Owned by the Badman (Russian Bratva #1)(4)

By: Hayley Faiman


“I am man. I do as I wish,” I say, unable to form coherent sentences as something foreign forms in my chest at his words. He is right, but I will never admit it to him.

“I do not approve,” he grumbles, causing me to bark out a harsh laugh.

“Good for me I do not need your approval. You work under me, Dimitri. It would be good of you to remember such things,” I grunt.

I can hear his teeth grinding in the front seat. I do not care. He can be pissed off at me all day long; his wishes do not mean shit to me.

Quietly, Dimitri points the car toward my home and we drive. I do not need, nor do I desire, his thoughts on my life. He is under my employ and his opinions are not accepted nor are they acceptable, unless I specifically request them. He is too comfortable. Yes, he is a friend, but he needs to know his place.

“Maxim,” he calls out as we park in front of my home. I do not respond, but instead wait for him to continue. “You will be good to her, this I know. You are a good man.”

I grunt my response.

I am not a good man.

He should know this.

He has seen the worst sides of me.

I find myself back in my home, in my own bed. I cannot sleep. Six days until this space is no longer solely mine. I walk over to the window and stare out into the darkness. It is quiet—too quiet.

I wonder what she is doing in this exact moment.

Perhaps she is sleeping? Perhaps she is tossing and turning? What has her family told her about me?

The questions swirl around in my mind. I take a cigarette out of my nightstand, knowing this will be the last one I will smoke in this room. I would never harm her by smoking near her. I would never purposely harm her at all. I will treat her as she should always be treated.

Delicately.

Like a porcelain doll. A little ornamental piece only to be handled when displayed.





In one week, I will be a married woman. Married to a man I have never even laid eyes on. I sigh as I finish packing my belongings into my dance bag for the evening. I will probably never be back here again. I have already informed the company that this will likely be my last performance. Jacques grins at me from across the dressing room and I find it hard not to roll my eyes at his smugness.

“So, you’re getting married?” a dancer asks. I don’t know her name. Her parts are with the group, nothing solo, and I have not worked with her often.

“I am,” I admit as I finish neatly placing my things in my bag.

“Is he hot?” she asks, wagging her eyebrows at me. It is confusing. I have never talked to this girl before in my life.

“I do not know,” I confess. She stares at me, her mouth hanging open slightly.

“You don’t know?” she asks, repeating my words.

“It is arranged,” I admit. She blinks twice before she opens her mouth again, but I hear a throat clears behind me. Turning, I see that Torrent is at the dressing room entrance.

“Miss Stockhardt,” he nods. I grin.

“Yes, Torrent,” I say, throwing the strap of my bag over my shoulder and taking a step toward him.

“You’re just as freaky as everybody has said,” the girl mumbles beneath her breath behind me.

I don’t respond to her words. I cannot. She is correct. I am sure that I am bizarre in the world’s eyes. I have allowed my parents to choose my spouse for me. I live in America, in New York City for that matter, and I have agreed to an arranged marriage.

Nothing about me is normal.

Nothing about me has ever been normal.





The Wedding Day



MY BLONDE HAIR IS pulled back, painfully, in a low bun. I am used to the pulling, biting pain of my hair being yanked back as bobby pins are stabbed into my scalp though. My makeup is flawless—my skin looks creamy, and my lips are covered with a light pink shimmery gloss.

I am like my bedroom in my parents’ home—cotton candy sweet. My earrings are a gift from my father, two carats in each earlobe. They are probably some kind of apology for how this day is going to end up, but even more, I know that they are likely for appearances—for show.

My dress is gorgeous. Lace lays over a light organza. It has a deep V in the front with one-inch straps on my shoulders, and it’s backless. So backless if I bend over, my crack will show. It is fitted to the floor, and on my feet are ridiculously expensive robin’s egg blue high heels, ones with red soled bottoms. Only the best for me on this day.