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Bratva’s Captive: A Dark Mafia Romance by Piper Stone – Sample

Chapter One

Twenty years ago


Blood. Anguish. Hunger.

I’d grown accustomed to all three, life on the streets of Moscow unforgiving.

My papa used to tell me that in order to comprehend the meaning of life, I’d be forced to face all three until I was at my breaking point. Only then would I learn to become a warrior. I’d grown weary of fighting, but I pressed on, determined to make a better life.

One day.

Far removed from the city where blood rained in the streets and people cowered in fear.

Nikchemnyy vor!

Worthless thief. The bastards chasing after me had no idea what it felt like to be hungry, to crawl through the muck and filth of Moscow streets just to find a moldy piece of bread. Fuck them. I didn’t give a shit about them or anyone else. I didn’t need anyone’s approval.

As I tried to dodge the group of six, running toward the safety of the alley, one of the fuckers caught me by the arm, dragging me into the center of them. Within seconds, punches were thrown. It was the second time of the morning, my rage increasing. I refused to allow the assholes to do this to me any longer. Panting, I threw out the pipe in my hand, the single piece of bread I’d managed to snag toppling from my pocket.

I stared down at it, blinking several times, hunger gnawing at my guts. As one eye started to swell from their beating, the taste of blood trickling down the back of my throat, my craving for revenge increased. To hell with the food. I tipped my head, snarling at the boy who appeared to be the leader.

The boy laughed, his blue eyes shimmering in the gray dawn of morning. Very slowly he reached down, taking the piece of bread into his fingers, showing me his find before fisting his hand. When he tossed the lump of flour and yeast in my direction, I lunged toward him, managing to smash my fists against his face.

His cry of agony and surprise was my reward, the way he pressed the same hand he’d used to crush the only food I’d seen in three days to his face giving me a smile.

Otvali,” I hissed, shifting the iron pipe I’d found just before entering the store from one hand to the other, slapping the same kid in the stomach. Then I turned in a full circle, daring any of them to fuck with me. I growled like a wild beast, allowing saliva to drip from my twisted mouth.

“The little prick thinks he’s funny,” blue eyes hissed in English as he took several deep breaths, acting as if he wasn’t in agonizing pain.

Without hesitation, he threw a hard punch across my jaw, the force spinning me sideways until I lost my footing. As soon as I slammed against the cracked pavement, their beating began in earnest.

The explosion of pain created a wave of nausea, stars flashing in front of my eyes.

Porezh’ yego!

“Cut him!” another repeated in English, bellowing as if they’d hunted down their prey.

All six fuckers were intent on slicing me, jabbing their crude knives in my direction as they tormented me with their hateful words. There wasn’t anything anyone could say to hurt me any longer. I was impervious to pain. I had to be in order to survive.

Jerking up, I swung the pipe, smashing it against the largest boy’s knees. As he howled in pain, I grinned, turning in a full circle then swinging the piece of iron again, this time catching the blue-eyed bastard. There was nothing like the sound of bones breaking, yielding to my power.

His screams were more intense than the other asshole’s and as he dropped to the ground, writhing in agony, I smashed the pipe against his forearm. The others scattered away, gasping at the sight of blood.

“Argh!” I screeched, keeping my knees bent as I shifted the weapon from one hand to the other, prepared for another attack.

The sound of an approaching vehicle with a powerful engine dragged their attention away from me. I took the opportunity to attack, slamming the pipe from one side to the other. Their screams fueled my anger but as the car jerked to a halt only feet away, I rose to my full height, still shaking the piece of iron in fury.

Only seconds later, the gang scattered like the pigs they were, leaving fresh crimson stains on the street.

I remained exactly where I was, gasping for air. As the car door opened, I finally turned in the person’s direction. As he eased out of the backseat, his massive frame highlighted by the waning light, I wiped my mouth, giving him a hard look. His suit was worth more money than I’d seen in my entire life. The man approached, gazing up and down then turning his head in the direction the gang had gone. Three other men exited the vehicle, all approaching slowly. Every one of them was huge, bulking masses of muscle.

But I wasn’t afraid.

Even though I knew the identity of the man in the slick suit and dark tie.

Maxim Federov, a man they called the monster.

He said nothing as he approached, merely glancing down at the squashed piece of bread then back to my face. When he reached into his pocket, I knew he was going to kill me. Instead he handed me some cash.

Kupi nemnogo yedy, malysh.”

