Full Circle Ch. 03bytens©
I apologize for the delay of this posting. I realized I could just split what I'd written in half and submit what I've had for months. I thank angelicsounds for editing the first half of this submission.
Please provide feedback on the new characters and events in this chapter.
October 19, 2012
Vanya climbed into his black M5 sedan and began the two hour drive from campus to the city. The addition of new lanes had cut down on traffic. He was thankful for the shortened travel time because his thoughts drifted back to her when he was alone. Persephone Peterson and the library. Lush memories of their encounter were taking up far too much of his time.
It had been three weeks since he had brought her to orgasm with his fingers. Vanya had planned on so much more happening between them but some things had occurred that he hadn't counted on. For one, he hadn't anticipated his need for her would be so great. He'd known he had wanted her, but when she got all nervous and tried to retreat, something inside him yelled, "Follow and conquer."
He'd been so surprised when he tasted her mouth. She tasted wonderful. Vanya had felt drug induced and had almost forgotten to ask if she wanted to be taken by him in a study room. It was clear by that point that their desire was mutual; however, there was something reserved about Persephone that told him she didn't do things like that too often. She was bold in all other aspects, but when he began his seductions she would always become nervous and demure...shy even.
He might have had to leave if she'd said no. He'd wanted to fuck her too damn much. Never had he been so excited. She'd responded well to his forceful brand of loving and when she panted out his name and informed him she was going to come, he'd lost it.
Persephone's pussy had smelled amazing. He was upset he'd barely gotten to explore it. Most of the questions that stemmed from his fantasies had been answered, but he still wanted to discover how pink she was. She got very wet, was incredibly tight, and tasted sweet and tangy. His two fingers were snug in her sheath and he was a little worried about her taking all of him when they finally coupled. And they would be coupling...definitely. During the past week he had tried his best to get her alone but Finn always ended up tagging along on their study sessions. The redhead's fun and flirty chatter interrupted his sly seductions of her best friend. Finn was a nice woman and seemed to be a good friend to Persephone, but he was eager to have his new lover again and she was kind of in the way.
Another thing Vanya hadn't anticipated was Persephone's declaration of a purely physical relationship. Persephone seemed like such a 'good girl.' It was clear that she was focused on doing well in school and staying involved in community service projects. Friends with Benefits wasn't something he thought girls like her went for. He was pretty sure that's what she was alluding to. The fact that not wanting to "date or anything right now" had slipped from her sweet mouth had thrown him for a loop and increased his interest.
His disappointment at the declaration was a surprise. He wasn't sure if it was because he was usually the one to spout those lines first or if he actually wanted to date her. Vanya just knew he smiled a lot around Persephone Peterson and that he liked it. The indifferent, cold, and lethal Ivan Kirillovich was nowhere to be found. Vanya often caught himself thinking "Who am I?" in her presence. He was so emotional around that woman and he wanted more of her. He wanted to discover her body, her mind, her past; anything she'd give him.
These thoughts freaked him out a little. However, Vanya was always one for a challenge and his pursuit of Persephone was a little fun and rebellion during the three year mini-vacation that was law school. He chuckled at the irony as he adjusted the radio. He'd return to his world eventually -- the real world.
As he pulled up to his family's premier jewelry shop he felt annoyance slip over him. He'd left the day to day management of the shops to his cousin Yulian, Mikhail's wily twin. Wily was just the word to describe the man. The only things Yulian shared with Mikhail were their handsome features; their kind green eyes complemented their broad smiles, onyx hair, and tall, lean physiques. Only Vanya, Lina, and Kirill had no trouble telling them apart.
However, their physicality was where the similarities ended. Whereas Mikhail was smooth and charming, Yulian was randy, gregarious and loud. His social skills were not really useful for the type of work his family did. In another world, Yulian would have been a great PR representative or game show host. The goofy host of a singing talent show for pop stars came to Vanya's mind.
Yulian just wasn't a hard man. For this reason, he worked in most of their real estate dealings. Unlike Mikhail's weapons dealing, real estate didn't require a lot of balls. Besides, Lina was always there as an enforcer if Yulian got into a predicament and she had enough balls for the both of them. If not for Yulian's natural affinity for mathematics and his business acumen, Vanya would have counted him as a complete imbecile -- not just a partial one.
