Authors: Latrivia Welch,Latrivia Nelson
THE MEDLOV MEN SERIES
RiverHouse Publishing, LLC
1509 Madison Avenue
Memphis, TN 38104
Copyright © 2016b
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.
Titles, Imprints and Distributed Lines are available at special quantity discounts for bulk purchases for sales promotions, premiums, fund-raising and educational or institutional use.
This book is dedicated to my wonderful family, my loving husband Bruce “Shag” Welch and every single Medlovian across the world. Thank you for your support. I love you.
This book could not have been written without my dear friend and editor, Karen Moss, Michelle Jackson, the entire RiverHouse Publishing team, my new team at Slainte Press and the prayers and support of my friends and family, who encouraged me to continue to write on my craziest of days. I would also like to thank those willing to be interviewed by me about their experience in their native Ukraine.
Also, it is important to note that I have no personal support of either the Ukraine or Russia regarding this very real regional conflict. I’m simply telling a fictional story about one very beautiful woman and her desire to lead and help her people. Please accept this as a work of fiction only.
Table of Contents
But I’m the asshole…
The summation of the argument from what Gabriel Medlov could gather was that he was an insufferable asshole, or at least he had been called that at least 10 times in the last 10 minutes by his live-in girlfriend, Briggy.
Honestly, he would have been inclined to agree with her if it would have helped to end the quarrel, but it wouldn’t have. Nothing would have, not agreeing, not disagreeing, and not saying a word as he had done so far. She was out for blood
. His blood.
And she would settle for nothing less.
“I can’t believe you!” she screamed, voice in a high-pitched strain, pulling his mind away from his rambling thoughts. “CHEATER!”
Sitting across the lavish bedroom in a richly upholstered high back wingchair, out of throwing distance because he was a cheater, Gabriel looked down at his Presidential Rolex one more time, deciding that this conversation had gone on much too long.
How much could one man take?
He had listened as she cursed him and certain parts of his anatomy in French. He suffered quietly through the list of things that he had done wrong without any recognition for all that he had done right. And he had waited patiently for the part of this ass-chewing where she would finally transform into a helpless victim, so maybe then he could have an opportunity to defend himself.
However, her rant had been too long-winded and now there were other pressing things that needed to be handled, things out of the realm of petty interpersonal relations and more along the lines of protecting a multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise.
However, Briggy would never understand his
outside of giving her a good life – a life that catered to her lust for diamonds and gold, crystals and champagne, late afternoon naps, milk baths and breakfast in bed.
Not bad for a woman who used to be the family maid, so he thought. Some would say she had
in this world from barely being able to pay her utility bill in her small apartment in Prague to living in a multi-million dollar compound free of charge in Memphis, but not her. No, she would only say that she had earned it. And maybe she had
it, but he had earned the right to throw in the towel when it was obvious that he would never win her respect again.
Some relationships just weren’t meant to last forever. His Uncle Dmitry had told him that. And now he was starting to believe the old man.
Gabriel’s opinion was that he and Briggy had started out on a great path of promise but ended up on a dead-end road to destruction. Why? Very simply, she was a different person with money; she had lost her humility and coveted a life that she had not yet been ready to fully receive. She became that thing that he detested about this business; she had transformed into just another non-descript trophy girlfriend adorned with expensive trinkets.
And those came a dime a dozen.
His half of the blame was just as simple. He thought she was lazy, so he had lost interest. Living with women who had purpose outside of their husbands, and opinions outside of their wardrobes had an effect on a man after a while.
Royal Medlov, Dmitry’s wife, was quietly working on the family’s new business venture here in Memphis, Magna Carta, along with funneling money to her precious domestic violence non-profits. Renee Medlov, his cousin Anatoly’s wife, was busy running Dmitry’s Closet, the family boutique and investing in a new clothing company. Even the newest addition to their family, Lilly, who was Vasily’s wife, had managed to find a way to keep herself busy working as Renee and Royal’s assistant. But what the hell Briggy did all day completely baffled him. And when he did inquire about what she did while everyone else was working, she simply said that she had worked long and hard enough for the family. So, he guessed the answer was nothing.
God’s honest truth - he wanted the woman back who had stood by his side when he revealed that he was an undercover DEA agent to his criminal family, the woman who had run off to Africa with him after he had become a criminal himself and the strong, vibrant woman who had supported him in Prague when he had to help save his cousin, Anya. He wanted the woman who valued their relationship more than the opinion of the Medlov women. He wanted a woman who actually worked toward something bigger than herself.
But Briggy would never see that the reason that he had emotionally checked out of their relationship was because she had mentally checked out of her own life a long time ago.
Quite simply, she had changed.
How did one try to explain all that to a woman whose existence now centered on what Valentino would release for his spring line and what island she wanted to visit to work on her tan instead of focusing on what was keeping him up at night?
He doubted that she even cared that he was restless, that he barely slept.
Vou incroyable salaud!”
The words rolled off her glossed lips like she was spitting out poison.
Like calling him an incredible bastard in French was any less disrespectful.
He would have preferred for her to just say it in English.
Grow some balls.
Throwing his clothes in a large leather Louis Vuitton duffle bag, one article at a time, she growled. Occasionally, she would glance over at him to make sure that he was still paying attention.
“After everything that I’ve done for you, I deserve more respect,” she said yelling.
Slamming her small fist into the bag, she shoved in another shirt and huffed dramatically.
Gabriel could not help but wonder why she just didn’t shove all the clothes in the overnight bag at once or call the maid in to do it, but at the same time, he knew without asking – she wanted to torture him for as long as possible.
