She’s a spy.
He’s her target.
The day former intelligence operative, Eija Barrett, stepped foot inside Interpol headquarters, she’s had one main objective—infiltrate and dismantle the largest sect of the Russian Mafia, run by the renowned Yuri Sokolov, based in Moscow.
Each attempt by the agency, so far, has failed. Nearly all the agents Interpol sends are uncovered and assassinated.
But when Eija is appointed as lead on the undercover Bratva operation, she discovers that the mafia leader has been hiding something she can use to her advantage—a son who Yuri has kept secret since birth, and who is next in line to head the crime syndicate.
Eija knows if she can get to Dominik, she can get to Yuri and, as far as she’s concerned, there’s nothing that can stand in the way of that happening…
Only a handful of people know what Dominik Sokolov truly looks like, and even fewer know who he really is. He prefers an isolated mercenary’s life, distancing himself from the brotherhood by moving to California to live with his aunt as a teen and then spending his adulthood just outside of the Bratva’s reach.
However, as the mysterious Prince of the Brotherhood and the only son of mafia leader, Yuri Sokolov, it’s Dom’s birthright to lead the organization. His duty. If not out of obligation to his country, it’s what he owes Yuri for the sacrifice his father made for him when Dom was just six years old.
Dom is able to spend three months on the island of Grenada, off-the-grid and away from the family’s watchful eye, but when Yuri finds him there, he decides it’s time to head home.
Before he has a chance to leave, he meets a beautiful woman whose name he learns by accident—Eija.
He tells her his name is Andrei…not that it matters. Not that it will make a difference, to her, who he is. After all, once they’ve had a few nights of fun on the island, the two of them will never see each other again.
Chapter One Excerpt
“Your eyes are poisonous.”
Dominik Sokolov tore his attention away from the reflection in the stacked glasses on the bar’s tile countertop to find the woman behind it staring at him.
“Your eyes.” She swirled a rag inside a stem glass with a deep bowl. “They remind me of mercury, which is poisonous.”
He’d been on the island of Grenada for the last three months, and he didn’t think he would ever get used to that accent. Everyone who spoke, it was like a melody as opposed to the rougher, more abrasive Russian spoken in his home country.
His attention returned to the glasses.
His father, at least, hadn’t deviated from the type of goons he kept around. The minute he’d walked into the small beach hut overlooking the Atlantic, he’d known these two men were there for him. While he’d spent most of his childhood in Moscow, he left to live with his aunt in the United States when he was sixteen. That didn’t mean he didn’t know his people, and he especially knew his father’s people.
When he was ready to go back, he would go. It wasn’t like he could stay away forever. He was the son of the head of the Bratva. Russia would always find him and bring him home.
“You are on a tropical paradise,” the bartender continued, leaning over the bar counter, her already decent-sized breasts swelling larger in the bikini top. “Maybe try to look like you’re having a good time? You’re too handsome to be sulking, friend.”
Dom studied her. Really studied her. She worked at the resort. He’d seen her before, on multiple occasions. She was the one who’d come in to make sure his room was to his liking his first day there, and when she wasn’t tending bar, she walked around in crisp white collared shirts, black pencil skirts, and low-heels to ensure all the guests were satisfied with their accommodations.
The one thing that had remained constant between both roles was the bright red lipstick that stretched and accentuated her pretty white teeth when she smiled.
“Look, I appreciate the compliment,” he began, “but I’m not really up for…you know.”
She cocked her head to the side. “Up for what?”
“I mean, you’re a beautiful woman.” Very beautiful in fact. “But, I’m just here to relax.”
“Hmm.” She leaned back and folded her arms across those plump breasts. “Well, no offense, but I work here and you’ve only ordered one drink since you sat down. It’s either I flirt with you to get you to order more, or I boot you from my bar so a paying customer can have a seat.”
A smile played at the corner of his mouth. “Fine. I’ll order something else. What do you recommend?”
“Do you like fruity drinks?” she asked.
He tipped up his left brow. “Do I look like a man who likes fruity drinks?”
“You look like a man with poisonous eyes.”
“Rum.” He tapped the bottom of his empty glass on the bar top. “Give me something with lots of rum.”
She nodded, turned around, and her taut arms flailed as she mixed. For someone who worked in administration and barkeeping, she had an excellent back. Then again, since he’d been here, he’d walked most places. Every once in a while, he took a taxi or a minibus, but most of what he needed had been within walking distance of his resort. It was easy to look like that if the lifestyle called for it.
When she worked inside, she kept her hair back in a tight bun.
Today, it was out.
Curls and coils sprung from her scalp with splashes of chocolate and golden highlights spread throughout. The curls and coils framed her face, a springy set of bangs falling slightly over her forehead, and the colors popped against her complexion.
