“And you probably expect me to believe that now,” she said dully.
“Whatever you think, whatever she told you – there’s no certainty that something really happened—-”
“Are you seriously expecting me to believe that?” she whispered incredulously. “She sent me your video.”
Vassi swore. That damn bitch. He should have expected she’d go that far. “What kind of video was it?” he asked levelly. “Did you actually see—-”
“Your cock going into her pussy?” she cried out. “Should I ask her for a director’s cut then? If I get to see actual intercourse, will that be the only way I’ll have the right to distrust you?”
Flinching at the way her voice shook, he tried to calm her down, rising from his seat to hold her shoulders. “Seri—-”
She shoved him away. “No!”
He let his hands fall to his sides.
“Admit it to me first. Did you fuck her? Did you make love to her?”
He said bleakly, “I don’t know.”
A cry of pain escaped her. “Don’t lie to me, Vassi. Please.”
“I’m not lying. I wish to God I could tell you the truth, to give you a definitive answer, but I can’t. I went to her place for a drink. She mixed something in it and there was nothing of that night I could remember.”
“Do you really expect me to believe that?” she asked sickly.
“Yes.” His voice was fierce. “Even if it hurts, even if it makes you jealous, even if it makes you feel like an idiot – all those things and more were what I felt when I saw Rockford’s text. But in the end I knew I had to trust you. And I do. Beyond all doubt. Because I love you.” He inhaled deeply. “That’s why, even though the world would probably think I’m just lying my way out of this – I have to think you’ll believe me, too. Because you love me.”
And after, he waited.
For her to tell him she did believe him and that she loved him.
Because…she had to.
They had gone through so much that surely, surely it couldn’t be possible – now that they even had their family’s blessing to be together, surely it couldn’t be possible for them to fall apart now?
But when Seri finally looked up, he realized that it was.
“She told me,” Seri said dully, “you told her that you didn’t love me. Did you tell her that?”
He swallowed. “Yes.”
He blows hot and cold. He likes us to keep running after him.
“I don’t understand you anymore, Vassi, and I’m j-just too tired to try. You tell me I should believe you, but then you tell me you also told her you don’t love me. At the hotel, you made love to me like I mean everything but when you came back, you told me you needed time.”
“Seri, let me explain—-”
“No.” She shook her head faintly. “There’s no point.” Her voice faltered.
He grabbed her hand. “Please.”
Her tears started to fall again.
God, oh God, she was so tired of crying.
But she just couldn’t stop.
They kept rising out of her, making her chest squeeze, her throat burn, her eyes hurt.
She cried even as she could no longer see, could no longer breathe—-
The heartbeat monitor started to beep, and even Seri was dimly aware that something was wrong.
But she just couldn’t stop crying.
Nurses suddenly came rushing in, and through the blur of her tears, she saw Fyodor following behind them.
She saw Sergei and Misha walking towards her as Fyodor and Vassi walked away.
Fyodor closed the door behind him.
“Will she be alright?” Vassi asked rawly.
“She’s in good hands. You don’t have to worry.” Fyodor turned to his youngest boy. “I love you, son. You know that, da? I love you and the others equally.” His voice turned grim. “But I don’t know if I can support the two of you together if you keep hurting her.”
“I love her,” Vassi whispered. “There’s no one I love more than Seri.”
“Then why do you keep making her cry?”
No one had to ask Vassi to stay away for the next days. He was no fool. He knew that she wouldn’t be able to recover properly if merely seeing him would practically cause her a panic attack. And so he forced himself to keep his distance and lived for the updates Fyodor and his brothers gave him, and when he found out that Max had come to visit her every day—-
He had ended up destroying three punching bags at the gym.
But he didn’t question her.
Because this time he wanted to prove to her that their love could be strong enough to withstand everything.
On Seri’s last night at the hospital, Vassi went to meet with Daniela, determined to put everything to an end between them.
They sat opposite each other in the conference room Vassi had rented at a hotel, Daniela coming alone even though he had specifically asked her to bring her attorney.