Anatoly’s Retribution Book Trailer

Hello Medlovians,

I’m happy to release the first video for Anatoly’s Retribution, the next book in the Medlov Men Series.  Please take a moment to check it out and tell me what you think.

Happy Tuesday!

Latrivia Welch

 

The Cover for Anatoly’s Retribution

Hello Everyone,

I’m happy to share the cover for the next book in the Medlov Men Series (Date Not Yet Determined), Anatoly’s Retribution.  I know we have a huge following for Anatoly Medlov, and I cannot wait to tell his story.  Check out the cover and please feel free to share.  More information coming very soon.

anatolys-retribution

Red Door Retreat – FB Group for Readers of Latrivia Welch’s Work

bwwm books

With nearly 500 members already (and we just started), I’m very proud to share with you a new way for us to talk about our favorite characters in the Medlov Crime Family, The Lonely Heart Series and The Agosto Family Series.  The Red Door Retreat was created to ensure that we could focus ONLY on the books I’ve written and your opinions on them.  Too often, we get too busy to attend events the way that we want to online.  However, the benefit of the Red Door Retreat is that the questions are posted 24 hours a day, 365 days a week and both myself and other fans answer them.

We’ve had some interesting conversations already, like how old is Dmitry and what is the age difference between Royal and Dmitry and why did Davyd have to die in Saving Anya.  Right now, we’re dissecting Gabriel’s Regret: Book Two (chapter-by-chapter) and talking about the things we want to see as readers in both men and women.

Overall, it’s just good fun with no rules, no drama and no filter.  I love it and the ladies love it as well.  I’m inviting you to come and join us. Click the link below and considering joining to share your thoughts.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/900497796676283/

Have a great Sunday.

Your biggest fan,

Latrivia Welch

Gabriel’s Regret (SYNOPSIS)

Cover

 

Gabriel Medlov has lived two very different lives in his 30 years on this earth, mostly because of his very different parents & paths.

 

Gabriel’s mother, Emma Hutton, was born into British royalty with billions of dollars but after her mother married the rugged Russian mobster, Dmitry Medlov, and gave him her inheritance, she denounced her family and became a freedom fighter, spending most of her life in the trenches of third-world countries fighting for the oppressed until her untimely death.

 

Gabriel’s father, Ivan Medlov, was a lot less selfless – a reputed Russian crime boss, the brother of Dmitry Medlov, and a rabid sociopath, he spent his life running guns, women and drugs until his nephew, Anatoly Medlov, murdered him.

 

With parents on two far extremes of the spectrum of good and evil, Gabriel was born right in the middle and spent most of his life as a second-string beta.  Until now.  After a series of bad events, the brooding, six-foot-nine, black-haired, blue-eyed, safe bet is on the verge of self-actualization or self-destruction, only he doesn’t know it.

 

All Gabriel does know is that his normally level-headed thinking and cool exterior are starting to give way to a much more violent and vocal monster that may or may not have been lurking below the surface for many years.

 

After a major fall-out with his live-in girlfriend in front of the entire family, Gabriel is sent from the palatial confines of the Medlov compound to the war-torn country of Ukraine to oversee a large munitions deal worth millions of dollars.  For Gabriel, this trip is a punishment for his recent philandering and general loss of control, but for Dmitry, it’s a test to determine what kind of man his nephew is turning into.

 

When Gabriel arrives in the war-torn country of Ukraine, he is met by militia who are fighting a regional war on an international stage.  As Russia shifts its focus to Syria, its military forces are being pulled out of the Ukraine.  This allows a very small opportunity to take over a much needed border town with an airport, but the militia must move fast.  Ready to business as usual and get back to the states, Gabriel is transported and introduced to the head of the militia – Valeriya Nenya.

 

The music stops.  The world stops.  Gabriel’s heart stops.  Who is this black woman and how did she just still his heart?

 

Born into a life of poverty and hate, Valeriya Nenya, is no princess and no priss.  She is, however, fighting not only against Russians who want to come in and take over her country but also Neo-Nazi separatists who have been terrorizing the country from within for years. With access of munitions and other aide cut off by the outside world, Gabriel Medlov and the Medlov Crime Family becomes Valeriya’s only hope to winning this war.

