It was difficult telling whether the Gypsy stripper was moving around the pole or if the pole was just moving around her. She slipped around it like a silk ribbon, twisted her body around it sensuously. Her full, pouty lips were parted slightly, as though she were silently moaning.
The evil and cruel Romanian club owner and sex trafficker was pleased. He smiled darkly as he rubbed at the growing bulge in his pants, enjoying the show. The strain of his shaft against his pants was finally too much and he unzipped, freeing himself.
If the dancer saw him take himself out, she never even blinked. She just went on dancing, flinging her jet black hair back over her shoulder, grinding against the shiny dancing pole, wrapping her long legs around it and climbing to the top.
Muhamad Kastrati was particularly happy with this choice of woman that would satisfy him tonight. She was probably the most beautiful of all the strippers who worked in his club. He couldn’t think of any other girl being this good, moving that well. He was lucky to have found her at all; after what he had done to one other dancer last month, he had to keep a low profile.
It wasn’t a big deal for him, really, but it was an enormous pain in the ass to have to deal with all the questions, with the police coming in and poking around. Muhamad was the eldest son of a rich lawyer, who was also a veteran human trafficker, so it wasn’t like he was in any real danger of being arrested. And Muhamad had most of the strip joints and brothels cowering in terror, too afraid to refuse him when he came calling.
What was he going to do to this one, he wondered, slowly beginning to stroke himself under the table. He’d have his way with her one way or another, but afterwards, what would he do? He was in a private room in his club with guards posted outside both the front and back doors, so she couldn’t escape, and the walls and doors were thick enough that it was almost impossible to hear anyone shrieking and begging for their lives.
This vixen was amazing, though. She did not seem afraid. She climbed to the top of the pole and opened her legs wide, slowly rotating around as she exposed her barely concealed sex to him. She smiled and then clamped her legs down tight on the pole and hung upside down, facing him. Her breasts were threatening to slip out of her sexy half bra, her dark nipples peeking over the edge.
The Romanian Gypsy woman sat up straight and slowly slid back to the ground. She ground against the pole for a moment before turning to face him, her eyes smoky, her red lips smirking. Muhamad frowned, narrowing his eyes at her as she gracefully loped towards him, finally sinking to her knees and crawling to him.
He opened his mouth to say that he hadn’t give her permission to stop dancing, but her eyes were enchanting and he couldn’t find his voice. He straightened a bit in surprise as she made her way between his legs, sliding her long fingers along the insides of his thighs. She wrapped her hand around his penis and pulled, seeming to giggle as he groaned and dropped his head back against the couch.
The cruel Muhamad didn’t like this. He didn’t like that this Gypsy bitch was in control of him. He didn’t like that she wasn’t afraid of him. He sat up, ready to grab her by the hair and jerk her away, but she lowered her head and licked his testicles, swirling her hot wet tongue up his shaft and then to the head of his shaft. She slid her mouth down over him, taking his entire length and thickness deep into her throat. She let out a small breathy sigh as she swallowed, as he jerked his whole body off the couch. It felt amazing!
Gradually the woman started to bob her head up and down, sucking hard on him, jerking it with her hand, pumping him hard. With her free hand she reached down into her tiny thong, sliding those long fingers over her clit and folds. She moaned around his shaft, bobbing her head faster as she ground against her own hand.
Just when Muhamad felt his climax approaching, the woman jerked her head away, her hand squeezing down on the base of his shaft to cut him off. She thrashed between his legs, her head whipping back as she gave a long, primal moan of ecstasy, coming hard before him.
Muhamad’s eyes flared. How dare the bitch come before he did. How dare she stop him like that! She was going to pay for it…
As soon as the last of the shudders faded, the stripper licked her lips and grinned mischievously as she stood, slipping her panties down her long legs, and slowly crawling over him. Muhamad stared up into her beautiful face in disbelief. Who did she think she was?
Crouching over him, the woman took his wet shaft in her hand and before impaling herself, she dragged the blunt head up and down between her folds then carefully sheathed him inside of her. Both of them gasped and moaned at the feeling, her sheath so hot and so tight around him. She lowered herself all the way down to the hilt and groaned, carefully lifting and lowering herself on top of him.
Muhamad couldn’t do anything. He went completely limp. His mind was screaming in outrage, but she felt so perfect that he did not have the will to fight back. He just laid there against the couch, enjoying it, feeling the hard nipples of her breasts springing free of her bra and rubbing themselves against his face. He turned his head and licked at one, struggling to draw it into his mouth. Even as the seductive vixen moaned in pleasure, she seemed to know that he was going to bite her and leaned back, away from him.
