"Nothing much," I whisper in our language, squeezing my hands together on the low of my back. "I’ve been training of course, went to the salon yesterday, and I went out to a club last night."
"Yes," he tips his head, "my men saw you driving through the countryside. Did you have fun""
I shake my head, being honest. "I was just getting out of the apartment,c"p Maksim."
"Of course, my little pet. Of course. Though, next time you want to visit a club, you come here." He taps his desk with one finger. "You do not have to travel to strange places to have fun."
"Okay." I lift my lips in a forced, wary smile. "As you wish."
I like visiting strange places when alone. Everything in my life is a consistent bloodbath"the people and the work I execute. Sometimes, I just like a change of scenery.
I guess I don’t like visiting strange places anymore.
Maksim gestures to the right, to the man sitting on the couch, and I know the conversation about my last two days is over.
"My little pet," he’s speaking in English now, "meet my old friend, Mr. Decena."
It takes a lot of effort not to frown.
I’ve been with Maksim for ten years and I’ve never seen or heard of a Mr. Decena.
I look at Maksim’s friend, my face blank of sentiment. Above him, a long tube light attached to the wall flickers on, buzzing with electricity, illuminating a tall, muscular frame.
"No matter what happens here tonight," Maksim says in sly Russian, "you are ordered not to challenge him."
The back of my neck pricks. Maksim never orders me to stand down.
Though nervous, I obey without question, nodding to show I understand his command. I then study Mr. Decena, surprised by how relaxed he is in his pose, sitting there in the middle of the couch with one arm draped over the back, long legs stretched out in front of him.
This is bizarre. No one is ever that relaxed in Maksim’s company.
I reckon Mr. Decena is in his late twenties. He looks young wearing fitted jeans, tanned boots, and a black round-neck t-shirt that boasts solid muscles. He’s nothing at all like Maksim who favors suits,but Maksim has a tall, athletic body for them. They are wearing similar watches on their left wrists with thick silver straps, but that’s where their similarities end.
"Mr. Decena would like to ask you some questions," Maksim says.
I nod in response, still studying the relaxed pawn. Unruly ink black hair curls around his neck and face, abatinghard features;a strong, square, clean shaven chin, and a blade of a nose. His black eyebrows are thick and long, framing prevailing blue eyes that stand against his naturally tanned skin. He’s a good looking man, and judging by that lazy, narcissistic expression on his face, he"s aware. He fancies himself.
He stares me up and down with slow meditation, taking in all my features from head to toe. I’m suddenly so uncomfortable that my stomach knots. I can’t really explain it but he makes me feel naked to the bone.
I shift on my feet, trying to iron out my anxiety. A smirk lifts the side of Mr. Decena’s lips then, a mischievous smirk that’s full of promise.
"What do I call you"" he says, his voice deep yet calm. He’s American but there’s a sprinkle of Latin in his accent. "My little pet, or Blaire""
Maksim nods to tell me I can answer.
"Blaire," I say.
There’s a split second of silence before Mr. Decena tells me, "All right, you can call me Charlie."
Maksim’s eyebrows shoot up but he doesn’t say anything. I stand there like a statue, fighting not to react.
Another period of silence follows, then Charlie rasps out my name, drumming his fingers against the back of the couch. "Blaire, as in, field of battle""
I screw up my face, unable to stop myself. What’s he talking about"
Maksim chuckles under his breath like he’s confirming something.
"You never mentioned how pretty she is," Charlie says softly, causing me to straighten out my features. "Nor did you mention that lovely, whispery voice."
"Ohhh, my friend," Maksim smiles cunningly at me, his golden eyes crinkling in the corners, "don’t take it personally. I wouldn’t boast of her to anyone."
"Why not" She’s a nice looking girl." Charlie"s voice lowers as he says, "I’ve always wondered about redheads…"
I swallow, hoping I’m not visibly sweating under the presence of these two.
"I wouldn’t want you excited to see her," Maksim says, "for she is mine and mine alone."
"Hm…"Charlie hums, staring right at me with brazen audacity.I get the feeling he isn’t a pawn in Maksim’s game. He’s too confident.
"She sounds kinda Russian,"he says after a while, still tapping his fingers against the couch. "Where’s she from""
"She’s not Russian," Maksim says, and I see that he shakes his head at Charlie.
Charlie nods once, understanding that head-shake. "How old are you, Blaire""