“Your father is a liar, Mila.”
“You would say that but I know the truth.”
“You know nothing about me. The truth is simple enough. Your father wanted my family dead so he could take our money for himself. He betrayed my family, killed my mother, my sisters, and my father. But he messed up. He did not kill me. Why do you find it hard to believe he would kill your mother?”
“She was his wife. They loved each other.”
“Did they? You already said he cut her up. You don’t do that to the woman you marry. Marriage is a sacred bond.”
“That why you had me brought here gagged and bound? That part of the sacred bond, is it?”
“Like I said, you have a reputation for running. Now, let me make something very clear. I did not kill your mother. Believe me or not, I do not care. What you should be worrying about is how to best ensure I do not lose my temper around you. You would not like it if I became angry with you.”
“What are you, the hulk?”
“You are under the mistaken impression levity will reduce the risk to yourself. It will not. Shut up and listen to my rules. Another word and the gag goes back on you.”
She glares but says nothing.
“You are not to leave the house without permission. You will wear the clothes you are given and eat the food you are given. Once we are married, I will take your virginity. You will bear a child for me. You will raise the child and raise it well. You will obey my every command without question. Is that understood?”
Her eyes burn fire at me, her mouth closed.
I lean forward, nudging the scarf down from her neck. “Did your father give you those bruises?”
“None of your business.”
“You are under my protection now. Anyone who hurts you offends me. Tell me the name of the man who gave you those bruises and he will be dead within an hour.”
“I don’t need your protection. I need to go home.”
“Your father would not welcome you back.”
“That’s not my home.”
“You mean that shitty apartment of yours? Why do you want to go back there?”
“Because it’s mine.”
“You live here now. I will have your things collected. If you behave, you will have access to them. I know you like to paint.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because your father gave my people a file about you. If you do as you are told, you will be allowed to paint. You can earn other freedoms with your good behavior.”
“Like prison, right?”
“Stay there. I will fetch the wedding dress for you to try on.” I get to my feet and cross to the door, glancing back over my shoulder. “Don’t go anywhere.”
I walk out and lock the door, crossing the corridor into the study. Igor is waiting there, arms folded. “Ten bucks says she doesn’t run,” he says.
“She’ll run. Trust me.”
“She’s scared shitless. She won’t run.”
“That’s why she’ll run. She’s already scared of her reaction to me.” I flick on the cameras and sit behind my desk to watch her. She’s already on her feet and trying the door, kicking it with her foot when it won’t open. She crosses to the window, yanking it upright.
“As predictable as the tides,” I say. “You owe me ten.”