He felt her sheath beginning to pulse and grow wetter. He gasped in shock as her body tightened around him and seized, as she thrashed against him and shrieked in euphoria, pounding her body hard against his, bruising them both before finally slumping against him.
She stopped moving just as he was about to come. Outraged, he grabbed her by the arms and shoved her back up right on his lap. He was going to have fun with this one after she was done with him.
Muhamad yelped as the woman’s hand shot out and grabbed him by the jaw, brutally jerking it open. Her opposite hand planted itself against his forehead and shoved his head back, pinning it against the back of the couch.
The woman lowered her face to his and opened her mouth over his. Muhamad tried to scream as the woman squeezed the life out of him; all of his air.
Finally it was done, and the woman carefully lifted herself off and stepped back, letting the body of the murderer slump back onto the cushions. He got what he deserved, the murderous bastard. He had gone too far and viciously killed young girls who were victims of sexual slavery, including her sister, and this was her way to exact revenge on the man who had killed her.
Heaving a small sigh, the woman hooked her bra and put it in position. Then she straightened her panties and leaned forward to picked up her short skirt. After she was dressed she left the murderer’s club by the backdoor. She didn’t care who found the body. One less sadistic murderer in the world. The police should thank her for taking out the trash. If by some way she’d be arrested, then so be it.
Eni was an exceptional woman. Being six foot one, she was in tremendous shape and very proficient in fencing, Savate, which was a full-contact boxing and kicking art indigenous to France, and karate. And also in Krav Maga, an Israeli martial art developed by Hungarian born, Imi Lichtenfeld in the 1930’s. At one hundred and forty pounds, she was more physically fit than most woman, and was able to get out of dangerous situations quickly and efficiently.
She had just killed Muhamad, a sadistic Albanian sex trafficker who deserved what he had gotten. Using sex, she had been able to get close to him, and will continue doing so, as her plan was to go after men like Muhamad.
As Lichtenfeld said, “Move quickly from defense to attack by becoming the aggressor as fast as possible.”
A fist shot at her face much faster than she’d expected. Eni felt certain it would impact somewhere on the side of her head, but at the very last second her body seemed to take over and jerked her head out of the way. The fist sailed through empty air and as it went past her, she saw the opening she needed. In a blink of an eye, she fired three solid punches into the attacker’s midsection.
Sweat was pouring down Eni ‘s face and into the folds of her karate uniform. It was stained with sweat, dust and exertion of the past few hours.
She turned to the judges and waited. Two white flags went into the air.
She beamed but contained her joy over winning the match. She was getting better and more confident with every match. Instead she executed a formal bow from her waist to the judges. Then she walked to her defeated opponent, a twenty-five-year-old Frenchman with light brown hair. He was still bent over, fighting for the air Eni had knocked out of his lungs.
As she approached, he looked up and frowned. “How did you do that?”
She just shrugged. “I thought you had me, Jean-Pierre. But somehow my reflexes kicked in.”
“Good fight. I may never breathe normally again, though.” He tried to grin, but winced in pain instead. His friends helped him off the tatami mats.
Eni turned and went the other way toward the side where her gear lay. One more match and she’d be done for the day.
“What a woman,” Jean-Pierre muttered to his friends when the dark-haired and dark-skinned woman was out of earshot.
But the last fight of the day was looking to be nothing but nearly impossible. She gulped down water and waited for the next opponent to walk onto the mat.
When he did, Eni felt her stomach twist itself in knots. This man was a monster. Anatoly Chernoskulov was one of the most feared fighters out of Russia. An expert stylist, he liked to practice his punches against brick walls. He’d split his knuckles so often that doctors had finally removed the remaining cartilage and simply sewn the knuckles together. Anatoly had calluses on top of calluses and was well over six feet, his thighs were as big as tree trunks.
He lumbered across the mat and stood in front of her with his arms folded across his huge chest. “I will not be easy as puny Frenchman,” he stated.
Jean-Pierre wasn’t easy, Eni thought.
She took another sip of water and then mopped her sweating brow. The material of her uniform top stuck to her skin. She flapped it, trying to get some air circulating so she’d be able to move without getting caught up in it.
Anatoly did some deep squats across the ring, warming up his body. As the champion of Sambo, he was going to be a difficult opponent.
The judges looked at Eni and she nodded, then stepped onto the mat. Anatoly turned and bowed to the judges. She did the same.
Anatoly turned to Eni and gave her a bow. She bowed in the same way.
