Her Empire, His Dominion

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Chapter Eleven

The first light of the day poured through the kitchen windows. Sapphire sipped her coffee as she scrolled through her countless messages. Most of them were from her boyfriend and best friend, while a few were from her adoptive parents. After moving out, Sapphire didn’t speak to them as regularly as she wanted to, and she felt guilty about it. She made a quick mental note to call them later in the day.

Rising from the stool, she padded over towards the coffee machine to pour herself another cup. She rubbed the exhaustion from her eyes. The bland flavour of the beverage didn’t grant her any sort of relief from the burn in her eyes, nor did it offer any hint of energy that she had been fishing for since the minute she stumbled down the stairs.

With an exaggerated sigh, she flickered her eyes around the kitchen when her eyes fell on the cabinet. The room was empty. It was almost six in the morning, and the staff didn’t start arriving until six-thirty, thereabout.

Sapphire glanced around one more time before pulling a bottle of vodka from the cabinet, pouring just the right amount in her drink before placing it back in its respective place. She moaned in delight as she took a sip as both the burn and warmth rushed down her throat. It felt like utter bliss as it ran through her veins and brought energy to her every nerve. Her eyes fluttered closed on instinct as she leant against the counter, taking small sips from her cup until her stomach churned at the unusual mix.

She yelped in shock when she reopened her eyes and saw Valentin standing in the doorway with his arms folded over his chest. He wore a suit, as usual, which slightly puzzled Sapphire. She had only seen him casually dressed last night, and that was the first time. It wasn’t even six in the morning yet, and he was already dressed for the day. In fact, it was Sunday. Didn’t he take days off? But what was even more puzzling was the strange glint in his eyes. Amusement, was it?

“Er… Good morning,” she mumbled over the rim of her cup. Valentin pushed his weight from the hinge of the door as he crossed the room and grabbed a cup of his own.

“Vodka?” he simply asked, avoiding her greeting.

Sapphire burnt red behind her cup as her eyes grew wide. She felt like a kid who got caught with her hand in the cookie jar.

“I can’t sleep at night, okay?” she snapped unintentionally. Valentin rose an eyebrow at her. “Sorry. I just... I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.”

She spun on her heels to pour the remainder of her drink down the drain. It was making her sick anyways. She still felt his eyes on her, watching her every movement as she rinsed the cup and placed it back in its holding place.

“Did you need something else?” she asked, meeting his eyes again.

They were guarded and void of all emotion, and memories of the night before became vivid in her mind again. His gaze was heated, filled with desire and pure masculine dominance last night. Without realizing it, she blushed profusely at the memory as she dropped her gaze.

Valentin recognized that he had never seen her do this before. Sapphire was never the first to break a stare; neither was she ever this shy and wary. But then he noticed the way she squeezed her thighs together, and he knew at that moment what really got her worked up.

Apprehension was never one of his best attributes, but he, more than anyone else, knew what might’ve been going on in her mind. She had dominated most of his thoughts last night, even when he tried to drown himself in work. They were both old enough to understand that what almost happened last night could’ve changed everything between them.

The kiss was about to happen, and neither of them tried to deny it. However, they weren’t entirely clear about what bothered them the most. Was it the fact that it didn’t happen, or that it almost happened? Sapphire, for one, was troubled by the thought, especially because the imagery of Valentin’s lips on hers oddly stimulated her, and a swift flash of D’Andre’s face would interrupt her thoughts soon after.

“No. I just came for coffee,” Valentin finally said as he turned on his heels.

“Oh wait,” she called as a quick memory came back to her, “I needed to speak to you about something.”

“Come with me then.” He led her to his office in silence. Like all the other times, he sat in his leather chair, and Sapphire sat in front of him.
With his mug still in hand, he gestured for her to talk. However, it was pretty difficult for him to focus, considering that all the times they met like this, she was fully dressed. But now, she still wore her sleepwear, which gave quite a lot away. Clenching his jaw, Valentin tried to focus his gaze anywhere but her as she spoke.

“What do you know about your sub that went missing with your illegal drugs?” she asked. Her voice dripped in judgement, but Valentin was already used to this.

“We are working on it,” he simply stated. “You already pointed out that you have zero interest in my illegal operations.”

“Yes, but there was something relatively fishy I recently discovered.”


“Well, you already know that it was the Nemeci who probably stole it, right?”

Valentin nodded. “Not probably. Certain.”

