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47.05% A Healing Heart / Chapter 8: Part 8

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Chapter 8: Part 8

8

"My family is Bratva," Dimitri repeated when Talin just stared at him.

Talin tried to tug his hand out of Dimitri's tight hold, the gesture instinctive, but Dimitri held tight.

He was afraid if he let go, Talin might leave him.

What was he thinking?

Of course, Talin should leave.

Wasn't that why he'd tried to stay away from Talin two days in a row?

He'd spent hours fixing the marina charter boats, handling incoming warehouse shipments, doing paperwork and shocking Lukas in the process. All of it, he'd done it to stay away from Talin. He'd even come up with specific reasons why he needed to let Talin go.

Then, when he'd seen Talin standing at his office door staring at Lucian, all his reasons had gone out the door. Add on the picture from Lucian's warehouse, he sighed…somehow the truth seemed an easier route to take.

"Talin?" Dimitri prompted when Talin kept silent. Squeezing the slender fingers he held, he asked, "Do you understand what I'm trying to tell you?"

Talin blinked, looking at him as though for the first time.

"Yes," Talin said a frown creasing his smooth forehead. "Mob, gang, band of thieves, I know what Bratva means, Dimitri. Why did you tell me?"

Talin got up forcing Dimitri to let go of his hand.

"Why did I tell you? Is that all you want to say?"

"Why, Dimitri?" Talin demanded his hands at his hips. "Why did you tell me?"

"Because I need you."

"What?"

Dimitri looked away from Talin.

"I—

"No," Talin cut him off, his tone harsh. "Dimitri, please don't tell me anymore about needing and wanting. If you cared for me at all, you'd never have told me this."

"Talin," Dimitri got to his feet, pushing his chair back.

Talin held up his right hand as though to stop him.

"I can't know this, Dimitri. I just can't."

"Talin."

Dimitri took a step closer to Talin.

Talin turned and rushed to the door.

Panic had Dimitri running after him. He slammed his hand on the door as Talin opened it. The door slammed closed, and he used his body to trap Talin against the door.

"Let me out."

"No." Dimitri braced his hands against the door. "If you leave, you're never coming back. I can't take that."

Talin pressed his forehead against the door.

"You're not going to do this to me."

Dimitri buried his face in Talin's loose hair and took in a deep breath. The scent of mint and lavender filled his nostrils. Dimitri closed his eyes cursing his inability to walk away from Talin.

"Step back, Dimitri," Talin said.

"Not until you tell me you're going to stay and listen to what I have to say."

"There's always a valid story," Talin said, his tone dripping with aversion. "Tell me Dimitri, have you killed someone recently?"

Dimitri dropped his hands away from the door. He couldn't help thinking about the woman in the warehouse. The other three were probably dead as well.

"That's what I thought," Talin said interpreting his silence for a yes.

Dimitri stepped back in shock, and Talin opened the door.

"I'll see you around."

Talin didn't look back as he walked out of his office.

***

"Fuck," Talin cursed, punching the steering wheel.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a stick of nicotine gum. He removed the wrap, put it in his mouth, and chewed furiously. Changing the gears on his Dodge Charger, he turned North on Lakeshore blvd. He didn't want to go back to the club yet.

Dimitri's news…argh…Dimitri's fucking truths pissed him off.

"What's up with you, karma?" Talin increased the speed overtaking a slow moving sedan. "You had to have the last laugh, didn't you?"

He punched the steering wheel when she didn't answer him.

Not that he'd expected an answer that would be crazy.

Seriously, Bratva, of all things to tangle with...,

"Shit, Dimitri," Talin said with a soft sigh.

***

An hour later, Talin drove into a secluded property in the quiet Seven Hills suburb. The garage doors opened the moment he drove up to the three-story whitewashed house. Turning off the engine, Talin sat in his car for a full minute before he got out and slammed the car door closed.

Talin walked up to an inner door that led into the main house. He paused to remove his shoes and slip on sandals before he entered a darkened corridor. Unlike Dimitri's family home, this house was furnished with ultra modern tones. The furniture designs clean-cut, almost clinical.

