Pretty women as party favors appeal to me as much as the next man, but this wasn’t billed as a sex party, and I don’t trust the host. Leaning against a dark paneled back wall, I scowl. A couple of the girls are heavily made up, and I wonder if they’re really over eighteen. Cell phone recordings are banned to protect the men with wives, but I spot light reflecting off something in a vent and suspect it’s a camera. Fucking Ivan Egorov is about as trustworthy as a feral cat. He got me here on the pretense that we were going to discuss Mikhail Kalashnik’s estate and how to manage things until it’s settled. So far all that’s settled in my mind is that Egorov got us here to tell us he wants to be in charge of everything.
Up until now, I’ve been on the fringe of the Kalashnik syndicate, running two clubs that launder money. I didn’t take a larger role because I didn’t want to. And if I wasn’t willing to take orders from Mikhail, who I loved like a father, I definitely won’t be taking them from Egorov who I’ve considered an enemy for the past year and a half.
A rail-thin girl with fake blonde hair crawls across the floor to me. In private, with the right woman, it would be sexy, but not here. When she reaches me, I brush away her hands, which try to touch me below the belt.
Two women in the center of the room begin stripping a third girl before our eyes. My cock would have to be broken to not appreciate seeing a woman stripped, but my mind is not into this scene. I’ve already decided that I’m not partaking of anything Egorov’s offering in this rented mansion.
If I’m not planning to play, then I’m not planning to stay. Walking out of the room quietly, I head to the front hall. There’s a study where business meetings are supposed to be held when everyone’s finished drinking and playing around with the girls. That’s probably where Egorov is. I want to get on with things. I glance at my phone. Eight-thirty at night. At this rate, we’ll be here till two a.m.
As I pass the front hall, movement catches my eye and I turn. The closet door is open, and a woman’s hand is holding the edge of the door. I see the back of a foot too that’s resting on a thin-soled sandal. It’s simpler and lower heeled than the ones in the orgy room.
When she steps back, the first thing that hits me is that she looks like an angel in her white linen dress with the light behind her creating a halo. It diffuses through the fabric, highlighting the silhouette of her beautiful young body. High firm breasts and a nicely rounded ass. Golden brown hair cascades over her shoulders and down her back. My cock gets harder on general principle. If this girl had been among the offerings in the living room, I probably wouldn’t have left.
A crack of thunder from outside makes her jerk and look toward the front door. A spring storm is doing a full-on assault at the moment. She puts on a black trench coat that is too big for her. I realize that’s because it’s mine. Her hand shoves something in the pocket and then she ties the belt tightly around her.
“Don’t you have your own coat?”
She jumps and then turns toward me. The beautiful face is a good match for the body. Bright blue eyes, tawny skin, pale pink lips.
In Russian, she tells me she doesn’t speak English, so I repeat my question for her in Russian.
“It’s my coat,” she says.
There’s a beat while she apparently tries to decide whether to lie again. Her expression changes to one of feigned embarrassment.
“Oh,” she says, looking down. “It looks like mine. Just a mistake.” She removes the item she put in the pocket, which I see is a man’s wallet, then she shrugs off the coat.
“Natalia,” a voice barks.
My gaze slides to the left where Egorov is standing and glowering at the girl. At six feet tall, Egorov’s about half a foot shorter than I am. His steel-gray hair reminds me of a wolf’s coat, and so do the teeth that show as his lips draw back in a snarl.
If Natalia’s intimidated, you wouldn’t know it by her expression. Good for her. But also foolish of her.
“I’m cold in this outfit. I need a jacket.”
Egorov frowns. “Come in the study by the fire. You can get warm there.”
That’s surprising. The study’s supposed to be the site of syndicate meetings, not pretty girl ogling.
Natalia hesitates, glancing at the front door like she’d rather be on the other side of it.
“Alexei, what are you doing there?” Egorov asks, spotting me for the first time.
I shrug. “Came out for some air.”
