*This is coyright property of RiverHouse Publishing, LLC and Latrivia S. Nelson. Unauthorized reproduction or posting of this intellectual rights property will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law by the FBI.
The sun was on the horizon, breaking dawn and cascading across the vast green lands while in the deep in the valley between snow-capped mountains and hundreds of acres of farmland, the quiet chateau began to finally rustle awake. Lights turned on the second floor of the large mansion as people began to move about. Alas, the weekend was over and it was again Monday. Time for the real world to emerge – even for the smallest of the Medlov clan. Giggles came as a bubbly Anya bolted from the bathroom, still in her bunny pajamas, running down the hallway away from her father with her baby doll in hand. Her wild, long hair tangled about her rosy face as she ran into her pink bedroom and jumped up in her unmade but very fluffy canopy full-sized bed.
“Now, now, Anya. It’s time to get ready for school,” Dmitry said, walking into her bedroom a few seconds later after her. A smile laced his curved lips.
A whine followed quickly. “But Papa, I don’t want to go to school,” she begged as she hugged her baby doll tighter. “I want to stay home with you and mama and the babies today. Momma said I could feed Maximus. I’m getting really good at it.” Her voice carried an adorable pout, nearly succeeding in her intentions to derail her itinerary as her father came over and sat down beside her.
His large frame caused the mattress to sink just a bit as he rested his tired body beside her. Dark circles were evident under his crystal blue eyes from the torturous, sleepless nights that had become normal since Royal had the twins. They both stayed up bouncing babies, changing diapers, making bottles and burping the boys, hoping for sleep in between their nightmarish first-weeks with the newest additions to their little family.
Dmitry reached out and grabbed her gently, pulling her into his embrace as he kissed her cheek. She smelled of innocence and lavender. She had her very own fragrance and he adored it. “They’ll be here when you get home from school. Promise,” he assured of the twins. “But you have to go to school. It’s Monday. All the good little girls will be at school today, learning their alphabet and numbers, learning how to be proper princesses.” His voice was calming, assuring as only a father’s voice could be.
Dmitry had patience with only four people in this world, his three little ones and his wife. As for Anya, it seemed as if he actually had more patience for her than all the others combined and often looked forward to their little negotiations. It gave him an opportunity to see just how smart his daughter was. And Anya never ceased to amaze him. Each and every time that she negotiated, she pushed just a little further.
“I already know my alphabet in English and Cyrillic. I know my numbers too. Mrs. Mabry said I was the smartest girl in class. So, I think it will be okay to miss a day, don’t you, Daddy?” She batted her bright blue eyes at him.
“You have excellent persuasive tactics for a four year old, but no, I don’t think you’re skilled enough to miss school.” He knew that his loving daughter would not be happy with his decision, but he had to stick with it. Royal had been on him lately about how much he was giving in to her every whim. Even he knew that he was a push over, but how could anyone truly deny such a beautiful little girl.
“If you let me stay here today, I want ask you for anything else for the rest of the year, daddy,” Anya finally said, taking his face in her hands. She said so emphatically as if she was swearing an oath.
Anya’s small shoulders slumped. “Please,” she begged, knowing that she was losing the battle.
Dmitry put his forehead on hers and rubbed a hand through her inky, black mane. “No,” he said softly. “But if you’re a good girl at school, I’ll make sure that you get to feed Maximus as soon as you get home.”
It wasn’t what Anya was hoping for but as she looked across the room she noticed her mother peeking through the door watching the entire interaction, she knew that things were as good as they were going to get.
“Good morning,” Royal said with a soft smile on her face. She leaned against the door in her plush white robe. The rings under her eyes matched her husband’s and her hair was even wilder than Anya’s.
“Momma, can I stay home today, please?” Anya asked, moving her pleas to her mother.
“I don’t even know why you ask when you already know the answer,” Royal said, opening her daughter’s dresser drawer. “Do you want to wear pink or purple today?”
Anya had two favorite colors and she wore a variation of the two every single day.
Dmitry stood up and stretched. “Well, my work here is done. She’s had her teeth brushed and her face washed. The rest is up to you my dear,” he said as he bent to his wife’s ear.
“Ummm, thanks,” Royal said, feeling his lips on her neck.
Dmitry heard Anya rustling in the closet and turned back to Royal. “We now have one week before the six-week sentence is up, and I can ravage you from head to toe,” he said with a growl.
“Promises, promises,” Royal said playfully. “I don’t know if you can handle me after six weeks of no sex. I might be too much for you.”