The strains of Italian opera led him through the maze of corridors, up winding stairs to the third floor, and down a wide corridor to open double doors. The closer the music got, the faster his heartbeat. Talin clenched his fists as he stepped into a richly decorated library, the music too loud, he winced as he stopped to stare at the man standing on a ladder arranging books on a floor length bookshelf.

"Music off," he said, and smiled when the opera stopped.

The man on the ladder turned to look at him.

A stab of irritation nagged at Talin when the man returned to his books, sliding in each one carefully.

"You're going to go deaf listening to music that loud," Talin said walking to an old antique love seat in the middle of the room.

He stretched out on it, and arranged one of the throw pillows under his head. He paused when he saw the domed ceiling. There was a half-finished painting of a green landscape.

"I see you've taken up art."

Folding his arms against his chest, he stared at the painting, a dark swirl of emotions flowing through him.

"What brings the Master home?"

"I asked you not to call me that. Use my name, Raphael."

Raphael let out a suffering sigh before he climbed down the ladder. Dressed in pajama pants, a white t-shirt, with an old burgundy sweater over it all, he looked well, happy.

"Talin," Raphael said giving him a mocking bow, "Talin Sato, happy?"

Talin shook his head, refusing to be charmed by smiling green eyes and that face that looked so much like Gabriel Yun.

"I'm not home."

"You are," Raphael said, his arms wide to indicate the large room and extensive library. "This is your home, Talin. It hurts me that you refuse to acknowledge that."

"Please don't be dramatic."

Talin closed his eyes.

He heard Raphael move closer. Suddenly cool fingers swept through his hair.

"You look well," Raphael said.

Talin opened his eyes to look at Raphael.

Raphael sat on a stool close to the love seat.

"Do I?" Talin asked.

Carl had said the same thing too. He didn't know what had changed in the past week to warrant the comments. All he'd done was worry about Dimitri Sedlackov, and it turned out there was cause for worry.

He frowned.

Raphael rubbed his forehead with a roughened thumb.

"What's on your mind?"

Talin shifted on the seat so that he faced Raphael. There were days he'd spent hours lying here, watching Raphael arrange books on the vast shelves around the room. Those days when the world hadn't made sense, Raphael had kept him grounded.

"Talin," Raphael said in a soft tone.

That voice, so like Gabriel's, he wanted to close his eyes and imagine Gabriel again. It was so easy. He'd done it before. Raphael and Gabriel were identical twins. They had the same green eyes, same height, the same smile, the same long dark hair, and same angelic graceful features.

Talin wondered if Raphael kept his hair long because Gabriel had.

"You're thinking about Gabriel. Are you still wishing I was him?" Raphael asked.

The man was so keen at reading him.

"Why do you think that?"

"I've rubbed this frown, trying to take it off your forehead for the past six years. I'd hoped you'd stopped the wishing by now."

Raphael let out a soft sigh.

"Guess I should stop wishing too. My brother—

"Is dead," Talin said. "I know. I know that, Raphael."

"First time you've ever said it to me." Raphael frowned studying him closely. "You've always tried to avoid that truth with me. Why?"

It had hurt too much to think of Gabriel in a grave, while his twin brother who looked so much like him, lived.

"We're the only two who knew Gabriel. The only ones who still remember him," Talin said, his voice heavy with sadness. "I-I didn't want to—

"You'll never forget him, I know that." Raphael stroked gentle fingers through Talin's hair. "You've worked so hard not to forget him, Talin, you've neglected to live. Isn't that why you've come here? You're trying to remind yourself why you need to keep your heart dormant."

Talin chuckled.

"I think you're reading too many psychology books."

"Regardless, I'm right." Raphael pinched his cheek before he got up and paced to the wide windows showing off the backyard. "In this world, I'm the only one who knows you best, Talin. I know what you've been, what you've done, what you are now…"

Talin sighed and shifted to his back, staring at the ceiling above.

