LORD KING EXCERPT

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CHAPTER ONE

 

 

As sloppy raindrops pelted my windshield, I watched my newest discovery emerge from her hotel and hurry down the wet sidewalk. She wore spiked heels and a skimpy black cocktail dress, far too sexy for eight o’clock in the morning and entirely the wrong outfit for this weather.

“What are you up to, my little treasure?” My grip tightened around the steering wheel. I suspected she was going to meet him, the man I would kill within a matter of days.

And sorry, King, but winner takes all. Soon, she would be mine, and I had big plans for my little treasure.

Fact was, her breed of power deserved to be wielded by someone with ambition, someone who was born to lead, a ruthless bastard through and through. Me.

He’ll never want you anyway, my little treasure. Not even her sexy black dress, displaying the sensual roundness of her large breasts, could entice a man such as King. The soulless. The cursed. The man who claimed he could find anything or anyone. For a price. But he would never find an appreciation for her as I would.

A Seer. A real-life fucking Seer. Just what I needed to complete my arsenal of weapons. Because like King, I was a treasure hunter. I’d dedicated almost two thousand years of my existence to seeking a way to end my tortured, hollow existence. Until one day, I found it, and for the first time since my mother cursed me, I had control.

That was the moment I began living. Truly living. Because I finally understood power was everything. Being on top was everything.

Now the pieces were falling into place. King had recently ended Ten Club. He’d murdered all but three of its members, me being one of them, and I couldn’t be happier.

Such a gift you’ve given me, King. He was clearing the way so I could build my own dream.

All I needed now was for King to finish off the other two members—a pair of depraved assholes who would give him a run for his money.

Pure entertainment. Fights like those, between individuals with supernatural arsenals that could destroy a small country, only came along once in a lifetime.

After that, King would come for me, but I wouldn’t lose.

I swiped my hand across the fogging windshield to watch the keystone of my future disappear down the steep San Francisco street. Jeni, you and I are going to change the world.

