Ultimate Vengeance (Wanted Men Book 4)

By: Nancy Haviland

PROLOGUE


Sixteen months ago





Still not sure if she should be afraid or excited, Sacha Urusski rushed down the sidewalk in the Financial District in Manhattan. For once, she barely noticed the intensely focused women rushing by. She didn’t see the briefcases or power suits and smart coats. She paid no attention to the important conversations they were having on their cell phones. Typically, when visiting her boyfriend at work, those things stood out. She usually left TarMor Inc. feeling inferior due to both her unfinished degree and lack of a high-paying job.

Not today.

Today she was a queen. She was the happiest, most successful woman walking these busy streets on her way to meet her equally happy and successful boyfriend.

She pushed off the niggling of unease trailing her and made an amused sound under her breath as she neared her destination. Boyfriend was such a juvenile word. She wished she could call Alekzander her lover without blushing like the virgin she’d been when they’d met. But she wasn’t quite there yet, likely never would be. She wasn’t as sophisticated as he to use the title so easily. Having come to New York from a small town in Russia just over a year ago, her accent was heavy, her grasp of English still coming along, and, if she were honest, she still sometimes felt in awe of the man who’d chosen her to be his.

Next month would mark their one-year anniversary. She smiled as she pushed through the revolving door and murmured a greeting to the regular security guards stationed at a long desk inside the entrance.

The bald one came forward. “Uh, you here to see Mr. Tarasov?” His New York accent was almost as heavy as her Russian one.

Sacha paused, nodding, too distracted by the butterflies multiplying in her stomach to question why he was engaging her. He never had before. Normally, they nodded at her, and she went upstairs without exchanging more than a good morning or evening.

“Yes. He and I— Oh.” She faltered and looked at her watch. “Has he gone already? I was to arrive at eight o’clock.” It was five minutes to. Maybe Alekzander had forgotten they were meeting here rather than at home.

He had been unusually distracted this morning. She’d attributed it to him being tired as he’d kept her up until the early hours, focusing on her in their bed in an unusually intense way even for him. He’d burst into the apartment just before midnight, causing her to fumble the book she’d been reading. He’d scooped her from the sofa without a word, taken her into their bedroom, and hadn’t let up for hours.

As wonderful as it had been, as she’d fallen asleep, more exhausted than ever, Sacha couldn’t help but feel something had been different. He’d been upset, his touch almost desperate, but because it had been so late she hadn’t wanted to press him for an explanation. Maybe he would talk to her about it now.

“No, he’s, uh, he’s up there.” The guard shared a look with his co-worker who gave an almost imperceptible shrug. “Go ahead.”

She moved to the elevator, and by the time the doors swooshed open on TarMor’s floor, the disturbing display between the men was forgotten.

What would she say? He would be happy, right? How should she tell him? Right away? Or wait until they were having dinner. She should probably help him work through his upset from last night before bringing it up. How would he react? With anger? Would he feel as if she were trying to trap him? Or would he experience the same joy she was experiencing?

Going left, she passed by the empty reception area and paced herself as she traveled the carpeted corridor that muffled the sound of her heels. She smoothed her dress over her hips, feeling that prickling in her palms and the soles of her feet that she always felt just before seeing him. Her feelings for this man were overwhelming. They had been right from the start and had never settled into something she felt able to handle. She ran her hand over her still-flat abdomen just as she reached his office door.

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