Authors: Krystal Shannan
“Papa!” She jumped from the chair and threw her arms around his neck. He kissed both her cheeks and smothered her against his chest.
. I’m so glad you are safe.”
“The deputy, Matt O’Reilly, saved my life. Is he not coming, too?”
, just me and our lawyer, Mr. Westin, for now.”
Where is Matt
“Don’t look so sad, little one. I’m sure the officers and their questions are keeping him busy. I will thank him later for saving you.”
“Let’s sit, Ms. Sharanov,” the lawyer said.
She nodded and moved to the closest chair. They sat opposite her.
“Can you please give me a summary of what happened so that I can expedite this process? You are not being charged, but there are many questions to answer.”
The older gentleman who had accompanied her father was average build, light sandy hair, and black-rimmed glasses. He was easily into his forties, but still a very good-looking man. If her papa had employed him to expedite this process, he was probably the best lawyer in Denver.
“I was leaving the Winter Hillside Ski Resort in Vail yesterday morning and my driver, Yuri, noticed a black SUV following us. Before he could report the suspicious vehicle to my father, a truck slammed into the side of the limo.” She paused to address her father. “Have they found Yuri?”
. I’m so sorry,
.” Her papa’s voice was solemn. There was no need for explanation. Her eyes watered, but at least it hadn’t been her trusted bodyguard who’d betrayed her.
She continued. “They put me in the vehicle, but at a four-way stop I got them to let me out to throw up and was able to escape from them by fleeing into the woods. I fell over a ledge and was about to be killed when Matt appeared and put a bullet in one of the kidnappers. I passed out when I tried to stand, and Matt took me to his home before the storm enveloped the mountain.”
“What happened this afternoon?” Mr. Westin asked.
“I heard several shots…I think. Then, I went to look for Matt outside. He took out the first man before he could fire, but another goon snuck into the cabin from the rear. He pulled me into the house and kicked the door closed so Matt’s dog couldn’t get in. Thank God he was a complete idiot and left the back door open. Juno got in, attacked him, and he had to let go of me. Matt appeared and shot him, too, right before he was going to kill me.”
, my girl.” Her father’s voice cracked. “I-I am so sorry. You should never have been alone. You must return with me to Russia. You can finish school at home.”
“Papa, no. Being at home didn’t help Alexei or Mama. I want to stay here. I like my life here.”
“But I can look after you better at home.”
Her father grunted and shook his head.
“You tell the officers exactly what you told me. All the evidence they have will support your story,” Mr. Westin said.
She narrowed her gaze at the lawyer.
? “Where’s Matt? You are going to make sure he is cleared of everything quickly as well? He killed them to protect me.” She glanced at her father. “Papa?”
The lawyer looked at her father and raised his eyebrows. Her papa frowned. “You will do as she says. I will pay his legal fees as well.”
Mr. Westin nodded. “It shouldn’t be a problem.” The lawyer stood. “I’ll just make some phone calls and then you should be free to go.”
Her father focused on her again.
“This man, Matt….”
“Papa, don’t start with me,” she snapped. “I’m a grown woman, whether you like it or not.”
me, either. I’ll always be your little girl, but you have to let go at some point. Matt is a good man.”
“If he took advantage of you, I’ll—”
“You won’t do anything.” She met his irritated gaze. “He’s mine.” Peter Sharanov sighed and nodded. She relaxed a little. It was a small victory.
“I will find you some appropriate clothing while we wait for Mr. Westin to put everything in order. Are you hungry? I can have Andrei get you something.”
“I’m fine, Papa. Who is here with you?”
“Andrei and four others. If you insist on returning to NYU, Andrei will stay with you until another permanent bodyguard can be selected.”
She bit her lip. The only bodyguard she wanted was Matt.
Please be here. Please
Matt hurried through the office. The sheriff had just called and said Peter Sharanov had a lawyer making nice with the Feds and the DA about the whole incident and there would be no investigation whatsoever. IA wasn’t even going to go any further than a written statement.
