The Mafia's Secret

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Chapter Nine - Temptations

“Believe me when I say this is dangerous and stupid,” Kat grumbled.

“And believe me when I say that Eleanor needed this more than anything,” Anisa rebutted as her practiced American accent smoothly came out with ease. “The longer she stayed cooped up in her room, the longer she continued to neglect her own mental and physical health.”

“And I wonder who’s fault that is.”

“Kat, please,” I murmured loudly enough where she could hear over the pounding music as I reached for her hand across the table. “They were only trying to help.”

She looked away, her eyes examining the building full of party goers and strobing lights. Her milk chocolate eyes roamed the area, never straying from any victim her eyes caught. The longer she stared, the more noticeable her eyes narrowed before she’d pucker her lips and travel to the next person.

“If they’re only trying to help, then where are they now?” Kat questioned as her eyes never left the crowd of people, “Grandma Maggie is fine, by the way; told her that you were staying with me after you got into a little accident that left you frightened. You know how hard it was to keep her from going to the police, huh? I am the only reason your grandmother hasn’t abandoned all sense of sanity and track you down herself.”

Kat had taken back her hand and finally looked at me. Her narrow eyes now gaping as she expected an answer from me.

“I don’t know where I would be without you, Kat,” I said as I slowly shook my head, “I-I’m sorry for everything. I-I don’t know what to…”

Kat began to shake her head, her expression contorting to that of frustration as she grabbed both my hands and held them tightly within hers. Her face was hard, but her eyes ever soft as always.

“I don’t want you feeling sorry for yourself and I most definitely don’t want you apologizing,” Kat said as she looked at me with her unyielding stare. “I wasn’t saying those things to make you think that I wanted credit for all that I’ve done for you; no. I just want you to realize that there are others who care and worry about you, Eleanor. Grandma Maggie and me. Even some of my other friends have asked about you since they haven’t seen you at the shop.”

“You need me to be strong.”

“I need you to be strong, Eleanor Maedric. Especially when I’m not here to help. Can you do that for me? For Grandma Maggie?”

Looking at Kat made it hard to speak; I was left speechless at Kat’s words. Her little speech was made of nothing more than simple words, but they spoke deeper than any philosopher could say. They spoke deeper than any pastor could preach, and I almost felt sorry for thinking in such a manner. Almost.

Taking a shaky breath, I nodded my head. Kat gave my hands a small squeeze as her lips upturned in a delighted smile before letting go. We both looked back at Anisa who in turn gave a small shake of her head before taking a drink from her cup.

“What?” Kat questioned her defensively, her voice tight.

“If I didn’t know any better, I would have believed you two to be lovers.” Anisa leaned back, her arms crossed as they perked her breasts higher and tighter. The black turtleneck she wore only helped accentuate her curves just like how her ribbon-like hair helped define her symmetrical face. She truly was a beauty to behold.

“Sorry, but I simply don’t swing that way,” Kat sighed as she reached for her own drink.

“Never experimented?”

“Never had the pleasure nor curiosity,” Kat responded as she downed the cold refresher.

“You should try someday,” Anisa said as she gazed into the crowd of thriving dancers, “Never know what you’re missing.”

Kat scoffed before she grabbed for my water and drank the rest of it; she stood from her seat and silently made her way to Anisa’s side. She looked down at the blonde Russian as she looked up at her. Anisa stared with a raised brow, silently glancing at me before looking back at Kat. My close friend had then grabbed onto Anisa’s shoulder as she leaned down and firmly placed her lips across Anisa’s.

Shocked, I quickly looked down, reaching for my drink before stopping and silently cursing Kat for drinking it. I had shyly looked back up, hoping that Kat had finished, but only to see Anisa had delved themselves deeper into the kiss. Kat had grinned slyly as she pulled on Anisa’s lip between her teeth and pulled away. She wiped her lips with the back of her hand and looked down at Anisa’s glaring stare.

