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Lukas' dark, chocolate brown eyes were easy, much unlike what they normally looked like. He came off relaxed. Normally, he always had a rigidity to his posture and movements. He was always on edge. This time, he actively tried to erase that. Yes, he had two daggers stuck in his boots, but he definitely did not want to use them. He wanted this to be a talk between two parties that had very different views, apparently. Nataliya Renkov was his enemy now, and he thought he could tell there was more in her eyes. He could see some kind of doubt or insecurity. So why was she really doing this? Would she tell him if they were alone with no one else for miles? Or would she attack him and try to take the throne for herself by killing the person who didn't save her brother? The person who was now trying to take his place. Was that the reason she was so angry with him? While he was still relaxed, there was a look in his eyes. A warning. One that told Nataliya that he would act if she did first, and it would not be pretty. He had other plans for their meeting, but she was a Renkov and unpredictable at that.The Zmeya had to be prepared.
Nataliya looked stunning as always, even in this natural setting. She was simply wearing a white hooded jacket and boots. It suited her. She was casual and sexy at the same time. Still, she was dangerous. He was the Zmeya, but she? People underestimated her. She ran away, and they saw that as weakness. Lukas knew better. He trained her. He sparred with her. She was clever, and she was more than capable of topping her father. The way she was doing it? Lukas couldn't get behind that, and he wouldn't go to war against her until he knew she could not be convinced otherwise. This meeting was supposed to be telling of just that.
Eyes swept over her quite noticeably as he stood there, arms crossed. 'I am not your princess.' Letting that grin play on his features again, the sleeve of his jacket now lifted up to reveal his sleeves of tattoos, each with a different meaning. [b "Should I not have it? You're alone are you not?"] Putting his finger to his lips, he took up a stance and then walked ever closer to her, shutting off the distance between them. Standing in front of her now, he just looked down into her eyes, [b "What do you really want, Nataliya? Tell me. Are you so angry about your brother that you want to take down your family's entire empire. Your father is powerful. But you? He could never ever betray you. And now you're doing just what he couldn't."] Pausing, he brought his hand up to her chin, trailing along her jaw and tilting her head upwards. [b "Is this payback for Aleks? Do you still blame me?"] Meeting her eyes and forcing her to keep looking up at him, he then ran his hand gently over her neck, pausing to run a finger along the skin then place his hand on her shoulder and then arm. [b "What is it about Iliya that's so enticing to you? You really want to end your ties to your family so badly that you're willing to give yourself to him? He'll kill you when you do all the work for him, and he won't think twice."]
At that, his eyes grew more serious, hardened, like the Russian killing machine he was. [b "Don't make me do this."] Letting the words out like a serpent with a hiss, he then brought his hand up, fingers tangling some in her hair as he cupped her jaw. He almost looked pained... This was something he hardly ever showed. [b "Don't make me have to hurt you, love."] As he spoke, his tone was husky, lips ever close to her skin. He was hard but soft at the same time. [b "Fight with me against him. Work with me. Like you were always trained to. Like Aleks would want. Follow your heart. Does it really lie with that horrible, disgusting man? Or does it lie with your family? With what you were born into? People would kill for what you have in your hands. You know you're better off with me. You know I would protect you. You know I would hold your best interests in mind. I know I've been... rough with you. But I made a promise. You. So. I say this one more time and that is all."] His body was now pressed up closer to hers, eliminating fear. She could stab him in the back literally here and now. This was a risk, and he hardly took risks. He was logical, calculated. That approach would not work on her. [b "Don't make me kill you."]
In the days leading up to their meeting Nataliya's mind wouldnt slow down even for a moment. Mapping every detail of every possible outcome that could arise from this meeting and how she would control the situation regardless of what Lukas might say. She needed to stay in control for her own sake. The elusiveness of sleep had set in as Nataliya spent her hours either pouring over her plans with Gregor, brushing up in the gym or stroking Iliya's ego to ensure his eyes had nowhere else to wander but back to her. [i Keep him happy and docile Nataliya, keep him wrapped around your finger.]
Although her mind was a muddled mess Nataliya was thankful that she hadnt had to share Iliya's bed with him in a few weeks. He was busy enough with his own business but Natailya knew her fire was coursing through his veins and he couldnt get enough, he would take whatever he could from her at the time. Which suited the blonde just fine, it disgusted her to even think of the things she had done with Iliya behind closed doors to ensure her plans and her future were within her grasp. Little did she know Iliya was taking complete advantage of the situation and keeping the blonde kitten blind to all of his other movements and meetings with Emilio and the other heads of the Italian family around the city. [i Playing both sides of the coin.] But his thirst wasnt quenched by what little time he had with his fiance, he needed more. The darkness of the mans mind had started to cloud his every movement and had ensured that his Nataliya would become 'spoiled and damaged goods' should she ever desite to revolt against her soon to be husband.
His men had laced the liquor bottles in her office with sedatives to ensure a most docile and almost always unconcious kitten in his bed. It's true Nataliya had been indulging in more alcohol of late that she was used to but it was the only thing she had found to numb herself from the anger and uncertainty she had been feeling since leaving the sight of Ivan and Lukas, but unbeknownst to her was what Iliya had planned her for each night he came home to an unconcious Renkov inbetween his sheets. His appetite far from satisfied, his dark nessecities not obtained until the woman had started to stir from her sleep. Iliya had timed it all perfectly over the last few weeks, depending on how much the woman drank would dictate how much time he had before the woman stir and he couldnt risk that. It was a nightly ritual for the man to ensure his camera set up to record every moment he had with his sedated fiance, and later in the day he would watch over his work with a twisted grin over his face. His locked closet containing every item he had used thus far on the unsuspecting whore. Should she ever try to run, those photos and videos were his insurance policy to keep her subdued. [i She his mine.]
Placing her small back into the trunk of her car Nataliya let out a deep breath she didnt know she had been holding. The bag containing a change of clothes, cash and two blades. She would never go unarmed, hell she had no idea what she was walking into alone. Zipping up her white hooded jacket Nataliya turned to face Gregor with a small uneasy smile [i "Behave yourself."] She said quietly as he returned her grin and moved away to open the car door for her. It had been over an hour of driving and Nataliya's fingers tapped on the steering wheel as she anxiously turned down the tree lined track. [i What the fuck was she doing?] For all she knew she was walking into a death trap alone armed with only a switchblade in her bootlaces just below her knee and the two blades in the trunk.
Turning around the bend of the leaf covered tracks Nataliya took in a deep shaky breath as she pulled her white mercedes up next to the porsche. [i He was already here.] Her emerald eyes scanning her surroundings as Nataliya's heart beat almost painfully against her chest. [i I know this place.] It was like a different world. Many times had she visited here with her family when Ivan had meetings with those less popular associates of the family and those that would simply dissapear into the thick surrounding woods. [i Was this an ambush?] Couldnt be, Nataliya knew Lukas well enough that he would want to be the one to bring her to an end. Hell he had said it before [i I will be the death of you Nataliya] Sure it was said the night they spent together before Alek's last breath but his breathless words against the skin of her neck were never lost on her.
