Authors: Julia Mills
“Lee! Oh my gods, Lee! Please answer me!”
Her scream cut through his fitful sleep. Her panic filled his
being. Jumping to his feet, the King gulped air like a fish out of water as his
heart threatened to jump from his chest.
“I can’t see my crew. The ceiling is crumbling all around me!”
“Juliette!” He cried out, searching the darkness, unsure whether
he was dreaming or awake.
panicked cry ended with a rattling cough. The breath in his lungs froze as
visions of death and destruction filled his mind.
Running out the door and into the hall, Achilles collided with
Gregorio, Roman’s assistant. Barely keeping them upright, Lee demanded, “Did
you hear that? Is she here?”
“Did I hear what Master Giannopoulous? And you, I, and your
brothers are the only ones in residence as Mr. and Mrs. Marinos are still in
Greece on their honeymoon.”
Grabbing the older man by his shoulder, Lee shook him as he
bellowed, “But I heard her. She’s in trouble. I have to save her.”
A door at the end of the hall opened and out stumbled his comrade,
Tommas, otherwise known as Tommy, and one of the younger Kings, yawning while
wiping the sleep from his eyes and grumbling, “What the hell is going on out
here? Where’s the fire?”
Lee, Tommy, and Sal were all staying at Roman’s estate while he
and the keeper of his heart were on their extended honeymoon. Cyn had wanted to
see where they were from and Roman was more than happy to have her all to
himself in the land of his birth.
Setting Gregorio out of his way, Lee raced to the end of the hall
screaming, “Not a fire, a cave in. Juliette is in a cave in and I think she is
Another door opened and out walked Sal, who rolled his eyes and
asked, “She’s dying like the time you conned me into flying to the Amazon to
find she was only on one of her digs or like the time you got busted in Egypt
following her around like a lost puppy?” Turning to go back in his room, he
sighed, “You know the rules. No contact until she comes to you. You are going
to piss Zeus off one day and knowing him, we will all be struck by lightning for
not keeping you in line.” Slamming the door, he hollered, “Go back to bed.”
Pleading with Tommy, who was standing and shaking his head, Lee
begged, “I swear. I heard her. She called to me. She said my name? She really
is in danger…
Walking down the hall, Tommy stopped at the half-round console,
picked up the phone, and pressed the intercom button. Lee heard a grumbled,
“This better be good,” and knew immediately his brother had called another of
the Kings, Bain, who was living in Roman’s pool house while his newly purchased
ranch was being remodeled.
“Oh, it is,” Tommy sighed. “Get this. Juliette just called to Lee,
mind to mind, while he was asleep. She is apparently on another dig and has
been involved in a cave-in where she is dying, according to the ‘boy who cried
Lee grabbed the phone from Tommy’s hand and roared, “I do not have
to nor will I wait a second longer. I am out of here. My mate is in trouble and
by Zeus’ lightning I will save her.”
Not waiting to hear what Bain had to say, he threw the receiver at
Tommy, ran toward the stairs, and bellowed, “To Hades with all of you and Zeus
be damned. I will not let her die.”
“You might want to put on some pants, lover boy,” Tommy chuckled.
“I’m not sure, but I think Carl is going to have an issue with a King in his
Don’t Miss Book 1 in the Kings of the Blood Series
“Enjoy your stay in London, Ms. Romalesky. Thank you for flying
Enjoy? Yeah, right.
“I will and thank you, Natalie,” Kat smiled and answered the perky
flight attendant as sweetly as she could as she exited the plane. It was
the best she could do considering the Diet Pepsi and poorly baked fish she’d
consumed during her eight-hour sleepless flight from the states were
threatening to make an unwanted reappearance.
In less than eighteen hours she would meet the single most
powerful businessman in the world—the elusive Viktor Katsaros. Not only her
future but that of her father’s company depended on the multi-million dollar
deal she was hoping to broker between Roma Technologies and Katsaros
Industries. In the last two years, Kat had taken the nearly bankrupt company
she’d inherited after her parent’s death and turned it into a thriving business
that just the day before she’d left home had been added to the Forbes’ Most
Innovative Companies list. If she had any hopes of getting their new product in
the hands of consumers outside the U.S., she had to convince Katsaros to be her
The man she was hinging all her hopes of success on was not known
for his willingness to partner with people. The little bit Kat had been able to
dig up about him on the internet and in articles gave her a clear picture of a
corporate raider. He took what he wanted at the lowest price, kept it if it was
something that interested him, but in most cases, broke the companies into
pieces and sold them off to the highest bidder. It was easy to see how he’d
become so rich and so infamous.
