“Because I wanted to see you.”
“How did you find out where I worked? Are you having me and Dylan followed?”
“It is easy tracking you American women down. You put your whole life on social media. That is something we will have to change, moya malen’kaya iskra. My little spark. You will have to delete your accounts. I can’t have you posting such things for anyone to see.”
I paced from one side of the room to the other, while keeping my selfie stick trained on him. “Oh, sure, I’ll delete my accounts. No problem. And while I’m at it, how about I quit my job and start sewing my own dresses?”
He took several steps toward me. I backed up. He placed the juice glass with the shot of tequila on the table and backed away. “I am glad we are in agreement, although you will not have to sew your own clothes. I will be happy to provide you with clothes, jewels, whatever you need.”
I grabbed the glass and drank the tequila, never needing a rough drink more. This was crazy. “Okay, for starters, that was sarcasm. I have absolutely no intention of deleting my social media accounts, or quitting my job, assuming I still have one after that stunt you pulled tonight, or accepting any clothes from you.”
Maxim lifted his shirt and pulled out his handgun.
My heart stopped.
Even if I knew where my purse was, I wouldn’t be able to reach it and get to my cell phone to call the police in time.
He clicked something on the gun and slid out the magazine. Then placed both pieces on the counter. “I believe I have given you the wrong impression. As I have said, this is not about your friend or the money. I tracked you down this evening because I wanted to see you again.”
I ran my hand through my now hopelessly tangled hair. “You wanted to see me again? Why?”
Maxim rubbed his jaw as his heated gaze wandered down from my eyes, to linger at my mouth, then shifted lower.
My breath hitched. I had to look down at his hands to confirm he hadn’t physically touched me. Finally, he spoke. “I thought you were cute. You are a little spark. Wait, no, how do they say it in America? A spitfire! You are quite a spitfire. I am in town for a few months. Perhaps we could have some fun.”
Wait, he was trying to date me?
“In America, men usually strike up a conversation with you in the Starbucks line and then maybe ask for your phone number. They don’t barge into your place of work and break a guy’s nose!”
Maxim shrugged. “He’s lucky I didn’t slit his throat.”
I frantically waved the selfie stick in his direction. “You see? That comment, right there? That’s an insane thing to say. You are insane.” I waved the selfie stick around me. “All of this is insane.” Warming up to my rant, I continued, “In America, you don’t force a woman into your car and then force your way into her apartment, even if you think she’s cute. All of that is hella illegal!”
Still leaning against the island, Maxim spread his arms out. “And yet, here we are.”
I swallowed as my cheeks heated. “And you definitely don’t call her a whore.”
His eyes narrowed. “You were dressed like one.”
“That’s not the point.”
“Yes, it is. And it won’t happen again. I won’t be allowing you to dress like that in front of other men. Because if it does happen again, I guarantee you, any man that looks at you won’t be leaving with just a broken nose.”
I gestured with the selfie stick to the door. “No… it won’t happen again because you are leaving right now.”
“You don’t have a choice. This is my apartment, and I’m ordering you to leave.”
Maxim rose to his full height.
Holy hell, this man was trouble. Women probably threw their panties at him as he walked down the street. His face was all hard angles, from his slightly crooked nose that obviously had been broken at some point, probably from a fist fight, to the sharp line of his jaw. He was without a doubt the most sinfully handsome man I had ever laid eyes on. I was going straight to hell just for looking at him. He was like one of the bad boys from my Kindle romances. The kind you swooned over in a book but knew would be a disaster to date in real life. All the more reason to get him out of my apartment and out of my life.
He took several steps toward me. I raised the selfie stick in front of me as I backed away and tried to put a low upholstered chair between us. When he spoke, the hard edge had returned to his voice, deepening his accent. “It is you who does not have a choice here.”
“I’ll call the police.”
“And when they arrive, they will see who I am, and they will leave.”
He had said something similar at the bar. He didn’t even seem fazed when I threatened to call the authorities. What kind of man wasn’t afraid of the police? A rich one? Or perhaps a criminal. “Who are you?”