“Please say that’s a challenge,” Dmitry toyed. “Because, I’m going to make you eat your words.”
Royal turned to him with her daughter’s underwear clutched in her hand. “Well, I have plans of making you eat a lot more than that,” she said suggestively.
“Are you hungry, Daddy?” Anya asked eavesdropping as she stepped out of the closet with her jacket and skirt for school.
Dmitry cracked a smile at his wife, knowing that they would pick this conversation up later when they were alone. “Starving,” he answered. Turning to his daughter, he smiled and cleared his throat. “That’s why daddy is headed downstairs to fix you breakfast, munchkin.”
“Can I have pancakes?” Anya asked innocently.
“You certainly may,” he said, running his hand through her hair. “Any other requests?” he asked as he walked to the door. He looked at his wife and licked his wide, rose-colored lips. “Maybe something different for the lady of the house?”
“I’ll get back to you,” Royal answered as she swept his body with her eyes.
“I’ll be looking forward to it,” Dmitry answered as he disappeared behind the door.
Royal bit her lip and turned back to her chores, trying to suppress the laugh that was trapped behind her devious smile. The truth was that she wanted him as badly as he wanted her, but rules were rules. The doctor had ordered the over-sexed pair to absolutely wait until her six-week check-up before they made love again, which meant that all they could do at the present was foreplay each other to death. And in between taking care of now three children, even that was nearly impossible.
Hot pancakes cooked directly from daddy’s hand and served up on a little porcelain plate just for Anya was just what the little princess ordered before school. While still pouting because she wasn’t allowed to stay home with her new brothers, she had managed to be in better spirits with the entire family at the kitchen table.
However, the family was barely awake.
Dmitry did his normal morning ritual at the head of the table. With a glass of orange juice beside a cup of coffee and a plate full of turkey bacon, fried eggs and toast, he thumbed through his financials on his I-Pad and occasionally looked over at the news playing on the television mounted up on the wall directly in front of them. It took everything in him to focus this morning as his age as well as his children were catching up with him. He remembered a time when such trivial tasks would have neither effected his body or his psyche but that was many lifetimes ago.
Now, he was much grayer than when his daughter was born four years ago and a little less resilient on just a few hours of sleep. His enormous seven-foot frame was slouched over the table, holding up all 298 pounds of aching muscle. He, too, had forgone his usual dress for silk pajamas and a cotton gray t-shirt – a far cry from the man who normally dressed in three-piece suits. But this was the life that he had chosen, and in truth, regardless of how hard it was at times, he enjoyed it immensely.
His life was peaceful, meaningful and finally worth something.
Drifting off in her own world, Royal sat beside Dmitry stirring her coffee and dozing off to sleep. Still in her pink robe, she had managed before breakfast and after dressing Anya to pull her hair into a loose ponytail and run hot water over her face to stay awake through breakfast, but that was about all that she could muster. All she could think of was rest and how much of it she had been denied lately.
Where before the babies’ birth, she always was dressed to the teeth by breakfast, now if she dressed at all, she was off to a good start. It was odd, but she didn’t recall Anya’s arrival even with post-partum depression being as dramatic as the twins’ arrival, which had been laborious but without the mental exhaustion that she had suffered with her daughter. She could only attribute that to the fact that Ivan wasn’t a part of this pregnancy.
The twins had been a handful to carry and even more difficult to birth. After being in labor for eight hours, she had undergone a well-needed C-section and awoke to Konstantin and Maxim Medlov. Konstantin was the oldest by three minutes, but Maxim was the largest by five ounces. Konstantin was a spitting image of his father with blonde locks and bright blue eyes while Maxim was a spitting image of Ivan, ironically.
They could never get away from the man, no matter how they tried. His genes were forever present, always serving as a reminder that he had been on this earth and he had forever impacted their lives. Only, she was in a place now in her life where he was a moot factor. She thought both of her children to be beautiful and she loved them dearly. And in truth, she didn’t mind that two of her children looked like Ivan, because they were nothing like him and everything like their father.
What woman wouldn’t be proud?
With the new additions and all that was still required by Royal, she was thankful for the help that she had around the house. A live-in nanny who was nearly twice her age came in during the day and some evenings. The entire family had learned their lesson about hiring young nannies like Victoria. Stepan, the family butler helped run the other parts of the house along with maids, and Davyd, their dearest friend and Dmitry’s closest companion, took Anya to school, drove Royal to all of her appointments and to her boutique and ran most of the family’s errands. He was most definitely their rock, more like the grandfather of the bunch than an employee. In fact, Anya had no clue that he wasn’t a Medlov.