Closing the door of her mercedes Nataliya took in a deep steadying breath before letting her feet lead the way until she caught sight of the man that had taken everything from her, it had been months since that night in the dining room, the night she could have taken his life, but the stance of Lukas before her wasnt that of a man looking for a fight, not just yet anyway. [i Keep calm kitten.] His voice smooth like velvet broke the silence between them as she wandered closer, a sound that seemed to calm the tension she had hidden behind those hardened eyes as she stopped a few feet away from the man but his voice hadnt calmed her enough. [b "I am not your princess"] she snapped as she swept her loose hair to one side distracting herself from how devestatingly handsome he looked in the golden sunset. Crossing her arms over her chest Nataliya rose her gaze to challange that of Lukas despite her inner turmoil she had to keep her wits about her for her sake and that of the army and dynasty she was building [b " You must have alot of faith in yourself to be here alone Zmeya..."] her lips curving into a slight smile. [i She could end this all tonight and take her throne.]
Gregor was quick to return word to him. [i Typical.] The Zmeya had spent the last few days turning over the situation every which way. He thought of solution after solution, meticulous detail after another to ensure his success. It was part of his infamy. Even the tiniest of differences would be noticed by him. Some even spread rumors he was a machine built by Ivan and controlled by him. But Lukas was no robot. He was simply an exceptionally gifted warrior. Lukas made sure he was the top of the food chain by never falling too lazy. He planned everything, and he was really damn good at improvising when he was caught by surprise. Not to mention he was one of the best shooters and melee men the mafia even had. He was the total package, and he was a huge target. But Nataliya wouldn’t take him down, and no way in hell would Iliya. Nataliya wasn’t like his typical enemy. She wasn’t a crime boss, and she didn’t owe the mafia any money. He’ll, she was the daughter and rightful heir of the whole thing. He had to be more careful than usual. Not to mention that he’d vowed to always protect her when her brother died. Looks like things were changing. [i I’m sorry Aleks... I’ll do what I can.]
Lukas spent the next few days mindlessly punching training dummies, sparring with whoever dared to take him on, shooting through the practice courses, and spending hours over strategy. Iliya was one of, if not the most wealthy contributors to Ivan, and he was on Nataliya’s side. Of course, if he could secure her by marriage, he would have all he needed for a coup. That would never happen. Lukas had a plan. He had to work to Nataliya’s weaknesses. He had to work to their connection, and he had to understand what she wanted. There was no way in his mind that Nataliya would subject herself willingly to someone like Iliya without hoping to get something out of it. Did she really think this would guarantee that she inherit the throne from her dad? If so, she was more foolish than he thought. Iliya would kill her as soon as he could if they were married. Nataliya would soon become dead weight to be disposed of, and Lukas wouldn’t be able to do much about that man’s power, wealth, and men. So, after days of deliberation, he understood what he had to do. He had to cut the rose off before it bloomed into something that couldn’t be reversed. And Nataliya might not like it.
He’d set up the meeting at a remote location, a luxury building used for private meetings in years past by Ivan. However, Ivan never stayed in one place too long. He was always circulating locations, money, and people. This particular location, hidden near a waterfall and a breathtaking view was one that had been abandoned long ago. No one would expect him there. So, he drove his sleek, black Porsche to the very place and waited. He wore something casual. A leather jacket and jeans with black combat boots laced upon his feet. He even chose his attire, hoping for Nataliya to feel more at rest. The only weapon on him was a pair of daggers hidden in his boots in case the Renkov decided to get cute. He didn’t want to hurt her. He never had.
Crossing his arms and staring out at the glass that faces the waterfall as the sun was setting, Lukas checks his watch. [i Shouldn’t be long now, Princess.] Weighing in all his options, there was an inevitable quickening of his heart rate as he waited for her voice to reach his ears. This was huge. Nataliya could change everything. They both could, really. With a few words, Iliya could be disposed of and the issue of inheriting solved. Rolling up his jacket sleeve some as it showed off his web of tattoos, Lukas had one hand absentmindedly stroking his beard. In essence, the Zmeya has thrown a ball of yarn to the kitten, beckoning to her to come closer until she trusted him enough to scoop her up and protect her as he promised all those years ago.
As soon as he heard the first sound of a door opening, Lukas did not move from staring out the window. A small grin formed on his lips, [b “Ive been waiting for you, princess.”] He said then turned to face her. [i Here goes nothing...]
With the confirmation that her gift had successfully been delivered to the man she despised possibly more than the man who had helped conceive her. At least Ivan was upfront with his intent and cruelty. Raising her glass in celebration with Gregor as they sat on either sides of her desk admiring the glittering lights of city below as the sun started to peak over the horizon. A drink for a job well done but the man couldn't help but look out the corner of his eye to the woman Nataliya Renkov had become. A soft smile crossed his lips as he remembered back to the little blonde haired girl he had met on his first day as Ivan's head of security following her brother around everywhere he went. [i God she looked so much like her mother.]
Gregor knew the harshness Nataliya had always shown wasn't through to her core. She was a sweet caring girl, he had held onto hope She would never loose that spark of life within her, despite his bosses treatment of her epecially of late. Downing the contents of hosnglass in one sip Gregor turned to Nataliya who kept her attention on the world outside. [b " Now you've spilt first blood and no doubt lured the snake from his burrow, what's your plan Nat?"] He asked curiously as he ignored the vibration from his pocketed cell.
Raking her fingers through her loose locks as she set down her glass with a small chuckle. [b "I'm gonna cut the head off the snake when he strikes."] the knot Natailya felt in the pit of her stomach since her fate was handed to her tightened. The last thing she ever wanted was to be pitted against Lukas. She couldn't blindside him like the others, he knew all her tricks. The same thing she was feeling now was what stopped her letting that dagger slip through her fingers. As much as she knew It was her only option Nataliya just couldn't bring herself to do it, Which only angered the woman more and seemed the squeeze around her heart. [i He is nothing to me but a traitor]
Nataliya had retired to bed several hours earlier before the incessant buzzing of her phone rose her from her sleep. Iliya still snoring deeply next to her as she grabbed her phone and swung her legs over the edge of the bed. Bringing the device to her ear without a word. [i We have a problem] the voice was Gregor but this time despite her drowsiness Nataliya knew the worry in his voice.
