It took Kostya Molikov a long time to get over his former partner’s death, but after four years he’s finally ready to move on. He just never imagined it might be with a stubborn, infuriatingly beautiful woman with purple-tipped hair that matches her violet eyes. Her sharp tongue and sassy temper are quickly becoming a challenge he can’t wait to tame.
But as their attraction reaches sinful levels, Tori learns her brother is even greater danger. She’s desperate to save him, but can she trust Kostya with her secret… and with her heart?
A faint worry niggled at Tori. She sat up and opened her eyes, the relaxation of a moment ago cooling even faster than the bath water. Pulling her earbuds from her ears, she shut off her phone, and placed it on the edge of the tub. She glanced at the bathroom door. It stood open a crack. She tensed.
Her clothes were missing.
Heart thumping, she surged from the tub. She stared at the empty towel racks. A single hand towel sat next to the sink. She shivered and goose bumps rose on her skin. She swallowed down her fear and wet her lips. This is like a scene from some B-rated slasher movie. Shivering, she stepped from the tub and onto the bath rug. At least that was still there. Reaching for the bathroom door, she slammed it shut and threw the lock. She would have privacy for the next few minutes.
She used the small hand towel to dry her body. She also started opening every door she could reach, hoping to find something she might use as a weapon.
She found a comb, a hair dryer, her emergency makeup kit, and two bottles of nail polish. Great! I can stun my assailant with perfectly styled hair and glittering nails! She hefted the hair dryer—she might at least be able to use it as a club. A really weak, plastic club. She let out a long breath and slammed shut the medicine chest. She closed her eyes—what was she going to do if Raul had come back? The doorknob rattled. She looked at the door and held the hand towel against her chest. Would the door splinter next from a kick?
She straightened. That deep male voice had a slight accent—and it wasn’t Raul’s accent.
The doorknob rattled again. She held her breath just in case he came waltzing through the door.
Kostya? What was he doing back here? He was supposed to stay in a hotel tonight! She slapped her forehead. Raul hadn’t said a hotel—he’d said the Russian was going to make his own arrangements. Dragging in a breath, Tori decided she’d have to come up with an excuse for why she was here. Meantime, the best defense….
She lifted her voice and yelled at the door, “Kostya? Did you take my clothes?”
“Come out and we shall discuss how you can get them back.”
“Is this some sort of stupid game you Russians like to play? I can tell you right now, I’m not having fun!”
“A game is exactly what I have in mind. It is called eating the words you throw at another. Open the door and join me. I brought the rest of your wine and your glass is waiting for you.”
“I’m not thirsty. Tell you what, how about you head into the kitchen and we’ll talk there. Or you can talk and I’ll listen. I realize I might have gone a little overboard today, but I can explain.”
“Ah, I look forward to that.” She heard a smile in his voice. A distinctly wolfish one.
The bathroom was rapidly cooling. Tori shivered and not just from being naked. She grabbed a breath to prevent herself from screaming in frustration. And you thought he was hot and that you wouldn’t mind falling into bed with him? What were you thinking?
She looked at her reflection in the mirror and realized she only had two options. Go out a cowering, embarrassed mess and beg his forgiveness, or storm the castle, take the bull by the horns and make that Russian sorry for messing with a real woman! She knew she was mixing her metaphors, but plan B sounded so much better than playing the simpering, weak female.
She opened one of the drawers and yanked out her emergency makeup bag from the back. She swiped on makeup with seduction in mind. Dark shadow for smoky eyes. Mascara. Blood red lipstick. She combed and dried her hair, making sure it hung killer straight.
“Tori, what are you doing in there?” Kostya called. He sounded impatient.
Good, you crazy Russian, you.
She glanced in the mirror. She’d always thought she felt naked without her makeup. Now she was pretty sure she could only feel naked because she was naked. She wasn’t ashamed of her body. She had a flat stomach, courtesy of the Pilates classes she had taken for years. She hadn’t been able to attend for the last few months, but she still worked out here whenever she could. She went for pale skin—no tan lines showing. The purple tips of her hair brought out the violet of her eyes—too bad she couldn’t quite manage a Lady Godiva look with hair covering the basics. At least her breasts didn’t have a sag in sight! And she had her tats.
A pair of angel wings covered her upper shoulder blades. A lacy filigree sat at the base of her spine, right above the dimples of her ass. A dragon graced her upper left chest, its tail running around and between her breasts. And scrolled words circled her belly button with a reminder to her to always be true to herself. The silver belly button ring matched the small rings that adorned her ears, as well as those that hung from the tips of her nipples.
She nodded and summoned again for her reflection. That Russian thought he had the upper hand, but he was about to find out that Tori Graystone didn’t do anything in half measures.
And…okay, maybe she would apologize for being a little mouthy, that is if he was still thinking of making her pay once he got a good look at her. She didn’t think she was conceited. She simply knew men were predictable. Show them a well-proportioned woman without any clothes on and the brain shut off.
Taking a deep, calming breath, she opened the bathroom door, tossed the tiny hand towel at Kostya and walked into the bedroom. She took a look around her. He had gathered candles from god knew where. The room took on a soft glow of flickering light.
Wow—she hadn’t expected this.
The Russian stood facing the bathroom door, his arms crossed and his feet planted wide. He also looked as if someone had hit him upside the head. He stared at her, his mouth open slightly. She could see the pulse beating rapid and unsteady in his throat. He closed his mouth and opened it again, as if he’d lost his words.
Her own pulse skipped a few beats and she could feel the flush warming her skin, but dammit, she was going to do this. She propped a hand on her hip. “So—where’s my wine?”