Still, no amount of money could help with the true parenting. That was left up to her and Dmitry. And they devoted themselves to the job one hundred percent of the time.
After the nanny from hell, Victoria, had been dismissed over a year ago, Dmitry and Royal had agreed to do some things by themselves. And with a family as complicated as they were, it was best. Besides, not many people would knowingly work for a mob family – not if they were smart. And everyone who did work for them had been thoroughly checked along with their families, from the nanny to the cook to the yard hands and farmers. No one was allowed on the chateau property without first being cleared by Dmitry himself. He had a guy in the CIA who did a thorough check for everyone and if they didn’t pass the background check, they didn’t get on the property.
Davyd chuckled as he fixed his plate, when the baby monitor sitting in between Dmitry and Royal made a noise. Evidently one of the twins rolled over and cried in their sleep. Immediately, both Royal and Dmitry froze in place, scared to death that the few minutes of peace that they thought they had had been stolen from them.
“Please go back to sleep,” Royal begged as she put down her cup of coffee.
Dmitry looked at the monitor with a raised brow, waiting for the now familiar long, cry of one of his boys but was let off the hook when they just went back to sleep.
“Thank God,” Royal said, releasing the tension in her shoulders.
“I’ve never seen two people so afraid of babies,” Davyd said, sitting down beside Anya. “Good morning, princess.”
“Good morning, Davyd,” Anya said with a little pout.
“And what’s the matter with you?” he asked with a thick Russian accent. He doted over her as much as her father did and was just as blind to her games.
“They won’t let me stay home today,” she tattled in a whisper as she looked over at the two of her parents.
He looked at the couple too. “Well, I’m sure that the boys will be here when you get home,” Davyd whispered back and winked his eye. He looked over Anya at Dmitry. “Do you need anything from town while I’m out this morning?”
“No,” Dmitry said gruffly. “All I need is a little rest.”
“Well, Marta will be here in about an hour,” Davyd said, looking at his watch.
“Forty-five minutes,” Dmitry corrected. “And I plan to sleep for at least eight hours, once she gets here.”
Royal smirked. “You’re the one who wanted more children.”
“Maybe we’ll wait until these can take care of the others before we start up again,” Dmitry answered.
“Others? Dmitry, I don’t plan to have any more of your children,” Royal joked. “This shop is currently shut down for business.” She motioned towards her still plump belly.
“We’ve heard that before,” Davyd said with a chuckle.
“She knows that she can’t resist my charm,” Dmitry said to Davyd, leaning over to kiss her cheek. “What woman in her right mind could resist a Russian?”
“Haven’t run into one yet,” Davyd added.
Playfully, Royal pulled away from him. “Your charms have the both of us sleep deprived and me in need of a tummy tuck.”
Anya watched the interaction between her mother and father and laughed too. Turning back to her nearly finished breakfast, she had a curious thought.
“Uncle Davyd, why don’t you have kids?” she asked suddenly.
Davyd cleared his throat and looked over at Dmitry again. Kids ask the craziest questions, he thought to himself. “Well, because I’m not married,” he finally said when he realized Anya was waiting for a response. He knew that while the Medlov family was not normal, Dmitry believed dearly in conservative views regarding his children.
“Why aren’t you married?” she asked as a follow-up.
Dmitry stuffed the bacon in his mouth and cracked a devious smile. “Because he’s a playboy,” he answered to let Davyd off the hook. He knew that his daughter was far too young to understand their code. Davyd was an old-school Vor, a man of the Thieves-in-Law and he was married to it and it only. He would never marry nor have children, even though he had had many opportunities over the years.
“You mean you’re a playboy like Anatoly?” Anya asked with a grin. “He has had a million girlfriends and he has a problem with commitment.” She had no idea what it meant but she liked the idea that she had remembered what was said about her brother.
“Anya, where did you hear that Anatoly was a playboy?” Royal asked concerned.
“I heard the maid, Clarisse, tell the other maid, Loni, that he was a playboy just the other day,” Anya answered honestly. “What does he like to play? Hide and go seek?”
Dmitry couldn’t help himself although he could see that Royal was turning red. He laughed aloud and hit the table. So did Davyd, but he muffled his laugh in his hand.
“Priceless,” Dmitry finally chuckled.
Royal cut her eyes at her husband and corrected her daughter. “Your brother is just young. He’s in a committed relationship with the nice woman you met, Renee. A playboy means that he can’t commit, or can’t love one person. But he does. It just took him a long time to find someone to love…just like daddy.”