Throwing on a pair of jeans and a shirt Natailya hurried her way towards the thick doors of her office without a coffee in hand. Her eyes falling on a seated Gregor and a battered Zev clutching a large glass of whisky as he trembled. That sight alone woke Nataliya up more than any coffee. [i Lukas' message] kneeling down in front of the man Nataliya placed her hand under Zev's chin and forced his gaze [b "Are you okay? ] Nataliya sighed and cast her gaze towards the worried Gregor as Zev flinched at her touch. [b " What did he say Zev?] with the man's silence Nataliya tightened her grip until finally he spoke. [b " Zmeya wants a meeting with you...alone if you don't he said he will declare war."] He choked trying to control himself as Nataliya and Gregor stared at each other in silence. [i Maybe she could offer bargain with Lukas, gain leverage]
Standing up and pacing the room as a hot pot of coffee was set down on the desk Nataliya couldn't help but rub her face in frustration, he had forced her hand. [i Fuck] She hadn't planned on such a quick retaliation. Without looking back at the men Nataliya brought the hot caffeinated liquid to her lips [b "организовать это Грегор"] [i Organise it Gregor.] Her voice quiet as anxiety started to unravel within her at the thought of seeing that man after so long despite what he may do to her. [i I'll see you soon Pachiaveli.]
Lukas woke up to none other than Cat’s beloved ruby earring in a small red and black box. It was bloody, and pieces of flesh still hung from where it was obviously ripped out. Somehow, Nataliya had sent the clear message to his room for him to start his day off with. How thoughtful. Shutting the box and hurtling it against the wall in anger, Lukas let out a stream of curse words. His shirtless torso heaved one anger, and the tattoos sprawled along it changed shape with their living canvas. How did Nataliya see through the plan? Was Cat in danger? Hell, of course she was. There was no telling she wasn’t dead right now. Pacing his room, Lukas managed to throw and break a few more plates and what not to sate himself. This plan was foolproof. He told Cat what to do, went over the blueprints, explained how to find a way out. Most of all, he told her to never cross paths with Nataliya Renkov. Looks like his warnings didn’t work. Lukas didn’t even have to read the tag to know it was from her, challenging him to send someone else in to do his dirty work for him. [i That power hungry bitch...] Lukas grumbled, already throwing on his designer suit and making his way out the door. There was no time to waste. Lukas was a cold, merciless killer, but he had standards. If Cat was still alive, he’d barter for her. After all, Lukas knew what Nataliya wanted. She wanted him to drop out of the race. She was baiting him on his own morals and values, and it drove a shock of ice through his veins. They knew each other’s weaknesses. Lukas would never hurt a woman or child unless he was forced. In the same manner, he always took the blame for his own mistakes, however few there were. He took the blame for Aleks’ death. He’d take it for this inconvenience. It was part of the reason his nickname was so fearsome. Most times, he went straight to the front lines and dealt with... problems... himself. Nataliya was a problem, and she was one he vowed he’d never betray. Now, things were seeming to change.
There was no doubt in his mind that Nataliya was massing soldiers. It wouldn’t be too difficult with Gregor at her side and Iliya’s massive coffers. Pretty little thing could dip into her beloved’s bank account and fund close to as many working members as they had in the Renkov mafia, even though the mafia had been running for years upon years longer. However, they didn’t have the close bond that the Renkov’s did. These were his people. These people were his family. Lukas would give his life for any one of those with that red star tattooed on their body. Now, Nataliya broke that vow twice, and she wasn’t going to just skip and dance her way out of it. If Ivan wouldn’t do anything to tether her, Lukas would. Time to feel the poison that dropped from every inch of the Zmeya’s body. In the meantime of her absence, Lukas had worked with a few of his closest friends, tracking down as many of Gregor’s accomplices and henchmen as possible. Now, he was headed there, to a man chained up in one of the interrogation rooms. Zev. Zev was the understudy of sorts to Gregor, hoping to soak in his political and physical prowess and fun the training of soldiers in the future. Too bad he couldn’t rush off to safety before the Pachiaveli man brought him under scrutiny. Pushing through the steel doors, Lukas walked straight up to the man who was now chained to a chair. Slapping him hard, the man’s steel gaze met that of Zev’s who had dried blood around his nose and mouth with dried lips from lack of water. [i “What do you want now, bastard?”] He coughed, and Lukas only trailed to fingers up the man’s arm slowly, counting as he did, [b “1... 2... 3... oh look at that time’s running out for you, Zev. How long is it a man can survive without water? 7 days? You could be swimming in gallons of water if you just do a little something for me. Not hard... and all your debts to me will be paid.”]
Standing straight, Lukas motioned to a guard who threw a bottle of water to him. Grinning, the man turned it over in his hands, letting the liquid slosh around inside. [b “How precious things are when you don’t realize their value until it’s too late. Am I right?”] Unscrewing the cap, Lukas took a long swig of it then his steely eyes returned to Zev, now staring at the water like it was a magnet to his eyes. [b “I’m not angry... Really I’m not.”] Lukas spoke condescendingly, circling the chair like a shark. Without warning, he stopped behind it and leaned over, rattling the chair some. [b “You know where those traitors are hiding. I know you do... so...”] Lukas reaches into his pocket and pulled out a knife showing the blade to the man in front of him. [b “We can do this one of two ways. First way is easy. I let you go. You give Nataliya my letter, and you’re free. If not... well, I also know where that girlfriend of yours stays. How tragic would it be if say... she Got in a car accident. Wasn’t her fault. Almost like someone meant to hit her head on.”] Pressing forward, Lukas whispered hotly in his ear, [b “Second. You continue to refuse, and I take one of your fingers for my message instead, but I’m feeling merciful. I’ll only take your pinky.”] With that, Lukas stabbed the dagger as hard as possible in the wood between his pinky and index finger.
[i “No.. no don’t hurt the people I care about. I’ll help you. I know where to find them. I’ll hurry...”] He worded, broken after a few days of resistance. [b “Very good. Not too hard now was it?”] Lukas asked then snapped as guards moved to help him get ready. Pressing the letter firmly in the man’s trembling hands, the Zmeya showed his fangs in a terrifyingly persuasive way. [b “Tell her I expect to see her. Alone. No excuses. Or I will declare war on her myself.”] Slinking always into the darkness, Zev was left to hurry off to Iliya and Nataliya to deliver the message of the Zmeya himself. Nataliya would be foolish to say no. After all, he was taking a risk. But when did he not put himself in danger? Soon enough, Lukas would be obtaining all the information he needed. No one else would be in the way to mess things up either.
Nataliya's smile hadnt seemed to reach her eyes in the past few weeks, fuck what did she really have to smile about? Other than the fact she had been spending Iliya's cash left right and centre but also using his contacts to have another plane-load of allied men land any day to help boost her numbers. With Gregor faithfully by her side Nataliya had been doing damage control amongst her men and strengthening in anyway she could. But unfortunaltey she still had to keep up appearances with Iliya by attending openings and parties which ultimatley had godknows how many parasitic papparazzi hanging around clicking away with thier cameras. No doubt some of those had reached the magazines accross the country. [i Nightclub king claims heiress bride.] Claims huh? if only they knew the truth. [i Forced to marry.] Was alot closer to the truth without giving away too much of what happened that night.