Buy some food. He had no idea what the rubles would mean to me.

His upper lip curled and he placed his index finger under my chin, lifting it as he glared at my cuts and bruises, finally dropping his gaze to the pipe I still had in my hand. “You’re a tough boy. Aren’t you?” His accent was thick, his voice deep and husky.

I twisted my mouth, never blinking as he stared into my eyes. “Yes, sir.”

“And polite. Rare.” He turned toward one of his men. “Make certain the fucking scum don’t bother the kid any longer.”

“Yes, boss.”

“Take care, kid. Eat. You could use some food,” Mr. Federov commanded before heading toward the same bakery where I’d stolen the bread, the other two men following. I knew of his reputation and what he was capable of.

I shoved the rubles into my pocket, wiping blood from my mouth as I watched him and his men walk inside. After glancing over my shoulder, I crept closer, remaining in the shadows by the front door, curious as to what they were going to do.

Within seconds, I found out.

I could smell the old baker’s fear as he was dragged from the back of the store, spewing words in our native language, begging the man for mercy. I didn’t flinch when Mr. Federov backhanded him. Not even a peep came out of my mouth when he wrapped his hand around the baker’s neck, squeezing until the man’s face turned purple.

And when the monster instructed his men to place the baker’s hand on the glass counter, I watched in admiration. I didn’t blink or flinch as he finished the lesson with a swing of a knife to the baker’s hand.

Somehow, the Russian monster knew I was watching. After wiping the knife on the baker’s apron, he walked toward me, a smile on his face.

“Tough kid. That didn’t bother you.” His words weren’t a question but a basic statement, nodding out of respect.

“No, sir. Why should it?”

Chuckling, Mr. Federov tousled my hair. “Where do you live, kid?”

“Nowhere. Everywhere.”

He took a deep breath then guided me outside and toward his car. “What’s your name?”

“Nikolai.” I never used my name. No one ever cared to ask. I was the vagrant, unwanted and tossed aside. Yet I stood tall when I answered, trying to square my shoulders, proud of my heritage.

Even if no one gave a shit if I was alive.

I was a Lenkov. My papa used to tell me to always hold my head high and to keep my shoulders back, proud of my name as well as the strife my ancestors had been through. I wasn’t certain I was even allowed to be proud of anything any longer.

“Get in the car, son.”

A moment of raw fear swept through me, but I refused to let him see. The last piece of advice my papa had told me before he died was never to show a single sign of fear. “Why?”

“Because I told you to.”

His grip on my shoulder was firm, enough so his hold caused a twinge of pain. I knew better than to argue with him. He would kill me.

When I crawled inside, I took another look at the bakery window, fisting my hands. As Mr. Federov crawled inside, I darted a look in his direction.

“You’re just a boy now. Soon. I’ll make you into a warrior.”

Chapter Two


“Sexy as fuck,” Brandy huffed, her heavy breathing far too dramatic.

“You mean fuckable,” Elizabeth added, sticking her knuckle in her mouth as she swayed back and forth. “What I wouldn’t give to take one peek at his gorgeous cock.”

Sighing, I grabbed my books, jerking to a standing position. While I acted incensed, I’d thought the same thing more than once. “And he’s our professor.”

“So?” Brandy demanded.

“Remember Miss Straight ‘A’ over here is the teacher’s pet. I have no idea why you’re acting extremely interested in Russian history. I certainly don’t plan on going to the wretched country any time soon.” Elizabeth snorted after issuing the statement.

There were days I felt like I was still in high school. While our blond, buff professor was the epitome of the perfect rugged man, he was also an excellent teacher, his passion for the subject undeniable. I’d enjoyed every minute in his class, even though my Russian education would be of little use in the real world.

“So,” I said, ignoring Elizabeth’s ugly insinuations, “that means he’s off limits.” I darted a look in Professor Lenkov’s direction, trying to keep any emotion from my face.

Or the burning desire I’d felt since the first day I’d set foot in his class.

Russian Studies.

I’d actually signed up at the last minute, needing the credits and with little else available, I’d taken a chance.

He was more like a god than a man, his intense sapphire blue eyes forever watching me, as if I was a little bird he’d wanted to protect. He had the dark intensity of a predator, although he’d never been anything but professional.

Still, I’d had the distinct feeling that he longed to devour every inch of my body.

“Why?” Elizabeth teased, elbowing me before grabbing her things. “You’re staying here over the summer. The professor lives here.”