“I doubt if she even remembers Renee,” Dmitry said, wiping his face with his napkin. He could always count on Anya to cheer him up, and he could always count on Royal to get too serious.
“I remember her, Daddy. She is the pretty black woman that Ana always brings home with him now,” Anya said proud that she remembered.
Dmitry raised his brow. “Well, she does remember,” he said impressed.
Royal, however, was focused on another aspect of the conversation. “Who told you that she was black?”
“We learned about race at school last week,” Anya answered. “Isn’t she black, Mommy?”
Royal nodded. “She’s African-American, just like me, just like you.”
“Anya Medlov is half African-American,” Dmitry corrected. “Don’t forget my half of the equation. Not that I mind the African-American part of her. I’m quite proud of both, but it’s important to acknowledge all of her heritage.”
“Well, the point is that I’m not ready to discuss race yet, and I don’t think that the children should be taught race until the parents give permission,” Royal said in a more serious tone. “What if their views don’t match ours? Then we have to re-teach them? That’s ridiculous. That’s not what we pay them for. I want her to learn to read and write before she has to learn about race.”
“Well, she has to learn at some point,” Dmitry said absently.
“I know that,” Royal said in a huff. “Oh, never mind.” She looked at Anya, who was now confused. “This doesn’t concern you, baby. You’re right. Renee is African-American or black. It’s the same thing, but some people prefer one term over the other. I prefer African-American for reasons I’ll explain to you later.”
“Now you’re just speaking over her head,” Dmitry interrupted.
Royal rolled her eyes. “Well, I wouldn’t have to have this discussion at seven in the morning if the fifteen-thousand-dollar per quarter kinder academy we pay for had not broached the subject without my permission,” she defended.
“Ahh, you’re both just exhausted. Why don’t you go and get some rest and you can talk to each other about this later. You’ll still be African-American and he’ll still be Russian,” Davyd said, finishing his breakfast.
“Amen,” Dmitry said, pushing back from the table. He raised his arms and waved at his daughter. “Anya, come and give your papa a kiss before you’re off to school.”
Anya did as her father said and got up from the table and walked over to kiss his cheek. He picked her up in his large arms and held her tight to him, nuzzling his nose in her hair. “I love you,” he said, putting her back down on the ground. “Just as you are.” He looked into Anya’s blue eyes and rubbed a hand across her jet-black bangs.
“I love you too, Daddy,” she said with a smile. Dimples exploded in both of her rosy cheeks.
Dmitry couldn’t help but kiss her again.
How could anyone not love a face like that? he thought to himself, and in the same thought, he again reminded himself of how lucky he was.
Shifting attention, Anya quickly snuggled into her mother’s arms. Royal held her close, kissed her quick on both cheeks and wipe the bread crumbs from the sides of her pouty mouth. “Have a great day at school. And as soon as you come home, you can feed Maxim. Promise.”
Anya couldn’t help but light up. “Thank you, Mommy. I love you.”
Royal giggled. “I love you too, munchkin.” It was amazing how that little girl knew how to light her up even in her deepest of thoughts.
Getting up from the table, Dmitry and Royal left Anya with Davyd and headed back upstairs hand-in-hand. It was a normal ritual to spend time with the little princess at the kitchen table like a normal family before she was escorted to school.
Dmitry felt like it gave Anya a true understanding of how important family was and it put things into perspective on a daily basis for him. No matter how tired he was, if he was in the city then he was here with the women in his life. And after Anya had had a hearty breakfast and been allowed a little early morning chatter, he and Royal would finally make their way to the bedroom to get some much deserved sleep.
“I can’t wait to feel that pillow under my head,” Royal said, walking slowly up the stairs.
Dmitry snickered. “Don’t tell me that those little babies are already wearing you out.” He looked down at her and winked.
Royal rolled her eyes. “You don’t look so spry yourself, big boy.”
Dmitry yawned involuntarily. “I have an excuse.”
“Yeah, what’s that?” she asked.
“Well, I’m much older than you.”
“As long as Hugh Hefner is alive, then you don’t have an excuse. Besides, you’re the one who wanted a huge family. Remember? Be careful what you ask for, old man.” Running her hand over the stitches on her lower abdomen, she clenched her jaw and tried to hide the stabbing reminder of her recent surgery. Royal had been a vaginal birth. This was her first C-section, and the nagging pain was incredibly uncomfortable. However, because of her prior issue with pain pills, she preferred to deal with the pain naturally as possible.
