“They don’t speak English,” she said curtly. “Let’s see if there’s an alternate entrance we can use.”
They grumbled, but allowed her to lead them back around the block, down an alley, and to a side door that was guarded by three more armed men. These men looked slightly less disreputable and Cassia allowed herself the faint hope that perhaps they wouldn’t shoot her or treat her like … well, like the others did. She approached the one man who looked more European than Asian. Perhaps he understood English.
“Excuse me, do you speak English?” she asked, noticing that her group hung several yards behind her as if bullets shot from those ugly weapons wouldn’t travel past her. “Español? Français? Deutsch?”
Vladislav wondered if lightning had just struck him. He felt utterly stunned and every cell in his body sizzled and sang. She is the one. His father always said he would know his soul mate when he saw her—as when the old bastard had seen his mother—and this incredibly powerful urge to claim, protect, and love this particular woman had to be a true herald. He whispered the words he had learned from his father and were engraved upon his heart, the words low and guttural and thrumming with ancient power that gathered and pulsed on the tip of his tongue.
The woman showed no impact from his words. She merely looked at him, her expression showing a temper fraying from exasperation. The linen of her prim, navy blue dress had wilted in the heat and humidity and clung to a slender, gracefully proportioned body no professional dancer would have been ashamed to claim. Tendrils of hair the color of winter sunshine had escaped confinement from the neat coil pinned to the back of her head and curled languidly in the heavy air. Her eyes were startlingly violet and lushly fringed. A thin, almost imperceptible scar traveled the length of her left cheekbone and disappeared into the hairline. He thought her beautiful.
“I speak English,” he replied after a moment in an intriguing accent, his cool eyes alight with interest.
“Oh, God, not again,” she muttered beneath her breath. She took another breath to compose herself, smiled her most professional smile, and asked if someone was available to escort her clients into the hotel so they could return to their conference.
“You don’t know what happened, do you?” he inquired with a faint grin that concealed the sudden surge of rage wanting to be unleashed at whoever had been foolish enough to insult this woman. His woman.