He waved at Carol, at the front desk. “Are they still in the back?”
“Yep,” she answered. “I think they just wrapped it up. Looks like you’ll be staying in town for Christmas though. Your cabin won’t be cleared for a few days.”
He nodded and walked through the personnel only door. He hoped Ksenia didn’t hate him for leaving her.
God, it had killed him to let her leave in that patrol car
. Then, the sheriff and the Feds had taken hours at the hospital with questions and testing. You would have thought he’d attacked the Russian embassy itself. But, apparently, a really good lawyer could make even the most horrifying stack of paperwork, red tape, and trouble disappear.
Though after what they’d shared about Peter Sharanov, he was a little nervous.
He wrapped his arms around her as she leapt up at him.
Well, at least she’s not mad. That’s a good start
. His fear had been that her father would have already whisked her away to the airport without so much as a goodbye.
“Sweetheart, are you okay?” Her buried his face in her soft, dark hair and inhaled. Her scent filled his lungs, and he relaxed. He’d almost lost her more than once today. It wasn’t a feeling he was comfortable with at all.
A glare from across the room made him loosen his hold on her. He let her slip to the floor as he straightened to face the man across from him. The look he was receiving was hard to mistake—pissed, protective, patriarchal.
“Papa,” she growled.
The large man stormed toward her. “He has taken advantage of you.”
Every fiber of Matt’s body wanted to lunge between the two of them. A glint in her eye was the only thing that stopped him.
“He took nothing.”
“You barely know him. Our fam—”
“Our family! Maybe I don’t want to continue the traditions our family holds so dear. What have they gotten me so far?” Ksenia closed the gap between her and the seething giant. She laid a hand on her father’s chest. “I’ve lost so much. Would you break my heart again?”
.” He shook his head. “No.” He kissed the top of her head and turned toward Matt. His eyes were softer now, but still those of a concerned protective parent. He moved closer and held out his hand.
Matt took the offered hand. Her father pulled him close and hugged him, completely taking him by surprise. Sharanov ended the embrace with a kiss on each cheek.
“You protected my Ksenia and kept her safe. For that, I sincerely thank you.”
“Mr. Westin has made sure you will have no trouble from this incident.” Sharanov turned back to his daughter. “If you are ready, there is a plane waiting at the airport. Nana is expecting to see you for Christmas.”
She strolled to Matt’s side and slipped her hand into his. “Tell Nana I will video chat with her soon, and I will visit her during spring break. I’m staying in Summit County for the rest of my Christmas holiday.”
Sharanov nodded. “Andrei can stay with you.”
“No, Andrei can go home with you,” she replied.
“You must be protected,
“She will be safe with me, Mr. Sharanov. I promise.”
“You’d better be right. Ksenia, I will send someone to meet you when you return to NYU.”
“Thank you, Papa.”
They stood together on the sidewalk outside the sheriff’s office. Juno lazed casually near the door. Ksenia shivered against Matt’s side, waving at her father’s disappearing car. The wind was blowing straight through the thin scrubs. She leaned into him, and he wrapped an arm around her shoulder. “You’re really staying with me?”
She looked up and stretched to give him a soft kiss. “I have three weeks, and Papa gave me his room at the B&B down the street.” She held up a plastic key card. “I could really use a shower, though. How about you?”
“How fast can you run?”
“You should know I prefer to be carried.”
He laughed and scooped her up into his arms.
~ABOUT THE AUTHOR~
Krystal Shannan is a born, raised, and current TEXAN. She is married to a wonderful man who supports her dream of writing and allows her to spend many evening and weekend hours glued to her laptop. During the day she moonlights as an elementary music teacher. In addition to a doting husband, a young daughter is also part of the picture. Both keep her hopping! An ornery little Welsh Corgi completes the household.
Krystal has been writing stories since she could hold a pencil. She has always dreamed of writing romance and sharing the “movies in her head”. If she’s not writing, she’s reading –historical, paranormal, action, adventure –anything she can get her hands on that ends with a Happily Ever After!
You can visit Krystal at:
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