Sleepless nights beyond count were had as Nataliya sat over her new desk, crystal glass in hand and a stray tear rolling down her face, her eyes glancing across the papers, files and god knows whatelse. The last few months were starting to catch up with her mentally and emotionally. She was exhausted. Iliya had forbidden any physical activity and locked away any weapons from his soon to be bride. He wanted her to assume the proper role of his wife to be. Little did he know, as soon as he left for the clubs every evening Gregor was keeping the woman in prime shape, hours upon hours of weapon and physical training were maintained if Nataliya had any chance of taking down that tretcherous snake or even her father should it come to that. But even Gregor was starting to worry for the blonde haired beauty, as cold as he knew Nataliya could be, the last several days he had noticed a change in her, seeing him used to be the onlyn thing to bring a smile to her face but as of late. She had grown colder, more distant and withdrawn. The last thing anyone wanted including Ivan was a Renkov void of any emotion, a cold ruthless robotic killing machine.
Nataliya's eyes kept wandering up and down the woman standing before her as Iliya's grip tightened around her own waist. She was analizing every detail about the woman and her sudden nervousness and the subtle protectivness she had over her handbag, had sent a warning shooting up Nataliya's spine.[i Did this woman think she was stupid?] A small grin curved on the woman's lips as she watched Lydia make her way towards the door with a new found urgancy. [i Red flags.] As the woman headed through the door Nataliya caught sight of the small tattoo peaking out from under the strap of her high heel. [i Clever, very clever.] A red star. She should have been more careful though. As Nataliya quickened her pace down the hallway behind Cat all emotion fell from her face as she reached out and grabbed the woman before pushing her against the opposite wall with force causing the woman's handbag to fall to the ground, it's contents spilling onto the white floors below. Here she was face to face with the woman Cat no doubt had been warned about. Knowing Lukas his warning would have been [i Get in and out before she sees you.]
Nataliya's forearm was pressed up against the other woman's throat pinning her against the wall as she struggled to regain her freedom. Her eyes boring into the paniced brown orbs of Cat's [b "Хорошая попытка"] [i Nice try.] Her crimson lips twisting into a smile as Nataliya inched her face closer [b "And tell me what that snake promised you in return for you selling the secrets, Im sure I can more than triple his offer"] Nataliya was surprised the woman was still fighting to free herself.
As two men made their way down the hallway to investigate the footage on the security camera they stopped a few feet away and just watch it all unfold the others wouldnt believe them if they said they got to watch Nataliya Renkov working, with their pistols in hand at the ready. Closing the space between them as Cat still tried to breakfree Nataliya let her lips brush against the womans ear as she spoke. Sure it took a few extra blows to subdue the woman but she had spirit. [b "I have a better idea for you I want you to give Lukas a message for me darling..."] her voice barely above a whisper as Nataliya wrapped her hand around the woman's throat pinning her harder against the wall and clasp her teeth around the womans earing before gripping tightly and ripping it from its position, ignoring the pained screams of the other woman as she let her fall to the floor holding her bloody ear.
Spitting the earring into her hand Nataliya turned on her heel to the bewildered men behind them wiping the woman's blood from her chin. [b "Take her to a cell"] she said gruffly as one of the men nodded and picked up the wimpering woman by her arm and dragging her away . Placing the bloodied jewel in the other guards hand Nataliya couldnt help but smile [b "Send that to the Zmeya with my compliments and take that file back to the office"] her voice trailing off as she made her way towards the nightclub bar. [i Game on Lukas.]
When Cat heard heels clicking outside and the door jiggling, she was forced to quickly move off of Iliya. Not like she was complaining. Cat didn’t have to keep kissing the disgusting man, and she had the ledger in her bag already. Shooting a quick look to it, Cat moved to stand in front of it naturally. Leaning casually against the table and feigning professionalism, Cat tried to use her body and legs to conceal her bag as well as hope Iliya didn’t notice the kissing ledger. Cat just had to make it out with it... Otherwise, Iliya would likely kill her or use her as blackmail for some reason. Shuddering at the thought, Cat examined the room for all the exit routes like Lukas had told her to do. He told her, [i There’s always a way out. Never stop fighting.]
Iliya was still smirking with that smug look on his face as Cat quickly buttoned her coat back over her black lingerie. Sending as convincing a smile back to him, Cat was just waiting for the right moment to bolt out of the room with her bag in hand. Inside would hopefully be every move of money Iliya made and to who on what date. This kind of intel could finally be enough to convince Ivan of his villainy and bring his whole operation crumbling to the ground. Cat had no doubts that he used his money and power for all the wrong reasons and ways. She, for one, had never supported him marrying Nataliya, even though Cat wasn’t her biggest fan either. What was it about her that had everyone scrambling to decide who was the best option to take over Ivan’s empire when Lukas was clearly the best choice?
Cat looked towards the door, thinking it was just some other man Iliya worked with. Oh, how wrong was she. Cursing in her mind as none other than Nataliya Renkov came strutting in, Cat reached her foot back and pushed the bag closer to the desk to hide it further. She didn’t plan on this. No one had really seen the mafia princess since she stormed out with Gregor. Now, here she was. Cat felt a stabbing in her heart. Jealousy. She’d always been jealous of the blonde bombshell. The woman left the entire family for years just to run away from her issues, and Ivan still didn’t rain hell down on her. Cat had been with the Renkovs for years now too, and she felt such a fierce loyalty to the organization that she’d likely give her life to it, and her eyes were certainly always on the Zmeya. Cat was manipulative and smart, and she hated that Nataliya got a second chance when no one else under Ivan would. She hated that Nat always had men falling at her feet when Cat was tasked with seducing them for info as a seductress. Cat always thought she could’ve done a better job in Nataliya’s position then the princess herself, but she’d never voiced it. If she had... A cold shiver ran through her body. There was no telling how many pieces she’d end up in.
Cat tried to expel the fearful look from her dark eyes. Instead, she put on a kindly look to her face. Cat did everything she could to look naive and unassuming. [i Just like Iliya likes his women...] What was it that Lukas saw in this woman? Nataliya easily slinked to Iliya before linking lips with him in a long way that made Cat’s blood boil. It was over the top just like everything about the drama queen. Cat fought the urge to roll her eyes. Nat was a two timer now? After everything Lukas told her about Iliya, it was clear that he was nothing to be trifled with. Now, Nat was leaving her family for him? What a stupid move... Cat was starting to turn more and more angry, biting her bottom lip not to give herself away. Nataliya wouldn’t recognize her. She came in after the woman left, but she knew about her from the Zmeya. She knew the rumors.
[b “No. We haven’t. Lydia Mendez. New secretary to the building. I just came in to make sure Iliya wasn’t putting all his junk in the wrong places.”] Cat’s voice was laced with poison as she said it, a subtle jab. Cat was feeling anger all over her body. Iliya pulled her closer and Cat just shook her head, feigning happiness. Reaching back to pull up her bag on her shoulder, Cat put a protective arm around it. [b “I was just leaving. Have a great day.”] With that, Cat went for the door. Her heart was hammering, and she was just looking at the exit. She was homefree if she could just get past that. If she could just get this back to Lukas, everything in her life would change. And she’d be the revolutionary of it all.