Dmitry noticed her discomfort and instantly became more serious. “Are you still hurting very much?” He stopped in his tracks and looked down into her warm, brown eyes.
“It’s just these…weird sharp pains every once in a while. They hurt more during the morning when I first get up than any other time of the day.” She tried not to make a big deal out of it considering how Dmitry was. At the first sign of pain, he freaked out for her.
“I hate that they had to cut you,” he lamented.
“Well, I’ve been taking good care of the sutures. So, hopefully, you won’t even notice it in a few months.”
Dmitry was shocked that she thought that he was concerned about the look of the scars. Screw the bloody scars. He was worried about her. Picking her up in his large arms, he scooped her up and held her close to him. He nuzzled his face in her hair and smelled her perfume. Royal didn’t fight his excessive babying today. Resting her head against his chest, she wrapped her arms around his neck and smiled. “It’s nice to know that you can still be romantic, even when I look like this,” she said, looking down at her pajamas that had a small stain from a feeding from the night before.
His eyes twinkled with sincerity. “I sort of like this look,” he said, walking with her in his arms. The same dimple in Anya’s cheek showed in his as he smiled. “I’m going to run you a hot bath and wash your hair while the children are still sleeping. How does that sound?”
“Like a dream,” she said with a hum.
“Well, you deserve it,” he said as his foot hit the top step to the second floor.
Royal looked behind them at how far he had carried her. Even after all these years, he was still so very strong, so full of life and full of passion. She craved that about him. Clenching tighter to his body, she nuzzled into his masculine scent and felt safe.
Dmitry was a true alpha male in every aspect of the word. He was a provider, protector and a lover, as territorial as the lion in his jungle but as kind as a king at court.
Plus, she always felt safe when she was buried near his musky, male throat, inhaling his virile scent and so close to his raging, resilient beating heart. Dmitry was one of those men who naturally drew in a woman, made her lose her mind and forget herself just to be near him. Between his larger than life height, his wide, strong size and his enchanting great looks, even if he had not been a billionaire crime boss, he still would have gone far in this world. Men like him always did.
What really amazed her was how even after being married for nearly five years, how she felt as though she had just met him. The butterflies never ceased to erupt in her stomach when she woke beside him every morning, and he still made her inner woman purr when he whispered naughty words into her ear. Maybe it was his Russian accent or the minty scent always lingering on his tongue, but he could hypnotize her within minutes, place her under a mighty spell and then have his way with her.
Quietly, Dmitry opened the door for them and carried her to their bed. Placing her gently down, he rubbed through her thick mane and watched her eyes lazily relax as she lay back on the soft pillows. She snuggled in, preparing for a deep long sleep.
Ahh…he wasn’t sure which one of them was more relaxed at the moment. She seemed finally ready to rest, and he was just in a state of bliss, hard to explain but a very distinct feeling of joy.
The simple life was finally starting to be everything Dmitry had hoped for. The kids were healthy and happy and the same was true for him and his wife. Plus, things were going well with Anatoly and what was left of the Medlov council back in the states; his businesses were thriving despite the recession, and he was still a billionaire with more wealth accumulating by the day.
Honestly, he was not sure if he could ask for more, but one thing he was certain that he was blessed. He was wealthy, healthy, the father of four amazing children and married to a young, beautiful woman who worshiped the ground that he walked on. Who could ask for more?
That in itself was amazing considering he was born a gutter rat in Moscow to a drugged-out whore and a middle-aged crime boss, tossed in prison before eighteen and destined to be a total failure. The only family he was supposed to ever have was a sociopathic little brother and the Vor, but somehow, he had ended up with a hell of a lot more than anyone ever thought he would. Ask anyone, his late father included – no one thought he’d even live this long.
Guys like him normally didn’t end up with such a good life, especially when guys like him definitely didn’t deserve to, but Dmitry had managed to come out on top.
So, why not treat his wife like a queen, dote on her, take care of her, and raise his children in peace? Considering how hard that he had worked to acquire this lifestyle, it would be a pity not to indulge himself in every aspect of being a family man.
On schedule, Davyd and his assistant bodyguard, Yuri, walked Anya through the back corridor leading from the kitchen-area to the newly renovated garage. As they stepped into the large space, the motion detector recognized their movement and instantly lit up the room. Quickly, row-by-row, the fluorescent overhead lights snapped on all the way down ten perfect isles of luxury vehicles as the trio started their daily routine.