But none of that mattered. Kat had a stable company that was
operating in the black and she had the tech to back up a partnership. All the
patents and copyrights belonged to her personally, not Roma Tech, so even if
Katsaros tried to take her business, he would never get the moneymaker. That
was the beauty of still being an independent owner. Viktor Katsaros may be a
viper in business but Kat had dealt with vipers before.
She’d been working on the proposal for almost three months,
basically from the moment she’d met Roman Marinos, KI’s Vice President of
Operations, and if all the stories on the internet were true, Mr. Katsaros’
right-hand man. Kat had to believe it had been destiny that they’d literally
bumped into one another at the bar while attending Fortune Magazine’s Man of
the Year awards banquet.
She’d been there with the hopes of meeting Viktor Katsaros and
pitching her idea of their partnership to the man himself. After her many
emails to KI’s development department had gone unanswered, Kat was betting on a
long shot. By all accounts, Katsaros hadn’t been seen in public for nearly
twenty years, but she’d taken the chance that winning the same award for the
tenth year in a row would bring the recluse into the light. The outcome she
wanted hadn’t happened, but thankfully, the luck that had seen her through some
of the roughest times in her life was still on her side and she’d met Marinos.
Kat had been so shocked when he’d called her by name and
introduced himself. She’d almost dropped her ginger ale. Her surprise grew as
he apologized for her previously ignored correspondence and asked if she had
the time to discuss her proposal right then and there.
Never one to miss an opportunity, Kat had followed Marinos to the
table farthest from all the commotion, pulling data out of her overworked brain
as fast as she could. Once seated, he’d asked a few preliminary questions about
Roma Tech that she was positive he could’ve had answered by any business
website anywhere. It was Business 101 – never ask a question you don’t know the
answer to. If possible, it made her respect him even more.
Fifteen minutes into the hour-long presentation she’d practiced at
least a hundred times in the mirror, Marinos lifted his index finger and
offhandedly said, “Excuse me for just a moment.”
Kat prepared for what she was sure was going to be the most
elegant and practiced brush off she’d ever gotten. From everything she’d seen
of this man so far, he was nothing if not the consummate professional. But to
her surprise, he’d taken his cell phone from his jacket pocket, made a few
quick key strokes, and placed the device between them on the table.
Marinos smiled as the phone rang but gave no explanation. On the
fourth ring, Kat opened her mouth to speak but quickly swallowed her words as
the voice on the other end answered, “Katsaros.”
The man’s voice was deep and warm but with a raw power that seemed
to resonate within her. He had an exotic accent; one she couldn’t place but
knew without a doubt was not British, despite reports that he’d lived in London
for most of his life.
You just can’t trust what you read on the internet.
“Roman, here. Glad to see you’re still awake, old boy.”
It was then Kat remembered the five-hour time difference between
New York and London, making it nearly three a.m. in the men’s homeland. She
knew if one of her associates called her in the wee hours of the morning she
would’ve been less than pleased and probably a cranky bitch. Viktor Katsaros
however, lived up to what little information she’d been able to dig up about
him. He’d been a true professional with a voice any woman would gladly give her
eye teeth to hear whispered in her ear.
“I am. What can I do for you,
answered, throwing Roman’s words back at him with just a touch of levity. It
both surprised and reassured Kat.
I was worried he was a stuffy old man. At least he has a sense of
humor. Even if he is a viper.
The cocky grin that flashed across Roman’s face made Kat wonder if
he’d read her mind, but it was gone so quickly she chalked it up to her
imagination and focused on the conversation taking place before her.
“I am sitting here with Miss Romalesky of Roma Tech. She and I
were just discussing a joint venture between her company and KI, and I thought
it only right I bring you into the discussion.”
Roman went on to explain word for word everything she’d told him.
One or two ‘uh-huh’s’ and an ‘I see’ were the only responses Katsaros gave.
When Marinos concluded, there was no response from the phone on the table.
Several tense seconds of utter silence and Kat thought she might pull her long,
red tresses from her head. She tried to appear nonchalant as she felt each tick
of the clock, knowing the next words she heard would seal not only her
company’s destiny, but also her own.
“How soon can you be in London, Katarina?”
Viktor’s use of her given name stole her breath and caused a
warmth to fill her from the inside out. Had she been alone, there was no doubt
she would’ve closed her eyes and drifted on the dreamy fog the man’s voice
created around her. She thought of the hauntingly erotic dreams she’d been
having for the last three years. There was no doubt Viktor would be starring in
the next few.
Quickly slamming the gate closed on her imagination, Kat cleared
her throat and answered, “I can be there in ninety days, if that works with
She knew she’d taken too long to answer when her eyes met Roman’s
and his cocky grin was replaced with a sly smile and a twinkle in his hazel
eyes. Kat imagined a similar, sexier grin on Viktor Katsaros’ face before
clamping even tighter on her wandering mind.
