“I thought you said that I wouldn’t have to sleep with you.”
He arched an equally sooty brow and waited. Oh yeah, he said, ‘they wouldn’t be sleeping’. Maybe she would take notes after all. He shook his head. His voice was a husky grumble. “Follow me.”
He led her across the living room, past a small dining area complete with a kitchenette. Past another room where the open door revealed workout equipment. Solving the mystery of his muscled body. He must work out constantly. Her eyes dipped to admire his tight ass. He opened the door to a bedroom. Gray and turquoise accents complemented the dark brown richness of the wood. The four-poster bed had wooden poles for a canopy but none draped from the top. Interesting. But it was the art behind the bed that drew her. A floor-to-ceiling mural of a wooded glen. Where the sparkling fountain seemed to burble behind the massive custom bed forming its own alcove. The bed recessed into the niche. And from the doorway, it appeared like one could ascend the three stairs to lie in a heavenly garden. Wow. He’d said he’d stolen some of paradise for his home, and she agreed. The bed rested under a domed skylight that reminded her of school trips to the planetarium. His brother had said he was worth billions, and the skylight was more convincing than his words. Her mouth fell open with another, wow.
He crossed his hands across his chest, tilted his head, and arched his brow. The cocky note in his question had her responding. “Yes.” She arched her brow and returned. “Killing must be profitable.” What the hell was wrong with her?
The shutters came down across his face as if he had closed the dome of his skylight. Had he been trying to impress her? Damn it, now she felt like apologizing again. He was a cold-blooded killer. He didn’t need her sympathy. She bit her lip. Okay, maybe he wasn’t completely cold. But…
“Come this way.”
He led her back through the living room to another hall. Passing a door where she spied the chrome appliances of a laundry room, passing another small office-library. She noted the computer and phone. Maybe she’d be able to call her mom. She wouldn’t chance her uncles. Not yet. That way lay madness. But if she didn’t contact someone, and soon…
“You may stay here.” He opened the door to a small bedroom. Furnished with only a twin-size bed, a small dresser, and a nightstand.
It was stark and basic and had none of the lavish design of the other room. But if it kept her out of his bed, she’d take it. “Where are my things?”
“Your clothes are in the closet. Your personal items are in the bathroom. If there is anything else you need. I will provide it.”
“I need my phone.”
“My mom and I are very close. If she doesn’t hear from me every few days, she’ll get worried. I haven’t even told her I’m married.”
“You could have told her while we were at Rurik’s.”
“How could I? I didn’t know what to say. I still don’t know what to say. I’m married to a crazy killer in the Russian mafia?”
He froze, and so did she. There it was. It was out there. Her breath picked up and hitched. He said he didn’t hide who he was. But he didn’t walk up to people and introduce himself properly, either. He never said to her when they first met. ‘Hi, I’m Sanyet, and I’m a crazed killer in the Russian mafia so please don’t witness any of my crimes or I might have to marry you.’ Because they would have had her hightailing it in the other direction faster than Road Runner dodging Acme boxes.
“What did you say?”
He growled the words and took a step towards her. Backing her to the edge of the bed. “I’ve allowed your sass and your talking back. We haven’t even been married twenty-four hours, and you have challenged me more than anyone else has in decades. But don’t forget who I am. If you truly believe that I am the Russian mafia, then you should be very careful. I married you to protect you from the consequences of careless words. Because we did not want to take a chance on you saying the wrong thing to the wrong person.” He took her chin and forced it up. His thumb and forefinger gave a soft bite to his words. “True or not. I advise you to watch what you say. You have not yet earned the right to speak to me however you wish.”
“You said you do not hide who you are.” Oh God, who was she and why couldn’t she stop challenging him?
“I said from you. You are my wife, and we are joined for the rest of our lives. So you might discover some of my secrets. But they aren’t secrets if they come flying out of your mouth every time you want to make a silly point in a useless argument.” The black fathomless eyes hardened into shiny black rock. Obsidian. “Please understand this. Your life depends on it.”
“Good.” He turned his back, releasing her, and she sucked in air, breathing again. “Change and come to the kitchen. It’s time to eat.”
* * *
Sanyet sliced through his steak. Of course, he liked it bloody. If her maternal grandmother were here, she’d have a fit. “That meat isn’t done. He’s going to get sick.” If only. Why would God listen to her prayer now? If he were sick, she would search the suite. Maybe find her phone and use it. She hadn’t spoken to her family in a week. Uncle Lou was definitely looking for her by now. She needed them to call off the search before they drew the scrutiny of the Ismailovs. She’d never given them the name of the family she was going to work for. Telling Lou she was a grown woman and didn’t need him running background checks on her employers. Deep down inside, she’d felt something was off. How many times had Uncle Mike warned her to listen to her gut? “If it felt off, it was off.” But she’d ignored how she felt. Telling herself she was imagining the misgivings. The lies people told themselves to get quick, fast money. Everybody wanted something too good to be true.
“Why are you staring at my knife, dove? Are you thinking to try me?” He gave a micro smile, the slight quirk up of a corner of his lip. “I wish you would. I haven’t had a good workout all week. And wrestling a beautiful woman would certainly hit the spot. Maybe that was what was missing in your previous love life? Do you like a little rough foreplay to get you started?”
“No. I need someone who cares about me. Loves me. That’s what good sex should be based on.”
“Yet you had that….?” He speared another piece of meat, swirling it through his mix of blood and sauce before placing it in his mouth. “Maybe it’s time you tried something else.”
“Rough sex? Is that what you like? I don’t think so.”
His dark eyes glossed with some emotion she couldn’t define. “Some women, and even some men, need the distraction to force all other thoughts from their minds. When you focus on the pain of a sharp smack on the buttocks or the feel of the wood as it tans your hide. You don’t sit and wonder what it feels like. You just feel.”