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Authors: Katie Reus

Sweetest Surrender

BOOK: Sweetest Surrender
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Sweetest Surrender

The Serafina: Sin City Series

 

 

Katie Reus

 

Sweetest Surrender

Copyright © 2014 by Katie Reus

ISBN: 978-0-9897766-8-4

 

Cover art and design by
Sweet ‘N Spicy Designs

Copyediting by JRT Editing

Digital Formatting by
Author E.M.S.

 

* * *

 

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the author.

 

Also, thank you for not sharing your copy of this book. This purchase allows you one legal copy for your own personal reading enjoyment on your personal computer or device. You do not have the right to resell, distribute, print or transfer this book, in whole or in part, to anyone, in any format, via methods either currently known or yet to be invented, or upload this book to a file sharing program. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. Thank you for respecting the author’s work.

 

A woman on the run…

 

Angel has been on her own for two years, moving from place to place to outrun her past. With no family and few friends to lean on, she’s managed to keep her secrets and stay safe. But when her past suddenly catches up to her, she has a choice to make. Run or stay and claim her life once more.

 

He’ll stop at nothing to protect her…

 

Vadim has never let anyone close to him—until Angel. From the first time he met her, everything changed. As a private consultant for Wyatt Christiansen, he’s good with computers and he’s got connections to unearth people’s deepest, darkest secrets. When Angel’s life is threatened Vadim steps in and uses all his resources to end the threat once and for all. As the danger closes in, he lies to her in an effort to protect her, not realizing that even once the threat is eliminated, he might lose her anyway.

 

Chapter 1

 

Angel clutched the brown paper bag filled with the boxed up leftover food she’d planned to take home tonight. It didn’t matter that it would have been thrown out, what she was doing was stealing. Something she’d never thought to do. Ever. Stealing was wrong. Something she’d learned before kindergarten.

In the last two years, however, she’d learned to live in shades of gray, not black and white. The world simply wasn’t so nice and tidy—those who thought it was viewed life with rose-colored glasses. Okay, that sounded a little bitter. But it was how she was feeling.

She hated that she’d gotten to a point where she was actually stealing from one of her employers. She paused at the back door of the restaurant that would lead to a long hallway on out to the dumpsters behind The Serafina Hotel. No, she just couldn’t do it. She turned and headed back to the main kitchen. She’d planned to leave the bag out there and grab it after she’d clocked out. Pretty much no one was left at Cloud 9 this late. She’d been the closing server; the bartenders had already gone home while she finished cleaning up the kitchen.

As she stepped back into the galley of the main kitchen, she froze. Sierra Archer was standing there cataloging salad dressing. The petite woman had her long black hair pulled into a ponytail; she wore plain clothes, not her normal chef’s jacket. Normally she didn’t work on Thursdays and it was after hours so Angel was more than surprised to see her.

Sierra glanced up, smiling. “Hey, Angel. You getting out of here?”

Unable to find her voice, she nodded, clutching the bag.

Sierra lifted a dark eyebrow, her smile faltering. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” she managed to rasp out, hating the guilt suffusing her.

“You want me to ring you up?” her boss asked, nodding at the brown bag. “I’ve still got a register open. Haven’t gone through the night’s drink reports yet and it’s gonna take forever.” She made an annoyed face.

Before Angel could respond, Hayden, Sierra’s fiancé and also one of the heads of security at the Serafina, strode in. “Hey, sweetheart,” he murmured to Sierra.

Without his normal suit and tie and wearing just a T-shirt and jeans he should have looked casual and unintimidating. Unfortunately the huge man with the tattoos always made her feel nervous. Both he and his brother did. They were nice and Angel knew Sierra wouldn’t be with a loser, but still, in her experience she stayed away from men that big. She knew what fists could do.

Sierra gave him a quick kiss before turning back to Angel. “I’ll get you now.”

“No, it’s okay. This isn’t…” Oh God, she didn’t even know what to say. She hated confrontation and always clammed up when she felt cornered. Only Sierra wasn’t cornering her. She was just being nice. But Angel felt so guilty and it must have shown on her face because Sierra turned to her fiancé.

“Can you meet me out front? I need to talk to Angel alone.”

Hayden’s eyebrows rose, but he nodded and left after giving Sierra another quick kiss on the forehead.

When Sierra faced her again, she leaned one hip against the metal countertop they put hot plates on for the servers to deliver. Right now it was buffed and shiny. “What’s going on? Is that the throwaway food?”

Swallowing hard, Angel nodded. “Yeah. It expires tomorrow and I was…” She was going to tell Sierra she’d been bringing it back but didn’t think she’d believe her or that it would matter. Angel had packed it up and had been ready to take it. That was damning enough. “I’m sorry.”

Instead of condemnation, Sierra looked concerned. Which just made Angel feel even crappier. “I just need to inventory the loss before we throw it out, but…you can have it. You should have asked me though.” She rubbed a hand over her face. “You’ve been such a great employee, but…”

Angel knew that even small infractions like this were cause for being fired. Especially at a restaurant in a casino. If she took something small, who was to say she wouldn’t skim elsewhere? Her face heated up with shame, but she forced herself to hold the other woman’s startling green gaze. “I know and I’m really sorry. I’ll grab my last paycheck next week but…I get it.” Angel knew the other woman would have to fire her over this and there was no point in trying to convince her not to.

