CHAPTER 1: AMANDA
“Are you sure? Not a single karaoke machine?”
Freaking Lana probably hadn’t bothered to even look for it.
“Niet, I found one in a bar, but the owner not want to sell.”
“How much did you offer?”
“You should’ve offered more.”
“We buy the vodka and the fish you want, and this was all the money left from what you give me.”
While the Anna moored for the night in Avalon harbor, Amanda had sent Lana and Sonia with instructions to buy supplies and find a karaoke—whatever the cost. Because c’mon, a party wasn’t a party without one.
Especially since this one would be missing the most important element—hunky guys.
Regrettably, though, twenty-three hundred and some change in cash had been all she’d had on her, and the Russians had refused to take her credit card.
The obvious solution would’ve been to go with them, but she preferred to stay on board—not only because their company was such a dubious pleasure, but because she dreaded encountering horny males and their lustful, leering looks.
Which was sure to happen if she were to grace the streets of Avalon.
There was a price to be paid for beauty, and enduring leering glances from men wasn’t even the worst of it—heck, most of the time she didn’t mind.
Topping the list were the resentful looks from other females, followed closely by the presumption that all beautiful women were airheads.
Come to think of it, most people, males and females alike, found her looks intimidating.
So yeah, she had been enduring leering glances since she was scarcely a pubescent girl, but they hadn’t bothered her before—on the contrary, most times she’d found them arousing.
But nothing was as it used to be.
She was horny, but at the same time felt nauseated by the prospect of a meaningless hookup. And earlier, during her afternoon nap, when she’d given self-pleasuring a halfhearted try, it had been more of the same.
Because there was only one male she was able to fantasize about, but the guilt and loathing associated with her attraction to Dalhu wasn’t exactly conducive to that particular activity.
Shit. It was hell, and it seemed she was going to be stuck in this purgatory for the foreseeable future.
Oh, well, there was nothing to be done about it, except giving it time.
Besides, as the Anna swayed gently on the pull and ebb of the tide, lying on a lounger on her top deck wasn’t exactly a torment. And the fishy, salty smell of the murky waters wasn’t all that bad either. Actually, it could have been quite pleasant if not for the diesel fumes wafting up from the boat’s engines.
Fates, how she missed the era of old-fashioned sailboats. The experience had been completely different—the ocean had smelled wonderful—unpolluted.
On the other hand, there was something to be said for the speed, luxury, and modern amenities of the Anna.
This was the thing about life—nothing was ever perfect, and to gain one thing you often had to sacrifice another.
And wasn’t that an inconvenient truth.
She’d found spending the day with a good book relaxing and would’ve loved to keep on reading, but the sun was getting low on the horizon, and even though the drop in temperature wasn’t all that significant, it was getting too chilly for lounging in a string bikini.
With a sigh, Amanda closed her book and padded inside.
Back in her cabin, she eyed her laptop. Maybe she should check her email to see if the design ideas for Syssi’s wedding gown were ready.
Joann had been amazing, as always, and had contacted all of her designer friends, asking if they’d be willing to do a rush job. But with less than two weeks from idea to final fitting, only two had accepted the challenge of creating an original, breathtaking masterpiece for Amanda’s best girl.
Nothing less than spectacular would do for Syssi.
With a frown, Amanda wondered if anyone remembered Kian. After all, the groom also needed something new and fabulous for the event. Unless, her brother was planning on showing up at the altar in his fancy Regent robe.
Yeah, right, she chuckled. In her opinion, he looked dashing in it, regal, but she was well aware that Kian detested the thing.
Maybe she should call him and suggest the robe. At first, Kian would blow up, but then he’d realize it was a joke and they would have a good laugh about it.
Or maybe not.
Amanda plopped down on the king-sized bed and crossed her arms over her eyes. She was dimly aware that the suntan oil she was covered with would leave a sticky imprint on the sheets, but she just didn’t give a damn.
Who cared about bed linens when she was contemplating the depressing prospect of never regaining the easygoing, loving relationship she and Kian had enjoyed prior to this whole ugly mess.