Egorov’s grim expression rests on my face a moment. His expression is understandable. There’s apparently an inheritance coming my way that he believes should rightly be his. In his shoes, I’d probably see it the same way. His father-in-law dies and instead of leaving everything to his daughter and her husband, he chooses to give a portion of his assets to a young man with no blood ties to him at all. Mikhail’s generosity is pretty surprising. I thought he might leave something to my mother, his longtime mistress, but not to me. Reportedly, he left her a hundred grand, much to the family’s fury. But the lawyer executor who contacted me implied that’s small change compared to what may be coming to me.
Egorov’s lawyer contacted me too and grilled me about whether Mikhail was secretly my father. I didn’t answer, but I know that’s not the case. My mother didn’t meet Mikhail until years after I was born. We know exactly who my father is.
Egorov stalks toward the girl who has placed my coat back in the closet.
Natalia holds a hand behind her.
“What’s in your hand?” Egorov demands, continuing to speak to her in Russian.
She replies in kind. “Nothing.”
The thump of the wallet hitting the floor almost makes me smile.
Egorov grabs her arm and yanks her forward. “That’s my wallet,” he barks. When he picks it up, he’s shaking his head. “The way you behave sometimes. It’s like you want to be punished. Is that it?” he mutters.
His fingers pinch her chin, and she grimaces. Then her eyes widen, and she twists free, jerking back.
“Come along. You know what happens to bad girls.” He shoves his wallet in a trouser pocket and waves for her to follow him.
“It was on the floor before she got here,” I say. “You must have dropped it.”
Egorov turns and glares at me.
I lean casually against the wall. I know he won’t challenge me outright. He’s too smart for that. What he might do is summon an armed bodyguard to try to intimidate me. That won’t work either though.
“I didn’t drop it,” Egorov says. “If only that were the case. She’s trouble, this one. She snuck my wallet out of my pocket, and if it was on the floor, it was because she dropped it. She’s a girl who needs a lesson.” He looks back at her. “Go now, Natalia. Into the second room on the right.”
Her eyes snap defiantly, but her hands tremble too. “No, I want to go. You misled me.”
Egorov’s expression is one of a fox who’s torn his way into a henhouse. “Shut your mouth, and get moving. I’ve had enough of your attitude tonight.” Egorov looks at me and rolls his eyes. “She threw a drink in Polasky’s face. He’s furious,” Egorov says, his lips curling into a sinister smile.
Clearly Natalia’s a rebellious girl, but I wonder what Polasky, who’s old enough to be her grandfather, did to earn that drink in the face. I can easily imagine.
When Egorov steps toward her, she zips around him.
“No!” the girl snaps. “That drink spilled because someone bumped me. Just a mistake. I was going to get a coat to get warm when I saw your wallet, Ivan. You must have dropped it.”
“No one gave you permission to get a coat from the closet, and I don’t believe you found my wallet on the floor!” Egorov snaps.
“I don’t belong to you,” she says, the skin between her brows pinching.
“I’m going to color your ass with my belt, little cat.”
What’s this now? My mouth forms a grim line.
He gets her arm for a second as I move toward them, but she once again jerks her arm free. Then she darts around him, coming to stand in front of me.
“He’ll be the one to do it. This Alexei. Because I was borrowing his coat without asking.” Her hand clutches my forearm.
My expression gives nothing away. Internally, my surprise is mixed with interest, and more. Does she like to play wild games? Or is she only submitting to prevent worse from happening to her?
“He’s stronger than you,” she adds. “So he’ll do the job better.”
I don’t smirk, but I’m tempted to. She’s a hellion all right.
The curses that spill from Egorov’s mouth blister the air. He stalks to us, but before he can get his hand on her, mine knocks it away.
“That’s enough,” I say.
Egorov’s furious stare tells me he would gladly bury an icepick in my heart if he had one handy, but he’s past the days of doing his own killing.
“This has nothing to do with you, Alexei. You’re lucky to be in this house at all. Go back to the main room and have a drink. There are lots of pretty girls to choose from.”
When Natalia speaks, her voice is so low that I think it must be meant just for me. “Please stay. You do this, instead of the others.”
I don’t look at her. Instead, I speak to Egorov. “You heard from her own lips that I caught her taking my coat. I’ll be the one to punish her, or no one will.”