The referee stepped in between them and held his hand horizontally. He looked at both of them again, but she already had her eyes on the big Russian.
Anatoly stalked Eni right away, coming at her from the side, like a crab. She pivoted to her southpaw stance, bringing her guard higher than normal, aware that Anatoly will attack with straight punches aimed at her head, trying to score immediate knockouts. She had seen him successfully knock out three previous opponents on his way to this match. She hoped to defeat this man and become the champion of this tournament.
Anatoly shot out a feint with his right leg, a flashing roundhouse kick aimed at her upper thigh. Eni stepped back out of range, letting the kick sail past her. His follow up was a straight blast aimed at her head.
She ducked and deflected the blow away to the inside and punched at the Russian’s exposed chest. He brought his left hand in sharply and punched her arm out of the way. She dropped back and away, clutching her arm.
Damn, that hurt, she thought. She took a breath and gritted her teeth. Let’s see how he likes this.
Against all her normal strategic thinking, Eni jumped and let a loud shout erupt from her lungs as she folded her legs up and under her, aiming her left foot at Anatoly’s head.
The jumping side kick caught her big opponent by surprise, and he barely missed getting his head snapped to the side by her kick. She landed, aware that he was already punching at the exact spot where she’d be landing. Instead of standing, Eni let the momentum drop her to the ground and then pivoted and swept Anatoly’s legs out from under him. He went down hard and the judges scored it one point for her.
Just two more to go, she thought as her opponent hauled himself to a standing position again, and glared at her.
No way is he going to fall for that again, she thought with a forced smile. Still, it was worth seeing the look of surprise on his face. Especially since she knew Anatoly was a notorious misogynist who thought women belonged either in bed or in the kitchen, preferably both.
The referee barked at them again to begin, and Eni and Anatoly faced off.
This time, the Russian didn’t waste time by trying to find the Romanian’s weak points. He simply flew at her with punch after punch, forcing her to back up again and again, blocking them as they came shooting at her.
Anatoly attacked with a ferocity she hadn’t experienced from all her previous opponents. His punches came at her from different angles and levels. He punched high and low and right in the middle. She kept backing up, aware that the edge of the mat loomed closer.
Finally, Anatoly got one punch past her and an instant later Eni felt it slam into her lower abdomen and drive every last bit of breath from her lungs. She fell backward and landed hard on the edge of the mat.
She tried to flush her lungs but her diaphragm seemed to be spasming. Anatoly’s face came into view, hovering over her.
“That makes us even at one point each, Miss Romania.” He smiled. “Now it really is anyone’s match.”
He helped her to her feet. “Just don’t mistake this for anything but what it is; a long overdue lesson for all women that they need to stay away from competitive fighting. They belong at home, or entertaining men in clubs.”
The last part of the statement infuriated her. She was willing to bet he was involved in sex trafficking. If he was, he was a dead man. Maybe not now, but somewhere down the road.
“What a hateful statement,” she said. She smiled at Anatoly. “But don’t worry, I’ll make sure this doesn’t sting too much when I lay you out on your ass.”
The Russian just chuckled and walked to his edge of the mat. The audience had quieted, aware that both fighters were even in points. One more score would decide the match. Eni could feel their eyes on her as they leaned in to watch.
She could smell of sweat that tinged the air, and her thoughts went to what had brought her here in the first place.
After deciding to do something about the human trafficking problem that plagued Eastern Europe, in which her sister was a victim, she wanted to become a fighting machine and take on the smugglers and traffickers in hand-to-hand combat. In her intense desire for justice, she had soared to the top in a short period of time.
And now, here she stood, awaiting Anatoly’s final attack. Her nerves seemed poised at the edge of a very steep cliff, ready to jump at a moment’s notice. Even the sweat seemed to still wherever it was on her body.
Anatoly’s eyes glistened like those of a hungry tiger about to consume an antelope he’d pursued and had cornered. Her stomach still hurt, but her breathing had returned to normal.
For the last time the referee stepped between them. Once more, he looked at them both.
The crowed roared and jumped to their feet. Shouts and cheers echoed across the cavernous room as the Romanian woman circled the Russian man. The Sambo practitioner smiled and then roared as he launched a high roundhouse kick toward Eni ‘s left temple. She stepped inside and started to drop to punch into his groin.
This should bring him down, she thought.
But in that instant, Anatoly recoiled his kick and then shot his left arm out, getting her across the throat in an chokehold.
She knew she would be defeated if she couldn’t get out of the hold. She grabbed Anatoly’s arm and used it to vault herself over like a gymnast. As she spun over, she kicked out with both feet at his chest.