"But, I think something has broken in to that wall you've built around your heart. What's changed?" Raphael asked then.

Talin stared at the unfinished painting on the ceiling, thinking of the other man who'd known every part of him. His thoughts racing back, so far back, his heart slammed against his chest. The sound of Gabriel's laugh filled his head and he closed his eyes, remembering the man who'd filled every part of his soul…

^^^

~*~*~*~

Pain took precedence for a moment, taking away the present.

All he could think about was Gabriel; all he could remember was Gabriel. The beautiful man he'd loved all his life. They'd grown up together in New York, neighbors in Manhattan.

Upper East Side brats, he thought now, spoiled to the max.

Raphael and Gabriel's parents had traveled most times, Talin had never gotten a chance to meet them. The Yun family was old money, with holdings in various Asian countries that required constant attention. Being so busy, the Yuns had gotten a butler to stay with their twins in New York, hoping to give them the best schooling possible. T

That was how they'd met: at the Brookside Academy. They'd made a formidable trio through their tenure at Brookside, but that wasn't what filled Talin's mind now. The love that bloomed between him and Gabriel, that was what filled his mind.

Gabriel's strong, outgoing personality, his elegance and his charm had drawn Talin like a moth to open flame.

Born an only child in the Sato family, Talin lived a coddled life. His mother couldn't get anymore children, so she'd watched over him every second. If it weren't for Gabriel, he'd probably have spent his school years locked in at home with his mother.

Gabriel charmed Miaka Sato. He had gotten her to allow Talin to come out and play.

The play turned into more in high school. By college, Talin and Gabriel had become inseparable. They'd rented a loft in Ithaca, as they'd both joined Cornell, Gabriel for business, Talin for fine art. Their relationship had grown deeper.

Gabriel was his first lover, his best friend, his life.

Talin couldn't remember wanting anything more than having Gabriel close to him.

When Talin turned twenty-one, his father had come to see him at the loft he shared with Gabriel. That day, Talin begged his father to let him stay with Gabriel instead of joining the family business as he'd been slated to do since birth. Gabriel had sat with him, holding his hand as they cajoled and begged Kazui Sato to let Talin live his own life.

They'd lobbied for months after that, finally wearing down Kazui to a simple deal.

Talin would promise to make something of himself. As long as whatever he build was running, then Kazui would consider getting someone else to run the family enterprises. If Talin failed, then he was to join Kazui Sato without any complaints.

Talin had jumped on the deal, excited at the prospect of spending his life with Gabriel. When they graduated from Cornell, Talin and Gabriel returned to New York City, moving in with Raphael. And for seven years, they'd lived the dream: a happy ever after like no other, until one afternoon in the middle of summer.

Talin remembered that Friday afternoon like it was yesterday. Each time wondering what he could have done different. What would have made Gabriel stay with him in the bathroom, not answer that call, not head downstairs…the memory replayed in his head for the millionth time. The memory so clear.

"Talin," Gabriel Yun said. "Where are you?"

Talin smiled, making deliberate strokes on the wall with his paintbrush. He bit his lip to keep from calling out. He wanted Gabriel to find him.

"There you are," Gabriel said a minute later. "I've looked all over for you. Why are you hiding—?"

Talin smiled because he knew why Gabriel had stopped.

"Do you like it?" Talin asked placing his brush on the palette on the floor.

He stepped back to study the landscape he'd painted, a lush green field with one sole oak tree in the middle. Under it was Gabriel lying on the grass, his hands under his head as he stared at the sky. Beside Gabriel, Talin sat staring at Gabriel, arms locked around his knees.

Gabriel took a step closer to the painting.

"It's beautiful."

"It's still wet," Talin said with a laugh moving to take Gabriel's left hand.

He pressed a kiss on Gabriel's knuckles.

"I love it." Gabriel turned to him then, so tall, so elegant, Talin felt his heart skip when Gabriel pressed a happy kiss on his lips. "I love you."

Yes, his heart still jumped in violent happiness even after years of hearing Gabriel say those words to him.

