Prisoner (Russian Tattoos Book 2) (8 page)

BOOK: Prisoner (Russian Tattoos Book 2)
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Small talk.
That’s how Dad and I recovered after our epic battles. We would get into an argument, not speak to each other for hours or even days, and then one of us would extend the olive branch by engaging in a bullshit conversation to get the wheel o’ normalcy rolling again.

“I’m taking some general business courses and getting all my English classes out of the way.” My voice was quiet, shaky. I cleared my throat. “Statistics kicked my ass first semester, but I’m doing better this term.” I dug my fingernails into my thigh to release my mounting anxiety. I had to find a better solution than using my body as a human stress ball.

“You are going to represent the interests of football players?” Pasha asked.

“Yeah, I love the game. I know all the players, coaches, and owners of every single team. Draft day is a sacred holiday at our house.”

“Pasha runs all the major sports books from here to Moscow. You talk to him if you have questions about numbers, stats, odds.” Boris stuffed a hunk of grilled meat the size of his fist into his mouth, and the conversation continued as if we were one big, happily dysfunctional family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 13

 

 

Blue Devil

 

Thunder rolled in from beyond the apple orchard, and a chilly spring breeze kicked up and rocked the trees. We gathered up the food and linens and moved our picnic indoors. Within minutes, rain poured down and lightning lit up the sky. Pasha and I cleaned up the dinner plates and brought the
zakuski
and drinks into the living room.

Dmitri couldn’t stop yawning, so he excused himself and went to bed. Before he left, I mouthed “
izvinite
.” He dismissed his beating with a shoulder shrug and a wave of his hand as if to say
I am not a pussy
. When he walked away, I spotted a thin line of blood on his back that had seeped through his t-shirt. I would never let anyone get hurt because of me ever again.

I couldn’t stomach being in the same room with Boris either. I followed Dmitri’s lead, let out a long yawn, and escaped to my bedroom. With each crack of thunder, the house shook and the windows rattled. I changed into a silky nightgown Vladimir had provided and got ready for bed. It would be impossible to fall asleep, so I sat in the rocking chair and pulled out Dmitri’s sketch pad.

I flipped through the pages and found one of my courageous alter-ego wielding a tree branch as if it were a sword. In the background, a scrawny old lion was sleeping on the roof of a tiny cottage. The wolf was peeking around a tree, watching over me. Dmitri had said Vladimir was represented in this picture somewhere, but I couldn’t find him.

So far, I set all the scenes during the day. I felt inspired to change things up and pulled out my blues, grays, and purples to make this scene take place in the dark of night. As I colored with the backdrop of the thunderstorm as my soundtrack, I wondered about the significance of the lion. His body was broken as if he’d been mistreated, and his face was long and wrecked as if he had given up on life or humanity. It reminded me of Dad,
but Dmitri didn’t know my father.

In his fur, Dmitri had sketched in an “O” and an oak leaf. Dad was an Ohio State alum and a huge fan of their football team. He was wearing his OSU sweatshirt in the picture Boris had shown me of Dad hugging Kiki after my abduction. That’s where Dmitri had seen him. I’d been missing for over a week, maybe two, and it made me sick to think about the mental torture he was enduring.

It must’ve been horrific imagining what I was going through. Rape, beatings, starvation. Bad things happened to kidnapped girls. Even after I moved out of Dad’s house, I still managed to make his life hell. A fresh round of guilt swelled in my chest. The reason Dad and I had perpetual problems was because I caused an accident that killed my older sister. I had gotten detention at school and didn’t want to get in trouble with Dad, so I asked my big sister to pick me up. Sophia died in a car accident on her way to my school. If she had crashed on the way home, instead of the way there, we both would have perished in the flames.

In the years following my sister’s death, when my depression was at its worst, I thought Dad would’ve been better off if I’d died too. He could’ve gotten all of his grief over with at the same time and wouldn’t have had to endure all the countless things I’d done over the years to wreck his happiness. He could have moved on with his new wife, Karen, and my little sister without having to drag me along for the ride.

I had thrown that scenario in his face on more occasions than I cared to count, but he always denied it. It was highly likely I would never see him again. Whether Maksim got hold of me and I died here, or the Russians never let me go, my dad wouldn’t have to put up with my bullshit again. Karen would be there for Dad, and Megan was young and probably wouldn’t even remember me over time.