He sidestepped and shot a punch at her head.
Eni ducked out of the way and the two of them broke apart again.
Sweat poured down both their faces. She blinked through the salt and kept her guard up. Her arms felt like lead weights, dragging her down, but she was all too aware of how fighters often tire. Once the guard started to drop, the other fighters usually had no problem finishing them off. Eni was determined to not let that happen. Especially since she’d spent enough time listening to her self-appointed trainer, harp on her about keeping her hands up where they could protect her.
Anatoly’s guard had stayed perfectly in position throughout the entire fight. His arms were like steel girders wrapped in sinew. He still maneuvered on deeply bent legs, keeping his center of balance low and steady. Trying to unseat him would be pretty much impossible.
He screamed and came at her with a series of stomping kicks aimed at her midsection. He looked as if he was taking giant steps across the mat, and she had to sidestep them again and again.
This is ridiculous, she thought. It’s time I went on the attack.
She turned and launched a single roundhouse kick at the Russian’s head. He casually flicked it away and in that instant, Eni went low, driving her elbow toward his stomach.
He blocked that as well. She came up, driving up both arms with an uppercut at the underside of his square jaw. He pivoted out of the way and then dropped unexpectedly to the floor. She felt the crushing blow of Anatoly’s instep sink into stomach and then lift her high off the ground. When it was fully extended, he retracted his right foot, but Eni kept sailing through the air, tumbling before crashing to the floor in a broken heap just as the judges raised their red flags.
She had lost the match.
She got to her feet, determined not to lie there like a beaten fool. Even though her stomach ached as if someone had used it as a punching bag, she bowed to the judges and then to Anatoly.
“Next time,” she said through gritted teeth, “you’ll lose. I promise you that.”
Eni hobbled over to her bag and drank down the last of her water. The crowd was still cheering as the Russian soaked up the adoration. He bowed several times and then left the mat. The spectators left soon after.
She sat there for another few minutes, catching her breath. She lifted the water bottom to her lips but found it drained of the precious liquid.
She looked up and into the darkest eyes she had ever seen. He held out a fresh bottle of water and smiled.
A shiver went through her. Wow, she thought. What was that? “Thanks,” was all she could say.
“That was some fight. You held your own against him remarkably well.”
“Remarkably well? What’s that supposed to mean?”
He held up his hands. “Please, I mean no disrespect. I certainly do not share Anatoly’s viewpoint on the role of women in society.”
“You know what he thinks about women?” Eni asked.
He smirked. “Anatoly has made no secret of his views on women and the martial arts. You can read about them in any number of magazines.” He watched as the arena emptied out. “Anatoly is an extremely adept opponent, however. But you made him work for that win. And that is something that doesn’t happen too often. You should be very proud of how well you fared.”
Eni grimaced. “I’ll save that for when I’m feeling better. Right now, my guts feel like they want to stage a revolt in my stomach.”
He offered his hand. “My name is Ahmed Kharlampiev. I’m very pleased to meet you, Eni .”
She stared at him. “Nice to meet you, too.”
“This is not my usual scene, I’m afraid.”
“Not a martial artist?”
Ahmed shrugged. “There’s a difference between sport tournaments and real martial arts. Most people confuse the two, but there are profound differences.” He eyed her closely. “As I’m sure you know.”
“Too many rules. In tournaments there are always rules, even if the venue claims that anything goes,” replied Eni .
“Exactly.” Ahmed nodded. “But on the street…”
“Anything really goes. Eye gouging, groin shots, knee breaks. Whatever it takes to survive.”
He smiled. “You do know. And the mental perspective is also different. Fighting for survival can never be understood by those who have never struggled for their own life.”
Eni gathered her towel and bag. “So, are you just an admirer?”
“Yes, I am.”
She wiped her brow. “Do you make a habit of picking up women at martial art competitions?”
Ahmed’s eyes widened. “Is that what you think this is?”
“I’m not sure yet.” She hung the towel over her shoulder.
“Perhaps I might be interested in taking you out for dinner.”
She smiled. “Dinner.”
“To be very honest, I’m very attracted to you. Are you interested?”
She nodded. “Let me take a quick shower first. And after that, you can take me out for dinner. Then I’ll see if I’m interested in more. Okay?”
“Uh…okay,” he said.
Eni turned and walked away, aware that Ahmed was standing still behind her, very much surprised by her quick decision in going out with him. Maybe she’d even take him home for a quick bout of sex.