Gabriel chuckled and rubbed a finger over his cheek.

"You have green paint on your nose."

Talin blushed and would have reached up to wipe it off, but Gabriel stopped him. Instead, he pressed a kiss on the spot.

"You heal me, Talin. In ways I didn't even know existed, do you know that?" Gabriel asked. "I don't like it when you disappear on me."

"I wanted to surprise you," Talin said, pressing closer to Gabriel's warmth.

He'd wanted to add something special to Gabriel's library. They'd finally managed to build the shelves Gabriel wanted. The books they'd accumulated for years neatly arranged in deep mahogany bookshelves in the large library. The windows treated with tint to protect the books from direct sunlight. The walls had seemed bare after the new redone shelves. Adding the painting on the back wall added color. He'd have to visit the gallery and see if he could find a few pieces for the rest of the walls.

Gabriel pulled him into his arms, holding him tight.

"I love what you've done with this place. I want to stay in here and forget the world."

"How was your meeting with Pajari Industries?" Talin asked, resting his forehead on Gabriel's shoulder.

"Informative," Gabriel said, he squeezed Talin's shoulders before he stepped back and took Talin's right hand with his left. "Come on, we'll go take a shower together."

"The paint—

"We're home alone. No one will touch your paint." Gabriel tugged his hand, leading him out of the library.

They went down a short corridor and headed downstairs to the second floor of their home.

"Are you going to work with them?" Talin asked, when they entered the master bedroom.

Gabriel tugged Talin's t-shirt, removing it. "I'm thinking about it."

"Gabriel."

"Our business has to evolve. The deal Ilia Pajari is offering will benefit our stores."

"But he's—," Talin broke off and stopped Gabriel from unbuttoning his jeans. "You know what he is. Please don't do this."

"Baby, you don't understand. Pajari Industries is offering us high-end engine parts. Their products are original quality at wholesale price. We're going to make a ton of money."

Talin pushed Gabriel's hands away from his hips.

"You're the one who doesn't understand. Ilia Pajari's family is in the mob. All our friends know that. Any deal you make with Ilia will implicate you in the end. Why is money the only thing you think about day and night?"

Gabriel's green eyes turned stormy.

"That money keeps this house and our lifestyle running. And you're wrong, I think about you too."

"What if I said I didn't want the money?" Talin asked. "Huh? What if I asked you to stop, would you do it, Gabriel?"

"Baby," Gabriel said. "What's gotten into you?"

Fear, Talin wanted to say.

He loved Gabriel so much; if anything were to happen to him…he shook his head. He'd heard rumors about Ilia. Most of their friends thought the Pajaris were Bratva. The thought of Gabriel tangling with that left him with a bad taste.

"Nothing, I'm taking a shower," he said.

"Alone," he added when Gabriel started to reach for him.

"Damn Talin," Gabriel whined. "Why do you do this to me?"

Talin slammed the bathroom door closed on Gabriel's handsome face. He leaned on it and let out a soft breath.

"Please don't be angry with me," Gabriel said on the other side. "I can't stand it when you're mad at me, Talin."

Talin closed his eyes.

"Alright, I'll talk to Raphael. I'm letting you know that it's ridiculous to refuse a deal from a whale like Pajari. He has factories across the globe; he wants to collaborate with us without a fuss. This is insane. You drive me insane, Talin."

Talin opened his eyes waiting for Gabriel to cave.

"Fine, I'll do it for you." Gabriel let out a frustrated sigh. "I'll let Ilia go and find someone else. Now let me in."

"Promise me," Talin said.

"Talin," Gabriel said.

"You have to say it." Talin pushed.

"I promise, all right. I won't work with Ilia and his alleged Bratva ties."

Talin smiled because Gabriel had never broken a promise to him, ever. Relief flooded him.

"Now will you let me in?" Gabriel asked.

Talin's smile widened and he pushed off the door. Unlocking it, he frowned when Gabriel's cell phone rang.