“Angel—”

Sierra turned at a slight scuffing sound to find Hayden and Vadim entering the big galley kitchen. What the hell was Vadim doing here? He was part of the hotel’s security team, but she hadn’t even thought he was working tonight.

Right then Angel wanted the floor to open up into a giant hole and swallow her. For a brief moment she met Vadim’s pale blue eyes but quickly looked away. To say she had a massive crush on him would be an understatement. So many of the wait staff were afraid of him but she didn’t understand why. He was so sweet and gentle and right now she simply couldn’t bear to have him witness her getting fired.

“Sierra.” She tried to keep her voice steady as she dragged the other woman’s attention back to her. With the bright lights of the kitchen overhead she felt as if she was under a giant spotlight. When her boss looked back, Angel said, “I’m going to go, but I really am sorry. Please don’t…” What?
Don’t fire me in front of them? Them, meaning Vadim Sokolov, the man she’d been lusting after for months.
She could feel her face turning even redder and thanks to her Irish coloring, she probably looked like Rudolph’s nose.

Sierra took a step forward, closing the distance between them. “Let’s just talk about this in my office,” she murmured, motioning toward the back of the kitchen.

“Is everything okay?” Vadim asked, still standing in the entry with Hayden. The slight trace of his Russian accent was ever present, the delicious sound rolling over her like a warm, all-enveloping embrace.

Angel swallowed hard. “Fine.” She gave Sierra a beseeching look. She seriously doubted the other woman wanted to call the police over some food, so she was going to make her exit before Sierra could tell her fiancé what Angel had done. For all she knew, the head of security had protocol to follow. Setting the bag on the metal countertop, she clutched her purse to her side. “Sorry, Sierra,” she muttered before making a beeline for the exit. She mumbled a quick goodbye to Vadim, who looked oddly hurt by her getaway, but she couldn’t think about that now. She just needed to get home and away from here.

And figure out her next move. She’d been lucky enough to find work in Vegas but she’d been here months already. It was time to move on. Tonight was just a sign that she’d stayed in one place too long.

* * *

Vadim wanted to rush after Angel, but needed to find out what the hell was going on first. “What’s wrong with Angel?” he asked Sierra.

The petite woman bit her bottom lip nervously. For a moment he thought it was because of him and he bit back his annoyance. At six feet tall, he wasn’t overly large, and he was good looking enough. Not hideous at least. He simply did not understand why women seemed fearful of him when he would literally cut off his own arm before harming a female. But then he realized Sierra was watching Hayden nervously.

“If I tell you something you have to promise not to get involved or try to fire Angel.”

Hayden frowned, shoving his hands in his pockets. “What’s going on?”

Sierra stuck out her chin mutinously. “Promise.”

At that moment, Vadim found himself liking the chef even more. What the hell had Angel gotten herself into?

“Fine. I promise. Now what’s up? She looked like she was about to burst into tears.”

Vadim had seen that too and the thought of Angel crying raked against his insides like jagged glass. He’d known her for five months, but it felt like a lifetime for how attracted he was to her.

“It’s not a huge deal, but I caught her taking food.” Sierra motioned to a brown bag on the counter. “It’s going to be thrown away since it expires tomorrow, but it’s more than fine to eat. We just have standards…and that’s not the point. She was taking it without telling me, but I wasn’t going to fire her. I just wanted to talk to her to see if she needed some extra help or wanted more shifts, but she hurried out of here after telling me she’d get her last paycheck next week. I think…” Sierra looked at Vadim, her face flushing. “I think she was embarrassed you were here.”

Vadim blinked, not sure what Sierra meant. If Angel had a problem she could come to him. They were friends and Angel knew that. Or he thought she did. He was more worried about why she’d had to steal food. The thought of her not having enough to eat pained him. “I think you’re mistaken, but I’m going to check on her. Does she still have a job?”

Sierra half-smiled. “Of course. I just want to talk to her so we can straighten this out.”

Vadim nodded at her and Hayden, then hurried from the kitchen. He made his way through the closed restaurant, the lobby of the hotel and got caught in a rush of people by the valet parking outside. He knew Angel must have come this way.

She always took the same bus home every night. A quick glance at his watch told him he might miss her, spurring him into moving faster. Not bothering to be polite, he plowed his way through the thickening crowd of partiers and gamblers making their way into the hotel and casino. The place was busy most of the day but at ten o’clock at night it was always the busiest. Ignoring a few protests, he elbowed his way around people and bounded between the idling cars waiting to be parked by the dozens of working valet drivers.

As he raced down the exit to the main road, he spotted Angel’s normal bus pulling away from the curb—and saw that familiar flash of red hair as she sat at a window seat. Biting back a curse, he turned and headed back the way he’d come. He knew where she lived and even though he knew it would annoy her, he was going to see her tonight.

For some reason she always refused to let him drive her home after work, even though he offered practically every night. She didn’t live in a safe neighborhood and he was almost certain she was embarrassed by her place of residence. He’d been there before to check on her, but he’d never told her, knowing it would bother her. Now he didn’t care if she got annoyed with him.

BOOK: Sweetest Surrender
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