Thankfully, Viktor was quick to respond, “No sooner?”
Letting out the breath she’d been holding, Kat responded, “No,
sir. That’s the soonest I could make the trip.”
She knew it was a lie—or a business maneuver—as Leo, her attorney,
liked to say. There was absolutely nothing keeping her from packing up that
very night, grabbing a ticket, and taking the redeye to Heathrow, but she
didn’t want to seem too eager. Keeping the fact that Roma Tech needed KI more
than KI needed Roma Tech would be her secret for as long as she could keep it.
“Always leave them wanting more” was her father’s philosophy and one Kat had
adopted her first day as President and CEO of what had then been a failing tech
company in a small town in West Texas.
There was also the tiny issue of typing up the proposal she’d so
expertly given to Roman. She had been writing and practicing it in her mind for
months but never took the time to put it on paper. It was important that it
have copious details with all the charts, bells, and whistles she could manage.
It was going to take a hat trick to make this deal a reality, but she was up to
When Viktor spoke again his voice was even lower, somehow more
seductive, and his accent thicker. “If that is the soonest you can come, I
shall count the days to your arrival.” Then to Roman he replied in a totally
matter of fact tone, “Thank you for the call,
. See you
The rest of the banquet had been a blur, just as the last three
months had been. Kat spent every day and most of every night preparing her
presentation, while running Roma Tech and trying not to lose her sanity from
the nightly visits of her dream lover.
Just as she’d expected, it was Viktor’s voice she heard in every
dream, more compelling with each appearance. So real that every time she awoke,
her hand automatically searched the other side of the bed for him.
Kat knew from all her research into Katsaros Industries that only
blurry, out of focus photos existed of its withdrawn owner. But that simple
fact did not keep her from searching at least once a day with the hopes that
something she’d missed before would magically appear. Of course, nothing had,
so she’d depended on her incredible imagination while constantly reminding
herself it was unprofessional to mix business with pleasure.
But oh, what pleasure I imagine it could be.
Grinning at her own joke, she planted her best black stiletto on
British soil for the first time and headed to retrieve her luggage. Apparently,
the heavens were shining down on her, because her bags were the first onto the
carousel. Her luck continued to hold as she walked out into the dreary London
morning and straight into a waiting cab to be immediately whisked away to her
Viktor had offered to have his car pick her up at the airport when
she’d sent her itinerary to him and Roman a week after their phone
conversation. Once the initial shock of a personal response from the CEO
himself had worn off, Kat had politely declined. She needed him to see her as a
capable, worthy partner despite her age and gender. It was a daily battle and
one she would not let stop her from taking Roma Tech to the top.
As her taxi stopped in front of the Corinthia, Kat had a moment of
wide-eyed awe. Never in a million years would she have guessed the building
before her had at one time housed the Ministry of Defense. The restoration the
building had undergone left it in absolutely gorgeous condition. It was like
nothing she’d ever seen.
For just a second, she felt like a princess finally arriving at
her castle. Sadness threatened her mood as Kat thought of all the fairy tales
her mom had read to her over the years and the times her dad had played the
part of the horrible beast keeping the princess captive in the bell tower. She
missed them so very much but knew they were looking down on her with pride.
Life had dished Kat up a bushel of lemons and she was making lemonade as fast
as she could.
The fact that she was a country girl at heart would always be her
best kept secret from the professional world. Sure, as an only child taking
over the family business had been in her thirty-year plan. Right along with
marrying the man of her dreams and having two beautiful children. She’d always
imagined she and her spouse running the company together after her parents had
retired but destiny had other plans, and now it was time to take her father’s
Smiling to herself, she jumped as the hotel attendant opened her
door and extended his hand. Quickly paying the cabbie, Kat gently accepted the
bellman’s help and exited the vehicle. There were several other stewards
unloading her luggage while she was escorted through the pristine glass double
doors into the hotel lobby.
If this is any indication of what my suite looks like, I may never
It was all she could do to keep from gaping at the opulence before
her. There were chandeliers as far as her eyes could see, glittering like
diamonds against the silver and white ceiling. Marble columns strategically
placed around the perimeter of what she counted to be at least ten separate
alcoves stood at attention like palace guards protecting the groups of patrons
who sat either at delicately adorned tables sipping morning tea, or in the more
informal settees. A splash of pink decorated every tabletop as a light, fresh
fragrance from the bright fuchsia flowers kissed the air around her.
Kat’s heels lightly tapped the geometrically patterned marble
floor as she made her way to the front desk. A cute young woman with short
brown hair whose nametag read Cecily looked up and smiled as Kat approached.
“Checking in?” the younger woman asked with a thick British