It was for this reason only that Vanya had entrusted the on-site management of the shops to him. If Yulian wanted to be more central to the business like Mikhail or himself, then he'd have to prove his usefulness. If he could control his mouth and his dick, there wouldn't be too many problems.
Vanya sighed, tugged on his fitted gray suit, and passed through the heavy bronze and glass art nouveau doors with a little trepidation. He had no idea what to expect. He knew from weekly conversations and reviews that sales were in good shape, but he had no idea what state the shop itself would be in. Though old, the jewelry store always had a sophisticated and historical feel. His parents had converted the property from an old abandoned bank to the place it was today.
He felt a little relief as he took in the embellished, wood-lined cabinets and cases. The shop was pristine. Max, a trusted member of the security personnel, was at his post near the back of the showroom, giving him a short and respectful nod. Pavel Danilovich Novikov, a long time manager of the site, and his younger daughter Sophie were engrossed in some cataloguing behind one counter. The missing pieces were Yulian and Eva, Danilovich's older daughter.
After hearing the door close, Danilovich and Sophie's heads popped up. "Ivan Kirillovich, you're here early, what a pleasure!"
As Danilovich laid it on thick, it seemed Sophie was fighting the urge to roll her eyes. "Hi. I'll go retrieve Yulian for you," she stated and departed promptly.
When Sophie returned -- without Yulian or Eva -- she explained what she and her father had been reviewing in the catalogue. Vanya was thankful someone here was all about business. His deliberate early arrival had not rattled Sophie's feathers because she always had her ducks in a row. Vanya again found himself wishing he could have given her total control in his absence, but his father had refused. It would have been a slight to Yulian and her father, not to mention the disrespect she would receive as a woman. Vanya snorted at the thought of politics thwarting his will. It vexed him.
"Vanya!" Yulian emerged from the door leading to the second showroom, "Long time, no see, coz!"
With little notice, Vanya found himself wrapped in his cousin's ferocious bear hug. A strange mix of cologne and perfume tickled Vanya's nostrils and his suspicions were confirmed. He pulled away from his cousin and frowned. "Yulian, you need to be sharp for the meeting today."
"What? I'm sharp. In fact, I have all the specs ready for you. Come on, let's get upstairs. I've got everything set up back there."
Yulian led Vanya through the second, even more posh showroom littered with more security personnel. The door at the back opened to a cozy stairwell. They bypassed the winding metal staircase and pushed a button to call the small elevator. Vanya always thought the elevator was superfluous as the building had only two floors and a basement. It was only there because special, older clientele sometimes required the ease of this type of transportation. Once Vanya and Yulian were ensconced behind the elevator's closed doors, Vanya felt free to let into his relative.
"Really, Yulian? Did you have to fuck Eva? It's bad for business."
"God, is it that obvious?"
"I'm pretty sure everyone but Danilovich can't help but notice."
"Oh, wow. Well, you know, Eva is a special girl, Vanya -- a beautiful girl. Heh, her sister is too... although she's been a bit harder to work on ... Anyway, I'm getting away from myself. The point is that Eva and I are having some harmless fun. It has nothing to do with this shop."
Vanya turned on Yulian quickly, "It does when you screw her in the office. I'm telling you one last time Yulian, don't shit where you eat." Vanya's cool, low voice was steely and brokered no argument. If Yulian didn't heed his words, he'd regret it.
Just in time, the elevator doors opened to a dark short hallway lined with a couple of paintings, four doorways on the right, and a small bar on the left. The window at the hall's end and a single antique wooden chandelier were the only sources of light that shone on the dark wood-paneled walls. The two men entered the third door.
Eva was setting out tea cakes, apricot fruit tarts, and chocolate raspberry pavlova on the oak coffee table. Apparently, she'd had the decency to fix her makeup before tea service. Her lipstick looked fresh and her tight blouse and pencil skirt were just snug enough. Whereas her younger sister Sophie was all business, Eva was all distraction. Vanya was glad she was serving. He'd need any edge he could get against the guests of today's meeting.
Marcus Gupta and Suresh Gujral were ruthless and formidable business colleagues. Never ones to miss an opportunity to save money, they had convinced Yulian to provide them with an order of falsely marked diamonds four times the number of their usual request. Of course, Yulian had only seen dollar signs and jumped at the offer. Vanya would have never considered such nonsense. He was glad Yulian had the sense to tell him about the unusual order before finishing the deal. There was no way they could produce that much for one customer; it was beyond conspicuous and Vanya would lose a considerable amount of profit in regard to charges for production costs over time.
