As we landed in an airstrip just outside of Toronto, Ontario, the life that I knew disappeared. Rui Salko was a powerful man, and he would make sure I would never see my parents, Kenzi, or Davian. I would spend what life I had left as his wife. It made my skin crawl. It wasn’t the fact that he was older and still had his looks. That I could deal with. But the fact that he and my mom shared a relationship made me sick to my stomach. There was no way I could ever bring myself to sleep with this man.
A car was waiting for us when we stepped from the plane. Two rather large gentlemen got out of the front of the car and headed toward the plane. From what I could see, they were unloading the luggage from the cargo hold in the belly of the aircraft. By the time my feet hit the ground, the men were rolling two large suitcases each towards the car.
We headed toward the car with Rui’s hand against my back. The wind, although warm, blew my hair against my face, making it difficult to see. Pulling it back with my hands, I held in place by pulling it over my shoulder and pressing the unruly waves to my chest. With nothing obstructing my vision, I entered the car and slid to the farthest end. I wished I could have drawn on the seat marking a ‘do not cross’ zone so that Rui would keep his distance. It didn’t matter that I buddied up to the door, he was at my side, even though two-thirds of the seat was available for him.
Placing his hand on my knee, just as he did in the limo, he applied pressure with his fingers. “Reyna, there is a lot you will learn about me. One of them is that I like keeping my prized possessions close. Sooner or later, you will accept the fact that you belong to me.”
I could have screamed. I would never belong to him. He might have the power to hurt me, but he would never break me into admitting I was his. Releasing his hand from my knee, he shifted his body, moved slightly away from me, allowing me some breathing room. It wasn’t for long, as his hand went to my arm and pulled me away from the window. I was so close to him I might as well have been sitting on his lap. Holding me in place, he lowered his head, and his mouth came to mine. Oh… no. I refuse to let this happen.
As he tried to snake his tongue between my lips, my only reaction was to bite down before he had the chance. When I tasted a tinge of his blood, he released his grip only to bring his hand across my cheek. “It’s best you learn to accept that you can’t fight me. One way or another, I will get want I want. Continue putting up a fight, Reyna, and see what happens.”
My cheek burned like crazy, and I was sure his assault would leave a mark. Rui kept his distance for the rest of the ride. It was only after we stopped in front of a large stone mansion that he revealed his colors. When I didn’t accept his hand to assist me out of the car, he grabbed my arm and pulled me out. Feeling helpless, I had no other choice but to give into him. If I hadn’t, I was sure that I would have ended up on the graveled ground and dragged to the front door by my hair like a cavewoman.
Rui had a hold of my arm as we made our way to the front door. My eyes were on the large wooden door. Like something out of a scary movie, a knocker with a lion’s head had been positioned in the middle of the door. It was rusted and probably as old as the door.
The two men who came here with us walked up behind us with the four pieces of luggage from the plane. Waiting until Rui opened the door, they remained behind us as we entered. As I walked past the threshold, I had an eerie feeling about this house. It was dark and unnerving. The icy air didn’t help, and it made me feel like I had stepped into hell. There was a musty smell about the place like it had been closed up for a long time.
I remained where I was as the two men walked from behind me and up the long staircase. I wasn’t sure how they could see; it was that dark. Rui tugged on my arm, pulling me to another room in the house. Releasing his grip, he went over to the window and pulled open the curtains to the outside. As though someone had switched a light on, the room came into view. I could see
almost everything covered in sheets, and I couldn’t see what hid beneath them.
After all the curtains were open, Rui began ripping the sheets off the furniture. I found it funny that a man in a three-piece suit would do such a dirty job. Dust was flying everywhere. Looking at me in disgust, he dropped the sheet to the floor. “Your first duty as my wife is to get this place clean. The staff will be here tomorrow to assist you.”
Was he serious?
“Are you crazy? There is no way I’m going to clean this house, with or without the help of your staff.”
His eyes changed to a darker shade of gray as he walked my way. I tried to back away from him but ran into a wall. The minute he reached me, his hand slid across my cheek, and I knew he would slap just as he did in the car. Instead, he brought his lips close to mine and breathed in my scent. His hand lingered on my cheek for a moment until he moved it down my body. His face was so close to mine, and I knew his lips would soon collide with to mine.
When I turned my head in disgust, it didn’t stop his exploration of my body. Lowering his head to my ear, he bit the lobe. “My sweet Reyna. When will you learn? You can’t win.”
His hand was between my legs, and even though I was wearing jeans, I could feel the sensation he was causing. I hated this man, and I hated what he was doing to my body. Pushing away, he began walking out of the room. Stopping at the doorway, he turned to face me. “You better get started. The cleaning supplies are in the kitchen closet down the hall.”
He disappeared in the darkness, and I couldn’t help but crumble to the floor. He was right. I would never win against him, but that didn’t mean I would stop trying.
I hadn’t slept all night once Rui had shown me to the room I would be staying in, which I also had to clean. If I had to guess, my reward for cleaning the house were the four suitcases that his men carried into the house. Unfortunately, my purse had been taken by the burly man and wasn’t among them. It was probably back in Georgia, still in the limo, along with my phone.
