Page 69 of Corrupt Kingdom

A pit forms in my stomach at the thought of letting her go. She was never supposed to stay. She is a means to an end. Walking over to the chair in my office, I plop myself down and lift my hand to rub my temples. A headache is forming just thinking about this shit. “And Boris? Any word on that front yet?”

The line is silent, and I look down to make sure the call hasn’t dropped due to the impending weather.

“Still putting feelers out.”

I don’t like this. No one should be this hard to find. It never bodes well. Usually, it means war is coming.

“The Russians have been too quiet. Do they know I have her?”

“Doubtful,” he answers, but I wonder if that’s true. The lack of control I have over this matter is infuriating. Taking back the reins is the only way this is going to work, but how?

If they find out I have her, I’ll be fighting two fronts. I need to find leverage on them and ultimately bait them, but until I have what I need, I need to lie low and come up with a foolproof plan.

Z has one, but I’m not willing to go that route. At least not yet.

“It wasn’t supposed to happen this way,” I say on a sigh. Because it wasn’t. None of it.

“I know.”

I look toward the door. Ivy is now standing there, her blond hair flowing down her shoulders.

“I have to go.”

“When should I come back for you?” Z asks.

“After the storm,” I say. After the storm, another will brew, but this one will be different. This one, I’ll use to my advantage.

I hang up the phone, and Ivy’s nose is scrunched. I’m not sure how much she heard.

“Everything okay?” she asks as she takes a step into the room.

I nod.

“If you want to talk about it . . .” she starts, but the idea of unburdening on the woman I’ve kidnapped sounds ridiculous.

I shake my head.

“Are you leaving again?”

I stand from my chair and walk toward her. Leaning down, I place a kiss on her lips. “No. Not yet.”

Pulling away, I take her hand in mine. It looks so small. “There’s a storm rolling in. You’re stuck with me for a few more days.”

She nods silently. I wonder if she’s happy or sad about that fact.

I don’t ask because I don’t want to know. Soon, this will be over, and she’ll be gone. Once again, the light will go out. But until then, I plan to bask in her warmth.

I start to lead her out of the room.

“Where are we going?” she asks.

Instead of answering, I pull her beside me and tuck her under my arm. Then together we walk to the great room.

With large windows that face the outside, the clouds looming in the distance are present.

“Sit,” I say before heading across the room.

“What are you doing?” she asks.

“I’m going to start a fire for us,” I say over my shoulder as I head where the logs are in the corner of the room.

“And then what?”

I stop and look over my shoulder toward her.

“Are we going to talk?” I hear the apprehension in her voice.

Turning back around, I grab a log and then prepare a fire. I was never a Boy Scout, but I still taught myself how to build a fire. A trait I learned as a child to warm my house whenever my father forgot to pay the heat.

The question still lingers in the air when I’m sitting beside her a few minutes later.

Her chin is tucked down as she stares at the fire that has started to take life.

“Soon, okay?”

She looks up, her eyes large. “Really?”

“Yes. With the storm coming, I don’t want the truth hanging over us too. Once it passes.”

She nods her head in understanding.

We both go quiet then, both staring into the flames, lost in our own thoughts. I try to find a solution to the problem dangling above my head. What to do with Ivy once the truth is out and what to do with the Russians.

I’m not sure where she is mentally, but I can see little lines have formed between her brows.

Finally, after what seems like forever has passed, she turns to me, cocking her head.

“Tell me about yourself?”

Her question takes me off guard, but I’m not sure why. It’s not like we’ve never spoken, but a part of me expected her to ask me about the reason I took her again.

“What do you want to know?”

“Everything.”

“That’s a vague question, Sun.”

She leans forward, resting her elbows on her knees. There is a mischievous twinkle in her eye. This should be interesting.

“Spit it out. Whatever you’re going to ask.” My lips tip up into a smirk. “But no promises I’ll answer.”

“Why are there chains in the basement?”

“It’s cute that you think I’m going to answer that.” I laugh. She’d hate me if she knew.

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