The garage was more like a showroom than a shelter. Limestone floors sparkled under millions of dollars’ worth of the world’s finest engineering. Stainless steel cabinets lined up masterfully on a long wall leading length-ways down the room and held all the essential equipment to keep the cars going and another row of stainless-steel cabinets down the shorter wall, stored monitors, jacks and high-end machinery found only in the best luxury mechanic garages. In the far corner, blending in with the rest of the cabinets was a small arsenal of weapons and monitors that showed the perimeter of the house. The room was also as sterile as a doctor’s office and as modern as any museum. It was just another testament to Dmitry’s appreciation for all things high-end with each car telling a story from his past.
However, this room had a completely different meaning for Anya. It was another playroom. She loved the way the lights flickered on for them automatically, and she loved that Davyd would let her pick which car she could ride to school in every morning. The choice was always hers and was made only after they entered the garage. And her choice was never the same.
Anya didn’t know that it was just another security protocol set up by her entourage of bodyguards to ensure that no one knew exactly what vehicle she would be escorted in. Davyd was always thorough that way. He constantly performed security checks and tried to ensure that his dear little Anya was safe, even without her knowing it.
Anya still had a pout as she loaded into the back of the family Bentley and turned on her television to watch a new episode of her favorite cartoon on DVD.
“Seat belt on,” Davyd ordered as he closed the passenger door and back at her.
“Check,” Anya replied as she clicked her belt.
The doors locked as the assistant bodyguard finished the preliminary check to make sure that no explosives had been attached to the car.
The door to the garage opened quickly and bright light from the early
morning sun shined onto the car as it pulled out and started its trek from the family farm to the city.
Like clockwork, Davyd canvassed the area, looking for anything out of place on the farm, but all looked normal. The field workers walked alongside of their buggies or worked out on the land; the grounds crew worked on lawn and the guards stood post at the perimeter checkpoints.
“Another day,” Davyd said to his driver.
“No, not just any day. I’m going to ask Mila to marry me tonight,” the young man said with a proud grin.
Anya grabbed her remote and discreetly turned down her television just a bit to listen to the adult conversation.
“But you’re such a young man,” Davyd said, concerned. “What’s the rush? You knock her up?”
“No,” the driver answered with a blush. “I love her. It’s been a year now. I can’t wait any longer.”
Davyd raised his brow. The concept was lost on him. Sure, he loved the family he served; he loved the Vor; he loved his plush life, but as many women as he saw from time-to-time, he had loved none. He turned up his lip at a thought and then heaved a sigh. “Well, good luck to you then, boy.”
“Thank you,” the man said, feeling fulfilled. “When we drop Ms. Anya off, I’ll show you the ring, da.”
“Aye, I’d be interested in seeing what voluntary manslaughter looks like,” Davyd joked.
Anya forgot that she wasn’t supposed to be listening and quickly interjected. “Daddy said that Davyd is a playboy,” she repeated.
Davyd turned and looked behind him at Anya, who quickly threw her small hands over her pouty pink lips. Her eyes bucked as she blushed. “Sorry, Davyd,” she said in a muffled voice.
“Mind your business back there, little munchkin. It’s rude to eavesdrop though you be a pro at it.” He gave her a wink and smile.
Anya giggled and turned back to Dora’s movie.
The driver looked at Davyd and smiled. “She’s been here before, that little girl.”
“I know.” Davyd shook his head. “Twice. She’s got an old soul. I hope to live long enough to see her grow into a young woman. She’s going to give this world hell.”
The beautiful winding roads through the plush countryside full of tall trees, foliage and brush and acres of farmland made for a peaceful drive. As they passed the land marker that designated the end of the Medlov land, they entered a shady portion of the road where the trees were so tall and full until it nearly blotted out the view of the sun peeking through the millions of leaves.
The driver hit his breaks suddenly when a small buggy being pulled by an old man came across the road without notice.
“Shit! What is he trying to do, get killed?” the driver said, laying his palm down on the horn. “Move along, you old bugger.”
Davyd looked around at where they were and felt a twinge in his stomach. “Put your foot back on the accelerator,” he ordered.
“You want me to run him over?” Yuri asked.
Davyd looked over from where the man had come from and saw that there was no way he could have come from beyond the brush. “Yes, run him over,” he said in a calm voice as he pulled his side arm.
The driver did as Davyd said and pushed down on the accelerator and at the same time he blew his horn to give the man some warning. The old man pulling the buggy barely got his small wooden carriage across the road before they barreled past.
The driver cut his eyes at Davyd. “Is something wrong, sir?”
