"And he's where—at home by himself?"
"Do you honestly think that I'd leave a six-year-old boy at home alone?" I'm appalled by his suggestion. Does he know nothing about children? "He's fine. He's with someone." I won't elaborate. I'm sure if they want to find out where he is, they'll figure it out on their own.
"Family?" Nikita asks. His gaze doesn't waver, and I can't figure out what's going through his head.
I don't answer.
"I will take your silence as confirmation that he's being looked after and cared for."
"You're worried about my son?" That's ludicrous. "You're imprisoning me, his mother, and now you're concerned about my child's well-being?"
Nikita's jaw tightens. Is he annoyed with me or perturbed that I don't fall to his feet and beg for his forgiveness and my life?
He glances at his watch briefly before reaching into his pants pocket for the key to the prison cell. "I'm taking you home. Tomorrow, you start work at Club Sage."
I'm not the least bit appreciative that he's given me a job. I already have a gig, working full-time at the coffee shop. I don't need another job. Besides, this one isn't going to pay me a cent.
Escorting me out of the prison cell, he gestures for me to walk ahead of him up the stairs.
The steps are dark and narrow. I'd barely noticed on my way down, but the air is chilly, and I shiver as I wrap my arms around myself to keep warm. Was the prison this cold? I hadn't noticed; I'd been too heated thinking about Nikita and how I would get out of here alive.
I try the door handle, but it's locked and doesn't budge. "Is this some kind of joke?" I ask, glancing at him over my shoulder.
"Step aside," he says and gestures for me to move out of the way.
He unlocks the door and grabs my arm, keeping me from getting too far ahead of him.
Does he think that'll I flee? I don't even know which way the door is out of here.
Nikita is gruff and forceful; his fingers dig into my arm, leaving an imprint behind. "Would you loosen up?"
He glances back at me, realizing his strength and his grip eases enough to keep me trapped, but he's no longer hurting me.
There's no apology from him.
Not that I should expect much from him.
Another gentleman briskly strides down the hallway toward us.
He's taller than I am, with a thick beard and dark hair. The moment he opens his mouth to speak, his thick Russian accent fills the room. "What's she still doing alive?"
My mouth goes dry, and I attempt to break free of Nikita's grip.
"She's my problem," Nikita says, "and I intend on taking care of it, boss."
I glance between both men. Did Nikita lie about the job? Is he planning on taking me out of the city and executing me?
Boss? Is he the head of the family? From the little that I know about them, they're Russian Bratva, which would make him Mikhail Barinov, the Pakhan.
If I can get away from Nikita, I'll drive to Chicago, pick up Zion and head west to the middle of nowhere.
I've lived in the middle of nowhere before and grew up in a small town in Montana. The country life never looked so good.
Nikita shuffles me outside. It's dark, and there's not even a star visible under the thicket of clouds overhead. The air is chilly, with a hint of moisture as a few raindrops pelt my skin.
I don't care about getting wet. I need to get away from Nikita and the bratva. They're not going to let me leave, and even after I've paid my debt to the men, who is to say they'll ever let me be free?
My son is in danger. My life is in danger.
I need to escape.
But running and attempting to jump the fence, I doubt I'll be lucky twice. I've got Nikita saddled up beside me, his grip firm as he escorts me to his black SUV. He yanks open the door.
"Get in," he says. It's an order.
I climb into the front seat and secure my seatbelt. "This isn't necessary. My car is just on the other side of the fence," I say, pointing in the direction that I came.
"I'm sure it is," he mutters and slams the passenger door. Nikita hurries around to the driver's side just as the rain picks up.
He climbs in, starts the engine, and flips on the windshield wipers.
"Where are you taking me?" I ask, my voice trembling when I speak. I don't want to indicate that I'm afraid, but I'm fiddling with my hands in my lap. It's not as though I have many options right now.
He's got a sidearm on his hip, but I haven't spotted any other weapons. I could try to run, but not until I'm outside of the perimeter and have a fighting chance.
The rain just might save me.
Especially if the visibility grows worse and slows his ass down.