Gabriel ignored the call, reaching for Talin to take his mouth in a hungry kiss. Talin clung to Gabriel's shoulders, heat rising as he gave back as good as he got. God, he loved Gabriel. Gabriel explored his mouth, stroking his tongue with his.

The phone persisted and Gabriel broke their kiss with a groan.

"Ignore it," Talin said dusting kisses along Gabriel's clean-shaven jaw. Gabriel smelled delicious, like spice and sunshine. "I'm so hard right now. I need you."

Gabriel scraped his teeth on Talin's neck, making Talin hiss in pleasure. Gabriel sucked on the spot to ease the sting.

The phone started ringing again and Talin sighed when Gabriel pulled it out of his pocket.

"It's Raphael," Gabriel said. "I have to take this."

Talin sighed when Gabriel let go of him. Unbuttoning his jeans, he gave Gabriel a wicked teasing smile.

"Hurry up. I'll leave the shower door open."

Gabriel groaned, his hot gaze on Talin who'd removed his jeans and was now naked. Talin stroked his hard length then turned and walked into the bathroom.

Gabriel answered his twin brother's call with a growl.

"Raphael, you'd better have a very good reason for calling me."

Talin laughed and entered the shower stall. He stood under the hot shower, letting the water slide over his heated skin. He hoped Raphael would hurry, and there wasn't anything serious. Reaching for his shampoo, Talin started to dump some on his hair when he heard a thump.

Talin paused.

"Gabriel?" he called out.

When there was no answer, he turned off the shower.

"Gabe?"

Returning the shampoo bottle on the shelf, Talin got out of the large glass shower stall. Taking a blue towel from a rail by the door, he wrapped it around his waist and went out into the bedroom.

Talin frowned when he didn't see Gabriel. An uneasy feeling compelled him out of the master bedroom. His feet cold on the tiled corridor floors, he passed two guest bedrooms, before he reached the landing

"Gabriel?" he called again as he went down the stairs.

He almost tripped over Gabriel as he turned to go down the last flight of stairs to the living room. Gabriel lay on his stomach on the steps. Blood…Talin fell to his knees, his hands moving over Gabriel's back.

"Gabe!" Talin started to move Gabriel, hoping to get him on his back. "Oh God, I'm not supposed to move you. Gabriel, tell me what hurts."

"Ta-alin," Gabriel coughed, more blood spilling on white tiles.

The sight of it shaking Talin to the core, he reached for Gabriel's shoulders and turned him on his back. The bullet wounds on Gabriel's chest looked unreal. Talin touched one with shaking fingers. A sob escaped as blood seemed to seep into the green shirt Gabriel wore.

"Oh God," Talin met Gabriel's eyes. "Stay with me. Baby, stay with me…I'll get help. I—," Talin looked around him, his hands pressed against Gabriel's chest, trying to stop the blood. "I need to…"

~*~*~*~

^^^

Talin sat up on the loveseat, jerking himself out of the memory. His chest felt tight. He pressed his right hand into his chest hoping to ease the ache. The pain didn't go away, it just didn't. Time only made it finer, made him wonder what he could have done different that day. He'd hesitated too long, moved too slowly.

"Talin," Raphael was by his side in a second. A comforting hand rubbed his back.

"Deep breaths," Raphael advised. "Take them slow, and deep."

Talin took in a deep ragged breathe, his fingers bunching the fabric of his t-shirt.

"You did what you could, Talin. There's nothing more you could have done."

"It wasn't enough," Talin said, his eyes stinging with tears he couldn't shed anymore.

"You did what you could." Raphael repeated sitting beside him. Talin held back a sob when Raphael pulled him into his arms and hugged him tight. "I'm telling you to listen to me this once."

Talin closed his eyes tight, burying his face into Raphael's sweater. It smelled like Gabriel, the memory of that scent stored away in his head.

He clung to Raphael then because the memory of that scent was fading.

Replaced by the maddening, enticing one: Dimitri's scent and Dimitri's laugh, his smile, Talin shook his head.

"I met someone," Talin confessed into Raphael's shoulder. "Someone who's in more trouble than Gabriel ever was, Raphael, karma is playing a rude one on me."

