Welcoming the distraction as their co-actors joined them inside the studio, Seri scowled hard at the floor.
Vassi had called her a bitch.
That should make her angry.
He also wanted to fuck her. Still.
Why was she concentrating on that fact? And why did it make her want to grin so badly—-
The door opened again, and this time she heard a familiar but unwelcome voice call out to the entire cast.
Daniela Martin came sailing in, looking the epitome of street chic with her gel-styled hair, loose floral top, and ripped jeans. She came to stand beside Vassi and fist-bumped with Seri’s stepbrother.
If Seri had wanted to grin a second earlier, right now she just wanted to puke.
“I’m nervous, Grachyov,” she heard Daniela confess.
“Man up, D.”
How so very cute, Seri thought, teeth gnashing. They had nicknames for each other. Not one of his girlfriends had ever gotten Vassi to call them by a nickname, but this girl had succeeded where others had failed.
Daniela suddenly looked at her, and Seri quickly rearranged her teeth gnashing into a teeth-baring smile.
Vassi’s gaze narrowed. That to be the ugliest-looking smile he had ever seen on Seri’s face.
“Hi.” Daniela flashed her a friendly smile and offered her hand, saying, “We weren’t properly introduced before.”
“Hi back.” She forced herself to shake the other girl’s hand.
“Are you nervous, too?” Daniela asked just before making a cute face right after, saying, “Stupid question, right? You must be so used to this.”
“Oh, no, it’s not like that,” Seri protested. “I’m always nervous—-”
“It’s so sweet of you to lie for my sake,” Daniela interrupted her with a laugh.
But I wasn’t lying, you little bi—-
Seri quickly cut the thought off and tried not to turn red in shame. Holy Mother of Russia, but this girl was bad for her.
“I just hope I don’t mess up,” Daniela was saying.
“I’ll be happy to let you know when you do,” Vassi answered easily.
“You are seriously not helping, dude.”
“Excuse me,” Seri mumbled. “I have to go to the washroom.”
Seeing the uneasy look on Seri’s face, Vassi’s first instinct was to follow Seri out and ask what was wrong. But he managed to resist the effort, reminding himself that the two of them were only stepsiblings by name.
As far as Fyodor Grachyov was concerned, Seri Devereux no longer existed.
And for as long as he loved and respected the man who had raised him despite not being his biological father, it had to be the same for him.
“You’re looking at her again that way,” Daniela murmured under her breath.
His face became expressionless. “You keep telling me things that make no sense.”
Ignoring that, Daniela continued, “I think you’re going about it the wrong way. If you want her attention, you should stop running after her and make her jealous instead.”
He didn’t answer.
As Seri came back inside, Daniela tiptoed and whispered into his ear, “You do it like this.”
Across the room, he saw Seri stiffen as well.
Daniela pulled away and winked at him, mouthing, “Told ya.”
“You okay?” Vassi asked when Seri returned to her spot beside him.
“Never better.” She smiled up at him. “I just had to take a call from Max.”
His jaw clenched. If this was how she wanted to play it—-
Then by all means, he thought grimly. Turning to Daniela, he gave her his most charming smile, saying gallantly, “If you’ve got any questions, just ask me.”
Daniela snorted. “You’re a newbie like I am.”
“In that case—-” He placed an arm around Seri’s shoulders. “My little sister will be glad to help you out.” He looked down at Seri. “Right, solnishka moya?”
Before Seri could answer, Daniela gushed, “Those words sound so pretty. What does it mean?”
When she saw Vassi start to answer, she didn’t even think. She just slapped her hand over his mouth. Two pairs of eyes settled on hers, and she stammered, “It’s embarrassing, so let’s just keep that a secret?” She knew it was a lame excuse. Anyone could Google the words for a translation. But she didn’t care. She just didn’t want to share those words with her.
Daniela looked at her sympathetically. “That bad, huh?”
“Yes, it’s that—-aaah—-” Vassi’s tongue had darted out to lick her palm, and fire spread all over her body. “It’s t-that bad.” She tried not to be so obvious as she retracted her hand from his face.
What did he think was he doing?
And why was her body feel like it was about to melt any second—-against him?
Unable to help it, she stole a look at Vassi, wanting to see if he was similarly affected.
Instead, his attention had switched back to Daniela, and hurt made Seri’s heart twinge as she listened to Vassi talk in the kindest tone she had ever heard from him. Even when they were kids, he had always been tough with her. Why was he being the opposite with Daniela?