The destroyed building crumbled around Jade. Struggling for each breath she prayed for death as a dark shadow, the figure of an impossibly large man hovered above her. Jade heard his voice before she saw his face. “Do you want to live?” His dark Russian accented voice rained down on her along with the smoke and ash from the destroyed building. Her body burned in pain as she nodded “Yes”.
"Good, then remember this: you did not see shit, you did not hear shit and you do not know shit, da?”
But Jade had seen shit, she’d heard shit and she knew shit. That was the reason Alexei and his men had riddled the building in bullets and the reason she lay on the floor covered in her own blood; however, the man who stood above promised her hope and a new life, but at what cost?
Bratva: A Brothers in Sin Short
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Bratva: Brothers in Sin Part 1
© 2014 Inger Iversen
All rights reserved.
Published by: Inger Iversen Books, LLC
All of the situations and characters in this novel are fictional. Any similarities to actual people or situations are completely coincidental and wholly unintentional.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
Editing done by: Edits and formatting by V | Victoria Bright
Cover Artwork, Cover fonts, Spine, and Back Cover done by: Taria Reed Digital Artist
Darkness settled in the room and Jade’s eyes finally adjusted to the night. The four post bed, white lace curtains, and blue silk sheets all reminded her of what she was—his whore. She’d picked out nothing in the room and she was given no choice as to what she would have in her new home. “It is all for you.” He told her as she showed her around her new Manhattan suite and she wondered how many women he’d placed in this luxurious home, how many women he’d made love to, made promises to and how many hearts he’d stolen. He was a thief in and out of the bedroom as his business profits doubled. His soft lips gently grazed her ear as he explained that she would never want for anything ever again and tonight as she lay in her bed she wondered if that guarantee included his love. Of course not, he was now back in Russia on his honeymoon with his new Russian bride, Galina. The Russian made: tall, blonde, educated and beautiful, Galina was now his wife. Jade’s heart cracked in her chest as she covered her head with the silk sheets. Why she’d ever been so stupid to think that their love affair was anything more than a fleeting moment of ecstasy was beyond her, but her need for him was insurmountable. Was it an obsession? Before Galina, they’d spent time together in his home as if they were a true couple. He’d come home from work to find her cooking or reading a book and he’d placed his arms around her and whisper in her ear such beautiful things in Russian. Jade fought to catch her breath as the past tried to steal it from her. No. He was nothing more than a murdering bastard who fucked her when he pleased and nothing more. She’d forget the past. She’d forget how his words made her feel, how his touch grounded her when she woke up from nightmares and she would forget the words he’d whispered to her each night before they fell asleep. It was all a ploy, a game, and a way to burn down her defenses so he could secure a place between her thighs.
A clicking noise stilled Jade’s breath; it sounded like the front door. She listened as the sound grew louder and then stopped. There was creaking, a shuffle and then silence. Jade sat up in her bed and the darkness that surrounded her did nothing to help her thrumming heart. Anton, her bodyguard, had a key, but he never entered without her permission, phone call or his distinctive knock. Normally, he stood vigilant outside her door until Viktor came to take his place and then he’d retire to the suite below. Jade cursed the size of the California King bed as she scooted across what seemed to be miles and miles of silk sheets to its edge. Once on the edge she reached for the nightstand drawer, quietly pulled it open and retrieved the Smith and Wesson .38 caliber revolver Anton had given her. “Perfect for a rookie,” He’d said. She pulled the light weapon from the drawer and pulled it to her chest. This was one of the many complications of being a mobster’s whore, hit men were often sent to your home thinking the boss would be preoccupied with screwing you allowing them to get in and get out with minimum interruption. Jade did as she was instructed when Anton gave her the gun and showed her how to use it. He told her to pick up the gun. She’d done that and like a fool cradled it to her chest. What damn good would the gun be if it was pointed at her? She spoke in a hushed whisper Anton’s words, “Keep it pointed to the ground until you are sure of your target. Once you know where you want to shoot, raise the gun and squeeze the trigger.” She wasn’t as nervous as she thought she’d be. Maybe it was the death she’d witnessed at his side. Or maybe it was her own near death experience, but Jade wasn’t going to be in a situation like that again. She’d kill if she had to, she’d aim the gun at the intruder’s head and pull the fucking trigger without pause. As her feet hit the soft carpet she whispered more of Anton’s advice. “Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. Keep it pointed down the barrel of the gun.” Jade did just that as she carefully crept to the bedroom door. Pushing it open softly she set one foot out on the cool wooden hallway floor and moved forward. Her suite was the size of a fucking house with three large bedrooms, four baths and other rooms she hadn’t even bother going in. The front door wasn’t visible from the hall and she was glad for that. She moved as silently as she could down the hall and stopped at the first arched opening that would reveal the large living room. Her heart raced and she fought the urge to place her finger on the trigger, but she didn’t. She kept her aim low and her ears open. Her hands shook and her palms were sweaty. Jade took long deep breaths hoping to calm her nerves and in doing so Jade knew there was someone in her home. The scent of night air hit her hard and she slowly moved around the corner. A dark figure sat in the chair, silent and unmoving. Jade raised her gun and aimed. Her arms felt heavy and she struggled to hold them steady.