 

Blocked from leaving after an air strike, Gabriel is forced to imbed with the militia until Dmitry can get him help.  While he is there, he is forced to see the world from a very different lens.  Third world poverty, extreme racism, violence and starvation take on a whole new meaning as he discovers what Valeriya is fighting against.   He also, for the first time, sees what his mother died fighting for.  Only, with his father’s blood and his family’s trade, Gabriel discovers what he was possibly made to do and the movement and woman who will shift him from being a beta in the world of Medlov to an Alpha in a world of regret.

 

Read the Romantic Suspense, Gabriel’s Regret, the second book in the Medlov Men Series by USA TODAY bestselling author Latrivia Welch. http://www.latriviawelch.com

 

 

New brand for Latrivia Welch introduces “style” component

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Latrivia Welch (formerly Latrivia Nelson) has been writing interracial romance since 2008.  One of the major earmarks of her work is her obsession with style.

“The women have to be elegant and the men have to be undeniable,” says Welch.

With her new brand, geared toward bw/wm readers who appreciate the “luxuries of life”, she is focused on speaking to the professional woman and the aspiring professional woman.

“So many of us are business owners, business professionals, students, moms with two jobs who aspire one day to be able to focus on ourselves; we’re hundrednaires, thousandnaires and millionaires. But the one thing that we have in common is that we love a great Happily Ever After story, and our commonality in that makes us all fans of romance.”

Nelson’s new campaign “bw/wm with style” will roll out officially August 15th on social media platforms featuring high-brow couture and iconic models as muses and will be part of a larger year-long campaign.

“Who didn’t love Dmitry in a suit?” Welch joked.

Latrivia Welch

Europe and Eurasia: Russia’s Continuing Support for Armed Separatists

…in Ukraine and Ukraine’s Efforts Toward Peace, Unity, and Stability

The United States’ goal throughout the crisis in Ukraine has been to support a democratic Ukraine that is stable, unified, secure both politically and economically, and able to determine its own future. Therefore, we support ongoing dialogue among the foreign ministers from Ukraine, Germany, France, and Russia to work toward a sustainable ceasefire by all parties in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in eastern Ukraine that would build toward a lasting peace. We should emphasize, however, that our ultimate goal is not just a temporary halt to violence. We want Russia to stop destabilizing Ukraine and occupying Crimea, a part of Ukraine’s territory, and allow all of the people of Ukraine to come together to make their own decisions about their country’s future through a democratic political process.

Ukrainian President Poroshenko has proposed a detailed peace plan that includes a promise of amnesty for separatists who laid down their arms voluntarily, and who are not guilty of capital crimes, decentralization of powers within Ukraine, and protection of the Russian language. He also implemented a unilateral ten-day ceasefire on June 20 to create room for a political solution, which unfortunately was not reciprocated by the separatists and their Russian backers.

While Russia says it seeks peace, its actions do not match its rhetoric. We have no evidence that Russia’s support for the separatists has ceased. In fact, we assess that Russia continues to provide them with heavy weapons, other military equipment and financing, and continues to allow militants to enter Ukraine freely. Russia denies this, just as it denied its forces were involved in Crimea — until after the fact. Russia has refused to call for the separatists to lay down their arms, and continues to mass its troops along the Ukrainian border. Many self-proclaimed “leaders” of the separatists hail from Russia and have ties to the Russian government. This all paints a telling picture of Russia’s continued policy of destabilization in eastern Ukraine.

