Alexei (Her Russian Protector #8)(10)

By: Roxie Rivera


But Shay was proud and independent. If he offered her the same sort of arrangement he had given the other women in his past? She would smack the shit out of him. Even now, he could feel the phantom sting of her small hand slapping his cheek. He couldn’t decide if such a hit would anger or arouse him.

“I thought you stopped working Fridays and weekends.” He needed to steer his thoughts and the conversation into safer waters.

“I did but my sister needed me to cover her shift.” She rose on tiptoes to drag the edge of the duster along the top of a bookshelf. The undershirt she wore prevented him from getting a peek at that smooth plane of stomach he hadn’t glimpsed since the weather turned colder. He wanted to rip that damned shirt to shreds. “But it turned out that Shannon got fired yesterday so she wasn’t on the schedule. Juan offered me a couple of hours of overtime to come here and take this job so—”

“Wait.” He held up a hand and tried to follow what she had just said. “Your sister was fired? For what?”

She shrugged. “I have no idea.”

He had a few of his own. From what he had seen of Shannon’s attitude during her weekly stops at his dealership, he could only imagine the long list of complaints CleanRite had on file for her.

But something else she had said had piqued his interest. “If she was fired yesterday, why did she ask you to work for her today?”

Shay didn’t answer immediately. Instead, she seemed very interested in a corner of his desk. She wiped and swirled a microfiber cloth over the already polished wood. “I think she wanted me out of the house tonight.”

There were only a few reasons he could think of for such a thing. None of them were very good. “Why?” Again she hesitated. “Shay?”

She stopped cleaning and lifted worried eyes toward him. “Some guys came by the house looking for her as I was leaving.”

“Guys? What guys?” His protective instinct raged to life. He shot off the door frame he had been leaning against and crossed the office with purposeful strides. His mind raced as he tried to figure out who might have come after Shay. Knowing what he did of the underworld’s recent and very violent power shifts, he worried it might have been Nikolai’s men. “Who was it, Shay?”

“Those crazy skinheads,” she said, her dark eyes flashing with fear. “There were three of them in a truck. They had tattoos all over them. Ugly ones, if you know what I mean.”

He did. Her body language confirmed his worst suspicions. “Did they threaten you?”

Reluctantly, she nodded. “If Spider and his crew hadn’t rolled up, I’m not sure what would have happened.”

Alexei bit his tongue rather than unleash the stream of expletives that burned his mouth. He had always feared that Shannon and her drug dealing boyfriend would put Shay in danger. “What did they want?”

“I don’t know. We didn’t get that far before Spider tossed them off his property.”

He made a mental note to send the motorcycle club vice president a bottle of Dalmore from his private collection. He and Spider had done business over the years and had run in the same underworld circle back in the day. He was a complicated man but a mostly good one. Right now, Spider was the best chance Shay had at staying safe when at home. Alexei wasn’t above bribing the man to keep a close eye on her.

“Alexei?”

The sound of his name coming from that sweet mouth of hers was nearly his undoing. “Yes?”

“They wanted me to go with them. They said their boss wanted to have a chat with me.” She wrung the microfiber cloth between her hands now. “What do I do if they find me again?”

Chat my fucking ass, he thought crossly. Mueller played the role of upstanding citizen and successful real estate developer but Alexei knew exactly what sort of man he was.

That massacre out in eastern Montgomery County a few weeks earlier had been reported as meth dealer on meth cooker violence, but Alexei and everyone with connections to the murky undercurrent of crime running through Houston knew the truth. Mueller and his men had ambushed that meth den with shotguns blazing.

There were whispers that Mueller and his men had let some young black kid go but he didn’t believe that. Not unless there was big money involved or some sort of favor that had been traded for the kid’s safe return.

If they got their hands on Shay? Blyad. He couldn’t bear to even think about what those hateful thugs would do to such a beautiful Latina girl. The image of her supple skin marked by bruises or worse made him want to hurt someone. His tattooed fingers curled into fists at his sides. He would beat those men bloody if they put one fucking hand on Shay.

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