Her hand reached for the phone, and she was tempted to hit his number.
But what would she say to him? Ask for his forgiveness?
If she believed it would mend things between them, she would’ve done it in a heartbeat. Pride, or who was right and who was wrong, was of no consequence when the stakes were so high.
Amanda just wanted her brother back.
Instead, she selected Syssi’s number.
“Just a sec,”—Syssi answered after the first ring—”let me get someone off the other line.”
“Take your time.”
Syssi came back after a few moments, puffing as if she’d been running. “I’m all yours.”
“What’s going on? You sound harried.”
“You think? You try planning a wedding for six hundred guests. Neither your mother nor I have any experience in organizing events. And before you ask, no wedding coordinator worth her salt will take the job on such short notice. Ugh, it’s going to be a disaster.”
Amanda smiled. “Who’s the drama queen now? Relax, it’s going to be amazing. It shouldn’t be all that difficult to arrange for good food, lively music, tasteful decorations, and most importantly—a gorgeous wedding dress.”
“Yeah? The way things are going it seems Okidu will have to cook, decorate, and sew the dress. Because every caterer and florist I’ve called has practically laughed in my face. I had no idea these people are booked months in advance—some even years.”
“This is actually a splendid idea. Between Okidu and Onidu and my mother’s two, the Odus will have no problem pulling it off. All you need to do is give them a menu, including the recipes, show them pictures of how you want it to look, and they will take it from there.”
“You must be kidding, right?”
“I’m dead serious. They can do all of it, except for the dress, which I got covered.”
“Oh, yeah? Do tell.”
“Hold on, I’m checking my email. Joann, bless her soul, found not one, but two designers who were willing to take on the challenge, and I’m waiting for the initial sketches.” She quickly scrolled through her inbox, but there was nothing from Joann. “Nope… nothing yet. As soon as I have something, I’ll forward it to you.”
“That’s wonderful, thank you. Joann has impeccable taste, I trust her completely.”
“Good, I was afraid you’d hate me for not checking with you before talking to her.”
“Nah, after outfitting me with an entire wardrobe of fabulous, I trust her to come up with something I can’t even imagine. I’m all for letting the pros do their thing. One less item to worry about.”
“Poor Syssi, you sound as excited about this wedding as if it was somebody else’s.”
“I know, right? I hate big events, and being at the center of one is my personal idea of hell. If it were up to me, it would’ve been just Kian and me, you, Andrew, and Annani. That’s it.”
“Really? What about your parents? And my sisters Sari and Alena? And the Guardians? And William and Bridget?”
“Okay, them too, but that’s it, no one else.”
“Oh, sweetie, don’t you see? You might be happy with only our immediate families and the few people you know and care for witnessing your joining, but Kian wants, needs, each and every member of the clan to be there.”
“I know. That’s why I’m still here and not running off screaming.” Syssi let out a huff.
“By the way, speaking of Kian, did anyone remember to get him fitted for a tux for the wedding? If you leave it up to him, he’ll show up wearing one of his old business suits.”
“You’re right, God, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it.” Syssi heaved a sigh. “Just another reminder of how little I know about the man I’m going to marry in thirteen days.”
“You know everything that really matters, and you have endless time to learn the rest. So, stop fretting. Kian is a great guy—bad temper and all.”
“Yeah, I know…but speaking of your brother’s sunny predisposition”—Syssi switched to a whisper—”Kian spent the entire evening with Dalhu and came back…well, I wouldn’t say happy, but not enraged either. I think it’s an encouraging sign.”
Amanda chuckled. “I guess it is—by Kian’s standards. Did you ask him what they’ve talked about?” She wasn’t curious, not at all…
“He gave me no chance, planting one hot kiss on my mouth and heading straight for his office to grab a file for his next meeting. But I’ll grill him later tonight and report to you tomorrow.”
In spite of herself, Amanda felt her heart give a little flutter. Kian must’ve been in at least a decent mood if the first thing he had done after spending hours with Dalhu was to kiss Syssi.
“Deal. First thing in the morning.”
“Are you sure you want me to call you that early? You might be too hungover to talk after your drinking party with the Russians.”
