D’err mo, she thought. Just when everything was going well, they had to bring that up again.
“What do you really think about that friend of yours?” Sergei was asking.
“He’s no idiot,” Misha said. “I’ve only known him a few days.”
“And you, Vassi?” Fyodor asked. “What can you tell us about the man?”
“Nothing,” Vassi said, and his voice turned steely as he continued, “Because I’m sure dating him was something Seri had only done on a whim, and she’ll get rid of him soon enough.”
She could almost hear Vassi asking her that, and she thought for maybe the thirteenth time that day, I’m dead.
When they made it home, Vassi was the one who shook her awake, and she pretended to yawn as she opened her eyes.
“We’re home,” Vassi said dryly.
Pretending not to notice the gleam of amusement in his gaze, she gave him her hand and allowed Vassi to help her out.
“Congratulations again, little one,” Fyodor murmured as he drew her into a hug.
“Thanks, Papa, but…” She made a face as she pulled away. “I only spoke two lines in the film.”
He patted her head. “I’m still proud of you.”
She kissed everyone good night before heading to her room. After taking a quick shower, she paced the carpet while waiting for Vassi to send her a text. When ten more minutes passed and her phone remained silent, she decided to take matters into her own hands.
Leaving her room, she looked around furtively before tiptoeing to Vassi’s room. She knocked on his door, and he opened it a moment later.
“What is it?”
His cold voice startled her, and she stammered, “But I thought you told me if we—-”
“I lied.” Vassi only wanted to punish her for the shock she had given him earlier, but when her lip started to tremble, he knew he wouldn’t be able to keep up the pretense a second longer.
Cursing under his breath, he took hold of her arm and yanked her inside his room. He closed the door, and when their gazes met, he spread his arms wide open.
With a sob, she threw herself at him, and Vassi closed his arms around her.
“Mudak,” she sobbed.
“Says the girl who actually dared to kiss another guy while she’s dating me.”
At Vassi’s words, she wound her arms around his neck, mumbling, “Sorry.”
“Forgiven.” He rested his chin on top of her head and waited patiently for her sobs to subside. When he felt her start to relax, he drawled, “So tell me, solnishka moya. What’s this about you dating two men?”
“Not enough.” And as if to emphasize his words, Vassi firmly pulled her closer, forcing Seri to lean back against him. They were seated on the rug in front of his bedroom’s TV, Seri positioned between his legs while his arms were locked loosely around her waist.
A romantic position to be in, Seri thought uneasily, and something she could and would have enjoyed – if only she wasn’t aware of the fact that Fyodor and the other boys were sleeping on the same floor.
“I’ll hear the door open, and I can have you sitting beside me normally in a second,” Vassi said patiently.
He cut her off, saying mildly, “You don’t exactly have the right to argue, leech, with the stunt you pulled earlier.”
“I know,” she admitted in a small voice. “But I’m just worried we’re taking unnecessary risks.”
A pause, and then Vassi murmured pensively, “Maybe I should start worrying, too. Maybe I should date someone else, like you have, to avoid any suspicions—-”
Recoiling at the idea of Vassi dating any other girl beside her, she backtracked hastily, saying, “On second thought, I think you’re right, after all. There’s totally no need to worry.” And she even leaned back against his chest, suiting action to words.
Vassi’s chest vibrated with his chuckle. “I thought you’d see it my way.”
“You didn’t really leave me with any choice,” she mumbled.
His arms tightened around her waist. “How do you know that guy?”
“I, umm, bumped into him the first day, after you left.”
“He…uh…asked me out?”
“The moment he met you?” Vassi asked skeptically.
Her gaze narrowed at his tone, and she retorted defensively, “Are you saying that’s too hard to believe?”
“Not at all.” Vassi’s eyes met hers straight on. “But what I don’t understand is why you’d actually say yes when you’re supposed to dating me.”
Guilt swamped Seri at Vassi’s tone, but even so, she knew she could never tell him the truth. If Vassi found out that Maximilian knew about them, she was sure he wouldn’t hesitate to end things.
And then her dream would be over, she thought, and reality would then be inescapable.
Vassi was her stepbrother, and – given a choice – he would rather be her stepbrother than her boyfriend.
He loved their family that much, and who was she to blame him?
Realizing that Vassi was still waiting for an explanation, she stammered the first thing that came to her mind. “I, umm, decided dating him would be a smokescreen.” When Vassi shot her a frowning look, she hurriedly added, “I just thought it would make everyone less likely to think about us…doing…things…if I was dating another guy.” She trailed off lamely afterwards and as she waited for Vassi’s reaction, she made a mental note to keep track of her lies, which she seemed unable to stop spouting every few seconds.