It had been two weeks since all he'll broke loose and Nataliya was cast aside by her father to have no other purpose in life than to spread her legs. Ivan knew his darling daughter wasn't going to take his decision lightly, he fully expected her to retaliate and now he just had to play the waiting game however long it took. [i We will crush you, silly little girl]
Lessons had to be learnt, respect earned but most of all Natailya needed to remember her place.
Bringing the cool bubbling liquid to her lips Nataliya's mind wandered away from her as she aimlessly tapped her ring against the stem of the champagne flute. Iliya having spending more time at his clubs of late gave the woman more time to think, to remind herself that all she was going through would be worth it in the end. [i It had to be.] Never had Nataliya thrown away her inhibitions to the wind so readily as to give into Iliya's fucked up requests and fantasies. She needed him wrapped around her finger, on his knees begging. [i All or nothing Nataliya.] but yet every time her mind crossed back to those nights she felt sick deep in the pit of her stomach. The man was truly vile and the sooner his men arrived on the plane from Moscow the better. Then her plan would be under way to take back what that snake took from her. [i Traitor.]
Iliya certainly had his hands full trying to juggle his new insatiable secretary and his strong willed wild cat of a fiance. [i Wouldnt be long before the Italians got Ivan's head and he got off Scott free with the last Renkov.] Then again if he wouldn't be able to break the woman he had made a deal to put a bullet in his bride's head. What did he care? He was innocent. Smart and cunning. He knew how to cover his tracks and divert unwanted eyes.
Later that night as Nataliya pushed her way through the crowded club towards the back the woman caught sight of Iliya's new hire as securities eyes followed her every sultry move as she took the same path. [i Well this was interesting]
Making Her way into the office Nataliya plastered a bright smile on her lips as she crossed the floor and closed the space between Iliya and herself before giving him a long searing kiss as Cat watched on in silence her jaw bulging with anger. Nataliya's eyes finally moved off the man to the other woman in the room. [b "Hi there, I don't believe we've met, I'm Nataliya, Iliya's fiance."] Her accent thick as her eyes wandered over the woman's appearance almost as a warning, taking in every inch of the newcomers figure and her body language. [i She had competition.] Nataliya plastered a smile on her face as Iliya snaked his arm around her face before drawing his woman in closer his touch still sending ice shooting throughout her body.
Iliya's Empire was soaring tall in front of her. Cat adjusted her trenchcoat around her body, running a hand through her dark, black hair. Her hair fell in shining waves on her shoulders, and her face was painted in makeup. Black heels donned her feet, clicking where she walked. Lukas asked her to do this, so she would. It was risky, but Cat wasn't stupid. This could catapult her to new heights that she could never achieve before. She'd be enriched, protected, and important. She could change the game right here and now. Checking her phone for Lukas' instructions, she reread the floor number and passcode. Iliya was known for his scandalous affairs with women at work, so Cat would be posing as the new secretary. The former one had been forcibly relocated due to one well-placed call and a few pictures depicting her alcohol problem. Putting a grin on her face, Cat walked in the double sliding doors, her heels clicking on the polished black and white tile. Iliya was one of the richest men in the nation, and the building showed just that. Cat was nervous, even though she sold sex for secrets all the time. This wasn't a normal request. This was the future of the Renkov family.
Breathing in, Cat thought back on all the heels and clothes she could buy with all the money she'd get. She thought about all the power she could have under her thumb. She thought about how much Lukas would owe. Mostly, she thought about not having to sell herself for a living. Cat had to make this good. Showing her fake ID that Lukas hooked her up with after asking a favor of one of the best forager in the states, Cat got into the elevator and took the ride to the twelfth floor. Confidently striding in with a sultry sway to her hips. Cat scanned the doors, looking for the gold-plated name of her target. When she identified it, Cat grinned, took a deep breath, and knocked. [b "It's your new secretary... Lydia Mendez."] When she heard a grumbled response, Cat opened the door and closed it carefully behind her, making sure to hit the lock.
Setting her bag down, Cat took a long look over the man himself. [b "I heard you were good looking... didn't know how right they were."] With a grin, she moved over, slowly lowering the blinds. [b "Wouldn't want anyone catching any secrets you hold here."] Cat took a quick look over the room, looking for anywhere he might keep record of his embezzling and crime against the Renkovs. Then, she looked back convincingly to Iliya and stepped slowly forward. [b "You know... men with as much power as you turn me on... so badly."] With a grin, Cat undid her trenchcoat and threw it to the side, leaving her in lacy black lingerie. Stepping closer, she leaned over the desk, placing her hands on it. [b "And I think we should get to know each other better..."]
Grinning, Cat gripped his tie and pulled him closer, meeting his lips with a searing passion that was sure to drag him in. Pushing him back against the desk, she began undoing his pants as she kissed him, her eyes having found his ledger just behind him. As she continued with one hand, Cat moved to push the ledger into the bag she brought in. If all went to plan, Lukas would ascend the throne, and she'd have everything she could ever want and more. [i Just a little more time with this twig of a man...]
Meanwhile, Lukas was pacing in his room, looking out over the balcony of the large Renkov building. Lights splayed all over, giving the city a golden hue. Lukas took in a deep breath. It was all too real. There was a chance he could basically rule every building, business, and person walking below. Was he really ready? He was a soldier. But he couldn't just let Nataliya take over when she would run the whole thing to the ground. He was just waiting for that phone call from Cat that it all worked. He provided her with everything she needed, now he just needed that evidence to fully prove to Ivan that Iliya wasn't a man to get into bed with. Maybe in the meanwhile, he could neutralize Nataliya too. But there were no real guarantees until Cat brought back the incriminating records. [i Come on Cat...]
It had been a long sleepless night for the woman as she sat silently watching the orange glow of the sun peak up over the horizon, her thoughts no clearer than they were the moment Ivan handed her that sentence. Nataliya was intelligent and calculating, but even that moment took her by surprise. She was completely thrown off balance, not just by the ruling but Lukas' reaction or lack there of. That lying piece of shit had always maintained he never wanted the power. He was a soldier not a politician. [i He lied to me.]
If it wasn't for Gregor taking the lead, Nataliya was convinced she would still be there staring straight back at Lukas, neither of them willing to make the first move. [i Why didn't she take the shot? She had a clear line of sight to her father and Lukas but yet they still live] by the grace of the goddess herself. There was no way she would make that mistake again, she couldn't afford to.
The unusual weight on her finger snapped the woman back into the bleak reality despite world coming to life around her pearch on the balcony. [She could jump, but what would that solve?] Her bloodshot eyes moving down towards the obscenely large rock wrapped around her finger. Nataliya never agreed, hell she hadn't said a word to him since the car ride back to his hotel suite and besides he had spent most of that time texting away, no doubt gloating about the blood Ivan had spilt.