“Hmm, not bad,” Kat said with such casualness before turning towards the bar and walking away.

Anisa had pulled on her sleeve and wiped off the excess spit across her lips whilst asking, “Is she always that surprising?”

I was quick to respond but stopped myself as I noticed that Anisa had still looked angered at what had transpired between her and Kat.

“Are you mad at her?” I asked as I scooted closer.

“No,” she sighed, “only more angered at myself.”

“What do you mean?”

She looked up, her plumped lips ready to respond, but her one look at me caused her to close her mouth and lightly shake her head.

“Nothing for you to worry about.”

Kat had quickly come back, keeping me from asking any more questions, and dragged the three of us away from the table.

“Come on! Eleanor has been fully replenished with food and drink; let’s party before we have to return!”

Kat had pulled us deep within the throng of dancers. If it weren’t for Kat’s strong grip, we would have easily lost each other within the crowd. Every person we passed brushed and bumped against us as we finally met in the middle. Kat had quickly released us after she gave Anisa a small twirl. The taller of the two glared down at Kat before she finally grabbed for her waist and maddingly kissed her.

Kat’s eyes widened in surprise, her chocolate orbs glaring up at Anisa’s closed ones; but she soon closed her eyes and threaded her fingers through Anisa’s ribbon-like hair. Their curvature bodies molded as they swayed to the music in one beat. When one moved, the other followed. Their steps were small and random as they mostly paid attention to each other’s pleasure.

The people surrounding us had slightly parted and observed the two ladies having a full-on make-out session within the crowd, but my attention had diverted away from the two when a hand had grabbed for my waist and pulled me into someone’s warm embrace. I had quickly tried pulling away, catching the sight of a young man of my age. His appearance bewildered me as his spiked and dyed golden hair stuck out in every direction, a few piercings latched onto his lip and nose, and his entire attire of jean clothing made him stick out like a sore thumb. He did not appear to belong in a club like this, but then again, neither did I.

Our moves were a bit sloppy and inexperienced, but the longer we continued dancing, the less I felt uncomfortable and embarrassed, and the more I felt lively. Looking about us, I laughed at our predicament as the guy twirled me around and placed his arms around my waist, pulling me close.

“What’s so funny?” he asked. I shook my head as I noticed his voice matched exactly as he looked: weird.

“We’re so bad at dancing,” I said as I tried looking back at him. “It makes me laugh.”

“Always a pleasure to amuse someone.”

I laughed even more.

“May I know the name of the fair maiden that I have the pleasure of dancing with?”

“Eleanor,” I introduced myself in an elegant and joking manner, “And may I have the pleasure of knowing yours?”

“An honor, madam, to meet you. I have been bestowed upon of the name, Eric.”

“You don’t look like an Eric.”

“I get that a lot.” Eric’s arms tightened around my waist as he brought his long chin against the nape of my neck. Everyone around us jumped and danced to the fast beat of the music, but here Eric and I stood, swaying. For once, my heart did not race in anticipation; my nerves did not prick at the wondering of whether I was in danger; I felt relaxed. I felt utterly and contently happy.

Looking back at my best friend and her female companion, the two were still attacking each other. Their lips moved in sync as their hands roamed and roamed. It wasn’t hard to tell that Kat wasn’t an inexperienced kisser, but she was easily dominated by Anisa as she pulled away from her lips and sucked along the edge of her jaw. Kat’s tongue quickly darted out and delicately licked her lips and sucked on her bottom lip as Anisa continued attacking her jaw. Kat was on her toes at the ultimate pleasure the Russian was giving her. But once Kat’s eyes opened, she had spoken, but everything was too loud to hear exactly. Anisa slowly pulled away, grabbed her hand and pulled themselves to a secluded area where I could no longer observe them.

A hand trailed across my neck causing my body to shiver at the delicate touch. Their fingers picked up the chain around my neck and brought up the cross that was attached. Eric’s fingers trailed across the silver shape and rubbed the metal with such intricacy. His fingers were the one thing about Eric that looked normal.