“But they had help,” she concluded, causing Valentin’s eyebrows to pucker in thought. “I know you won’t like this.”

“Just spit it out, Sapphire,” he hissed.

“I had a unit of men look into it even more because I knew you wouldn’t have suspected them. But the Sicilian Mafia got a huge sudden shipment of drugs yesterday, a day after it was docked and collected by Nemeci. Now, call it a coincidence, but— are you even listening to me?” she demanded, causing Valentin’s eyes to snap back to hers. What she didn’t know was that he was only trying to keep himself focused.

“Yes.” He swallowed as his eyes fell on her full bosom swiftly.

“Good, because I was saying that the Sicilian Mafia—your ally, received a shipment of half that amount that went missing from your sub. And guess where the next half went?”

“Nemeci. They split it half-half,” he mumbled at the realization, and Sapphire nodded in agreement.

“I know that the Sicilian Mafia are our allies. But the fact is, they worked with your enemy to steal from you. It makes sense. They are both in Italy.”

Valentin rubbed his hand over his mouth in thought and budding anger. “And they acted as if they hated the Nemeci just as I do.”

“That’s the thing with traitors, Valentin. They lie, steal and kill. I just wanted to tell you before it ended up with you or someone else getting killed.”

But there was still one thing that Valentin couldn’t understand. “How did you know to suspect them? You’ve been here a week, and I’ve only mentioned it once.”

Sapphire shrugged. “From the minute you told me, it seemed suspicious. If Nemeci is new and growing, they wouldn’t have the tech and ability to pull off something this big. I didn’t tell you because you wouldn’t have believed me without proof, since you obviously think I’m dumb, naïve, and you don’t trust me.”

“I don’t think—”

“So, I got a unit of men and sent them to Italy that same day without your knowledge. I knew you sent a few men there too to catch the Nemeci men red-handed. But my men weren’t looking for Nemeci. I told them to look for anything.”

Valentin swallowed as his teeth ground against each other. In a sense, he was impressed and almost grateful for her discovery. But he would be lying if he said that it didn’t hurt his pride. She had been here for one week and made such an observation.

“Don’t feel too bad about it, Valentin,” Sapphire said, breaking him from his thoughts. “Sometimes certain things just need to be viewed from a female’s point of view.” Sapphire’s voice was neither teasing nor boasting. She was strictly professional.

“I see.” He leant back in his chair as they regarded each other in silence. Valentin was trying desperately to keep his eyes above her chest. “I appreciate that keen observation, Sapphire. And rest assured that if you should make an observation like this again, feel free to tell me. I will not disregard your onion.”

“Really?” She raised an eyebrow at him. “Because since I’ve been here, that’s all you have been doing.”

Instead of answering, Valentin simply stared at her since he knew she was telling the truth.

“Well, in that case, there is something else, but—” She paused abruptly as a knock sounded at Valentin’s office door.

Both their attention drifted to the door as it was slightly pushed open. Sapphire instantly recognized Alyona, already dressed for work with an empty basket in her hand.

Alyona stopped instantly as she spotted Sapphire, and Sapphire noticed the swift disappointment on the young woman’s face before she guarded it.

Dobroe utro,” she mumbled, dropping her shy gaze to the ground.

“Good morning.” Sapphire returned her greeting, but Valentin remained silent as he watched her with his face as unemotional as always.

Alyona’s eyes lingered on Valentin before she spoke again, and Sapphire noticed this without even paying attention too much. She mumbled something to Valentin in Russian, and Valentin nodded in acknowledgement as if dismissing the maid. Still, she remained.

“Was there anything else?” he asked, almost impatiently.

Alyona rocked from one side to the next as she pulled the basket more to her chest. “I just wanted to thank you again for taking me home last night. I came early as you said to do the laundry.” As she said this, her eyes flickered to Sapphire quickly, as if silently asking Valentin to dismiss her.

It was then that he noticed that she misread the entire ‘come early tomorrow’ thing. She thought that he meant they’d have another moment like the night prior. The thought almost amused him, as he knew he meant work with no hidden meaning.

Sapphire observed how Alyona chewed on her lip and how her cheeks burnt crimson as she stared at Valentin.

“Oh,” she mumbled in realization. When she saw them last night, he wasn’t only taking her home. Was he? Something else happened.

