Home > Be Mine, King (The Crown Duet #1)

Be Mine, King (The Crown Duet #1)
Author: Chelsea McDonald

I had a job to do. Sometimes I liked it, sometimes not so much. Tonight, I loved it.

Most people saw me as just a background feature and I loved proving them wrong. My brother was the one who ran the show while I blended into the shadows - the place I felt most comfortable. It wasn’t supposed to be that way, our whole lives, I was the one meant to take charge of our fathers’ organization. But things didn’t work out that way.

I wasn’t a natural leader, my brother Finch was though. It was inevitable that he would take over. While I didn’t always agree with his decisions, and I didn’t always like being bossed around, that was my cross to bear. In this game, you were either the boss or the boss's slave.

Despite my bitching, I had no regrets.

On nights like tonight, I emerged - I soared. I was the boss. While my younger brothers were at home with their girlfriends and bedmates - getting cozy. I took out the trash.

As I sat waiting, I took in the dining hall of Brookshaw mansion. I hadn’t been here before. Whenever we’d dealt with him before it was at his office. Understandably, he aimed to keep his home life separate from his dodgy dealings at the office.

The room was impressive. Oversized with lavish trimmings. It must be nice to surround yourself with such decadent things. It reminded me of everything we didn’t have growing up. While my parents were loaded, we never saw a penny of it. And then they died. What a lot of good their money did them.

The sounds of the party just outside echoed throughout the room. I moved towards one of the large windows overlooking the gardens, the marquee tent a stark white against the darkness. The sun had set hours ago, the party was in full swing now. With the beauty of the music and lights, it seemed such a shame to drag Anton away.

The handle turned and the door opened to reveal the man himself. He was older than the last time I saw him, or at least, he looked it. Dark shadows hung under his eyes, the laugh lines either side of his mouth were deeper. His clothes seemed a size too big. Although this man is no older than my father would’ve been, he had not aged well. And to think, he was throwing his daughter a sweet sixteenth.

“What are you doing here, Nikolai?”

“I was prepared to extend pleasantries before getting down to being busy but apparently they’re a thing of the past… Where’s our money, Anton?”

“I haven’t got it, I need more time.”

Hmm. I wondered if he was actually telling me the truth. But that’s not why I had been sent there. I was there to collect money, not his lame excuses.

“You’ve already had more time.” I crossed my arms and widened my stance, “Your time is up, I’m here to collect.”

“You don’t scare me, Nikolai. I will get you your money by the weeks end.” His voice didn’t waver but his face was tight. If not me, then who scared him? Yeah, I was thinking it was definitely me. Standing a good foot taller than him, I was a wall of muscle that could’ve easily surrounded him.

My brother wouldn’t like his answer, but he would accept it, for now. Come weeks end, if we weren’t paid, I’d be back.

“If I have to come back here, you know what will happen. You’ve been warned.”

He sighed in what I assumed was some form of agreement as he bowed his head, “Yes, I know.”

“Finch wants an extra twenty-five per cent, for his troubles.”

“No way! You’ve got to be insane.”

“We could make it thirty?” I threatened him, backing him into a corner that he knew he couldn’t get himself out of. He stayed silent, looking sullen.

“Twenty-five per cent. If not…” I let my words hang in the air, I could almost see the noose they formed around his neck. He didn’t need to be told a third time.

No one was told a third time, you were considered lucky if you were told twice. That was Finch’s first rule, no second chances. It had served us well, built up our reputation in a way that helped keep our clientele in line.

Anton wisely held his tongue as I passed him by. I stalked back down the corridor I came down upon entering. I felt Anton following me, not removing his eyes from my back. He didn’t have to worry, for tonight he was safe. All I’d done was strap a ticking time bomb to his chest. Most of the time that worked well, if not then he had more to worry about than doubling interests.

I opened the door, “Anastasia, go back to bed.”

What?

I peered my head back around the door, wondering who the fuck he was talking to. As far as I knew, the house had been clear.

And there she stood.

She stole my breath. Dressed in a long-sleeve t-shirt, flannelette pajama pants and fluffy white bunny slippers. The birthday girl, at eleven o’clock at night, coming downstairs after having clearly been asleep. My mind raced. Why wasn’t she outside, enjoying her birthday party? Was that her choice, or her father's demand? As I looked at Anton, I knew the answer. He was furious.

“Anastasia, I’m busy and you should be in bed.” What?

What sixteen-year-old wasn’t allowed to go to their own party? And what sixteen-year-old was asleep at this time of night, on a Saturday night? Questions flooded my mind as I judged Anton on his parenting.

Immediately, I wanted to search her eyes for the sadness I knew hid there. But, she kept her head down. I’m not sure if she was avoiding my gaze or her fathers’ glare. But then she spoke and it was what I imagined an angel singing to sound like.

“Sorry, father. I just wanted some water.” Anastasia kept her eyes low to the ground as she stepped past.

My eyes followed her before she disappeared around the corner. No longer in my line of sight, I turned to her father. Our gazes locked on each other, his eyes growing wide with realization, as though he could see the wheels turning in my head.

It seemed that we had a new business to discuss.

We spoke at the same time, my “I want her” only slightly overpowering his booming “NO”.

“No,” he said again, stronger this time. “Not my daughter, she’s only a child.”

I hated how he had a point, she was only sixteen. What would my brothers think? No, she was too young. But I felt the pull in the marrow of my bones. I knew it. She was meant to be mine.

Think Nikolai, think.

I needed to be quick on my feet, to find a way to buy me some time. I needed a way to test his family loyalty, what would he give to keep his daughter? If anything at all.

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