February Book Of The Month
Six weeks later.
Cecily lay snuggled in Pyotr’s arms, her body still tingling from his enthusiastic and skilled lovemaking. She blinked and inhaled the heavy fragrance of their spent passion. Pyotr’s light snore worked like white noise, masking the sounds from outside that wafted through the open windows and the typical noises of a multistory condo minium. She sighed. She missed the sound of crickets and the railroad just a mile from her childhood home. She missed the lowing of the cattle just up the road. She missed the fresh country air, even when it made her sneeze.
Moving from small-town Batesville to big-city Cleveland had been a major adjustment. The excitement of moving to a major metropolitan city on Lake Erie had long since faded. The sounds of city traffic and the impersonal bustle of city life palled.
Cecily disliked the discontent that simmered within her. The restaurant Pyotr’s boss had opened offered a wonderful opportunity. Really, as a new graduate, there was no other way she’d have been hired as head chef anywhere else. She knew that Maksim and Olivia had done so only out of kindness to Pyotr who loved her.
She wasn’t sure how she felt about that love.
Not quite as naive as her roommates assumed, Cecily had originally figured that a passionate fling with the Russian thug would add to her growing collection of life experiences. Grandma Polsen, whose advice was usually good, had recommended that she live fully before settling down to cook, clean, and pop out babies. Then she’d have something worth reminiscing about, stories to tell her children and grandchildren. She had seen what became of her high school friends and close relatives: they never went anywhere, they never did anything, they had no interests beyond their small, routine lives.
She wanted more. She looked at the big hand palming her breast and frowned. She knew what those hands did and their value to a criminal organization that profited from drugs, illegal arms, and human trafficking. Grandma Polsen and her entire family would disapprove. Oh, hell, she disapproved. But Pytor treated her like a queen; it was hard to muster the courage to stick up for her principles.
Listening to the urban sounds beyond the window, Cecily missed the peace of her rural hometown where the birth of twin foals at the Patterson farm featured as the most exciting topic of conversation for weeks.
Cecily wasn’t sure she loved him back.
Oh, he made her body sing, that was for sure. She’d had three boyfriends before Pyotr, one in high school, two in college. They were ineffectual, clumsy boys compared to her tattooed, Russian thug with his bulging muscles, broken nose, and wicked, wicked tongue.
A delicious frisson ran through her at the thought of just what Pyotr could do with that talented tongue.
But there was more to a lasting relationship than sex and food. She knew that Pyotr’s attraction to her had begun with her cooking. Few men looked twice at her round face, curly blonde mop of hair, and size fourteen body. Pyotr claimed to appreciate those generous curves. He said her full hips were perfect for grasping when he pounded into her. He murmured praise over her large, pendulous breasts.
Not for the first time she wished she were slender and willowy like Gia. When she first met Gia, she’d wanted to hate the brainy marine biologist. But she couldn’t. Gia was just too damned nice.
She’d wanted to hate Latasha, too, but the feisty woman had quickly and firmly ensconced herself as Cecily’s best friend, helping her with the technical aspects of the food science courses and then fiercely defending her when a group of college boys made fun of the “fat cooking school student.”
Pyotr would have pummeled them and then offered to string their teeth into a necklace for her. Latasha just flayed them with her sharp tongue. The threat of sending her gang-member brothers after them hadn’t hurt, either. Cecily did not know whether Latasha’s brothers would have “put a hurt on” those idiots, but she liked knowing that Latasha would offer their violence to protect her.
She didn’t need them anymore, she reminded herself. She had Pyotr and Pyotr had Vitaly, Gennady, Iosif, Bogdan, and others she’d yet to meet...