“A believer in faith,” Eric’s voice murmured into my ear. “Or are you a rebel?”

Thinking about the unexpected question, it made me realize how much I felt abandoned by my own faith.

“I guess you could say I’m a rebel,” I breathed out.

“Everybody loves a rebel.” Eric buried his nose into my neck, his lips trailing lightly against my skin. It felt weird when his piercings pressed against my skin, but it was weirdness that I had quickly accustomed to liking.

Eric unwrapped his arms and grabbed at my waist, dragging his hands across my torso in such wanting. His lips firmly pressed themselves against my neck as I gasped at the cool feeling of his piercing. I leaned against his body and my hands grabbed at his hair, pulling him closer. His mouth curved upward at my bold move and gave a small peck before pulling away.

“Definitely a rebel,” he said. “If you want, I know a separate spot…”

“Uh, I don’t…” I quickly interrupted him, “I’m not… I just don’t…”

“Woah,” he quickly pulled away, now facing me, “It’s all right. We don’t have to, you know. It’s just, you don’t seem like the type who likes to be intimate in front of people.”

I stayed silent and looked down at our feet. My flats contrasted to his boots whilst others wore cheap heels or dress shoes. I could feel my cheeks heating at my own embarrassment, but another shiver occurred at Eric’s touch. His hand cupped my cheek, pushing away the hair that hid my face.

“There are other ways to find pleasure,” Eric murmured into my ear as he leaned close. “If not, just say so and we can just simply dance.”

Hesitant, I didn’t say anything at first. He didn’t press for an answer; he waited patiently as I contemplated as to whether I was okay with this. I grabbed for my necklace, taking the cross into my fingers and waited. But as I thought upon what I wanted, I had received no definite answer like I had before.

I opened my mouth, ready to give him a response, but the words I had wanted to say was caught in my throat as I caught two figures walking back to the dancefloor. Anisa and Kat started dancing; nothing more. Their dance accommodated to the crowd as the music changed to a slow, but lively beat. Looking at Anisa, I was once again enchanted by her unearthly beauty. Her symmetrical face framed by that of her natural wavy, bouncy curls. It made any person want to rake their fingers through her hair.

She looked down at Kat with a small smile, almost forming into a smirk. That damned smirk I have become familiarized with from a certain person. It wasn’t hard to see that Ivan and Anisa held some similarities. Their nose and long neck reflected perfectly off each other’s features, but the amount of similarities they beheld wasn’t enough to the contrast between them; however, there was no denying that their smirks were practiced from each other.

The longer I dwelled upon the thought Anisa’s younger brother, I couldn’t help but think how wrong I was to be here, and how wrong I would be back at the club they stay at. I didn’t want to return; I wanted to stay where I was. I wanted to finally be able to have control and enjoy myself. But the thought of Ivan made the choice of staying seem inconceivable.

I observed the two girls dancing, wondering what the two were doing before, but my attention was brought elsewhere when an aggravated grunt came from my partner. His face was morphed into that of frustration before he firmly planted his lips against mine, biting and pulling on my lips. I tried pushing away from him, but his arms stayed perfectly wrapped around my waist while he pulled us away from the crowd.

All my weight had been relied on him as I tripped over my own feet; I pinched, scratched, tore at him as he pulled us away from the crowd. The more he pulled us away, the more dwindled the amount of people there were. His teeth held on tightly to my lip, rupturing a powerful sting to sensationalize my mouth. If I tried pulling away, there was no denying more damage would be caused if I had stayed still.

Eric had winced and grunted at my attacks, but he didn’t loosen on his hold. I grabbed a fist of his hair and pulled as hard as I could, hoping to stop him as we entered a hallway which led to the bathrooms. He had finally let go of my lip as he gasped at the pain, but in retaliation, he pushed open the door to men’s restroom and threw me inside. He quickly shut the door from the outside, but unlike on the other side, the doorknob on the inside was broken off.