“What are you suggesting?” I gave her a hard look.

She shrugged and headed away from us, looking over her shoulder. “A wicked little tryst, darling. You should try it sometime. That might make you less uptight.” As she laughed, I made a face. Elizabeth knew that my summer was going to be filled with double shifts, leaving me little time for anything else. I had no other choice if I wanted to obtain my bachelor’s degree.

I also took my studies very seriously. I didn’t have the luxury of having doting parents willing to pay for everything, including a lovely apartment in one of the wealthiest locations in town. I had student loans out the yin-yang and was forced to work long hours in order to support myself.

I stole a quick glance at the sexy Russian as he turned off the presentation. He’d already loosened his tie and rolled up his sleeves, which was rare. Maybe he’d been mandated by the school’s officials to hide his colorful tattoos. Ink covered almost every inch of his muscular arm, the colorful designs drawing my attention. They only added to his extreme sex appeal. And the professional clothes he wore every day couldn’t hide his roughhewn body.

Sighing, I realized I was licking my lips like some lovestruck high-school girl. I’d worked far too hard to act immature over some guy who was entirely off limits.

Except he was sexy as hell.

And he drove one wicked Camaro.

“Don’t let her bother you. She doesn’t understand what you have to go through,” Brandy said quietly. “I wish you could take the summer off and come home with me. We’d have such a great time.”

“I know and I love your offer, but I can’t.”

She nodded. “I know but I’m going to miss you. I better get going. I actually have a date later this afternoon.”

“Good for you.” After she squeezed my arm, she headed out of the auditorium-style room. I hated the fact I’d been forced to work my way through college, but there was nothing else I could do since I’d been disowned by my family. To hell with them. I’d made a promise to myself the day I turned eighteen, realizing that if I wanted to make anything of myself, I would do it entirely on my own.

Never give up.

I’d worked for two solid years at three different jobs in order to save enough money to finally leave the two-bit town in North Carolina. So what if I was older than the others? That gave me certain advantages. I laughed to myself, realizing I’d been daydreaming long enough there wasn’t a single soul left in the room.

With the exception of the gorgeous professor.

A sudden flush of heat rushed into my system, my body tingling. I lifted my head, realizing Professor Lenkov was staring at me, his deep blue eyes managing to pierce the distance between us. I’d seen him looking at me before just like I’d admired his physique and prowess from day one.

Given it was the last class of the day, he left first. I lingered. A huge part of me wanted to know more about him. After a few seconds, I exited the classroom, catching a glimpse of him as he walked toward the exit of the building.

I followed.

My heart racing, I remained far enough in the distance that I hoped he didn’t realize I was following him like some lovesick girl. When he approached his vehicle, he took at least a full two minutes scanning the perimeter of the University’s parking lot before sliding into the Camaro. The moment he revved the engine, the vibrations seemed to resonate in every muscle in my body. I was like a live wire, desire surging to the point I was forced to take shallow breaths.

I dared to inch closer, unable to take my eyes off him as he revved the engine, finally heading toward the main road. When he drove off, I moved closer to the street, my nipples aching from the lurid thoughts racing through my mind.

Wanton sex.


Even taboo.

He was like a predator in the night, every single inch of his personality screaming of a dangerous adventure. He was almost never seen in town, a quiet man who kept to himself.

I had to wonder what secrets he was hiding.

Everyone had them.

Including me.

Milly’s Diner.

There was nothing glorious about the location, but the food was excellent and the drinks flowing. Almost always packed, tonight it was quieter than normal. The owner liked me well enough, ensuring I could have as many shifts as I wanted when school was over. One more day then freedom.

Yeah, right.

At least the night seemed to go by quickly.

I pressed my hands against the ugly apron I was forced to wear, staring out the window for the tenth time. It was already after ten-thirty. Thank God we usually closed at eleven, although it depended on how many customers were inside. After that, I’d have at least thirty minutes of prep time for the next day. I was exhausted, the long hours starting to take a toll. I’d allowed myself two days off after the end of the term to rest and enjoy.

Then back to the grind.

One more night of hard work.

A loud noise drew my attention, the sound forcing me to bristle. The unruly group of guys had pissed me off more than once. They were getting dangerously close to crossing several lines. I had no issue putting them in their place. Even my boss admired what he called my chutzpa.

“Better go see what they want before they tear up the place. Handle them, tiger.”

