A powerful Council. Five men dedicated to keeping a tradition over a century old. Five men prepared to do what it took to harbor secrets. They held absolute control over dozens of industries, with the ability to destroy anyone who refused to play by their rules.
Only their firstborn sons were allowed to take their place.
The majority of people went through life never experiencing the concept.
They never feared for their lives or those of their loved ones.
Danger was something seen on the media, tragedies happening to others.
They believed they were safe from the treachery of ruthless monsters.
But they were wrong…
The Sacred Sect will always be watching.
I’d been called all three things and much worse, including murderer. Some said I was the devil himself, reincarnated in an Armani suit. I chuckled at the ridiculous thought.
I was much worse, proud of my accomplishments in both business and pleasure.
Now this… blasphemy.
Requirements of the Sacred Sect, what many thought an honor. For me, this was the beginning of my trip straight to hell.
Still, there’d been a promise made, one of domination and glory, a seat at the Council’s table in exchange for entering into a marriage that at least some considered detrimental to the sect, including my father. However, my acceptance had been expected.
There were five powerful men who ruled our community, initiated by birthright, their leadership unquestionable, their wrath inescapable. My father was one of those men, a responsibility he cherished. Only firstborn sons of the five original families were allowed a seat on the Council, an organization that ruled with an iron fist. I was the great-grandson of one of those families.
Another reason I’d done everything to pull out of the fold. And now? One member was reported to have months to live, vacating the precious seat. A time of celebration of a new regime.
As if I gave a shit.
I glanced up at the stained glass, the vibrant and exquisitely ornate angel another reminder of our evil ways.
The last time I’d been in a church I was a boy, forced to endure the funeral of my father’s best friend who’d died at the hands of a monster. Rumors had surrounded the man’s horrific demise including the fact his family had shunned the sect, refuting regulations regarding the infamous Box that had ruled our lives for nearly a century.
The Hamptons in New York, a beachside setting for the upper echelon of society, families who held more wealth than common sense. Of the almost one hundred and ten thousand people who resided at least a portion of the year in the combined cities, only a few families had been selected over the decades to become members of the sect. The roughly two hundred influential families were the chosen ones, those considered worthy of God’s love.
And his supremacy.
I knew every family had been forced to endure countless events and parties, soirees that were befitting the wealth and prosperity. I was a nonbeliever, a man determined to destroy the sect, but my family loyalty as well as certain threats had forced me into compliance.
The price for unconditional wealth and every desire fulfilled, no matter how heinous?
Our very souls.
I was merely biding my time, preparing to unearth all the dirty little secrets. If only the Council knew what I was capable of. I snickered at the thought. I’d play along with their game in order to garner the promised seat amongst the elite. After that? I would become the supreme leader.
No matter what I had to do.
There were egregious tales of those who’d attempted to leave the sect, the heinous stories of their demise creating nightmares.
If you wanted to believe or care. I for one didn’t give a damn; however, Marcus Crosby had indeed been assassinated. I had my opinion on who’d led the charge.
All those years ago, I’d been more intrigued by the stories of the gruesome murder than the actual funeral itself. I’d even gotten in trouble with the priest, locked away for several hours as my penance, atonement for my sins.
The punishment mandated by his holiness.
A man I couldn’t tolerate.
That hadn’t been my first slide into disobedience, yet another black mark on my tarnished soul. How many times had I heard that from my own father? I’d been the bad seed and still was. I held that badge with honor. At least in my mind.
I slid my finger along the collar of my pure white dress shirt, loathing the stiffness and what the tuxedo represented on this day. I’d honored my father by agreeing to this bullshit, but this would be the last time. One day I would retaliate.
One day soon I would rule.
I wasn’t used to the concept of having a wife, nor did I want one. However, it was required, the one sacrifice found in this particular Box, the other contents including newfound wealth, even jewels. Neither my lovely bride nor I cared in the least, but in a sense, we were both prisoners of our heritage.
However, a sweet memory from long ago had been a reminder that she’d always belonged to me no matter the circumstances. That much I’d promised. My desire to possess her had blossomed then, not because of the Box but because she stilled my heart. As far as the arranged marriage? No matter the pledge given so long ago, I remained enraged at being coerced into such an atrocity. At least the taste of her, the taking of her would be sweet.
My cock twitched at the thought.
Family honor, my father had thrown it in my face more than once. A sacrilege if I didn’t obey, had issued from my mother’s lips. Then there’d been the threats made from other members of the Council.
Sadly, my parents were both terrified of the ancient prophecy, something I called a curse.
