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Chapter 8

•Evangeline•

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I paced back and forth in my supposed bedroom. I will leave soon, go back to my home. I shouldn't get too comfortable here like I did with the library.

You are sitting in my chair...

God damn it! I should have asked for permission first. I glanced at the wall clock and it was almost midnight. He asked me to come to his office at night but he didn't specify exactly when.

I combed my hair and smoothed my dress before I stepped out of the bedroom. I descended the stairs and then stopped, is it appropriate to go to his office in the middle of the night?

"Hey, sweet cheeks"

I jumped up at the deep voice from behind me, I turned and saw the man who was with Nikolai earlier in the library.

He was almost as handsome as Nikolai but less intimidating, he and Nikolai could almost pass off as brothers but this guy had a friendly aura, the kind of personality that one can easily warm up to.

I tucked my hair behind my ear and shifted on the balls of my feet. "Hi..."

He offered me his hand. "Scott Baldoni"

I placed my hand in his and we shook hands. "Evangeline Bolton"

He grinned. "I know who you are, Evangeline" he paused and thought for a while. "Well, now I do, a week ago I didn't even know that you existed"

"A week ago I didn't know you existed either" I replied, shrugging my shoulders.

He laughed at that, for some reason he found it amusing. He leaned against the nearby wall, putting his hands in his pockets, he appraised me up and down. "Is it true that your father had locked you up in a room your entire life?"

I wrapped both of my arms around myself and nodded. I don't know why everyone kept making a big deal out of it. From what dad told me, most people hid their children from murderers and really bad people. And he was right, I could never forget how brutally someone had murdered them. "Yeah..."

He raised an eyebrow. "He used to hit you or something?"

My eyes widened at his words. "No, he would never..." My heart suddenly drowned, thinking about my parents' death all over again. "My dad loved me... he loved me so much, he didn't want me to get hurt, so, he always tried to protect me..."

"That's weird as fuck! What about your mother? Was she a nutcase too?"

Irritated by his words, I pursed my lips. "Nutcase? Did you call my dad a fool?"

He snorted. "A psychopath is a more accurate word but then again in the underworld everyone is"

I frowned. "What's the underworld?"

The amused expression got replaced by shock. He stood up straight and approached me with calculative steps. "You don't know anything about the underworld? The fucking mafia?"

I shook my head. "No one has ever told me anything about it"

Then a smile stretched across his face, he laughed a little. "What did your dad say he did for a living?"

"He worked at the bank," I told the truth.

"The bank?" he laughed while saying the words almost like it was unbelievable for someone to work at a bank. "You poor little thing..."

I crossed my arms over my chest. "Stop talking to me like I'm a stupid person. I may not know many things but I'm a fast learner"

The way he talked to me made me feel less about myself. It's not my fault that I have been kept away from many things. The only world I know is from books, movies, and documentaries that my father had shown me.

He grazed his thumb over his lower lip as his eyes dropped to my chest and then to my bare legs. He stepped closer and I stood my ground. If it was Nikolai I would have been intimidated but Scott didn't have that effect on me. I wasn't afraid of him nor did I get nervous in his presence.

He frowned. "Aren't you scared of me?"

I shook my head. "Nope, not even a little bit"

He chuckled lowly, the previous playfulness swept off of his face and now his gaze turned dangerous like he wanted to eat me alive. My confidence wavered a bit but I still stood my ground. My mother did not raise me to be a coward.

"You should be scared of me, maybe, I'm the monster your father warned you about..." his voice changed, he suddenly became so brusque.

"You don't look like a monster..."

I know I was playing with fire here. He might be dangerous, he might murder me the way my parents had been murdered but I wasn't going to cower away from him.

"Appearances are often misleading, sweet cheeks. Didn't your father teach you that?"

I finally took a step back as it was getting a little too strange for me. "Are you trying to scare me?"

"Maybe..."

I swallowed uneasily. "Well, It didn't work"

He finally chuckled, getting rid of the tension between us. A part of me was a little relieved that he changed his demeanor. "You have so much to learn about this world, sweet cheeks"

I stuck my nose in the air. "And I will, I told you I'm a fast learner"

"Have your parents told you about the birds and the bees?"

I titled my head, lots of thoughts conjured up in my mind. "The what?"

"Sex..." he said as a matter of factly like I was supposed to know everything about it.

"You mean gender?"

His eyebrows shot up, and then he burst into a fit of laughter. "How old are you?"

I shifted my weight from one foot to another, my teeth gritted, and I dug my nails into my palms. I felt embarrassed and agitated by his constant degradation.

"Eighteen!"

Before he could say anything, his phone started ringing. He pulled it out of his pockets and glanced back at me. "It was fun talking to you" he winked. "Sweetcheeks..."

He turned and disappeared into the next room. I was so glad that he had left. I know I might come off as ignorant that is because I have never had the privilege to learn things as normal people do.

