1. Valentine's Day Special
I woke up, groaning, and slowly opened my eyes. The bedside clock revealed that I had overslept by two hours already. As I sat up on the bed, I couldn’t help but notice the scratches on my arm. None of them were grave, but a couple of them drew thin lines of blood.
You see, here is the thing about monsters, I learned. You think you slew them and be done with, but some of them are still lurking inside your head. And these are the worse ones you have to fight every day.
And fighting with the monsters in your head is a lot tougher than the ones we had killed. I woke up with the scars from the nights to prove that the battle was far from over.
Last night was one of those nights.
Almost a year into my marriage, and I was still slaying the demons of my wife. She woke up screaming and thrashing against me, and I held down her down with all my might.
By the time Mia stopped crying, her body was trembling from the shock of the nightmares. No matter how firmly I rooted her to me, she still writhed and clawed at my arms.
The last time it happened, it was one month and thirteen days ago.
A nagging sound of running water percolated into my mind and snapped me out of my reverie as I made my way into the bathroom. And just like I had feared, Mia was sitting naked, crossed feet, on the floor of the shower cubicle while the water poured over her.
“Mia!” In a few long strides, I reached and turned down the shower, quickly wrapping a towel around her. “Are you trying to die on me?” I growled, both in fear and anger, as I pressed her body against me.
Her skin has gone completely pale and terribly cold under the stream of water as she shivered against me. It reminded me of all those times when I had first brought her home. I would bathe her, feed her, and tuck her frail body into the comforter every night until she found the strength to do it herself.
Given the opportunity, I would probably do it every fucking day of our life if she’d let me, but not at the cost of the voidness in her eyes.
“I am sorry,” she faintly whispered when I had carried her into the bedroom and turned up the heat.
With a sigh and heavy heart, I cupped her chin and laid a soft kiss over her lips. “I don’t need your sorry, kitten. I need to—I want to—see you happy.”
I heard her let out an exhale. “I met a rape victim two days ago,” she told me slowly. “She was narrating her experience, and somehow—” her voice began to crack, “it matched mine. I think it triggered the nightmare.”
I immediately pulled her into me, tightly and almost crushingly because I knew my wife wouldn’t complain. “Mia, I have never stopped you for anything,” I told her solemnly. “But if this whole helping-out-other-victims drags you down to hell, I don’t care if I am an asshole husband, I will not let out of this house.”
I was incredibly narcissistic and downright selfish when it came to my wife and her well-being.
My beautiful woman laughed softly in the face of my threat as I pulled back and cupped her face and frowned. “I am serious.”
She finally gave in and nodded. “I will be careful.”
“Good,” I agreed. “Now, I want you to cancel whatever plans you have for the evening and be ready six. I have a surprise planned for you, my wife.”
Mia’s eyes widened. “Surprise? What have you planned?”
I rolled my eyes and rounded the bed to grab my phone from the stand. “You really don’t know the meaning of surprise,” I tsked absently.
“Okay, but at least tell me where are you taking me?” she pried.
I gave her a dark, twisted smile, coupled with a wink before disappearing into the bathroom. “You will see, wife.”
The last thing on earth I’d ever imagine was to celebrate Valentine’s Day with my husband. Not that he wasn’t romantic; he loved me in more than a hundred ways he was capable of loving, and I couldn’t be more blessed for that.
But Valentine’s day was too cheesy and impossible for Viktor Romano. For heaven’s sake, the man proposed me for marriage like he was reading me the weather report for the next day! “We are getting married." Not a question, proposal, or in excitement.
I stared at my reflection at the floor-length mirror in my closet room for the final time. The cherry-red bodycon gown was probably the second loudest outfit I donned, the first being my wedding dress. Everything about this dress was opulent—the structured power shoulders, cascading cape sleeves, squared neckline as well as the ruched detailing.
But more than anything else, I was dying to be acquainted with the details of the night. It pretty much loses the sense of the word surprise, but I was wildly curious and desperately inquisitive.
Viktor told me to get myself ready, vaguely outlining the purpose, and disappeared into his office for the day. Even at lunch, he was absent, and I was growing antsy every moment.
As I walked down the marble steps, I chanced a look at Dominic, who was leaning lazily against the railing and gave a knowing smirk.
“I need a clue!” I hissed, coming to a stop beside him.
He made a face, whispering back, “I can’t...bro code.”
Glaring, I elbowed his ribs. “You owe me,” I reminded him. “Who got you the wine for Ralph?”
Rolling his eyes, he gave in a little. “I can give you only a clue, but that’s it. Do we have have a deal?”
