“Awesome.” She gave her full dimpled smile. “But just so you know,” she whispered in his ear, “some parts of me are colder than others.” She gave a saucy little wave and turned to walk away.
The curve of her ass swayed and sashayed as she made her way to the door. Her long legs ate up the space between them. He watched the sway. Riveted. “Do I need to shoot you, old friend, for staring at my woman?” He didn’t turn and face him until she’d disappeared inside.
“Naw, my bad man. But I hope it’s okay to say you are one lucky son of a bitch.”
* * *
Ven loved the cabin. But he loved her reaction even more. The interior decorators had done a fantastic job placing each piece so that it blended into the decor perfectly. The room looked rustic, reminding him of Ardestan. But the luxury details made the two-story ranch worth millions. The property surrounding it added millions more. But nothing, nothing, was more exquisite than she was. He dropped their bags by the door.
She shook her head. “Do you know how many times a day you give that command?”
“If you know how many times I want you near me, then just fucking stay near me. Problem solved.”
“And how would you go about your day with me stuck by your side?”
“There are worse problems I could have. Now, get over here.”
She sashayed back to him. Damn shame he couldn’t see it from the back. But the front was nothing less than spectacular silver and cinnamon. Her lips a cherry red today. He’d wrap that red around his dick tonight. “Okay, I’m here.”
Still giving him shit. When he gave an order, people responded. But not her. She took her fucking time. She would never be a subordinate. Did he even want her to be? Hell no. The day she stopped giving him sass would be when the monster of time finally caught her. He flung the thought away. He’d fight the beast himself for her. “I thought you said you had some cold spots. I can’t warm them like that.”
“Oh, I do. This spot needs your warmth.” She took one finger and drew it up and down the crevice between her legs. “Never mind.” She raised her shoulders. “I can take care of that spot myself.”
He shook his head. “You never learn.”
He lunged across the distance separating them. Lifting her into his arms and spinning her around while she laughed. “I love you like this.”
He arched a brow. “This?”
“Yeah, you seem lighter. Free. When I met you, and you cursed me out…”
“Did not curse.”
“Definitely cursed. You looked tired, like a heavy load weighed you down. But over these past few days you seem… Changed.”
“Maybe I changed. Or maybe I’m learning. Recently I found a teacher who showed me that with all the responsibilities I hold and own, I also have a responsibility to myself.” He stood still, but her eyes shone as if they were still spinning, and her mouth parted, and soft exhalations fanned his face until she bit down on her lip. “You are the best teacher I’ve ever had. And I…”
The doorbell rang. “Damn, Rand. He has the worst timing in the world.” He kissed her forehead, soothing away the creases. Already missing the dreamy smile. Damn, Rand.
He used the hand under her ass to open the door. No way was he putting her down. The door shoved open, knocking him back, and almost dropping her from his hold.
Shit. Baranov. “What the fuck?”
Arnhauf Baranov was a small mouse of a man holding a big gun. Pointed at both of them. He slid her legs down, keeping his eye on the metallic gleam of the gun’s barrel while he slid her behind his back. “What the hell do you want, Baranov?” He kept his voice calm. But his heart raged. Shit. The barrel of the gun was pointed straight at him. Any bullet would have to pass through him to hit Sasha, but it could hit Sasha. The man held his weapon like a fucking amateur. How long had it been since he pointed one at somebody?
Baranov kicked the door closed behind him. So he came alone, then. Good. Another fucking mistake. When he killed him. There’d be no witnesses when he buried the body. Nobody but her. But it didn’t matter. He’d do whatever it took to keep her safe. She was his… Shit, she was everything.
“Your brother took something of mine. And I want it back.”
“He will never give her back. She’s his wife. What kind of man…”
“If he wanted to keep her, he should have paid the price.” Spittle flew with the man’s snarl, but Ven didn’t flinch. If he stayed calm, then Baranov would, too.
“So, this is about money? You know we have as much as you need. What’s your price?”
“It’s not about money. It’s about making things right. He dishonored my name. My family. Took from me and laughed in my face. No one will do business with me. And he thought he could outsmart me? Bring me in for his sham auction? Did he think I wouldn’t see through his fake…”