That ring, that man was the future Ivan had carved for her. A life she would never be happy in, a life that wasn't in her control. But nevertheless a life she could try and manipulate to her advantage, to regain her control. The woman couldn't help but let a small chuckle escape her lips as her already overworked mind flashed back. This was the life she had been running from for eight years and in the manner of a few short weeks she was back way in over her head as if that time had been wiped from memory. [i Did she actually want the throne? or was it the spoilt bratty way of someone else has what is mine]
However this new path she found herself on would take some getting used to, play the game just don't forget the end game Nataliya. [i Ivan and Lukas will pay with blood.] It wasn't before long that Nataliya wasn't alone anymore Iliya tying up his robe couldn't help a large cold smile cross his face before walking up behind his new fiance and placing his hand gently around her neck and leaning down to place a peck on her cheek and she flinched at his unfamiliar touch. [b "доброе утро, моя любовь"] [i Good Morning my love.] Cringing internally Nataliya knew this wasn't the man she had pictured herself with. His presence alone sent ice corsing through her veins and yet the only man who seemed to set her alight was now her biggest threat. [i Play the game kitten.] As much as the thought alone disgusted her Nataliya knew she had more than enough talent to have Iliya eating out of the Palm of her hand, what did it matter that she would get something out of this too. She would be a fool to keep Iliya at arms length, she needed him but question was for how long?
As Iliya took the seat across the table from her on the balcony Nataliya's whole demeanor softened as she smiled at the man and her eyes took in his every detail before getting up and closing the space between them with a sultry sway of her hips, her eyes burning into his as she straddled his waist and his hands immediately caressing the curves of her body. Natailya knew it was all or nothing. Leaning in Natailya pressed her lips against his own soft and teasingly slow and Iliya responded immediately. He had been waiting for this for a long time. He wasn't by any means stupid, he knew exactly what she was doing but once the Italians had Ivan he will have already broken this woman. [i He had a desperate itch that needed to be scratched]
He thought he was dead. Lukas didn’t dare suck in a breath, but his body visibly tensed. His eyes stared at Nataliya, challenging her yet slightly showing signs of betrayal. Nat wasn’t laying down. She wasn’t just giving up what her father gave her with his blood. And Lukas wasn’t happy about it. She wasn’t the right choice. Yes, he made a fatal mistake as the bodyguard of Aleks all that time ago. But he was much more trained and had more experience in the years Nataliya was gone. Lukas was willing to make the decisions not everyone liked, and he knew how to deal with things to wrap them up in a tight ribbon so none of the gory details spilled out. Was he sure Nataliya had the same interest in mind? [i Hell no.] But he never expected her to kill him for it. He was at her mercy in that moment. People were still yelling and fighting around him as if in slow motion. He felt like he was underwater, looking around at the scene with a blurred, half-there mentality. Lukas expected sharp pain from a knife lodging itself in his skin. It was no secret how good Nataliya was with knives. It would be too late for him to dodge it, especially due to his utter loss of words and thought. Was Nataliya Renkov really going to be the death of him right then and there? Surely not this blonde bombshell mafia princess would be his downfall after he’d faced off against seven foot Russian bears of men and won. But she was his match. It was just becoming more and more obvious.
But she didn’t throw it. He didn’t feel the stabbing white hot pain from a knife hurtled at him with extreme speed and accuracy. Nataliya could have killed him in one shot if she really wanted to. Instead, Lukas was finally able to get over the surprise and start observing again. Gregor. Lukas always knew that old dog didn’t like him for some reason. Now, he knew why. [i The Zmeya isn’t a Renkov. The Zmeya isn’t fit to lead.] Gregor had always caused rifts for Ivan. This wasn’t any different. Narrowing his eyes, Lukas placed one hand at his hip, slightly pulling out his gun in case anything were to come hurtling at him still. He very nearly pulled it when Nataliya walked closer to him, but there was another look he saw dancing behind her irises. She was hesitant... [i nervous.] Why wouldn’t she be? Lukas Pachiaveli has a reputation for a reason, and it was a ruthless one. But he never turned his back on the men and women he swore loyalties to. She was one of those people. Ever since her brother died, he swore he’d never let anything happen to her, but she was starting to make that so damn difficult.
Lukas didn’t budge. His cold, calculating eyes turned more sinister as he stared right at Nataliya. There was a tension between them that seemed so close to breaking into a nuclear explosion with just one lift of a finger. This was essentially war. And Lukas hated losing, even to the one person he secretly wished to protect the most. Lukas said nothing to her. He was already plotting. He was drawing lines in his mind, thinking up all her moves. She was clearly with Gregor, meaning she had traditional allies. Gregor could possibly be putting his head on the chopping block by defying Ivan’s plans for Lukas to become heir. But did she have many others to count on? Her ties couldn’t have been as strong as his. He’d worked and fought and killed alongside these men and women for years more than she had, and his reputation wasn’t that he fled when things got tough. Lukas doubted she had any real leverage. Gregor surely had his men, but was it really enough? Nat needed to make a huge move to squash him, and he would be as prepared as possible. Besides, after this, her own father was more distanced than ever, and he had the most day of anyone. Lukas needed to play on that. Nataliya may have just made the biggest mistake of her life. Lukas just had to make sure others saw it that way too.
Lukas reached out, grabbing the dagger and then slamming it hard into the wood to contain his anger. He wished he could send it sailing into the flesh of his enemy, namely Iliya, but his anger had to be contained. That was the other part of it though. Lukas hated the fake broodmare as much as any, very possibly more, but he’d assured Nat that she had the power to bring Iliya to his knees and prove her allegiance to Ivan. She threw it all away. Now, he’d pick up the pieces. He needed evidence. Nataliya slipped out like a satisfied snake, and Lukas couldn’t even watch her. He was puffing on his cigarette as his mind raced, and his feet brought him before Ivan without him remembering to will them to move. His eyes were stone cold. He was turning into the Zmeya everyone knew and [i feared.]
[b “Это война”] He mouthed in a low tone. [i This is war.] After sharing a knowing look with Ivan, Lukas set to work on driving the last nail into the coffin of Nataliya Renkov’s move for her daddy’s throne. He went to the main floor, bypassing the higher ups speaking together in angry shouts. He needed the smaller people that most looked over. Too bad he used to be one of them, simply working as a bodyguard. He’d been expendable until he made himself valuable. He’d do it again. Sliding into the bar, he instantly found Cat, a woman working to sell sex for secrets against large political figureheads and use the incriminating information against them by accepting bribes. Perfect. Lukas pulled out a huge roll of cash, crinkling it against his fingers. [b “I got a date for you.”] With a grin, he stepped forward, bringing his lips just over her ear so it looked like they were sharing an intimate moment as they had many times before. It wasn’t out of place, but it gave him the right proximity to tell her all she needed to know.