I gave the other remaining waitress a playful rebellious look until she laughed. Becky was a pleasure to work with. She’d been around the block a few times, her fresh take on drunk assholes always providing a laugh. Exhaling in an exaggerated fashion, I walked toward the table, taking my sweet time.

“There she is, the most beautiful girl in the world. Come here, darlin’. Me and the boys need some refreshments.”

The dude was huge, ugly, and didn’t like to hear the word no. I moved as close at their stench would allow, smiling sweetly like my mama had taught me to do. “Another round?”

“You betcha, sugar britches. Say, you wanna come have fun with us after work? We’ll wait for ya.” The second guy leered at me as if I was already standing naked in front of him, ready to ride him like a wild stallion.

“I’m sorry, boys. My big, burly boyfriend wouldn’t like it if I stepped out on him.” I turned away abruptly before I said something I was going to regret.

Then I saw him.

The professor.

Gone was his usual crisp white shirt, gray trousers, and the colorful tie that almost always highlighted his gorgeous eyes. Tonight, he wore a tight tee shirt and an even tighter pair of faded blue jeans, the kind that hugged every bulge to the point I couldn’t think clearly. As I approached, I was able to see even more of his tats, the colorful ink crawling up both arms. With the way the neck of the tee shirt hit, I also noticed a slight curl of a vine or something similar peeking out. With his blond hair and chiseled body, he was the epitome of a god.

And he just seated himself in my section.


What was I supposed to do?

Think and act like a mature woman, for God’s sake.

My little voice was right. He had to eat somewhere. Why not in my diner? His back was to me, thank God. That allowed me time to collect my shit before making a fool of myself.

I took a deep breath then grabbed a menu before walking to his table. When I eased it down in front of him, he slowly lifted his head, locking eyes with mine. There was a split second where nothing else existed but the two of us. I was floored by my body’s reaction, my pussy quivering and my nipples rock hard. Even with the apron covering a portion of my shirt, I had no doubt he could tell how aroused I was.

Swallowing hard, I offered a timid smile, which wasn’t like me in the least. What was he doing here? “Hi. Welcome to Milly’s.”

Of course I’d heard his voice before. I knew every gruff inflection, the husky tone always wrapping around me like a bearskin rug on a cold winter’s morning.

“Chloe. I didn’t know you worked here,” he said. This time, his voice seemed even duskier, the alluring quality creating a wave of heat coursing through every inch of my body.

“I need the money. Plus, the atmosphere isn’t too bad. What can I get you?”

“How about a beer? Your choice. As long as it’s tall and ice cold.” He allowed his gaze to slowly drift down by several inches.

Then he took a deep breath, holding it in his lungs.

I could swear the man was undressing me with his eyes. And dear God, I wanted him to do that and much more.

Don’t be ridiculous. He’s your professor.

Maybe so, but a girl could fantasize.

My mouth was so dry, I had difficulty even forming a coherent sentence. With a Herculean effort, I managed to drag my mind out of the gutter. “You got it.” As soon as I started to walk away from the table, the assholes only fifteen feet away started making noise, the biggest jerk smashing his fist on the table. Dishes clattered together, something falling onto the floor.

I growled, shaking my head.

“Darlin’. You need to get our drinks. Now,” one of the dudes yelled.

I could feel another wave of heat but this time coming from behind me. The slight reflection in the expansive wall of glass allowed me to see that the professor had gotten to his feet, standing over me for a few seconds. What the hell was the man going to do?

“Where are the restrooms?” he asked as he flanked my side, following my gaze toward the unruly group. I noticed his accent was decidedly heavier than when he was in class, the tone sending a building storm of desire, electricity shooting through every cell and muscle leaving me breathless.

“Right down there,” I pointed. When he brushed against me as he walked around, heading toward the assholes’ table, I realized I was quivering. Christ. What was wrong with me? As I walked back to the wait station, I couldn’t take my eyes off the rugged Russian as he continued his slow trek.

“Oh, shit,” I whispered when I noticed he’d stopped mere inches away from the largest creep. And all he did was give the man a hard, cold stare for a solid ten seconds before continuing his path. I eased into the shadows, trying to catch my breath. My God. The man was absolutely dark and dangerous.

Fortunately, by the time I had all the liquid libations on the tray, Professor Lenkov was back in his seat and from what I could tell, no blood had been spilled. But as I got closer to the table, I was able to tell all three of the assholes were fixated on the Russian.

“Who the fuck does he think he is?” one of them asked.

I placed the drink in front of the jerk, resisting tossing it in his face.

