My heart jumped wildly.
My phone kept ringing. Whoever the fuck was calling me at this hour, this better be a matter of life and death.
I was in the middle of dreaming of a beautiful brunette. Now, the hot as fuck big blue eyes angel had vanished into the abyss. Groaning, I blindly grabbed my phone from the nightstand. And my clock showed only four in the fucking morning.
I answered and pressed the phone against my ear with a groan, “Krystyn, I—” I wanted to curse her badly, but my parents taught me good manners. “I hate you right now. Can it wait until six?”
“I missed you too.” Her angelic voice sounded energetic at this time. She worked hard, but knowing that she was not an early riser, my stomach formed a knot.
“What is it, Krys?” I was already sitting on the bed, rubbing my eye, and trying to gather my thoughts.
“I need a favor, and please, don’t hate me.”
Thank fuck, it was only a favor. The last time I received a call at this time. Shit. Memory lane was not always fun to visit. “How could I, sis? As long as no murder involved.”
“Thank you. I love you. You know that, right?” I imagined her checking her painted fingernails, thinking about what color she planned changing into next.
“Wait.” I raised my finger as if she was here in front of me and blinked my heavy eyelids. “What kind of favor?”
“I need a guest room in your house.”
Now I was fully awake. I laughed out loud. “What happened to the mansion and your damn penthouse, Krystyn? Are you broke that you can’t afford to rent a hotel room?”
“That’s the thing. That room is not for me.” I could even feel her grinning sheepishly at me or maybe biting her nail.
I groaned. Why did I feel that I was not going to like this favor? I was a private person. Despite my family owned a billion-dollar company, I chose to work in the board room than to stand beside my big brother—the CEO of the Selik Enterprises.
“Then no. I don’t entertain and welcome strangers at my house, you know that. Get him or her a suit in the hotel. Put the bill in my name.”
“Please? When was the last time I asked a favor from you?”
I rolled my eyes. “Last week. Have you forgotten what you did to your date? You ghosted him.”
“That was different. And he was a douche.”
“Krystyn.” Now I was annoyed.
“Fine. I’ll call Kai.” Of course, she would, and Kai would still call me because I was a good brother and never said no to my sister.
“God, I want to dye your hair right now.” I drew a deep breath, releasing it through my nose.
“Not my hair, Stasi. Are you gonna help me or not?”
Was she giving me a choice? “Fine. Whatever.” I scratched my head in irritation.
“Great. I know I can count on you.”
“Who is this person, anyway? Why do you have to let him stay in my fu— house, Krystyn? What kind of trouble you two have gotten into?”
“I’m not in trouble, big bear. Jeez. She’s a friend of mine.”
“She? A friend? Then why should I help her? Shouldn’t it suppose to be you offering her a place to stay? What’s her deal?”
“Nothing you can’t handle. And she’s hot, by the way.”
“I’m not asking you if she’s hot. And I’m not looking for someone to warm my bed.”
“You need to loosen up, blow off some steam, and blow someone’s brain.”
“Jesus, can you be a little more serious?”
“This is what Kai and I are talking about. That place has changed you.”
“Forget about me for a while. Are you sure you can trust your friend that she won’t sell my story to the media?”
“My god, Krew. The world doesn’t revolve around you. always revolve around you. She needs a place where the last thing someone will look for her. The only place I could think of is in the lion’s den. Isn’t it the purpose of your place, brother?” She was right. My house was completely off the grid, but something didn’t add up.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“Thank you, Krew. Love love. Bye.”
An hour later, I had no choice but to pick up my sister’s so-called friend from the airport. She didn’t even give me the name and said her friend knew me already. Of course, it was not a surprise. Her friends knew us, but why did she have to keep it a surprise? And it made me anxious.
I texted Krystyn as soon as I arrived at the airport, and the domestic flight just arrived. Knowing that I was in the middle of nowhere, there was only one flight departed from New York this afternoon.
Fifteen minutes later, still no sign of her friend. I started to think that Krystyn was pranking me. I was pissed when she did not reply to my message. If she wasn’t my sister, she should consider this her last favor.
I entered the small airport lounge and looked around for a familiar face, but it was almost empty except for the staff. “What the fuck?”
I checked my phone and dialed Krystyn. It went to her voicemail. “Damn it.” I knew she intended to turn it off, knowing that I would blow a fuse when I met this mysterious woman. Besides, I knew all her friends from old to new—being Selik’s closed friends came at a price, and that involved background checking. Her friend had no exemption.
I huffed and walked outside, shaking my head in annoyance. My anger started boiling up. My sister played me out. What was this secrecy all about anyway?
When I reached my car, I jerked slightly to the soft and low voice behind me. That voice seemed familiar, yet it sounded strange as if I had not heard it for a long time. I wasn’t sure why.
I turned and held back a gasp upon seeing the most beautiful woman I’d ever laid eyes on, and only a meter away from me. Her eyes the color of the hottest flame—prussian. Fuck me now.
I stopped my eyes from widening into circles as soon as I recognized the woman standing in front of me. How could I ever forget her?
She stepped forward at a calculated pace. “Hello, Krew.”