He bowed slightly. “Maxim Konatantinovich Miloslavsky, at your service. And you are Carinna Giovanna Russo. Born and raised in Chicago. Both parents are still living, although you’ve been on your own since you were in high school. You—”
“Stop! Stop! How do you know all this about me?”
“I have connections and I’ve told you… you interest me.”
I tightened my grip on the selfie stick as I held it aloft before me. “Well, you don’t interest me.”
Maxim clucked his tongue as he took another step closer. “You are a terrible liar, moya malen’kaya iskra.”
“Please, why won’t you leave?”
Maxim circled around the chair.
I held the selfie stick up. “Stay back.”
He grabbed the stick and tossed it aside. He then wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me flush against his chest. He placed a hand around my neck and pressed up against my jaw, tilting my head back. “I’m not leaving, and if you were honest with yourself, you’d admit you don’t want me to.”
My lower lip trembled. “You frighten me.”
He gently kissed my cheek, then my lips, then the tip of my nose. “Never be frightened of me, babygirl. I would never harm such a beautiful creature as you.” He ran his tongue over my lower lip. “A beauty like yours is to be treasured, worshiped.”
His mouth teased mine. I breathed in his air, falling deeper under his spell. My eyes half-closed as he lowered his head. At the last possible minute, sanity returned. I pushed him away. “No. I can’t. This is too crazy. You have to leave.”
Maxim rubbed his jaw. Then pierced me with a glare. “I knew it.”
I surveyed him suspiciously. “Knew what?”
Without saying another word, he grabbed me by the back of the head and crushed his mouth to mine. He gave no quarter as his tongue speared inside my mouth, taking ownership. As I struggled in his grasp, he pulled up the hoodie from behind. A cool breeze touched my lower back before the first sharp sting of his slap. The impact drove my hips against his, where I felt the hard outline of his cock pressing against his jeans.
He spanked me again and again. His mouth swallowed my cries. With each heated slap, I was pushed against his hips.
He fisted my hair and deepened the kiss before finally breaking free. “This is what you want. Isn’t it, babygirl? Not sweet words of love, but rough and dirty with a hint of pain.”
The truth of his words struck at my very soul. Oh, God! “No, no! You’re wrong!”
Using his grip on my hair, he pushed me facedown over the edge of the low chair. For the second time that night, he yanked down my leggings, exposing my ass. I braced, but wasn’t prepared for the intense, humiliating pain of his palm striking my bare flesh. My pussy clenched as the stinging heat pooled between my legs.
He pulled my hair as he pressed his crotch against my ass, the rough denim sending sparks of pain across my tortured skin. He rubbed my right butt cheek, then squeezed it hard. I squealed in pain as I rose up on my toes.
“Tell me you like this,” he commanded.
I buried my face in the back upholstery of the chair. The fabric muffled my response. “I don’t. It hurts.”
“That’s the whole point, babygirl.” His booted foot stepped on my leggings till they were around my ankles. He then kicked my legs wider. His hand moved in circles over my lower back under the hoodie to caress my ass before moving lower.
I panicked and tried to twist my legs closed.
He spanked my ass before moving his right hand between my legs.
I groaned, knowing what he would find.
His fingers teased my wet pussy.
Maxim leaned down and whispered in my ear. “My beautiful little liar. How shall I punish you for lying to me again?”
He pushed two fingers deep into me. Losing all inhibition, I groaned and arched my back.
Maxim sank his teeth into the side of my neck before licking the wound. “Such a greedy, tight little pussy,” he teased as he thrust his fingers in and out in a torturously slow rhythm.
My mind shattered. All I could focus on was the twisted, macabre dance of pleasure and pain he was leading me through. Every inch of my body hummed with awareness.
He continued to thrust his fingers inside of me as he rubbed his denim-covered, hard cock against my hip. I clawed at the fabric of the chair. The pressure kept building and building. My breath became labored. I was so close.
He pulled on my hair again. The sharp sting nearly sent me over the edge as I ground my hips against the back of the chair, desperately trying to put some pressure on my swollen clit. He ran his teeth over the whorl of my ear as he whispered darkly, “Are you my dirty girl?”
