It was the first time I’d ever been truly alone since I married Lucian. Even when he wasn’t at the house, Maria and the other staff were there. Armed men were positioned across the grounds, visible out of every window. But since I was on the fourth floor of the building, it was easy to forget about the men guarding the building.
It was three in the morning, and I still couldn’t sleep.
I wasn’t sure why I was so unnerved. When Balto was down the hall, I slept just fine. But without him there, I somehow felt vulnerable. No one could get past those men and disable the alarm to the elevator to get me, but I still felt exposed.
If Lucian were ever to intercept me, he would punish me. He would punish me for the way I’d slapped him in front of all his men. Then he would punish me for leaving with Balto even though I didn’t have a choice. And while this wasn’t my fault, he would punish me for sleeping with Balto.
There was a good chance Lucian might kill me.
And if he didn’t, he would make my existence so unbearable, I’d wish I were dead.
I could have watched TV in my room, but I decided to grab a beer from the fridge and lie on the couch in the living room. At this hour, there was nothing good on TV, so I watched old reruns of shows that had been off the air for over a decade.
I kept glancing at the time, wondering when he would come home.
What was he doing? Was he out with another woman? I hadn’t entered his bed because I was too upset to want him. The man had turned me into a prisoner and bossed me around like I had no rights. Now, he wasn’t the sexy stranger I met in a bar, but another asshole who thought he could own me.
But the idea of him being out with someone else got under my skin.
Did he pay for sex? Did he go to one of his whores?
Or was he doing something else? Something criminal?
He didn’t tell me anything about his life, so I didn’t have a clue. At least with Lucian, I knew exactly where he was and what kind of meeting he was having.
Balto didn’t buy me any sleepwear, so I was stuck wearing his stuff. I wondered if he did it on purpose.
At half past four, the cogs in the elevator started to work, and the doors opened a second later. Balto stepped inside dressed in all black. Despite the late hour, there was no hint of his exhaustion. He didn’t notice me on the couch because he didn’t bother to look. He pulled out his wallet, his keys, and removed his watch. He tossed everything on the entryway table.
My eyes were heavy from exhaustion, and now that he was home, I suddenly felt like I could go to sleep. I wasn’t sure if I felt safe because he was here, or I was just relieved that he wasn’t out and about.
He stopped when he noticed me. He stilled near the couch, his blue eyes staring at me with pure focus. He didn’t blink, turning into a wild animal that watched his prey so carefully. His muscular arms hung by his sides, and his strong chest stretched his cotton t-shirt. He always looked good in black, making his fair skin even more beautiful.
I was in a pair of boxers and a t-shirt without a bra, and even though it wasn’t the kind of pajamas I would normally wear, it was the most comfortable clothing I’d ever worn. I sat up on the couch, my hair in a ponytail.
He stepped closer to the couch, still staring at me with predatory eyes. He didn’t say a word, choosing to let the silence speak for him.
I spoke first. “You’re out late.” Accusation was in my voice, even though he didn’t owe me anything. Even if I weren’t his prisoner, he could come and go as he pleased without explaining his whereabouts. If I had my freedom, I would never tell him about my plans.
“Why are you still awake?”
The bed was comfortable, and I could set the temperature to whatever I wanted. Comfort definitely wasn’t the problem. I had no idea what the problem even was. “Couldn’t sleep.”
I held his gaze and didn’t come up with an answer.
“My men on the ground are the best I have. They’re not gonna let anyone near this building. And even if someone managed to get through, they aren’t going to make it up here. So you have nothing to worry about.”
That should have eased my mind, but it didn’t.
Balto kept watching me. “Not good enough, huh?”
“Are you gone every night?” I couldn’t figure out his schedule. He seemed to be out of the house in the evenings, but he left sporadically at all hours of the day.