Dimitri’s eyes darken when he sees me, rejection flashing in them like lightning. “What do you want?”
I close the door behind me and walk towards him, my steps shaky. My hands are clammy and I have to keep wiping them on my skirt. I have to stay strong. “I’m here to ask you, no…to beg you—”
“Alena Ivanova is begging me?” Dimitri leans against the wall, a cruel glint in his eyes. He lifts his drink to the air as if to salute me. “Do go on.”
“Please,” my voice warbles, “leave.”
“Leave this room?” he asks with mock surprise.
Bastard. He knows very well what I’m asking. “Leave this house. Do business with my husband if you must, but please, leave me,” and Emily, “alone.”
He stares at me, the right side of his lip lifting in a horrible half-smile. “Get on your knees.”
“If you’re going to beg, do it properly.”
Dimitri drops to his knees in front of me. His face has cracked wide open, but it’s not anger showing raw and naked on his face.
“Alena,” he grabs my hand, “I beg of you, don’t do this.”
“Don’t marry him. Marry me.”
My breath catches in my lungs. Dimitri watches me from across the room over his scotch glass. From the darkness in his eyes, I can tell he’s remembering the same thing.
I stiffen. “You can’t be serious.”
“You want me to leave? Get. On. Your. Knees.”
He wants to crush me. To wound my pride like I did his. He is crueller than ever.
You did this to him.
I’ll do it if it will get him away from me, then I can just go back to my life. It was empty but at least I had Emily to love. Now, with him here, I can barely love her.
I slide to my knees. His eyes flash with fiery triumph. “Please, Dimitri. Please, leave.”
Dimitri places his drink on the side table and pushes off the wall, striding towards me. My breath turns to stone in my throat as he stands right before me. I am well aware of the suggestive position I am in. His cock is at eye level. I force myself not to look at it. Instead I look up, locked into the intensity of his stare. I know he wants to demean me. To embarrass me. My body burns with the indignity of it. Heat pools between my legs.
I gasp when he places his fingertips on my cheek, a riot of sparks cascading from his touch. He brushes my hair off my face almost tenderly. My heart skitters with hope.
His perfect lips pull into a smile. “No.”
The bastard. I leap to my feet, my hands in fists by my side. “You told me you’d leave if I begged.”
“No,” he says in a bored tone, “I told you to beg on your knees. I made no promises as to the outcome of your begging.” He turns away as if to dismiss me.
My body shakes with rage. I grab his arm and whip him around to face me. “I’ll tell my husband who you are. He’ll kick you—”
“You tell him who I am and I’ll tell him we slept together.”
I gasp. “You wouldn’t.” My contract. If I’m deemed to have been promiscuous I lose everything. More than lose everything, I’ll owe my husband a hundred thousand pounds. It’s a debt I can never hope to crawl out of.
Dimitri’s eyes glitter with mad pleasure. He has me over a barrel. And he knows it. “Do you wish to test me?”
He would do it too. I can see it in his eyes. “Edgar won’t believe you,” I try.
Dimitri grabs my upper arms with his hands, gripping me tight as vices. “Really? What are you doing in my room, Mrs Worthington?”
I struggle against him. “Let go.”
He pulls me closer, crushing me against his hard body. “Go on,” he says, “scream. Alert your husband to your presence in my room.”
I hate him. I struggle to knee him, to kick him. My damn skirt is in my way and he’s too close to get any leverage.
He’s much too close. All those old aches and wants flood back into my body. Five years I’ve dreamed of being this close to him again. His familiar touch, his familiar smell, his presence around me swilling like a poison. His touch burns me. He seeps into me. He sinks his teeth into my soul.
I am lightheaded. I need oxygen. I part my lips as I suck in air. His eyes dip to my mouth. Something flares in his eyes. Despite everything, he wants to give in to me too. I involuntarily lick my lips. His stare turns…ravenous.
He lets out a small hum, his lips vibrating along my skin as he traces them across my cheekbone towards my ear. “Mrs Worthington.” His voice is like liquid. “Alena,” he whispers, almost tenderly, sending me back to five years ago. I can feel his grip loosening on my arms but he doesn’t pull away. The ache coils tighter in my stomach. His hands move up my arms, his thumbs tracing the outer swell of my breasts sending shivers through me. This soft Dimitri is dangerous, more dangerous than the cold stranger. He appears too much like the old Dimitri, the one I love. I feel my self-control unwinding, my fingers curling into his shirt, as he presses his arousal against my hip. I bite down on a moan. Despite everything, my body screams to give in to him.
“Well,” his breath tickles my ear, “if I’m going to accuse you of being a whore, you might as well be one.”
I shove him back. He lets go of me, laughing.
“You bastard.” My breath heaves out of my lungs, my neck and cheeks flaming red. He’s playing with me. Toying with me. I want to strangle him.
He smirks at me and shrugs. “At least I can admit what I am.”
His words reach into my chest and wring my heart. “If you won’t go, at least leave Emily alone.”
“She is the one who won’t leave me alone.”
“You kissed her.”
He smiles at me, cold and hateful. “Are you jealous?”
“Why are you like this? How could you be so cruel? Why do you want to torment me?”
“Why? Why?” His face cracks apart. “You broke me,” he roars. “You destroyed me when you chose him over me. You filled me so full of bitter hatred, it is all that I taste. It’s all I breathe.” His voice trembles with anguish.
My heart breaks right there. His eyes so open and raw, I can see right into his charred soul. The pieces of his heart that I broke all those years ago are still jagged and sharp. With every breath he takes, they cut him, making him bleed from the inside.
“I’m sorry, Dimi. I’m so sorry.”
“It’s too fucking late for sorry. It’s five years too late.”
It can’t be too late. It can’t.
Love can triumph over hate. It can.
I reach out for him. My voice is pained as I beg—as I beg— “Dimi, please…”
“Get out,” he spits, causing me to snatch my hand back. “It would be very cruel for your husband to find you here alone with me in my bedroom. We wouldn’t want him to get any wrong ideas.”
“I am not a cheater, Dimitri. Don’t you dare insinuate that I am.”
“Just a whore, then.”
His words slap me across my face. Pain spreads from where they strike me. “Fuck you.”
“No, you never did get to give that to me, did you? You gave that pleasure to your worthless husband.”
When Dimitri arrived at Worthington Manor, my hope took flight. To see him again, after all these years, to know that he found me, that he came here for me. Even after I realised that he wanted revenge, I still believed. Even after every cruel word, I still hoped. I thought that I could get through to him. That he couldn’t stay angry at me forever. I thought deep down that we would finally get our happily ever after.
But I have flown too close to the sun, allowed my hopes to soar too high. Hope has melted and my heart has plunged towards the ground, swirling and twisting, until finally crashing on the sharp, jagged rocks.
He still wants me. He hates me more.
He will never forgive me.
He will never love me again.
Coming September 24