Alexei had dozed on the short elevator ride to the penthouse condo. The doors chimed when the car reached his floor, and he had opened one eye to find the offending alarm only to see he was home. He was quiet and deft with the key in the lock and opened the door to find the chandelier over the dining table dimmed and Roisin O’Saidh seated there, a glass of whiskey at hand and a folder of papers before her.
Who, he wondered, drank whiskey at two-thirty in the morning? The Irish apparently.
O’Saidh must have conceded that it was the middle of the night by not putting her dark chestnut hair in its habitual bun, but she had made up her eyes and donned a business suit. Alexei glanced around and saw no sign that Mai was awake. He dropped his bag by the door and walked across the open space of the condo to the dining area. O’Saidh lifted her glass to drink and studied him over the rim with eyes that were as dead as his own.
“What are you doing up?” he asked her. His eyes went to the folder, emblazoned with a bow and arrow, the logo of EuroEnterprises, Mai’s business consortium, of which O’Saidh was the Chief Operating Officer.
“I intercepted the call from your concierge downstairs. He told me you were on your way here from the airport.”
“Why didn’t Mai answer the call?”
“Because she’s asleep, and I didn’t want her disturbed.”
“How is she?” Alexei asked.
“Nice of you to ask,” O’Saidh said.
Alexei’s jet lag almost made him take the bait. “How is she?”
“Better. Still weak. Still sleeps most of the day, but she’s alive. That’s all that matters. How was the important business that took you away? Blonde or brunette?”
His hands almost fisted, but he caught himself. “I’m sorry to have interrupted your work, Roisin,” he said. “I’ll be getting to bed.”
“Not in her bed.”
“It’s our bed, and if she doesn’t want me in it, she’ll tell me.”
O’Saidh lay a hand on the file folder. “I have something here I’d like you to review,” she said.
His frown deepened. Mai’s business concerns were something he stayed away from because, despite what the law might say about what he was entitled to, he wanted no interest in them. “What is it?”
O’Saidh narrowed her hazel eyes at him and smiled, a predatory expression he noted. “A divorce settlement. It’s extremely generous.”
Alexei shook his head, as if the fatigue had blocked his hearing, then worked to keep his anger under control. “Did Mai request that?”
“As I said, it’s generous, but I’m willing to negotiate. The top limit is twenty-five million. I can make the pen-and-ink change right now, if you’ll sign the papers.”
“Did Mai request this?” he asked again, already tired of having to repeat himself.
“I do nothing except in her interests.”
“You manage her business interests, not her personal life.”
“They’re interchangeable, me bucko. She can do better than you.”
“And how would you know? Your deepest relationship is with an accounts receivable ledger. If divorce is to be discussed, that will be between Mai and me.”
“Mai and you? When was there ever a Mai and you? Have you been here? No, I’m the one who’s had to dose her with painkillers for the past three days when you decided to up and leave after she took five Loyalist bullets.”
“I know. I was there.”
“No, you weren’t, not when it happened. You weren’t there, and she almost died, you bastard. I want you gone. I’ll make it twenty-eight million.”
“Does she know how fast and loose you play with her money, Roisin? Good night.” He turned and walked away.
“Don’t turn your back on me,” O’Saidh called to him, but he ignored her.
When he turned the knob on the bedroom door, he found it locked. He clenched the knob tighter to keep him from clenching the Irishwoman’s throat with the same intensity. With the image of that in mind, he went to the kitchen and rummaged through a drawer, then another, not finding what he wanted.
“Where’s the fucking key?” he asked the woman.
O’Saidh leaned back in the dining chair and sipped whiskey. “I tossed it off the balcony. Good luck finding it this time of night.”
“Are you fucking kidding me? What’s the point of this?”
“Another brick in the wall I’m building between you and her. That’s all, me bucko. Thirty million.”
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