The shower was not the kind of luxurious bath she preferred if she’d been home in Bucharest, but the hot water was good for relieving the tenderness of her sore muscles. She soaped herself up using the fragrant soap she carried with her, ridding herself of the body odor stench that seemed a fixture in gyms all over the world.
Aside from her bruised ego and the purplish welts already covering parts of her muscular body, Eni felt refreshed when she emerged from the changing area dressed in a black turtleneck and jeans.
Ahmed lounged by the front of the arena, now almost entirely deserted except for the various ushers and cleaning crew. She could see that his breathing was relaxed and deep, and every minute or so, his head scanned the immediate vicinity.
Despite his demeanor, she knew he was completely aware of everything around him. She’d seen the same relaxed attentiveness before.
He looked up as she approached, his eyes giving her a lingering once-over. “You clean up well.”
“Thanks. Are you always that blunt?”
Ahmed smiled, showing his shiny white teeth. “Are you wondering if I’m interested in taking you to bed?”
“Yeah, something like that,” she said with a smile.
He led them outside, holding the door open for her. She felt the cool breeze wash over her and was glad she’d decided on the turtleneck. Ahmed guided her toward the parking lot.
“I find it easier to simply say what I think or feel, and see where it leads.”
“Interesting,” Eni said. She liked men liked that. No nonsense.
He pointed at a black Mercedes S550 parked alone under a street lamp. “This is my ride.”
She whistled. “Nice ride.”
He nodded. “I have a weakness for nice cars. As much as I love nice cars, they can’t beat the appreciation I have for the female form.”
Eni slid into the leather seat. She couldn’t help but feel excited by this man. She instinctively knew sex would be great with him, and she fully intended to go all the way if he so much as kissed her. “Any other weaknesses I should know about?”
Ahmed eyed her for just a moment. “Beautiful women. Let’s get something to eat. You must be very hungry after the grueling session you just had.”
“I could definitely eat.” She rested her head back against the cushion. “It has been quite the day.”
He put the car in gear and they moved off into the traffic. At a traffic light, Ahmed turned and smiled at her.
“So where are we going? Steak? McDonald’s?”
“Somewhere with a very diverse range of food. I’m not sure what you normally eat after you fight your way through a line of foes, so I thought it best to go where there is a buffet. That way you can best decide what will replace the nutrients you lost earlier.”
“That’s very considerate of you,” Eni said, wanting to lean over and kiss him. “I appreciate that. After dinner, you have my permission to take me to your place for the night where we can indulge ourselves in each other.”
“You say what you think, too?”
“I try. Better results that way.”
Ahmed parked the Mercedes and they both got out. The front of the restaurant proclaimed that it served pizza, wings, hamburgers and an assortment of other American food items, all written in English. Eni ‘s mouth watered at the thought of a plate full of wings. But she thought it might be better to stick to something less messy. Nothing said impressive on a first date than sauce smeared all over your face.
A line of motorcycles that had been decked out with detailing and every latest gizmo available dominated the area immediately outside the restaurant. At least ten of them vied for space in what should have only accommodated half that.
She whistled. “Nice bikes.”
The waitress inside greeted them. As Eni looked the place over, rock music was playing, but not too loud. Diner-style booths with bright red cushions and laminated tables reminded her of the 1950s-style.
The hostess led them past a bunch of tables packed with Russian teens adorned with tattoos, body piercings and colorful spiked hair. She felt their eyes roam her tall, muscular body and now wished she’d worn something less clinging than she had on.
More than the way they looked at her, though, she was surprised by the way they checked out Ahmed. Several of them shifted in their seats, and she felt her own instincts buzz. Were they going to jump them? And if so, why?
His voice brought her back to reality. He smiled at her and she smiled back.
“Forget about them. They’re just low level thugs who are used by the Mafia for intimidation. They extort money. Some of them run small-time prostitution rings or sell drugs on the side. And tragically, most of them are dead before they are twenty.”
“That’s terrible,” she said. She’d seen enough of youth involved in crime to know the statistics could be devastating.
“More likely it’s stupidity,” Ahmed said.
A waitress came up to their table. Eni opened the menu and ordered a large burger.
The waitress smiled. “What you like on that?”
“Lots of cheese, lettuce, ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise. No onions. Oh, and I’d like a large glass of cold water.”
Ahmed ordered a plate of wings and a beer. “I come here for wings and a Budweiser beer.”
Their food arrived sooner than she would have thought. After checking her burger for any sign of onions, she took a huge bite. Tasting the juices and melted cheese run into her mouth, she moaned. “This is incredible.”
“It’s better with onions,” Ahmed said with a mouthful of wings.
