- Meet The Girls
- Meet The Guys
- Chapter One
- Chapter Two
- Chapter Three
- Chapter Four
- Chapter Five
- Chapter Six
- Chapter Seven
- Chapter Eight
- Chapter Nine
- Chapter Ten
- Chapter Eleven
- Chapter Twelve
- Chapter Thirteen
This story is rated Mature for adult language, sexual content, references to graphic violence, drug, and substance abuse. This means that this is intended for audiences 18 and up.
This chapter includes mental/emotional abuse/manipulation, there are references to miscarriages/child loss.
Landyn had been impossible to shake since she had returned home. He pretended that he was being more attentive, but she knew what he was really up to. He didn’t want his Queen to be out of his sights for too long. With her injuries mostly recovered, she was ready to resume her life before. Such as it was.
He had been unbearably sweet. He lavished her with gifts. The sort that made her wallet hurt in sympathy. Jewelry, clothing, shoes, handbags. It was as if he thought he could buy her forgiveness. Or, perhaps, her submission.
The only silver lining of her recovery was that she wasn’t expected to uphold her obligations with Nex or Omnus. He had been very careful in crafting a story. One that was believable to even his father, who had written the book on how to manipulate situations — how to get away with murder.
A car accident was the official story. The same one that the hospital had given her. It wasn’t too hard to imagine that with her injuries, they had lost their child. It was a play to save face. A play to victimize himself.
It was just an unfortunate accident. That’s what he’d say. And she’d have no choice but to smile and nod along.
She had thought she’d have some more time to gather herself, but as fate would have it, he wasn’t too pleased with the idea of keeping her out of the public eye for much longer. A package came to her door that morning. Another gown. Less modest than the one he had given her weeks before the accident.
It was gorgeous, though, she hesitated to admit it. It was emerald green, boasting a structured, strapless bodice. Ornate beading and lace wrapped around its midsection. The skirt itself was long. A shift of the garment revealed a high slit. It was breathable. Movable. Eli tried not to think about the irony that he had given her a dress that would make escape easy. Or, perhaps, that was him simply flirting with fate. Testing her to see how complacent she had become.
The routine was too easy to slip into. A drink downed, powder crushed, snorted. Skincare, make-up, hair.
A cursory glance at her phone revealed a series of text messages from Landyn. He had grown more communicative, though, she had no doubt that it was under the guise of wanting to work on their relationship to make them something of a functional couple. Whatever that looked like. With a sigh, she thumbed up a message in response.
He would be there soon.
She slipped into her shoes and waited at the door for the telltale knock. When it came, she opened it with a thin, half-hearted smile.
“You look stunning,” he sighed, leaning forward to press a kiss to her cheek. His hand found her waist and her skin immediately began to crawl.
“Thank you,” she replied, faking a smile that didn’t meet her eyes. “Where are we going?”
“Our favorite,” he said as his hand slipped to her lower back. His thumb traced along the base of her spine as he guided her through the door.
She wasn’t much in the mood for French. In fact, she never was. It was his favorite place to eat — his favorite place to show her off. It was also a hub for a great deal of Omnus and Nex meetings. A place for them to flash their wealth and their power to whoever sat opposite them.
He offered a nod to the guards. She kept her head hung low. It stung to see someone other than Damien there.
Their trip led them through the elevator and the lobby, this time avoiding the pitying stares of the passersby. Her knuckles whitened as she gripped her clutch, her teeth grinding as she thinly bit back the urge to tell them to stop gawking. For once, it was a relief when they arrived at the car. A relief when Landyn’s larger body shielded hers from the oppressive weight of their too-sympathetic eyes.
She wondered what sort of looks she’d get if they knew the truth. How horrified would they be to know that the same men they saw dutifully caring for her was the reason that she had been holed away for so long.
He settled into the car beside her, his hand finding her thigh. Eli didn’t have the energy to shrug him off. Instead, she settled into silence, watching as the world passed them by.
Landyn, for the first time in their entire relationship, seemed to struggle for words. She could feel his eyes boring holes in her skull, but she didn’t care to acknowledge him.
They sat in silence until they arrived at the restaurant. The door groaned open, the leather creaked beneath him as he moved. She took his outstretched hand as she stepped out, guided up the front steps and through the french glass doors. They were seated almost immediately, ushered to their favored table. They were regarded like long-time friends.
Eli ordered wine. Landyn did as well.
His tongue darted over his lower lip as he watched her, his thumbs fiddling. For a moment, he seemed to be at a complete loss for words. And she was grateful for it.
