Her Empire, His Dominion

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Chapter Five

Sapphire settled herself in her old room since she had no intentions of finding another place to rest her head. The thought of staying at a hotel for a while seemed wise, but she wanted to show Valentin that she wasn’t leaving—not anytime soon.

She heard men walking past her door every now and then as she unpacked. It didn’t take her too long to conclude that she was probably the only woman in the house, apart from the maids and cooks. There were men everywhere, so she kept her door locked.

Of course, Sapphire acknowledged that she held as much power as Valentin now. She also knew that news had already spread across the house and most likely to most of the members of the Trevoga Mafia by now. But she still acted smart and kept her head just below the clouds because going too high could just about get her killed. As much as they already respected her, Sapphire didn’t trust any of them. After all, some probably feared Valentin more than her, anyway, and he doesn’t seem like the person who hesitated to kill anyone who got in his way. She remembered his threat quite well, yet there was no one kicking down her door to end her life. Her lips twitched at the thought. Sapphire knew he wouldn’t kill her simply because he wouldn’t be ready for the likely chaos that would follow.

The sun ducked behind the hills as she rested her empty suitcase in her massive closet. The entire room had always been far too spacious for her, but now, she didn’t mind it much. Though he was the devil incarnate himself, at least Enrique always went the extra mile to bring her comfort.

She crossed the room with her hands around her body as she gazed through the window. She was on the highest storey of the house, and she had the perfect view of the wide, sparkling pool beneath her, as well as a glimpse of the city coming to life little by little with lights. Russian has never been a language she spent much effort learning, but she thought it would help her think if she went for a drink somewhere. Even though she was well aware that there was more than enough alcohol in the house, the thought of curious eyes lingering on her as she drank wasn’t her ideal choice.

Sapphire grabbed her phone and shoved her feet in her white sneakers, deciding to shower once she got back. She nodded at some men as she passed them, and she noticed that some of the staff were leaving. It eased her just a little, seeing that this mansion wasn’t as crowded at night.

As she passed Valentin’s office, hushed whispers as if arguing could be heard on her side. She scoffed. No doubt he was plotting a way to get rid of her. She knew she had to watch her back and probably try to talk to him again soon once he accepts that there is nothing he can do to get rid of her.

The man was still at the door when she went downstairs, and he eyed her this time with keen respect as he handed her the coat. Smiling at him, Sapphire wrapped the strings around her waist before heading to the rental car, which was still parked leanly outside. She chuckled at the sight. Even after years of driving, parking was still an issue no matter where in the world she was.

Most stations on the radio were in the language she barely understood, so she subconsciously tuned them out as she thought to herself.

Her mind wandered over the events of the day. She met the big bad boss, and without him saying it, she saw that he took her somewhat seriously. Even if he didn’t want to, a hint of respect shone in his eyes for her when she stood up to him. This had been something she had been practising for over a week. D’Andre had a keen point when he suggested that she work on her tone and stance, though she was authoritative by nature. Still, it helped a lot when she actually faced him.

Her mind then wandered to other aspects of living. Will she dine with them? Does her presence automatically hint at the staff that her needs are to be taken care of as well? Perhaps she would need to speak with them.

A groan rumbled from her chest when she realized that she had a lot of ‘talking’ to do. If Valentin doesn’t heed to her will soon, she will have to take his throne piece by piece. First with the people, then with the assets. She shivered at that thought.

Even without admitting it out loud, Sapphire had secretly wished that Valentin would agree with her in dealing with the business himself. She knew that no matter how much illegal activity she takes away from the mafia, the organization itself would never be entirely legal. After accepting that this is real life and things don’t always go the way one would want it, Sapphire thought to tolerate it to a degree, as long as people weren’t suffering for it. In all honesty, her hope was to show Valentin a better way, so she could get on with her life in America while keeping in touch.

That was what D’Andre believed would happen, and she had somehow fallen for the lie. But once she entered, could she leave alive?

She nibbled on her lip as she refocused her mind on the radio station.

As if she had everything figured out, showing up here bold and confident was only a part of her plan. Now, she barely knew how to move forward. But she refused to let Valentin or anyone know this.

Once the sun rises in the sky tomorrow, Sapphire knew she had to deal with registering herself and what she dreaded the most—claiming a portion of her father’s wealth. Even though it was something she swore she would never do, she needed it. Somewhere in her thoughts, late at night, she had convinced herself that she was doing it for the people.

The drive from Sparrow Hills to Moscow wasn’t more than fifteen minutes, and soon Sapphire was on a large bridge, stretching over the deep, glamourous water that reflected the lights from the skyscrapers perfectly.

Sapphire had never gotten the chance to admire the city’s beauty simply because she had always been forced to board a private jet to the wretched house in the hills. She slowed her speed to actually take in the awesomeness of the place, and if she wasn’t careful, she would’ve missed that a car a few feet away from her slowed too instead of going around her. She tried to get a glimpse of who was in the car, but the windshield was too dark. She jammed her foot on the gas pedal again, sending the car into high momentum as she drove left him.