 

~~~

Jeni

 

Dripping wet, I ducked inside the postage-stamp-sized lobby of the old brick building that had been converted to loft spaces and then left vacant for decades by its owner: King. Now back from the dead. Again.

I wrung my long hair, attempting to dispel some of the rain. Wet weather wasn’t typical for San Francisco at this time of year, but what did I know? I was from Tallahassee, Florida, where we received most of our rain during hurricane season, which was how I met King.

Hurricane Mia had delivered him to the port where I was working on a cleanup crew after Tampa had been obliterated. We were some of the first people in, clearing debris and downed cranes so emergency supplies could get in by boat. When King washed ashore inside a steel box, everyone assumed he was dead, but they couldn’t have been more wrong.

King was incapable of dying.

I peeled the front of my wet dress from my chest. “What a mess.” I knew my makeup was a lost cause, as were my new black heels. King was well over six feet, and I barely reached his pecs. I thought the shoes might make him take another look at me.

I’m ridiculous. He could never want me. His heart belonged to his dead wife, Mia, and the only thing he cared about, besides her and his dead children, was to die and join them on the other side.

Okay. Fine. I supposed Ariadna, his daughter, wasn’t really dead. Like me, she was a Seer, and according to them, we could never truly die. Our souls migrated to Seer-land or wherever the fuck we went—some plane between this world and the next that sounded suspiciously like purgatory.

The only exception I knew of was King’s late wife, Mia, who gave up her Seer powers. Why? Not sure, but I did know she was beyond this realm and beyond his reach.

I made another swipe over my dress, using my hands as squeegees, but it was no use. I was soaked to the bone.

I walked over to the shiny elevator doors and pushed the up button on the wall. The wet racoon with stringy dark hair, staring back in the reflection, confirmed my ridiculous decision to not check the weather before I left this morning, along with my pathetic choice to dress like I was going to a nightclub at eight in the morning.

I could return to my hotel room for a change of clothes, but I was already late, and King waited for no man.

I reached into my oversized leather purse and dug out my pack of travel tissues to blot my face. The elevator doors chimed and slid open.

“Good morning, Jeni.” A pair of haunting pale gray eyes stared from inside the elevator.

“King!” I jumped in my sloshy heels, my heart going crazy. Half due to shock, half because King was a mysterious man who exuded a deadly vibe, all wrapped up in the timeless masculine beauty of an old-world god.

Of course, if you passed him on the street, all you’d see was a wealthy modern businessman dressed in a fine Italian suit. You’d notice his stunningly handsome face, too—the elegant cheekbones, the lips and regal nose. But if you looked closely, deep into his eyes, you’d sense he wasn’t entirely of this world. And you’d be right.

In truth, he was once Draco Minos, an ancient Minoan king with powers I would never begin to understand. He was also my lifeline in this dangerous world I’d recently discovered I belonged to.

“Run into a waterfall on your way here?” He cocked a black brow that matched the inky stubble on his exquisite jawline.

Why does he have to be so beautiful?

A sly smile crept across his lips. “You know I can hear your thoughts, Jeni.”

And I can hear yours, too. I folded my bare arms across my chest to hide my nipples, which were surely poking out from being wet and cold.

“I am aware.” He dipped his head. “Though, I should inform you I have been around for over three thousand years, and you are not the first woman I’ve met with such a talent.”

“And?”

“And…” He stepped from the elevator, pressing his body flush with mine.

Too close for comfort to a man I didn’t trust, I stepped back, landing right in the puddle I’d just left from my dripping clothes. My heel slid out from under me on the slick tile. “Oh crap!”

“Careful now.” In a blink, King had me in his arms, his body bowed over mine as if he were dipping me on a dance floor during tango night.

My eyes locked on his, my heart thumping even louder in response to the darkness inside him. Was he a man, ghost, monster? Something in between? My body didn’t seem to fucking care because the slideshow of memories began: our sweat-slicked naked bodies writhing, the exquisite muscles of his chest and arms as he glided over me, thrusting relentlessly, and the sound of his heavy breaths filling my ears as he came.

It had only been a few weeks since he’d fucked me so hard that he’d left an indelible mark on my soul, but things couldn’t be more different now.

Now, he remembered who he was, and the stranger I’d first met, who washed ashore in a metal box, was long gone. Now, he was King, the man who defied all laws—natural, moral, or otherwise.

As for me, things were different, too. For starters, discovering I was a Seer—the only one alive, thanks to King, who’d killed them off after a major falling-out. Two, realizing I was in love with an ancient king who would never love me back. Three, learning that if I cared about King, I had to help him find redemption for three thousand years of twisted behavior that had left behind a deep and terrible footprint on the world. And, finally, being told by the “dead” Seers they’d bound his soul to me. I was what anchored him to a world he so badly wanted to vacate. To die, he needed that bond broken. And to do that, he had to make things right with the Seers. The irony was that I didn’t want to lose him.

Fucking fate. You’re a stone-cold bitch.