“Who the fuck are you?” She asked in a low voice hoping to hide the tremble beneath the steel of her words. The figure didn’t move or speak. She steeled her arm and stopped its shaking. “I said…who are you?” The tremble in her voice disappeared and her body stilled. What was he waiting for? He was going to try and kill her right? Anton’s words played in her mind as he told her about the gun. His thick Russian accent played loudly in her head. “This gun is a double action pistol. You do not have to cock it. You can but it isn't necessary.” In this case, for Jade it was. Jade placed her thumb over the hammer and pulled back. The sound of metal on metal vibrated throughout the room. The noise was a promise of pain if that jerk didn’t speak. So, she aimed. Anton’s voice was clear in her mind. “Point and shoot. There are sights on top of the barrel. Line the sights up with your target and shoot. Do not think and do not speak. Just shoot to kill.” The Russian assassin’s voice was clear and neutral as if killing were second nature and perhaps to him, it was.
The voice that had her mesmerized for the past eight months floated across the room. “Where did you get gun, zolotse?” She lowered her gun instantly. “No,” his voice was hard and gruff. “Aim at me again.” He demanded. Jade was confused and a moment of hesitation took over.
“Why?” She whispered. She hadn’t known it was him and if she had she wouldn’t have touched her damned gun.
He leaned forward, but the darkness still veiled his face. “Aim at me.” His voice lowered, but the demand was still there.
She lifted the gun barely aiming it in his direction. “Sergei, I—“ Her voice quavered, but not in fear. It’d been three weeks since she’d seen him and her heart ached. She didn’t want to point a fucking gun at him, she wanted to run to him.
The chair squeaked as he stood. His steps were quiet as he moved across the floor. “This gun is to protect your life?” She nodded confused by his question. “Then when you aim, you aim at the heart or head.” He moved closer and in two steps he was right in front of her his heart placed at the barrel of the gun. Jade tried to move away, but Sergei shook his head.
“I’m sorry,” She whispered ashamed of the tremor in her voice.
Sergei’s normally stoic face crumpled in confusion. “Why?” He asked. She didn’t know why she was apologizing. Her head was dizzy and her arms grew heavy. She dropped her arms at her side and looked to Sergei.
“Why are you here? Where is your wife at this hour?” She moved away and placed the gun on the small table beside her. “And why is it so damned dark in here?” She looked around to see the window coverings all closed. “Her eyes flew to Sergei who still quietly watched her. “Are you worried about snipers now?” There was always some danger or threat to his life and Jade was always shuffled away and place high in this “home” until the threat was eliminated. Sergei silently walked to the window and pulled back the drapes.
He turned and spoke. “Did Anton give you gun?” His voice was level and Jade wasn’t sure if he was angry or just being inquisitive. He pulled the drapes apart letting in the lights from the city. Everything was now illuminated including his wrinkled clothing. Ordinarily, Sergei was more than “put together” he paid men to tailor his suits, and bring them to his doorstep. This was the first time she’d ever seen him out of sorts.
Unsure if he were angry, she answered carefully. “I asked him for it.” Sergei continued to stare out of the window.
“Why? Do you not feel safe with him?” His voice changed and Jade moved towards him. It was anger that she heard and maybe even confusion.
She sat down on the satin settee and pushed her legs beneath her. “I think-- I’m just nervous.” It was true. Since Alexei and his men had tried to have her killed again she’d been on edge and it didn’t help when Sergei left for Russia with his new bride. She didn’t dare admit that to him. She was tired of showing her weakness to him when he gave her nothing in return.