I hated rules, had never played by them my entire life and in truth, I didn’t plan on doing it now. My father was a pompous pig, his hunger fueled by the promises made. The sect. Not every child was forced to marry one of the sect, only the… lucky few who were deemed holy.
I stood in the vestibule, watching the incoming flow of the various family members, business associates, and so-called friends, all vying for the perfect seat. I was appalled at the notion.
“This isn’t a funeral, brother.” My brother Matteo pressed his hand against my shoulder, trying to offer some level of comfort. He was my best man. Six years my junior, he still had a lust for life including women of all types, while my burning desire had to do with money and power. “Think you have enough soldiers with guns watching over the place?”
I slowly turned my head, studying his dark eyes. He was the apple of my father’s eye, while I was the bastard son, preferring to live my life as I saw fit. While I had my reasons, my atrocious decisions didn’t fit well within the sect. In my mind they were all puppets of their own making, following what was little more than a cult in order to expand their wealth and glory. My father, for all his pontifications, enjoyed the privileges more than most. “You know how I feel about this and the Capodannos aren’t the only members of this bloodsucking cult. You also know we have enemies, Matteo.”
Matteo sighed, adjusting his tie. “You have no choice in doing this, but I honestly don’t think you’re going to have an assassination attempt at your wedding. You might as well get used to the fact you accepted the contract. Besides, you should consider yourself lucky.”
I snorted from his comment. “Lucky? Forced into an arranged marriage to the daughter of our family’s enemy? Pretending I give a shit? I’d call that a recipe for war.” While I’d vowed to protect her so long ago, I’d kept my distance, forever watchful without interfering with her life. And she wanted no part of me or the requirements of the sect.
Perhaps because I was considered by most to be evil.
It was funny how fate had intervened. Or maybe this was the devil’s hand, his claws prepared to yank us straight into hell. As far as gun power, I’d made certain I’d enlisted the help of two of my employees, men I trusted with my life.
Against Matteo’s belief, the wedding was a perfect opportunity for an assassination attempt. The list of those who would love to break the sect’s veil, exacting revenge for the decades of enslavement to the leaders of our community. The five leaders all had factions they controlled: politics, media, transport, technology, and real estate. There wasn’t a soul on the planet who hadn’t been forced to deal with the Council’s requirements.
“Ah, yes, but she is beautiful. Even you must be able to see what a lovely and sensuous woman she’s turned into. While you were busy with your trinkets and toys, the girl you once bullied turned into a queen,” Matteo said jokingly. He was well aware of my tastes in women. He also knew I’d never desired to get close to a single one of them.
Especially women born and bred within the sect.
However, he was right. Stephanie was gorgeous in an entirely unassuming manner, her long blonde hair completely natural, the casual style just like the woman herself. She’d grown into a voluptuous woman instead of the gawky teenager I remembered. I’d been a vile boy, hating the world around me and taking it out on anyone.
Including a young girl who’d simply vied for my attention.
Still, we had a connection, she and I, one that fate had determined was electric.
I imagined she was more comfortable in jeans than sophisticated dresses, although given her stunning long legs, I couldn’t help imagining both in slinky attire or wrapped around my waist. Her most provocative feature? Her incredible green eyes, flecks of iridescent gold highlighting her pupils.
My thoughts drifted to sliding my cock deep into her pussy.
There’d been a time I’d thought of little else, the hunger burning right through me, keeping me awake at night. But I’d been a boy then even at twenty-two, hungering for a girl who’d been totally off limits.
A mere taste a punishable offense.
The various warnings issued by my father hadn’t stopped my dark fantasies, my longing to bury my face in her sweet little pussy.
I would never forget the last time I’d seen her, the ugliness something I’d been able to push aside.
“Besides, you knew the possibilities, Christian. You’ve been lucky not to have been chosen up to this point. Maybe you’ll find some level of peace that you’ve been hunting for.”
His retort was well taken. I’d remained off the radar for almost seven years, allowed to procure my own wealth in my way. My corporation had grown extensively given my ruthless nature, affording me every luxury, fulfilling certain proclivities. However, I’d ventured too far from the regime, allowing for the possibility of exposing all the dirty little secrets. Father McGivney’s recent visit to my penthouse condo in New York City had certainly opened my eyes.
Even the holier than thou had nightmares.
Although he’d merely reminded me that as a member of the Sacred Sect, our family’s blood oath of secrecy must remain intact or the consequences would be catastrophic.
That had been another laughable moment, although I was well aware one tenacious reporter had made several inquiries about my family in particular. Someone had opened their mouth. That someone needed to be found and ostracized, only the methods of the sect would be far worse than tossing them from the community.