“Yes, yes,” I begged. “Now, tell me!”
He flicked a glance around the room like he was about to give the code for the nukes and leaned into my ear to whisper, “The surprise Viktor planned involves sex.”
Sex, that’s all? Was he kidding me?
“Please remind me never to help you again,” I told him with narrowed eyes.
He tipped back his head and laughed, and then chivalrously offered his palm for me to descend the last step of the stairs. “Now, hurry up, little one. Or I swear, your husband is going to storm in and sweep you up in his arms.”
As I made my way out of the mansion, the memory of the last time flashed before my eyes. I could almost hear the husky voice of my man saying those sweet words as the past and the present merged. Like when the sea meets the sky over the horizon.
When my gaze paused at the sight of Viktor, a small gasp escaped my mouth. He stood there, wearing the same tall, proud, and powerful aura like a second skin. His hair was sleeked back, his attire black, and his smoked eyes called out to me before he strode over to plant a titillating kiss on my exposed throat.
“When you look like this, it’s hard to find the right words to describe you,” he spoke against the skin where he kissed.
I took a big gulp of air filled with his essence, a heady mixture of his after-shave, the woody musk of his cologne, and his arousal.
“Viktor,” I almost moaned. “How long are you going to make me wait?”
His chuckle was almost boyish. “I love you more when you are all so eager and excited, like a kitten.”
I pressed my body wantonly against him, pouting, “So why don’t you tell your kitten where are you taking her?”
“Nice try, baby.” He pulled away before pressing a palm against my lower back to usher me towards the car and helped me into it.
“Wait!” I exclaimed as he sat behind the wheel. “Is this going to be a long drive? Then why did you ask me to dress up?”
Viktor shook his head as a tsk left his lips. “It’s a good thing that I know my wife so well, unlike other husbands, that I always come prepared,” he said, making no sense and pulled out a long piece of silk out of his pocket.
I eyed the item between his fingers. “What is that for?”
“Turn your head, sweetheart. I am going to blindfold you.”
“Hell, no! I swear, Viktor if you--”
The silk was over my eyes before I could even get the word out.
“Now, you are going to enjoy the ride better,” I heard the gleeful voice as he floored the car.
It wasn’t a long drive as I had suspected, stretching for about half an hour. But Viktor made it a point to make his presence felt, rewarding me with his touch every now and then. Whenever the car stopped at the red light, he’d find an excuse to adjust the seat belt, teasing my beaded nipples over the dress or simply rest his hands between my legs.
Like my wild brain wasn’t enough, my heart was on fire too.
The car finally skidded to a halt, and Viktor pulled the blindfold off me. My head immediately snapped at the venue. It was the same hotel where he had proposed to me.
The door opened, stealing my attention as I took his offered hand. “Viktor, I love this place,” I breathed, taking in the extravagant decor.
“I know, sweetheart. That is why I wanted to give you another beautiful memory.”
Banding my wrist around his arm, I clung to him. “Any memory with you is a beautiful memory.”
It was true in every sense of the word that each memory with Viktor was like seashells I collected over the year. I looked at him, softly smiling down at me, and thought of all the instances when this heartless man loved me with all of himself.
“Come on now, love. I have endless surprises in store for you before I completely tire you out.” He winked.
My husband whisked me away through the lobby and into the private elevator that opened to a room comprised of an entire floor! Since this was one of the Romano hotels, I realized the deluxe suite was designed entirely on the whims of my beloved man.
It has a spacious living room, a bedroom that could rival a monarch’s bedchamber with a jacuzzi attached. There was also an enormous kitchen and fully stocked.
“This place is breathtaking, Viktor.” I exhaled as he pressed himself against my back with his arms snared around my body.
“I am glad you liked it, baby. I couldn’t wait to take you out of that house.”
“What’s wrong with our house?”
He snickered as he looked at me. “I am half-Italian, Mia. My family doesn’t understand the concept of privacy.”
I laughed, swiveling around his arms to face him. “They are so kind, Viktor. I couldn’t believe how warm and welcoming they have been to me.”
“That’s because you deserve all the happiness, kitten. Now, let me give you the first gift of the night I have planned.”
Releasing me, he took me to the bedroom, which was dimly lit with scented candles. My eyes went to the center of the bed, where a beautifully curated gift box was placed, decorated with delicate laces and ribbons. Viktor promptly picked it up and presented me.
“Before you open this, Mia, I want you to know that I could put together all my wealth and riches and still can’t find a gift worthy of you.”