He was smart, though, since he didn’t follow her actions right away. But soon, Sapphire lost him.
She ensured not to wander too deep in the city, staying on the outskirts so she could return faster. It didn’t take her long to find a bar. People lingered about, either having supper or drinking with friends. A light buzz of chatter saturated the atmosphere from the various conversations going around too.

Sapphire sat by the bar, checking the time as a woman approached her. Her name tag read ‘Sophie’, and she leaned against the area a little too close to Sapphire’s face for her liking. Sophie mumbled something in Russian, and the only word Sapphire understood was ‘drink’, so she assumed the bartender wanted to know her order.

“Vodka, please,” was all she said as Sophie nodded and left to pour her drink.

The room was warm and provided much comfort at the friendly aura that filled the space. Though she wanted to think alone, the eeriness of the room put her in a talking mood. Too bad it seemed like no one would understand her.

She sat by herself for a while and slowly sipped on the drink, remembering that she had to drive, and Russian vodka seemed like the very concentrate of alcohol itself. After a few sips, she thought it best to leave the rest in the cup as she stared ahead of her. Sophie watched her from the corner of her eye every now and then, silently wishing that their language block wasn’t a problem. Oddly, she found Sapphire intriguing.

Sapphire felt the warmth of another body joining her by the stool beside her, and she only spared him a glance before refocusing on her jumbled mind as she fiddled with the rim of her glass.

“A penny for your thoughts?” the man said as he gently bumped her shoulder, and Sapphire raised an eyebrow as she turned more to face him.

“You speak English.” It came out more like a statement rather than a question, and the stranger chuckled with a nod.

“And you are American,” he said, being careful not to sound insulting.

Sapphire simply nodded before turning her eyes back in front of her.

“I’m Alexey,” he blurted out after a while when he realized she wasn’t speaking. He worried he had upset her. But as she turned to face him again, he saw that he had nothing to do with her mood. She was evidently in deep thought.

“I’m sorry.” She rubbed her temple with her eyes squeezed shut with a groan, regretting not having a meal in hours. “I’m just a bit tired. I just got here this morning, and a lot had already happened, and I drove out here to buy liquor which will probably cause me to crash and die on the way back, so I—” She stopped abruptly when she realized she was ranting—to a stranger too.

But luckily for her, Alexey didn’t seem the least bit weirded out by her. On the contrary, his soft smile showed his keen interest in the strange woman.

“I’d be happy to drive you back if you had too much to drink.”

“No, thank you.” She chuckled at the very thought of letting a stranger drive her back to that house. He’d probably be killed on his way out.

Evident disappointment flashed across his eyes for a moment, but Sapphire didn’t miss it. She narrowed her eyes slightly at him. He only knew her for about two minutes, yet he seemed so concerned about her.

“I’m fine, really,” she said, trying to reassure the stranger. “I didn’t have much to drink either way.”

She raised the glass to Sophie, who hadn’t let her gaze shift from Sapphire for a moment. Perhaps she was fascinated by her accent being different or the fluent way she spoke a foreign language to her ears. Whatever the reason was, Sophie rushed towards Sapphire, gladly taking the glass from her. She asked another question that Sapphire could not decipher, so she helplessly looked to Alexey for help.

“Oh, she is asking if you want a refill,” he provided, and Sapphire’s mouth formed an ‘O’ as she shook her head. She realized just how misleading raising her glass could’ve been.

With a short smile, Sophie took the glass to the back, leaving the two alone.

“So, are you here to stay?” Alexey asked, just as his phone made a loud shriek, sounding much like an alarm.

“No….” Her voice trailed as her eyes flickered to his phone as he grabbed it from his jacket, and they were swift to catch the clear image of a red microphone on the screen before he held it closer to his face.

Sapphire became immediately rigid at this. He was recording their conversation. But, why?

Her eyes narrowed into slits as his previous suggestion came back to mind when he asked to drop her home. Why would he want to know where she was staying, and why was he recording their conversation? Her fist balled in her lap as she side glanced at him. She hadn’t been here for a day, and trouble was already following her. Could it be one of Valentin’s men? Alexey also knew to talk to her in English from the beginning too. Something was odd about him.

Eagerly, he rose from the stool, not lifting his eyes from his phone as he typed away.


“Sapphire, I apologize for leaving so abruptly, but I have to go.”

Sapphire plastered a fake smile on her face as he finally met her eyes. “Oh, that’s fine.”

“I sure hope we can catch up again… Here is my number.” He scribbled seven digits on a piece of paper before handing it to her, quickly shoving his phone in his pocket again.

“Looking forward to it,” she lied through her teeth as she flashed him yet another smile.

As he left, she waited until he was at the door to follow behind him. For sure, she knew that something was off about that man because she specifically remembered that she didn’t tell him her name, yet he already knew it.

And she wanted to know how.
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