Home > White Nights (White Nights #1)(3)

White Nights (White Nights #1)(3)
Author: Anna Zaires

“And he just accepted that?” Joanne’s green eyes are wide and curious.

He didn’t, exactly. Instead, he looked at me with that hard blue gaze and smiled for the first time—a sharp, predatory smile that made my knees weak. Only then did he step away, letting me escape.

I don’t feel like explaining this to my friend, though. “What else was he going to do?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never met anyone like that, so I have no idea.”

“I have no idea either. What, you think I’m used to being propositioned in the ER?”

“I don’t know,” Joanne says with a straight face. “You certainly get into more interesting situations than me.”

“Oh, please. You’re hardly the poster child for normal relationships. Do I need to remind you about Larry?”

“Hey, that was in tenth grade! You can’t hold that against me.”

I grin at my friend. “I can and I will.”

We’d been thick as thieves in high school, gossiping about boys and clothes, and we’re still close. If not for Joanne’s crazy work hours, we’d probably hang out every weekend. As is, days like today, when we meet up for lunch in Chinatown, are only an occasional indulgence.

Why my friend chose a career in finance, I’ll never understand. Yes, the money is great, but the work-life balance is horrendous. For the past three years, Joanne has been working like a slave, putting in between eighty and a hundred hours a week. More often than not, my friend’s pretty face looks pale and strained, with bluish shadows underneath her eyes.

I also work hard, but I have a life. Granted, it’s not much of a life these days, but at least I have time off. Joanne has no such assurance. With her job, she’s on call twenty-four-seven. Even now, she keeps checking her phone every couple of minutes, just in case she has to rush back to the office for some emergency.

“Seriously, they can’t get along without you for an hour?” I ask in exasperation after Joanne covertly looks at her phone for the fifth time.

As a nurse dealing with real emergencies, I find it ridiculous that Joanne’s colleagues consider a PowerPoint presentation important enough to make someone work on the weekend.

She sighs. “Sorry about that. I’m so used to checking my phone that it’s like a compulsion.”

I level a serious look at her. “Is it going to get better now that you’re an associate and not a lowly analyst?”

“Hopefully. Now I can get some poor first-year analyst to stay there until midnight, and I can maybe go home at nine.”

“You’re insane.”

“Yes, yes, I know. But let’s not talk about my work. That’s too depressing. Tell me more about Mr. Tall and Sexy. You said he had an accent?”

“Mm-hmm. My best guess is he’s Russian or something along those lines. He said his name was Alex Volkov.”

She gasps. “What? Did you just say Alex Volkov? As in Alexander Volkov?”

I frown. “Yeah. Why? You know that name?”

“Duh. Of course I know that name. Anybody who reads the newspapers knows that name, Katie girl. Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of him?”

I shake my head, still frowning. “No. Why? Is he some big kahuna?”

“The biggest there is. Fuck, Kate, I can’t believe you met one of the wealthiest men in the world and didn’t have a clue who he was!”

“What?” I stare at my friend in shock. “What do you mean?”

“I mean… wow. Alexander Volkov. He’s one of those Russian oligarchs who made a fortune in oil. Now he runs what amounts to an empire. And you’re telling me he propositioned you?”

“He didn’t proposition me. He just said he wanted to take me to bed.”

“Uh-huh. If that’s not a proposition, I don’t know what is. Fucking-A. The man is a freaking gazillionaire! And you found him hot! I can’t believe you told him you’re not interested.”

“I’m not interested, Jo. You know I just broke up with Tony.”

“Oh, please, that asshole doesn’t deserve even a mention from you. I always hated his guts. I told you he was wrong for you from the beginning.”

It’s true. She’d taken an immediate dislike to Tony, calling him bland and boring. She didn’t understand why I was dating the skinny surgery resident when I never had trouble attracting men—her words. The thing is, Tony seemed like a safe, easy choice. We shared the same interests, and I enjoyed spending time with him. Our sex might’ve been mediocre at best, but it was nice to have a steady boyfriend, someone I thought I could trust.

Little did I know. It had been almost comical finding Tony fucking some blond bimbo in my apartment, a studio to which I’d given him the keys only two weeks earlier. I’d caught a stomach bug, so I came home early that day, hoping to crawl into bed with a mug of ginger tea. Instead, I found my boyfriend of eight months there—and he wasn’t alone.

At the sight of his bony ass buried between the blonde’s pale thighs, I literally threw up. Just barfed right there in the doorway. Tony and his blond squeeze were forced to step through the vomit to leave the apartment.

It was actually quite funny, especially after the fact.

Forcing my attention back to the present, I give my friend a sarcastic smile. “Yes, you are all-seeing and all-knowing, Miss Grand Psychic. How could I have ever doubted your wisdom?”

“That’s right. How could you have?” Joanne grins at me. “But back to your Russian billionaire. Are you going to do it?”

“Do what?”

“Sleep with him.”

I shoot her an incredulous look. “Um, no. The guy basically told me all he wants is sex. Besides, don’t you think it’s sketchy that someone wants to kill him?”

“That part is a bit problematic.” She looks thoughtful for a moment, twirling a strand of reddish-gold hair around her finger. “Don’t all wealthy people attract crazies, though? Isn’t that why they have bodyguards in the first place?”

“I don’t know. I just don’t need those complications in my life right now.”

“Honestly, Katie girl, there’s nothing that complicated about having sex with a guy you’re attracted to. When was the last time you had awesome, mind-blowing sex?”

I can’t recall. “Not for a while,” I admit.

Actually, maybe never. My best sex was with my college boyfriend after we’d gotten drunk and smoked weed, and even that had been just pretty good.

“In that case, you’re way past due. Did that douchebag even give you orgasms?” She’s obviously referring to Tony.

“Sometimes,” I say reluctantly.

“Oh my God, I’m so glad he’s out of your life. It should’ve been every single freaking time.”

I scoff. “Look who’s talking. When was the last time you went on a date, much less got laid?”

“Hey, at least I have an excuse. I work too much and don’t have time for boyfriends. You, on the other hand, actually had a boyfriend.”

“Whatever.” I sigh. “I don’t know if I can simply sleep with a guy like that. I’m more of a relationship person.”

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