This is Egorov’s party. He might try to force me out, but a violent altercation could turn deadly, and there are witnesses here tonight.
Egorov’s face reddens and his eyes bulge, like his head is about to explode. He would love to kill me, but apparently he’s not ready to try tonight. Still, he’s not a man I underestimate. He’s tried to have me killed before.
For someone so huge, Alexei is handsome, almost cute even. Most very big men have coarse features, making them look more like cyborgs than men. His features are different, still very strong, with a square masculine jaw, but also pretty eyes. They’re blue and framed by long overlapping black lashes. His lower lip’s full too. I’m sure he’d be nice for a girlfriend to kiss. Though if he’s here, he probably doesn’t have a girlfriend. He has a wife, a mistress, or both. Ugh, disgusting. It’s just another thing to hate about these brutal men. Some of them turn every woman who cares about them into a whore. That’s why it’s important not to fall for them.
His English sounds too good for him to have been born in Russia, but his Russian is quite good, so maybe he’s lived there too. I want to ask him questions about who he is, but there isn’t time for that now. He’s my only possible ally in the house, and I want to explain how things must be done. I’ve only suffered the belt once before, but I know enough to want to advise him on how to use it. A slap can sound loud but not hurt too much. Or it can sound loud and hurt very much.
“Let me explain what to do,” I whisper, trying to keep him from propelling me into the study. Once inside, Egorov and the old man, Polasky, will huddle around us, and I won’t be able to talk to Alexei privately.
Alexei’s firm hold on my arm tugs me forward. I try to stop on the threshold, but his arm sweeps around me and lifts me into the room as though I weigh nothing. So strong. I like it, but also dread it.
The old man chuckles at the way he handles my attempts to resist, and even Egorov, who looks murderous, smirks a little.
“Wait,” I hiss. “I want to—”
“Quiet,” Alexei says in a low, firm voice.
Inwardly, I recoil, angry at myself for misjudging him. When Alexei pretended to have seen Egorov’s wallet on the floor and stopped Egorov from grabbing me, I thought I’d found a protector. I wasn’t foolish enough to think he wouldn’t want something from me in return, but I thought it might be possible to negotiate. Now I see he’s a hard man too, who perhaps thwarted Egorov for his own reasons.
“I’ll hold her down,” Egorov says, pointing to a desk that’s surface has been cleared. The cozy room holds several men, and they all leer at me like hungry wolves.
“Do I need help holding a hundred-pound girl?” Alexei says dismissively.
“One twenty,” I correct in English, my tone saucy. “And five. This is what I weigh on American scale.” I’m not very old, but I’m not some child either. I’m eighteen now, and I’m five foot eight inches tall. It’s not small. Except if I compare myself to this monster of a man who’s nearly a foot taller than me.
My defiance draws some chuckles from around the room. It’s the kind of thing that would send Egorov into a rage or a sulk. I steal a glance at my giant. His expression is unchanged and so is his grip. He’s not ruffled by sassy talk. But he’s also not amused by it, if his face is anything to go by. No smile, not even the hint of one.
“Over the desk,” Egorov says encouragingly. “So her face is at the right level.” He adjusts himself meaningfully, and bile rises in the back of my throat. He expects me to suck his cock in front of a room full of men while I’m being spanked? Never. I’d rather bite it off and be killed as punishment.
“One of our first in the gladiator ring. Alexei, it’s good to see you,” Polasky says. He’s short for a man, but still fairly muscular for his age, which must be sixty or older. His face has more lines than a map, and his eyes make me nervous. People say he is a money man and runs an illegal fight club for the Bratvá.
If Alexei is a fighter there, he must not be a boss. I might have thought he worked for Egorov, but there’s no way that’s the case because he is too disrespectful to him. I wonder who he works for. Certainly some Bratvá in Russia are former prison inmates who are used to fighting, but in America they seem more like businessmen who kill with knives and guns, not their fists. Maybe Alexei is just a fighter and doesn’t work for anyone. That would be good. I don’t want to rely on anyone who’s entrenched with the Russian Mafia.