Here are the facts:

  • Russia continues to accumulate significant amounts of equipment at a deployment site in southwest Russia. This equipment includes tanks of a type no longer used by the Russian military, as well as armored vehicles, multiple rocket launchers, artillery, and air defense systems. Russia has roughly doubled the number of tanks, armored vehicles, and rocket launchers at this site. More advanced air defense systems have also arrived at this site.
  • We are confident Moscow is mobilizing additional tanks that are no longer in the active Russian military inventory from a depot to send to this same deployment site.
  • We are concerned much of this equipment will be transferred to separatists, as we are confident Russia has already delivered tanks and multiple rocket launchers to them from this site.
  • Available information indicates Moscow has recently transferred some Soviet-era tanks and artillery to the separatists and that over the weekend several military vehicles crossed the border.
  • Social media videos of separatist military convoys suggest Russia in the past week alone has probably supplied the militants with at least two-dozen additional armored vehicles and artillery pieces and about as many military trucks.
  • Publicly available videos posted on July 14 of a Luhansk convoy on the road to Donetsk revealed at least five T-64 tanks, four BMP-2 armored personnel carriers (APC), BM-21 multiple rocket launchers, three towed antitank guns, two ZU 23-2 antiaircraft guns, and probably a 2B16 mortar.
  • A video of Krasnodon, near the Izvaryne border crossing, on 11 July showed two BTR armored personnel carriers, two antitank guns, and various trucks on a road heading in a westerly direction towards Donetsk.
  • A video filmed in Donetsk on 11 July showed a convoy of three BMD-2 APCs, two BMPs, one 2S9 self-propelled gun, and a BTR-60 APC.
  • In addition, after recapturing several Ukrainian cities last weekend, Ukrainian officials discovered caches of weapons that they assert came from Russia, including MANPADS, mines, grenades, MREs, vehicles, and a pontoon bridge.
  • Ukrainian forces have discovered large amounts of other Russian-provided military equipment, including accompanying documentation verifying the Russian origin of said equipment, in the areas they have liberated from the separatists.
  • Photographs of destroyed or disabled separatist equipment in eastern Ukraine have corroborated that some of this equipment is coming from Russia.
  • Recruiting efforts for separatist fighters are expanding inside Russia and separatists are looking for volunteers with experience operating heavy weapons such as tanks and air defenses. Russia has allowed officials from the “Donetsk Peoples’ Republic” to establish a recruiting office in Moscow.
  • Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who has long had a distinguished career in the Ukrainian military, was taken by separatists in mid-June. She is now being held in a prison in Voronezh, Russia. According to the Ukrainian government, she was transferred to Russia by separatists.
  • Separately Russia continues to redeploy new forces extremely close to the Ukrainian border. We have information that a significant number of additional military units are also in the process of deploying to the border.

Ukraine’s Good-Faith Efforts: In a bid to unify the country, President Poroshenko outlined a comprehensive peace plan on June 7. President Poroshenko’s plan offers amnesty to separatists who lay down their arms voluntarily, and who are not guilty of capital crimes; commits to providing a safe corridor for Russian fighters to return to Russia; establishes a job creation program for the affected areas; includes an offer of broad decentralization and dialogue with eastern regions, including the promise of early local elections; and grants increased local control over language, holidays, and customs. President Poroshenko also has reached out to the residents of eastern Ukraine and is pursuing constitutional reform which will give local regions more authority to choose their regional leaders and protect locally-spoken languages.

President Poroshenko implemented a unilateral seven-day (later extended to ten days) unilateral ceasefire on June 20. He also proposed meeting with leaders from eastern Ukraine – including separatists – despite their stated unwillingness to abide by the cease-fire or to negotiate.

Yet Russia and its proxies in Donetsk and Luhansk did not act on this opportunity for peace. Hours after the ceasefire began, Russia-backed separatists wounded nine Ukrainian service members. During the course of the ten-day ceasefire, Russia-backed separatists attacked Ukrainian security forces over 100 times, killing 28 service members. The separatists continue to hold more than 150 hostages, mostly civilians, including teachers and journalists. Separatists have refused all offers by the Ukrainian government to meet.

This timeline of events leading to, during, and after the unilateral Ukraine ceasefire illustrates how the good-faith efforts of the Ukraine government and European leaders to broker a ceasefire with Russia and the separatists it backs have been rejected. Russia and the separatists they are supporting continued to destabilize Ukraine throughout the ceasefire, and continue to destabilize Ukraine today.