Sergei glanced at his watch. “I’ll ask again, differently. Should I replace him?”
“No, I trust him just fine.” He stared at her for a moment. She could say that Russia had changed him, but that would be a lie. He was treating her the same way he treated the men who worked for him. She looked away discomfited. How she ever thought this man loved her was a mystery to her. His warm hand pulled her chin towards him.
“I need to know if you feel you are unsafe, Jade. I can not be here twenty-four seven as I was before.” He kneeled in front of her. Jade leaned into him. His body offering the stability she’d lost in his absence. When had she become so weak? Was it weakness? When you loved someone weren’t they supposed to strengthen you? Wasn’t it a give and take? The problem with the warmth he provided was that it came with a sunset provision in his case. Soon, he’d be off with his wife and Jade’s worth would be measured by her usefulness on her back. She pulled away at the thought. Sergei was still close, his breath on her cheek, his warm hand rested on her waist and his voice brought her walls crashing to the ground. Releasing the tension in her back she fell into him and easily he caught her fall. She wrapped her arms around his neck and placed a soft kiss there.
“I feel safer when you are here, but when you can’t be Anton will do just fine.” It had to be that way because Sergei was married and had his own wife to protect. The thought of Galina in his arms at night made her sick to her stomach. Horrible thoughts assaulted her even as he whispered sweet words in her ear. Galina’s blonde hair splayed across his pillow and her thin tan body flush against his as he slept. Jade wondered if she were just a passing fad. Would her dark skin and eyes soon return taboo?
“Is it me or you who needs comforting?” She asked. His wife of only two months would surely wonder where he was. Or did she know?
“Why do you say that?” He pulled away slightly. His hand moved down her waist and to her knees. Gently he pulled them apart and fit his large body between them. Jade slept only in her nightshirt and nothing else. His hands dipped below the shirt and inched it up.
Her words stilled his hands. “What would Galina do to make you feel better?” The words were out of her mouth before she could even consider the consequences of them. She sat still with his large body nestled between her legs, his hands pushed deep beneath her shirt and his breath on her skin. She meant to make him angry. It was all she could do because sadness and pain wasn’t on his radar, at least not from her experience.
His words rumbled from his mouth in ire. “Her name is never to leave your mouth again,” He pulled away leaving his hands where they were. His eyes shone cold in the light from the cityscape. ‘Are we clear?” The hard squeeze of her thigh jolted her into action.
“Yes, “ She hissed. Her anger grew and she added. “Your whore will never speak of your queen again.”
Jade was often angry about something and in most cases he was the answer to the problem. She watched as his eyes narrowed and his lips thinned. “Have I ever called you my whore?”
She raised her chin in defiance. “No, but your queen has.” She had called Jade more than just whore. Jade’s race and size were all ways Galina had tormented Jade, but she would never cry to Sergei. Galina was his fiancée at the time.
“Was that what I asked you, Jade?” He moved a hand from beneath her shirt and threaded his fingers through her hair. His nails lightly scratched her scalp sending shivers down her spine and gooseflesh racing across her skin. His grip tightened and a sharp sensation took pleasure’s place.
“No, you haven’t.” She answered. The roughness wasn’t punishment, but a reward for the truth he knew she’d tell.
He leaned in and kissed her neck, her cheek and lips. “You are not my whore. I am confused as to why you would believe this.” He moved away searching her eyes. “Have I ever treated you as a whore?” Jade looked around. The place was beautiful, but miles away from his home. “I offer you so much. You think I’d place a whore here in my home?”
She searched his eyes for truth. “You keep me locked here like a prisoner.”
His eyes narrowed. “By all fucking means then leave!” He shouted. Sergei yanked his hands from her and stood. “Please allow Alexei and his men know where you are, Jade.” His face contorted into a mask of anger. But, Jade wasn’t moved.
“And you are sure it’s to hide me from him and not her?” She could hear the jealousy in her voice, but nothing could stop her from hiding it. She hated herself for it. But this wasn’t fair. He couldn’t treat her like a queen and then just walk away.
His nostrils flared and he took a deep breath. “It’s your game to anger me tonight.” His serious tone should have brought about fear or some sort of caution but Jade’s insides were cold, frozen and fear wasn’t on her radar.