“One of sour,” she turned around and placed the drink in front of him, “two of sweet, three of strong, and four of weak.”
He stared at the pink-orange concoction. “What is it?”
“Rum punch, Grenada-style. Try it.”
He took a sip, and the alcohol slapped him across the face.
“Damn. That’s… is it always this strong?”
“You said lots of rum.”
“Caribbean rum isn’t normal rum.”
She smiled and looked behind his head at the water. Since she was distracted, he followed her brown skin like a nature trail down to those full breasts, her stomach with its enticing sprinkle of sweat that created a sheen across the flat pane, and the colorful wrap that she’d tied at the hip.
“You have a beautiful accent, by the way,” he said, taking another sip of the drink.
“Don’t get me wrong,” she began, meeting his eyes. “I mean, you’re a good looking man, but—”
“All right. I deserved that.” Laughing, he held out his hand. “Andrei.”
She shook his hand, studying him through narrowed eyes. “You don’t look like an Andrei.”
“Well, what’s your name?”
He studied her the same way. “You don’t look like an Emerald.”
“Maybe it’s not my name, but a girl can never be too careful.”
It wasn’t that he believed anybody on the island knew what the name Dominik Sokolov meant, and those who had been sent to collect him thought he was someone who’d betrayed Yuri. Why make things easier on the Bratva, the CIA, Interpol, or any other organization that either wanted to abduct him or had a red dot on the back of his skull?
She tipped her chin at the drink. “You like it?”
“Well, I didn’t get this job because I know how to tie my shoelaces.”
He drew a longer sip, eyes never leaving hers. “You’ve got a mouth on you.”
He took a glance at it for reference. That complexion was heavenly, her lips were full, her eyes were dark and slightly slanted, and there was a dimple high on her chin, to the left of her mouth, when she smiled.
The number of beautiful women he’d seen or come across meant he should have been fucking his entire time on the island, but knowing his father was looking for him, it was hard to trust anyone. The more beautiful they were, the more dangerous they could be.
A customer walked up, and she left him to take their order. Dom looked over, and it was the man he’d been watching. The one with all the scars. He had his fair share, but they looked like they could have come from fighting, childhood, or the military. This man, with his head tattoos and marked up face, screamed organized crime.
“You’ve got a set of tits on you,” the man said, his accent so pronounced, Dom had to check to make sure he hadn’t spoken Russian instead of English. “What are you doing later? Me, I hope.”
Emerald turned away from the man without a response.
“Hey,” the man rapped his knuckles on the countertop, “I’m talking to you.”
“Leave her alone,” Dom warned. “There are beautiful women everywhere, and you’re on the beach. Find somebody else to fuck with.”
Their eyes met. When they did, a message was silently exchanged: “Make this easy so no one dies.”
Someone would die, but it wouldn’t be him.
Emerald finished preparing the drink and slid it toward the scarred fellow Russian. The man tipped the glass at her, shot him one last look, and left.
She scanned the beachfront and, spotting no new customer requests, returned to stand in front of him.
“Feel like another drink?”
“Yes, but not here.”
The confident smile she’d worn since he noticed her faltered.
“Where, then?” she asked.
“Out.” He finished the second rum punch. “Just the two of us.”
“What did I put in that drink that made you go from not being interested in anything to wanting to go out, just the two of us. Are you a killer?”
Now that made him smile.
“Do I look like a killer?”
“No, but you don’t look like an Andrei either. The name, is it American?”
“I have no idea. My mother was one of those eccentric types. If the mood struck her, she would have given me a Korean name.”
Like her accent, it carried a melody.
“Now,” he leaned toward her, “how do you pronounce your name?”
She did the same, folding her arms on the bar top, dropping her voice to a whisper.
“What do you mean?”
“I’m staying at this resort. I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve seen me? It’s not the first time I’ve seen you.”
Her eyes made slight movements, scanning his face. “No. It’s not. I make it a point to know all our guests.”
“I’ve been wanting to know how it’s pronounced since I got here.”
“Where did you see my name?”
“You wrote it on a napkin for a man I’ve been jealous of ever since.”
Red hair, beard, tall. The kind of man she didn’t need to waste her time fucking.
“And you have been with us for how long now?” she asked.
“Three months, but I didn’t want to ask at the time and make you think I’m hitting on you.”
One thing was evident—the woman had no issues with eye contact. She stared directly into his eyes, and if she hadn’t gone into resort management, she would have made a hell of a police detective.
Her voice lowered even further. “And now?”
“Oh, I’m definitely hitting on you now.” He grinned. “So…dinner?”
“I thought it was drinks.”
“The more you talk, the more I like you.”