Authors: KaSonndra Leigh
Tags: #Organized Crime, #Romantic Suspense, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Crime, #Romance, #Teen & Young Adult, #KaSonndra Leigh, #Mystery & Suspense, #Thrillers, #Suspense, #New Adult, #Contemporary Romance, #Literature & Fiction
The Dark Duet
The Musical Interlude Book Three
Edited by Melissa Ringsted
© 2014 by KaSonndra Leigh
All rights reserved.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold, copied, or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each reader. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. This is a work of fiction. All characters, organizations, and events are products of the author’s imagination. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Cover Art © 2014 Katalinks Photography. Used by permission under licensed agreement.
Table of Contents
A golden swan flies over a river of fire.
That’s the best way to describe the insignia inscribed on the outside of the letter the waiter has just delivered into my hands from the Burkenstein Corporation, a potential investor for the new repertory company I’m trying to form.
Sitting in Maggianos, the favorite dining spot of my comrade and greatest friend, Aleksandr Dostovsky, I listen to yet another potential investor—a woman whose name I’ve already forgotten, Gemma or something other—drone on about how she might be able to provide the funds I desire. However, she fails to mention a plan of action or proof she can provide the money.
“Signor Belikov, you’re not listening,” Gemma states, smiling to soften the reprimand.
“I do apologize,” I say because she’s right.
My mind drifts between two thoughts: the letter burning a hole in my hands, and the face of Alek’s little sister, the woman who broke my heart. Or, as Adriana so kindly said to me, perhaps I do not possess a heart. Maybe the problem lies inside of me, as she has stated many times.
I shake the distracting ruminations off at once.
, I remind myself, using the nickname Alek has given me. Securing my future and becoming the ruler of an arts and entertainment empire will solve that issue, I am sure ... and bringing down the man who put me on this path to damnation begins with the person who sent me this letter.
“If you’ll excuse me. I need to take a call.”
“Is everything all right?” she asks.
“Better than ever,” I answer truthfully.
Leaving the dinner table, I head out back to the balcony. As soon as I step outside, the chill of the cool winter night in Venice slaps against the material of the black dinner jacket I’m wearing and whips my shoulder length blond hair into my eyes. But I am far from being cold. At least, not on this night. Not when the key to my liberation, my revenge, lies within this envelope.
I break the seal and remove the letter, a surge of anxiety and anger battling inside me. I have waited months for this moment, working for a man I’ve yet to have the luxury of meeting face-to-face. The heart I supposedly can no longer feel flips inside my chest, and adrenaline invigorates my muscles, even though this isn’t a rehearsal.
You have been summoned by myself, Rudolph Burkenstein, to discuss the terms of the contract you have agreed to accept. Please leave the restaurant and head down Via Montellago until you reach Gaccione’s brewery and wait inside of the front office. From there, your informant will further instruct you.
I crumple the letter in my fist, clenching the paper until my knuckles turn white and my nails break the skin of my palm. Warm blood trickles down my wrist, staining the cusps of the crisp, dark gray designer suit Katerina Dostovsky bought for me. I don’t feel any pain, though. I never do. Instead, I welcome it.
Inhaling deeply, I close my eyes. Everything changes tonight. I have waited for almost a decade; now the time for me to make well on the promise I made to myself many years ago has come. Heading back inside, I excuse myself, and the fake investor stands at the same time as I do.
. Don’t just leave. I was thinking we could continue this discussion ... later. In a more comfortable setting of course,” she suggests, lifting her eyebrows and smiling coyly as she comes around the table and takes my hand in hers.
She has shiny black hair brushing against her shoulders, legs long enough to make a supermodel jealous, gorgeous breasts ... she’s the full package, reminding me of one of the goddesses in the oil paintings strewn about the hundreds of churches in Mother Russia. Under normal circumstances, I would take this woman to a hotel and fuck her until she couldn’t walk. Rough, hard sex is the way I like it, and I always make sure my women realize this as well. Most times, it turns my willing partner on and gets her even more excited. However, tonight, I’m on borrowed time.
“Some other night. Or perhaps, another lifetime,” I suggest, attempting to walk away.
“I can make it worth every bit of your time,” she states, pushing her breasts up against my chest and massaging my cock, stirring the horny side of me that never sleeps. Her blue eyes search mine and I cannot help thinking of how much they remind me of hers ... the girl I have let get away just as I have done with everything else in this lifetime.
