The clatter of heels filled the lobby, but this time Dimitri was aware of it being heels, which was good. He didn’t need a meltdown in front of Elian. The meltdowns weren’t as frequent anymore, for which he was grateful. Perhaps his brain was slowly learning he wasn’t on a battlefield anymore.
“Dimitri, I need… Oh, hi.” Irina stopped by Dimitri’s side, smiling at Elian. “Who are you?”
“Irina!” Dimitri glared at her.
“Sorry.” She grinned at Elian. “Who are you?”
Elian huffed a laugh. “Elian Hubert.” He stood and bowed dramatically, the lovely sparkles back in his eyes. “At your service, ma’am.”
“Don’t ma’am me.” Irina frowned, but Dimitri could tell she wasn’t being serious. “What are you doing here, and what are your intentions with my brother?”
Elian widened his eyes, his gaze jumping between the two of them. “To sweep him off his feet, of course.”
Irina nodded. “Proceed.”
Elian barked a laugh and offered her his hand. “It’s lovely meeting you, Irina.”
She softened her expression and shook his hand. “Likewise. So can you get me into the Valentine ball?”
Dimitri cursed. “Irina!”
“You’d want to go?” Elian stared. “Had I known, I wouldn’t have had to flirt with your brother. I could’ve asked you.”
It was a joke, Dimitri knew it was a joke, but the words stung anyway.
“I don’t make a good date, Mr. Hubert.”
“Me either.” He shrugged. “Dimitri is a great date, though.”
Irina looked at Dimitri. “You’ve been on a date with him?”
“Yes, yesterday.” Elian grinned at him.
“Keeping secrets, are we?”
Dimitri shook his head. “It’s not a secret. We went to The Crown.”
“Oh…” Her eyes widened. “And it went…” She lowered her voice, “…well?”
Dimitri shrugged. “I didn’t tackle anyone to the ground.”
Elian frowned at them until Irina waved a hand at him. “PTSD.”
She glared at Dimitri. “You have to tell him shit like that, Dimitri. What if you’d… done something? He wouldn’t have known why.” She turned back to Elian. “He gets these—” She waved a hand again. “Sometimes in a crowd, he’s convinced someone has a gun or a bomb or something. Usually, he has it under control, but… it’s flashbacks, I guess.”
Elian’s blue eyes filled with sadness, and Dimitri wanted to kill Irina for telling him.
“So…” Irina sat on the edge of the desk. Her black high-heel reflected the light above as she gently dangled it back and forth. “Is it possible for you to get me into that dinner?”
Elian shrugged. “I can check. It’s terribly boring, though.”
Irina laughed. “The things we do for our reputation. I need to go to some classier events, many think we’re a call girl company.”
Elian glanced at Dimitri, widening his eyes. “And going to this event will make them see you as something else?”
“Look at this.” She swept a hand over the classy lobby—glass walls facing the street, high ceiling, and beautiful art and flower arrangements. “This is classy, and yet some birdbrains walk in here thinking we have girls stored in the closets ready to dust off for a night’s date.” She shook her head, making her long, dark hair sway over her shoulders. “I need to get out more and present myself as a matchmaker.” She frowned. “Perhaps it’s the word dating. We say we’re a dating agency, so they think we’re a bordello.” She looked at Dimitri. “Matchmaking sounds so tacky, though.”
“I should get going.” Elian attempted to stand.
“Wait!” Dimitri hurried to the closet and grabbed his coat. It would be too big for Elian, but he couldn’t have him walking around without proper clothes in the winter cold.
When he got back, Elian and Irina were talking in muted voices, and Elian nodded at something she said. Dimitri scanned the street outside the windows as he approached—nothing out of the ordinary.
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