Authors: Bella Rose
Bought By the Russian Mobster
By: Bella Rose
All Rights Reserved.
Copyright 2016 Bella Rose
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Table of Contents
Lily held her breath as she sat on the steps. The old staircase was known to creak and groan at the slightest shift in weight. Right now, Lily couldn’t afford to let the men downstairs know that she was listening in. Her father would surely be angry, which would probably lead him to use the belt. Lily didn’t want the belt. Her backside still hurt from the thrashing she’d received the night before, after she’d been caught daydreaming and burned Papa’s dinner.
“I don’t have anything else to give you,” her father was saying.
Another man sat in the kitchen with Papa. He looked terrifying to Lily. He was tall with broad shoulders and hair that was so blond it almost looked white. He lounged at the table like a lazy lion. In his hand he held a knife that he flipped end over end without ever cutting himself.
“I’m not sure if your offering will cover the debt, Ivan.” The man stared at her Papa as though he were a worm. “Besides, what sort of man pays his gambling debts in human trade?”
“She’s a good girl,” Papa argued. “She’s pretty enough, and she’s a virgin. Surely there must be value in that.”
Lily cringed in shock and horror. Papa was down there using
as a bargaining chip? She squeezed her eyes closed and tried not to panic. She would not go with the stranger and that would be that. She was her own person with rights and choices. Surely that counted for something?
Knees trembling, Lily stood up and straightened the dress that one of her cousins had passed down to her. All of Lily’s things were castoffs from her many Pasternak cousins. Her mother might have been dead these ten years, but her family still tried to look out for Lily the best they could. Papa wouldn’t allow charity, but he didn’t consider secondhand goods to be charity. They were just other people’s trash turned to good use.
The dress was ill fitting since Lily was taller than Katerina Pasternak, but at least Lily was clean. She padded down the stairs on her bare feet and gingerly entered the kitchen. Wringing her hands together, she searched for the courage to state her case. She didn’t want to leave Papa’s house just to become a slave to a stranger. Papa might not be the nicest person all of the time, but this was the only home she had ever known.
“Girl, what are you doing in here?” Papa demanded roughly.
Lily glanced up at his frazzled red beard and wild hair. Ivan Denisovich could have never been called a handsome man, but her mama had told her that he provided for them and that was all that they could ask. Now she took a deep breath and prepared to beg for her place. “I don’t want to go with this man, Papa.”
“Is that so?” Her papa laughed outright. “And what makes you think there is a choice involved?”
The question caught Lily off guard. Surely everyone had a choice in such matters? “I have rights.” The words didn’t come out as firmly as she would have liked.
“You don’t got nothing,” her papa spat. “You eat my food and cost me plenty of money. Now you’re going to pay me a price for the trouble you’ve been.”
Lily felt the sting of tears and wondered why. She had stopped crying long ago. It never did any good. In fact, she suspected that Papa enjoyed it when she begged him not to hit her.
“Stop calling me that!” he roared. “I’m not your papa.”
Lily had opened her mouth to speak, but snapped it shut again.
The blond man looked mildly interested. “Whose bastard is she then?”
“Her mother was pregnant when we got married. Her other husband got himself killed in a raid down at the docks while he was working for your father.” Papa gestured to Lily. “Then when Maria died, she left me with this brat to feed and clothe.”
“Doesn’t look like you’re doing much of that.” The blond man’s eyes looked over Lily from head to toe. “How old are you, girl?”
She lifted her chin and forced herself not to react to the humiliation. “Nineteen.”
“She’s pretty enough,” the blond man mused. “But she’s skinny as a rail. I’ll have to put some meat on her.”
Then the blond man reached out and cupped Lily’s breast. She froze in astonishment. His touch was incredibly gentle. She had never been touched like that before. Occasionally her papa—Ivan, she corrected herself—tried to grope her chest, but that was only when he was drunk. Otherwise he never tried anything like that. And Ivan’s groping had never felt like this.
Confusion swept over Lily. The stranger’s thumb brushed across her nipple. The sensation made her give a little shudder that she felt all the way down below her belly. The traitorous body part grew plump and swollen at the stranger’s bidding. He traced the nipple through the thin fabric of her dress. Her internal response was terrifying. How could he draw such a reaction from her?
Fear got Lily moving. She pushed the stranger’s hand away from her breast and crossed her arms over her chest. Papa started shouting, but Lily was too bewildered by her reaction to the stranger for her to move away quickly enough.
Papa’s fingers bit into the flesh of Lily’s arm. She cried out as the pain ripped through her haze and brought her forcefully back to the moment. He shook her like a rag doll. Her teeth clacked together and she thought her brain might be rattled to pieces.
“You no-good whore!” Papa shouted.
Lily closed her eyes as he swung her around until the kitchen table pushed into her belly. She struggled now, because she knew what was coming. It made no difference. It was like fighting the tide. He had her bent, his heavy arm across the small of her back as he forced her down while yanking her dress up to expose the backs of her thighs.
“No, Papa!” she sobbed. “No!”
Another blond man stepped from the shadows. Lily thought that she might have become so addled that she was seeing double. Then he stood tall and glared at her papa. “That will be enough.”
