Her Russian Billionaires #1 VIKTOR

By: Susan Westwood



Viktor took a bite and had to say he did enjoy his own cooking. His mother had taught him well.

“Who taught you to cook?”

“My mother. She said that American women would want a man who cooked.”

“I would love for someone to cook for me. I hate it,” she said. Then she laughed. “Maybe why I’m still single.”

Her laugh was a symphony to his ears. Husky and full. No pretense behind it. He took another bite of his steak, dipping it in his egg. She ate with more gusto now, but stopping to savor each bite of steak.

The kettle on the stove whistled. He poured the hot water into his French Press and waited. When it was ready, he pushed down the plunger on it.

“Coffee?”

“Yes, please.”

Viktor had the distinct impression that the food had loosened Alia up. Her shoulders were no longer stiff. Her smile came more easily. He had done his job. She felt safe here.

His mother would be proud.

He poured her some of the dark brew then some for himself. She sipped it and he waited to see if she liked it. For some reason, her opinion was now important to him. He didn’t know why.

“That’s the best coffee I’ve ever tasted. What’s that contraption you made it in?”

“A French Press.”

Her eyes drooped and she yawned. “Neat.”

She was getting tired and as much as he delighted in her company, she had to sleep.

He had to sleep. He had payroll to do for the nightclub. Never his favorite day. He really should hire someone, but he had trouble letting go of the reins. Not a good trait.

“Are you finished?”

Alia nodded. “I couldn’t eat another bite.”

He put both of their plates in the dishwasher. His housekeeper would be by in a few hours. She could do the rest.

“Don’t you want to clean up your kitchen?” she said, then yawned again.

“I have someone to do that.”

“A nightclub nets you that much money?” She put a hand on mouth. “I’m sorry. That was crass.”

Viktor laughed at her. “I’m not insulted. I own nightclubs all over the world.”

Her mouth dropped open. “Oh.”

“Let me show you to your room.”

She nodded and followed him down a hall. His apartment had four bedrooms. He used one as an office. One was if his mother wanted to stay. He gave Alia the fourth one. His mother had decorated it for him.

“There’s a bathroom off this bedroom so feel free to take a bath or shower. There are sweats in the closet, I think.”

“Old girlfriend?”

He hadn’t had a woman in months. The last one had been a gold digger. He wasn’t interested in doing that again. “No, my mother put stuff there hoping I’d have women over. She wants grandchildren.”

“You’re close with your mother.”

“Yes. There are towels in the bathroom. When you awaken, feel free to wander the apartment. I’ll probably be awake. I don’t need much sleep.”

She nodded. He was about to leave when she said his name.

“Yes?”

“I haven’t thanked you. I really appreciate all that you’ve done for me. I’m a stranger and you’ve been more hospitable than some people I know.”

“You’re welcome, Alia. Sleep tight.”

He left her in the bedroom, but he didn’t want to. If he could have convinced her to get into his bed, they’d both enjoy themselves before slumber. But he couldn’t. She was vulnerable and if he was to pursue something with her he’d want her to respond because of desire, not because she didn’t think she had a choice.

He showered then slid into his bed. Naked and alone. He frowned and hoped sleep would come quickly. He didn’t want to think about Alia in his guest bedroom. Maybe showering. Maybe bathing. Naked and soapy.

Shit. This wasn’t helping. Payroll might get done sooner if sleep remained elusive.

*

Alia awoke to someone pounding on a door. Not her bedroom door. Wait. Where was she?

The door being pounded on was far away. One of her neighbors? Her place was just one room. When she opened her eyes she had a moment of panic. She didn’t remember where she was. Then all her memories of last night came back to her.

She’d slept so soundly for being in a strange place. She yawned, then stretched. The pounding had stopped.

Someone knocked softly on her door. “Alia? You awake?”

Viktor.

“I am.”

“The police need to talk to you about what you saw last night,” he said.

Her eyes widened. How did they know where to find her? Had Viktor given her up?

“Uh, okay.” She rose from bed. “I need to get dressed.”

“I’ll tell them that you’ll be out in a minute.”

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