Authors: Bella Rose
Her Russian Mafia Protector
Volkov Mafia Series #3
By: Bella Rose & Leona Lee
All Rights Reserved.
Copyright 2015 Bella Rose, Leona Lee
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To avoid spoilers, please read part 1 in the series!
Table of Contents
Veronika Saiko took a deep breath as she stared at her phone. Her father was a scary man when he was angry, and she was about to anger him in a major way. She’d just graduated from college last month, and she was supposed to be packing to come home. And there were boxes piled around her.
But she was unpacking. And she wasn’t going home.
She had been accepted into the graduate program to continue her studies, and she was waiting until the last minute to tell her father. Fedor Saiko didn’t like last-minute surprises. As she looked around at the piles of books and clothes, she picked up the phone. The movers had just left, and she couldn’t put it off any longer.
Few people had Fedor’s personal number. Only family called on this line. “My heart! I cannot wait to see you this weekend,” her father said in a cheerful voice.
“Da,” Veronika said with a smile. “What are you doing?”
“I’m just having a chat with someone.”
Veronika cringed. Anyone having a chat with Fedor Saiko had likely done something to upset him. And she was too old to pretend that her father just managed a chain of successful businesses. Her father was the head of a dangerous organization that spilled gallons of blood. And she didn’t want to go home to that anymore.
“Da, I have some exciting news! The university had someone drop from their Art History Master’s program, and they accepted me.” She tried to smile while she spoke, but her hands shook.
Her father roughly yelled a command to his men, and then there was only silence.
“I heard you, Veronika.” Fedor’s voice was calm. “I didn’t know you had applied for more schooling.”
“Well, if I want to be a curator one day, I need to continue with my schooling. It’s a hard program, and I figured that I wouldn’t get in right away. I expected that it would take me another year to gain entrance somewhere. You don’t have to worry about cost, Da. I applied for some loans.”
“Loans?” her father barked. “Don’t be ridiculous, my heart. Of course I can pay for it. But these are troubling times, my darling. I don’t know how I feel about you being so far away.”
“If it’s not safe for me to be home, then maybe me being away for a little bit longer is a good thing, Da. Besides, I’m still in Moscow. It’s only a few hours away.” She swallowed hard. Over and over again, she told herself that she was going no matter what. This was her life, and she wouldn’t let her father tell her what to do. She wouldn’t let her father rule her life the way he did her brother.
Veronika knew that her father wasn’t pleased that he had a daughter. Her older brother had been groomed to take over the business. But Veronika lost her brother five years ago to a car accident. Ever since then, Fedor didn’t want Veronika out of his sight. He didn’t want her to go away to college. He wanted her where he could keep a close eye on her. She knew he suspected that her brother’s car accident wasn’t an accident at all, but no one would step forward to tell them differently.
“Very well,” he said stiffly. “But you will not go alone.”
Veronika rolled her eyes. “Da. I’m tired of the detail. Do you have any idea how many looks I get when five men follow me around wherever I go? It’s beyond ridiculous. You’ve trained me well. I will be fine on my own.”
“I am not pulling the detail,” her father argued. “Do you think I want to lose both of my children?”
“Then find some men who aren’t so visible,” she snapped. “There were times where my classmates almost called the cops because they thought I was being stalked.”
“When are you moving?” he asked as he ignored her request.
“I’m already here. I’ll text you the address. I’m moving in with a girl.”
“You’re moving in with someone?” he asked in outrage. “I haven’t checked this person out. What were you thinking? I thought I taught you better than this!”
“I checked her out,” Veronika said as she rolled her eyes. “I ran a background check on her. She’s an American, and she is clean as can be. Her name is Charley Barns, and she bought a two-bedroom condo in the city.”
“You will give me all the information on her,” Fedora said harshly. “I will do a more thorough check on her. And you will not do anything until I tell you it’s okay.”
“No, Da. I’m moving, and you will have to trust me. I am an adult now, and I will not live my life with you always looking over my shoulder. Now, I’ve let you know what I’m doing. And I am not asking for permission. Call me again when you’re in a better mood.”
In frustration, she hung up on her father and nearly threw the phone on the floor. Instead she tossed it on the messy bed and plopped down next to it. Just how did she get so lucky to be born into a crime family?
But she had stood up to her father and told him that she wasn’t coming home. If she had her way, she wouldn’t step foot on his property again. She finally felt truly free.
A tentative knock sounded on the door, and she sat up. “Come in.”
Charley opened the door and entered. Where Veronika was tall and slender, Charley was short and curvy. She had long, dark curly hair that swept down her back and dimples when she smiled. Veronika was almost envious of her. Charley was the type of girl who worked hard her whole life. She deserved to be in the program far more than Veronika did. While Veronika had also worked hard while she was in school, she knew that it was her father’s money that helped her get there.
