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Who Is Ivan Civanovich?
Read an Excerpt
Rolling over and covering his head with a pillow didn’t help the erotic direction of his thoughts.
The sound of the water stopped. Moriah was out of the shower.
Ivan rose and yanked on his jeans. Barefoot, he descended the steps and looked around the inside of the house for her. He went outside and froze at the sight he encountered.
She sat on the porch swing, her legs tucked up close to her, her chin resting on the top her knees.
A picture of innocent, feminine beauty assailed him. The sun was rising, brilliant colors slashing across the eastern sky. She seemed to glow, a halo forming around her slender body.
When she looked at him, her lower lip trembled and her eyes held sadness.
His gut clenched with fear. All the burgeoning feelings that had consumed him the last twelve hours settled harshly in the pit of his stomach, and he knew then she didn’t feel the same way he did.
The thought scared him witless and sent a cool foreboding shiver down his spine.
He didn’t sit down and take her into his arms as he longed to do. Instead, he leaned against the railing that wrapped around the porch, his hands crossed in front of him. A picture of nonchalance, he hoped.
Moriah didn’t say anything for a long time. The silence felt right and deep.
"I miss them," she said, suddenly breaking the peace-filled silence. "I miss them so very much. When can they come home?"
The reason for her sadness made him light headed and vulnerable. Possessed by the urge to jump for joy, he quelled the impulse.
"I miss them too, but you know we can’t bring them home until it’s safe."
She didn’t move except to breathe, and she never took her eyes from the golden horizon.
"I want you to force a confrontation."
His breath rushed out in fear for her. "No."
Her slender back slowly straightened. Ivan braced himself for the inevitable argument. "If you won’t help me, I will do it by myself."
"No." He knew his voice sounded deadly. He watched her flinch and understood immediately that all the progress in their relationship he’d made last night vanished with his refusal to let her put her life in danger.
The stubborn tilt to her chin, the determined look in her blue-green eyes told him he’d have a fight on his hands. Perhaps he was wrong to deny her, but heaven help him he couldn’t let any harm come to her or the children.
"All right." It was all Ivan could do to say those two words. He had help, St. John and Trey. Perhaps she was right. If they didn’t do something, this situation could go on forever.
Surprise etched on her face. She hadn’t expected him to relent. He knew it. She knew it.
What she didn’t know or understand was that he wasn’t going to let her force anything. He’d allow her to help plan. She was a smart lady. He’d allow her to do to a handful of other things to help. Her creativity always surprised him. But he would never let her put her life on the line.
"You mean it?" she asked, her hands falling from around her legs. She sat up straight and let her feet touch the floor. Her hands were folded in her lap, her eyes wide and expectant.
Ivan nodded. "On one condition."
She smiled. "I knew there would be a catch."
"A small one," he said.
Moriah waited. Ivan turned to stare at the rising sun that had somehow moved to a point well above the horizon.
"I’m crazy," he said and leaned on the rail, his hands tightening there. "A crazy man." His fear for Moriah was an overwhelming force inside, a deep foreboding touching his heart.
He’d always listened to his gut instincts.
"No, just smart," she said. "You need me because I’m the catalyst in this game. What’s the condition?" she asked again.
Without turning around, he spoke to her. The squeak of the swing, her long deep breaths, it seemed he could see everything including the passing of her life from this world to another.
Ivan turned suddenly, tension coiled inside. "You have to agree to do everything I tell you to do--no questions. If I tell you to sit, you sit. If I tell you to duck, duck. And if I tell you to run, you’ll run as if the devil is after you. Is that understood?"