I have taken my dad's words over everything, I had no choice. I had nowhere to go, or no one to ask.

It's only been a few days but I have come to realize that no one hides their children like my parents had told me. People were looking at me like I was some kind of stupid animal, it made me feel embarrassed and less about myself. I didn't like this feeling at all.

I wiped the single tear that slid down my cheek and continued on my way to Nikolai's home office. Once outside, I knocked on the large wooden door and waited.

"Come in..." came his low manly voice.

Heaving a sigh, I entered the office and looked up to see him sitting behind his desk. He was busy working on something as he furiously typed on his laptop.

He seemed angry, irritated over something. He wasn't wearing his coat, his tie was hanging loosely around his neck and he had folded his sleeves, revealing more of his tattoos.

How many tattoos does this man have?

I cleared my throat. "Is it a bad time?"

"Yes..."

Blunt.

I nodded. "I could come by later..."

"No, spit it out. Whatever you wanted to talk about" he still seemed deep into his work as he waved his hand for me to talk.

Nervousness crept up again, all the confidence I had washed away like it was never there. "I wanted to say thank you..."

He stopped typing, his fingers stopped mid-air.

"Thank you for everything you have done for me, now I'd like to go back to my home"

His one hand rested on the table while he rubbed the back of his neck with the other. He seemed tired, worn out.

Slowly, incredibly slowly, he shifted his attention towards me. And just by his single look, a shiver ran down beneath my skin. Silence took over the entire room, and my chest tightened with incredible force.

He reclined back in his seat, his two fingers brushing against his lips, his dark gaze drinking me up, taking me in. I forgot all about the brave girl I thought I was a second ago with Scott.

"What home?" he asked, he looked like he was genuinely confused by what I had said.

"My home, where I lived with my parents..."

He nodded like he was having a conversation with himself. "But your parents are dead"

He said it with such indifference that it hurt me. I knew that but I needed to go back, live my life, study, and find a job to get by. I didn't want to be a burden to someone else.

My heartbeat drummed against my ribcage. "It's still my home..."

"What will you do?"

I raised one of my shoulders. "I don't know... find a job first"

His eyes turned a shade darker, and a look of resentment crossed his face. "You think it's easy?"

I chewed on the inside of my cheek, I didn't want to face humiliation again like did with Scott. His question made me rethink my decision. I didn't know a thing about the real world, my brief information came from movies and now I don't think they are a trusted source.

"I don't know..."

He got up from his seat and keeping his gaze on me he walked around his desk, with a menacing aura that made my heart jump out of my throat.

"Evangeline, do you have a death wish?"

My eyebrows shot up, and a strange sense of fear washed over me. I shook my head. "What do you mean?"

"The people who had murdered your parents... Don't you think they will come back to finish the job?"

The sudden shock from his words made me tense my muscles. Goosebumps rose on the back of my neck, I swallowed, there was a bitter taste at the back of my throat that I couldn't seem to get rid of every time my parents' death was mentioned.

"Do you think they will?" I asked

"Probably..." he walked over to me, he stood so close that I could feel the heat of his body warming mine. "Look at me when I talk to you, Evangeline"

A stern order.

As if by reflex, I obliged and looked up at his face.

"You are safe here. You are not going back" his tone was definitive, leaving no room for an argument.

"I don't want to be a burden..." I whispered

He raised his hand and with his pointer finger, he tucked a strand of my hair behind my ear from one side. His finger grazed my skin, and then I felt it again, the heartbeat between my legs.

"A burden?"

I pulled my lower lip in. "Um... Uh... I don't want to be a freeloader..."

He chuckled... a dark low chuckle that managed to get underneath my skin and set my body on fire. "I have enough money, Evangeline. You can freeload as much as you like"

I really liked the way he says my name. It rolled off his tongue so smoothly. I liked the sound of it. I nodded still looking into his electric blue eyes.

"Now is there anything else you wanted to talk about?" he asked

"College..."

"Hm?"

"I have been homeschooled my entire life, I graduated recently. I want to go to college, a real college with other people"

He nodded. "I'll see what I can do"

My eyes lit up and my whole body tingled with excitement. "Thank you, Nikolai"

A slight smile appeared on his face. "It's late, go back to your room, Evangeline, and sleep"

I turned and made my way out of his office. I went straight to my room as he had told me and shut the door just to lean against it for a few minutes. I wanted to make sense of what I was feeling for Nikolai. It can't be love.

The only real couple I have seen in love are my parents. Apart from them, I have only seen Disney's cartoon movies and animated characters falling in love.

Maybe, I feel this way because he is the first man I have interacted with, for the first time in eighteen years. My body seemed to have a mind of its own whenever he is near. I really don't understand this feeling...

I heaved a sigh and slumped on the huge bed and nuzzled my face in the pillow.

Good night, our sweet Evie— my parent's voice resonated in my mind before I slowly drifted into a deep slumber.

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