Misha only shrugged. “Not really.”

Right. She had forgotten about the teensy weensy fact that Misha could have graduated high school at thirteen. Only he didn’t—-

“I wish the school would reconsider letting me sit in with your class,” Misha grumbled.

Because of that.

Misha had a huge sister complex over her, to the point that he had been okay with twiddling his thumbs in high school just to spend more time with Seri.

“It’s unfair that Sergei gets to teach your class while I get stuck with only seeing my cute little sister during breaks—-”

She said uneasily, “Umm, Misha—-”

“And Vassi’s the lucky bastard because—-”

The school bell rang, cutting him off.

Thank you, Mother of Russia!

Trying not to show relieved she was, she said, “I gotta go, Misha. Class is about to start.”

Misha reluctantly pushed himself off the doorway. “Will you be meeting with your voice coach later?”

“Err, no. Why?”

“Great.” Misha’s grin had the girls behind Seri giggling.

“I can have lunch with you and Davey then.” The giggles stopped, and the intense scowling resumed, enough to burn a hole at Seri’s back.

He placed a kiss on the top of her forehead.

Derr mo. That meant ‘shit’ in Russian.

“See ya, little dove.”

Srat. This still meant shit.

Seri tried to creep back to her seat as inconspicuously as possible, but it was no use. As she got to her seat, another student deliberately shoved her from behind, snarling under her breath, “Die, you bitch.”

And so it begins, Seri thought with a silent sigh, just another day in her not-so-ordinary life as stepsister to the Grachyov brothers.

****

First period was Business Math, something unique to their school because it aimed for its students to be responsible Fortune 500 heirs. It was, however, a subject Seri didn’t look forward to, and not just because she was abysmal with numbers.

Students rushed to their seats when Professor Alexeyev came in, followed moments later by his aide, the nineteen-year-old Sergei Grachyov. The two were nearly identical, being both tall dark-haired men with the same impeccable taste in suits.

“Everyone, open your book to page 15,” the professor said as he took his seat. Without looking up from his book, the professor continued, “Graded recitation for today.”

A cry of protest rose from the class.

He looked up. “What’s wrong? Did I forget to tell you about this?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “I did, didn’t I?” He smiled languidly. “It’s a surprise then.”

The class groaned.

Professor Alexeyev glanced at his aide. “Sergei, call out the five students with the lowest scores in last week’s quiz.”

“Yes, professor.” Sergei took the clipboard from the desk. “Annabelle Raymond?”

A blonde girl sauntered forward with an exaggerated sway of her hips.

“Please answer the first question of Exercise 15.”

She fluttered her lashes at Sergei. “Which page is that, Sergei? Could you show it to me?” She leaned forward to show him her book, but everyone knew it was just a ploy to show off her cleavage. Annabelle had unbuttoned the first few buttons of her blouse, enough to have a hint of her lacy bra peeking out.

“Thank you, Annabelle. You may return to your seat.” Sergei started scribbling on the clipboard.

The girl’s jaw dropped open. “But I haven’t answered anything yet.”

Sergei looked up. “You don’t have to. If you can’t even remember instructions given by the professor less than fifteen minutes ago, I highly doubt you’d be capable of answering the question.” His smile and tone were both pleasant, but his dark eyes were chillingly dismissive.

Annabelle ran out of the class sobbing.

Sergei’s gaze returned to the clipboard. “Heather Tully?”

The brunette seated in front of the class stood up. “Shall I answer number 1?”

“Yes, please.”

She did so quickly, and when she was done, she sidled up next to Seri’s brother, practically rubbing her breasts against his arm as she asked, “Is it correct?”

Sergei glanced at the board. “Yes.” His tone became dry. “Unfortunately, the way you insist on flirting with someone who’s already turned you down several times is not.”

With an outraged gasp, Heather raised her hand to slap Sergei’s face, and Seri held her breath. Dear Mother of Russia, was she really going to slap Seri’s brother? And if she did, wasn’t Seri supposed to stop it?

But Sergei didn’t appear bothered at all.

He only raised a brow, asking softly, “Are you certain you’d like to do that?” His voice lowered, and the rest of the class strained their ears to hear him as he murmured, “Just be warned that if you do, what little chance you have of dating me when you graduate will completely disappear.”

Heather lowered her hand.

Oooooh. The class shook their heads in admiration as Heather skulked back to her seat, obviously unwilling to gamble said little chance.

“How appallingly cold of you, Sergei,” Professor Alexeyev said mockingly.

His aide only shrugged. “Garth Drummond?”

The boy wrote his answer for the second question, was corrected by the professor, and went back to his seat without fuss.


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