Vanya knew Marcus and Suresh wouldn't take the news well. Yulian had asked them here for a closing and they probably considered this meeting a formality. Vanya hated to strain an already precarious business relationship but he had no choice. He had to protect his family's business and reinforce the fact that his word was the only one that mattered in this shop -- whether he was in town or not. He took a seat with Yulian on the antique sofa facing the window and assumed a relaxed yet ominous position.
"May I pour you some tea, Ivan Kirillovich?" Eva asked sweetly. Without waiting for his reply she sashayed to the dining table and turned the spigot of the hot and delicate gold самовар, letting hot water fill a blue and gold gilded teapot. Vanya ignored her displayed assets and focused instead on the allure of the teapot his mother had bought for the shop many years ago. The beautiful tea room was of his mother's design, from the fern and flower textile wallcovering to the salvaged coat of arms that sat above the reclaimed stone mantel.
Vanya's mother had been crossing his mind a lot lately; strangely enough, in conjunction with his thoughts on Persephone. He was reminded of the oddly upholstered orange chair that managed to fit in with the eclectic-yet-structured style of Persephone's apartment. She would love a room like this.
"Vanya," Yulian asked, interrupting his thoughts, "the lovely lady asked if you wanted anything."
"No," he replied in a clipped tone. Vanya was annoyed with Yulian's sly compliment to Eva and at having his thoughts interrupted. He hoped that Marcus and Suresh would arrive soon. It no longer suited him to be here -- this whole meeting was starting to seem very tedious. They sat in silence as Eva prepared a cup of tea for Yulian and set it in front of him.
"Thank you, darling...Look, Vanya, I know this is a pain in the ass. I'm sorry about causing trouble. I'll promise to operate with more discretion in the future," Yulian said dejectedly while blowing on his tea, "I just saw a great deal and I went for it."
"It was a risky deal, Yulian, not a great one."
"Yeah, I know your reservations about --"
Before Yulian could make a last bid for his transaction, Sophie knocked on the door twice and poked her head in. "Our guests have arrived downstairs. Should I send them up?"
"No, Yulian will retrieve them," Vanya said, staring blankly into the empty fireplace opposite him. He could feel Yulian's embarrassment but couldn't bring himself to care. His younger cousin made his way to the door and closed it softly.
The clanking of plates as Eva pulled china from the oak cupboard seemed distant to Vanya. He hardened himself completely and focused on his standing his ground. It might not be best to take the direct approach with his guests.
No sooner than he had decided on his strategy of breaking the bad news, Yulian stepped through the door with Marcus and Suresh in tow. The middle aged men both tried to maintain neutral expressions, although where Marcus' was reserved, Suresh's was agitated. His chubby cheeks were stained red and he avoided eye contact.
"Ivan Kirillovich, it's a pleasure to see you again," Marcus' British accent was devoid of feeling. The tall Indian man reached Vanya in height but could have certainly done with more meat on his bones. Marcus' gaunt appearance only enhanced his unpleasant demeanor. Vanya was sure he didn't mean what he said. Perhaps Yulian had tipped them off to where he stood on the issue. No matter, it didn't change much.
"Gentlemen," Vanya nodded and replied, rising, "Please sit with me at the dining table. Eva here has prepared закуски and confections for our tea service."
As they took their seats at the table (Marcus and Suresh across from Vanya and Yulian) Suresh eyed Eva with greed. His oak chair creaked under the weight of his spherical body as he took his seat. "Thank you, dear," he spoke through his pudgy pink lips while leering at her. Eva did her duty and returned his smile while pouring a cup of tea.
"Well, I don't know about you three, but I'm starving," Yulian chimed in, "Suresh, you have to try some of these marinated mushrooms. Eva does an amazing job with them."
Suresh spooned some onto his plate and made for other dishes as well. Only Marcus and Vanya abstained. They politely sipped at their tea while Yulian and Suresh munched and made small talk. It was clear Marcus knew things wouldn't go as he had planned. Ever the conciliatory peacemaker, Yulian offered him some smoked salmon.