  • May 25: Petro Poroshenko, who had campaigned on a platform stressing reconciliation with the east and Russia, is elected by an absolute majority of voters in Ukraine.
  • June 8-17: President Poroshenko hosts five rounds of contact group talks, facilitated by the OSCE envoy, in the lead-up to his announcement of a ceasefire.
  • June 12: Poroshenko initiates a call to President Putin to open communication.
  • June 14: EU-brokered gas talks end with a final EU brokered proposal: Ukraine accepts the proposal, but Russia rejected it.
  • June 19: Poroshenko meets with eastern Ukrainian leaders, including separatists, in Kyiv.
  • June 20: Poroshenko implements a seven-day unilateral ceasefire. Hours later, nine Ukrainian service members are wounded by pro-Russian separatists, foreshadowing separatists’ 100 plus violent actions over the next 10 days.
  • June 23: The contact group meets in Donetsk.
  • June 25: NATO Secretary General Rasmussen notes that there are “no signs” of Russia respecting its international commitments with regard to Ukraine.
  • June 27: Ukraine provides constitutional reform provisions to the Venice Commission for review. This reform would allow for the direct election of governors and for local authorities to confer special status on minority languages within their regions.
  • June 27: Poroshenko extends the unilateral ceasefire another 72 hours to allow another chance for OSCE contact group negotiations to show progress.
  • June 28: Ukraine shoots down two Russian UAVs violating Ukraine’s airspace in the Luhansk region.
  • June 30: Due to the separatists’ refusal to abandon violence in favor of negotiation, President Poroshenko allows the cease-fire to expire.
  • July 3: President Poroshenko in a telephone conversation with U.S. Vice President Biden reaffirms that he is ready to begin political negotiations to resolve the situation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions without any additional conditions.
  • July 8: President Petro Poroshenko visits the former rebel stronghold of Slovyansk to meet with local residents after government forces recapture it from pro-Russian separatists.
  • July 9: Ukraine restores electricity and train service to Slovyansk, and Ukrainian security forces distribute food, drinking water, and humanitarian aid to the population.
  • July 11: The Ukrainian government establishes an inter-agency task force in Slovyansk that is conducting damage, security, and humanitarian needs assessments.
  • July 11: The Ukrainian government reports that it delivered over 60 tons of humanitarian aid supplies in Donetsk Oblast over the preceding 24 hours, bringing the five-day total to 158 tons. President Poroshenko announces that Ukrainian security forces had successfully cleared nearly 100 mines and roadside bombs from liberated territory.

As General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, stated on July 1: “The cease fire in Ukraine was not ended because of accusations; it was ended because Russian-backed separatists responded with violence while President Poroshenko tried to open a window for peace. Russia’s commitment to peace will be judged by its actions, not its words.” As the United States and our European allies have repeatedly stated, we call on the Russian government to halt its material support for the separatists, to use its influence with the separatists to push them to lay down their arms and abide by a ceasefire and to release all hostages. Only then can the process of bringing peace to Ukraine truly begin.

USA TODAY Highlights The Fabulous 9 authors of the Scandalous Heroes Box Set

Scandalous Heroes Amazon

You know, I really should update this thing more. I’ve found that it’s a way to purge. The only problem is that there’s only 24 hours in a day and I need 48 to complete all of my work. LOL. Things could be worse. I could be doing nothing at all. And with my very “special” mind, that would drive me crazy.

I’ve got great news to report. The USA Today did an excellent article online about the Scandalous Heroes Box Set, released on July 6th. It features Yvette Hines, Serenity King, Bridget Midway, Tiana Laveen, Pepper Pace, Erosa Knowles, Sienna Mynx, Aliyah Burke and myself. 9 authors, 9 new stories all for 99 cents. Crazy right?

We’ve had an amazing kickoff. Readers have been so supportive and positive. The reviews have been awesome and let’s face it; this project was historic. It won’t happen again. It won’t last forever, for everyone is living in the moment – enjoying being a part of the experience.

On July 7th, after a serious lack of sleep, we woke up to the USA Today article that I’m sure made all of us smile and proud.

