The Russian's Acquistion(2)By: Dani Collins
“Was that Russian?” Clair asked on a breathless gasp as the last pin-striped back disappeared. She felt as if a tank had just flattened her.
“They’ve been coming in all week. That tall one is new.” Abby dragged her gaze away from the hall and became conspiratorial as she leaned over her keyboard. “No one knows what’s going on. I was hoping you could enlighten us.”
“I wasn’t here,” Clair reminded her. She hadn’t even been in London. “But Mr. Turner told me before I left that everything would carry on as usual, that the family were keeping things status quo until they’d had time to settle his private affairs. Are they lawyers?” She glanced toward the hall but was certain that man wasn’t anything as straitlaced as a lawyer. He struck her as someone who made his own rules rather than living by any imposed on him. Her skin still tingled under the brand of ownership he’d imprinted on her.
“Some are, I think,” Abby answered. “Ours have been meeting them every day.”
“Our—? Oh, right.” Clair forced herself back to the conversation. Lawyers. Not just her friend deceased but the boss and owner, leaving the place on tiptoes of tension. She’d noticed the mood the second she returned. Having strangers prowl like bargain hunters at a fire sale didn’t help. Clair decided she didn’t like that trespasser of a man.
Abby glanced around before hunching even closer. “Clair? I’m really sorry for what I said. I know losing Mr. Van Eych must be hard for y—”
“It’s fine. Don’t worry about it,” Clair dismissed with a light smile. She stepped back to freeze out the empathy. Putting up walls was a protective reflex, an automatic reaction that probably accounted for why no one ever sent her flowers or love notes. She wasn’t good at being close to people. That was why she’d let herself fall into a fake romance with Victor. He’d offered companionship without the demands of physical or emotional intimacy, protecting her from anyone else trying to make a similar claim. No risk, she’d thought. No chance of pain.
That Russian would make incredible demands, she thought, and her stomach dipped even as she wondered where her speculation had come from. No way would she let someone like that into her private life. He was a one-way ticket to a broken heart. Forget him.
Nevertheless, trepidation weakened her knees as she looked toward her office, the direction he’d taken. Silly to be afraid. He would already have forgotten her.
“I’ll check in with Mr. Turner,” Clair said, holding the smile of confident warmth she’d perfected as Victor’s PA. “If I’m able to tell you anything, I will.”
“Thank you.” Abby’s worried brow relaxed.
Clair walked away, determined to push the Russian from her mind, but she’d barely hung her coat and bent to tuck her purse into her desk drawer before Mr. Turner appeared in the doorway. Waxen paleness underpinned the flags of red in his sagging cheeks.
Clair stood to attention, heart sinking with intuitive fear. “What’s wrong?”
“You’re to report to—” He ran a hand over his thinning hair. “The new owner.”
* * *
Aleksy Dmitriev set the waste bin next to his feet, reached for the first plaque on the wall and tossed it in, taking less satisfaction in the loud clunk of an industry award hitting the trash than he’d anticipated. This coup had been too easy. Clunk. The bastard wasn’t alive to see his world collapse. Clunk. Van Eych had succumbed to the lifestyle he’d enjoyed at the expense of men like Aleksy’s father rather than face the revenge Aleksy had intended to wreak. Clunk.
The blonde in the foyer was that filthy dog’s mistress. Smash!
A delicate crystal globe shattered in the bottom of the can, leaving a silver heart exposed and dented.
“What on earth,” a clear female voice demanded, “do you think you’re doing?”
Aleksy lifted his head and was struck by the same kick of sexual hunger he’d experienced fifteen minutes ago. The part of his anatomy he couldn’t control suffered another tight, near-painful pull.
At first sight he’d judged her snowflake perfect, delicate and cool with creamy, unblemished skin, white-gold hair and ice-blue eyes. As potent as chilled vodka with a kick of heat that spread from the inside. He’d demanded her name and details.
Now the dull raincoat was gone, revealing warmer colors. Her peach knit top clung to slender arms and hugged smallish but high breasts, while her hips flared just enough to confirm she was all woman.
He smothered reckless desire with angry disgust. How could she have given all that to an old man, especially that old man?