“My, my, such foul language, Jeni.” King slowly released me from his grip, pulling me upright. “But let us get one thing straight: I am evil. Evil as I am powerful.”

I already knew that. I also knew there was a part of him that loved his wife so deeply he’d managed to cheat death just to have more time with her. A man who loved so profoundly couldn’t be all bad.

“Your point?” I said.

He leaned closer, speaking with a menacing tone. “Just because I loved my wife or am seeking redemption doesn’t change what I am. I would slit your throat, Jeni. I would trade you away to the vilest of men. I would betray you in a heartbeat if it meant getting what I want. Never forget that.”

I furrowed my brows, wondering how I could love such a dark creature.

“A valid question,” he said, responding to my thoughts. “You should also ask yourself why you put on such a seductive dress this morning. Perhaps you think a part of me wanted you once, and it will do so again. But the man I was when we met wasn’t real, and you know that.”

Ashamed, I looked away. I didn’t like how King could hear my thoughts. But I hated how he used them against me.

He grabbed my chin, forcing me to meet his icy pale gray gaze. “I’m not worth your heart, Jeni.”

“Only, you don’t dictate what I feel.” Neither did I. When it came to him, my heart had a will of its own.

His gaze softened. “Then you understand when I say my heart is bound only to Mia. So, if I must die to see her or our son, Arch, again, so be it.”

Arch was his infant son, killed twenty-five years ago by the Seers on the same night they took Mia’s life. Why did they do that?

According to King, he’d had the bright idea of resurrecting the most ancient and powerful of our kind and then forced them to work has his supernatural thugs so he could keep control over Ten Club.

What was Ten Club? Basically, King’s monster.

Try to imagine a group of extremely powerful, corrupt billionaires with sick, dark fetishes and an unchecked lust for power. Some members purely wanted to be above the law, but others became bored over time and turned to the occult.

Ten Club was a sort of group insurance plan. They each paid an annual fee of ten billion dollars into a pool managed by King, and with that, he bought them complete immunity. He offered favors, bought off judges and politicians, or had people disappear. Whatever it took to protect the members, who in turn could kidnap, kill, entrance, enslave, rape, torture, or do anything their hearts desired. Sick.

Of course, the Seers didn’t appreciate being brought back from the dead or being enslaved by King to help him keep Ten Club in check. It all ended badly. They rose up. He killed the Seers, but a few got away first and took out their revenge on his family. Their infant son and King’s pregnant wife.

Sad. So sad. A Greek tragedy if I’d ever heard one.

What got me was how Seers were female healers who supposedly brought balance to the world. So why kill King’s family and not him? Especially because Mia had been pregnant with Ariadna, a Seer. Pretty damn messed up, if you asked me.

Now Ariadna’s soul or light or whatever they called it was a young woman, living with my sisters in Seer-land. I wondered what growing up there instead of here had been like. The two worlds were completely different.

“You are correct,” King said, listening to me rattle on inside my head. “Ariadna was robbed of her human experience due to my poor choices, which is why I do not deserve her devotion. She’s hope where there is none to be had.”

None? What about me, King? I’m here to help you die when it kills me to think of a world without you in it.

King stared but said nothing.

I inhaled slowly. “All I’m asking is that you stop dismissing me. I can’t help how I feel any more than you can help wanting to see Mia again.” I shook my head, my wet sloppy hair sliding across my shoulders. “I’m here to help you redeem yourself and find your way back to your family.” That was what the Seers had asked me to do, and I was going to do it.

He opened his mouth to speak just as a menacing shadow darted across the lobby and began circling him.

Oh god! I stepped back toward the door, my neck and arms exploding with goosebumps. I’d seen the shadow before, right after I met King. At first I thought it’d been my imagination, but then I found out it was his tortured soul detached from his body. It was every piece of King that didn’t belong to the world of the living, yet his flesh and bone could draw on those powers. That was how he’d taken out Ten Club. He’d summoned them and let his shadow loose. They never saw it coming.

The shadow zipped past my head, leaving an ice-cold trail across my damp cheek.

“My soul is eager to return to its owner,” King said calmly, his eyes following the thing around the room. “It is anxious to put an end to the Seers’ punishment.”

This is so fucking weird. “Then let’s get started. What’s first?” I couldn’t get rid of that thing fast enough. Not that it followed me around all hours of the day, but late at night, when the air was still and everything was quiet, sometimes I felt it lurking. Creepy as hell.

“First, we hunt down the three remaining Ten Club members,” said King. “Then we go from there to try to correct some of my misdeeds.”

“I’m sorry, but what? You never mentioned anyone survived.”

“Three members did not answer my summons for the meeting that night and still roam free.”

Guess not all Ten Club members are complete idiots. Why hadn’t he said something?

“Because one of them is Victor Escorcia.”

“What?” My heart lit up with red-hot rage. I wasn’t a violent person, but if I were a god who could smite anyone on this earth with a flick of a pinky, I’d flick away at Victor Escorcia. The animal murdered my mother. “Do you know where to find him?”

