Chapter 1: Jealousy
Emma walked into the club with her entourage close at her heels. The heiress to the multi-billion dollar des Rosier Enterprises was flawless in her couture little black dress. It sparkled. It glittered. And it had every man’s head turning in her direction. She was a walking fashion statement. Setting trends rather than following them. Despite her fame and fortune, Emma had remained true to herself; sweet and gracious.
“Look at all these sexy beasts, Em. Too bad you’re off the market.” Chloé leaned in, yelling so her best friend could hear her above the noise.
“I am quite happy being taken, thank you very much.” Emma replied with a shy smile. “But you, m’dear, are still available.” Playfully, she gave her bestie a gentle shove towards a delectable suitor who had been eyeing them since their arrival.
Chloé wasn’t one to waste time when it came to hott, deliciously seductive men. Winking at Emma, she glided over to the tall, dark, handsome man. Your typical blonde bombshell, Chloé was also cultured and extremely smart. Emma had finally come to the realization the only perfect suitor for her best friend would be a lawyer. Sometimes, Chloé could be a bit intimidating at times, to say the least. Emma could count a couple handfuls of promising men that Chloé had scared off, leaving her depressed for months.
“Where is Luca, Em? I thought you said he would meet us here with some of his boys.” Sophia stepped up to take Chloé’s spot beside Emma. She was another close friend of the heiress. One of few who really truly knew her.
“Be patient, darling. You can’t rush these things.” Emma smirked, spotting her beau across the room. In the same moment, Luca locked eyes on Emma and her group of girlfriends. He beckoned them over to join him and his boys in the VIP.
Sensing her girlfriends veer around the crowded dance floor, Emma ignored their protests and swiftly maneuvered through the dance floor laced with people. Cutting straight across the room was the shortest distance to her destination. She was willing to take the chance of being jostled if it meant she could reach Luca faster by beelining it across the room. She hadn’t seen Luca in months, and nothing was going to deter her.
With his acting career taking Hollywood by storm, their schedules were hard to sync. But somehow, they were finding time to be together. With her father trying to hand over the business to her, she found her free time alone with Luca valuable and precious. She wanted every moment to be something she cherished.
The silk under fabric of her diamond studded little black dress slid easily over her baby soft skin. The strapless ensemble made the skin tight dress a little less claustrophobic, without sleeves restricting her upper body movement. Despite her dress, she was making excellent progress, or that was until...
“Excuse me...” A masculine voice apologized. It was course and rough, with a sultry hint to it.
Emma found herself being lightly jostled among the dancers. Looking to see who the culprit was who had bumped into her, she was a little astonished to see a dark god holding his hands up in an apologetic gesture. Embarrassment creased his features. For a split second they exchanged glances, sizing each other up. If she wasn’t already taken, she would have stayed to flirt. But she was anxious to see Luca. Letting her gaze travel over his body one last time, she gave a friendly warning to watch where he was going. Side stepping around his broad frame, she continued through the mass and reached Luca in one piece.
Nikolai remained stationary. He had been watching the brunette in the little black dress closely since her and her friends had arrived. He had been bullshitting at the bar with his companions, sipping on scotch, when she had entered the club. At first, he noticed all eyes at the bar had shifted to the club’s entrance. Curious, he too had turned his gaze and was forevermore transfixed on her. Setting his glass of scotch on the bar’s granite countertop, he had kept a detailed eye on her every move. Sizing her up, in that moment, he knew she was his.
“Nikolai? Are you okay man?” One of his companions asked, shaking his shoulder.
“Who is that, Dominik?” Nikolai asked, discreetly nodding his head in the girl’s direction.
“That, my dear friend, is Emma Desiree des Rosier, heir to thee des Rosier Enterprises.” Dominik replied with a smirk. He could already see Nikolai was smitten over her.
“Don’t get too caught up in her, though, Nikolai. Her and Luca Davis have been serious for a couple years now.” Dominik continued. It put a slight damper on Nikolai’s already scheming plan to introduce himself.
“The halfwit Hollywood actor who thinks he’s can’t be touched? That Luca Davis?” Nikolai questioned.
“Yes, that would be the guy.” Dominik gave a hearty chuckle, shaking his head at his friend’s comment.
“Well, we will just see about that.” His words held a promise. Dominik could sense Nikolai would not give up until he got the girl. Nikolai picked up his glass of scotch and downed it without a second thought before moving out onto the dance floor.
He had caught sight of her eyeing Luca across the room and planned on cutting her off. It shouldn’t be that difficult. He thought. But the dance floor proved more problematic than he had anticipated. Jammed packed, he found himself being jostled back and forth more than just a few times. But his trained eye kept a close watch on the brunette’s whereabouts. He kept moving perpendicular to her, until he was just inches from where their paths were bound to cross. Now, for a legitimate diversion....And an idea emerged. Turning around, he intentionally bumped into the guy behind him.