Oh, God! I was so close. At that point, I would have said yes to anything. “Yes! Yes! I’m your dirty girl,” I breathed.
He pushed a third finger inside of me. My body strained to accommodate him. It had been so long.
“Tell me you want me to stay.”
The pad of his thumb teased my asshole. My inner thighs clenched. “Please stay,” I begged.
He pulled his fingers free. I immediately felt the loss. Pulling on my hair, he tilted my head all the way back. “Open your mouth.”
I obeyed without question.
He pushed his three fingers past my lips. I tasted the undeniable proof of my arousal. He moved his fingers in deeper till my shoulders hunched as I gagged. “Take it. You’ll have to learn to take every inch of me, babygirl.” He pulled his fingers free, then forced them past my lips a second time. I choked and grabbed at his wrist as I shamelessly swirled my tongue around his fingers.
“Good girl,” he purred.
I barely heard him. At that moment, I just wanted to come. “Please,” I begged.
“No, you don’t get to come just yet.”
Dazed, I thought I heard him wrong. “What?”
He kicked my leggings aside and swooped me up into his arms. Carrying me across my small living room, he kicked open the bathroom door. He placed me on my feet and pulled open the shower curtain. He flicked on the tap, turning it all the way. Steam immediately rose. “First, I want you to wash off the looks of all those men.”
He did not just say what I thought he said. My mouth opened in shock. “You… you… you…” I was so stunned all I could do was choke out a stuttered response.
He towered over me and placed a finger under my chin. “I think the word you are looking for is bastard.”
He stroked my cheek. “You are so adorably stubborn. Don’t pretend you haven’t been longing for a nice hot shower. Are you going to deny yourself just to spite me?”
So now he was a mind reader too? Damn him.
“How do I know you’re not just going to rob me blind while I’m in the shower?”
He ruffled my hair. “So cute. As if there was anything in this place to steal.”
I placed my hands on my hips. “Hey!”
Sure, my apartment was small and filled with secondhand furniture. The TV didn’t have cable and the refrigerator barely kept things cool, but it was clean and neat and all mine. It wasn’t my fault my parents guilted me into giving them half my tips each week. Well, it was my fault, but there was no point in dwelling on the past. My brother was dead. I had killed him and now I needed to pay for that. If that meant not having a comfortable life filled with things like cable and a new sofa, then so be it. I would pay my penance, but that didn’t mean I wanted it thrown in my face by Mr. Expensive Suit and Fancy Car. If my apartment was so tiny and below his standards, he could leave like I had already asked him to do a thousand times.
I hadn’t been lying when I said he frightened me. The man scared the crap out of me in more ways than one. Sure, there were the obvious criminal overtones to everything he said and did, and his connection to the man who chased Dylan down to get back his hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal cash. Then, of course, there were the super scary tattoos. Even the silver rings he wore on his fingers seemed to have a sinister edge to them. Like there was something uber-masculine about a man who said fuck what society thinks, I’m wearing jewelry.
Then of course there were his hands, his mouth, his… Damn, the man was the living embodiment of sex on a stick. Men like that were dangerous and scary as hell. Men like that held a power over women and they knew it. Big D energy was no joke. It had the power to convince a woman to do just about anything—like letting a man stay in her apartment while she showered.
He gestured over my head. “Shower,” he said, before leaving the bathroom and closing the door behind him.
I raced over and pressed my ear to the door and listened, but couldn’t hear anything. As the bathroom filled with steam, I paced in the confined space. Was I really just going to shower as if there wasn’t a six-foot-five tattooed and pierced Russian criminal in my living room right now?
This was crazy.
This was insane.
This was bonkers!
Okay, my options. Option number one, I could catch him by surprise by racing out of the bathroom, through the apartment and out in the hall where I would scream bloody murder for the police. Option two, I could get a hot shower and then have what would probably be the best sex of my life.
Option one was definitely the sensible and sane option, but option two sounded way more fun. Hadn’t I just told my best friend Dylan, only a few hours earlier, that she should go after the hot Russian guy who was the epitome of a bad boy romance hero come to life? Wouldn’t I be a complete hypocrite if I didn’t take my own advice?