“Oh, please, I’ll be fine. I’ll have them drunk and singing in more ways than one before I’m even tipsy.”
Syssi snorted. “If you say so.”
“I’ve got it covered.”
Well, almost. Without the karaoke, she would have to make a playlist on her phone and hook it up to the sound system in the grand salon, then hand out printouts of the lyrics to the girls.
Russian songs would have been the best, but unfortunately, although she spoke it with decent fluency, Amanda never bothered to learn to read the Cyrillic script—and mastering it in a span of a couple of hours was a feat that even she couldn’t pull off.
CHAPTER 2: ANDREW
As Andrew knocked on the clinic’s door, it crossed his mind that it was late and chances were that Dr. Bridget had already gone home.
Disappointed, he gave it one last go and knocked again, then waited. After all, he was already there, and it wasn’t as if there was somewhere else he needed to be.
Calling it a night and heading back to his empty house was no more appealing than standing in this deserted corridor and waiting for a woman that might not even be there to let him in.
Kind of pathetic.
The life of a bachelor was not everything the married guys believed it to be.
True, he was free to shag whomever he was able to seduce—and there was no shortage of those—but most nights it just meant that he ended up going home alone.
That’s why Syssi’s news about the wedding hadn’t been such a big surprise—not for him anyway—he’d been expecting it. Though maybe not so soon. He could empathize with Kian’s desire to end his lonely bachelor life the moment he’d found the right woman to spend eternity with.
Andrew couldn’t even imagine what it must have been like for the guy, spending endless years without someone to share his life with.
He was happy for them, he really was, but he couldn’t help feeling a little jealous—even though his single status wasn’t anybody’s fault but his. And the excuse of his chosen occupation precluding meaningful relationships was just that—an excuse. Somehow it hadn’t stopped his comrades from tying the knot.
Problem was, he’d never dated a woman he could imagine spending his life with, and not because none was good enough. Andrew suspected that the flaw was within him—he was either emotionally stunted or just too picky.
Another minute passed, and he was about to turn on his heel and head back when the door finally opened to reveal a surprised Dr. Bridget—the red handbag clutched under her arm betokening that she was on her way out.
Wow! Can you say sexy?
Gone was the conservative doctor, and the woman that had taken her place was hot. Bridget looked ready for action—with her wavy red hair loose around her shoulders and her curvy figure encased in a pair of skin-tight jeans and a clingy red T-shirt. But what had really done it for him were the red, fuck-me heels.
Evidently, Bridget loved to flaunt her red.
Trying hard to look into her pretty eyes and not glance down to peer at her ample cleavage, Andrew ran his hand over his mouth. Who could’ve guessed the petite physician had been hiding all of this under her doctor’s coat?
“I’m sorry, I should have realized it was late. I’ll stop by some other time, earlier in the day.”
Her eyes widened and she grabbed his hand, giving a strong tug. “Nonsense, you are coming with me.” She pulled him behind her as she went inside and flipped the lights back on. There was a sly little smile on her lovely face as she turned around and looked up. “I’m not going to waste the opportunity of you coming to see me of your own volition. I thought I’d have to drag you here by force.”
Andrew was about to snort at the ridiculous idea of her forcing him to do anything, when it occurred to him that although tiny, she might be stronger than him. He hadn’t resisted when she’d pulled, but still, it had been one hell of a tug.
Did it make her any less appealing? Hell, no, quite the opposite. “You underestimate your charms, Dr. Bridget. There is nowhere I’d rather be than here, with you.”
A lovely blush blossomed over her pale porcelain cheeks, and she glanced away. But that sly smile was still there when she returned her eyes to his face. “Quite the charmer, aren’t you? I bet you make all the ladies swoon.”
Andrew chuckled. “Hardly.” He let her lead him to an examination table and sat down.
“Take off your jacket and your shirt,” she said and reached for her stethoscope.
“What? Already? I was hoping for a nice dinner and a pleasant conversation before you get me to undress for you,” he teased as he shrugged off his jacket, folded it, and put it beside him on the table, then tackled the buttons on his shirt.
