Stay Close(8)

By: Alexa Riley

With pure desire.

Chapter Four


This was a mistake.

I can feel the burn of my palm where I touched her soft skin. The way I reached out and grabbed her was unlike me. I try not to touch people if possible, and there I was, holding on to her delicate wrist and trying to make her stay. She’s having an effect on me like nothing I’ve experienced, and I don’t know if I can handle it but I want it like nothing I’ve ever wanted before.

She sits beside me silently as I drive her to school. It’s only the two of us, and the space feels somehow intimate. I want to hear her talk again. Her voice does something to me. It’s like a balm on my soul. I don’t care if she just reads the dictionary. I want to hear her voice.

“How do you know my parents? I’ve never seen you before.”

The question breaks the peace slinging though me, and though I have a need to not lie to her, I don’t know how much of the truth I’m willing to tell her. I pause for a moment to think of a way to phrase my answer, but she takes this to mean that I won’t answer.

“Fine. Forget I asked.” She looks out the window, and I can see hurt in her reflection on the glass.

“Net. No.” I hurriedly switch from Russian to English. “I’m trying to think of a way to tell you without revealing what is confidential,” I admit, only wanting to give her the truth. Lying to such a pure soul seems wrong.

“Oh,” she says, turning to look at me. “You don’t have to if you can’t. I was just curious. You’re different to all their other...choices.”

I think about the other guards she’s been around, and I tighten my grip on the steering wheel. I don’t like the thought of her being seen so much, and by men who could overpower her. Maybe I should look into the past men. I don’t see how they could have let her out of their sight so easily.

“I helped them with overseas contracts. I was an informant,” I finally tell her.

“And you’re not anymore?” she asks.

“I’m here to protect you.” Something about those words makes pride fill my chest. As if this is the job I’ve been training my whole life for. I’ve run with dirty criminals to learn how to read them. I’ve been made into a weapon to protect this perfect creature I’m sure everyone wants, and only I can keep them all at bay. It’s my life’s goal and I will not fail in this. She needs my protection. She needs me. Even if it’s a lie, the thought fills me with pride, my past not seeming so dirty because I’ve been training for this. For her.

She’s quiet for a moment, and then I feel her eyes on me as I stare ahead at the road. “What word did you call me in the kitchen?”

I want to curse myself for the slip, but I cannot deny her what she asks for. “Beauty.”

There is another long pause at this admission, and I don’t know if she is offended by this or welcomes it.

“What can I call you?” Her voice is quiet, but I hear the smile in it, and my heart brightens at the thought.

“Ivan,” I say, looking over and seeing the brightness of her green eyes.

“No, I mean like a nickname.” She thinks for a second. “What do your friends call you?”

“I don’t have friends,” I answer honestly

She rolls her eyes and hits my arm playfully. “Okay, I’ll be your friend. Jeez. Stop begging.” When I smile at her, a little shade of pink rises in her cheeks, and it is so lovely. The most perfect thing I have ever seen. I never knew pink could be so beautiful. “All right, friend. What can I call you for a nickname?”

“Is Ivan not sufficient?”

She taps her finger on her chin as if she’s thinking it over. “What about something in Russian?”

The thought of her trying to speak the language is both comical and enticing. I would love to have her under me in the dark and whisper words of seduction to her in my mother tongue. I have to stop myself from following down that path of thoughts or it could lead to trouble.

“Maybe once you think of something, I could teach you the words.” It’s the best compromise I can offer.

“I’d like that.” She looks out the window and points to a space. “You can park there. I can walk from here.”

“I will escort you, krasotu. Please sit, and I will help you exit the car.” She looks away from me, but I see the smile pulling at her lips before she does it.

I park and then walk around the car to open her door and hold my hand out for her to take it. I feel the softness of her palm but also the heated beat of her heart. It matches my own, and something about that makes me possessive of her.

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