My fingers skimmed over his cheek. “If only money could buy happiness..” I smiled. “You gave me a new life, Viktor. You made me see myself in a new light, and I can’t ever thank you enough.”
Slowly unwrapping the box, I opened it and found a bunch of documents nestled inside. I gave Viktor a quizzical look as he urged me to go through it.
And I did. I spent the next five minutes reading and re-reading until I was absolutely certain that my husband was insane.
“No way. You have gone crazy, Viktor.”
Why? He had legally transferred the entire Romano mansion to my name when he was the head of the house and had the gall to ask me why.
“Because it is rightfully yours!” I argued.
“Listen to me,” he implored. “Sit down and let me explain.” I kept shaking my head, unable to come up with words, but he still tugged me around to sit me down on the decorated bed.
“This is your home as much as it is mine,” he reasoned.
“Then, why transfer?”
“Because it is you who made this house into a home, Mia. Before you, I was simply living there,” he told me with such conviction my heart panged for a moment.
“After Stefan’s death, Mama took to her room. She’d hardly come out or meet anyone, even her sons. We were barely recovering the loss of a brother when our mother passed away. And with his son and wife dead, dad decided to hand over everything to me and left.”
The deep-seated loss and pain were so profound that I could find words to console him. Dad once told that regretted leaving, that even though he was incredibly proud as a father what Viktor has done, he knew so well how tough it was upon him to bear the burden before his time.
“Then, Sammy decided to shift away with a purpose. So, it was just Dominic and I. We barely talked or conversed unless it was business.”
Viktor’s smile was soft, but I could clearly see the light that shone in his eyes. “And then I brought you home. Now I have the entire lunatic clan of mine living with me, and even though I despise how nosey and boisterous they are, I am glad that I have every reason to go back home.”
While his words convinced me that it was a thoughtful gift, I couldn’t help but notice how beautifully he has opened up to me. It was utterly uncharacteristic of my husband to acknowledge his emotions.
With a deep, heartfelt sigh, I nodded. “Thank you.”
“Besides,” he said, pushing the soft fringes over my forehead, “a palace always belongs to the queen. And you, my wife, are no less than an empress.”
I laughed under my breath and through the haze of unshed tears. “We are not monarchs. But I wouldn’t want anything but to be your wife.”
For all his flaws, temper, and unrestrained strength and power, I have come to love Viktor Romano more than everything else in the world.
“Now that this is settled,” he said, as he put aside the papers and rose, “I can move on to the second gift.” A haughty smirk decorated his face, and I knew that moment it would be an obnoxiously loud one.
“Don’t you a house worth millions is enough for one Valentine’s day?” I asked slowly.
Viktor smiled in response, leading me through a door and into the kitchen, which entirely isolated from the other rooms. “I wanted to cook you something tonight,” he announced proudly.
While most women would be elated at the proposition of having their husbands cook for them, I was frightened by the prospect of it. You cannot entrust a kitchen to Viktor the same you don’t leave a child unsupervised with a dangerous weapon.
Both of them would lead to a dangerous outcome.
“I still think we can call for room service,” I treaded slowly. “So that I can spend the time with you.”
“Nonsense,” I dismissed. “It will not take me forever to cook.”
I drew my gaze over the counter, where someone had labouriously chopped vegetables and stacked food packets beforehand. “You are going to cook me instant noodles?” I asked, both in awe and relief.
“Hey! When you were learning to shoot, I gave you a baby weapon.” His hand found my waist as I dragged my gaze back to him. “So go a little easy on me.”
My silvery laugh echoed around the place as I leaned up to kiss his lips. Viktor’s hand immediately eclipsed the back of my head as deepened the tender kiss, filled with the charm of old-school love.
He finally let go of me after devouring my breath, then spun me away and tapped my ass. “Go change and relax in the bedroom. I will join you as soon as I can.”
“Yeah, well, you can also join me now and save us both from the trouble,” I mumbled as I made my way into the bedroom.
The first thing I took off was my heels, followed by the heavy earrings. As I strode over to the window behind the silk curtains to peek at the twinkling stream of lights that traced the Chicago skyline, I had often wondered if I should love or loathe the city.
It was the land of ruthless and heartless, yet Chicago was rooted in me as much as I was rooted in it.
My reverie snapped like a twig under a heavy boot when a wild trail of curses floated into my ears, pitching above the soothing melody playing from the bedroom.
“Shit, shit!” More noises wafted over as I ran towards the kitchen and was thankful for having a mind to take off the shoes.
Viktor was holding a pan, which was on fire while he tried to balance a bowl of vegetables on the other hand. “Oh, God!” Rushing over, I grabbed the jug of water and poured over it as the hissing smoke from the burned contents billowed.