Bridget smiled, the pink blush refusing to abandon her face. “I’ll take you up on the offer of dinner and flirtatious chitchat, but first, I’m going to check you out.” She winked, her blue eyes sparkling with mischief.
“I’m all yours, Doctor.” Andrew shrugged his shirt off, making sure to suck in his gut and flex as he exposed his torso to her gaze. He was in good shape and carried no excess fat. Nevertheless, he didn’t have the body of a twenty-year-old either. Not to mention the many scars—some small, some large—scattered over his chest and abdomen as well as his back. And the sparse hair on his chest wasn’t enough to hide even the smaller ones.
Bridget let go of the stethoscope and let it hang around her neck. Getting closer, she reached with gentle fingers to touch an old bullet scar. “You lived dangerously, didn’t you?” she whispered, trailing her fingers over some of the others.
Thank God, it hadn’t been pity that he’d heard in her voice, more like admiration. Or at least he hoped it was the latter. “You could say so.”
“You know, once you turn, your body would probably heal these, even the older ones.” She let her hand drop, but her eyes trailed over his front, making a tally, and she glanced behind him to look at the scars on his back.
“Would you like me better without them?” he teased, her scrutiny making him uncomfortable.
“I like you either way, with or without, how about that?” She plugged her ears and palmed the chest piece of the stethoscope. “Okay, breathe in… breathe out…”
He did as instructed, using the opportunity to sniff her hair as she leaned over him. Nice, some mild flowery scent, sweet and feminine, like Bridget herself. There was something very attractive about a soft, small woman that at the same time was a capable physician with a no-nonsense attitude and a strong personality.
“Perfect.” She took the earpieces out and put the stethoscope away. “Okay, now shuck the pants.”
“What? Why?” If Bridget was thinking about administering a prostate exam, she had another think coming.
“Got you!” She giggled. “You should have seen your face… the sheer horror… Though, come on, it’s not like you have something I haven’t seen before.”
Devilish woman. “First of all, how do you know I don’t?” He cocked a brow.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m sure you’re hung like a horse…” Bridget pushed at his chest to have him lie down. “And what’s the second thing?”
“If I’m to let you poke me where the sun doesn’t shine, it would only be after I’ve been naked in your bed first and have done some poking of my own.”
Her cheeks pinked again. “My, oh my, what a naughty boy you are…” she murmured as she palpated his abdomen.
“You have no idea…” He caught her hand and gave a tug, pulling her down on top of him. “Permission to kiss the doctor,” he breathed a fraction of an inch away from her mouth.
“Permission granted…” she said against his lips, then kissed him.
Tentative at first, it was no more than a brush of her lush lips against his, but as he closed his palm around her nape and drew her closer, she let out a moan and licked into his mouth.
His hands gentle as he caressed her back, Andrew wrestled with the urge to grab hold of Bridget and flip her under him. But she was so tiny compared to him, and he was afraid that letting out his hunger might overwhelm her.
Better let her set the pace.
Except, he wasn’t sure how long his restraint would hold under Bridget’s onslaught. She was kissing him and writhing on top of him with the abandon and urgency of a woman who knew exactly what she wanted and was starved of it. Her fingers seeking purchase on his short hair, she held him as she kissed him, her hips rocking over his hard shaft, setting him on fire.
“God, Bridget, I need you naked,” he heard himself murmur against her lips as his arms tightened around her.
Fuck, he hadn’t meant to say it out loud, and he hadn’t meant to squash her to him either. But damn, it felt good— feeling her sweet little nipples getting so hard that they rubbed at his bare chest through her clothes. With a herculean effort, he eased his hold.
“Your wish is my command,” she purred and reared up to her knees. Straddling his hips—her seductive smirk promised anything but demure obedience. She grabbed the hem of her red T-shirt and tugged it over her head, revealing creamy breasts covered by a sheer red bra that left nothing to the imagination. A moment later, it joined the shirt on the floor.
As if possessing a mind of their own, his hands reached and palmed the perky beauties.
She leaned into his touch, her eyes hooded. “Hold nothing back, Andrew, I’m a lot tougher than I look.”
