I nodded politely, taking a glass off the tray. Antonio reached for one beside me and at the same time his hand slid down the bare skin of my back. I stilled just as his palm found a resting place on the cusp of my ass, toeing the line of going too far and just far enough. I was wise enough to know not to react.
Without him, I wouldn’t be here.
Antonio Vitale was one of the most infamous mafia bosses in Europe. He was rich, powerful, and used to getting whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted it. And tonight, not only was he my sole connection to Markos Varela, he was also my date.
I took a sip of the wine, smiling innocently in Antonio’s direction. His eyes, dark and possessive, slid over to mine, leaving no question in my mind that he wanted to fuck me. And soon. If I wasn’t careful, he’d drag me off into another room and take exactly what he wanted. I’d have to tread carefully. I may be deep undercover, but I had standards.
“This is delicious,” I said softly, breaking the silence.
“Markos provides only the best at his gatherings. Right from his very own vineyard. This port here is probably well over a hundred years old,” Antonio answered, as his fingers edged a bit lower on my ass.
Inwardly, I rolled my eyes. I’d have to figure out how to deal with his boldness. Soon.
All around me, the rich, the powerful, and the glamorous talked in hushed tones, decked to the nines in the most lavish and expensive gowns and tuxedos that money could buy. My own dress had cost several thousand dollars, or at least, it had cost Interpol that much. Sleek blue satin encased my every curve, leaving little to the imagination, much to Antonio’s delight. The gown flared out once it passed my knees, making it simple to conceal a gun on my ankle. I’d chosen it for that very reason.
I not only had to look the part, I had to play the part, and that included working with Antonio. He couldn’t figure out that I wasn’t interested in him. Not yet anyway.
Leaning in toward him, I carefully pressed the length of my body against his. The art of flirtation was one I knew well, and I had Antonio right where I wanted him. He thought he was in control, but it was really the complete opposite. He was chasing me, not the other way around and I aimed to keep that way.
“It’s so beautiful,” I whispered as I looked off the verandah, the sea breeze ruffling my long chocolate-brown waves.
The sun was just setting on the horizon, and the explosion of colors in the sky was breathtaking. The view of the Mediterranean was one of the best in Europe and I yearned to dig my toes into the soft, white sandy beach far below. The islands of Greece were stunning, but Mykonos was the most exquisite. I was really lucky to be here.
Relaxation wasn’t the purpose of my visit here though. I was here for Markos Valera. I knew basic information about him, like the fact that he was one of the richest billionaires in Europe, with extensive business dealings all around the world. Most were legal, from what I could tell, but there were a few clues that had suggested some of them were only quasi-legal or flat out against the law. But Interpol could never even get close, at least till now. Not until me.
I felt myself being pulled to see more, to investigate the dark corners and off-limits rooms here in his villa. I wanted to discover his every secret and expose him for the criminal I knew him to be. But still, I had to be careful. I needed to remember he was extremely dangerous.
I had to get out of here. I had to know more.
“I’m going to go to the ladies’ room. Be right back,” I whispered in Antonio’s ear. He took a hold of my hand and lifted my fingers to his lips, brushing a kiss across my knuckles. Keeping up with the image I’d carefully cultivated, I dropped my eyes demurely, giggling softly and he grinned. Fooled.
“Don’t be gone too long, Kassandra, or else I’ll miss you,” he said, his voice purring with a seductive promise.
“I won’t,” I said, as my hand lingered on his.
Finally, I turned away, pleased with how I had him eating out of my hand. Flirtation went a long way with Antonio, and I was playing the part perfectly.
I ventured inside the villa, my eyes roaming the pristine white walls and soft Grecian features. Whomever Markos had as an interior designer had spent some serious time collecting ancient pottery, upholsteries, and art from long ago. The entire place spoke of old money, but I knew literally nothing about his family history. It was as though it was erased from every record imaginable. He was a total mystery.
At the end of the long corridor, just past the restroom, was a beautifully designed stone staircase that led downstairs to a lower level I hadn’t even known existed. Once I was around the corner, I cautiously slipped off my shoes, kneeling down and picking them off the floor before I continued.
Venturing down into the depths of the villa, I tiptoed into a large sitting room. At the center was a small blue and white tiled fountain, which was surrounded by soft fabric lounges. Decorative pillows were strewn about the chaises and on the floor, completing the picture of an extravagant little den. I spotted a few doors on the opposite side of the room and continued my explorations. They were all locked, but I was prepared for that.