This was crazy.
This was insane.
This was bonkers!
I wiped the steam off the mirror and stared at my reflection. Was I really going to do this? I looked over my shoulder at the shower, which was still running. Fuck it. I’d take a shower and then decide. I pulled the hoodie over my head. I started to fold it neatly with the intention of giving it back to Maxim, but then glanced over at the wicker hamper. I lifted the hoodie to my face and inhaled its spicy cologne scent. Biting my lip, I went over to the hamper and lifted the lid. I placed the hoodie on top of the laundry before slipping off my thong and stepping into the shower.
I had to stifle a groan of relief when the hot water cascaded down my back. Damn him. He was right. I needed this. But after a few glorious minutes of standing under the shower stream, cold reality crashed down.
Shit! I needed to hurry. Grabbing my razor, I gave my legs a quick shave. I then scrubbed all the makeup off my face and lathered my hair. Finally, feeling more like a woman and less like a beer-drowned rat, I picked up my hot pink pouf and squeezed an obscene amount of creamy body wash onto it. I was lathering my arm when the doorknob for the bathroom turned.
Slipping the shower curtain aside, I poked my head out. “Oh, my God! What are you doing in here?”
Maxim stood in the center of my tiny bathroom. The moment he entered, all the air was sucked out of the room, leaving just a vacuum of dark sexual energy that pulsed all around him.
He had taken off his shirt and unbuttoned the top button on his jeans. Jesus, he just looked so damn dirty-sexy-wrong! With all those tattoos and piercings. And of course he would have rock-hard abs that led to a freaking Beckham.
He was holding the juice glass we’d shared. Before answering, he swallowed back another shot of tequila, then set the glass on the sink. “I’m joining you.”
My eyes widened as I held my hot pink pouf protectively over my breasts. “The hell you are! Get out!”
Maxim kicked off his right boot, then his left. He then reached for the zipper of his jeans.
With a cry, I ducked my head back into the shower. Tilting my head back, I called out over the rush of water, “Seriously, Maxim. Don’t you dare come in here. You can shower after I’m done.”
Letting a man as handsome as him see me naked in bed was one thing, but in the shower was an entirely different thing. In bed, I could arch my back and put my knee up and over my hip to make my thighs look sleeker than they really were. I could drape the sheet over my decently flat but not crazy-model-with-abs-flat belly. And all kinds of faults would be hidden by the dim light given off by my single lightbulb nightstand lamp with the red paisley scarf over the shade.
None of that was true in the damn shower!
I would just be standing here all wet and naked with no makeup on.
A rustle of fabric told me he had kicked off his jeans. Next, I saw a hand draw the curtain back. In a panic, I pushed on the curtain, trying to keep it closed. After a brief tug of war I was destined to lose, Maxim pulled the curtain all the way back and stepped into the shower with me.
His body was so big, his head was slightly above the curtain rod. I had to step back till my calf hit the tub faucet.
Maxim bit his lower lip as he surveyed me up and down. I tried to place an arm over my upper legs and one over my breasts, but he grabbed my wrists and stretched my arms out wide. “Goddamn, babygirl. You are one gorgeous piece of ass.”
I wanted to object to the crude way he called me a piece of ass.
I wanted to.
I truly did.
The feminist in me cried out, then curled up into a fetal position for being objectified in such blunt terms.
The problem was it made my stomach take a delicious flip and other parts of me tingle. I had to suppress a damn giggle. Fuck, this man was trouble.
Since he was taking his time appreciating my body, I figured turnabout was fair play. His chest was a violent art mural of bleeding hearts, guns, hammers and sickles, flames, and other Russian religious and propaganda symbols. The piercings only added to the sinister appeal of the macabre display. My gaze inched lower. I sucked in my lower lip as I followed the faint dusting of hair from his belly button to his… oh, my fucking God.
Hell to the no.
I blinked several times, still unable to trust my vision.
The man didn’t have a penis. He had a damn battering ram.