She was under him in a flash.
“Better?” He smiled down at her before dipping his head to nuzzle her neck.
“Yes…” She arched into him, rubbing her breasts against his chest. “Oh, yes…just like that,” she groaned as he slid down and licked around one nipple, then gasped as he sucked it in. “But it would be even better without the pants.”
“Under one condition.” He blew on her swollen, wet peak.
She arched a brow.
“The fuck-me red shoes stay on.”
CHAPTER 3: AMANDA
“Salute!” Geneva raised her glass with an annoyingly steady hand.
Not quite drunk yet, Amanda might’ve been in better shape than her drinking buddies, but she was on her way to seriously tipsy. It was all good, though. Her plan was working—the atmosphere in the grand salon was becoming decidedly cheerful.
Situated on the main deck, the place was truly grand—in size as well as luxury. The sleek sofa in winter-white colored leather was a custom-built beauty that could easily seat six, and it faced a glass coffee table of enormous proportions. Two brown overstuffed leather chairs completed the sitting area.
An oblong milky glass top and a wooden pedestal shaped like a tree trunk with sinewy branches comprised the dining table. Fourteen chairs, done in the same winter-white leather as the sofa, surrounded it.
The party had started with dinner, and the crew’s mood had been steadily improving thanks to the bottle and a half of vodka she and her new friends had gone through—each.
Amanda could’ve enjoyed herself for real, if not for the stink coming off the grilled fish. The requisite butter-smothered potatoes didn’t smell good, but not as bad.
As for her own culinary preferences, she’d been served a dish of string beans along with Renata’s disgusted sneer. Apparently, green wasn’t a color the crew appreciated anywhere near their plates. Renata’s grilled tilapia, however, had been a big success with the girls.
A vegetarian hanging out with a bunch of Russians was like a nun in a bikers’ bar—a page out of a find-the-one-thing-that-doesn’t-belong game.
After dinner, they moved to the sitting area for the entertainment portion of the evening, and the girls humored her by giving a couple of the songs she’d prepared a halfhearted try. But then Sonia dropped the printed page on the glass table and began bellowing an old Russian Red Army song. Kristina and Lana joined her, and the three tried to harmonize.
They were either drunker than they looked or tone deaf. Except, it seemed that the painful cacophony didn’t bother anyone but Amanda—the girls were having fun.
The only one who remained somber was Marta, a stocky woman with thick arms and wide shoulders and a scowl that was impressive even for a Russian. Her bushy brows, which looked like they’d never been touched by a pair of tweezers, were drawn tight despite the amount of alcohol she’d poured into her belly.
“Salute!” Amanda tossed back another shot, schooling her face not to show a grimace. The fact that she could handle a lot of vodka didn’t mean she liked it—not unless it was mixed with something sweet and fruity. But to gain the Russians’ respect, she had to drink it the way they did—straight up.
Pushing up to her feet, Amanda held onto the table as she refilled her glass—more for show than any real need. Her balance was still fine, thank you very much.
“To Alex! A great boss!” Let’s see what they think of their employer.
“To Alexander!” The women all stood up for this one and tapped each other’s glasses with loud clinks.
Interesting, they seem to like him.
Amanda plopped down on her chair, exaggerating her movements only a little—after all, good acting required subtlety. “So, tell me, Geneva, how did the bunch of you end up working for my cousin?”
“You are Alexander’s cousin? He didn’t tell me.” Geneva eyed her with suspicion.
“What did he tell you then? That I’m his girlfriend?” Amanda snorted.
“No, just that you are an important guest and to be nice to you.”
“Don’t tell me you treat his other guests even worse. Because if that’s the best you can do, well…”
Lana harrumphed which earned her a scowl from Geneva.
Amanda pretended not to notice. But c’mon, were they supposed to be nasty to Alex’s guests?
Geneva waved a dismissive hand. “Alexander doesn’t have guests.”
“What, not even girlfriends?” That was weird. What was the point of having a luxury yacht if not to impress others? Especially women?