I quickly got up, pounding and kicking has hard as I could on the door. The wooden door wasn’t cheaply made, making me scream and shout in fear and frustration. I threw myself against the door, but the sound of something clicking behind me quickly made me stop. Turning around, I was met with a familiar sight.

The man held a gun aimed exactly towards my head. His face wasn’t amused as he watched me with narrowed eyes and a grimace. His crooked teeth scratched and pulled against his lower lip as he motioned for me to move away from the door. His gun still aimed steady my way as I took cautious steps, but his patience had finally run thin.

“Move! Or I won’t hesitate to stick one in your head now,” the man’s brogue accent harshly came out in a loud bark. My body ran cold as I quickly stepped away from the door. There was no mistaking him from our first encounter; he was there with the other group of his allies when I was chased into Russian territory.

We had stood there in silence as the man observed me. His hooded lids hid his expertly trained dark orbs as he scratched the side of his cheek where a few weeks old beard began to grow. His outfit was the same from the last time we had encountered each other, but there was no hiding of his weapons. They were there in plain sight for all to see.

“Ruisín was ecstatic when he heard you were found,” the man grumbled with a soft laughter.

My body tensed at the sickening sound of that man’s name – no, he was no man. He was a monster. A bad memory that every person tries to push to the back of their mind. A nightmare that awaits all children in the dead of night. The name itself made my stomach churn and my head light. I felt unsteady.

I stayed silent at the man’s comment while he waited for a reply. His smile wiped off his face once he realized I wasn’t giving one, but his eyes still held some mirth.

“I didn’t recognize you from before, but now that I see you in front of me,” the man stopped speaking once he was behind me and flicked a part of my hair to the side, initiating me to flinch away from his touch, “you don’t look much different from then.”

I whipped around, trying to catch his looks, but he didn’t make it much of a challenge. He stopped in front of me where the light above him shined down like a lone spotlight. My eyes narrowed at the sight of him; his one arm stretching out as if he were presenting himself, his lips pulled up into a mocking smile, his hair tousled and disorganized, and his dark eyes ever watchful.

But his face wasn’t one I could recognize so easily other than when we first met.

I shook my head and said, “I don’t know you.” He only responded in laughter.

The man shook his head as his smile ever widened; his hand adjusted on his gun before he leapt forward, grabbing the back of my neck and pressed the gun to my temple.

“You truly must have been so traumatized if you can’t remember my face,” the man laughed, “After all, who else rammed you and your parents off the road?”

A split second was all it took. A split second for my body to burn in built rage; a split second for my head to pound in painful pulses; a split second for my hands to reach out and grab for the man’s eyes and scratch as hard as I could.

The Irish mobster immediately let me go as he tried caring for his eye, screaming in pain from the attack. With one kick to his groin, the man dropped to the ground and cried as I tried reaching for his gun. His hand held a tight grip as he waved it out of my grasp, but when I had finally got a grip, he quickly whipped his head back and slammed forward, connecting mine to his with extraordinary force.

I fell back, my head and eyes hurting from the sudden brightness and dizziness of everything. My mouth tasted of blood as I accidentally bit my tongue, but my new focus was on the man who had finally struggled to stay standing with his hand holding his groin. His gun was aimed for my head where his hand slightly wavered.

My legs felt cold against the tile flooring and the smell of the bathroom was almost unbearable. The room was filled with our heavy breathing as we stared each other down; the walls vibrating from the music. The taste of my own blood was enough to make me spit whatever built up and the obvious discomfort the man had as he shifted from one foot to another made me smirk.

The man took a step forward and I scooted away from his prowling advancement. His shaking hand that held the gun pulled back to strike, but he had miss as his movements brought a shot of pain through his midsection. Caught off guard, I reached for his gun again, but with the man’s full-grown force, he had shoved me against the wall. The gun had dropped from his slacking grip and slid away from our reach.