It wasn’t until their wine was delivered that he spoke. “Son of a bitch,” he snarled, earning a sharp, panicked look from Eli.
“No, not you,” he said, his face mirroring something akin to apology when he looked over her shoulder. “Archangel,” he said, inclining his head toward someone over her shoulder.
She knew better than to look directly, but she felt herself stiffen. It was a name she recognized, though, she couldn’t quite place the last time she had heard it.
Landyn’s attention was stolen by his cell phone in his lap, his jaw working.
“He’s not supposed to be on our territory?” She quizzed, taking a sip from her glass.
“No,” he replied tartly. “He is not.”
Elizaveta downed the rest of her glass without ceremony, turning to call their server back which allowed her to search the crowd for this “Archangel.”
It wasn’t hard to pick him out. He seemed ill-fitted there, just as they did. He had a square jaw, darkened by the shadow of a beard. The suit he wore looked like it was soon to burst under the strain of his impressive muscles. He was dark-haired, boasting a complexion that made him decidedly latino, though his features were too ambiguous for her to guess. Tattoos licked up from beneath his collar, creating a tantalizing mental portrait of what he’d look like with less clothes in the wall.
Her glass was refilled – this time, the server suggested that a bottle could be brought to their table. Both she and Landyn agreed at the same time.
“And who is he?” She asked, turning her attention slowly back to the Devil, whose thrown seemed to be turning to mud beneath him. He shrunk in his seat, his tongue darting over his lip as he considered his response.
“A dangerous person,” he said simply.
“Yes, but how,” she pressed.
“Elizaveta,” he growled.
“It’s a fair question. And given that he’s at my back, I feel that it’s only fair I know what he’s capable of.”
“I would protect you.”
She watched him, her expression openly unimpressed.
He sighed, his eyes rolling. “Men are on the way.”
“And that will take time. So, why not tell me.”
His jaw locked, his fingers closing around the wine glass’ stem. “He’s Perdition.”
“The… biker gang?” She asked, frowning. She supposed his demeanor made sense. He did look like he would be more comfortable wearing a kutte and sitting astride a bike than compressed into a suit.
“They’ve been pesky, have they not?”
“Cockroaches,” he drawled. “For every Perdition we stomp out, another emerges.”
“Is he the leader?”
“No,” he said, taking another healthy gulp. “But he’s one of our most direct competitors. He is… a smuggler.”
He shook his head from side to side, though no refusal came. “Guns, drugs, people. He’s the best there is out there.”
“Why not try to bring him to our side?” She asked, her brow arching. “He’s already here, it might be nice if he didn’t have to dine alone.”
Landyn scowled at her, his jaw working. “I will not be entertaining him on our date, Elizaveta.” As if he was truly offended by the notion.
“Think about it,” she said, leaning over the table. “He’s your competition. He’s been a thorn in Nex’s side. I think it would be foolish to pass up this opportunity to seduce him,” — he snarled, she held up her hand — “into working for us. Perhaps, we can convince him to turn on Perdition.”
He looked thoughtful for a long moment, his eyes darting over her shoulder to the mysterious Archangel.
“You might have a point,” he said after a long moment’s silence. “But not today. Not now.”
Her mouth worked, her eyes locked onto his.
“We don’t know if there’s anything we have that he could want.”
“Money,” she said, matter-of-factly.
Landyn shook his head from side to side as he reached for the wine bottle. He helped himself to a fuller than necessary cup, leaving her to watch as the red liquid sloshed, nearly splashing out over the side and spilling out onto the pressed, white tablecloth. “Perdition were… not a problem by the time you arrived here. But if you knew about their reputation, you’d know that they aren’t so easily won. When they swear in, they make a blood oath. They’re loyal,” his eyes tracked over her shoulder again. “It would be impossible to get him to break his oath to them. Or, at least, very close to.”
She hummed in thought, her fingernails tapping the table. “That makes it even more of a challenge. Just imagine how proud your father will be when you manage to convince him to join us.”
Landyn smiled slowly, his teeth flashed in a wolfish grin. “That might be something worth looking into. But, for now, he has gone where he shouldn’t. Which means that he will be punished.”
His eyes darted over her shoulder again. She didn’t have to look to see what was happening. Nex was sorely predictable when it came to its response. She knew that they would approach the table — they would politely ask him to leave. He would get up, or he wouldn’t. And then he’d be dragged outside. What happened from there depended on moods and infractions.
Eli couldn’t help but hope that it didn’t end in a bullet behind the eyes. She was starting to feel like there might be use for an Archangel yet.
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