“He’s gonna be dead is what he is,” the second added as he laughed.

I slammed his beer in front of him, liquid sloshing over the edge.

“Yeah, good idea,” the third said under his breath.

This time, when I thrust the heavy glass onto the table, I actually spilled a good portion down into the dude’s lap. What a pity. The asshole deserved it.

He snapped his hand around my wrist, giving me the kind of look that should scare me to death.

“Be careful, little girl. You don’t want to mess with us. Do you understand?”

I continued to hold my tongue, although he’d pushed me to the final limits. “Absolutely. Enjoy your drinks.” When I tried to jerk out of his grip, he dared to place his hand on my hip, yanking me even closer.

“You need a real man in your life, someone who will keep in line,” he huffed, with a series of growls afterwards. It wasn’t what he said that bothered me. I’d heard every line in the book, enough hassling catcalls and innuendos to last a lifetime.

It was the difference in his tone, as if he’d been hiding an accent. Maybe European. It was difficult to tell, but I could swear his eyes had changed color, the darkness highlighting the man had no soul. A shiver trickled down my spine.

“I have all I need. Thank you.” I kept my tone polite, just longing to get the hell away from him.

His fingers dug into my hip for a few seconds longer. Then he let me go, shifting his gaze toward the professor then to one of the other guys. What the hell? The second asshole hissed under his breath, issuing a few words. I’d know the language anywhere.


On budet vzyat.”

“Go on. You can bring the check,” the largest dude said. There was no slur in his voice, no rowdy tone as before. There was a subtle hint of the same accent as the other man. Then he leaned over, answering the second jerk. “Pakhan reshit.”

I realized they were staring at my professor, all their demeanors changing entirely. While I knew some conversational Russian because of the professor’s class, I wasn’t certain what they were saying. However, I did know they meant Professor Lenkov harm.

Whatever was going on, I wanted no part of it.

Even if I was drawn to Professor Lenkov.

Before I walked away, the largest man also grabbed my arm, pulling me close enough I was sickened by the stench of beer and whatever cigar he’d smoked that remained on his clothing.

“You’d do best to stay away from the Russian, princess. If not, you’re going to get hurt.”

“Who the hell are you?” I dared to ask.

“You don’t want to know and it’s best if little girls don’t ask questions.”

“I’m not a little girl and take your hands off me. He’s my professor, not some criminal like the three of you obviously are.” I managed to yank my arm away, sucking in my breath and immediately taking two steps away from him. That’s when I noticed the crude marks on his neck. My God, he was in some kind of gang.

“I suggest you heed my warning. You’re only going to get one.”

“Why?” I realized I was trembling.

“Because he’s a killer.”

There was no way I could keep my distance from my professor. I had to serve him food as well as a second beer.

“Are you all right?” he asked when I brought him his drink.

“I’m fine. They’re just assholes. I get them in here all the time.”

“Stay away from them,” he instructed, his tone gravelly.

“I don’t plan on engaging with them for any reason.”

“Good. But heed my warning.”

There was something entirely unnerving about the way he spoke, the husky tone of his voice that accelerated my pulse. His words were a warning, the realization creating a trickle of fear.

After that, he’d remained quiet, barely saying two words to me, although he left a fifty percent tip. I pocketed the cash, taking the rest to the register then turning to watch him walk out. He’d remained long after closing, constantly scanning the area just outside the windows.

A part of me remained on edge, finding it difficult to function as I normally did. The men from earlier were no doubt dangerous, but Professor Lenkov was something else entirely.

He was a true predator.

The notion was ridiculous but one I couldn’t get out of my mind.

“Why don’t you get out of here,” Becky said quietly as she nudged my arm. “All the customers are gone, the dining room cleaned up. Besides, you’ve had a tough night.”

“No tougher than any other night.” My skin was clammy, my heart racing. I wanted nothing more than to get home and hide under the covers.

“You have one day of school left for the year. It’s time to celebrate.”

I gave her a spent look. “Are you sure you don’t mind?”

“Trust me, sugar. I don’t have anything to go home to. Catch up on your rest.”

Grateful, I untied my apron, realizing that my mind was cluttered, a nagging feeling remaining. “I owe you one.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll collect one day.” Laughing, she pushed me again. She’d been a motherly figure since the day I’d been hired, trying her best to look after me.