Nicolai gazed at the scene playing out before him. Ivan was plainly ignoring Nicolai. He didn’t care whether or not the girl was Ivan’s daughter. He didn’t approve of the man’s treatment of the poor girl. Ivan had offered her up as trade on a debt he owed to the Pasternaks. It was obvious that the little waif had been sorely mistreated. The backs of her legs were striped with welts from a previous beating.
“Stop,” Vladimir commanded. “Desist this ridiculous behavior against a woman one-quarter your size. What sort of man treats a woman this way? Especially when he has offered her to another man as payment on a debt owed?”
Nicolai raised a brow at his brother. Vladimir was his identical twin, but that was where the similarity ended. Nicolai could not imagine why Vlad would care about the fate of one female. Yet now he appeared to be fully engaged. There was nothing for it but to let things play out and see where Vladimir’s unpredictable mood swings landed. Nicolai bit his tongue and forced himself to watch in silence.
Vladimir raised an eyebrow as Ivan stopped trying to get his belt free. The man abruptly let go of Lily. She collapsed to the ground, breathing heavily but not crying. Nicolai found this fascinating. Lily was most certainly afraid. Yet she had the presence of mind not to give in to the emotion and let it carry her logic away. Considering her circumstances, he was damned impressed.
Vladimir squatted down and looked her right in the eye. “My name is Vladimir.”
“Are there two of you? Or am I seeing double?” Lily asked in a confused whisper.
Vladimir cast a glance over his shoulder. “That is my brother, Nicolai. Don’t mind him. He’s simply come along for the ride.”
“Why are you here?”
“Don’t worry about that. You will come with us. You belong to your papa no longer.”
“I belong to
man,” she retorted.
Nicolai smiled. There was fire in her after all. He doubted any woman had ever dared speak to Vladimir in that tone. Vlad looked surprised, and maybe a little miffed. That sort of behavior didn’t go over well in his household.
Vladimir narrowed his eyes to slits. “Actually, you belong to me,” he corrected. Reaching out, he took hold of her chin and forced her to look up at his face. “Do you have a way to live on your own?”
“I could do it,” she insisted.
“Do you have a job?”
She tried to look away, obviously ashamed. Vlad wouldn’t let her. “No.”
“Do you have money to pay rent, buy food, or clothe yourself?”
“Do you have family to which you could go for these things?” Nicolai was interested in this as well. He needed to know if she had family that would object to the Pasternaks’ arrangement with her father.
“My Pasternak cousins would take me in,” she insisted.
Vladimir only laughed. “Your cousins owe their loyalty to me, and to my brother Nicolai. If I told them you were my property, they would hand you over immediately.”
“But that’s not fair!” She sounded outraged. “No man can own another. Slavery is illegal!”
“It happens all the time, love,” he said carelessly. “And as of now, you are my slave.”
Nicolai saw her clench her jaw, but she did not argue with Vladimir anymore. Perfect. Nicolai glanced next at Ivan. The bleary-eyed drunk was probably already contemplating his next bout at the gaming tables. In no time, he would be back in debt and their father would send Vladimir out here once again to settle up. It was a very frustrating fact of life.
“Papa?” Lily whispered. “You have nothing to say?”
“Good riddance,” Ivan snapped. He said something else in Russian, but it was too garbled and slurred for Nicolai to make out.
Lily pursed her lips. He could see big tears in her eyes, but she never lost her composure. “Shame on you, Ivan Denisovich,” she said. “Shame on you for turning your back on the one person who has cared for you over the last ten years.”
She straightened her spine and walked out of the dingy kitchen as though she were the daughter of a czar and not the forgotten child of a dead mafia enforcer. Nicolai could do nothing but hide a smile and follow her outside. Vladimir was right behind him. Nicolai could almost feel his brother’s fascination. This did not bode well for Lily’s future prospects.
Nicolai reached out and gently tapped Lily’s shoulder before gesturing to her feet. “What about your shoes?”
“I haven’t got any.”
She shrugged. “I have a pair of cheap flip-flops I wear when I go to the store and that is all. Since I’m your property, I suppose I am also your problem.”
“You act like that and you’ll be Nicolai’s problem,” Vlad retorted. “I have no patience for sass.”
Nicolai sighed. There was a little bit of sass in her and he couldn’t bring himself to quash it. Not now. She was going to need every ounce of backbone she could muster to get through the next few months. After she settled in, he would have to force her to show respect. But for now he could let the little things slide.
“I suppose you are my responsibility,” Nicolai said as he opened the rear passenger door of his brother’s car. It was early fall, but the evenings were starting to get chilly. “Go ahead and get inside before you freeze.”
“Are you certain you want me to?” She gaped at the leather interior of the car. “What if I get it dirty?”
Vladimir growled. His patience was obviously wearing thin. “I’m going to paddle your behind if you don’t hurry up. I have other things to do, you know.”
She looked over at Vlad, obviously surprised. But she got in the car without further argument. Nicolai sighed and gave himself a brief moment to catch a breath and formulate a plan while he got into the front passenger seat of the vehicle. He needed to get Lily away from Vladimir.
First Nicolai needed to win her trust. That was paramount. If he were ever going to get her to a point where she would be an asset at one of the syndicate’s businesses, she had to be a little more polished. At this point, she had beaten and starved until she was little more than an angry waif. In any other case he would have considered her too far gone to bother. Somehow, Lily had a little extra that made her more than just a good prospect. She was intriguing in a way he hadn’t expected.