“No chance. I don’t want my mouth smelling when I kiss you,” she said. “You’ve got sauce on your face.” Eni washed down her bite with a long sip of water.
He wiped his mouth. “If I have some remaining after I’m done, you can lick it off.” He took a long swallow of his beer and then devoured the rest of his plate as if he hadn’t eaten in a long time.
She devoured her burger and found her fries just as tasty. She and Ahmed ate in relative silence for the next few minutes until at last, she leaned back, wiped her mouth and sighed. “That was a great meal. Thank you.”
He finished his beer and motioned to the waitress. He glanced at her. “How about a beer?”
“Sure.” She normally didn’t drink alcohol after a fight, but she was full and relaxed and eating with a handsome guy. One drink wouldn’t do her any harm.
He held up two fingers and then turned back to her. “So you’re okay with me taking you home and just have my way with you?”
A shiver of pleasure went through her. “Yes. I like you so I won’t mind you taking charge.”
The waitress brought their beer and Ahmed lifted his in Eni ‘s direction. “I’ve never known a woman like you who fights for hours and then agrees to go out on a date with a stranger and is totally fine with going to bed with him.”
They drank together and then he rested his glass on the tabletop and leaned forward. “Besides, you’re gorgeous. And you do your best in the ring. I can only imagine how good you are going to be in bed.”
She didn’t have sex that much, but when she did, it was only to satisfy the itch she rarely got. Her training took up too much of her time. She was sure that sex with Ahmed would be the best. She could just sense that. “You are an interesting guy. Anyone ever tell you that?”
“Just a beautiful martial artist.”
“Have you known many?”
Ahmed finished his beer. “Just one.”
Despite the rising tension, she smiled. She saw the waitress start to approach their table, but Ahmed glanced at her and signaled for the bill.
“Let me just say that you’ve been a most enjoyable date for dinner this evening,” he said.
The thugs had finally made a decision and were sliding out of their booths, making their way toward them, with Ahmed still seeming entirely unfazed by the thought of what was evidently going to happen.
The young man that Eni picked to be the leader swaggered toward them. Ahmed kept his eyes on her and his hand on his beer glass.
The thug glanced at her and then Ahmed. He barked out a quick sentence to him, who simply sighed. “My friend doesn’t speak Russian. Why don’t you be polite and speak in English? I’m sure she’d appreciate it.”
The thug frowned and glanced at her again before looking back at Ahmed. “You don’t give me orders.” he said in English.
Eni almost laughed out loud. Despite the thug’s insistence he was in charge, he had already obeyed Ahmed without even realizing it.
Ahmed lifted an eyebrow at Eni . “Is there something I can do for you?”
“You’re sitting in our booth,” the thug said.
“Really? That’s funny. How come you weren’t sitting in it when we walked in? After all, you’ve been here far longer than we have,” Ahmed replied.
“You’re in our booth.” The thug put both hands on the table and leaned over Ahmed. Eni could see his shirtsleeves inch up, exposing the beginnings of tattoos that covered his arms.
“You’re not the tough guy you like to project. And furthermore, it might very well mean you aren’t Vory v Zakone at all, just a poser.”
Her eyes widened. If the tension hadn’t been palpable before, it was now at the point where she could cut it with a knife. The thug backed up in total surprise that Ahmed would say something like that to him in front of his group of followers. The loss of face was great.
If we had a chance to walk out of here before, she thought, it’s gone now.
The thug recoiled just enough to draw his arm back, reach into his pocket and draw a switchblade. He stabbed it right at Ahmed’s heart.
Ahmed simply leaned back and let the knife go past him. Then he grabbed the thug’s wrist with his right hand and tugged him forward. It happened so fast that the thug stumbled and lost his balance. As his face came toward the tabletop, Ahmed lifted his left hand and slammed the beer glass into the thug’s face.
Glass shattered as Ahmed slammed the glass bottom into the thug’s nose. Eni heard the cartilage break. Blood flowed, running down the young man’s face.
The thug slid to the floor, but as he did so, Ahmed took the knife away from him.
There was a moment of stunned silence as the gang looked from Ahmed to the floor where their leader lay. Then one of them gave a loud cry, and all hell broke loose.
When she blinked, she almost missed Ahmed kick at the next closest target, catching him in the groin. He used the kick to cover his slide out of the booth. Eni wanted to help him, but was unsure about what she was getting herself into. The last thing she needed was to be on the wanted list of Russian mafia in Moscow.