Both his hands wrapped my neck as he shoved my head against the wall behind me. The sudden shock caused a sudden blackness as a loss of breath escaped me; the man shoved my head against the wall once more before he began squeezing, his thumbs pressing ever painful against my jugular. He hovered above my waist where I had aimed sloppily at his groin once more. His hands released me as he tried guarding his groin, but once he was down, I sluggishly stood on my feet; swaying, I tried to keep balance as I took a couple of steps forward and sent a barrage of kicks to the man’s groin. His cries filled the room before the seventh kick where he was finally incapacitated and blacked out from the pain. The bathroom was silent once more.

I quickly stepped away from the mobster, but my head had finally succumbed to the dizziness as I fell to the cold floor once more. With what little strength I had left I crawled toward the discarded gun and held it tightly in my grip. I faced the door, hope diminishing as I was reminded once more that the doorknob wasn’t there.

Before I could get up, a loud bang had erupted from the door. I quickly aimed the gun at the door, prepared for whatever would come through. The loud noise had sounded throughout the bathroom again; whatever force was enacting on the door was enough to make it shake. With one last bang, the door had burst open.

Small splinters of wood flew from the damage made and scattered across the flooring. The first person to rush in was the emotionless and towering body of Artem with his gun raised high as he checked every corner and every crevice of the bathroom. Once he had finally laid eyes on my shaking form, he cleared his throat and laid down his arm, shouting that all was clear.

I had not known who had entered the bathroom next, but all I could hear was the person calling my name. There was no emotion other than anger tinted in their gravely tone, but I didn’t pay any attention to what the person said next. All my attention was placed on the incapacitated Irish across from me. My anger had never left me since I heard those sickening words of his damning deed he had committed against my family. The growing heat of vexation had only kept building and building the longer I stared at the man who had contributed to ultimately ruining my life.

Oh, how simple it would be to just aim and tug at the stiff trigger. I had taken a tighter grip on the weapon as I stared at the man’s limp body that continued to breathe in and out. In and out.

It wasn’t second thought when I had lifted my arm; hand shaking and palm clammy. The other men, whoever they were, began picking the deadweight off the ground and just as I was about to lay my finger on the trigger, a palm had grabbed the muzzle. The man’s fingers curled around the slide like vines curling around any surfaces they could claim. They gave a slight tug, trying to take the gun from my hand, but I had only pulled back. Their hand did not leave the gun, but they no longer tried pulling.

Looking down at the weapon, I saw one of the fingers donning a familiar bulky ring. The silver band was hugging the hand’s ring finger; an almost perfect fit. If it had been placed upon the man’s thumb, it would have been just right; like Cinderella finally trying on her glass slipper for her prince.

I looked up at the man, observing how their attire was similar to that of Irish mobster. Their slacks wrinkled and their oxfords obviously worn out, yet they still held a nice gloss to the touch. Their long legs – one sat upon – stretched their black slacks as they shifted into a more comfortable position, causing their thighs to become more defined. Kat would be jealous and drooling.

Their shirt was clean white, but they too held definable wrinkles and sweat was forming just beneath their tense arms. Two buttons at the top were unbuttoned, revealing a bit of chest hair and more sweat donning their neck. Their neck had continued to swallow as their chest rose and fell in heavy rises and falls; they breathed like me after waking from nightmares. They breathed as if they were afraid.

Their naturally tanned skin held a sickening pale tint the more my eyes traveled up. Their neck that blushed a burning red had transitioned to a pasty white tone, and their dry lips were slight agape as they breathed in and out; in and out. I had quickly glanced pass their crooked nose and finally found the diamond in the rough, but a diamond I had regretted to find. Such a definition the scar ran across their eye. A scar that had confirmed who was crouching in front of me. A person I had not wanted to see.

“Boss, there’s no telling who might be coming later,” Artem said as he quickly glanced through the doorway, “We need to leave, now.”

Ivan never diverted his eyes from mine. The frustration and the anger to which rivaled mine never left my sight. His expressions and definitions were all there for me to see and me only.

