Authors: Helena Newbury
Tags: #Russian Mafia Romance, #Romantic Suspense, #new adult romance
by Helena Newbury
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Losing My Balance
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© Copyright Helena Newbury 2015
The right of Helena Newbury to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988
This book is entirely a work of fiction. All characters, companies, organizations, products and events in this book, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to any real persons, living or dead, events, companies, organizations or products is purely coincidental.
This book contains adult scenes and is intended for readers 18+. It contains scenes that may be triggering for sexual abuse survivors.
Cover photo: Alexei - Konradbak / Depositphotos
City - Appalachian View / Depositphotos
Thank you to Liz, who deserves pizza.
And thank you to my readers, who allow me to do what I love.
I met her on my way to kill someone.
I was heading up to the tenth floor of the building, to check out the target’s apartment. But there was a coffee shop on the ground floor and I figured I should get some coffee as a prop. The first rule of a job like this is:
wear a suit,
because no one stops a guy in a suit. But a guy in a suit carrying a cup of coffee from the coffee shop downstairs? People will actually hold the door open for you.
The place had big plate glass windows that were running with October rain, turning the street outside into a rippled gray blur. Inside, it was all warm golden light and polished beech wood. I shook off my coat and stood there for a second, soaking up the music and the heady tang of coffee.
I bought a black Americano, pure and uncomplicated, the way things should be. And I was just burning my lips on it when I turned around and almost ran into her.
I didn’t know it then, but nothing would ever be the same again.
I didn’t really want to take a break but I’d been at my screen for ten hours and the other two—Lilywhite and Yolanda—were starting to chant in the chat window:
TAKE A BREAK, TAKE A BREAK
and refusing to talk to me until I did. So I grudgingly went downstairs to get a coffee.
The coffee shop had become an extension of home, so I didn’t bother to change. I knew it would be warm down there so I just put on some sneakers and went down in the leggings and tank top I had on. Hell, I debated whether to bother with the sneakers. I knew I probably looked a mess, but no one was going to see me and, if they did, they weren’t going to notice me.
I headed towards the counter. A big guy in a raincoat was ahead of me in the line, so I twisted and looked out of the windows while I waited. A gray world—even the yellow New York cabs looked muted and cold. Who in their right mind would want to go out in
Besides, I was crazy busy and it would be dark soon—
My stomach lurched at the realization. Another day gone. It was now forty-two days since I’d left the building.
I was getting worse.
It’s fair to say I was distracted. I heard the big guy move, in front of me, and just assumed that he’d move to the left, towards the little rack of milk and sugar and wooden stirrers. It was only when I took a step forward that I found he’d just turned around, and now we were practically touching.
I looked up.
My first impression was one of hardness. Everything about him was brutal, but not brutal and ugly. Brutal and beautiful. His suit was so black and its creases so sharp that it looked as if it would hurt, if you ran your hand down it. His gray raincoat glistened like a wet sword blade. The sheer size of him—a head taller than me and heavily muscled—made me think of some military machine, all power and strength. He looked as if he could go through a brick wall.
His shirt may have been white and pure, but it only worked to contrast the danger underneath. A powerful chest swelled under the soft fabric, pushing it out, drawing my eyes to follow the hard lines of him all the way to his shoulders. The collar almost hid his tattoos—I could see the very edge of them, a hair-width line of blue-black on his tan skin. There was no way to know what they were. But the very fact they were designed to be hidden meant they must be some sort of code, only to be revealed to the right people. I wanted to be one of those people.
He was gorgeous...but in a way I’d never seen before. His face was utterly uncompromising, as if a sculptor had carved it from ice-cold granite, filing away rock to form the high cheekbones, chiseling out that solid jaw. The fact he was still wet from the rain only added to the effect. It was like watching raindrops slide down a rugged cliff face, chasing each other over the valley of his upper lip, sliding down over the swell of his full lower lip—the one part of him that looked soft—and breaking up as they hit his darkly-stubbled jaw. He was thunderstorm-beautiful.
I heard coffee hit the ground and realized he’d spilled it towards himself, rather than spill it down my front. I looked down at his shoes, now steaming and wet. Then I looked back up and—
This time our eyes met and I felt a
Like something had caught hold of my soul as it flitted along in life and brought it to an immediate, shuddering stop.
His eyes were steel-gray, shockingly light. I’ve never seen eyes like them, bright and clear but completely without warmth. Eyes that decided your fate in a millisecond. They had such an utter sense of purpose that they made everyone else look as if they were sleepwalking. Being under his gaze was scary as all hell. If I could have remembered how to move, I would have taken a step back. They were eyes that made you run.
As I stared into them, I thought I saw them change. I thought I saw the faintest hint of blue, like clouds breaking apart to reveal the sky. And that
happened again, pulling me towards him instead of away. I rocked on my heels, my brain screaming at me to go one way, the rest of me drawn forward.
And then I didn’t have a choice anymore, because he grabbed my wrist.
The first thing I noticed was her scent. I caught it in the air before I’d even fully turned around:
—what the Americans call honeysuckle. My grandmother used to grow it in her garden. And some strawberry-scented soap and, beneath it all, the smell of a woman: warm and sexual and calming on a level beyond all the other senses. I wasn’t used to smelling that. All the women I’d been with, in the last few years, had doused themselves in too much perfume and hairspray. But this woman...I could have just inhaled her scent for hours.
I looked at her and she was...
Perfectly soft, in the way only a woman can be. She was so close, as I turned, that some of her hair brushed against my chest. It was the color of walnuts and its ringlets made it seem even softer and more sensuous. It fell past her shoulders, brushing the pale skin left bare by her tank top. I wanted to bury my fingers knuckle deep in it and feel the silk of it against my skin.