Ahmed seemed to have no care about doing so, however. Eni watched as he deftly evaded every strike and kick aimed at him by the gang members. One moment they would seem locked on him, and the next, their strikes would pass through empty air. Ahmed would have somehow managed to get behind them or toi their side and simply apply a few key strikes to take them down.
She watched one of them sneak up from behind and try to stab Ahmed in the back. She was about to shout a warning but as the stab came in, Ahmed sidestepped and the blade passed through air where his kidneys had been a second before. He moved back and effected some sort of strange arm lock she had never seen before. In an instant, the thug was airborne, crashing into a group of other thugs, sending them sprawling across several booths and tables.
Ahmed had somehow managed to contain the mayhem to the corner of the restaurant. Eni was aware that the rest of the crowd sat riveted by the action.
Ahmed surveyed the scene. A quiet hush broken only by the low moans of the thugs he’d beaten up fell over the restaurant. He stepped up to the leader he’d dispatched first. “Just as I thought. Nothing but a bunch of punks.”
He stood and looked at Eni . “Well, now I suppose we should leave.”
She shook her head, trying to clear the images that had played out before her. “Are they dead?”
He chuckled. “No. But I imagine they will be sore for a while.”
The waitress came up and gave Ahmed the bill. He glanced at it and took out his wallet and removed a enough money to pay for dinner and the damage that was caused, and handed it to the waitress. “We better get going.”
Eni followed Ahmed outside. The cool air felt good on her skin. For some reason, she’d felt amazingly energized by watching the fight transpire. She’d wanted to join in but had held herself back out of fear of jeopardizing Ahmed. Somehow that sentiment seemed crazy now. He had handled himself unlike any fighter she had ever seen. She briefly wondered if she could beat him.
“Ahmed. I’m sorry if I led you on, but…”
“It’s okay. I understand. I don’t know you, you don’t know me.”
“You’re a great guy. Maybe some other time.”
Ahmed turned the Mercedes down another side street. “We’re almost there.”
“Almost where?” She glanced out the window. He could see she had no idea where they were. He knew trying to gauge location at night in a foreign city was a daunting task.
“Your hotel, of course.”
Eni frowned again. “You know where I’m staying?”
She turned and Ahmed could see her hands bunched up, almost as if she thought he might attack her. He held up his hands for a brief moment, risking taking them off the steering wheel for effect.
“I’m not following you, Gypsy. If that’s what you’re thinking.”
“I am thinking that, yes.” She kept her hands bunched up.
“You’re cautious. I can surely appreciate that. I try to be that way myself. Especially when I travel”
“So you understand why I’m about to get out of this car and never see you again.”
Ahmed pulled over to the side of the road and unlocked the doors. “You can go. In all honesty, I wished you’d stay.”
She relaxed visibly. “You’ve had me followed since I landed?”
He took a breath. “Honestly, much longer than that.”
Eni frowned again. “Just how long have you been following me?”
“Would you believe months.”
“You are a very aware woman. But even those who think they are aware usually have gaps in their defenses. Those gaps can be exploited. In this case, it enabled me to remain invisible despite your attentiveness.”
“Let’s take your most recent activity. Muhamad. You killed him. I saw you squeeze the life out of him.”
“You were there?” Eni shook her head. “I don’t believe this.”
Ahmed smiled. “Don’t get me wrong. You’re good.”
“But you’re better. Is that it?”
He held up his hands. “I’m on your side. I want to see guys like Muhamad taken care of.”
“Yeah. Well, we’ll see. Why don’t you take me to my hotel? I could use a good sleep.”
He pulled the car away from the curb, relieved to have seemingly defused any suspicion that the Gypsy woman might feel toward him. In her place, he might have reacted more aggressively, taking out the potential threat rather than allowing it to continue to exist in case of compromise.
But the Gypsy was not like him. And that was why he felt sure she would be the perfect person to aide him in his quest to hunt down criminals like Muhamad. Her knowledge and skills would keep them in good stead.
And he also liked how very beautiful she was. What he liked the most was how unaffected she was by her natural beauty. Briefly, he wondered if she might think him handsome. Just as quickly, he pushed the thought out of his mind. He needed to stay focused if he had any hope of her helping him.
They pulled up to the hotel and Ahmed put the car into park. She sat facing him.
“Ahmed, you seem like a nice enough guy. But I don’t know if I can trust you with my story. I don’t like the thought of tangling with the Vory v Zakone or even wanna-be Vory v Zakone. If they’re interested in you and I’m around, that will make me a target of opportunity, as well.”
“You don’t strike me as being averse to danger.”