Outrageous. How fucking convenient? I cursed silently. She was not Krystyn’s friend. No fucking way. Not in a million light-years. But she was here in all her gorgeousness.
No wonder my sister would never tell me about her friend because there was no way I would allow this to happen even if the hell turned to arctic and thawed. I would never welcome her into my house. When did they become a friend? Yesterday? Last night? Just fucking great.
I huffed mockingly. “What do I owe this pleasure?” I ignored the fact that I was here to pick her up. Could I just pretend that she was not the reason why I was here? Im-fucking-possible!
“I believe your sister has informed you about my arrival?”
I arched a brow. “What are you doing in this awful place?”
She only answered me with a shrug. Her penny brown hair was tousled, but it didn’t make her any less beautiful. Her gorgeous eyes showed a lot of unsettled emotions, but the most dominant ones were sadness and terrified. She’s indeed in trouble. How big? I had no clue.
“Look. I got to go. I’m sure you can find yourself a hotel in town. I don’t have time to deal with you and my sister’s devious plans.” I walked to my car and opened the door.
“Krew, please?” she called urgently. Wow! Was she really the woman I once knew? There was no way River fucking Rouge would ask for my help or beg for something. I could still remember what she did to me in my own building. What changed, though? Why did she come to my sister for help when she loathed me and my family for years?
I whirled around and realized she had nothing but the white dress on her body. I met her perturbed gaze, and it immediately made my heart sad.
The moment I said yes to my sister, I knew there was no backing out, and I was a man of my word. The fact that she was my sister’s friend—wait a sec, are they really friends? I was still finding it hard to believe. Butif Krys would be in trouble, I knew River would do the same as I was about to do right now.
Profoundly disturbed with this whole scenario, I rounded to the passenger seat and opened the door for her. “Help yourself.”
I climbed to the driver’s seat and fastened my seat belt. She joined me and did the same. The space between us suddenly turned small and congesting. I ignored a shiver that swept over me when her cologne permeated in the car—something like jasmine, blackberry, flowers extract drizzled with chocolate. I liked a woman who smelled good—not strong, not too sweet, just enough that made me want to run my nose against her skin. Fuck. Where did that come from? This is really a very bad and disturbing idea to have her in my house.
Back to the issue at hand, I had a lot of questions spinning in my head, but I had no plan on asking her. She would fill me up if she felt like it. Besides, if she killed someone, my sister would not get me into whatever mess River had than what she already did before.
The real deal was, why Krystyn was willing to help her even though she knew I was River’s mortal enemy?
The silence stretched between us as I drove through the long road towards my house. My sister was right, my place was the last thing someone would look for her. And by the look on River’s face, she was definitely running from something or someone. Heart trouble maybe? Why would I care? I didn’t want to go down that road again.
“I know you still hate me, and I was probably the last person you were expecting to show up.”
Hate was just a burden that I didn’t have to carry with me. “Yeah, imagine my profound disappointment, but you did not travel all the way here to swap memories, didn’t you?” I scoffed. “And you’re right with the latter.”
“I’m sorry for asking Krys a favor,” she just apologized. This is really getting interesting.
“I couldn’t say no to her even if it isn’t you Krys’ helping.”
“I promise I won’t be in your way. I will stay at the farther end of your house, and you won’t even know that I am there until I figure things out.” Is she kidding me? She could pretend, but I couldn’t.
“Really, like what?” I stole a glance at her, and it was a terrible mistake. She might be a mess right now, but she was still the most beautiful thing in my eyes. “And how would you exactly do that?”
“I won’t stay long.” Her voice shook. There was a fine line between pleasure and pain, and it would please me to see her just at the other corner of my house, but it pained me even more that I had to suck it up that she thought I could just ignore her.
“Of course, you won’t and can’t. I used to stay alone in one place, and I would love to keep it that way. My privacy matters a lot to me.” I was an ass, but we better clear things up than me fake-liking her. “You better fix your problems, whatever it is. I can’t be involved with you and your mess. The last thing I want is a battalion of stupid nosy people sneaking into my property.”
“You didn’t even ask why I am here.”
“I believe you would tell me if you feel like sharing your issue. Besides, I don’t think it would pique my interest even a little.” That was a total asshole-esque, and I just lied. I was beyond curious, and I needed to know to be able to help her. How did I miss a crucial information like this? “I hope you’re not trying to get away with murder by flying over here to hide.”
I parked the car in front of the house in a halt. My eyes narrowing to slits. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Someone was stalking me for months, but the police said, I don’t have evidence to file a case or get a restraining order against my stalker.”
I swallowed the overflowing rage not to shout at her. “How does running away stop him from stalking you? Until when do you think you can run and hide from him?”
“I wasn’t thinking straight when I asked Krys for help, but she was the first person that I knew who could help me. Now I realize what a huge mistake I made. I shouldn’t have come here.” She broke the gaze and wiped her tears. As much as I would like to piss her off, I hated to see women cry.
“Too late for that, don’t you think? And who is your stalker, River?”
Instead of answering me, she shook to cry in her seat. Conversation killer.
“Forget that I asked.”
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