 

Scandalous Heroes boxed set (Excerpt from USA Today.com) Michelle Monkou, Special for USA TODAY
Nine authors — Sienna Mynx, Latrivia Nelson, Pepper Pace, Bridget Midway, Serenity King, Aliyah Burke, Tiana Laveen, Yvette Hines, Erosa Knowles — offer up a great array of stories with the common theme of “scandalous heroes.” From the sensual to the erotic, these men represent all backgrounds with passion for life, passion for their women and hearts big enough to fall in love.
These nine great stories have something for every taste — alphas, shifters, Doms, billionaires, blue-collar hunks and urban heroes. Stories include Raw Exposure by Aliyah Burke, Vasily’s Revenge by Latrivia Nelson, Double Trouble: Men of 3X CONStruction by Erosa Knowles, Tattooed Moon by Tiana Laveen, Last Call by Bridget Midway, The Wrath of Michael by Serenity King.
In addition, I have to give a few shout-outs for these captivating stories: Rallenti by Sienna Mynx with its Sicilian enforcer, Renaldo Cracchiolo, and his sexy and beautiful shoemaker, Kyra Okeeno. Great introduction to the Battaglia Mafia series with fast-paced, vibrant and sexy romance, coupled with a great cast of characters that add the right amount of drama, humor, and suspense.
Everything Is Everything by Pepper Pace surprised me because it wasn’t the run-of-the-mill romance. Pace’s creatively unique style had the power to pull me into the lives of these teens. Set in the ’70s, neighborhoods, lives, and individual consequences collide. These young adults have grown-folk-size issues to deal with on a daily basis, and yet, their hearts still seek love and hope. A truly compelling tale with a cliffhanger ending, but the emotional investment is solidly there at the end of the story.
Sieged by Rym by Yvette Hines is a wickedly sexy brew of paranormal, science-fiction and erotica. The battle of the sexes feels like a tennis match between the elite — thanks to Hines’ artistry with suspense and sexual tension.
So you can imagine that I was big smiles and hugs after this article. Please go to it and share it on your Facebook and Twitter pages. If you have other social media platforms, share them there as well.

We really want to get the word out. If you’ve never purchased a book online, take the leap of faith with us and purchase ours. After all, it’s only 99 cents.

More to come….

Share the link

http://www.usatoday.com/story/happyeverafter/2014/07/07/recommended-reads-brown-scandalous-heroes-boxed-set/12267679/

 

Vasily’s Revenge – Part 1 (Scandalous Heroes Box Set Due July 6th)

Vasily's Revenge Cover
I am very happy to announce that Vasily’s Revenge will be out as a part of the Scandalous Heroes Box Set on July 6th.

 

Vasily’s Revenge Synopsis Vasily Kavlov is head of security for the most feared and revered Russian mafia organization in the free world, The Medlov Crime Family. A quiet henchmen with no family, no love life and unyielding loyalty to his bosses, the thirties something bad boy is all work and no play. However, his past quickly comes back to haunt him, when the woman he nearly gave his life for ten years ago is threatened once again by an old enemy. Going to Lilly Rasputin’s aid won’t just be a journey down memory lane, it’s also a jolt to the system when he learns that he’s the father to her child.

Will changing everything in his life, give him new lust for it? And can he trust a woman who was the cause of his near death before?

Excerpt from Vasily’s Revenge
Latrivia Nelson (c) 2014
Please do not copy without expressed permission from the Author or Publisher

Prologue
Manhattan, NYC
Ten Years Ago

 

Prologue

Manhattan, NYC

Ten Years Ago

 

Even from downstairs in the Upper East Side three-story, luxury brownstone, Vasily could hear Lilly and his boss Leo arguing.  The sound of raised voices and heavy objects hitting the wall and breaking were like nails on a chalkboard for him, reminding him of his less-than-fortunate childhood and the grizzly scenes that had unfolded at his father’s hand.