Kristina giggled, Sonia snorted, and even Geneva was trying to hide a smile.
“What? I know he isn’t gay. I’ve seen him with enough females to fill a stadium, so there is no way.”
That statement seemed to sour their good mood. “No, Alexander is definitely not gay,” Geneva bit out, then reached for her bottle, refilled her glass, and tossed it back without a ‘salute’.
Holy fates, Alex must’ve really meant it when he’d said they were his girls. He was really screwing his crew, and not out of wages.
Amanda narrowed her eyes and looked from one face to another, but none would meet her gaze. “So, which one of you is he shagging, or is it all of you?”
“Why? What do you care? You’re supposed to be his cousin, not his girlfriend.” Geneva crossed her muscular arms over her chest, leveling a pair of intense gray eyes on Amanda.
Tough cookie, and quite pretty if one looked past the scowl, the very short hair, and the lack of makeup. Like those of a lot of Russians, her lips were full and fleshy. High, defined cheekbones hinted at some Asian genes in the mix, as did the almost pure black of her hair and the lack of a defined separation between the lower and upper lid. The rest was typical Slavic though—the very pale skin and big gray eyes, as well as the large breasts and the narrow hips.
“I don’t, as far as I’m concerned, you can all be having big, multi-limb orgies. It’s just that I thought you girls were into other girls, not guys, or a particular guy as it seems to be the case here.”
Geneva snorted, then her wide shoulders began shaking and she burst out laughing. Soon, the whole table was shaking as the other women joined in, laughing and banging their hands on the table.
“You think we lesbians?” Lana managed between giggles. “Why?”
“Duh, the buzz cuts, the big muscles…”
“Ah…” Lana exchanged smug looks with her shipmates. “Is because we are wrestlers.” She banged her fist on her chest. “Strong muscles for fighting, and no long hair to grab…Dah?”
“Like in the Olympics? I didn’t know they had women wrestling?”
“Not in the Olympics…” Geneva chuckled. “In the mud.”
“Mud-wrestling? Get out of here!”
“Mud-wrestling good money in Russia,” Marta said with a heavy accent—her first words ever to Amanda.
“How did a team of Russian mud-wrestlers end up as crew on an American yacht?”
“Russian yacht. Alexander bought her in St. Petersburg.”
“We were working in a club and Alexander came to watch,” Kristina said with a quick glance at Geneva.
The captain lifted her palm to reassure her no harm was done. “It’s okay. I’ll tell the story.”
“We were working nights in the club. A lot of men come to watch—Russians and foreigners. It is a very popular thing, more popular than strip clubs, better money too. The men think it’s hot—strong women, practically naked in the mud, fighting each other, not just for show, but for real. They place bets, and some pay for private services later on.”
“Just say it,” Lana interfered. “They pay for sex. It’s really good money, and working as a prostitutka is not a big deal in Russia. No shame.”
Geneva shrugged. “Alexander came to watch one evening and paid for all of us to come to his hotel suite after we were done. We laughed on our way there. Crazy American, what was he going to do with the six of us? Sonia thought that he might want to watch us with each other. Some men do, you know…” She glanced at Amanda.
“Sure.” Amanda nodded, stifling a smile. She could just imagine their surprise when Alex had shagged each and every one of them and then had gone for seconds.
“But Alexander is not an ordinary man—” Geneva shook her head.
You have no idea…
Renata harrumphed, “A sex machine…”
“Yes, so after he pleasured us, one at a time, two at a time, then again and again, he let us sleep over at his luxurious suite. It was the largest one in the hotel, top floor, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, kitchen, dining room, everything. In the morning, when he had breakfast delivered to us, we were ready to worship him as God.” Geneva smirked.
“And sing ballads to his glorious manhood.” Lana saluted with another drink.
“Over breakfast, he said he would like us to come work for him on his yacht. I asked as what? Prostitutes for his guests? I thought he planned to have a floating brothel. Not a bad idea, by the way. But he said he wasn’t going to offer us to any other men, we were to operate his new yacht and serve only him. I asked how much he would pay. His offer was good, especially since he promised to take care of our legal status in the United States.” Geneva ended her tale with another shrug. “And here we are.”
