Her Empire, His Dominion

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Chapter Thirteen

Cold fingers caressed her skin, evoking a shiver through her spine as she arched her back to meet his urgent thrust.
Her every nerve tingled in joy and pleasure as she dug her fingers in his back, which was met with yet another deep stroke driving her closer and closer to the edge.

“Let me hear you say it,” he demanded, but Sapphire’s clouded mind couldn’t comprehend what he meant.

“Say…Say what, Valentin?” she managed to ask through suppressed moans. His hot kisses paused against her chest, letting his warm breath brush just below her full breast, waiting for her reply.

“Tell me that you have yielded. You have gone against everything you thought you believed and finally surrendered to me. Say it.”

“I surrender,” she mumbled, pulling on his shoulders to bring him impossibly deeper.

“You surrender to who?” he insisted, wanting—needing her to say it.

“To you, Valentin. I surrender to you.” It felt liberating. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted from her chest, and the toe-curling bliss of having him closer sent her over the edge. “I surrender… I surrender…”
She continued mumbling the words until she found herself drifting, and suddenly the warmth of his body was no longer close.

“No, come back,” she pleaded, but he only disappeared even more as a deafening pounding filled her mind instead. It was then that she found herself trashing in her sheets, being awakened by the knocking on her door.

It took a while for her to realise that it had just been a dream.

Five times. This dream had haunted her five times throughout the past three weeks. Every time, Sapphire would jump from her sleep, hyperventilating and heaving.

She had no idea why Valentin had invaded her thoughts this much. She had known him for about a month, and he only seemed to get more and more unbearable. Yet, every argument they had—every time he would pull close to her and glare in her eyes, it only seemed to ignite a spark from her toes all the way up to the tip of her ears.
What he had done to her? She had no idea. And she, even more, didn’t like it.

The knocking grew louder, and Sapphire shuffled from her bed, shoving her feet in her slippers as she padded over to the door. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and the memory of her vivid dream from her mind as she swung the door open, being met with the young maid, Alyona.

“Good morning. I came for your laundry,” she said, trying to move past Sapphire, but was stopped by her boss’s hand.

“You did laundry yesterday,” Sapphire mumbled in confusion, “and why are you here this early? It’s five-thirty in the morning.”

She didn’t know why, but from the day she figured out that Alyona and Valentin shared a night together, Sapphire’s likeness to Alyona dropped significantly. In fact, Sapphire was annoyed by her.

Alyona chewed on her lip, being caught in a lie of why she really wanted to enter Sapphire’s room. In truth, Alyona’s night with Valentin had been a constant memory in her head, and she wasn’t blind to the keen tension between Valentin and Sapphire. She wanted to know for sure if something was going on between them, and she thought that perhaps Valentin would’ve left a shirt or something in Sapphire’s bedroom.

Sapphire snapped her fingers, bringing back Alyona from her jumbled thoughts. “Is there a real reason you came here? Or you only wanted to interrupt my rest?”

“In all due respect, Miss Sapphire, it is seven-thirty in the morning.”

“What?” Sapphire’s eyes grew wide as she instinctively looked towards her windows. She got thick drapes installed last week, so the sunlight was completely hidden.

Alyona simply stepped back a little, allowing Sapphire to take a peek through the door. Indeed, the hall was occupied by two men, proving that their’ work day’ had started.

“But…but how?” she mumbled as she dashed to her nightstand to grab her phone, giving Alyona the access she wanted.

Disappointment fell on her face when she noticed that there was no trace of Valentin in Sapphire’s room. Yet, she felt relieved.

Sapphire, on the other hand, was writhing in confusion. Her phone and clocks were all set two hours early, which meant someone wanted her to get up late.

“Who the hell broke into my room?” she mumbled under her breath. There were only two people in her mind. Luka and Elisa.

But why would they want her to wake late? To make her seem lazy, perhaps. Rage rose in her spine as she quickly dismissed the maid with a glare, not even bothering to change from her sleepwear as she dashed through the halls, down the stairs and towards Valentin’s office.

As she suspected, all three of them were seated, talking.

“Which one of you did it?” Sapphire demanded, slamming the door behind her.

The three of them watched her in slight confusion before all their expressions, except Valentin’s, fell in annoyance.