I can’t believe I’ve been tricked into being near any of them. What a mess it’s been. I came here because of promises of meeting my lost family. If the offer had only been to cover my expenses, I would have suspected a trap, but my friends were paid too. And the man who found me came to an area that’s remote and poor. Not a usual place for these criminals to come to. They thrive in cities.
But when I arrived in America, Egorov was the person who met me at the airport. He took me straight to one of his strip clubs. I refused to become a stripper, so, for now, I’m cleaning hotel rooms and sleeping in a spare room with another girl. He still claims to be looking for my rightful family. I think it’s a lie, but I don’t know why he would bother trying to fool me anymore, so I keep hoping that one day my father or brother will appear and take me away from him.
I would like to search for them myself, but none of the girls are allowed to go anywhere alone. I’m mostly a prisoner. And one that Egorov and Polasky have some very nasty plans for.
Alexei draws me toward a chair and sits.
“Lie down,” he says, glancing meaningfully at his thighs.
His expression confuses me. He doesn’t look angry or mean, but he doesn’t look friendly either. I wonder what his reason is for going along with my request that he be the one to punish me.
My lips are dry, so I lick them nervously. “Maybe you’re not the best man to do this.”
“Too late.” His giant paw of a hand grabs me and tips over his lap, startling me into a gasp.
“Pull up her dress. Let’s look at her ass,” Polasky, the old lecher, calls out in his crackly voice.
The back of the dress is jerked up to my waist and bunched atop my lower back. I reach behind me to try to force it down, but a stinging swat on my ass causes me to freeze.
“Lie still,” Alexei orders, answering my mind’s question from earlier. Yes, he’s a monster like the rest.
“Take down her panties,” Egorov says. “To her knees.”
“No!” I shriek, crossing my knees and pressing my legs together as I try to throw myself off Alexei’s lap and onto the floor.
His big hands grab me and hold me in place and then a heavy, muscular leg comes down over the backs of my thighs, pinning them between his.
I struggle, but Alexei wraps the dress around my forearms and uses a hand to pin them down against my back.
Egorov laughs. “Not so happy about your choice now, are you, kitty cat? Go on, Vesenina. Get those panties down. Let’s see her pretty little pussy pout while you spank her.”
My face flames, and I continue to struggle.
“Panties down,” someone crows. “Let’s see that puss.”
“No.” Alexei’s voice is devoid of emotion, but it doesn’t invite a discussion either.
The standing men murmur to each other and complain to Egorov.
“I think lowering the underwear would be best,” Polasky says.
Again, Alexei says, “No.”
I turn my head, trying to look up and over my shoulder at Alexei’s face. I can’t quite manage it.
“Put your head down, kiska,” he says calmly. “Eyes on the floor.”
My heart thuds wildly. Kiska is a pet name. It means kitten in Russian, and it’s what a man calls his girlfriend. Unlike Egorov, Alexei doesn’t sneer when he calls me a little cat.
I swallow nervously, blow out a breath and, because fighting just seems to excite the men around us, I do what I’m told. The faster this is done, the better. Arguing and fighting will just prolong it, and it might convince him to go along with their horrible suggestions. No, much better to stay calm and still.
My body’s tense, and small muscles in my back are starting to ache. I force myself to relax and go limp over his thighs.
“Good girl.” These words are spoken softly. It’s reassuring, up to a point.
His big hand slaps my ass several times in quick succession, making me gasp in surprise.
“Is that the best you can do?” Egorov scoffs.
“He’s warming her up. If you don’t know that, I pity your play partners,” someone says.
I don’t have time to puzzle out exactly what they mean before some harder swats land.
“Not so rough,” I whisper, feeling the warmth spread through my ass and lower.
His hand starts to rise and fall in a steady rhythm. The strength in his arm is relentless with every hard smack against my soft flesh. The heat builds until my ass burns, and tears sting my eyes. Deep in my core though, I’m coiled tight with anticipation. My clit tingles, wishing his thick fingers would rub it before plunging inside me. I don’t know why I feel this way. I never felt it before.