For some reason, it bothered her, and she hated that it did. Whatever happened between them wasn’t her concern or business. She had no right to be feeling resentful towards Alyona all of a sudden. Besides, the only reason why she hired Alyona was because of her keen sweetness and respect. Perhaps, Sapphire had read her innocence far too wrongly.

“The clothes won’t wash themselves,” Valentin said, leaning forward. “I left my basket in front of my door.”

Alyona’s eyes fell in disappointment as she simply nodded and left. An awkward silence fell between the two for a while. Valentin assumed that Sapphire picked up on Alyona’s tension, yet she didn’t say anything. Then again, why would she?

Clearing her throat, Sapphire tried to speak again, but Valentin spoke over her.

“You have the freedom to speak what you want to, Sapphire.”

“Excuse me?” She blinked a couple of times as she swept her eyes to his.

“Something is bothering you.” His tempting lips curled into a smirk as he watched the rapid rise and fall of her chest. Calling her out made her nervous, and he relished it because this reaction to Alyona might mean that she was just as sexually frustrated as he was.

The thought pleased Valentin.

“B-b-bothering me?” she asked, feigning innocence as her mind cleared. “Right, something is bothering me actually,” she added as she praised her ability to think fast on her feet.

“What might that be?”

“Your men,” she answered, instantly wiping the smile from his face.

“My men?” he echoed as he leant back in his leather seat again.

Sapphire nodded. “There have been reports of robberies, violence and extortion of citizens.”

“That could’ve been anyone.” He shrugged.

Sapphire narrowed her eyes at him as she dug her nails in the chair. “There is some sort of silent agreement that keeps the police off their backs. They are beating and robbing people, Valentin. They are going around business places and demanding a portion of their profits to ‘keep them safe and protected’. Don’t give me that bullshit about not knowing.”

This was brought to Sapphire’s attention last night when she got her phone from her car. It was on the news headline the minute she opened her social media. It made her feel sick to her stomach and foolish for believing Valentin when he said he was ‘working on it’ since this was one of the first issues she had ever brought to him.

“If you get so much money from your drugs and weapons, why do you keep doing this?” Sapphire was merely curious. Was he so cold-hearted and selfish, not to mention greedy to the point where he needed to take people’s hard-earned money?

“I do,” he simply said. “Whatever they take is for themselves.”

Sapphire scoffed in disbelief. “And you just allow it. You turn a blind eye and let them do what they want, simply because they know they have your protection from the authorities.”

“I told them to ease up a bit. I do not like the media attention, Sapphire. If residents are complaining, then my phone rings and I end up in time-wasting meetings. I am working on it.”

“Shut it down,” she growled. “They’ll listen to you. Don’t you pay them enough? These are the soldiers, right? The lowest in your organization. They aren’t even allowed at the Trevoga mansion. You simply keep them in the city to do your bidding and keep an eye on the authorities and residents. But at the end of the day, they are still Trevoga men, and that means it’s your fault that seventeen-year-old boy they almost murdered.”

The sharp pain in her chest at the thought nearly brought tears to her eyes. That poor kid was simply closing up for his parents when he was attacked by Trevoga soldiers, beaten and robbed of everything. Even his clothes.

The look on Valentin’s face proved that he hadn’t heard about the news. But even then, he seemed as if he didn’t care.

“You have no intention to tell them to stop, do you?”

He rolled his eyes as they grew heated again. He was about to argue, and she could sense it. “See, this is the thing with you, Sapphire. You believe everything is that simple.”

“It is, Valentin, because you are the boss.” She emphasized ‘boss’ to prove her point. “The only reason why you won’t is that you think people will think I am making you soft. Well, guess what? I came here to do something, and I won’t stop till it’s done.”

She rose from the chair, causing Valentin to watch her every move as she dismissed the conversation. “You have two options here. Either you shut them down in a week, or I’ll do it for you.” She turned her back and headed for the door but stopped swiftly when another thought arose. “And trust me, you do not want me to do it myself. So, I suggest you listen to me.”

She was gone before he could even say a word, and yet again, Sapphire left him in a steaming mess. He despised her so much, yet he couldn’t control his urge to have her. He hated himself for it because how can he be attracted to a woman so intolerable?

Yet again, she had threatened him and spoke to him as if she was his superior. He didn’t take her threat lightly, though. The fact that she discovered something so significant about the Sicilian Mafia proved that he underestimated her.

But what Sapphire Nieto didn’t know was that she shouldn’t underestimate him either. She was still fighting him for this empire. And in a fight, someone ought to lose.

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