“Look who finally decided to wake up,” Elisa chimed sarcastically with her voice dripping in disgust. “And why must you insist on dressing like that in this house! How do you tolerate it?” She directed her last question at Valentin, who was simply watching Sapphire in his general collected composure. But Sapphire knew better. She could read the turmoil behind his eyes, and she could see that there was something he was dying to get off his chest.

On the other hand, her dream resurfaced as she held his gaze, causing heat to rise in the pits of her stomach. She quickly dropped her eyes to compose herself before lifting them back to the accused.

“First of all, my phone and clocks were all tampered with, and the times were set two hours earlier. I know one of you did it, and I know it is because you wanted me to appear lazy in front of Valentin. Do you think I don’t know that you two have been plotting to get rid of me because Luka’s ego is too hurt, and Elisa sees me as a threat to her power? But lest you forget that Valentin is no boss of me either, and he cannot get rid of me until I so choose. Now, I hate when my privacy is invaded, so I am giving you both a warning. Stay the hell away from my room.”

“Who do you think you are talking to!” Elisa shouted as she jumped to her feet—enraged. “You—you come here thinking you’re the boss of everyone! You dress like a slut in a house full of men daily, which you are because you are evidently sleeping with my brother to have your way!” she spat, evoking a gasp from Sapphire. “And don’t get me started on this ‘good-girl’ act that you think you have going on. We know what you did to those soldiers, having them arrested. I knew we couldn’t trust you! You are working with the police.”

Sapphire scoffed as she rolled her eyes. “It took longer than I anticipated, but I told Valentin that if he didn’t call off those men, I’d stop them myself. They are hurting innocent people, and if you believe that stopping them was wrong of me, it simply proves how much I am needed here. You three would drive the country into the damn ground!”

“You’re the one driving us in the ground.” Elisa waved her arms frantically around her face with each word, her grey eyes stormy and dark while Valentin and Luka watched in composed silence. “I cannot begin to understand what was going on in Valentin’s mind for bending to a slut’s will. Are you that good, huh? Don’t you see what sending those men to prison will cause? We have fewer eyes in the streets, making us more vulnerable to attacks and ambush, whether from the police or enemies.”

“We?” Sapphire laughed. “The last time I checked, you had nothing to do with the Mafia. And you cannot act as if you care for Valentin’s safety. You two obviously despise each other.” Sapphire took two slow, taunting steps towards Elisa with her eyes swimming in mischief. “And if I am such a slut as you boldly claim, what would we say of you, who obviously seduces these men into giving you intel? Surely, Luka wasn’t the one to tell you everything, yet you know so much?”

Elisa gasped as she raised her arm to strike her, but Sapphire skillfully caught the raging woman’s hand before she could land a slap. “How dare you! You little…little—”

“Okay, that is enough.” Valentin finally decided to speak as he rose from his chair, adjusting his suit firmly across his chest as he eyed the two women. “Elisa, leave, please. I would like to have a talk with Sapphire.”

“Kick her to the curb, Valentin! Or I will for you!” Elisa was screaming at the top of her lungs that even the thick walls of Valentin’s office couldn’t completely restrain. Luka held onto her shoulder and led her from the office, never letting her gaze fall from Sapphire.

Elisa gripped the door as Luka was about to close it, staring straight at Sapphire as she said her parting words. “By the way, we didn’t go into your room. We have far better things to think about than pulling immature stunts like changing the time on your alarm.”

This left Sapphire confused. Who else would it be then?

Valentin’s composed state fell the instant the door closed, and Sapphire was met with yet another raging Dominik sibling.

“What the hell did you do?” he demanded, rounding his desk to come closer to her. Sapphire jumped back, remembering how much his proximity had a tendency to cloud her mind.

“I did what I said I would do,” she simply stated. This, of course, only pissed him off even more.

“You had them sent to prison!”

“I know; it’s where they ought to be. Did you know that the seventeen-year-old boy succumbed to his injuries a few days ago? Two and a half weeks in the hospital battling for life and he still—” She paused for a brief moment as she steadied her voice again. “He still died. Hundreds of other people like him are victims of your soldiers’ violence and robberies, and who knows how many more were to come? I gave you an option, Valentin. Either you shut them down, or I did it for you. You still pay them a ton load of cash, and they didn’t need to steal from people, but they did. So, yes, Valentin, I got them arrested, and I’d do it again if your new recruits do the same thing.”

Valentin watched her in silence.

