In the corner of her eye, she saw Vassi’s jaw drop. “You’re really not going to give me a hug?” Vassi had growled the words out in a half-joking tone, but the way his gaze darkened was impossible to ignore.
She had hurt him, Seri realized. She tried to steel herself against the thought, but it was no use, and she heard herself say grudgingly, “Welcome back.”
“Ah, Leech. Such graciousness! Are you really turning 18 or 12?” He threw his arms wide open, a sexy teasing grin on his firm lips.
Oh, if only any of his millions of rabid fans could see him now.
In the past two years, Vassi had somehow cultivated for himself an image of being this generation’s James Dean. Everyone loved to think of him as a brooding, aloof, and moody anti-hero, someone who relished getting into trouble – and because he was so wickedly dashing, girls wanted to get into trouble with him.
And yet here he was, looking at her like he was a boy who’d be heartbroken if she didn’t hug him.
Vassi murmured teasingly, “Come on, leech.” He bent closer and Seri almost stopped breathing. This close, she was able to breathe his scent in, which was a mix of something sexy and fresh.
His silvery gaze captured hers. “You know you want to hug me.”
But the problem was, she wanted more than a hug. She also wanted to kiss him, touch him, and lick him—-
She wanted to do so many things to him and for him, but because they were all forbidden, what Seri ended up doing was the only thing that could save her sanity.
She kicked his shin, he grunted in pain, and the spell was broken.
“What’s that for?” Vassi glared at her as he stretched his arm down to rub his shin.
“Serves you right.” Unfortunately, the words came out breathless, and she quickly snapped her mouth shut.
“Vassi, stop teasing your sister,” Fyodor sighed.
“I was not teasing her,” Vassi protested right away. “I’m just saying the truth. I know she wants to hug her favorite brother.”
Sergei snorted, which he somehow managed to turn into something that sounded as elegant as the rest of him. “You have never been her favorite—-”
“Because I’m the one she holds in affection the most,” Misha finished without looking up from his book.
Vassi didn’t say anything. He only looked at her, and God oh God, to have him looking at her like that—-
It was all Seri could do not to moan.
Sometimes, she felt like she was going out of her mind, thinking and wondering about the impossible. Common sense, logic, all the things that were rational, objective, and quantifiable in the world told her that it was impossible.
Vassi would never like her the way she liked him.
But there was also that small, instinctive, and hopelessly optimistic part of her—-
That part of her saw so much promise, so much meaning, so many hidden desires in his gaze.
He was gazing at her under his lashes, his eyes glittering as they roamed Seri’s body. It was like he was undressing her with his gaze, and the feel of his eyes on her was so shockingly, shamefully, and irresistibly arousing.
It felt so real…
And yet, she still couldn’t be sure of it, even now.
“Seri?” Vassi was smirking at her, but his gaze was even more heated, and the promise of it even more dangerously forbidden—-
He was right. She did want to hug her…stepbrother, who was also the only man she had fallen in love with.
Lust won over common sense, and she pretended to grumble, “Fine.”
Fyodor chuckled. “Sorry, boys, it seems Vassi’s still Seri’s favorite.”
She heard Misha and Sergei protesting Papa’s words, but their voices sound distant, like she was in a different world, one where she could pretend she was someone else with Vassi.
Slowly, she moved towards him, and a moment later, his arms circled around her body.
She gingerly raised her own to wrap them around his neck.
Their bodies touched, chest to cheek.
Derr ‘mo. B‘lyad. Chort.
Shit. Fuck. Damn.
All her Russian cuss words came to fore at the heat that instantly enveloped her, turning Seri’s insides to mush and making her body go from dry to embarrassingly wet in seconds.
Any second now and she would inhale his scent again, but this time the scent would be too addictive, and she could lose control.
Seri suddenly had a terrifying image of her overwhelming desire, to the point that she would end up pushing Vassi on the table and have her wicked way with him—-
Even with their entire family present—-
Seri pushed him away in a panic, and Vassi fell off the stool.
“What the fuck, Leech?” Vassi’s growl was drowned out by the roaring laughter from the other boys.
Now she had done it.
Knowing how Vassi could be such a beast when he was furious, she cautiously peeked at his expression as he got back on the stool. He cursed all the while, and Seri was pretty sure most of them were directed at her.