“Everything okay?” Charley said when she saw Veronika’s face. “If there’s something wrong with the bedroom, I can try to fix it. I’ve only had the place for a few months, so I haven’t really gotten my hands dirty yet with renovations.”
The condo itself was far smaller than what Veronika was accustomed to. Her old bedroom in her father’s huge mansion was nearly two-thirds the size of the condo Charley owned. But the size didn’t matter. It was free from her father, and that was enough for her. “I’m sorry. The room is perfect. I just got off the phone with my father, and he wasn’t happy.”
“Really?” Charley looked at her, perplexed. “Most parents are thrilled when their kids get into a graduate program.”
“Yeah. Except that my father expected me to be back home this weekend. I just told him about the program. He’s not exactly prepared,” Veronika admitted.
“Not prepared? It’s cute that your father misses you so much. Anyway, I came in to see if you needed any help unpacking. Moving is the pits, but I have nothing to do today. So I’m here to help you open boxes, fold clothes, and organize.”
Veronika was normally a private person. She grew up devoid of female companionship. All of her friends had been handpicked by her father, and she’d never really developed a bond with any of them. She’d made a few friends in college during her undergraduate studies, but she’d been so focused on her classes that she hadn’t really grown close with any of them. And her father had made sure that she had a private room.
“I would like that,” she said with a smile. “I actually have way too much stuff. I’ll have to go through it and see what I want to keep and what I want to donate. You’re welcome to some of it.”
Charley snorted. “Please. You’re like a real-life Barbie doll. And I’m like your frumpy sidekick. Did Barbie have a sidekick?”
“I’ve never played with Barbies,” Veronika admitted. “So I have no idea.”
Charley opened up the first box and began to dig out books. “Huh. So your textbooks have naked male statues on them, and mine have abandoned architecture. How unfair is that? They’re both history.”
Veronika laughed. “Well, the statues aren’t always anatomically correct. Or their parts are underwhelming. Besides, studying the history of ancient civilizations sounds amazing. I did a class on ancient pottery, and it was pretty cool. Are you going on any digs this semester?” Veronika opened the box and started pulling out her clothes. Last year, her father had mailed her all of her jackets, even though she’d told him that she couldn’t possibly need ten jackets. She set the clothes aside in the donation pile.
“Not this semester. Next semester, Dr. Colchester is taking a large group to Turkey, and that’s cool. But I want to go to the dig in Greece. That’s Dr. Mulberry, and she only takes the top ten students. I’m up against seventy other students. I’ve got to focus.” Charley hugged one of her books and leaned against the wall. “It’s my dream.”
Veronika snorted. “Calm down over there before you get too excited. Greece is nice. I’ve been on vacation, but I never got to visit the ruins. I promise to keep you in line and make sure you study extra hard!”
“Oh, that reminds me! We can fit your desk in the study and share the space. They say that studying in your bedroom isn’t good. You either don’t study well or you don’t sleep well. Anyway, I made some space on my bookshelf for your books. But we can always get a new bookshelf if we need to.”
“Thanks, girl. That’s awesome.”
As Charley helped her unpack her books and hang up her clothes, Veronika tried to feel comfortable with having the girl in her room. She was nervous about this new choice she had made, but she was excited as well. According to the background check, Charley had grown up with a large family of two brothers and three sisters. She was close to her family, but she’d never been more than average until her undergraduate career.
She was Veronika’s complete opposite. And Veronika had a feeling that was exactly what she needed right now.
The wind blew through the square, but Kazimir didn’t even shudder. Russia was a cold place, and he’d more than gotten used to it. It was his home, after all. But what he was planning to do was even colder than any of the elements in Russia could throw at him.
He sat on the bench with his phone up to his ear. Speaking in hushed tones, he glanced back and forth to make sure that no one was in hearing distance. “Nikolas is dead.”
The voice on the other end was gravelly and hushed. “Shooting on Third Street. He was with three men, but he was the only one hit. It was quick and clean. No one even knew he was dead until after the job was done. The shooter could have taken them all out. It was a hit.”
“Why was he out in the open?”
“Third Street,” Kaz said dully. “The cemetery.”
“So who put up the money?”
That was the million-dollar question. “I have my suspicions,” Kaz said as he turned his head to look down that street. “But I need more proof.”
“Who are your suspicions?”
“Can’t. Not until I’m sure. I’ll let you know what I find.” Kaz hung up and sighed. Nikolas has been gone for three days now, and the pain wasn’t getting any easier. Nikolas has been his brother in arms, and while Kazimir had lost much in his life, he wasn’t expecting to lose Nikolas. He’d spent years protecting him. He’d thought by now that Nikolas had been forgotten. But the first time he’d slipped out of Kaz’s protection, he’d been made.