She smirked. “Is it your game to come here fuck me and leave? Were the whores in your whore house all to busy?” His hand flew up so fast Jade didn’t have time to move. He grabbed her neck and squeezed enough to still allow her to breathe, but show his anger.
His breaths came faster now and his face reddened. “You like these dangerous games, Jade?” She struggled with his hands at her throat. “Is this want you want?” He tightened his grip and pushed her backwards onto the settee. “Do you question my loyalty to you?”
Jade was confused. “Fuck, yes.” She hissed. Sergei released her throat and her face heated in shame. “Don’t you ever touch me that way again!” She screamed with the little bit of air she had left in her lungs. If this wasn’t proof enough he was a sick bastard his laughter should’ve been. Jade held the throat her anger reaching a fever pitch. “Fine, I know what you came here for.”
His laughter stopped and his face grew somber. “No. No you don’t. Because Jade if you did, you would not be playing this childish game. You would not be so jealous.”
Jade scoffed. “Would I not?” He moved to her and she ambled away. “I’ll rephrase it. Don’t ever touch me again.” His smile incensed her.
He lowered his hand and took a few steps back. Jade felt as if she could breathe again. Her throat was fine and he’d never blocked her airway, but she was done playing with fire. “What is it you want to be to me?” His voice was low and controlled, but Jade knew he was serious. The fact that he had to ask at all made him a fool in her book. Here he was the leader of one of the largest crime families on the east coast, he commanded trained killers, he was worth millions and made life and death decisions in a matter of seconds and he needed to know what she wanted to be to him? When he made love to her he claimed her body so completely, he held her as if he’d never let her go. How could he not know what she’d wanted? Past tense, because after the way he’d touched her a moment ago, Jade was through.
“There is nothing I want from you that you can offer, Sergei.” She turned and walked to the bedroom. She had had enough. He may have never called her a whore, but that’s exactly what she was to him. As his wife lay in her bed in his home, Jade was here in her prison…waiting. And for what? She sat in the edge of the bed and placed her face in her hands. She prayed he left. She wanted him to go home to his wife. Where he belonged. Moments later when she heard no footsteps enter the bedroom she lifted her head and looked to the door. Of course he stood there quiet and waiting. She stared back. This stand off wouldn’t last long. She’d give in—she always gave in. She always gave him what he wanted and in return he gave her his time. Was she so pitiful that she’d become his whore on her own accord? Sickened with the thought, Jade stood and pulled her nightshirt over her head.
“This is what you came for, right?” She eyed him as she stood leaning on the door jam. “Then fine, take it!” She raised her hands in the air and his eyes went right to her side. Lowering her hands she covered her most intimate spot—her scars. Filled with anger she’d forgotten to hide them from him. Though he was the one that pulled her from the wreckage and gotten her to the ambulance, she’d never let him see her scars from that day. Jagged, puffy and dark they were a constant reminder of how her life had almost ended. Sergei heard her cries and he moved the rubble then took her hand. He could have left her to die allowing the secrets she knew to die with her. She looked for the shirt she’d thrown to the ground, but Sergei was at her side before she could find it.
He was so close his voice rumbled through her as he spoke. “Stop,” He squeezed her gently as she struggled to move out of his arms. “Please.” He spoke into her hair. That word made her still in his arms. He’d never said that word, not in the time she’d known him. He reached down and pulled her hand away from the puckered scars. Softly he demanded, “Let me see them.” She held fast unwilling to move her hand. It’d been months and the wounds had healed, but there were times when she touched them that the pain made it’s way back to the surface.
Jade couldn’t move her hands from the scars to push him away because it’d give him a chance to touch her there. “No, don’t—just let me go,” She didn’t want his touch to soothe her and she didn’t want his stability because the cost was too great. Sergei was strong. He was six three and easily had one hundred pounds over her, but his grasp was light and pleading. He didn’t hurt her as he pulled her hand away and placed his over the scars. She flinched at his touch.
“Why do you hide these from me?” He caressed her side and she moved from his hold. “I don’t understand. I saw you when they were open, bleeding and raw,” He pointed to her side. “But now that it is healed I can’t see it?” She looked at his confused expression unsure of how to explain how she felt. How could she explain that her wounds had left her so broken?