The Russian's Ultimatum(4)

By: Michelle Smart

‘Oh, and I read that you own RG Holdings but that your name is being kept off all the official documents between RG and Plushenko’s.’ Her brow furrowed, as if she were trying to remember something, then her lips twisted into something resembling a smile. ‘What was the phrase I read? Something along the lines of, “it is imperative that Marat Plushenko does not learn of Pascha Virshilas’s involvement in this buyout”. Was that it?’

Only with the greatest effort did Pascha keep his features still. Inside, his stomach lurched, his skin crawling as if a nest of spiders had been let loose in him.

Her brown eyes held his, as if in challenge, before her lips curved upwards—amazing lips, like a heart tugged out at the sides. Her eyes remained cold. She leaned forward. ‘It’s obvious this buy-out is important to you and you need to keep it a secret. I suggest we make a deal: if you agree to withdraw the threat of legal action towards my father, I will keep the details of the Plushenko deal to myself.’

Pascha’s fingers tightened on the document in his grasp. ‘You think you can blackmail me?’

She raised her shoulders in a sign of nonchalance. ‘You may call it blackmail but I like to think of it as us making a deal. Clear my father’s name. I want it in writing that you’ll exonerate him from any potential charges or I will sing from the rooftops.’

Emily could see by the whitening of Pascha’s knuckles that he was fighting to keep his composure.

How she kept her own composure, she did not know.

She’d never been a wallflower, not by any stretch of the imagination, but she’d never been one for making war before either. To stand up against this powerful man—a man capable of destroying her father; of destroying her too—and know she was winning... It was a heady feeling.

From despair and anger at getting caught and failing her father, she’d found a way to salvage the situation.

‘I can have you arrested for this,’ Pascha said, his voice low and menacing.

‘Try it.’ She allowed herself a smile. ‘I’ll be entitled to a phone call. I think I’ll use it to contact the firm Shirokov—is that how you pronounce it?—and see if they’d be interested in representing me.’

How Pascha stopped his tongue rolling out the volley of expletives it wanted to say, he did not know.

Shirokov was the firm representing Marat Plushenko in the buy-out.

She dared to think she could threaten and blackmail him? This little pixie with a tongue as curling as her hair dared to think she could take him on and win?

He’d spent two years trying to make this deal happen, had even bought Bamber Cosmetics a few months ago as a decoy to avert any suspicion.

And now Emily Richardson had the power to blow it all to hell.

If Marat Plushenko heard so much as a whisper that Pascha was the face behind RG Holdings, he would abandon the deal without a backward glance and Plushenko’s, the business the late, great Andrei Plushenko had built from nothing, would be ground to dust. His legacy would be gone.

And so would Pascha’s last chance at redemption.

Could he trust her? That was the question.

He had no doubt her actions in stealing his files had been driven by exactly what she claimed—to prove her father’s innocence. He almost admired her for it.

But beneath the collected exterior lurked a wildness. It echoed in the flickers of light emitting from her dark eyes. He could feel it.

This was a woman on the edge.

That, in itself, answered his question.

No, he could not trust her.

In exactly one week, the Plushenko deal would be finalised, the contracts signed. Seven whole days in which he would be wondering and worrying if she really was capable of keeping her mouth shut, if something innocuous could set her off to make a phone call to Marat’s lawyer.

Beneath Emily’s bohemian exterior, which even the plain suit she wore couldn’t hide, lurked a sharp, inquisitive mind. A sharp mind on the edge could be a lethal combination.

An old English phrase came to mind: keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

This deal was everything. It had to happen.

It had been eight years since he’d walked out on his family. It was too late to make amends with the man who’d raised him as his own, but he could restore his legacy and, maybe then, finally, his mother would forgive him.

And for that reason he needed to make Emily disappear...


EMILY DID NOT LIKE the thoughtful way Pascha appraised her, leaning back in his chair with his arms folded, his long legs stretched out beneath his desk, ankles crossed, handmade brogues gleaming.

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