One of the doors was particularly extravagant, carved with intricate vines and roses. It drew me to it first. Slipping a bobby pin from my hair, I made quick work of the lock, twisting and turning the little piece of metal before I heard the telltale click of victory. Quietly, I opened the door and snuck inside, finding myself in a much more ancient wing of the home. The walls were made of stone, like those of a castle or an old fort. I pressed my fingers against the wall, feeling the hard, cool surface. My breath was unsteady, nervous. Continuing on, I found a number of old rooms, but only one in particular drew my attention.
It was a records room. Bookcases stacked with volumes of books, parchments, boxes, and piles of old papers lined the walls. In the center was a massive wooden table, strewn with what looked like old scrolls of papyrus. I ventured closer, scanning the documents there. All I found was some mention of old family trees and some nonsense about a warrior of light and the end of the world.
Maybe it was research into a myth of some kind? Maybe he was one of those people who liked collecting apocalypse artifacts. I didn’t know, but it wasn’t really my concern. I needed to find some information about his current business dealings, not this. Something that would put him behind bars.
I placed my high-heeled shoes down on the table and continued my search, tiptoeing around the room in my bare feet.
Upon perusing the books and boxes lining the shelves, I found nothing like what I was looking for. There were an incredible number of books about all manner of Greek history, and more about whatever this warrior of light was. None of it provided any sort of useful information.
Chewing my lip, I gave one last cursory look around the room, finding nothing of consequence. I was just about to reach for the door handle and leave the room when I heard the brush of a footstep in the hall outside.
I couldn’t get caught down here.
Where could I hide?
In the back of the room was a small wooden door that was only about waist high. I grabbed my heels, sprinted toward it, opened it, and quickly shimmied inside as noiselessly as I could. It was storage closet of some kind, maybe an old cellar or something, but I didn’t really pay it much mind. Instead, I waited, listening to the sounds around me.
I held my high heels to my chest, grateful that I’d remembered to grab them. My heart hammered in my chest and I did my best to quiet the sound of my breath. Closing my eyes, I waited and heard the door to the records room open, the hinge squeaking just a little at the intrusion.
The scrape of multiple shoes against the stone floor chilled me to the bone. It wasn’t only one person, it was a group of them.
“She’s in here somewhere. The surveillance footage didn’t show her leaving this room,” a male voice said, rather matter of fact.
Damnit. I could have smacked myself in the head.
Of course he had cameras.
I had scanned only briefly, seeing nothing, but that didn’t mean they weren’t there. I should have been more careful.
“Search the room. Check each row of bookcases,” another man said.
In a panic, I looked around me, trying to see if there was an escape route, but found nothing. Quietly, I moved backwards on my hands and knees until my back hit a wall. The room was small, cool, dank, and completely empty. I couldn’t block the door with anything. There was nowhere to hide and no possible means of escape.
My heart fell.
I heard them push boxes aside, their footsteps loud as they searched the room, and my skin crawled with anxiety. I slid my hand down to my ankle and felt the gun concealed there. I had a limited number of bullets. One full chamber. That was it. I could kill them all, but then more would come. My chances of getting out of here undetected were getting slimmer as every second passed. I had zero options left.
Light poured into my little hiding place as the door swung open.
“I found her!”
Sitting at my desk sipping my favorite vintage, I watched as my guests enjoyed the party. Sometimes I attended, most of the time I didn’t, but I knew the importance of keeping the people who served me happy. I made more money that way. Every once in a while, I needed to impress my business partners with the fruits of my wealth and reward them for looking the other way when we smuggled artifacts, drugs, or even humans using their connections, boats, jets, or whatever. I held gatherings like this pretty much yearly, and the invites were always highly coveted from the rich and famous around the world. I had amassed a collection of very powerful friends over the years, including many members of government, mafia, and national federations across Europe.
I liked it that way. I was untouchable. I felt like I owned the world.
Fuck. After everything I’d been through, I’d earned that right.
The night had begun as usual, until I’d spotted an overzealous partier who’d ventured where she shouldn’t. There was always one, every single fucking time. I had cameras everywhere for this sort of thing. This was my home, built on top of what remained of my castle and I had many expensive and important things to protect behind locked doors. Things a drunk partygoer didn’t need to see.