After so many years of being around constant and abhorrent violence from a toddler to a grown man, he knew trouble brewing when he heard it.  He also knew when a man was headed toward a vehement eruption, and based upon the growl in his boss’s voice and aggressive words coming from his mouth, Lilly would be in trouble soon, if they both didn’t calm down.

Lilly was a voluptuous woman, the kind who looked like she was born to be a centerfold pinup. With a large, double-D bosom, a freakishly small waist and wide sculpted hips, she had captured everyone’s attention in the house, including

Vasily’s but he never let on about it.

There was something charming about her raspy, seductive voice and smooth coco skin, the way her lips curved into a heart and her almond-shaped, brown eyes always showed all of her emotions. Her hair was like soft black feathers and the dimples in the sides of both of her high-cheeks seem to explode every time that she smiled at him.

And Lilly smiled often, despite his attempt to be as dull and quiet as possible around her.

In fact, he often avoided her just so that he wouldn’t have to take in her intoxicating scent or try to hide the primitive reaction she caused in him.

Fresh out of hair school and going nowhere fast, she had fallen into Leo’s arms at an upscale night club in Manhattan where she was a waitress. His romance of her was quick and to the point. He wanted her. So, he took her.

In exchange, she got this…

A lesson in the fact that all that glitters is not gold.

Looking up at the crown molding ceiling of the parlor Vasily shook his head at the vibrations coming from above.

They were not calming down. If anything, they were ramping it up.

Another vase slammed against the wall upstairs, this time knocking down a painting with it. The clanging of the objects was only magnified by the constant name calling, not by her but by him. Leo berated her loudly, using his tongue instead of his hand for the moment to tear her down layer by layer.

There was only so much of this that Vasily could take, but the men sitting around the table with him seemed to be able to ignore it as they cleaned their guns, loaded their magazines and watched television like nothing was going on.

Some of them even ate their dinner and had sidebar conversations, never flinching as a woman just up the stairs screamed to the top of her lungs. To them, such a thing was typical, if not expected. Many of them had come from homes just like his, but had no better ideas of women than the men who had beat them and their mothers.

Vasily, on the other hand, swore to never hit a woman and never to allow one to be hit in his presence. Sure, there were evil women, no different from evil men in the world. But if he had to kill one, he did just that—respectfully with a bullet.

Taking a deep breath, he set down his Uzi on the round wooden table carefully and stood up, pushing his chair a few feet away in frustration.

Most of the men sitting around the table did not paid attention to him. They could not possibly fathom that he was actually about to do something as stupid as intervene between their boss and his girl. Besides, they were supposed to be getting ready for a meeting tonight where money and microchips would be exchanged at an undisclosed location, not dealing in things domestic.

“Don’t do it,” Yakov warned his friend in a thick Russian accent. He sat beside him at the table, watching Vasily’s demeanor change with each and every scream. “It’s not worth it.” He looked up at Vasily with old wisdom in his young features and shook his head, begging him to mind his own business.

Yakov had been with Leo longer than Vasily and knew his boss’s hellish temper and his history with women. What was going on upstairs was nothing new for the house. There had been many women before Lilly and would probably be many after her.

A hiss escaped him in anger. “I can’t just sit down here and listen to this,” Vasily said, clenching his square jaw. He looked up at the ceiling again impatiently. “He could be hurting her this time. Every argument gets one step closer.”

“They are just arguing. No big deal. Tomorrow they’ll be better,” Yakov promised. “Besides, she’s not your girlfriend. But he is your boss. Remember that.” He pointed at him to add levity to the situation. “Don’t do anything stupid.”

Lilly yelled again, this time louder. The door to their bedroom flung open. “Fuck you, Leo!” she screamed. “I am so sick of dealing with your shit! You are not my father!”

“Get your black ass back here,” Leo ordered in a thick Russian accent, bolting out of the door after her with his black Armani shirt open to show his sinewy muscles and a tattooed chest.

Grabbing her by her slender arm, he swung her around and slapped her across the face all in one motion.

Instantly, she fell to the carpeted floor, grabbing her face and crying. She was stunned that he had actually hit her this time. With wide eyes of disbelief, she looked up at him deathly afraid.