“What the fuck man?! Watch where you’re going.” The dude gritted his teeth, shoving Nikolai backwards, and into....Emma. On any other day, Nikolai would have put the guy in his place. But the legitimate diversion was just what he needed. A woman with Emma’s status and intellect would sense if he had faked bumping into her.
Holding his hand up in an apologetic manner, his expression creased with embarrassment, trying to graciously pardon himself for the collision. But she only eyed him suspiciously. He watched her chocolate gaze melt over his physique, hoping he had somewhat impressed her, even if it was just a little. Apparently satisfied, she gave him a stern, but friendly warning, before disappearing into the crowd, towards his new competition.
It wasn’t necessarily her chocolate gaze that had turned him on, but the natural sway of her hips. She didn’t even have to try. Nikolai had witnessed other females attempt to saunter away with too much emphasis on the side to side swing of their hips. But with her, it was subtle and seductive. He had no way of knowing if her departure was intentional or just normal; but either way, as he slipped back to the bar, he couldn't avoid the bulging inside of his slacks. It would only be a matter of time, and she would be his.
The hours flew by and soon Emma’s sapphire crystal Rolex was reading midnight. A frown emerged on her delicate lips, evoking Luca to lean in and whisper his concern. She didn’t want to bother him with the fact that she had a business meeting in only six hours and needed her beauty sleep. A small smile overturned her frown as she thought about what smart ass comment he would come up with to keep her all to himself into the wee hours of the morning.
“I am sorry darling, but I really should be heading out.” She placed a sweet kiss on Luca’s cheek.
“So soon? But the night has only begun. Can’t you stay a little longer?” He pouted, pleading with puppy eyes.
“Don’t do that Luca, you know I can’t say no to that look.” She couldn’t help but let a small ring of laughter escape her parted lips. He only smiled, half triumphant. But he knew better than to keep her from her newly acquired responsibilities with her father’s business.
“You have a meeting, don’t you?” He inquired, lifting his hand to cup her jaw, stroking the lower part of her cheek with his thumb.
“I do, love.” She turned her head so her lips kissed his palm. “I wish I didn’t. But father has been having difficulties with his investors and has asked for my help. He thinks having me in the room may work a miracle.” She added the last sentence merely as a joke, shaking her head.
“He wouldn’t be crazy to think so. I know I wouldn’t be able to think straight if I was in the room with you. Even if you didn’t speak, I would be willing to sign any deal.” Luca took Emma’s hand and kissed the back of it gently, smiling at her as he did so.
“You are such a flirt.” She replied, leaning in to give his lips a soft brushing with hers.
“Maybe. But it’s the truth. And I would vouch for any man.” He answered with a sincere expression.
“Hmmm....Well, maybe I can find the time to come and visit you on set. But I really must be leaving.” She planted one more seductive kiss on his lips before rising from the luxurious love seat in the VIP quarters.
“Now, hold on. You don’t expect me to let you leave after that?” He argued, grabbing her arm swiftly and softly as he stood, redirecting her into his chest.
“I wasn’t expecting it, no.” She smiled, getting lost in his eyes. They were rich and delicious, like mocha.
He leant over and passionately kissed her, his light stubble like soft sandpaper against her delicate skin. Inviting himself into her sweet, tasting mouth, he nibbled on her lower lip for a second, enjoying the feel of her succumbing to him. After a moment, he pulled away, knowing he too should be getting back to the set of his new movie.
“Okay, my dear Emma. Until we see each other again. I love you, Em.” He said, sweeping her hand to his lips one last time, watching her cheeks flush.
“I love you, too.” She answered before taking her leave and winding back through the crowded club, avoiding the dance floor this time round.
She was about to exit the club, when a familiar jostle brought her gaze staring into the dark god she had encountered earlier that evening. A smirk played at the corners of her lips as she cocked her hip, taking a moment to look him over again. His white dress shirt perfectly molded to his torso. Emma watched as his muscled chest rippled under the fabric, before letting her gaze travel to his navy trousers. Subconsciously, she licked her lips, bringing her gaze back up to meet his. His eyes were dark, like the rest of his complexion. His five o’clock shadow added some ruggedness to his sophisticated look, causing a little cluster of butterflies to stir within her.
“We meet again.” Came his dark, smooth, sultry voice. It was like forbidden fruit and Emma felt her knees go weak. It took her only a moment to jog her memory who he was. His name finally rung a bell; Nikolai Mikhailov. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and yet the media did him little justice, if any at all.
Mentally shaking herself from her reverie, she refocused; reminding herself she had eyes only for Luca. She wasn’t about to sabotage her relationship with Luca by tempting herself with lustful cravings for such a man who stood before her. Only bad things came from such men like him. And she had been around enough men like him to know.
“So fate shall have.” She replied poetically, honey dripping from each word that left her lips. “But all good things must eventually come to an end, Monsieur.” She cooed, enjoying stringing him along.