"I'm a vegetarian," Marcus replied simply, "in fact, I think I've lost my appetite for this meal."
"Now, wait a minute, Marcus," Yulian put down the dish, "I think you're misunderstanding things. We can come to an agreement today, no doubt."
"The only thing I'm misunderstanding, Nikolaevich, is that you made a deal with me and now you have broken your word," he stated calmly.
Vanya took that as his cue, "Marcus, it's clear that you're upset but there's nothing we can do. In all the years we've worked together things have been the same. They'll stay the same." He took his fourth sip of tea as if he was immune to the growing tension at the table.
"You will have to do something!" Suresh sputtered through the food in his mouth, his Indian accent leaking through his British lilt, "We've changed quite a bit in our business scheme based on the lies of your cousin here. We can't go uncompensated." The chair creaked even more as he waved his arms in frustration.
"I'm not a liar!" Yulian exclaimed, halting his food intake as well.
"It's unfortunate that you've counted your chicks before they've hatched, but again there's nothing I can do. You'll have to continue with our normal annual plan," Vanya interjected before Yulian could escalate things with an outburst.
"Would you listen to this?! This गध!" Suresh broke off into Hindi and began speaking directly to Marcus who continued to eye Vanya with growing disdain.
"My colleague and I don't take well to being lied to, Ivan," Marcus spoke lowly. He was completely still and his thin hands were folded over his long, stringy legs under the table. "You should reconsider your offer; protect your family's name as honorable businessmen."
Vanya turned his head sharply to glare at Marcus. The asshole didn't move a muscle. He dared to call him a liar and insult his family? Vanya decided he had played nice enough. This meeting was done as far as he was concerned. He rose and nonchalantly buttoned the second button on his jacket.
"Marcus, that's the third time you and Suresh have accused us of lying. I don't appreciate this line of conversation. The offer stands. You have two days to make a decision to take it or opt out indefinitely. Mr. Novikov will take your call here at the shop." With that, he made his way to the door.
"Do not walk away from me!" Suresh yelled, rising. Vanya was halted by the sound of an ugly clanking and the splash of water. Immediately, Max burst through the door, gun drawn.
"Hold!" Vanya shouted and raised his hand to the stop the guard.
He turned slowly and faced a fuming Suresh. The fat imbecile had knocked the самовар to the ground along with the teapot, which lay in shards. Hot coals and scalding water soiled the old Persian rug. Vanya's control broke and he injected venomous anger into his next words.
"Get out, you pigs! We're through here. If you value walking, don't dare to step in this shop again."
"You're threatening me? You insolent, young --"
Before Suresh could finish his sentence, Vanya rushed to him and slapped him hard across his chubby cheek. Suresh stumbled backward and nearly knocked over Marcus who had risen from his seat as well.
"It's a promise, not a threat, you bastard. Max, see them out!" Vanya barked.
Max quickly delegated his task and two of Vanya's men attempted to collect Marcus and Suresh. Their efforts were rebuffed as the guests refused to be held. They made their way out quickly and peacefully, flanked by their own men, Max, and other security personnel. Eva immediately began to clean the mess on the floor.
"Yulian, to the office, now." Vanya exited swiftly, not waiting for Yulian to follow.
Vanya entered the masculine office next door to the lounge he'd just left. Tailored for his father, the room's antiques, trinkets, and trophies spoke of the man's power. Vanya drew on that power to calm himself down. He was in control, and could deal with Yulian appropriately. He wanted it to be clear that the encounter they were about to have was all about business.
When Yulian entered, Vanya let him pass into the room. Instead of taking a seat, Yulian opened his mouth to placate his cousin. It was no use. Before a word got out, Vanya's fist connected with his jaw. As he hunched over in shock and pain, another blow cruelly slammed against his nose. Vanya gave Yulian a rough shove for good measure.
Before he could deliver another blow, Max entered to see about the cry of pain Yulian emitted. Vanya calmly took a seat at the desk. "Yulian, take a seat. Max, I need you to bring my car around."
Max immediately departed. Yulian pulled a handkerchief from his pocket, wincing as he dabbed his nose. For a moment, Vanya thought he winced from pain, but when he saw Yulian look at the silk cloth with regret, he questioned his first assumption. Vanya scoffed; even in this punitive meeting, Yulian's vanity rose without fail.