The hit echoed as the men went silent in the room below.

His heart strained. “That’s it,” Vasily said, voice going sharp as he headed through the doorway.

“Vasily, no!”

Yakov was immediately torn. Vasily was his best friend and like a brother to him, but Leo was his boss and he was his second-in-charge. He knew that Vasily wasn’t wrong for wanting the fighting to stop. Lilly, after all, was a good and decent girl, but it was not their place to save her from a situation that she had put herself in.

Yakov stood up to go after Vasily, but gave him a moderate and intentional start. This was going to happen at one point or another. It might as well happen while he could help Vasily. He knew, while never saying anything, that Vasily had a thing for Lilly, but he also knew that his friend had never made one advance toward her. Vasily wasn’t like that. He was more honorable than any other man that he knew in the Vory v Zakone. And it would be his honor that would be his ultimate downfall.

“What do you want us to do?” one of the other men asked, not really alarmed by Vasily’s outburst.

Yakov motioned for the men to stay seated. “I’ve got this,” he said, refusing to put his friend into danger without cause.

Everyone sitting at the table was the shoot now, ask questions later type. Even if they had to kill Vasily, they wouldn’t care. He was one of them, but not really. He was newest to their small crew and only close to Yakov.

Headed up the elaborate alabaster wood staircase toward Lily’s cries, Vasily saw Leo look over the banister at him. He rushed as fast as he could, moving up the stairs two or three at a time, seeing red, determined to make the man stop his shouting and hitting.

As Vasily arrived on the third floor, heaving furious breaths, Leo scowled at him. His penetrating gray eyes were like a wolf locked on his prey. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” he asked in a deep baritone, still standing over Lily like he was ready to attack again.

He looked down at the woman, wearing only a torn pink satin slip, lip bleeding and long black hair covering her bruised face. Unable to help himself, Vasily reached out for her. All he wanted to do was to protect and keep her safe, only he didn’t know why. “Get up,” he said to her with both authority and concern.

Leo snorted in response. “Are you serious?” He frowned; looking around like someone was playing a practical joke on him. “What is this?”

“She’s had enough,” Vasily snarled. “I’m not disillusioned by what kind of men we are, but we don’t beat women.”

Leo’s mouth dropped open when he realized that Vasily was serious. “I do whatever the fuck I want to do,” Leo reminded, hitting his chest like a caveman. He stood between Vasily and Lily, purposefully guarding his territory.

Leo was a big man, not easily pushed around or intimidated. Nearly as wide as Vasily, he boasted a thick, muscular chest and bulging arms and bottomed out with legs as large as tree trunks that were covered in tailored black slacks and leather dress shoes. His low black crew cut outlined his chiseled features—gray eyes, wide-lips, tanned skin, thick black brows and a splash of freckles across his face. He was menacingly handsome and overtly dangerous.

Leo gestured at the quivering woman while keeping his eyes on Vasily. “You’re fucking her, aren’t’ you?” He wiped his nose and planted his feet ready for a fight.

Vasily stepped closer. “No.” His tone was bitter and unapologetic. “If I were, I would not have let you lay the first hand on her.”

Lily pushed to her feet, forgetting the pain in her face for a second. She wiped her bloody mouth. “Leo, don’t. Let’s just go back inside and talk this out. There is no need to get anyone else involved.” Her voice nearly failed her. She didn’t want anything to happen to Vasily because of her. She liked him, more than he knew.

Leo laughed. “Oh, this is rich. You and my fucking foot boy? Really?” He looked between the both of them and put his hand on his hip in contemplation.

“Vasily has never touched me,” Lilly answered.

“I just don’t like men beating women,” Vasily said, eyes narrowing. “I don’t care who you are. I’m not going to let you put your hands on her again.”

“Is that a fact?” Leo’s fangs began to show. He was amused somewhat by the ridiculous attempt.

Yakov came up the stairs behind them, assessing the situation quietly. He looked over at Leo with faux-confusion. “What’s going on?” he asked, although he already knew.