“Give up the gun,” Ivan tiredly expressed; his voice distinct and weak.

I had stayed silent, but I did not relieve my grip. I did not want to.

Ivan scooted forward, his body inched closer and closer until he hovered but a few inches from me. His mouth breathed heavily by my ear as he still held a grip on my gun, and his other hand – that was clammy and warm to the touch – laid across mine.

“Please, Eleanor,” Ivan whispered in such a delicate tone, contradicting that which how he looked, “Please give up the gun, Eleanor.”

And like a latch being unlocked, my hand had dropped away from the pistol. My head pounded and throbbed as I sat back and watched as Ivan quickly pocketed the gun into his waistband. His eyes continued watching me; my nerves prickled at the uneasiness from his stare. My eyelids drooped when Ivan stood to his full height, looking down at me.

We watched each other like that for a few seconds. Neither of us spoke or breathed a single word. How he had found us, I had no clue; but I wasn’t surprised. He was trained to find and take anything he wanted.

“Boss!” Artem shouted as he watched the silence between us.

Ivan immediately bent into action. He ungracefully lifted me into his arms; his body shook, and the smell of sweat had masked the smell of the bathroom. His shirt felt damp to the touch, and I had tried squirming away from his hold. Deceitful his weakened state was as he held tightly onto me, never letting me away from his torso. He quickly turned away from the bathroom and charged out the door, his men following like loyal dogs. Eric was nowhere to be seen.

I had quickly accustomed to the smell of his sweat, but the feel of his wet shirt made me uncomfortable as I tried everything I could not to think about it. Anisa and Kat stood outside the bathroom doorway as we emerged from within; they hurried after us as we passed by the crowded people, some giving curious and confusing glances our way. The two called after me, profusely apologizing and wondering how I was. I ignored their loud voices and laid my pounding head against Ivan’s shoulder, no longer caring about the wet touch.

Once we had emerged from the hot and overcrowded club, I shivered and reveled within the cool air. The nighttime breeze brushed against us in soft waves, but it did nothing to dissipate the smell of the modern city air. The stars illuminated the night sky and the crescent moon shined like a lone lover, fading away as the reflection of the sun disappeared night by night. The crescent moon was dying.

My gaze focused on something else, as Ivan walked us towards a set of parked SUV's. The look of Ivan’s scar was scary and disturbing when I had first laid eyes on him. I shivered at the very thought of how he acquired such a deformity, but I had no right to judge. I had definitive no right; if only he could see the very back which he carries in his arms.

Turning, I pressed my lips against Ivan’s shoulders, causing him to tense. I had no intention of anything more other than to place my lips against his shoulder, but I could feel how he anticipated for something more. I turned my head, placing my cheek on the very spot my lips once were and softly breathed out.

“He hurt me,” I mumbled indistinctly for others to hear; only for him.

“I know,” Ivan responded, his voice tired and gruff.

He didn’t know.

The heater blasted through the conditioning unit throughout the car. Where I was once cold from the nighttime air and Ivan’s wet shirt, I was sweating from the heated blast. Ivan drove the car, leading the way as the others followed behind. The city lights flitted by as Ivan drove dangerously over the desired speed limit. I had a tight hold onto the armrest just in case.

Ivan gripped the steering wheel in tight hold; his fingers flexed repeatedly, and his thumbnails dug into the leather covering as his blue eyes stared straight ahead. His body froze forever in their tense state as he continued driving and his stubbled jaw clenched and unclenched, refraining himself from saying anything unnecessary. Sitting in the passenger seat, I looked through the rearview mirror and watched Anisa and Kat looking out the window, too afraid to say anything. We all were.

With long traffic, Ivan had to stop at lights when necessary, occasionally passing by police cruisers. I had tensed at the encounters, but they were nothing Ivan worried about. He probably had a few connections within the police force if he was smart, and so would the Irish as well. No one was ever truly innocent in this world.

