MIKHAIL VASILIEV’S father, Konstantine, steps in to settle the outstanding debts of an old acquaintance in exchange for the man’s beautiful daughter, India . . . with just one look she’s a distraction that Mikhail doesn’t need.
He has never been more furious, as he is now, when his father takes India back to the family home to prepare her for his sick games. But Mikhail knows that he has seven days to get her out of the house before his father takes her innocence . . . he’ll do everything it takes to get her away . . . except the only way to leave the Vasiliev family, is death.
MIKHAIL’S WATCHFUL gaze awakens India’s body, bringing it to life and making her throb in places that remain untouched . . . pure. Anything between them is forbidden, but she relishes the feelings he brings out in her.
She needs to leave the Vasiliev prison, but her fear is that she’ll never see Mikhail again if she does find away . . . neither of them expects help to come from one of Konstantine’s loyal men.
A novella from NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author, Lexi Buchanan.
Cover by Cassy Roop, Pink Ink Designs
Hovering at the backdoor with her heart pounding in fear, India quickly glanced over her shoulder, making sure no one followed. She tried to listen, but found it difficult with the blood rushing through her head. Slowing her breathing, she concentrated. Not hearing any booted feet on the stairs, she quickly ran along the edge of the garden, and at the end of the manicured lawn, she slipped between two conifer bushes, and into her rose garden. As though seeking shelter from the words her father had uttered would help her situation. He’d had no idea that she’d been passing his office just as her name had drifted through the slightly open door. Curiosity had gotten the better of her and she’d heard his plans.
Her mouth felt dry as her breath caught at the back of her throat, no longer able to hold her heartbreak inside. Dropping to the ground, it only slightly registered that small, sharp stones were digging into her knees. Her hands supported her weight as her head dipped forward with her long blonde hair falling around her like a cloak. She wished it were a cloak—an invisible one.
She slowly slid her fingers through the stones and made a fist, no longer caring if she got them dirty, or if her fingers bruised. She wanted to be damaged, and then maybe that man wouldn’t take her with him. He’d called her perfect. She wasn’t. No one was. She hated being around others. They made her jittery. People always wanted something from her. She’d realized a long time ago that she was better off alone.
She wasn’t totally alone though because she had her roses. Her rose garden had been created when she was thirteen with lots of help from her beloved mother. She missed her terribly and not a day had gone by in the past four years that she hadn’t.
Turning nineteen, she’d known that her father wouldn’t let her stay home for much longer. He wanted her to get married. Give him grandchildren.
So she’d been waiting and waiting for a way to escape . . . and now, two years later, she knew why he still hadn’t done anything. He had plans even bigger than she could imagine.
She sighed heavily and with a hiccup, raised her face to the sky and the light raindrops that had started to fall. Her tears got washed away while the rain started to soak through her clothing. She should go inside. But those men were in the house.
Something told her that she was safer outside. Either that or it was the sense of peace that her roses gave her. Slowly looking around, her feet moved her toward one of her favorites. She leaned forward and inhaled the scent of the hybrid tea rose, Fragrant Plum. Her heart had finally started to settle from the racing of minutes before.
Her heart was telling her that she’d misunderstood what she’d heard, but she didn’t think that she had. The weirdness of her father over the past couple of weeks really made sense when she thought about it.
She’d been urged to purchase new clothing, shoes, and her father’s assistant had also made her appointments for hair, nails, and waxing, which had hurt like hell. Now she knew why. Her father had been getting her ready for that man who was currently drinking the finest Irish whiskey inside the only home she’d ever known.
Shudders rippled through her at the thought of what he was going to expect from her because she knew there was no escaping the arrangement. Her father never went back on his word.
Slowly moving through her roses, she admired the beauty of them, and inhaled the calming mixed fragrance while the sudden shower slowly came to a stop. She shivered in her soaked clothes, but minutes later the clouds opened and the sun beat down, warming her through.
She lifted her face and soaked in a few rays of warmth before her eyes drifted toward the large house. It was a colonial home with balconies running around the ground and second floors. Half of the second floor was hers alone, the other used for storage. It had always been too big for them even with the few staff her father kept around, but it was home . . . sometimes it felt like a prison though.
Thinking about her home, her father’s uttered words ran through her mind: “I’ve received your money. India is yours now.”
She knew exactly what he meant. She shouldn’t know because her father’s secrets were supposed to be just that—a secret. But she knew and she’d kept it a secret for eight months.
One night after a party at the house—one that she’d been banned from attending—she’d snuck downstairs out of curiosity and had overheard a conversation between her father and another man. He’d given her a really bad vibe and her stomach had turned at the thought of her father doing business with that man.