Home > White Nights (White Nights #1)(13)

White Nights (White Nights #1)(13)
Author: Anna Zaires

“In that case, I’d love to stay. My scrubs are at the hospital, so I can just grab a cab from here.”

“You don’t need to do that,” he says, pushing to his feet. “Yuri will drive you anywhere you need to go.”

“Oh, no, I’ll be—”

He gives me a look that stops me mid-sentence. “Katyusha, I have a driver for a reason. Let him do his job.”

“All right.” I can’t help but grin. “Thank you.” I should protest more, but I like the idea of taking a fancy black car to work. Besides, it seems important to Alex.

He walks into a closet on the other side of the bedroom and emerges a minute later, dressed in a pair of black sweatpants and a white T-shirt.

“Come,” he says. “Let me show you around.”

I climb out of bed, trying to ignore the heated look in his eyes as I hunt for my clothes. My thong is a goner, but I pull on my jeans, bra, and sweater before turning to face him again.

“Ready,” I say, feeling as eager as a kid at an amusement park.

Smiling, he takes my hand and leads me out of the bedroom.

 

 

8

 

 

To my surprise, Alex’s house isn’t as over the top as I imagined it might be. While all the furnishings look nice and expensive, the house itself could belong to any wealthy individual. Everything is tastefully decorated, with touches of modern art here and there.

“I like your place,” I tell Alex as he leads me downstairs. “It’s not exactly what I’d pictured, but I love the airy look and feel. Did you choose all this yourself or hire a decorator to do it?”

He smiles, obviously pleased by my praise. “I have a woman who works for me. She knows my taste, and she makes sure all my properties have what I need.”

I try to keep the incredulous tone from my voice. “You have a decorator who works for you full-time? Just how many properties do you have?”

“A lot,” he admits, giving me a self-deprecating smile. “I don’t really keep track of them all.”

I laugh, shaking my head. “Wow. You really do come from a different world, huh?”

“In more ways than you can imagine, Katyusha,” he says softly, his smile fading.

Before I can ask him what that means, we enter the kitchen, where a middle-aged woman with dark hair and brown eyes is stirring something in a pot.

“Marusya,” Alex says, “I’d like you to meet my guest, Kate. She’s the nurse I mentioned to you before, the one who took care of Igor.”

“Nice to meet you,” the woman says in a heavy Russian accent, a welcoming smile lighting up her broad face.

“It’s nice to meet you too,” I reply, smiling back. “Thank you for the breakfast. It was delicious.”

“Good,” she says, nodding. “You too small. Should eat.”

I laugh. “Oh, you and my mom both.”

She shakes her head. “No, you need”—she draws a rounded shape in the air with her hands—“and should eat.”

Alex catches my eye and gives me a wink. To Marusya, he says, “Don’t worry. I’ll make sure I feed her. Maybe you can pack her something for lunch? She needs to go to work in a couple of hours.”

“Oh, no,” I say. “You don’t have to do that.”

“Katyusha,” Alex says firmly. “Please let Marusya prepare a few things for you. It’ll be good, I promise.”

I blink at him, caught off-guard by his unexpected solicitousness. Is he this nice to all the women he sleeps with? If so, how on earth is he still single? “If you’re sure. You really don’t have to.”

“I know I don’t have to,” he says. “But I want to.”

His firm manner says the subject is closed for discussion. I open my mouth to thank him when a large man with a shaved head enters the kitchen and swiftly approaches Alex. Ignoring Marusya and me, he whispers something in Alex’s ear, causing Alex to stiffen.

Just like that, the cold, dangerous stranger I met at the hospital is back.

He turns to me. “Katyusha, will you excuse me for a moment? I need to make a phone call. Marusya will show you the rest of the house.”

“It’s okay,” I say, not wanting to be a nuisance when he’s obviously distracted by something. “I can go home.”

His expression softening slightly, he brushes his knuckles over my cheek. “Please stay. I’ll be done in fifteen minutes.”

His touch sends warm sensations all the way to my core. “Sure,” I whisper. “I’ll stay if you want me to.”

“I do,” he says with finality, leaning down to plant a kiss on my lips. “I’ll see you soon.”

With a last, strained smile in my direction, he exits with the bald man, leaving me in the kitchen with Marusya.

We stare at each other, at a loss for words. Without Alex acting as an intermediary, I feel a little uncomfortable. From the uncertain look she gives me, so does she.

“If you don’t mind,” I say, “I’d appreciate the opportunity to have a quick shower.”

She nods enthusiastically, her shoulders slumping in obvious relief. “You need things?”

“I’m good, thanks.” I don’t want to put her out and keep her from her work more than I’m already doing by having her prepare my lunch.

“You call,” she says, pointing a thumb at her chest.

“Thanks.” I backtrack to the door with an awkward wave and dart through the frame.

 

 

Without Alex, I feel like an imposter as I rush back upstairs and enter the private domain of his bedroom. Sure, he invited me to stay, but I’m certain he didn’t intend for me to wander around alone in his house.

I enter the bathroom and shut the door for privacy. The walls, floor, vanities, corner tub, and shower stall are made of the same gray marble. I turn on the tap in the shower and strip while the water runs warm. Using his shampoo and soap, I make quick work of washing myself. I help myself to a clean towel from a rack and leave it in the hamper before putting my clothes back on. Without a brush, the best I can do for my hair is run my fingers through it, but that’s fine. The long strands will settle into natural waves when they dry.

When I’m done, I feel almost like my old self. The warm water has relieved the soreness in my muscles, but it’ll take more time for the discomfort inside to fade. The thought of the cause of that ache makes my stomach heat.

Giving myself a last look in the mirror, I venture back into the bedroom. The bed has been made with clean linen. Marusya must’ve done it while I was in the shower. The window is open a crack, letting in the fresh, crisp air.

Alex should be done with his call by now. I exit onto the landing to make my way back to the kitchen, but voices coming from the room next door stop me. One of those voices belongs to Alex. He’s in a heated conversation with another man. He sounds upset, enough so to make my stomach tie in an answering knot.

Indecisive, I hover next to the door. Should I make him aware of my presence? I don’t want to disturb him when he’s involved in a serious discussion. Besides, the conversation is private. Even if they’re speaking in Russian, it’s not meant for my ears.

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