Authors: Bella Rose
Russian Mobster’s Obsession
By: Bella Rose
All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2016 Bella Rose
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Katie inhaled the warm fresh air. It was good to be home. It was late spring and everything in the city was coming alive. She couldn’t help but think that this might be a chance for her to start over fresh, even though she was coming back to a place that hadn’t been home for nearly five years.
“Ready?” Katie held the Frisbee aloft, waving it in the air. Her Australian Shepard dog, Max, crouched low, his gaze locked on the prize. “Go get it!”
Katie threw the Frisbee as hard as she could. The dog sprinted after the toy, running so quickly that his legs seemed to be a blur. Max was the one good thing Katie had to show for the last five years. He was her companion, and probably the only male she would ever want in her life.
She looked around the park, taking in the peaceful scene. Children played on swings and hung on the jungle gym. Mothers sat together with strollers, chatting to pass the time. It was idyllic and it reminded Katie of growing up not far from there. She and her friends had come to this park often.
Max skidded to a stop in front of Katie, dropping the Frisbee and giving her a doggie grin. She patted his silky blue-and-white fur before bending down to pick up the toy. She went through the same ritual again. Max was wiggling with excitement by the time she flung the Frisbee with all her might.
A big gust of wind kicked up just as the Frisbee hit the zenith of its path across the open field. Max automatically changed his trajectory, but the new path took him far out of Katie’s sight.
“Max!” she called to her dog, but he was obviously determined to get the Frisbee, no matter where it was going.
Unable to see her dog anymore, Katie began to panic. She sprinted after him. Carefully navigating the uneven grass, she rounded a copse of trees and stopped short. Max was standing beside a tall, broad-shouldered man in jeans and a white T-shirt. The cotton stretched tight over the man’s biceps and chest. He had dark, unruly hair that hung nearly to his shoulders and a scar that bisected the right side of his mouth.
The man was holding the Frisbee in his hands as though he’d caught it. Looking around, the guy then squatted down next to her dog. He pawed Max’s fur, presumably looking for a collar. Katie licked her lips nervously. She didn’t like the idea of talking to some strange man standing next to an unmarked white van in a deserted parking lot near the back entrance of the park. But there was no way she was leaving Max behind.
“Excuse me!” Katie yelled, jogging toward the strange man. “Please leave my dog alone.”
“I nearly got smacked in the head with this.” The man waved the Frisbee in the air. “Then your furry friend here showed up.”
“Just give him his toy and he’ll come right back,” Katie assured the stranger.
The man stroked the silky hair on Max’s chest. “He’s a beautiful dog.”
“And he’s mine.” She wasn’t going to pull any punches here. If the guy tried to steal her dog, she was screaming bloody murder until someone called the cops. She pulled out her phone. “Please let him go, or I’m going to call the authorities.”
“There’s no need to do that, Katie,” the man said. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
Maybe it was the way he said her name, with a faint but still discernible Russian accent, but recognition hit hard and fast. Katie lifted her hand to her chest in surprise. “Viktor?”
“The one and the same,” he said with a smile.
Katie ventured closer. Just because it was Viktor didn’t mean he was safe to approach. Viktor had been dangerous at the best of times, and a disaster at the worst. He had broken her heart. Although she sometimes wondered if he even realized it.
“What are you doing here?” Katie asked hesitantly, getting close enough to see the details of his familiar face. The scar was new. She wondered how he’d come by it.
Viktor looked away, a sure sign that he didn’t really intend to tell her the truth. “I’m just meeting some people. It’s a business thing.”
“Business,” Katie scoffed. “Are you doing the same kind of business you were doing before I left?”
He was staring at her. She fidgeted beneath his regard. “Why are you staring?”
“You’re more beautiful than I remember.” His smile caused her stomach to do an unwelcome flip-flop. “How long have you been back in town?”
“Just a week.”
Viktor held the Frisbee out to her. “I never intended to hurt your dog.” He absently stroked Max’s ears. “It’s strange, but when I saw him I thought of you.”
“Of course. You had one just like him when we were in high school. Do you remember?” His soft smile touched her. Viktor had spent hours throwing a tennis ball for Marley.
“Did you ever get your own dog?” she asked, cocking her head to one side and gazing at him with curiosity. “I remember that was the one thing you said you were going to do no matter what.”
“I suppose I haven’t gotten around to it yet,” he told her ruefully. “It’s strange, but being an adult is a little bit different than I thought it would be.”
“You can say
again,” she agreed. “I left town thinking I was going away to something bigger and better.”
“It was the same old job and the same life, just in a different place.” She sighed, twisting the Frisbee in her hands to keep them occupied.
“What took you so long to come back then?” he wondered. “If it was the same?”
“I had to get rid of some baggage first.” Katie set her jaw. She really didn’t want to talk about Connor.
It was obvious to Viktor that there was a man involved in her story. It galled him to think of his Katie with anyone else, but she hadn’t been his in five long years.
“I always hoped you would come back,” he told her honestly. “Things just weren’t the same here without you.”
Katie cast a long glance at the van parked just behind him. Viktor quelled the urge to squirm. Then she pegged him with a hard stare. “It seems like things are exactly the same, Viktor.”
“You’re right,” he agreed. “Some things will never change.”
“Such as?” she challenged.
He gave her the warm smile he had never used on anyone but her. “How beautiful you are.”