We took a sharp right turn once we had passed Ivan’s newest club. There was a loud thump against a window behind me and a low groan. Kat had knocked her head, but she knew better than to say any complaint about Ivan’s harshness. Compared to what he could do, this was merciful.

Taking another right turn, we delved deep into a brightly lit tunnel. The closeness of the walls echoed the sound of the cars roaring by, making my headache worse than it was. We took a left turn where we parked into an empty lot, the squeal of the tires resonating as if they were screaming from the harsh treatment. We all jerked at the sudden stop, our seatbelts saving us as they tugged our bodies back into the seat, but even as Ivan stopped the engine and the men started leaving their cars, we didn’t breathe a word.

Hesitantly, I looked over at Ivan and saw how his expression was the same as before. Impassive. His jaw clenched and unclenched, and his hands were no longer tightened around the steering wheel. They gripped his knees as he stared at the wall in front of him; I could only wonder what was raging through his head at that moment.

Minutes passed, and his men were already inside, but we still stayed in our spots – not daring to move. I continued to stare at Ivan, wondering what he was going to say or do. Anisa and Kat looked at him through the rearview mirror, but they ever so slowly began to fidget from Ivan’s silence. But like a glass cup crashing onto tiled flooring, Ivan unbuckled his seatbelt and exited the car, slamming the door in the process.

“Shit,” Anisa cursed under her breath as she too unbuckled her belt and raced after Ivan. She managed to stop him in front of the car where I could clearly see them. She grabbed for his arm, but one sharp tug from Ivan released him from her hold. He turned sharply where he now stood facing Anisa, making her take one step back.

The car muffled their voices, but not enough where I couldn’t understand what they were saying.

“Ivan, I’m sorry,” Anisa apologized, her eyes bordered with tears, “I-I don’t know what else to say other than I’m sorry.”

Ivan had kept silent, his facial expression saying enough.

“Please, I didn’t know that was going to happen,” Anisa continued.

If possible, time had stopped when Ivan began to laugh.

“You didn’t know? Did you now…” he laughed, “But I fucking did, Anisa. I did.”

“I know and…”

“No, you didn’t fucking know because you wouldn’t have taken her out like you did. What are you doing here anyway?”

Ivan stepped closer to Anisa, but confusion had rumpled her expression and she stood her ground.

“Huh?” Ivan’s dark accent strongly laced in his words, “What the fuck are you doing here, Anisa? To ruin my life? To ruin my mafia? To get back at me for not letting you prove yourself? What is it, Anisa? What the fuck could you possibly want from coming here?”

Ivan had grabbed Anisa by her arms, shaking her like a rabid monkey shaking caged bars to escape. He quickly released her and Anisa immediately fell to the ground, her front dissolved and the tears bordering her eyes finally spilt as she cried out in fear and guilt. Kat quickly jumped out the car and held Anisa close to her, ignoring Ivan’s brooding form. Following Kat’s movements, I stepped out of the car, but didn’t come any closer. I looked between Anisa and Kat to Ivan, wondering what to do.

Once my eyes caught Ivan’s, I couldn’t will myself to look away or move as he advanced my way in sloppy steps. He reached out with one hand for my arm, but I flinched away from his touch. His hand froze at my reaction and placed his arm back at his side. He leaned close to my ear and I could hear his harsh and inconsistent breathing.

“If you ever leave this place again without my will or knowledge,” Ivan began, his voice low enough for only myself to hear, “I will not hesitate to lock you away and never see the light of day ever again.”

Ever carefully looking at him, I swallowed before asking, “Why are you helping me from the Irish?”

“I’m not, I’m helping myself and after what just happened today, my speculations of you being connected with the Irish-scum are only being proven to be correct.”

“The only connections I have with the Irish are my own details and mine alone.”

He grabbed ahold of my arms – his hold tight – and pulled us apart. His eyes closed in on mine and his mouth only turned in that damned smirk I had grown to despise passionately.

“Not for long, tsvetok. Not for long.” [Flower]

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