As they passed, Davyd looked behind him at the buggy again. “One thing is for sure…something isn’t right,” he said, turning back around to face the front. As they crested the hill and prepared to come down it, they saw a black SUV coming in the opposite direction towards them. It slowed down to a crawl as the man driving looked through his windshield at Davyd. The driver was a bald white man with black shades on and black gloves gripping the wheel.
Even from a 50 yard distance, Davyd could see that the man and the truck were out of place. “Get us out of here,” Davyd ordered as he cocked his gun. “Anya, get down!”
The driver was oblivious as to what was going on, but Davyd knew through many years of working with Dmitry that this was an ambush.
Before he could react, the truck coming towards them turned crossways in the road, blocking off traffic and lowered its windows. Two semi-automatic weapons were stuck out of the window and began to unload on the Medlov Bentley.
The bullets hit the car with a loud thud, flattening tires, mangling the grill and windshield.
“Oh shit!” the driver screamed.
Davyd flipped his phone opened and dialed Dmitry as the driver backed up. The tires screeched on the pavement as it burned rubber in reverse. Letting down the window, he stuck his desert eagle out and shot several rounds right into the door of the truck.
With the trees thickly lining both sides of the road, there was nowhere to go but the way that they had come. The driver focused as he bagged back but as they crested the hill again they saw the familiar buggy and three men crawling from the inside with semi-automatic weapons. They too unloaded on the Bentley, making sure to aim at the tires and not the backseat.
Anya screamed aloud, curled up into a ball on the floor behind Davyd’s seat. Her voice pierced Davyd’s ears and could be heard even above the gunfire.
“Sit quietly, babushka. We’ll get you out of here,” Davyd said, returning fire. The phone was on speaker. When Dmitry answered, he heard the gunfire also.
“We are under attack by an SUV in front of us and a buggy of motherfuckers behind us. It’s a total of at least six guys.” Giving the driver a gun from the glove compartment, he pointed behind him at the three-man team approaching. “Take them out,” he ordered.
Dmitry jumped up from the bed, pulled a weapon from the nightstand and ran out into the hallway with a gun in one hand and the phone stuck to his ear. “Stepan! Get some guns and the men. Let’s go!” he ordered with his robe flowing behind him.
“What’s happening?” Royal screamed as she followed behind him. “Where is Anya?”
Quickly, Dmitry slipped the clip in his Glock and ran down the many rows of carpeted stairs. “Where are you?” he asked Davyd, hearing his daughter screaming in the background. “Is Anya alright?”
“Ten miles from the house,” Davyd said, slipping in a new clip. “You aren’t going to get here before this is done, Dmitry.” He looked back at Anya to make sure that she had not been hit.
The statement cut to the bone, but it was true and they both new it.
“You have to keep her safe,” Dmitry begged. “I’m coming for you now.”
Just then a shot rang through the window and into Yuri’s head. The gun dropped out of his hand onto the pavement outside. His eyes averted to the top of the windshield. Davyd dropped the phone, opened the driver’s door, pushed the young man out and put the car in drive. He didn’t have much room, but he mowed down the trees on the side of the road and prayed that he didn’t kill both he and Anya trying to get them to safety.
The black SUV followed, shooting out the side view mirrors and further mangling the car. Anya cried out for her daddy as the car dropped down a five-foot deep incline that tilted the car and turned it over. Landing with a metal-bending impact, it slid into the clearing of an open, muddy field.
Still dazed, Davyd kicked the shattered windshield out with his boot and pulled Anya out of the car that was now leaking oil and gas. With blood covering his face, he stumbled, disoriented out in the open, holding Anya tight, praying for a way to save the young girl.
“Davyd I’m scared! Please take me home! I want my mommy and daddy!” Anya pleaded with blood covering her forehead.
Davyd finally heard the SUV behind them pushing down the hill. He turned to see the men come barreling off the side of the incline as well. They landed better, but clearly ruined their vehicle.
Davyd set Anya down. He rubbed her face and kissed her forehead. The blood from her face transferred to his lips. “Run, Anya. Run as hard as you can for as long as you can and don’t look back,” he growled. He gave her a small gun. “All you have to do is pull the trigger. The first person you see, you shoot. It won’t be me, Anya. I won’t be coming for you. Trust no one. Just shoot to kill and run.”
“No,” Anya cried. “I can’t leave you, Davyd.” She trembled like a leaf in fear. Her eyes were wide with terror, but obediently, she took the heavy chrome gun in her hands. The cold steal frightened her more. Never in her life had she held a gun. It was awkward to carry and it felt strange in her little fingers.