“There is no peace in the Capodanno family. Even you are well aware of that.” The Michaelsons and the Capodannos had been enemies for decades, the bad blood between our grandfathers ending in several untimely and horrific deaths years before. That had been during the time the community had just been developing, brutal tactics used in an effort to keep everyone in line. I’d heard several accounts of just how difficult life had been, even with posh surroundings and unimaginable wealth.
That had allowed both families to usurp the early lead within the community, taking over several defunct corporations, turning small town politicians into glamorous stars. Their loyalty had been rewarded, several even allowed to join the sect, their positions of power throughout the country providing tax benefits and monetary value as well as coerced congressional decisions.
Then the wars had begun, bloody and brutal, almost destroying the entire community.
And once again, one of the members of the church had intervened, the highly revered Council developed. The day to day tasks of keeping the sect in order fell on Father McGivney’s shoulders. Some said he was the last man of the ancient cloth, a gift given only to those most holy. New fears of a collapse of the sect upon his death had left community members even more cautious, terrified their successful reign would come to an end.
I said bullshit.
No one, especially a man of God was that powerful. I’d stayed out of family and community politics until now. Sadly, my life was no longer entirely in my control.
There had always been a hierarchy within the sect, those considered the supreme leaders. Both the Michaelsons and the Capodannos had always been on top of the food chain, but there were others who wielded a heavy fist, the politics of the sect forged in stone.
At least that’s what had been told to every community member from the beginning.
While Father McGivney was considered a consigliere in terms of a mafia organization, I’d seen his methods, just as brutal as anything my father had ever done. As far as his advice, I had to wonder whether he was leading us all into the depths of hell.
While a truce between our families remained in effect, one honored but fragile, this fake marriage seemed far too arranged and not by some divine intervention. Unfortunately, there was far too much fear in our staunch community. I’d seen the writing on the wall, but I’d never suspected this would be the immediate outcome. What a fool I’d been.
Our community had its share of outside enemies as well, those who would stop at nothing in order to find our source of power. I’d been feeling enough heat as of late, my legitimate businesses falling prey to a weak economy. Relying on other methods of income had forced me to get my hands dirty. Perhaps this marriage was nothing more than an attempt to lock down our secrets and protect our own, keeping our hold on the entire country stable.
Time would be the judge, but I refused to be used in any manner.
I could just make out Father McGivney hovering in the background. He seemed even more arrogant than usual, perhaps because he’d had a hand in setting this up.
I’d learned much from his visit, some of which was indeed disturbing. From the information I’d been told, the Council had shifted into brutal tactics once again. Everyone feared bodies would begin piling up. We were dangerous people after all, more so than anyone could comprehend. Rumors stated we were the spawn of the devil, no law enforcement able to cut us off at the knees.
My fear was that we were much more fragile, our regime ready to crumble.
“You have to remember that our fathers are important men. Their work on the Council has proven to be vital. This is our legacy and one I’ve very proud of,” Matteo stated with such admiration. My brother had been drinking too much of the Kool-Aid.
Legacy. The word held an entirely different meaning in my mind.
“Did you notice the president and the first lady are in attendance?” Matteo whispered the question, more out of amusement than anything.
I’d noticed, as if I cared. The sect had ties all the way to the White House. No doubt the president had been reminded that he was required to attend the wedding.
As the sounds of the typical wedding music was played with obvious reverence by the organist, I noticed my mother and father walking in, both beaming with joy. How I wanted to lash out. At least I would own the girl. She would yield to me without question, surrendering her body and her will.
If not, I would break her.
Now that everyone was seated, Father McGivney made his way to the pulpit.
“Let’s get this over with.” I didn’t hesitate as I walked up the single set of stairs, nodding to the father, even though my anger was clawing at the surface. The man was afraid of me, as he should be. I would just as soon snap his neck as to bother giving him any respect.
A switch in the music and my lovely bride to be was on her way to take my hand in marriage. Divorce wasn’t an option.
Until death do us part.
I had to admit that she was a thing of beauty as she glided down the aisle, the majority of onlookers admiring the girl dressed in crimson.
The color of the sect.
I appreciated the shock on the faces of the outsiders, enjoying their twisted expressions as they attempted to hide their true feelings.
Disdain for a church with no official ties.
In truth, it was just the opposite yet all pomp and circumstance.
There was something else, the realization forcing my cock to throb, aching to the point for a few precious seconds I was breathless.