“Not all good things have to come to an end, Ms. des Rosier.” He countered, bringing her hand to meet his lips.
She lifted a delicate brow at his comment, taking on a defensive posture. “Flattery, Mr. Mikhailov, is overrated. Actions speak louder than words.” Quickly withdrawing her hand from his, she suddenly felt tainted.
“I will remember that next time, Ms. des Rosier.” A curve implementing on his lips.
“Good night, Mr. Mikhailov. I hope the rest of your evening isn’t as frivolous.” Bemused, a half smile lit up her features, but there were evident storm clouds brewing with warning in her gaze. Bowing her head slightly, she took her leave for the night.
With pursed lips and clenched fists, he watched her leave the club. Her last comment crawling under his skin, causing mental itchiness and irritation at her dismissal. He was not easily deterred by her, though. Counting to ten, his agitated nerves soon simmered.
Though her keen awareness of who he was shouldn’t have impressed him, it had. It should have been expected, though, that she would know who he was and that his company, Mikhailov Technologies, had been trying for well over a year now to merge with her father’s company. Of course she would know who he was. But he was always three steps ahead. There was a reason why Mikhailov Technologies had risen to Forbes Top 10 Expanding Companies in under a five year time span.
Nikolai turned on his heels and returned to the bar. Dominik was standing by the bar, drink in hand, flirting with a blonde bombshell. He was the only remaining one of the six men that had accompanied him that night to the club. The others must have ditched the club with some slut. He wasn’t amused. It happened quite frequently, actually. Almost so frequent, it was becoming an aggravation.
“Nikolai! I would like you to meet Chloé.” Dominik said, looking way too pleased with himself. His expression and voice were both level, but Nikolai knew Dominik in and out. He ignored his friend’s hidden enthusiasm, figuring he would either know soon enough, or he would eventually be told by Dominik later that evening.
“It is a pleasure, Chloé, to meet you. I am Nikolai, but you can call me Cole.” He smiled, holding his hand out towards her in a friendly gesture.
“Thank you, Cole.” She smiled, accepting his friendly gesture.
“Dominik was just telling me that you guys come here on a regular basis for business. But this is the first time I’ve seen either of you.” Chloé’s statement was an implied question as she looked at him expectantly.
“Dominik is right. But our group is hardly ever out in the open. We usually rent out one of the spare rooms they have here for our employee meetings.” Nikolai replied, smiling. He hoped his answer would suffice.
“I see. And what kind of business do you run, Cole?” She asked, his answer seeming to hold up for now. But her next question brought a twinkle to his eye. He watched the suspicion on her face grow and he smiled apologetically.
“I am quite sorry. I should have introduced myself as Nikolai Mikhailov. CEO of Mikhailov Technologies.” He stated, reintroducing himself using his last name. It was actually quite surprising that more people didn’t recognize him.
“Oh! Well it’s a pleasure to meet the brains behind Mikhailov Technologies.” Chloé smiled, a little surprised but recovered quickly.
“Are you here with anyone, Chloé?” Nikolai asked after a slight hesitation of silence. Catching the bartender’s attention, he ordered another scotch.
“Actually, yes. A group of us girls came to the club. But my friend, Emma, had to leave early. She has a business meeting tomorrow morning.” She offered, taking a sip of her drink. Nikolai wasn’t much into girly, froufrou drinks, but he guessed she was sipping on a Long Island Ice Tea.
“Who is this Emma you speak of? Would I know her company?” Nikolai inquired, taking a swig of his scotch, quenching his parched mouth.
“Emma des Rosier. Though, des Rosier Enterprises is still under her father’s name. But he has been trying to get Emma to take over as CEO for quite some time now.” She relayed, a little too trusting of the information she was handing out. Nikolai raised a brow, shooting a look at Dominik. Dominik only gloated and now Nikolai understood his friend’s excitement. Turning back to Chloé, he smiled.
“I actually happened to cross paths with her as she was leaving.” He replied.
“She is hard to miss. Well, it was nice chatting with you both, but it is I who should be making my way home. I too must get up bright and early.” She set her empty glass down on the counter.
“Why don’t I give you a ride, Chloé. After all, it’s the least a gentleman can do.” Dominik said, setting his empty glass down on the counter as well. Nikolai caught himself from choking on a sip of his scotch at the mention of the word ‘gentleman’.
“Sounds great. I have to use the ladies room before we head out. I’ll meet you at the front doors.” With that, Chloé vanished into the crowd.
“Gentleman?” Nikolai questioned when she was out of range.
“What?” Dominik winked at Nikolai.
“Don’t worry. No foul play tonight. I will see you after your meeting tomorrow. Good luck.” Dominik patted Nikolai on the shoulder, a huge smile splayed across his face.
Nikolai watched as his best friend also vanished into the crowd. With everyone leaving, he supposed it was his cue to get some sleep as well. After all, he did have a meeting with des Rosier Enterprises in the morning.