[i “Anything for you... Zmeya.”] Her words were sultry in a trained way, and her hand snaked up his chest, but she was smarter than people credited for. Lukas listened. That would get him far, hopefully. His breath came out hot against her ear, and they came out in a serious tone he was sure she’d pick up on. [b “Iliya. The broodmare Ivan wanted to father an heir with Nataliya. If I can get evidence to his crimes against Ivan... then I can prove to everyone that I am the most fit to lead this gang. And I can make your life a hell of a luxury.”] When Cat grinned, Lukas knew he was on the right track. [b “Get close to Iliya. He’s a damn creep, so your pretty face will cave him in. Make him trust you then strike. Find where he’s embezzled and played both sides against Ivan, and get that evidence to me. I promise you.. it will be worth your time.”] With that, he slipped the cash into her bra and pressed a searing kiss against her neck, right over her carotid artery, also indicating that he’d end her if she crossed him.
Now, all he had to do was sit and wait. [i Game on, Nataliya.]
Ivan's icy gaze fixated on the woman in front of him, his lips curving into a wry smile as he calmly remained untouched despite the war waging around him. He knew he had just thrown a spanner in the works but it was the best decision for the family at this point in time. There was no way he was going to let Nataliya walk back in after such a long absence and take the throne. [i She was going to have to work her way back.] The Zmeya on the other hand was perfect. He knew exactly which direction the family was headed and wouldn't let emotion get in the way. His little girl on the other hand, needed to be broken...again. Her initiation was just the beginning, to truly control Nataliya Renkov her spirit needed to be shattered. [i There was always an ulterior motive.] Except this time Ivan was playing both sides of the fence and holding those cards very close to his chest. [i Lukas is the future.]
Nataliya kept her grip on the shining piece of metal tight as Gregor pushed away anyone who came within distance of the fuming princess. Her eyes darting between that of her father and the man who had just taken everything from her. [i Her birthright.] Her insides an absolute mess, reflecting her surroundings. Was she happy she was off the hook? Angry she was being sold off to that piece of shit as a broodmare? Sad that this meant the end of that chapter of her life where Lukas was a friend? I think for Nataliya it was safe to say she had no idea how to decode her emotions so quickly. Ivan did certainly have a gift of blindsiding everyone.
The tightening feeling Nataliya had around her heart was only worsening as Gregor placed his hand gently on her back, snapping her into that chaotic reality surrounding them [b "время идти"] [I Time to go.] Her eyes moving from the men before her to Gregor whose
words seem to squeeze her heart painfully and he gave her a small reassuring smile [i This was it, this was goodbye.]
As Nataliya took that first hesitant first step Gregor kept his guiding hand on the small of her back as the comfort she so surely needed right now. As the woman came closer to the table she placed her blade down with tip pointed at Lukas. Her pained expression hidden as Ivan turned to talk to one of his men and Her eyes met those of the man who seemed to test her every sense. [b "You can keep that, you're going to need it Lukas"] her voice cracking slightly, knowing this was the end of their relationship as they knew it. But before she was ushered towards the exit Nataliya took one last look at the chaos surrounding Ivan's decision and the door shut behind her.
As Gregor hurried them both down the hallways towards the basement garage, Nataliya removed his hand from her back and held it tightly in her own. She was so thankful to have such a familiar face with her in this fresh time of uncertainty. Opening the door of the slick black Mercedes, Nataliya slid into back seat next to Iliya in silence, her hands shaking and the knot in the pit of her stomach growing. [i There was no way I would have made that shot.] Her eyes fixated on The world outside the window As the car pulled away and a cold sweat crept over her boys as Iliya's words sliced through the silence [b "теперь ты мой"] and he the large cold diamond band onto her finger. [i The end.]
He hated this. He hated it with every ounce of hatred in his body. Lukas was all about control. It was how he got where he was. When he failed his duty as bodyguard and best friend to Nataliya’s brother, Lukas controlled everything around him to push through. It wasn’t about wallowing in grief. No... [i Hell no.] Lukas swore to himself and Aleks that the same thing would never happen twice. He’d been weak. [i So damn weak.] It was then that he vowed to never be weak again. Thus, the Zmeya was born. But he couldn’t control [i this.] There was no way to make sure everything went according to plan. There was no way to coerce an advantage or critically think his way out. This wasn’t like a normal fight. He didn’t do this stuff. Lukas didn’t handle marriage ties and politics. He did the dirty work, and he was damn good at it. Not that he didn’t have a good head on his shoulders...
When Nat came sauntering in, the very vision of business and no play, Lukas just say there. He’d trained his face to show hardly any emotion, but his eyes were a different story. Lukas tapped one finger on the table, taking in the scene. His eyes were always moving, always observing. His brain was always thinking. This wasn’t right. Lukas wasn’t smiling like Ivan. He knew this look all too well. Or at least he thought he did. Nat was unpredictable, especially since she’d spent years in the normal world. Was she really that willing to submit to Iliya? He thought he knew her better. Yeah, if she refuses, her father would be outrageously angry, but he’d never kill her. Not his prized jewel. It would be Lukas vs Nataliya round after round for control of the throne. And Lukas knew he’d never hurt her either... Not after all he’d already done.
One hand went to his chin. His eyes just stared at Nataliya, urging her and warning her to say no. He was challenging her. If Nataliya would respond to anything, it would be to get the upper hand and prove her worth. She wasn’t just a kitten like everyone used to call her. She was a minx. She was a white tiger. [i Now just show your teeth.] Lukas said nothing as she addressed the table. Instead, he took the time to examine her. She waltzed in like she hadn’t just been beat to a pulp by Ivan’s doing. She was up to something. His jaw clenched tighter as Ivan spoke publicly about his plans. Hell, of course he was proud. If all went to plan, he would be the next tsar. Who didn’t love a little power? But would Nataliya really just lay down and let him have it?
Although the sight of her was distracting, Lukas worked his eyes down every inch of her body. He was observing like he always did any opponent. He looked for any bulge in the fabric, any movement, any ripple. Lukas didn’t flinch when the large hand rested on his shoulder and gave him an even bigger target than he’d had before. [i Bring it on.] But he didn’t look at Ivan. He just kept staring icily and intently on her. Glass shattered around the room. Some members got ho and started shouting. A few petty fights broke out. Inside the rankings, several of Ivan’s oldest members were outraged by the mere thought of someone not related by blood ascending the family throne. They were the heads of most policies and processes in the group, so it wasn’t surprising they held traditional views. Still, more of the newer members rallied for their hero, the Zmeya. He’d had a part in saving their lives in some way or the other, and they were the wave of the future. Chaos was ensuing, and it wasn’t a good look. Everyone knew anytime a divide happened in a group that it weakened the entirety of it. Who would rise to the top above all the ashes, blood, and bodies?