“I swear, the instructions given on the packet were completely wrong,” Viktor sneered his defense.
I laughed hysterically while the bodycon dress clenched around my stomach muscles. It monumentally surprised me to discover that it was in these moments I loved Viktor the most.
He was a terrible cook, inelegantly romantic, fiercely protective, and all of him was mine.
“Not funny!” he growled when I couldn’t stop laughing even after five minutes.
“Sorry, sorry,” I sobered, still chuckling.
Viktor threw me a nasty look before grabbing a tissue to wipe off the sauce smeared all over his clothes. “Thank God I have already ordered a change of clothes,” he muttered under his breath.
Silly mafia man, I tsked.
Reaching over, I took the cloth from his hand and threw it aside, and began to unbutton the shirt. “It would be a waste of a perfectly good Valentine’s day celebration if you are still wearing your clothes,” I hinted.
Viktor quickly shrugged off the shirt and pushed me against the nearest counter. One of his hands sank into the bunch of hair at the nape while the other grasped my hip, pinning me down as he ravaged my mouth.
His grunts and moans and passion mingled like a lethal dose of drugs into my veins.
Viktor finally let go of me from his confining embrace only to spun me around and take down the dress, then carrying my lingerie-clad body into the bedroom.
“Don’t get up,” he instructed as he placed me on my back on the bed; my legs sprawled invitingly. Tipping up my head, I watched him watching me, the wild blue eyes trained on me with acute possessiveness.
“Mister, if you are going to make me wait, I am not making any promises.”
“Then you would have wait for much longer, my dearest wife.” He winked as he pulled down the drawers, and I, for all intent and purposes, held my breath.
“I can’t,” I mumbled. “Watching you strip for is enough a foreplay.”
“Is that so?” His mouth twitched, the thread of excitement was evident.
In two seconds, his body was on top of me. He balanced his weight on one elbow while the other hand lowered between my legs and parted the fabric of my thong. My hips canted on its own to meet his touch.
Viktor plunged two of his fingers into my pussy with a challenging look. “You still don’t want foreplay?”
My head tossed back against the soft mattress as I could only moan into the feelings and match the rhythm of my hips with the movement of his fingers.
My first release of the night was lingering around as the walls of my vagina clenched around his thick and long masculine fingers, and Viktor must have felt that acutely as well.
“Come for your husband, kitten,” he pronounced like a royal decree.
And his voice alone, all heavy and demanding, brought me the burst of pleasure I was craving for hours. When the headiness receded a little, he sat me up and discarded the last vestiges of clothes on me.
He was straddling my body with his knees while his lower stomach was right in front of my face.
“I want to...” I looked up at him as the rest of the words smoked out into the air, but Viktor understood and nodded.
I took hold of his thick, veiny shaft, without breaking our eye contact, and gradually wrapped my lips around him. It wasn’t the first time that I was giving him the head, but the grunts and groans of his liking thrilled my entire being.
“That’s enough, kitten.” His voice was thick and grating as he pulled out of my mouth. “We have the entire night to explore.”
I leaned back to my elbows, breathless, as I watched the monster of him, barely restraint and struggling to unleash.
By the end of the night, I was barely aware of the countless orgasms that rocked my tiny frame or the seeping cum, of his and mine, trailing my thighs.
Not only Viktor fucked me hard, pounding into me until the searing heat in my body made me see dancing stars before my eyes, but he sucked, licked, and nibbled every inch of my crevices.
The bed was a glorious mess, not that we complained as we crashed. I was so thoroughly spent, brimming with satisfaction that I could only watch Viktor readying the jacuzzi for us and then, carried me over there. The moment he lowered me into the warm water, I hissed into the sensation between my legs.
“Shh, it’s ok, kitten. It will feel better in a moment,” Viktor softly crooned as he nestled me between his thighs and my body inclined against his chest.
I reminisced of my early days at the Romano mansion, within the confines of the grey walls of Viktor’s bedroom. My cold and cruel mafia man...and yet I was keenly aware of his shelter and protection.
Smiling, I looked up to him. “Viktor, I don’t know if I ever told you this enough or not, but thank you. Thank you for caring for me when I was nothing but a lost cause.”
He pressed his forehead as the texture of our skin collided. “You have never been a lost cause, Mia. And I might not have realized it back then, but I needed you more than you needed me.”
Maybe he was right or maybe not, but I knew it now that souls have a way to find their own homes.
So, Viktor and I were exactly where we belonged—to each other.
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