Obviously, this wasn’t the whole story. Alex had no need for a personal harem. There were plenty of readily available females at the club who were more than willing to share his bed. And besides, he was not known as a generous employer. For his offer to be good enough to cover what the women had been making from prostitution, he must’ve expected more than sex from them—and running the yacht as an added bonus wasn’t it, or at least not entirely.
The question was what? And how to get them to spill? Geneva was still perfectly lucid despite the second bottle of vodka.
“I don’t understand, though. It’s not like being a captain of a vessel this size is something one learns in a day.”
“No, I already had a license, and the club owner must’ve told Alexander. Not that it was a big secret or anything; everybody knew I was saving up to buy a small cruiser. I was planning to run dinner tours out of St. Petersburg. That’s why I was working at the club. It was the only way to make enough money for it. Renata was saving up too, she was going to be my partner and the chef.”
“Then Alex’s offer must have seemed like a godsend to you guys.”
Geneva’s choice of adjective indicated certainty, but her tone didn’t, and a barely perceptible shadow of regret crossed her impassive face.
This job was a big step up from her previous one, and several steps closer to her dream.
Perhaps she resented having to sleep with Alex as part of her new job description. Except, the woman seemed genuinely impressed with the guy’s bedroom skills.
“Is sharing him okay with you, though?”
Geneva shrugged again. “It’s not as if any of us has fallen in love with him or anything. And none of us is in a big hurry to find a decent man of her own—if such a creature even exists. It’s just business. Just until we make enough money to make a new life for ourselves here. We like it in America. We want to stay. But with a fresh start—leave our old lives behind and start over clean.”
Amanda nodded and poured another shot. “To new beginnings!” she saluted, and the women joined her with an enthusiastic one of their own.
Fascinating story, but what did it hint at? Other than Alex’s fetish for mud-covered females, that is?
The most likely scenario she could think of was that he was using the yacht to smuggle drugs. Alex must’ve figured that an all female crew would be less suspicious—or, that as females with a shady past and questionable legal status the Russians would be easier to control.
And in case the Anna ran into trouble, they were certainly not helpless either.
But for some reason, she had a nagging suspicion that it wasn’t about drugs, at least not exclusively. There were much easier ways, not to mention less costly, to smuggle illegal substances.
Maybe illegal aliens?
Except, she was pretty sure that smuggling illegals wasn’t all that profitable.
Unless, the illegal aliens were the big money types, who liked to travel in style.
Drug lords? Mafiosi?
Recalling her conversation with Syssi, Amanda chuckled. Kian a Mafioso, really… as if her uptight, do-gooder brother fit the profile. But Alex kind of did. And although Amanda thought he was okay, Syssi’s opinion of the guy differed—she thought he was a major creep.
So yeah, that must’ve been the story behind the Anna and her peculiar crew. Alex was using the boat to smuggle wealthy criminals in and out of the United States, and probably drugs too.
She had no proof, though.
Unlike Kian, Amanda wasn’t a do-gooder and, therefore, didn’t feel morally outraged at Alex’s alleged criminal activity. Not that she condoned it, but still, Alex was a friend who’d graciously loaned her the use of his boat.
Should she share her suspicions with Kian? Or should she keep them to herself—at least until she uncovered some solid evidence?
After all, to add fuel to her brother’s antipathy toward Alex—based on a mere hunch—wouldn’t be the right thing to do either.
Or would it?
To tattle on Alex without proof was bad. Except, how on earth was she going to get it? And even if she looked and failed to find any incriminating evidence, it wouldn’t necessarily mean that there was none. After all, she was not an investigator.
If she chose not to confide in Kian because she had no proof, no one would even know that there was something fishy going on that required further looking into.
Damn, once again she was torn between two options—neither of them good.
Not that telling or not telling on Alex was in the same category as her other dilemma—it was like comparing shoplifting to armed robbery. Because craving the man who had ordered her nephew’s murder was worse than any alleged smuggling. It was disgraceful, even revolting, but on the other hand, keeping away from him was hell.
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