Raphael held him.

"Is it something small or major players?"

"Bratva," Talin said, the word coming out in a soft gasp of air.

Raphael stiffened, and Talin moved out of his arms. Getting up, Talin ran fingers through his hair and looked around the library. The books on the shelves were the same ones he'd once arranged in Gabriel's library.

"Is it the same group you were looking for?" Raphael asked, his tone sounding hopeful.

Talin looked at Raphael then.

"I'm not doing that anymore. I haven't looked for years, Raphael. Living has been hard enough."

Raphael scoffed.

"You're talking to me, Talin. Don't lie to me. I know why we moved to this godforsaken state. Why you decided to give up everything and live in that horrendous club you own. You were looking for the people who killed Gabriel."

"I put that search to rest the moment I paid for that club," Talin shouted.

"You mean you pushed it aside," Raphael said, getting to his feet, his green eyes accusing.

"I had no choice," Talin said, turning away from those eyes.

He felt guilt riding through him every time he came here. Maybe that's why he'd needed to come today, to remind himself why he needed to stay away from Dimitri and organized crime. It brought out the worst in him.

"Talin?"

"I have to go."

Talin turned to head to the door, but Raphael grabbed his left elbow.

"Why did you come here? Who is this person you've met?"

"I don't want to talk about him."

"Well fuck that, you have no choice." Raphael snapped. "I can't take living like these anymore. We need to figure out what we're going to do with the rest of our lives, Talin. Gabriel left you responsibilities—

"He's not here," Talin said in a quiet broken voice.

"You're right, he's not. But you and I are here," Raphael reminded him. "You're not dead, Talin. You're alive."

Talin tried to tug his arm out of Raphael's hold.

"I don't know what to tell you."

"Why did you stop looking for them?" Raphael demanded. "Why do you choose that club over Gabriel's revenge? Huh?"

Talin met stormy green eyes.

"Chasing down the Gabriel's murderers cost me my sanity, Raphael. By the time I landed at the Talon, I didn't care if I died finding them, and you know that. You know what I'd become. I'm in a good place now. Leave it alone."

"Do I have that Tina Reyes to thank for this new attitude?" Raphael asked then.

Tina Reyes was the woman who'd owned the Talon before Talin. She'd sold the club to him a year after they'd met. She'd wanted to retire to a sunny state, and he'd helped make it happen. Talin owed her his life. She'd literary pulled him out of the gutter behind the club.

Talin had woken up on her couch with a smashing headache. He was surprised to see a middle-aged woman sitting on the coffee table holding a bottle of tequila. She smiled at him when he sat up.

"Alright, young man, you have two choices," she said. "I give you this bottle, you drink until you drown, or I get you a cup of coffee and we talk. Make a choice."

He smiled now remembering Mrs. Reyes. She was the craziest woman he ever met. Her kindness saved him.

"I can't go back there," Talin said now. "I'm sorry, Raphael."

"What about this person you've met?" Raphael let go of his arm. "Are you going to ignore their fate?"

Talin winced at the thought of Dimitri under the Bratva's mercy. He shrugged refusing to know more about Dimitri's situation.

"He walked into it with his eyes wide open. He'll walk out."

"You're so cold," Raphael said. "You're not the man my brother loved."

"You're right." Talin headed to the door. "That man died when Gabriel did, Raphael. You're always forgetting that."

***

Raphael Yun watched Talin drive off their property with a grimace. He got his cell phone from his pocket and pressed one. The call was answered after one ring.

"He knows about Dimitri," Raphael said, "but he's going to walk away. I don't want that to happen."

"What do you want to do?"

Raphael turned to stare at the love seat where Talin had sat a few minutes ago.

"I want Talin back in the game. Get Dimitri in trouble, something harsh. Talin cares for the man; he won't stay away with Dimitri in danger. Do it fast. I'm tired of this town. I need this shit to end now."

"You got it."