She placed on hand on the door handle. “I’m not really averse to much. But I’d be a fool if I took all of this at face value.” She shrugged. “You may not want to talk about it right now. That’s fine. It’s late and we’re both tired.”
She looked at him. “But we will talk about this. I you want to help me with my mission, then you’re going to tell me exactly what the hell is going on here. Otherwise, I will disappear and not even you will be able to find me again.”
She opened the door and strode off to the hotel entrance. Ahmed sat still in the car and then after another minute smiled slowly. Eni , he thought, you might just be my dream woman.
Eni decided to take a long, hot soak in the deep tub. She walked into the bathroom and turned the tap. A rush of hot water streamed into the tub. In seconds, steam filled the air and she realized she was overdressed.
Outside in her room, she stripped down. With her pants and turtleneck off, she ran her eyes over her skin, doing a basic damage inspection from the tournament. Anatoly’s kicks and punches had left some nasty bruises. She could see purplish bruising above her ribs and on the backs of her legs. His hits had left some colorful souvenirs. She frowned. Someday, she’d get him back. And the idea of him flat on his back while she stood over him as a proud victor definitely appealed to her. She would have to train harder, drive herself harder in order to get better so that she could beat him.
She walked into the bathroom and stepped into the blissfully hot tub of water. Gritting her teeth, she wanted to enjoy the hot water but also aware that it felt as if she were burning her skin off.
She withdrew her leg, drained out some water and then added cold water. After another minute, she tried getting in the tub again and this time found that she could stand the heat.
As Eni sank into the tub and let the water come up to her chin, she closed her eyes and tried to breathe deeply, allowing the stress of the day to melt away. She was tired and the steamy heat made her feel even more so. As she replayed the day’s events, she found herself thinking about Ahmed. She lightly circled her nipples with her fingers and they peaked and grew hard instantly.
And since so much of her life revolved around training and fighting, she also felt that any time spent fantasizing about sex was time well spent. She hadn’t had sex in so long that she didn’t remember when the last time was.
“I would have sex with him, though.”
Her eyes flew open. Had she just said that out loud? A smile flickered across her face. Apparently the hot water was doing its job by relaxing her to the point she felt comfortable speaking to herself.
She tilted her head back and rested it on the edge of the tub, her eyes still closed as the heat enveloped her. The way Ahmed had moved in the restaurant earlier played in her mind. Eni slowed the thoughts down and tried to study how he had managed to beat the gang without even appearing to break a sweat.
Ninjitsu! She was sure he was a ninja. A damn Russian ninja who most likely trained in Japan. If that art still existed, which she believed it did, she wanted some of it. She didn’t feel any particular obligation to one form of martial arts over another. She was too pragmatic to get lost in the politics of that debate. She needed what worked; it was as simple as that. And if adding some ninjitsu to her arsenal helped her stay alive, well, bring it on. If there was a chance to see a class being taught, there was no way she’d turn down that opportunity.
Marvelous, she concluded. If she had even a small percentage of the same skill, Anatoly would be the one nursing not just bruises, but his wounded ego, as well. What were the chances of Ahmed teaching her some of his skill?
Her thoughts suddenly went erotic. Ahmed was between her legs, thrusting into her with deep, powerful strokes. She reached down to touch herself.
A breeze of cold air suddenly blew into the bathroom, scattering the blanket of steam that had hung about the tub like a mist over a swamp.
Her eyes flew open. Her stomach tensed. Someone was in her room.
Eni could feel the air currents being disturbed. But she heard nothing. Whoever was inside her hotel room, knew how to move in absolute silence. But movement, any movement, disturbed the air ever so slightly.
Could she move just as quietly and get out of the tub without them knowing? she wondered.
She frowned. No chance. The water dripping off her would make noise. Still she decided to get out. She practically slithered out like a snake. She kept her body low as possible as she slid over and out of the water. The door to the bathroom was mostly closed, except for a gap about two inches. She braced herself behind the door in case they rushed the bathroom. But she didn’t think they would.
Goosebumps spread across her body. She reached behind her for a towel. When she found it, she tried to figure how best to wrap the towel so she could fight if necessary.
The heck with it, she thought, frowning. If someone was here and she was to get into a scuffle, being naked might just help my cause and give me a split second to get the upper hand.
She looked damn hot naked, she thought as she looked down. With her tall, lithe body moist and slippery, and her nipples peaked, she did indeed look good. So much for modesty. She grinned. Too bad there were no cameras rolling right now.
Eni took a deep breath and stepped out of the bathroom. No sooner had she done that when a fist struck her solidly on the side of her head. So much for being naked, was her last thought as she crumpled to the floor.