Not only was the veil she was wearing black in color, but in her hands were what appeared to be a dozen black roses. Death. Sadness. The meaning for the majority of people had negative connotations, but there was an alternative definition as well.
Rebirth and rejuvenation.
The girl was very clever indeed and if I actually counted the number of roses, my guess was that there would be thirteen. I chuckled under my breath, concentrating on the subtle moves she made. She honestly believed she maintained some level of control.
Stephanie Christine. The name suited her. I’d known her as Steffy all those years ago when I’d made a promise, one that was dark and dangerous like the man I’d become.
The murmurs in the crowd didn’t seem to faze Stephanie, her head held high as she took careful steps forward, milking the crowd. Even her parents seemed surprised, perhaps embarrassed by her formidable decisions. In my mind, they should be proud of her rebellious spirit.
“Fascinating choice. I like this girl,” Matteo whispered, obviously as amused as I was.
“A force to be reckoned with,” I said casually even as my cock continued to twitch, electricity soaring throughout every muscle and tendon. “However, she will surrender to me completely, body and soul.”
“We shall see, brother. You may have met your match.”
No one could best me, not a single human being and she was no exception.
I resisted shifting my cock as the increased adrenaline flowed throughout every cell. I already had a taste for her in my mouth, the kind of dark desire that even the father would call heinous. Well, he was partially to blame for this atrocity, yet I would be the one reaping the benefits.
Even through the shimmering veil, I caught her eyes glaring at me with hatred that had been locked into place the moment the Box had been opened and the announcement made. She was an unwilling partner, which quite frankly intrigued me. The majority of the girls obeyed without question, even feeling honored. Not Stephanie.
She already loathed being in my presence, which would make her training that much more delicious.
As she made the final approach, she gave me another hard look, the meaning made clear. She wanted nothing to do with me. I suspected she already had a plan in motion that would free her from the restraints of the Box, an escape that would take every ounce of gumption she was showing here today.
What she didn’t know was that she would never be free of me. One way or the other. I was now her master, her provider and the man who would dole out harsh punishment as necessary. There was nothing I wouldn’t do if necessary to keep her.
When she was finally in position, the maid of honor and the only one in Stephanie’s bridal party lifted her friend’s veil, whispering something that no one else was allowed to hear. Even the girl’s tentative grasp of the extraordinary bouquet brought amusement.
At least to me.
The beast dressed in expensive attire.
This was only one of few times I’d been a few inches apart from the woman who would spend the rest of her life serving me. I doubted she remembered the last time with fondness.
“Get this over with, Father,” I demanded.
Her hiss was a mild reward, the snap of her head in my direction tantalizing. “You are a bastard,” Stephanie said with joy in her tone.
I leaned over until our lips were only centimeters apart. “You have no idea, sweet Stephanie. I suggest you learn to obey beginning immediately or you’re going to find your wedding night quite painful.”
My commands were usually met with fear, trembling and sometimes tears. Stephanie was completely different. She slowly offered me the most poignant smile, a simple drag of the tip of her tongue across her far too perfect scarlet lipstick. “You’re no match for me, Christian. In fact, you’re nothing more than a little boy seeking approval, pretending to be a man. Just like all those years ago.” Her short burst of laughter was followed by tittering in the crowd.
My rage was intact, my control without question.
But tonight would be something else altogether.
The connection shared between us was electrifying. I could even smell her raging desire, the scent particularly delicious. Her nipples were already hard, pushing through the thin material, mirroring my agonized cock.
Even before I could say anything, Matteo wrapped his hand around my arm, tugging just enough it broke the almost hypnotic state I was in. I did what any loving almost husband would do. I brushed my lips across her cheek, issuing a single husky growl.
This time, she quivered.
“You seem to forget a promise I made years ago,” I stated with absolute domination in mind.
Stephanie shifted her eyes back and forth, searching mine, perhaps looking to see if my soul was as black as she imagined it. “Whatever promise you think you made I’m certain was actually a threat.”
“That’s where you’re wrong, my beautiful wife.” I could remember every detail about the afternoon, the horrible tragedy that had befallen an entire community. I’d been the savior. I’d been the only one able to protect her.
“Dear God, I want nothing from you.”
I was unable to tell if she even remembered that fateful day; however, my pledge had nothing to do with wooden boxes or supposed curses. My oath had been about something else entirely. And I was a man who always kept his promises.
“I will enjoy taking you the first time, both in disciplining and in fucking you. Then you will belong to me and nothing and no one will ever come between us. Until death do us part.” My whisper was met with a purse of her luscious lips and words that further fueled the fire.
“Then so be it.”