A Deadly Game
Angelica Bichcova

monday, march 5th, 2012; mari and igor will be house hunting today. she decided to take along nastia and angel while igor decided to bring dimitri. they will be looking at lofts in the city, even though they should stay in brighton.

I looked around the apartment, shrugging my opinion to Mari. It was better by far than the last one the agent had show us. Mari gave me a smile, though it didn't quite reach her eyes. I knew what was weighing on her mind, the same thing that was on everyone's.
"Mar, what are you thinking about?” I wasn't sure if I was asking about the apartment or the whole Yulee situation that had rocked us all lately.
“Yulee. I still can’t believe she did that,” she replied softly as we moved further into the apartment. I nodded, not surprised. 
I paused, looking past the guys to where the Realtor was standing, giving us a moment apparently to look it over. I stepped away from Mari, making my way to him, reaching into my pocket as I went.
“Excuse me. Can we just look around privately? Like you outside?” I slid my hand out of my pocket, producing a thick roll of bills. His eyes lit up with delight as he nodded, moving back towards the door. 
We didn't need his prying ears overhearing any of the conversations we might have.
“Thank God, he’s gone. I gave him enough money for a couple hours if we need it,” I sighed as we walked into the kitchen. The boys where already there, their light-hearted argument over baseball finally done.
The seconds drew out as I wondered who would speak first. It was bad enough when Yuri had been framed, but to see Yulee pull what she had, only casted more doubt on their family.
“Personally, I don’t think she’s the rat,” Mari finally piped up, crossing her arms over her stomach. 
Dimtri crossed his arms, glaring back at her. I simply leaned back against the counter, determined not to jump her and wait out her reasoning. 
“And I think she is. Did you see her with that cop?” Dimtri countered almost immediately.
“No, the Nick guy didn’t come into the picture until after the deals went wrong. He’s relatively new to her life,” Mari snapped, her eyes shooting daggers at him.
Surprisingly Igor didn't say anything as Mari and Dimi argued. I shot him a look, that he answered with a glare. With a roll of my eyes I looked back at the two as they argued.
"I don't recommend defending her in public," I finally spoke up. I wasn't trying to make it worse, just giving her some advice. Right not it wasn't the popular opinion to have.
“You don’t think I know that?! I know that I can’t defend her. I can’t even think about her!” Mari snapped out of nowhere. 
I kept my face blank as she grew more agitated. I knew some of it had to be pregnancy, but it also couldn't be easy, being friends with Yulee.
Igor pushed away from the counter, moving over to where Mari was standing, her posture defensive. He wrapped an arm around her, leaning in.
“Mari, calm down. It’s okay," he muttered. In a way I think he was trying to help, but he looked so out of his element as Mari reared back from him.
“No, I won’t calm down. You don’t ever tell a woman to calm down, especially a pregnant one!” Mari screamed at him, before turning and storming down the hallway. The three of us stood there in a shocked silence.
"I wish you luck with her." Dimtri muttered lightly. The attempt to lighten the mood failed as Igor shot him a warning glance.
"Why'd you even bring it up in the first place?" Igor growled, turning to face me. 
I kept my position, leaning against the counter, my arms crossed. He wasn't going to goad me into a fight. I'd made a promise to myself not to fight with him, if it could be avoided.
"It's obviously eating at her Igor. Yulee is one of her closest friends, and you don't think she feels torn over how to feel?" I replied, keeping my voice calm.
"And you...goading her!" He ignored me, turning to point at Dimtri.
"I'm entitled to my opinion old friend. I don't trust Yulee it's that simple," Dimtri replied casually. I'd give it to him, he wasn't going to back down on his thoughts.
"Both of you, shut up!" I hissed, looking in the direction that Mari had walked. I lowered my voice, before looking back at them. 
"None of this is helping Mari. Do I think Yulee is the rat? No," I waved them both off from speaking before I continued, "But that doesn't mean I trust her. Of course not. She chose the cops over her family. If she wanted out, she could have found a better way to do it. But all of that aside, our concern should be on Mari."
Dimtri's face was unreadable as Igor gave a reluctant nod. I didn't care if they liked my comments or not. Mari was going through enough drama without us making things worse for her, telling her how to think during all this.
"Now...Igor, I suggest you go find your pregnant wife and don't piss her off!" I ordered, not caring if he liked it or not. "And you, I think the house viewing is over, let's track down the agent and cancel the other appointments for today." I pointed at Dimtri before pushing off the counter and walking towards the front door.
Dimi fell in step beside me as I walked out the front door. The agent was loitering outside, his face lighting up briefly, before falling when he realized it wasn't Mari and Igor.
"Mrs. Pirvonova isn't feeling too well today, so we're going to have to cancel the rest of the day. I'm sure this will cover any trouble that might cause for your schedule." I produced another stack of bills, pushing them into his hand.
He grabbed it greedily, turning to leave. I let out a sigh, almost forgetting Dimi was beside me till he cleared his throat. I looked at him out of the corner of my eye at him.
"What?" I asked, walking in the same direction the agent had gone.
"Who says I have anything to say?" He teased, still walking beside me. it was unnerving, each time he bumped into me. He was too close, his scent tantalizing my nose.
"I know you. When don't you have a comment to make?" I countered with a roll of my eyes. I wanted to think it was like before, when I would pretend to be annoyed by his banter. But my mind refused to let go of the hurt between us.
"It's odd, don't you think...watching them be almost domestic with each other." He murmured, opening the main door for me as we walked out onto the street. I shrugged, not really thinking about it.
Of course it was odd to see Igor as anything other than a playboy. I suppose I hadn't really noticed it, but I guess it was true.
"I try not to notice Igor...in any capacity. A bit of bad blood there if you recall," I spat lowly. I knew the dig was uncalled for, but I couldn't stop the touch of hurt from seeping out.
"You have a point," he added, "But can you imagine house hunting one day with the love of your life?"
I stumbled slightly, feeling a brief pang of misery at his comment. I slipped my sunglasses on, to hide the war of emotions playing in my eyes.
"No, I can't and I never will. Love doesn't fit into my life, and personally I don't want it. You should know that." I finally spoke, pausing as I watched the street for an empty cab.
"You don't really think that do you?" Dimtri spoke softly. I refused to look at him, knowing I would crumble. He might have that one day, the men in our business were expected to marry the perfect mob wife, but not me.
I was raised to be a machine, to shut off all the emotions that most people had. It had been drilled into my head by my father, that I was only good for one thing in this life time. I doubted I would live long enough to even find the love of my life.
"Yes, yes I do, and thinking otherwise is pointless Dimi." I whispered, waving my hand frantically at a passing cab. I felt the threat of tears in my eyes as I rushed towards the cab. I climbed in, ignoring Dimi's shouts. I needed to get away from him, away from the temptation of his questions, because deep down, i wasn't sure I did believe that anymore.

('That's not what I really believe' if you read it all. Most of this story is complete credit to Nikki!! You really are an amazing writer dollface!! @nifty-nikki )
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