**This is our gift to you, our readers. If you find a small error here and there be gentle… let firstname.lastname@example.org know and we can fix. **
For weeks my alcohol consumption had been next to nothing. Right now I wanted a drink. Badly. Fuck my performance on the ice or the fact that Sacha disliked the taste of booze on my tongue. At this moment I wasn’t sure if I cared what he liked. Hell, I wasn’t even sure of who this man was that I’d fallen so deeply in love with.
“I would like a drink,” I said. He stared at me as if my request had stunned him.
“There is water and—”
“No,” I pushed to my feet, a creeping feeling of dread skipping over my flesh. “It needs to be a dulling agent.”
I padded to the windows of the cabin. “Come away from the windows,” he warned. I skittered back from the frosty glass.
“I feel as if I’m in some grisly nightmare.” My legs felt rubbery, my skin clammy, my hands shaky. “Who are you? How did I not know of all the bloodshed you’re associated with?”
“You never asked,” he stated with a chilly tone that made me feel small and stupid. He, of course, was right. I had never asked him in depth questions about his past. I’d just dropped to my knees like a good sub. Even now I adored him, despite knowing of the bodies the man left behind him.
“Would you have told me?” I leaned on the wall. The old cabin was not well-insulated and the cold seeped into my spine. His dark, dark eyes flitted to the ceiling. “Would you? Would you have told me if I had asked?”
“Probably not, no.”
“Thank you for the small honesty.” He said nothing, just inclined his head. “What else is hidden from me in you?”
“Many things, none of which I hoped would ever need see the light. I thought if I kept you safe, sheltered you, and prayed that my family would forget me all would be well. I see now I was flawed in that thinking. They will never leave me alone.”
“And so do you go kill them? Like you did Dusan and your cousin and how many others? Do we sleep with guns now between us? I need a fucking drink.”
I stalked off on weak legs to find something strong. I ended up in the tiny kitchen, staring at the top of the fridge where a lone bottle of Stolichnaya sat atop the refrigerator. Sacha remained in the living room, where all the big windows were.
He glanced up when I returned. The dim lights did marvelous things for his deep red hair. How was it possible to want to knee him in the groin yet desire to feel his thick hair between my fingers? I cracked open the dusty bottle, threw down a shot, shuddered, and then held the bottle out to him. He shook his head.
“Drink with me. It’s the least you can do.”
“Someone must keep their wits about them. I’m relatively sure we were not followed, but given their ease of discovering us earlier, I cannot assume anything.”
Fucker was so poised. Still it turned me on, even though I knew the man to be more than a fixer of certain problems for businesses and teams. So much more. I flopped down in an old recliner across from him, bottle in hand, and took another deep pull. His jaw worked but he remained silent.
“Tell me of why you murdered a man you say was good to you.”
I stared at him. Hard. Brows lowered. He remained unfazed by my most aggressive glower. Ah what a bastard. Always so possessed.
“Why?” I lifted the bottle to my lips and drank deeply, the fire in my throat and gut not quite as acidic this time.
He studied me intently. I could see the battle he waged internally. “Those are not ghosts that I wish free right now. I’m contending with enough specters. Perhaps you should ease up on the vodka? If we are discovered here, you’ll be slow and stupid.”
“Obviously I am already stupid,” I tossed out, my body warming nicely from the vodka, my nerves easing off, the anger broiling up inside me softly dulled. “Perhaps the next time I fall for a man I need to ask for a detailed history of his past.”
He sat up, wide shoulders bunching and flowing, his chocolate eyes so fierce I nearly slithered to my knees and called him ‘Sir’ right then and there.
“I hope there will be no new man.”
I swirled the vodka in the bottle, my gaze locked with his. A sharp wind rattled the old shutters.
“What are we going to do, Sacha?”
“I am going to keep you safe. Here is the best place for now. Then I am going after those who dared to put you in harm’s way.”
My eyes drifted shut for a moment. It was so easy to listen to his words and let my need to be controlled take over. The timbre of his voice did mystical things to me, things that made me trust in a man who by all rights I should be running from.
I opened my eyes. “We go after them.”
“Absolutely not.” His eyes flashed with possessiveness and worry. “I’ll not see another gun pointed at you.”
“Ah, but it is fine for me to watch them gun you down, homme stupide!”
He shrugged. “Perhaps I ama stupid man, but that is how it will be. You are to remain here. Call the team. Tell them that you’re unable to play because of a family emergency that requires you to be in Canada for an undetermined amount of time.”
My eyes flared. “Oh no, I cannot be gone for so long! My position on the team—”
“I suspect you will not be able to play well if a bullet finds its way into your head, or am I wrong in that assumption?”
I opened my mouth then snapped it shut. No, he was right.
“Fine, I will make the call after I change.” My shirt and slacks were speckled with blood. I pushed to my feet; my belly filled with sweet Russian vodka. “Just let me go to the car and get my bag.”
Sacha blinked at me. I offered him the bottle. He swatted it away, knocking it from my hand to the floor.
“Did you pick up your bag?”
Now it was my time to look bewildered. “I thought…”
“Fuck. It is still in the parking lot. Fuck. Fuck.What was in it?”
My thoughts were torpid, sluggish, dulled by the trauma and the vodka. “I uhm…” I stammered as he rushed around the table and grabbed my biceps. He was strong, beautiful, and a hairs width from snapping in two. “I cannot recall for certain. A change of clothes, gum, my keys, a Kindle, my wallet… some condoms and lube. Sacha?”
“Fuck. Then they know. They’ll have sent someone to check that the job was completed when they hear nothing from my cousin. They’ll know where you live by now. They’ll have your team pass, your keys, access to the arena, your banking information…everything.”
“We need to get my bag before they can do this! I have friend’s door keys. Taz, Goog, they are on my keyring!”
He stroked my face, just once, with the back of his knuckles. “I’ll go. You stay here. No, do no argue.” He slapped a Sig Sauer handgun into my palm then raced to the door. “Lock this behind me. When I return I’ll flash the headlights four times so you know it’s me. Repeat that after me.”
“I…four times of the headlights.” The 9mm felt heavy in my hand. “Sacha, please, return to me.”
“Always.” He pulled on his coat and ran out into the cold and snow. I rushed to the door, locked it, and prayed as hard as I had prayed for many years.
*a new episode appears each Sunday, check the master list for updates.