Billionaire's Fiance

By: Alexa Davis



"Listen, zhopa," Kristov said. "Papa is giving you a chance to prove that you're capable of handling this part of the business, so handle it!"

"Asshole? I'm an asshole now?" I said without looking up. I pulled several small jewelry boxes out of the larger box that had been delivered a few hours earlier and began examining the contents of each one. "Why am I an asshole for wanting to do something different?"

"Because Papa is giving you the opportunity of a lifetime to prove yourself," he replied as he slipped a cigarette between his lips and flicked his lighter. "You'll earn your stars, bratik. Don't you want to earn your stars?"

"Not particularly," I said as I avoided his gaze. He knew how much it irritated me when he called me little brother, and yet he did it anyway. "I don't care about any of that bullshit. I don't want stars or crosses or churches or any other ink on my body. Can't you understand that?"

"I can," he nodded as he inhaled deeply and then blew the smoke at me in precisely formed rings. "But Papa can't, so it falls on me to entice you back to the fold."

"Kristov, I don't know how to say it any more clearly than I already have," I coughed as I shot him an annoyed look. He smiled like a Cheshire cat and waited. "I don't want to have anything to do with the family business. I don't want to be part of the gang or be vory v zakone. I want to start my own jewelry business and operate it legitimately. I don't want help or muscle or anything at all. I just want peace. Can't you understand that?"

Kristov silently watched me unpack the boxes and smoked as he considered my rejection of his offer. We'd been like this since we were children. He was the older brother who was always charged with bringing me into line when I decided to go my own way, and when I had been younger and weaker, it had worked. But now we were adults and, while I would always be younger than he was, I would never be weaker again.

"Bratik, you can do whatever you want, but you owe Papa," he said as his smile shifted from brotherly to something more sinister.

"Owe Papa what?" I asked.

"He gave you the money that you used to buy that beautiful place you live in and start this business," he said before taking a deep drag of his cigarette and exhaling in my face. "And now, you owe him some respect and reciprocity; got it?"

"Kristov, I'm going to say this one time and one time only, so listen well, my brother," I began as I stopped unpacking boxes and looked at him. "I don't want to be a thief-in-law, I don't want to run with the bratán, and I don't owe Papa anything. Not a cent. Mama gave me what was rightfully mine and told me to do with it what I wished."

We stood in the small space staring each other down as we waited for the other to look away first. Kristov finally looked away and shrugged as he chuckled. He threw the still burning butt of his cigarette on the floor and ground it into the carpet as he stared at me, smiling. I willed my face to remain impassive and waited for him to speak. He said nothing; he only smiled, shook his head, and moved toward me so he could roughly pat my shoulder. He walked to the door, turned and looked at me one more time, then shook his head as he smiled and walked out the door.

"You'll regret this, bratik," he tossed over his shoulder as he exited, leaving the door wide open.

I quickly crossed the room and shut the door behind him before I turned and leaned against it as I sunk to the floor and put my head in my hands. In my heart, I wanted to believe that my father would never do anything to hurt me, no matter how pissed off he was, but my logical brain, the one that had grown up with a father who led the South Side Chicago Russian Mafia, knew that my father would do whatever he had to in order to protect the brotherhood – even if that meant neutralizing his own son.



"Josh?" I called as I entered the apartment and saw suitcases sitting near the door. "Josh? What's going on?"

"Oh hey, Sugar," he said as he flashed me his biggest and brightest toothpaste-ad smile. "I wasn't expecting you for another hour!"

"How many times do I have to ask you not to call me that? You know I hate it," I said, then turned and looked at the packed bags."What's going on? Are you going somewhere?"

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