I’d have to teach her a lesson not to go where she shouldn’t. I licked my lips. I looked forward to the moment when I could taste her.
At least she was making tonight interesting.
I’d sent my men off to investigate. I knew what she looked like, dressed in a scandalous floor-length gown. They’d bring her to me and then she would try to explain. It was always the same story. She got too drunk and got lost on the way to the restroom. At least, that’s probably what she’d say anyway.
I hadn’t recognized her from the camera footage, which meant she hadn’t been here before. Upon searching the faces in earlier recordings from that evening, I found out that she’d come on Antonio Vitale’s arm. I made it my business to know my business partners and I knew for a fact that she’d never come with him before. I wasn’t particularly surprised by this though. The man was a known player and brought new girls around more times than I could count.
A firm knock on my door broke me out of my thoughts.
“Come in,” I commanded. I smiled when my men filtered through the door, dragging in a struggling, feisty little dark-haired Greek goddess.
“Get your fucking hands off of me,” she demanded, and it took a tremendous amount of effort not to laugh at her audacity.
They forced her forward, forming an impenetrable wall behind her. She turned to try to run, but quickly realized that she wasn’t going anywhere. Her hair covered her face and for a moment, I was disappointed.
“She had this strapped to her ankle,” Nick said, the man in charge of all the people I employed to guard me and my estate. He waved a small 9-mm at me, before tucking it into the waistband of his dark gray slacks. It looked like government issue of some kind.
Defeated, she turned back toward me, pushing her hair out of the way, and that’s when my heart stopped.
It was her. The Warrior of Light in the flesh.
Blue eyes, glittering with flashes of emerald, the same color of the depths of the Mediterranean, stared back at me. High cheekbones flushed with pink spoke of her anger and frustration at being caught and brought before me. Pouty, rosy lips fell open just a little in wonder as she stared back at me. My eyes raked down her body, appreciating the way her taut, firm muscles did little to hide her curves, instead serving only to enhance them.
The dress she was wearing was downright sinful. Blue satin wrapped around her body, like it was molded just for her. The neckline was a modest plunge that showed just enough of her cleavage and it had a deep back, falling above the cusp of her round, curvy ass. Her stomach was flat, her hips flaring out in a delightful manner that made me want to throw her on the floor and fuck her senseless. Her breasts were full, large enough to fit in the palm of my hands. She wasn’t wearing a bra. I could see her nipples pebbling straight through it. There was a hint of a panty line though. Interesting choice.
Bold, but not too bold.
She furrowed her brow and then a hint of recognition passed over her features. She’d figured out who I was.
“Markos Valera,” she said, her voice like music to my ears.
It had been a long time since I’d seen one of her particular ancestry. I expected an attack, but she did nothing. Instead, she just stood there, staring at me with a thinly disguised look of disdain.
“What’s your name?” I asked, leaning back in my leather chair.
“Kassandra,” she answered quietly, probably realizing that she was, quite literally, fucked.
I studied her face. Her kind had always been pulled to me. A result of fate.
The two of us were enemies, her mortal, me immortal. It was her role as the Warrior of Light to vanquish me. In the past, many of her bloodline had come close, but I was exceedingly difficult to kill. I was true evil, a darkness that threatened to consume the world. I was the devil and her kind lived to conquer me.
A vein in her throat pulsed and I could hear the sound of her blood rushing through her body, like a quiet river flowing amongst the rocks. Perfection. A delightful symphony that promised the most delicious of tastes. I licked my lips, watching as she pulled her shoulders back and tried to keep her nerve in the face of the most dangerous man she had ever met.
“Why were you in my archive, Kassandra?” I continued, trying to gauge how much she knew based on the positioning of her body, by the way she licked her lips nervously, or the way her panicked eyes looked around the room for an escape. She was strong, I knew that, and I had to be cautious. I’d made mistakes in the past and I wasn’t willing to repeat them. I’ve had thousands of lifetimes to learn and she only had one.
“I got lost,” she answered quietly.
“Behind a locked door?” I pressed, my disbelief obvious.
“My mistake. I thought it was the bathroom. I heard someone behind it and when they hadn’t come out, I assumed they locked the door and passed out. I was just trying to help,” she lied blatantly to my face. I sighed, almost disappointed at the fact that she hadn’t been more creative.
I’d seen the footage. I’d seen her searching through my vast collection of documents mentioning her ancestry. Looking for answers. Of what, I wasn’t yet sure.