As I unpacked the suitcases, I noticed the only thing going for Rui was that he had excellent taste. Clothes and accessories from every designer possible were stuffed inside them. I didn’t want to accept them, but I had no choice. The only clothes I had were the ones I was wearing. Filth covered them from cleaning the house and they would probably never get clean.
It was early morning, and I could hear the staff arriving by sound of the tires against the gravel driveway. I was beyond tired, and every muscle in my body hurt. If I didn’t hurry, Rui would be knocking on my door. Pushing to my feet, I pulled the curtain back to let the sun in. After I spent the yesterday cleaning, I found that Rui’s home wasn’t as bad as I thought. Once I allowed the light in, the gloomy feeling left, and so did the musty smell. It would never be my home, but at least it was clean.
Pulling what I needed from the closet, I headed to the bathroom connected to my room. Before going to bed, I unpacked all the suitcases and found that Rui also provided me with the essentials I needed. I wasn’t sure how he knew what I liked, but just like Davian, he had purchased my favorite shampoo and cream rinse as well as other items I used.
The shower was much smaller than the one at the safe haven, but it didn’t stop my thoughts of Davian and how he commanded my body as he pressed mine against the cold tile wall. I wanted to feel his touch again. The thought of never touching him again made my heart hurt, and my body ached. Enveloped with the steam of the hot water, I imagined him here with me. I closed my eyes, and it was Davian gliding his hand down my body. His touch was gentle as he layered kiss after kiss down my body. I could feel his finger slide between my legs, pressing it gently against my opening. Only he could find that special spot. I could feel my body give into his touch as he added another finger, thrusting them deep inside. Moving my hips, the sensation put me closer to the edge, just as he did. Releasing the breath, I was holding, my body shattered, and I fell to the tile floor. The gates opened and I let out a scream of agony. When I could finally stand, I left the tears I had shed in the shower. One by one, the tears disappeared through the drain. That was where they would remain. I refused to shed one more tear for Mr. Salko. He might have control over me, but he would never break me.
When I reached the bottom of the stairs, the staff was busy running around getting the house ready. I had done most of the cleaning yesterday before going to bed. As I headed into the living room, the clean scent of furnish polish and flowers filled my senses. A smile of accomplishment spread across my face, knowing it was because of me. I headed to the kitchen, only to find two other staff members and no Rui.
Pulling their attention away from preparing breakfast, I said, “Excuse me, but does anyone know where Mr. Salko is?”
One of the two women cleaned her hands on her white apron and said, “Good morning, Mrs. Salko. I believe Mr. Salko is in the garden having his morning breakfast. If you would like to join him, I would be happy to bring your breakfast to you.”
Looking around the room, I wasn’t sure where the garden would be. Addressing the woman, I looked to her for an answer. “And where would that be?”
“Through the dining room. You can get there through that door.”
Moving my eyes toward the door she was pointing to, I tipped my head and headed toward it. I remember using the same door to clean the dining room last night. I had no idea that the glass doors led to a garden since it was dark outside. Pulling the glass door open, the warmth of the sun hit my face, warming my cool body. In the distance, I could see Rui sitting on a chair having his morning breakfast near a well-manicured hedge of flowers.
As I followed the brick path that would take me to him, I took in my surroundings. The garden was beautiful. No wonder Rui was having his breakfast here instead of inside. The thought of what I would face entered my mind as I continued to follow the path. Hopefully, after he saw what I had done with the house, he would be in a good mood.
Before I came into his line of vision, his voice bounced off his lips. “Good morning, my sweet Reyna, I trust you slept well. Come… sit.”
Taking the seat across from where he sat, I felt his eyes scanning my body up and down like a laser cutting through glass. “I didn’t sleep well at all. Thank you very much.”
“I’m sure it is the first night jitters. This house is very old and creates sounds that can be very disturbing.”
It had nothing to do with the sounds of the house. I was being held against my will by a man who devised an illegal marriage, a man who I hated and didn’t trust. That was what I wanted to tell him, but instead, I just nodded in agreement.
The air between us was thick, and it had nothing to do with the humidity beginning to coat in the air. Rui continued to enjoy his breakfast while I diverted my eyes away from him and looked around the garden. Spotting one of his staff in the distance, my stomach rumbled with hunger pains. I hadn’t eaten since yesterday morning. My appetite was gone, which was no surprise given the situation.
Tipping her head, she placed a plate covered with a silver dome on the table and walked away without a word. I had a feeling Rui’s staff was as afraid of him as I was. When I lifted the dome, eggs, bacon, toast, and a small bowl of mixed fruit greeted me. There was a coffee cup turned upside down, covering a packet of butter and strawberry jam. A carafé of coffee was already sitting on the table, along with a crystal set of cream and sugar. Placing my cup right-side-up on the table. I filled my cup with coffee, all the while feeling Rui’s eyes sear into me.
I pretended to ignore his stare and the fact that he was making me very uncomfortable. “This breakfast looks amazing.”
“My staff…” he began but stopped as his phone buzzed inside his pocket.
All I could do was enjoy my breakfast as Rui conversed in Russian to the person on the other side. Had I known the psycho before me would kidnap me and then use his native language to hide his conversations, I would have taken Russian as an elective.