Raphael ended the call and looked up at the dome. He'd been trying to repaint the landscape Talin had put in Gabriel's library, but it wasn't working out. Touching the sweater he wore, he let a sigh escape and hoped Talin would forgive him for this.

***

Talin got back home late. Instead of going to the club, he opted to head upstairs to his loft. His head hurt, it had been a longer day than he'd expected. He'd spent the last two days freaking out about Dimitri not showing up. Now that he knew what Dimitri was, Talin shook his head as he climbed the stairs, he felt like an idiot.

He unlocked his house, careful to check the welcome mat in case he'd gotten another mysterious visitor. There were no envelopes or black roses in sight so he locked the door.

"You're home," Dimitri said as Talin turned on the living room lights.

"Damn it, Dimitri," he cursed under his breath when he saw Dimitri seated on his favorite couch. "I really need that key back now."

Dimitri got to his feet.

"Where have you been?"

"What?"

Talin tried not to be distracted by how good Dimitri looked. His navy blue shirt was unbuttoned to his chest, and the black slacks he wore hugged his powerful legs to perfection. Dark hair a wavy mess on his head, as though Dimitri had ran his fingers through it, messing it up.

Talin looked away from Dimitri to keep his sanity.

"Where the hell were you, Talin? Do you know how worried I've been?"

"Worried?" Talin scoffed moving to drop his car keys on the coffee table. "If you were worried about me, you should never have talked to me, Dimitri. You should never have come in here and told me how much you like me. You should never have kissed me."

"Talin," Dimitri said taking a step closer.

Talin put his hands on Dimitri's chest, holding him away.

"I don't think you should be here. You should leave right now, and give me back my key."

"Talin, please," Dimitri said, his tone cajoling, the sound of it tore at Talin's heart. "Please listen to me."

"I don't want to know why you chose to join them," Talin said shaking his head. "I can't know, I can't—, please don't—

Dimitri pulled Talin into his arms, holding him tight.

"I'm sorry for pulling you into this, but I can't walk away, not now anyway."

"Why not?" Talin asked against Dimitri's strong shoulder.

"Because," Dimitri sunk his fingers into Talin's hair. "I can't leave you exposed. They know you matter to me."

Talin closed his eyes. He wanted to lie and push Dimitri away. Tell him he didn't care, but—

"You're being cruel to me."

"I know," Dimitri said. "You have to let me, Talin. Trust that I'll look out for you."

"That doesn't mean much," Talin said shaking his head.

"I mean what I say," Dimitri said, his voice sending thrills down Talin's back, weakening his resolve. "Will you hear me out?"

Talin clung to Dimitri's shirt. He breathed in Dimitri's scent, and felt the wall he'd managed to build at Raphael's crumble. The thought of Dimitri hurt…he let go of Dimitri's shirt.

God, what was wrong with him? Why couldn't he become harder?

"Yeah," Talin said in a whisper. "Okay."

Dimitri breathed out a relieved sigh.

"Great, come with me."

"Huh?" Talin frowned stepping back. "I just got home."

"I know," Dimitri said, not letting go of Talin. Instead, he turned Talin around and marched him to the door. "Trust me."

Talin gave him a skeptical glance, and Dimitri pressed a kiss on his forehead.

"If you don't like what you see and hear, I'll give your key back."

***


CREATORS' THOUGHTS
Suilan Suilan

Dimitri says - 'I'm not letting go...fix it!'

Holds trubochki bowl above his head....too high to reach.

Sui says - 'Yes, master. Right away, master. Can I get some now?'

Dimitri says - 'Fix it!'

Sui - Sigh, get's back to work.

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Stone -- Power Stone
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by completing the missions

Complete daily missions to get rewards.

Learn more about the rules
  • 1. Reward frequency has been adjusted! Receive a reward once you complete two minutes of reading!
  • 2. Rewards adjusted! Earn points reading to exchange for Amazon Gift Cards! Coins that never expire! More rewards to come!(The above rewards are only available on the app.)

This's an experimental test for reading assistance in case.

We highly recommend you to enjoy the beauty of the original words.