And he could have stopped it. He could have stood up and walked out of the room, but he knew that she would have just followed him ranting, cursing and making a scene for everyone to witness. Then he’d have to strong arm and embarrass the shit out of her. It was the Vor way. It would be much easier if he just stayed in his seat and continued taking his beating like a man.
Whirling around from the disheveled king-sized canopy bed, Briggy locked blue fiery eyes on him when nothing else would fit into the bag. Her long, manicured nail, pointed directly at him, accusatory in all its form. “You make a complete mockery of me in front of your entire family!” she screamed, tears rolling down her face along with gobs of mascara painting her red cheeks with black streaks.
Gabriel thought she looked like one of those scream queens from some B-rated horror flick.
But where oh where was the kill scene
He finally spoke as he wrung his red hands in frustration. “I’ve never tried to make a mockery of you. If anything, I’ve only tried to show you respect.”
She grabbed a pair of his black Calvin Klein briefs and waved them theatrically in the air like they were evidence being submitted to the
high court of infidelity
. “I can smell sex on you when you come home…your expensive whore and her expensive perfume! Is that what you call
His brow rose slightly, unable to deny her allegations. He
been with someone else, several
. And most times, he didn’t make time to shower after, but only because it was rare that he’d even come to her bed after.
Normally, he just went straight to work in the study or went to the family theatre and caught a movie. He thought it was the right thing to do – not double dip, not be greedy, but now he saw it would not have made a damn bit of difference.
“I have put up with your shit for years. I have been through the many complicated and convoluted evolutions of Gabriel Medlov, never judging, never denying you. And this is how you repay me!”
Again with the repayment issue, as if she had been asked to stay with him and suffer through private jets for her personal trips, Iranian Beluga caviar for her afternoon treats, the most torturous of them all, a half-billion dollar yacht she liked so much of his uncle’s.
Plus, it was no real secret that he had other women. Truthfully, he thought things were fine as long as he kept them out of sight,
which he did
. He never paraded them in front of her, allowed them to text or call him when he was with her or even suggested that there was someone else. That was a far cry from other men in his position who didn’t give a damn about what their girlfriends thought about their extracurricular activities. If anything the women coordinated the rendezvous and joined in.
The only thing that gave him away was his extremely late night, early morning or next day returns where no one knew where he was. And he couldn’t lie and say it was work related, because he lived in the same house as the men he worked with. Plus, Dmitry and Anatoly didn’t lie. Not even for him. So, he didn’t lie either. He just didn’t talk about it.
Hands balled into fists now, she stood in the middle of the floor and looked at him. “I blame myself for loving you. I blame myself for letting all this time go by where you cheated on me and I said nothing, hoping that you’d finally come to your senses and see what you have right here waiting for you every single night.”
I wish you wanted to know why I cheat,
Gabriel thought to himself.
The one thing that all the women he slept with had in common was that they still had their individuality; they still possessed some grit and fire. They stood on their own and expected no one to
He wanted those characteristics permanently in a woman, not just when she was trying to upgrade. Maybe it was his desire to have someone more like his mother – a woman who definitely didn’t give a shit about designer clothes and getting approval from mob wives. Plus, she was a hard worker. She made things happen, not the other way around. Maybe it was his father in him – a man who never liked fragile women and was a true to heart sociopathic killer. Ivan would have killed Briggy by now. Maybe, just maybe, it was them and the non-chemistry relationship that they had fallen into? They were an abysmal failure, and he had to take some credit for that.
In a complete gear change, the screams turned into sobs suddenly. She was moving slowly into victim mode just as he had forecasted. When all else failed with Briggy, she always resorted to the waterworks.
And then, despite himself and the fact that he knew she was going to do it, he felt sorry for her.
Gabriel didn’t want this for Briggy - this life of settling. And in truth, he didn’t want this for himself. Still, he felt incredibly responsible for her. She didn’t have any family. She was thousands of miles away from her home country. And most importantly, she was a known Medlov consorter - a moving target for anyone who was an enemy of the syndicate. It was his job to keep her safe, even if she was not the woman that he wanted anymore, otherwise she’d end up in some barrel of acid and urine on the bottom of some murky lake.
Briggy sobbed into her hands, louder and louder, demanding some response from him, when she saw that he had moved back into deep thought and away from her tirade.
And he would give it to her - anything to stop this.
“Do you have anything to say for yourself?” she asked, voice muffled as she wiped her face.
This was his cue.
Dressed in a black tailored suit that fit his muscular frame from his wide chest to his infinitely long legs, Gabriel stood up abruptly from the chair to his full height of six feet, eight inches tall. Straightening his jacket, he cleared his throat.
“I’m sorry for the pain that I’ve caused you,” he said, head dipped in shame.
Her eyes averted from her quivering hands to him - standing there across the room, poised and graceful.
She hated Gabriel for being so beautiful. His jet black curly hair, wide-set pink lips, mossy green eyes and yellow irises, thick lashes, arched brows, and a strong square jaw made him look like a Greek sculpture. He was dangerously handsome, ruggedly sexy. And so very unattainable despite her very best attempts. All the things about him that had once made her fall in love now made her sick.
Walking over to her standing beside the disheveled bed, he placed his large hands on Briggy’s thin shoulders, pulling her closer to him. The feel of his cold finger tips sent zingers up her spine as he gently caressed her. She looked up at him, insides trembling, wanting nothing more than to be understood.
Gabriel’s mouth parted, and she could see he was searching for the right words. “Briggy,
, we have to stop this.” His voice was soothing like the calm before a storm. His scent was intoxicating like a drug. Everything about him was so deceitfully inviting.
She blinked past burning tears. “Why do you take so much pleasure in hurting me? What have I done but love you, Gabriel?”
He wiped her face, hesitating only a moment in the silence of the room to gather his thoughts.