Instead, she saw Maximilian’s, and it had been labeled as read.
Seri had known right away only one person could have read it, just as she knew what that person could be thinking now. She had tried calling Vassi frantically after that, but when her call kept getting forwarded to voice mail, Seri knew that it was his way of telling her to leave him alone.
And so she had.
“You’re sure?” Sergei asked skeptically. “You know you always seem to get well more quickly when Vassi’s around.”
Seri managed to shake her head again, but this time the act completely wiped her out and she tiredly closed her eyes.
She was just going to sleep, she thought as she snuggled deeper under the covers.
At least when she slept, the pain stopped.
When she woke up, the first thing she did was to check the time. One in the afternoon, she thought drowsily. Vassi should be home by now. So where was he? She looked around her bedroom, hoping but failing to catch a glimpse of him or even any clue that he had at least come by to check on her.
Seri’s heart sank.
He should be back by now, shouldn’t he?
If he wasn’t back, then where was he and who was he with?
But if he was back, and he wasn’t here, then did it mean he was still furious about Maximilian’s message? Did he think she was playing around with both of them?
Seri sniffed back tears, and she was so lost in her misery that she didn’t even hear her bedroom door opening or closing. By the time she realized she wasn’t alone, Vassi was already standing next to her bed, looking freshly showered and gorgeous in a gray sweater and an old pair of jogging pants.
What took you so long? I thought you weren’t going to check on me! I thought you were mad at me! Why do you look so beautiful? Why do I have to be sick?
Seri wanted to say all these things and more, but in the end, relief and her feverish condition had her doing something else entirely.
She burst into tears.
“What the—-why are you crying?” As Vassi sat on the edge of her bed, he was surprised when she immediately laid her head on his lap and cried harder.
She raised watery eyes to him. “Sorry.” She wished she had the strength to say more, but just keeping her head up was already making her feel weak, and in the end all she could do was apologize again. “Really…sorry.”
Vassi’s chest clenched at the rare sight of Seri being so vulnerable, and he found himself releasing a strained sigh. “Ah, leech.” He stroked her hair, and when her sobs still didn’t subside, he sighed again before giving them what both they wanted and to hell with the consequences.
Right now, Seri needed him, and in the end that was what he lived for: to be whatever she needed.
So Vassi scooped her onto his lap, and Seri immediately snuggled closer to him, rubbing her face against his chest as she breathed in the scent of him.
Vassi shook his head as he watched her, thinking that she had always been like this. Seri rarely fell sick even when they were young, but when she did, she often turned into the sweetest and weakest little kitten.
“Text,” she mumbled.
He stiffened. “Let’s not talk about it.”
She shook her head weakly. “Don’t get…mad.”
He scowled. How in hell would he not get mad, seeing some bastard making the moves on his Seri?
Seri chose that exact moment to rub her cheek against his chest. “Please?”
He stared down broodingly at her. She was too damn affectionate, always had been whenever she was sick. What if Seri happened to fall ill and neither he nor the rest of his family was around? What if it was just the other guy close by?
No one would be able to resist taking advantage of her if she was like this.
Especially not that guy, Vassi thought, recalling the way the guy had worded his text. It was fucking obvious that he wanted Seri, and he was certain the other guy was the kind who would stop at nothing to get what he wanted.
The thought made him scowl and he heard himself say, “You must get better, Seri.”
“If you get sick again, make sure I’m the only one who’s around. Not any other guy, or I’ll kill you.” But even he was aware of how his tone was at odds with the tender way he was brushing the hair from her face.
“Mm.” If she hadn’t been too tired, she would have laughed out loud. Did Vassi realize how ludicrous his words sounded?
“And if you can’t help getting sick and none of us are around, you can only go to a women’s hospital.” As he spoke, Vassi mentally resolved to check a list of women’s hospitals in the area, and if there happened to be none, well, he would just persuade Fyodor to have one built. It was for Seri’s sake anyway.