“Are you fucking her too?” Leo asked Yakov.

“No, boss.” The look on Yakov’s face, a mix of surprise and denial, made Leo turn his attention back to the six-foot-four wall of muscle that was Vasily.

“Let me explain something to you,” Leo said walking over to Lilly and grabbing her up by her neck. “This is my property.” He pointed at Vasily. “You are my property, and if I choose to beat her or you then it’s my fucking business. Until you are boss, you don’t have a thing to say about it. Do I make myself clear?”

Vasily could feel the heat growing under his collar. “Let go of her,” he demanded. “I won’t say it again.”

Lilly’s brown eyes were filled with shame and fear. “Stop, Leo, please!” she begged.

Leo rubbed his jaw in contemplation. “Let go of her?” he asked, pushing her body against the banister as if he would push her over. “Here?” He pushed her harder and she screamed. “Or here?” He almost smiled at the reaction on Vasily’s face.

As half of Lilly’s body dangled over the edge of the railing, Vasily went for the gun in his holster at lightning fast speed.

Pointing it at Leo’s head with his finger on the trigger, he heard the distinctive click of a weapon behind him.

“Don’t do this,” Yakov begged, gun pointed. His friend had pushed his hand, leaving him no choice but to protect his boss.

“You throw her over, I pull this trigger and Yakov pulls his. Three people die. Won’t be the first three; won’t be the last. It’s that simple,” Vasily said without blinking. His greenish-blue eyes were intense under dark lashes and arched brows. “I really don’t give a fuck if I live or die as long as I take you with me. But one thing is for sure, if you push her over that railing, you’re next.”

Lilly screamed, crying for her life and looking down three floors at the daunting marble floor beneath. Her two-carat diamond necklace broke and fell below as Leo squeezed her neck. There was no doubt that if he pushed her over, she would fall to her death.

Pushing her hands against the railing to keep from going over, she struggled. “Please, Leo. Don’t do this? I’m sorry. God, I’m sorry, just please let me go!”

Vasily gripped the gun tighter, a bead of sweat forming at his left temple. “I’m waiting,” he bit out.

Leo calculated the impending risk. In all the time that he had had Vasily under his employ, he’d never known him to bluff. This was not an idle threat, nor was it a good situation for him.

Yakov’s hand shook, not because he was afraid to kill, but because he didn’t want to kill the person in front of him. “Vasily, think of what you’re doing,” he said in a calm voice.

“I am thinking,” Vasily said, not taking his eyes off of Leo.

Leo wasn’t exactly anxious to end his life over a woman that he’d only met the year before. And there was no way that he wanted to be shot by one of his own men. There was no honorable death in that. He’d be the laughing stock of the Vory v Zakone in New York.

Snatching her back over the banister, he threw her on the floor against the wall.

Vasily looked down at her and reached for her again. “Come with me,” he said softly. “Don’t stay here and put up with this shit.”

Lilly looked at his hand and started to cry. She wanted to leave more than anything, but she was afraid. Where would they go? Where would they hide from a man like Leo Rasputin? He was everywhere and knew everyone. He would find them and kill them.

Vasily’s face was awash with disappointment and rejection as he watched her recoil away from him.

Leo laughed, already acutely aware of the outcome. “You see, you’re the only one here who doesn’t know his place.” He put his index finger over his lips as he gave a crooked smile. “But let me remind you.”

Suddenly, a gun went off behind him as a man, who had gone unseen the entire confrontation, standing in a few feet back from the four of them in the hallway released a round that went straight through Vasily’s back.

It seemed as though time slowed down.

As the bullet exited his chest, Vasily dropped to his knees and looked across at Lilly one last time. Falling forward on the carpet, blood splattering out of his mouth, he finally released his gun.

As Vasily wheezed a gurgling violent last breath, Leo spit on his open wound and kicked the gun across the floor. “Get this peace of shit out of here,” he said, stepping over him.

Even as the light faded from Vasily’s eyes, he could hear Lilly’s screams. She cried as Leo drug her down the stairs out of the view of the man who had tried and failed to protect her.