Her Russian Billionaires #1 VIKTOR

By: Susan Westwood



“Thanks.”

She threw on her clothes from last night then took a deep breath before opening the bedroom door. She hadn’t slept that well in ages, but that didn’t make her any more ready to face the police. Not having decided to talk to them, she wasn’t sure what to say now.

Not knowing a way out, she must face them.

Viktor was pouring coffee for them. He was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. Even in that, he looked put together. Some men were just that way. Every hair was in place. He appealed to her. Maybe because he was exotic compared to what she saw in the ghetto day after day.

He was also more real than the metrosexual white boys who hit on her at the bar. He didn’t flaunt his wealth, but she could tell from the cut of his clothing that he had money. She bet he didn’t tip outrageously, just well.

The two men occupied the couch, but didn’t look as if they’d made themselves comfortable. The sat on the edge of the cushions as Viktor chatted with them. He looked like he was hosting two friends.

Alia cleared her throat before she entered the room. “Gentlemen.”

Both men stood.

“Alia, these men are asking questions about something that happened in the neighborhood last night. I didn’t see anything. They wanted to know if you did.”

He was giving her an out. He hadn’t revealed to the cops that she’d seen the murder. She tried to thank him with her eyes. Now was the time to make her decision. If she didn’t come clean, she’d have to keep the secret forever.

If she did tell them what she saw, maybe they could catch the men. She wasn’t optimistic on that point. She’d seen what little cops did in her neighborhood. Maybe that was different in Manhattan.

“What incident are you talking about?” she said, not ready to spill her guts.

“I’m Detective Clark. This is Detective Lewis,” the younger man said.

He didn’t offer his hand. Alia didn’t offer hers. She nodded to acknowledge both of them.

“Nice to meet you.”

“There was a man shot in an alley around the corner from here. We estimate about three in the morning.”

Alia sat on the closest chair, stilling deciding. What was in her best interest? If she snitched, would she be safer? If she told, could they protect her? She bit her lip, unable to choose the best option. Not knowing what was the best option for her.

“Three?”

“Yes. Would you have been out and about at that time?”

Viktor looked at her and nodded. He wanted her to tell them the truth. Of course, he would. He probably hadn’t run into any bad cops. Like the ones that harassed her brother on a regular basis.

Viktor probably trusted the police. She sighed.

“I was.”

Viktor smiled at her. She was doing the right thing in his mind. He had no idea how dangerous the streets were. He lived behind steel doors on the third floor of a building he probably owned.

That was not her life.

“Did you see something?” Lewis said.

She glanced from one detective to the other. “Yes. I saw a man shot last night.”

“Why didn’t you call the police?” Lewis asked.

“Because I live in the Bronx. You look the other way so you can live another day. Besides, the men who did this saw me. They chased me. And I found refuge in Viktor’s night club.”

“So you got a look at the men?”

She swallowed. Why had she opened her mouth? “I got a look, but not a good look. I didn’t study them.”

“Can you start from the beginning? Don’t leave out any detail.”

Alia let out a breath then began her story. She told them as much as she could remember. When she finished, Clark kept scribbling. Then he looked at her with brown eyes. “We’ll need you to come downtown with us.”

“Why? I’ve told you everything.”

“We need a formal statement. We also want you to look at some mug shots.”

“Do you know who did this?”

“We have an idea,” Lewis said. “We can show you some pictures. You don’t need to peruse a pile of books.”

She blinked. She had no choice now. She was involved. All because she looked down an alley. Damn it.

“Alia just woke up. Can she get some breakfast and then I’ll bring her to the station? Just give me the address,” Viktor said.

Once again, he was protecting her. Why? She still wasn’t going to sleep with him. As attractive as she found him, sleeping with him would probably be a bad idea.

The two detectives exchanged a glance. “That’s fine. She isn’t a suspect. Can you come down within the hour?”

“Yes,” Viktor answered for her.

She shot him a look that said she could talk for herself. He shrugged as if it was no consequence. Just what she needed. An overbearing man. Though she was grateful, he’d bought her some time.

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