I heard a knock on the door and Vladimir stepped into the room. I jumped, dropping the sketch pad and pencils on the floor. “Sorry to intrude,” he said. “I thought you might be awake and could use some company.” He picked up my art supplies.

I closed the sketchbook and set it aside, relieved it was him and not Boris. “Yeah, this weather is crazy.”

“I love thunderstorms. They relax me. Mind if I stay for a while?”

“Please.”

Vladimir sat in the window seat and glanced outside. “What’s the first thing you are going to do when you get home?”

“Say hello to my family, go back to my apartment, order a pizza, and watch a movie with Kiki, I guess. I won’t have too much time to chill. I’ll have a ton of make-up work to catch up on so I can finish the semester.”

“What about your boyfriend? You’ll want to spend some time with him.”

I squirmed, unnerved by the intensity in Vladimir’s eyes. Although the Russians hadn’t said a word about Benji—the guy I’d started dating a week before my abduction—they’d obviously been stalking me and knew all about him. “I don’t want to talk about him.”

Vladimir shrugged. “Why not? He’s a nice young man.” His gritty expression did not sync with his complimentary assessment of my save-the-world hipster crush. Vladimir would never believe anyone I met would be good enough for me. In his eyes,
he
was the only man worthy of my affection. “Tell me about him. How did the nature boy charm his way into your arms?”

“He’s sweet.”

“And…”

“He’s fun to hang out with.” I kept my answers vague and generic. I had only known Benji for six days. It wasn’t like we were serious.

“Sweet and fun. Sounds like you’re describing a pet dog.”

I laughed.

“You find him attractive? He has a good job? Nice financial portfolio? What kind of car does he drive?” Vladimir lifted his eyebrows, smirking like a judgmental jerk. He enjoyed embarrassing me and watching me squirm.

“He doesn’t have a car. He uses alternative transportation.”

“Motorcycle?”

“Mountain bike.”

I sucked in my lips to keep from laughing. Vladimir was trying to make Benji out to be his unworthy replacement, but Benji wasn’t into material things. He was passionate about volunteering in our community, concerned about the environment, harmful effects of car emissions, reducing his carbon footprint…

“Job?”

“Internship.”

“Homeowner?”

“Renter.”

“You’re killing me, Carter. Promise me that when you get home, you’ll find a man who deserves the most beautiful and perfect woman in the world.” He pecked me on the lips. “Don’t settle for someone beneath you. Keep your standards high, angel.”

Tears flooded my eyes. I didn’t know how Vladimir planned to live through the war that was escalating with Maksim, but everything he said sounded so finite, like he didn’t have faith he would make it out alive. He knew something awful was going to happen, but he wouldn’t tell me the truth.

“I don’t think Benji will want to see me anymore.” I stopped, not wanting to share the rest of my thought.

“Why not?”

“You know, I’m messed up. Bad things happen to kidnapped girls. He’ll think I'm—
damaged goods
.”

Vladimir pulled me out of the chair and folded me into his arms. “How could you think something so terrible? Any man would be crazy not to want you.”

I didn’t agree, but I knew Vladimir’s sentiment was sincere. He’d always seen me in a way no one else had. I’d suffered from low self-esteem my whole life, but he lifted me up like I was the most important person in his world. No other man could ever compare to my sexy Russian. The level of attraction between us was immeasurable, but our relationship had been so much more than physical.

He had a talent for collecting all my faults, wadding them up into a ball, and using the negative energy to magnify my good qualities. Even after I found out about his involvement in the mafia, I still loved Vladimir and looked forward to the day we would become husband and wife. I wished I could erase the bad parts of our relationship, leaving only the passion and love we shared.

Vladimir ran his fingers through my hair, tucked my head in the crook of his neck, and rubbed warm circles on my back. I instinctively molded into the contours of his body and inhaled his earthy aroma. His heavenly cologne no longer mingled with his masculine scent, but I recognized his essence, and a rush of memories of our intimate moments washed over me.

I unfastened the buttons on his flannel shirt and snuck my hand inside to touch his skin. I traced the outline of the devil tattoo on his chest with my fingernail. I couldn’t see his inky blue face, but I knew he was there. Vladimir’s body tensed from my touch. He whispered my name, chastising my decision to cross the line, but his hand moved to my ass and I knew he didn’t want me to stop. A loud crack of thunder rattled the window. Startled, I jumped.