“I do. But let’s get one thing straight, Jeni; no matter how much you hate the man, you are to leave the killing to me.”

Have you ever had a fist shoved up your ass?

King shrugged his dark silky brows. “Pardon me?”

“Just answer the question,” I growled.

“No,” he replied sternly.

“Would you like to?” I clenched my fist and shook it at him. “Because I just discovered my secret Seer power.”

King reached out and clasped my wrist. “Are you threatening me with a fist fuck? Are you insane, woman?”

“Try me.”

With a frustrated groan, King dropped my arm. “I do not have time for this, Seer.”

“Victor Escorcia took everything from my father. He took everything from me. I will kill him, and you have no right to stand in my way.” Especially because King had promised he’d take care of Victor. Now, the man was running around free again? The most evil, vile person ever to walk the earth?

“And,” King added, “he was your catalyst, your spark toward greatness.”

“Are you fucking insane?”

“You studied history, so you will comprehend when I say that every hero, every great man or woman—from the fictional god to the legendary historical figures who triumphed against all odds—had their moment of transformation. They faced the worst this world has to offer and rose like a phoenix.” He pressed his index finger over my heart. “To soar high, you must know hell. That knowledge will drive you to remain above it.”

I frowned. “You’re saying I need to suffer to know how much I want to avoid it?”

King nodded.

That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. “I don’t need to be skinned alive to understand how shitty that would feel. Same goes for having my hands chopped off or being forced to listen to you preach to me. I’m perfectly capable of imagining all the fucked-up things I can live without.”

“You think you’re funny, Seer?” King reached forward, wrapping his large hand around my neck. “This isn’t a game, Jeni. My eternity is on the line, and I will do this my way.”

I pushed his hands away. “That’s my point. You’re the one with everything on the line. Three thousand years of crap to repent for. So why pile on? Let me kill Victor.”

With a low growl he said, “Not that I am obligated to explain myself, but if you kill Victor Escorcia, it would merely be an act of revenge. Ending Ten Club is my penance.”

“Don’t care. I want to kill him.”

“You say that; however, until you have killed hundreds of times, it will haunt you. Ending Victor will be nothing for me. I’ve killed for power. I’ve killed to protect what’s mine. I’ve even killed for amusement. To me, death is a tool to get what I want. It’s like an old friend.”

I tried not to laugh. “A little ironic since death is the only thing in this world you can’t have for yourself.”

“I always get what I want. Eventually.” He smiled with a bitter twitch.

I froze, fixated on those full, sensual lips. I couldn’t ignore the underlying pull I constantly felt lurking beneath the surface. Memories of his mouth on mine flashed in my head.

“I am not a man to love, Jeni. What must I do to convince you? Should I slit your throat? Kill your father? Perhaps I should maim that lovely face of yours.”

“You think you scare me?”

He wrapped his hand around my throat again, slamming me back against the wall just opposite the elevators. Hard veins popped from his temples. “I could crush your neck, Jeni. Right here. Right now.”

King had tried to scare me into obedience before. Sadly for him, I knew this trick. “You’re nothing but a little dog, King. All bark. Tiny bite.”

He gripped my neck tighter, pulled me forward, and slammed me again to the wall. “Stop provoking me, Seer.”

It was my turn to flash a taunting smile. The problem was, I could hear his thoughts now. I could see inside his heart, just like he could see inside mine. I’d recently discovered that this was my gift: seeing through the walls around people’s hearts. It was why I’d shielded myself from the world up until the moment King washed ashore. I feared what was in people’s minds, so I blocked them out, kept my distance.

“I’m sorry, King,” I reached out, covering his heart with my hand, “but like it or not, you can’t hide from me. I see you. You see me. We. Are. Connected.”

“Bullshit!” The only woman I am connected to is Mia.

“Wrong,” I replied to his thoughts. “She is the only woman you love. But I know you feel something for me, just like I do for you. All I’m asking is—”

“What? A fucking fairy tale? I am a king, not a prince.”

“I know you won’t ever love me like you do her or your children. I happen to admire you for being so loyal. But I also know I don’t deserve your hate.” I tilted my head to the side, keeping my palm flat over his beating heart, a heart that should’ve stopped over three thousand years ago, but kept on pumping for love. How could King not see how miraculous that was?

He stepped back. “If you see so much, then tell me why you are still holding out hope that I will stay here with you, in the land of the living, instead of crossing over to be with my wife?”

I knew why I couldn’t stop hoping, and I’d spent the last week learning how to shield the answer from him. I’d imagined a fortress made of steel bricks, five layers deep, and placed my most important thoughts and secrets inside. Apparently, the trick worked because King had no idea I was pregnant. With his baby. I already felt the intense power growing inside, which meant it had to be a girl, a Seer just like me.

And he can’t find out.

I refused to be his pity side piece, holding him to a world he didn’t want to be in, with a woman he could never love.

“I’m just here to help, King. Nothing more.”

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