“I am most certain you could, but I am afraid I must attend to another appointment.”
Perhaps someday I’ll get my shit together and grow a heart somewhere along the way. Maybe I’ll finally meet the woman vibrant enough ... or rather, ballsy enough to call herself mine. I don’t think so. The thought of picket fences and missionary positions makes me squirm. Nevertheless, the desperation in this woman’s gaze, those eyes that remind me of the Mediterranean, stirs the ache in my chest. I hate that fucking feeling. I despise being helpless and caught up in the power of another human being.
“She’s going to kill me,” she mutters.
“Do tell, what are you talking about?” I ask, already forming a picture for why she has been so persistent in her efforts to detain me.
Gemma flinches. “I promised not to say a word.”
“And I’m insisting that you do.” I move closer to her.
“God help me. Your stepmother hired me. Signora Dostovsky wanted me to work with you on this deal so I could report your activities.” She sighs deeply. “Kind of like a personal assistant, I guess.”
I chuckle. “Of course. The money you’ve so poorly offered belongs to Katerina.” Will she ever trust me enough to allow me to make my own way in this world? If the ones I love don’t believe in me, then how can I ever do the same?
“Please don’t tell the Signora I blew her cover,” Gemma pleads.
I gaze down at her. “Perhaps I will keep your secret.”
“Thank you.” She exhales and resumes exploring my cock, while I can think of nothing but the informant waiting for me. People around us continue chatting, as if we don’t look like we’re about to have sex in the back section of a restaurant. “I can make it up to you.”
“Not tonight.” However, I may have need of her
on some other night.
“There’s someone else. I can tell. I can make you forget all about her,” she purrs in her hard Italian accent.
Calming the sting growing inside of my chest, I take her wrist, ease her hand back up and away from my trousers and lock my gaze on hers. “You can make me forget nothing.”
No one can because I do not want to forget.
“The infamous Nikolai Belikov,” the man standing inside of Gaccione’s brewery says to me as I walk into the building that I’ve been instructed to enter.
“I do not consider myself a man of infamy,” I correct, taking in my surroundings: a warehouse filled with towers of wine and two giant machines that sit in the middle of the production area. The workers have left for the day, so there’s only this man and myself. Glancing around, someone might be fooled into thinking the building contains only one level. However, I know there’s more to this place; an underground cavern I’ve heard about that’s somehow linked to Burkenstein’s main laboratory in Switzerland.
“We leave tomorrow night. Check your email for your itinerary. So you’ll need to kiss all of your little boyfriends good-bye,” Gash teases, puckering his lips and blowing kisses. A wheezy laugh escapes his lips, a sound only a slimeball like this would make. Standing at six-feet-tall and dressed in all black, Rudolph Burkenstein’s second best negotiator turns his dark-eyed gaze on me as he slicks back his greasy hair.
I half smile back as an image of a gash across his forehead—my personal ode to his name—flashes through my mind. “I have upcoming performances. I cannot simply drop everything and leave town.”
“Oh, you’ll do it,” he begins, snorting a laugh, “or you’ll be fucked. But I hear you enjoy things like that. Fucking and getting fucked, I mean.” I get sleazier grinning from Gash, and more violent images flash through my head. I place my hands behind my back and grasp my right wrist, something I’ve learned to do in order to keep my temper in check and the person standing before me alive.
“You can tell Rudolf I will be there,” I snap and turn around before I do something to this man that will jeopardize everything I have worked toward.
I’m riding toward Burkenstein laboratories, a building that sits in a secluded part of Lauterbrunnen, a German speaking town in Switzerland ... or so I’ve been told. I have been blindfolded ever since I got into this limousine. I’m so wound up, even the frigid winter air doesn’t affect me.
A man orders me to step out of the car—a bit awkward with the blindfold still attached to my face, but I manage—and he takes me by the arm. “Watch your step, pretty boy. Wouldn’t want to fall down and screw up that sweet face, now would we?” he asks, laughing as he does so. It’s Gash, of course.
He leads me toward what I assume is the place that houses Burkenstein’s laboratories. A card reader beeps as we enter a building, and the scent of alcohol and some other foul scent stings my nose.