He remembered her threat clearly three weeks ago. She was dressed similarly in nothing but sleep shorts and a tank top, and he had come to realise that her more serious talks were always in the morning when she wasn’t dressed for the day yet.

She had told him to order his soldiers to stop the unnecessary violence, robbery and extortion, or she’d do it for him in a way that ‘he wouldn’t like’. She gave him a week, and Valentin noticed that she hadn’t done anything when the week was over.

By then, he had brushed it off as an empty threat, when in truth, she was working on it all along. All those days they spent together discussing work and being oddly uncomfortable around each other, she was plotting against him, and he didn’t know. The thought slightly worried him. Was she that good of an actress? Or does she simply know how to hide things well?

Or worse, could she really be more dangerous than he suspected? Did Elisa and Luka see something that he was far too blind by lust to see?

Oddly, he hoped that she wasn’t someone else than who she claimed to be because in the past three weeks, he had realised that he learned so much about her—more than the sassy, authoritative woman she always showed him. Subconsciously, he had learnt a few things about her that intrigued him that were revealed through small conversations or interactions. Like how he would know if she was about to disapprove of a point because her nose would twitch exactly two times before she said ‘no’. He also learnt that she played with her earlobe when she wrote as if it helped her concentrate.

And his favourite thing about her that he had learnt so far was how she would part her lips ever so slightly when she was flustered by him as if allowing herself more air to breathe. He especially liked to see her cheeks burn red and the way her tongue darted out to moist her lips when they got too dry.

If all of that was a lie, he didn’t know if he would be able to compose his anger enough to the point where he wouldn’t want to kill her. So, he asked the question he had been dying to ask from the minute he heard the news about his soldiers.

“How did you do it?”

“Do what?” Sapphire asked with an innocent smile.

Valentin slammed his fists against the desk as he watched her with blazing eyes. “How did you manage to send fifty of my men to prison, Goddammit!”

Sapphire shrugged. “I knew that they had your protection, so taking them down with crimes they committed under your name would be near to impossible. So, with a little help, I got all their names, dug up their files from your archives, and did a little background check of my own. Turns out most, if not all, of your ‘soldiers’ were criminals before joining Trevoga, with charges that could put them away for at least ten years. I mean, I wasn’t surprised. Who else to be your criminals than former criminals themselves? So, with that info, I simply sent an anonymous report to the police for each man. These had nothing to do with your business; hence no protection from you means I get them off the streets, as I said three weeks ago.”

“You’re working with the police?” Out of everything she said, that was what he chose to hear. Sapphire rolled her eyes as she shook her head, folding her arms over her chest, which slightly lifted her bosom. It was a great distraction to Valentin.

“I am not working with the police,” she lied. In truth, she had been working with Alexey throughout the entire operation. But of course, she wouldn’t tell him that. Alexey would become a target and most likely be killed if Valentin found out about him, and Sapphire would be crushed if that happened. Without even expecting it, Sapphire learnt that she actually enjoyed his company.

“This is your last straw, Sapphire. You cannot keep pulling strings that leave messes you can’t fix. We are still short-staffed by two cooks and a few maids. I have no eyes in the city anymore. Do you know what that means? We are more vulnerable to any threat. And as much as I am always prepared for everything, I believe that prevention is better than cure.”

Rolling her eyes, Sapphire rested both her palms on Valentin’s thick chest, pushing him a few centimetres away. “I take responsibility for everything I do, Valentin. And if you thought that keeping workers against their wills, harvesting criminals and encouraging violence was a proper way of running this Mafia, you were mistaken. These people don’t respect you; they fear you. And I, for one, do not wish for anyone to fear me. I suggest you board my train to a better way of doing things around here. Because I won’t stop until there is little to no involvement of locals in your messed up organisation.”

Valentin’s jaw ticked as he slipped her hands from his chest. Not only were they distracting him, but annoying too.

“If you think you can save this country, you are not a superhero, Sapphire.”

“I know that,” she smiled genuinely. “But I am a change. And whether you admit it or not, Valentin, change is good.”

Just like always, she turned to leave as she dismissed him. He had gotten quite used to it by now.

“Oh, and don’t worry about the short-staff. I am still working on it.”

Valentin’s eyes closed just as the door closed too, and he realised that he was wrong about one thing. Sapphire wasn’t fighting for the empire. She had already won it.

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