Vladimir picked me up, carried me to the tiny bed, and lay on top of me. Feeling the weight of his body pressing down on me and the way he was kissing me with so much passion, I felt like the bed might crash through the floor and drop us in the living room.

His beard scratched against my skin, and the deeper his kiss, the rougher it felt—but in a good way. I groaned out his name and snaked my fingers up his shirt, squeezing and rubbing his muscular back. I’d been paralyzed by fear and loneliness since my capture, but right or wrong, I felt safe and loved in Vladimir’s arms.

He pulled off his shirt and tossed it on the floor. I met the steely blue eyes of his devil tat on his right pec and admired his ink. I grazed my fingers across the powerful star tats on his shoulders that announced he was a dangerous man to cross, a bounty of religious tattoos, and lines of Russian words engraved on his skin. Vladimir may have been a bad guy in some respects, but the man I loved was forever entangled with the monster that lurked inside him. If I wanted Vladimir, I had to welcome back his demons too.

He slid his hand up my nightgown and ran his finger along the lacy band of my underwear. He curled his finger around the band, stretched it out, and let it go, making it snap against my skin. “These need to go, Carter.”

I murmured in the affirmative. Hearing my name roll off his tongue, laced with that sexy, Russian accent, made it impossible for me to resist his charms.

He pulled off my underwear and stroked me between my legs. I had gotten a bikini wax before my trip, and this little detail did not go unnoticed. Vladimir traced my V with his fingertips and explored my recently manicured sweet spot. I didn’t go Brazilian, but only a small patch of hair remained. He hummed a pleasurable groan in my ear, acknowledging he liked how I cared for my intimate area.

“Your body is amazing.” He slid the spaghetti straps of my nightgown off my shoulder and tugged it down. He cupped my breasts and sucked and swirled his tongue around my nipples.

Pleasure pulsed through my core and my excitement level escalated. I scratched my nails lightly down his back and slipped my hand inside his pants. “Take these off.” I gave him a little pinch on his tight ass. The tiny bed was up against the wall on one side and there wasn’t much room to accommodate both of us. Vladimir rolled off the side of the bed and stripped off his clothes. In the darkened room, I admired his silhouette as he towered over me. Thunder rumbled outside and lightning flashed, illuminating the room and giving me quick glances at his rocking body.

I pulled back the blanket and smoothed my hand across the sheet, inviting him to join me under the covers. Instead, he yanked the blanket off, crawled on top of me, and straddled my hips, eager to ravage my naked body. With the tinny soundtrack of rain pelting the window, he sucked on my neck and trailed kisses down my body all the way to my sweet spot. He hummed and rubbed his chin against my delicate skin and squeezed my ass. I grasped his wavy blond hair and thrust my hips against him as he sucked and swirled his tongue around my clit.

Oh, God.
The warmth of his mouth and the affection this powerful man was giving me sent ripples of excitement pulsing through my core. He slid his finger inside me and massaged while he darted his tongue across my zone, lashing me with such a fury my body tensed and I came undone. I moaned his name as my pleasure peaked, much louder than I should have in that tiny house with his family on the level below us.

Vladimir savored my release as my body relaxed and I regained my senses. “Your body is so sweet, angel.” He nuzzled my sex and inhaled my essence, licking and tasting my nectar.

I sighed his name as he curled up next to me and spooned my back against his body.

“Your pussy nature boy back home will never make you feel this good.” He picked up my hand and held it against my chest to prove his point. He had my heart pounding, and I was breathless from all the excitement. “I’m the only man who can make you this wet.”

In the few days I’d known Benji, I
liked
him, but Vladimir was right. No man on earth could ever make me feel as loved and cherished as Vladimir did. I cracked up and elbowed him in the ribs. “You’re an egomaniac.” His erection poked me in the ass. I bumped my backside against him. “What are we going to do about
this?

“I just want to hold you, sweetheart.” He smoothed my hair off my face and turned my chin so he could kiss my lips. He was sweaty from our sexed-up workout and the sweetness of my body lingered on his lips. He ran his fingers across my silhouette. “This is my favorite part.” His fingers dipped into the concave valley under my hipbone. “Never let another man touch you here. This belongs to me.”

BOOK: Prisoner (Russian Tattoos Book 2)
10.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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