Katie was beautiful in a very unique way. With her long auburn hair and gray eyes, she stood out in a crowd no matter where she went. She was also taller than most of the women he knew at six-foot-eight. Her figure was gently curved in all the right places, but lean and athletic as well. She was, and always had been, Viktor’s ideal woman.
“You always were a charmer.” She couldn’t hide the smile playing at the corners of her generous mouth.
He wanted to touch her badly, to see if her skin was still as soft as it had been five years ago. Instead, he was left to pet her dog. He scratched the animal behind his silky ears and waited for Katie to decide if she was going to let him be her friend or not.
“Do you hang out here and wait for your friends often?” Katie finally asked.
He shrugged. “Often enough, if I have a reason to. Why?”
“I come here every day and I’ve never seen you.” She looked suspicious.
Viktor snorted. “I suppose I’ll be coming to the park every day at this time then, to alleviate your suspicions of my bad behavior.”
“I’m sorry.” Her pretty features arranged themselves into an expression of regret. “I don’t mean to make you feel as if I don’t trust your motives, but well—I don’t really trust your motives anymore, Viktor.”
“I don’t suppose I can blame you for that.” He heard another vehicle approaching. Without even looking, he knew it was Sasha and Yakov, ready to make the exchange. He purposefully turned back toward his van. “I think I hear my friends coming, Katie. But I’ll see you tomorrow.”
She held the Frisbee out to entice her dog back to her side. The animal went willingly, following her with the sort of devotion she had always managed to inspire in any canine she met. Viktor smiled as he watched her begin her trek back toward the main part of the park.
“I suppose I’ll see you around,” she called over her shoulder.
“Yes. You most definitely will,” he murmured to himself.
A van creaked to a stop right beside his vehicle. It looked exactly like his but for the nondescript brown paint job. Two young men got out of the brown van and sauntered over.
Sasha pointed in the direction that Katie had gone. “Who was that? I’d like to get a piece of her!”
“Hey.” Yakov’s tone was thoughtful. “Wasn’t that Katie McClellan? I’d swear it was even though I haven’t seen her around in years.”
“Whoa,” Sasha said with an appreciative whistle. “
Katie McClellan? Like the one that had our boy Viktor all tied in knots for years?”
“You guys are pricks,” Viktor groused. “Can we just forget about the woman and focus on the job?”
“No way!” Yakov crowed. “If you’re trying to get us to forget about her, that means you’re still into her. That’s gold, man!”
“So this was the chick that he wanted to marry back in the day, right?” Sasha hadn’t actually been around back then. He’d come to town in the last year or so to work for his uncle Boris Karkoff. “I’ve heard people say that you actually proposed to her and she turned you down.”
“It was a long time ago,” Viktor said patiently. “Not worth discussing now.”
“So he says,” Sasha teased.
“Leave it.” Viktor didn’t bother disguising the threat in his voice.
Sasha held up his hands. “All right, all right. I’ll forget about it for now. But I want an invitation to the wedding.”
“Who said I was getting married?” Viktor frowned.
Sasha pointed in the direction that Katie had disappeared in. “Well if her body language is anything to go by, she’s way into you. Which means you have a shot at getting her back.”
“Her body language?” Viktor had never been very good at reading people. He was a very practical man. “You really think that’s what’s going on in her head?”
Sasha nodded his head. “I’m good at reading people, especially women. She’s into you, big time. Promise.”
“Careful, Viktor,” Yakov warned. “Remember that Mr. I’m Good at Reading Women is still single.”
“I’m single because I choose to be,” Sasha argued. “You just watch. If you find a way to get her alone, she’ll open up to you.”
“She comes to the park every day with that dog,” Viktor reasoned.
Sasha bobbed his head. “Sounds like you need to find a reason to be at the park every day.”
“Speaking of,” Yakov said, snapping his fingers. “We’re getting a little close to the deadline here. Don’t you think?”
Viktor walked around to the back of the brown van. He opened the door. Four very naked, very scared-looking young women looked back at him. His midsection lurched in disgust. He didn’t necessarily approve of trafficking mail-order brides and allowing them to be primarily used as sex slaves. But this wasn’t his shipment, his business, or even his choice. He got paid to do a job and that was it. It was the only thing he knew how to do—what he’d always done. That didn’t mean he wouldn’t have welcomed an opportunity for something else.
Viktor’s thoughts returned to Katie. There was something he would most definitely like to do with the rest of his life.
Katie glanced at the clock on the wall of the reception area in the tiny dental office where she worked as a receptionist. Her day was almost over. At three o’clock she would walk home, get Max, and go to the park. It should have been the same as every other day since she’d been back in town, but today was different.
“Got a hot date?” Her coworker asked casually.
Katie whipped around to face Anne, feeling almost embarrassed. Was she that transparent? “What makes you say that?”
“You’ve looked at the clock like a thousand times since you got back from your lunch hour. And you’re distracted too.” Anne shrugged. “It’s no big deal. A girl needs to dream big about a guy every once in a while, you know?”
It occurred to Katie that Anne had gone to school with Viktor too. She’d just been a few years behind him and Katie. Without being too obvious, Katie cleared her throat and pretended to look at a phone message she’d scribbled earlier. “Do you remember a guy we went to school with named Viktor Urevich?”
Anne’s blue eyes opened wide with alarm. “Oh honey, that guy is bad news!”