Thankfully my hair falls around my face to hide me from the humiliation. The room’s gone silent except for harsh breathing and the sound of his hand making contact with me. My nipples stiffen to points, aching slightly in a way that matches the inner walls of my pussy. I shouldn’t be attracted to him, handsome or not. What he’s doing is very wrong. Unfortunately, neither of us seems to think so. Beneath my belly, his cock feels thick and hard. He’s aroused, too.
His palm of steel comes down continuously, striking the tops of my globes, then lower where my ass meets my thighs.
“Oh, no,” I say softly. It’s a protest, but a breathy one.
“Egorov,” Alexei says in a warning tone. “If you’re gonna beat off, back the fuck up.”
Those words break the spell I’ve been under, and I twist and raise my face. Near me, too close, is Egorov’s groin. His trousers are unzipped, and his hand is inside, tugging his cock free.
“Mmm,” someone says. “Let’s take turns. Or better yet, let’s use her at the same time.”
“No. She’s a virgin,” Egorov says. “And she’s staying that way for now.”
For now? Sometimes when they speak English, it’s confusing for me. But this time it’s not, and I’ve had more than enough. “Stop! Let me up! Please, Alexei,” I say, trying to keep the tremor from my voice.
Alexei’s leg moves so I can slither off his lap. My ass stings and I want to rub it, but I ignore the urge and stand up instead.
An angry tear drips down my face, and I wipe it away ferociously. My dress drops over my wounded backside, and I’m relieved to be covered. My palms rub my sore cheeks for a second because I can’t resist.
“I must wash my face.” My voice is firm and in control, but when I try to turn and walk out, Egorov’s hands grab me. One on my waist, the other on my breast. “Get on your knees.”
My stomach lurches with dread, and my arm swings without thinking. I slap his face hard enough for the sound to echo. His arm swings just as fast, but before it strikes my face, I’m dragged aside by a powerful arm. Alexei’s other hand shoves Egorov back so hard that he falls onto the floor. Alexei stands like a statue, hard as marble and unsmiling. I could kiss him.
Egorov scrambles back to his feet and jerks a gun from somewhere.
Alexei moves me behind him. “If you shoot me, you’d better hope you kill me. Otherwise, you’re a dead man.”
“No, no,” Polasky says. “No gunfire! No one was supposed to be armed. It was agreed.”
“Yes, it was,” another man says with a grim frown.
“I’m going to wash my face,” I mumble.
Alexei’s money clip is poking out of his pocket. I know I shouldn’t, but I’m desperate, so my fingers snag it, enclosing it in my fist.
They’re all distracted and speaking harshly to each other.
This is the chance I need.
I flee the room as quickly as I can. At the front closet, I grab Alexei’s coat and fling it around myself, half expecting hands to grab me. I jerk the door open.
When no one drags me back, I throw myself forward, out into the darkness and the driving rain. It’s horrible weather. But lucky, too. No one will see me as I run.
Two months later
As I stare at my inbox, a ‘witch’s breath’ tickles the back of my neck, causing the hair on my arms to rise. Witch’s breath is what my mother calls it when a sense of foreboding hits her. She got the expression from her grandmother who used to say, “Baba Yaga’s breath is on my neck.”
Superstition is nonsense, and I glare at the black hair on my forearms, silently ordering it to lie back down.
I’m alone in my home office, but I glance around anyway before I take a swig of unsweetened black tea and look back at my computer screen. There’s an email from Bloodsport, the underground fight club where I once spent a lot of time. My time there has ended, so I usually delete Bloodsport Club emails unopened. Seeing this one though reminds me that it’s been a week since I reached out to Polasky to see if he’d heard anything about the missing girl. He’s denied any knowledge of her since that night in the rented mansion, but he could be lying. His allegiance runs more toward Egorov than me.
My gaze is stuck on the email’s subject line, which reads: BC—Russians Only Night.
A night with only Russians in the club makes me wonder whether the fight will be a death match. I frown, trying not to let my thoughts wander too far down that path. There’s bitter blood on my hands.
