharply, just to get him to stop rambling. He had a habit of getting really paranoid and worried over me, even when he didn’t need to. That was just part of it with us. “I’m fine. I just don’t feel too good. I’ve been throwing up.”


Normally, I wouldn’t really be comfortable telling a guy that. No girl wanted a guy to think that she was doing gross things like puking up the contents of her stomach into the toilet, but I really didn’t care with Tyler. We told each other everything and I knew that he wouldn’t judge me.


“Tell me that means that you are now back in bed, resting,” he said, but it was with resignation, like he already knew the answer before I said anything.


I sighed. “You
I’ve got that exam!”


“I told you, I’ll get an extension for you. Mrs. Sanders loves me.”


It was true; she did have a soft spot for Tyler. Which was utterly ridiculous in my book, since he didn’t even have class with her. He just liked to hang out with me and got special permission to attend class with me, too. Somehow he was good at sweet talking her like that even when she seemed to hate everyone else. It sucked, but it could be useful at times.


For a long moment, I considered it. An extension would be nice. I was feeling really gross and I wasn’t entirely certain that I wouldn’t need to throw up again in the middle of class. Still, an extension also meant that there was a stronger chance of me forgetting everything I’d just studied for yesterday—and for the last three days. A big part of me just wanted to get the damn thing
with already.


That was the part that won out in the end.


“I can’t put it off,” I finally told Tyler. “I just need it over. Done. It’s been stressing me out and, you know. I’ll bet that’s why I got sick in the first place.”


I heard a sigh through the phone. “Okay, okay. But I’m giving you a ride to school. And once your exam is over, it’s straight to bed with you. We’ll do popcorn and movies on the couch, cuddle up until you feel better.”


I winced a little at his suggestion, but only because he couldn’t see me. Sometimes he got all girly on me without meaning to. He was like the best guy in the world to hang out with, but sometimes he just wouldn’t go. He was a smotherer and I always thought it was a little weird.


Still. Movies and hanging out time while I was sick didn’t sound too bad. “I’m really sick,” I reminded him, but it was a feeble thing. Secretly, I wanted him to be stubborn and come over anyway, because I felt gross and I wanted him to tell me that I was awesome. “I’m probably contagious, too.”


“Pfft. What’s a little contagion between friends?” he asked, and I laughed. “I’ll be over in fifteen. Wait for me, Susanna.”


I agreed and hung up the phone.


As promised, Tyler knocked on my apartment door fifteen minutes later. When I opened it, he stood there holding a chai tea that looked like it was still steaming and a takeout bowl of something. Probably chicken noodle soup. I smiled gratefully at him and urged him in, closing the door behind me. Once he was just two steps inside my tiny little apartment, he stopped and turned to look at me. He raised a single eyebrow.


“Really?” he asked.


I frowned at him. “What? What’s wrong?”


He shook his head. “Nothing. I just want to know how it is that you can be sicker than a dog and still look like you walked out of some modeling photoshoot. Jeez, even after throwing up you look amazing.”


I laughed at him heartily, which I was sure was the desired effect. He always knew just what to say to make me feel better. I punched him lightly in the arm. “You’re such a good friend. I know I look like hell.”


He gave me a funny look, like maybe I’d hurt his feelings, but then he put the soup and tea down, and when he turned to look at me again the expression was gone. Probably just my imagination anyway.


“I still think you should stay home,” he told me. “The exam will be there when you’re feeling better.”


I waved him off, taking up the tea. It was a chai latte, which was ten times better than just chai tea, and I took a long sip, grateful that it seemed to soothe my picky stomach that morning. “This is, like, the best thing ever.”


He smiled at me, almost tenderly, but quickly it turned into a grin. “Heaven in a cup, am I right?”


“Definitely. Drive me to class?”


He sighed, but nodded. “Duh. Why do you think I’m here?”


BOOK: Bound to the Beast: Russian Hitman Romance
2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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