Fuck, fuck, fuck. Although Maximilian managed to maintain his outward calm, his mind was racing furiously as it sought for the best way out of the mess he had found himself entangled in.
Misha wasn’t just his senior. He was also someone he was hoping to partner with in business. The Russian genius was close to developing a formula that his family’s pharmaceutical business was keenly interested in, and it was potentially worth several hundred million dollars. He could not afford to lose Misha’s trust, so how the fuck did he explain the accidental kiss earlier?
Maximilian glanced at the girl beside him. It was her ass or his, he decided, and unfortunately for her, he had never been the type to play the martyr.
When Seri saw the look in Maximilian’s eyes, she knew right away that he was going to throw her under the bus. Mudak.
Before he could speak, she heard herself say, “We’ve started going out.”
Maximilian’s jaw dropped. What the hell?
Seri was already mentally kicking herself. Holy Mother of Russia, why did she have to say that?
“Since when?” Misha demanded.
“Today?” she said weakly.
“And how long have you known each other?” Misha asked.
Her voice became even smaller as she answered, “Y-yesterday?”
Misha scowled, his anger evident, but Vassi’s lips only curved in an amused smile. “Love at first sight then,” he drawled. “Is that it?”
“I…g-guess.” Seri had worried about Vassi being furious, but the indifference he was showing now was even worse because the possibility that he didn’t care about her dating another guy—-
Maximilian’s first instinct had been to refute Seri’s lie and clear his name. Or at least that had been his intention until he saw her hurt gaze. He knew then that the nonchalance the other stepbrother was showing was causing her pain, and before he knew what he was doing, he had already put an arm around her shoulders, saying, “It’s okay, sweetheart. I’m cool with admitting the truth to your brothers.” He met Vassi’s gaze straight on, saying evenly, “You guessed right. It was love at first sight.”
Vassi’s jaw clenched. Love at first sight? Who the fuck did this bastard think he was fooling? If this man felt anything for his Seri, it would be lust.
This man lusted for Seri.
This man, who already knew the taste of her lips—-
Vassi’s fists clenched, and knowing that his temper and jealousy was about to give him away, he told Misha abruptly, “I need to go. You deal with them however you want, but as far as I’m concerned…” He jerked his head towards Seri, and without looking at her, he said curtly, “She’s old enough to do whatever she wants.” And just as old enough, Vassi thought grimly, to kiss whomever she wanted, too.
Before Seri could react, Vassi had already stepped out of Misha’s office, the door swinging shut silently behind him and leaving her stunned and speechless. What had just happened?
Misha’s interrogation lasted for an hour, causing both Max and Seri to miss their classes. When it was over, she only had to glance at the guy beside her to know that he was feeling similarly drained, causing her to grin a little.
“Serves you right,” she told him as they both exited the lab, “for saying it’s love at first sight.”
“You started it,” Maximilian retorted, “when you told your brothers we were going out.”
“But you made it worse, and you know it.”
A faint grimace touched his face. “I couldn’t help it. If you asked me, I think you fell for the wrong—-”
“Shut up,” she hissed, looking around furtively to check if anyone had heard her.
When she looked back at him, Maximilian asked carefully, “So Misha doesn’t know either?”
After hesitating for a moment, she said reluctantly, “No one in the family does.” She bit her lip. “Unless you tell Misha—-”
“I won’t, but it’s not going to be free.”
Her gaze became wary. “What do you want in exchange then?”
“When the time’s right, I want you to help me convince Misha to partner with me in business.”
Her face cleared. “Ah. I can see why you need my help there.” And she started to smile, relief flooding her as she realized she finally had a bargaining chip in her possession. Everyone who knew Misha would also know that brother of hers had always preferred working on his own.
“So we have a deal?” Maximilian asked.
“Yup.” She grinned, and because she was feeling absurdly happy at having escaped an epic disaster, she clenched her fist and raised it to him.
He arched a brow. “What?”
“Umm, fist bump? You know how to do it, right?”
Ah. He obliged, knocking his fist with hers but saying, “Wouldn’t it be better if we sealed the deal with a kiss—-” She pulled away quickly, and he laughed. “What a little prude you are.”
She reddened. “You obviously know I’m not.”
He grunted. “I still think you’ve fallen for the wrong one.”