Her body language was distrustful, but not downright hostile. Nothing about her suggested she was going to go on the offensive. I narrowed my eyes, studying her more closely. She’d been caught and looked guilty, but so far, she’d done nothing more than that.
Could it be that she didn’t recognize the pull? Hadn’t realized how fate had brought us together like it always did? Did she not recognize who I truly was? It wasn’t possible, was it?
She was the Warrior of Light; of that, I had zero doubt.
Her bloodline was ancient. It had been around as long as I had been, the balance of good to my evil. I’d studied her ancestors over the years. In every generation, the firstborn of her bloodline would feel the pull of fate and become the Warrior of Light. She’d be stronger, faster, and cleverer than a normal human and driven by destiny to kill me. Over the last several thousands of years, I and her bloodline had run into each other numerous times. Sometimes I escaped unscathed, sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I killed them, but they had never killed me. My greatest triumph had been slaying a number of them in a row. I had won, and the result had been written down in history as the Dark Ages.
That was me.
But it hadn’t lasted. Eventually, one of them had succeeded in hurting me once again and then the world had begun to change, to grow and expand both economically and intellectually. At that point, I was no longer in power and the world had prospered.
I’d hated that.
The last encounter I’d had with a woman from her bloodline had been devastating. Even though it was hundreds of years ago, I still remembered it with vivid detail, as if it happened only yesterday.
Her name had been Althea.
It was the height of the Renaissance and I’d been on the run for a while, hiding in the undergrounds of Europe in order to avoid her. I’d finally come back home to my castle in Mykonos, under the assumption that I’d outrun her and she’d lost my trail.
Kassandra stared at me and I saw Althea’s features in hers. Strong, steady, and unafraid.
The night Althea had found me, I’d been deep in the cellar, working on filling the last barrels of what I was sure was going to be one of my best batches of wine. Althea had trained hard, embraced her destiny, and was more tenacious than any of the others. I had been unprepared. I didn’t even have a weapon. We’d fought for a long time. She was strong and eventually, her spear had flown forward, sinking deep into my flesh and piercing deep into my heart. I’d fallen before her and Althea had risen in victory.
She left me to die, but I was hard to kill. After the battle, I’d crawled deep into the depths of my castle and hid. For several hundred years, I’d gone into a deep state of slumber, an inactive state that allowed me to rest and recover until I was ready to venture into the world once again.
In that time, the Warrior of Light bloodline had gone dormant. It always did when I was inactive. When I finally woke again, it appeared that the story of the Warrior of Light had faded into legend and myth and from what I could gather, the family had crossed the sea to start a new life in America and had all been forgotten. I had prepared for this day though, hopeful it would never come, but maybe… maybe this wasn’t a bad thing.
Perhaps Kassandra knew nothing at all.
I slammed my palms down on my desk, a heavy dark mahogany that spoke to my power, and she visibly flinched at the sound.
“I don’t think you’re telling the truth,” I said. A breathy sigh of fear escaped her throat and my cock hardened at the delectable sound. Moving around my desk, I stood directly in front of her and leaned back against it, further testing her. I needed to know if now that she’d found me, if she’d become aware of her purpose.
Would she suddenly feel the need to confront me?
She remained silent. Stoic even.
I moved closer to her and she didn’t move. Reaching for her, I dragged my fingers across her cheek. Maybe if I touched her, she’d realize what she was.
“Do you know me, warrior?” I asked her cautiously, ready to move in case she reacted suddenly, without warning.
“Sure. You’re Markos Varela. This is your villa and I’m a guest at your party.” She paused and licked her lips. “Antonio will be missing me though. I should return to him. He’ll want to know why I was delayed,” she replied, her tone dripping with warning.
Cute. Mentioning the name of a feared mafia kingpin in order to try to intimidate me. Little did she know, Antonio was afraid of me. As powerful as he was, he’d never cross me because as much power as he had, I had more. He’d be dead in the blink of an eye if he angered me and he knew it.
Silly, naïve woman.
Her heart was pounding, and the sound of her blood was louder than before. I took a deep breath. I wanted to taste her, to savor the sweet flavor that was the Warrior of Light at her peak. Over my lifetime, I’d enjoyed the blood of her ancestry several times. I wondered if I’d get the chance to again, with her.
