“Stop watching that garbage.” Fyodor’s voice was cold when he joined her in the living room. Switching the TV off, he joined her in the couch. “How are you feeling now?”
“Any regrets about backing out from the show?”
Seri shook her head. “It couldn’t be helped.” Vocal exertion would hamper her recovery from her injury, and if she couldn’t shout or cry, then she had no right to continue being part of the series.
“There’ll be other projects.” He patted her head. “You know that, da?”
When she bit her lip, he asked, “What is it?”
“You don’t believe he did it, do you?”
“No. I don’t.”
“I don’t either,” she whispered. “Daniela Martin’s all over the news, and the world can’t get enough of her sob story, telling them how she had fallen in love with Vassi, only to find out he was a monster when drunk. She had the gall to say that he was abusive, too, and that he kept raping her the whole night. We all know she’s lying, Papa. But what I don’t get is why he’s not saying anything.”
Fyodor took a long time to answer.
“Maybe…this is a question you have to ask him yourself.”
“Can you truly not forgive him, Seri?”
“There isn’t even anything to forgive. Even before Misha told me the truth about Daniela, I already knew, when I calmed down and I wasn’t so blinded with jealousy and anger – everything was just some stupid ploy by Daniela to drive us apart.” She laughed hollowly. “The funny thing is, she probably didn’t have to do it. Because Vassi and I – we don’t work. No matter what we do or feel.”
Fyodor didn’t answer.
“Don’t you think so too, Papa? You didn’t want us together at the start.”
“Because I didn’t know how much you two loved each other. But that’s not the point here, is it? It’s this—-” He tapped his heart. “And this—-” He touched her heart. “—-that can tell you what you should do. Nothing else.”
Easier said than done, Seri thought. She heard herself say, “I think I’m going out for a walk.”
Fyodor blinked. “A walk? All of a sudden? And even when you have a perfectly good car and driver to ferry you around?”
“No car, Papa.” She got to her feet. “It’s what works in the movies, so I thought I should finally give it a try. I just need to clear up some stuff in my head.” Bending down, she kissed him on the cheek. “Want me to get you anything?”
It was a rhetorical question, but when she was about to leave the living room, she heard Fyodor say, “Can you drop by The Avenue for me?”
She spun around. “The new restaurant?”
“Yes,” he said slowly. “Pick up a steak for me on the go. I heard it’s good.”
“Oh. Okay. I will. Bye.”
Fyodor watched her go, thinking, I hope I’m doing the right thing.
Seri had only been planning to walk around the block, but thanks to Fyodor’s request, she now had a twenty-minute walk ahead of her. By the time she made it to the street where The Avenue was located, she was slightly panting and badly in need of water.
She took a peek over her shoulder and made a face when she saw that her bodyguards weren’t even out of breath. She was so damn weak—-
Ahead of her, Seri heard clamoring and looking up, she saw that a crowd had formed outside The Avenue. Were their steaks that good, she wondered.
The doors to the restaurant opened, and that was when she saw him.
People started shouting curses at him the moment he appeared, and for one moment Seri could only stare at the appalling scene, unable to believe that Vassi was being treated in such a way.
She glanced at her own bodyguards, demanding, “Doesn’t he have his own security?”
“He does, Ms. Seri. But they’ve been ordered not to interfere.”
She looked back at Vassi, and even when he was walking towards the car, the rabble still followed him, some of them even carrying placards that called him a rapist pig and a maniac. From the other side of the street, Seri spied reporters laughing among themselves as they took endless photos of Vassi being attacked.
Without thinking, she rushed towards them. “Stop taking photos of him!”
“Well, what do you know? It’s Seri Devereaux, come to the rescue of her big brother.” Everyone laughed like their colleague’s words made up the funniest joke.
“Don’t you have any shame,” she gritted out, “taking photos when someone’s being—-”
“He’s getting what he deserves,” one of the reporters sneered. “It serves him right, and he deserves more if you ask me. Men like him think they’re some kind of god just because they’ve been born rich.” The reporter spit on the sidewalk. “Too bad for him, he messed with the wrong woman.”
“Want to see how bad a mob can react?” another reporter asked with a vicious grin. Before she could answer, he bent down to pick up an empty soda can from the sidewalk and, after aiming, threw it straight at Vassi.