But he just wanted to see what she would do. Gregor was standing by her, and Lukas rose one eyebrow. Was he on her side? It distracted him for a moments notice. He was in the middle of a tiny war. How could he make it out of this one? Standing slowly, Lukas realized what this meant. Her voice was angry and bitter. Was she going to fight him for it? Lukas only noticed her removing the weapon by her side a second too late. It wasn’t like him. It should have been something he noticed. But he was off his game. Maybe it was the crowd. Or maybe... it was [i her.]
The huge dining room packed to the absolute brim of senior members of the family, associates and important guests as they chatted and with drinks and cigars in hand. The three tables placed in a U-shape to fit as many people in as possible and for all to have eyes on Ivan and the head of the family, especially for his pending announcement. His temper had already been flared by Lukas and his unwarranted opinion on his movements and direction the was going to take the business. [i Fucking child, talented but still has a lot to learn.]
The waiters keeping glasses full of the imported vodka direct from Moscow for this very occasion. His steely gray eyes scanning his surroundings as Iilya made his way through the deafening crowd in a fresh haircut and slipping his phone into his suit pocket. [i About time he updated his look.] Tonight was the night and Ivan had to have every bit of control over himself and everyone in the room that he could muster, despite his inner turmoil about the unknown future his demeanour hadn't changed. [i Just as cold and ruthless as a Russian winter.] Taking his seat and sending a warning glare to his right hand man as he sat next to him [b " Keep your tongue to yourself until I ask you to speak Zmeya."] his voice a low growl before running a smoothing hand back through his slicked gray hair. Ivan [i The Tsar] sat between a cunning snake and a raging bull with his ever loyal guard dog Gregor seated next to Lukas keeping an eye on every movement. [b "Друзья, сидите пожалуйста"] [i Friends, please sit.] His booming voice cut through the room like a knife through butter.
Despite the lighthearted chatter and general life of the party there was a mist of heaviness in the air as the large wooden doors opened and Nataliya made her way through the doors and the chatter subsided into hushed whispers between those attending. Her black stilettos echoing through the silence, dressed in tailored black suit her white blouse unbuttoned at the top revealing her mother's treasured jewel. Her golden locks pulled back into a long pony tail. [i She was all business, her business, the darkness she had run from now consuming her completely .] Her left thigh strapped with a black leather knife holster.] as she walked straight down the middle of the tables towards where the head of the family sat.] Her eyes locked onto those of her father's as he stood up with a large smile curved on his lips and Nataliya stopped dead in her tracks. [i Something wasn't right.] Her head held high, Nataliya would never let her facade falter, not here, not now. [i Confidence is key, stare down the threat.] Her gaze shifting to take in the sight of Lukas and Iilya and as to how different the two men were. [i Lukas the future with him would be pitch black, the unknown filled with uncertainty. Then there was Iliya a life of subdued power, opulence and a muzzle.]
Ivan's smile unfaltering as he took in the sight of his daughter in all her glory, She was here for work despite the punishment he had put her through. If he hadn't seen the damage caused with his own eyes he wouldn't have known. Wrapping his fingers around his refilled glass and raising to the air in a silent toast to his little kitten with a obvious wink and the room followed in suit. Ivan knew the second Nataliya walked into the room she wasn't here to enjoy the festivities, but his talent lay in ensuring no one else knew his plan before it was too late, she was now everything he had wanted his children to be, cold ruthless and determined. Yet a shiver of fear crept up his spine as he noticed the darkness in her eyes. Soon he was going to realise from that moment he had created a weapon not even he would be able to control. Nataliya took a few steps closer her eyes locked on Lukas and the tension he was holding in his jaw. [i God he looked delicious, what she would give for a few hours alone with that man.] Pushing those thoughts to the back of her mind Nataliya tore her gaze away and took in a long deep breathe to regain her composure. There was no way she would ever let Lukas know what she was thinking. The burning gaze of the entire room was on her as Ivan finally broke the silence. [b "Thank you everyone for being here tonight to celebrate the return of my dearest Nataliya to the family and passing her initiation with flying colours just as i knew she would."] Taking a sip from his crystal glass Ivan glanced around the faces filling the room and resting on Nataliya before he continued.
[b "This has taken a lot of thought and pondering over the last few weeks but given the direction the family is headed and business deals made to grow and expand into new and undiscovered areas, Nataliya is unfit to lead the family into the next chapter, Although my ever loyal right hand Lukas Pachiaveli, the Zmeya will be taking my seat at the head of the family."] Nataliya felt the heat rise up her spine and blood drain from her face, her heart slamming against her chest as she tried to wrap her mind around the announcement. [i This wasn't happening, he had called her bluff.]
As the chattering started back up immediately Ivan raised his hand before he continued [b " Nataliya although you are my only surviving child you will have a more important duty, to ensure the survival of the Renkov name and with the thrilling announcement of her engagement to Iliya Bykov you raise a suitable heir to take back the throne as time sees fit] His voice slipping into a growl as tempers flared throughout the room and Nataliya's hand slipped down her thigh and tightened around the knife. [i This wasn't what she had planned, she wouldn't be someones broodmare.] Ivan's large hand resting on Lukas' shoulder as he smiled down at him still in stunned silence as the chaos around the escalated.
Her knuckles turning white and her jaw clenched in fury as the sound of breaking glass brought her back into the now. [i Blood, here it was.] The room was divided. Half refusing to let anyone other than a Renkov take the reigns and the other half supporting Lukas' ascension over the rightful heir. As the volume rose and the room spiralled into utter chaos around Nataliya found her darkened gaze on her father and Lukas as Gregor made his way to her side. [i Mutiny.] Finally the blonde had found her voice over the deafening voices [b "Вы оба мертвы для меня"] [i You are both dead to me.] she hissed her voice dripping in venom as out of the corner of her eye Iliya made for the exit is face plastered in a smile. [i That old dog had just given him what he wanted, he got Nataliya, the family was tearing itself apart right behind him....perfect] The woman's gaze unwavering as she stood in the middle of the room untouched with Gregor by her side and the angry mob around them intensified their disapproval Nataliya was almost enjoying herself for a moment. [i Ivan had made the wrong move in the eyes of half of the family. ] The ties between Lukas and Nataliya severed with one strike of the sword, thrown against each other but despite the anger and shock she was still in, just the sight of her old lover had her complete attention. Her emerald orbs calculating everything around her and every slight movement the two men before her made as she slipped the silver blade from its resting place and held it by her side. [i One clean shot was all she needed.]
When Lukas left the room, he hit the side of the wall hard with his palm. He wouldn’t fall for this. Iliya was the epitome of all jackasses, and he wouldn’t just marry into one of the most powerful families in the entire country if not world. They had ties to countless businesses, both legal and illegal. They could afford to pay off judges or cops when it benefitted them, so they avoided the axe that would sever their efforts forever. The Renkov family was already thinning though. Aleks passed way too early, and Lukas would never forget that he played a part in that. He promised himself he’d do better. Lukas hadn’t seen it coming when Aleks was taken out. