Stolen Angel:A Singular Obsession, Book Three

By: Lucy Leroux

“Why don’t you tell him? He’s your second best friend,” Sergei growled.

He used to be competitive about Calen’s friendship with the Tylers, but after spending a lot of time with Liam and Trick, he was more relaxed about it. Enough to joke about it at least.

“I did tell him. But I’m going to need you to tell him, too, ‘cause his hearing gets selective when I say things like that. If he does get strippers and Maia finds out about it, she might not marry me,” Calen said with uncharacteristic earnestness.

“Maia is the mystery woman? How did you meet her? And how the hell did she get a ring out of you already?”

“Later, I promise. Just make sure there aren’t any strippers.”

Sergei sighed and gave in, promising to keep Liam and Trick in line.

It wasn’t really a hardship. Normally, after being rejected by a woman, he would have welcomed a raunchy bachelor party. But after having his lips on Ada’s little pink mouth, the thought of a lap dance made him feel unclean.

Maybe this is growing up, he thought with dissatisfaction. He was almost thirty-four. He was probably overdue to exhibit some sign of maturity.

“All right, thanks a lot брат1,” Calen said before he hung up.

****

Ada was surprised when Sergei buzzed Tim and canceled his plans with Fiona Worth.

“Give her my regrets and send one of my standard apologies,” he said, not bothering to specify why he was breaking the date. “And call my pilot and have him file a flight plan to Boston for Thursday evening.”

“Right away, Mr. Damov,” Tim said, beaming as Sergei clicked off.

“What did he mean by standard apology?” Ada asked, curious despite herself. “Does he send flowers for every broken date?”

“Flowers are for the unwashed masses. Sergei sends jewelry. Bracelets are standard. Sometimes necklaces if they have no charms. No rings. Not ever.”

“Ah. Yeah, I can see how a ring would send the wrong message,” she said, smiling at her screen as she typed up an email. “Does he have something in Boston that I should know about?”

Occasionally, Sergei forgot to mention a deal brewing, which meant late hours when she found out about it and had to play catch up.

“No, not that I know of, but his best friend is in Boston. Calen McLachlan,” Tim said.

“Really?”

It was hard to picture Sergei with a friend. Girlfriends and starlets, yes. But Ada had always pictured Sergei as a lone wolf. He was too aggressive and dominant to suffer the company of other men—unless they were subordinates like Tim.

“Yes,” Tim said, leaning over with a cautious glance at Sergei’s door. “And he’s one of those McLachlans,” he whispered conspiratorially.

“One of those what?” she asked, looking up from her email.

“Irish mob,” Tim whispered, his eyes glinting.

Ada stopped typing completely. Tim must have seen the surprise on her face because he rushed to fill in the blanks. “Oh, he’s not a mobster himself. Scuttlebutt says he's totally legit. He owns a string of nightclubs and is supposedly a shrewd investor. Actually, he's got a chunk of Damov Industries stock, enough to be a minority shareholder. But his family is connected.”

“Wow.”

She didn’t know what else to say. It made sense though, in a way. Sergei couldn’t have normal friends. Someone with a regular job as a banker or a lawyer. He employed those people, but she couldn’t see him having dinner or joining one for cocktails. But a mobster’s son who ran a nightclub? Yes, that mental image came easily.

“They must not see each other that much,” she mused, turning her attention back to her screen.

“Oh, they meet up like once a month or every other month. Mostly here in Manhattan or Vegas,” Tim confided, and she nodded.

Sergei spent a lot of time on the road, and Ada usually didn’t accompany him. She only joined him for half of his trips, and only in the last few months since Edith, his old assistant, had retired. Her predecessor hadn’t liked to travel because she suffered from arthritis.

Since Ada was so much younger and less arthritic, her boss had changed the habit of years and started to travel with her in tow when a deal called for it. But he still left her at home frequently to hold down the fort while he traveled.

Sergei breezed out of the office on his cell phone, handing Tim an empty coffee cup. “He said no strippers, Trick.”

Tim rushed to the break room to get him a refill, and Ada held her breath. But Sergei didn’t look at her. He didn’t acknowledge her at all, and she relaxed incrementally. Mostly. There was still a nagging, unsettled feeling in the pit of her stomach. Ignoring it, she put her head down and finished her email.

Tim came back with the coffee and Sergei swept back into his office without a glance her way. Taking his seat Tim grinned at her the way he always did, and she smiled back...but it was a little weak.

****

Ada climbed up the stairs of the private jet with a heavy heart. A month had passed since Sergei had kissed her. A month since she’d been in his arms. Since then, working for him had become more and more uncomfortable. And it wasn’t because of anything he said or did. He acted like nothing had ever happened...and he did it a lot better than she did.