She really had no idea who I was. Here I stood, the original evil, and even though it was her destiny to vanquish me, it was quickly becoming obvious that she had no clue.
That fact gave me options.
I could take her life and embrace the power that her blood bestowed on me, for a time anyway, but eventually I’d run into another of her kind when the next in line came of age. It was always kill or be killed. That was our fate. Forever intertwined.
But, maybe, this time could be different. Maybe I could win, once and for all.
My mouth salivated at the possibility. I picked up my wineglass as a distraction, taking a sip of my favorite vintage, sweetened and aged in barrels that had been soaked in the blood of sweet, delectable human virgins long ago. The wine it produced was easily my bestselling vintage, and the most delicious.
“Antonio would be happy to share you with me. He has before, many times, with all the women he brings around,” I replied, smirking as her heartbeat quickened once more.
Her look of surprise would have made me laugh had she been anyone else. No, she wasn’t special to Antonio. To me though, that was a different story.
She didn’t know it yet, but she was mine. I grinned coldly.
“Should I call him in? Perhaps you can entertain us together,” I proposed thoughtfully, enjoying teasing her. Her nipples hardened into tight little peaks. She liked the thought of being shared by two men then. I chuckled softly.
Too bad. I wouldn’t share. I was far more man than she could ever handle.
“No, that’s not necessary,” she answered in a quiet panic. The vein in her neck pulsed and I wanted to taste her yet again.
I paused, trying to figure out which direction to take this next. Should I kill her? Bleed her dry and just have to worry about her bloodline finding me at some point in the future? Or, maybe not. Maybe I had another option.
I decided to be bold.
“What do you know about the Warrior of Light?” I asked.
“What?” she responded. Her brow furrowed in confusion and the corners of her eyes crinkled as she tried to figure out what I was talking about. Her emotions played out across her features. Was I crazy? Was she? She was easy to read.
“You heard me. What do you know?” I pressed.
“I mean, it was on your papers on the table, but it’s the first I’ve ever heard of such a thing. Is it sort of a weird, end of the world type story? Are you an apocalypse chaser of some kind?” she finally answered, clearly genuinely confused.
I chuckled. Little did she know, she was not too far from the truth.
Option number two might actually be possible then.
Maybe it was finally time for me to fulfill the prophecy, an ancient text that I’d never truly considered trying to fulfill before, until now.
They were the very first words to be carved into ancient stone in fact, and it had been destroyed only a few years later by Kassandra’s ancestors out of desperation and fear. They ground it into dust to keep the knowledge from me, but it had already been too late. I’d already known. I’d forced the prophecy from the seer’s lips and made her carve the words into a tablet, right before I tore into her throat and drank deep of her power. She tasted glorious.
As I’d drunk from her, I’d seen what would happen when evil reigned victorious over good, when I ruled the world with one of their kind by my side, as my equal. I’d seen the entirety of humanity kneeling at our feet. I had seen the darkness win.
But I’d never seen her face. I’d never found out who was meant to sit next to me as ruler of all the world.
I’d given up hope long ago. The women of Kassandra’s legacy knew of the prophecy and had done everything in their power to make sure it never came to fruition. After enough time had passed, I figured it was just a warning bestowed on mankind from the gods of old, and I’d given up all hope of it coming to pass.
Staring at the woman before me, I began to realize that maybe it wasn’t just a warning. Maybe it was our destiny. We stood there in silence, my men still waiting behind her for an order to either take her back upstairs or escort her off the property. If asked, they’d even make her disappear, if that was what I wanted.
That wouldn’t be necessary tonight. I rounded my desk once more and sat back down.
With a wave of my hand, I dismissed my men from the room. Nick would dispose of the gun, but not before researching its origins. As they exited the room, the door closed behind them and the nervous look on her face grew more pervasive. Once we were completely alone, I pressed the hidden button underneath the edge of my desk, locking the door instantly. She wasn’t going anywhere now.
We were deep underground, in the depths of what had once been my castle. I’d restored each and every wall, stone by stone and fortified them all. I’d created a safe house for myself, but a prison for her.
She wasn’t going to escape. I had her right where I wanted her, and now I was going to claim what was mine by rights to take.
I gazed hungrily upon her body and in that moment, I made a decision. I was going to fulfill the demands of the prophecy.
I was going to consume her.
I was going to master her body, then her mind, and finally, her soul.
And then, she would be mine. Forever.