The email’s contents are encrypted, but I have my key code because I’m still a member by default. At one time, I was the twenty-five-week undefeated Bloodsport champion. Even though I won every match, the run ended in darkness. Now that I have my own millions and no longer need to fight, I never set foot inside.
People still tell me the standings. Right now a Serb who barely speaks English is twelve weeks undefeated. They say he’s even bigger than me. I’m six-and-a-half feet tall and two hundred and sixty pounds. Bigger than me makes him another monster.
Apparently he enjoys fighting. My fingers flex, and I make a fist. There were moments I enjoyed it too. I can’t deny that. But mostly it was a means to an end, a way to make a lot of cash quickly. I made almost four million dollars from fighting and used it as seed money for other businesses.
Still, it looms large in my memory. Swallowing a thickness in my throat and the quickening of my heart, I shake my head at myself. When the adrenaline hit me in the ring, rage transformed me. I wasn’t a man anymore. I was a beast.
Exhaling, I close my eyes a moment, working on distancing myself from that part of me. Fighting for sport when it could end in death is nothing to enjoy. The only good reason for mortal violence is survival. Or revenge.
Besides, I’m a businessman now, not a beast. If I went to Bloodsport this weekend, it wouldn’t be to strike at another fighter, it would be to crack the jaw of Ivan Egorov who’s become entrenched in club business.
My jaws creak from the way I clench them as I consider the club’s email, then click. After a moment, I’m asked to enter the passcode. I do, and the email’s unencrypted, going from thousands of random characters to a few lines of legible text.
For an outsider, there’s not much to see, but, even after not being in the club for over a year, it tells me plenty.
May 29—Russians Only
Kitten Prize—A Virgin
Champion challenger bid stands at 175,000 U.S.
Bets via secure channel or in person
In person, I think grimly. Bloodsport bets are usually done electronically, but when there’s a caged girl as part of the prize, men can go to the club to inspect her. Certainly a rich man who puts a champion under contract to fight, in the hopes of winning the pot and the kitten, would want to see the girl in the flesh.
The image icon at the bottom of the screen waits, like a wrapped present. A prize in the kitten cage means there’s a woman who’s willing to be a sex slave for the right price. A month’s servitude usually goes to someone who wants more than the bed-play his own mistress or even call girls will provide. The girl from the golden cage will be owned like a pretty pet, one that can be forced to submit in darkly sexual ways. There’s a small sliver of my soul that would like to own a girl that way, provided it was the right girl. I wouldn’t want a street-hardened addict or working girl with a desperate need for cash. But a beautiful woman who would enjoy being dominated in bed? Yeah, that appeals to me.
My finger lingers over the image key, and I finally click. I expect to see a nearly naked woman, the way they’re displayed on fight night. Instead, it’s only a woman’s beautiful face, and I recognize it.
My muscles tighten, and my heart beats with a slow thud. Baba Yaga’s breath is back.
So Polasky or perhaps Egorov did something I couldn’t; they found her again.
And somehow they lured her into a cage. She wouldn’t have made the choice easily, not considering the way she took off from the house Egorov rented.
There are no marks on her face, and she looks healthy. If someone’s been abusing and intimidating her, it doesn’t show. Although, who says the picture is recent? Maybe it’s from months ago.
Closing the laptop’s lid, I lean back in my chair.
The fucking Bloodsport Club.
Looking at the scars on my knuckles, I frown. Occasionally broken teeth cut my skin deep enough to leave permanent marks. Once I cracked a bone in my hand and had to fight on. Striking the other fighter felt like a knife going into my hand over and over. The pain radiated up and down, into the knuckle of my fourth finger and to my wrist. After it healed, I was stiff for months. I worked on it every day until full range of motion was recovered. Now I never notice a problem with my hand. The problems come from the memories. Or rather, from one in particular.
Natalia is for sale. I have the money to bid if I want to enter myself as a fighter.
Fighting professionally shouldn’t be clouded by emotions though. Closing my eyes, I dig deep. Am I over my hatred and resentment at the way I was tricked into fighting to the death? A spike of adrenaline answers for me. No, I’m not over anything.
But, once again, the club has things that can’t be found elsewhere.
I want the girl.