Davyd knew that he didn’t have much time. “I love you, little girl. That has been enough for me. I love you. Now run. Run hard and fast. Remember to defend yourself.” Tears formed in his eyes.
“I love you too, Davyd,” she said sincerely.
He turned her around toward the expansive field and hit her muddy bottom.
“Run!” he screamed. “Run fast!”
She did as he ordered. Running as fast as her little legs would take her in her navy blue uniform dress and torn tights, without a coat in the freezing cold, she splashed in mud and sprinted through the knee-high grass.
Davyd turned around to hold them off, hoping it would be enough time to give Anya a fighting chance. Shooting another round, he made it count, hitting one man square in the middle of his eyes. He shot another as he saw him come over the hill. He dropped to one knee and took aim again, but the men hidden in the bushes took him out without effort.
Three shots hit him in his chest. One hit him in the head. He didn’t even feel it. His body hit the ground, blue eyes opened and empty. Blood mingled with mud and grass. As a gusty wind passed over, his body lay limp and defeated.
Davyd was gone.
Anya heard the shots but did as he had ordered her. She ran as hard as she could, still crying and trembling. But it was not fast enough or far enough. A helicopter flew over her, pushing her little body down in the marsh, and then ropes fell down to the ground. Two men scaled down in black fatigues, and ran over with guns pointed to collect her.
The taller of the two men hit the ground first. When Anya saw him, she got down on her knees and crawled into a large bushy area, hoping that he would not spot her.
He ran over and pulled through the prickly brush to pull her out. As soon as he saw her bright blue eyes, she lifted the gun from her side and pulled back the trigger. The gun shot pushed her body back into the brush a little more. And the stunned man fell where he stood.
Crawling and crying, she tried to get away, but the other man was quickly on top of her. She turned on her stomach and tried to shoot again, but the man wrestled the gun out of her hand.
She fought hard, biting the shorter man on the hand in between his thumb and index finger, through his glove.
“Ahh!,” he winced in English accent. “Come here you little bitch!” he screamed as he threw her gun away from them.
“I want my daddy!” she screamed and kicked. “Let me go!”
The man snatched her up in the air by the arm and roughly stuck a needle in her neck. Nearly immediately, her little legs stopped kicking and her fifty pound body went limp.
Shocked that she had managed to kill one of his men, he looked back at his partner but opted to leave him. His remaining counterparts, he and Anya scaled back up the ropes to the helicopter and disappeared in the distance.
Dmitry pulled up with six carloads of men to the site on the road where a fight had obviously taken place. The driver was still lying on the side of the road with a bullet in his head. Along with the skid marks, glass and shells, the trees were broken and a path had been made by the vehicles. Reluctantly, he ran through the brush, his men moving beside him to the five foot drop where the real battle had taken place.
In the clearing, he saw Davyd. He made his way down to his body, while the men combed the area for Anya.
“Who do you think did this?” Stepan asked. He looked down at Davyd’s dead body and frowned.
Dmitry bent down and looked at the wounds. “This was a professional hit,” he said, sticking his fingers in the wounds. He stood up and looked around the clearing. “The driver’s dead. Davyd’s dead and Anya is gone. It was a kidnapping. They got what they came for.”
“We found a body here. Doesn’t make since though. Davyd was shot over here,” one of the men said, walking back from where Anya had been abducted. “There is also a gun over there.”
Dmitry looked back and forth and raised his brow. “Anya must have shot him. Davyd gave her a gun to defend herself when he knew that he couldn’t.”
The cold winds ripped through the valley and the men wrapped themselves in their coats, all but Dmitry who could no longer feel anything at all.
“Should we get the police involved?” Stepan asked.
“For face sake,” Dmitry said, holding back his emotions. “But we have to do this our way. Get everyone, I mean every single solitary soul at my house, lined up downstairs. We start interrogations there and work our way out,” Dmitry said, motioning for his men. “Don’t touch anything here. Stepan, you head back to the chateau with me. Everyone else stays here. I want you to look for clues, go talk to the people, see who knows what around here. Someone had to see something.”
“We should get you out of the cold,” Stepan said, looking at his boss in his pajamas.
“What do I care about the cold,” Dmitry growled. “For all I know my daughter could be somewhere freezing to death,” he said, walking through the mud in his leather loafers. Grinding his teeth, he looked up at the perfect blue sky and heaved a heavy sigh. While the world seemed that all was well, he knew that he was now standing at the gates of hell, and he was more than willing to step inside as long as it meant bringing his daughter back safely.