After grabbing my things, I headed toward the back door. As I walked outside, I was struck by another odor, one of decay from the trash. A nasty taste filled my mouth, creating a wave of goosebumps dancing along my arms. I hated the fact the employee parking lot was so dingy, the single overhead light barely able to provide anything but ugly shadows. I remained on edge and I didn’t know why. The assholes had left almost an hour before.

I covered my mouth and headed for my vehicle, Becky’s the only other one in the lot. Both the cook and the owner had left earlier. I felt guilty leaving her but elated that I would soon be able to grab a glass of wine then slide under the covers.

As soon as I was within two feet, I heard a noise, the slight cracking sound coming from the dense trees surrounding the back of the lot. I remained frozen, ready to reach for my mace or the small knife I always carried, my breath skipping. After several seconds of hearing nothing but the light wind tickling off the trees, I hissed. What the hell was wrong with me?

After unlocking and opening the door, I tossed my purse onto the passenger seat.

Then I felt a presence behind me.

“I think you need to learn a lesson.”

The asshole from earlier. I’d recognize his voice anywhere, the odd accent one I’d never forget.

“Just get away from me.” I couldn’t stop shaking, my words almost inaudible. I had nothing to defend myself with. The only thing I could do was scream and hope that Becky heard me. When a massive hand was slapped around my mouth, the monster yanking me against his rock-hard chest, I couldn’t stop shaking.

“You’re coming with me, little bitch. I think you’re going to be very useful.” He laughed, the sound far too sultry as he grabbed my breast, squeezing until my eyes filled with tears. “But not before I’ll enjoy spending some time with you.”

As he started to drag me away from the car, I heard a single crack. Then the man holding me was ripped away. The next sound was one of a hard thud.

Still shaking, I managed to turn around, crowding close to my car and blinking furiously in an effort to see what the hell was going on.

In the dim light of the parking lot, I could see a silhouette of a man, one hulking muscular force.

My professor.

Within seconds, the other two assholes attacked, throwing punches toward my protector. I couldn’t breathe, remaining paralyzed to the spot as fists were thrown, agonized grunts coming from the attackers. The cracking sound of bones breaking forced me to cover my ears. One by one, my professor managed to toss them aside as if they were ragdolls, continuing to pummel with savage punches until two of them fled, limping as they struggled to get the hell out of his way.

Only the biggest prick remained, determined to finish what he’d come to start.

My professor was having none of it, issuing jab after jab until blood spewed from the man’s mouth. I was horrified, yet couldn’t take my eyes away, barely able to take shallow breaths as the terrifying fear remained. Everything seemed surreal, as if I was watching a movie.

When the hunk of a man finally stayed on the ground, moaning from significant pain, only then was I finally able to react. I inched toward the open car door, fighting my nerves. I knew I had to get the hell out of there, but I couldn’t leave without making certain Professor Lenkov was okay.

The professor took several deep breaths, his entire body heaving as he continued to stand over the man. I didn’t need additional details to be able to tell the man who’d attacked me was bloodied, his breathing ragged. My God. Who were the men and what did they want from me?

Then he turned his attention in my direction, the light showing his enraged face. As he started storming toward me, I slunk back, uncertain of what to expect.

While he slowed his gait, he continued in my direction, peering down at me. He seemed larger than life, a man who’d risked his own to save mine, yet there was something entirely different about him. His eyes were like pools of darkness as he stood over me.

He wiped his mouth, darting a glance over his shoulder before speaking. “You need to get out of here right now, Chloe. And I want you to listen to me very carefully. Pay attention to anyone who might be following you on the way home. If you think that’s happening, you need to find an alternative route or a place to go for a little while. A public place. Make certain no one follows you home. When you get there, lock your doors and keep your phone with you at all times. If you hear a single noise, call the police. Do you understand me?”

I was shocked by the gruffness of his words, his tone entirely different than during his lessons at school. I couldn’t seem to find anything to say, my throat tight.

“Do. You. Understand?”

“Yes. Okay. Yes. What’s going on? Why did they want to take me?”

He took several deep breaths, snarling before answering. “I don’t know, but I will find out. Now go. Do as I say.”

All I could do was shake my head. He stood over my car as I struggled to climb inside, every inch of my body still shaking. When I drove away, I could tell he was watching to ensure I got out of the parking lot safely.

As I turned onto the main road, I slumped against the steering wheel. Something was going on. Something deadly.

And there was no doubt that whoever Professor Nikolai Lenkov was, it had little to do with him being a professor of Russian Studies. The man was a killer.

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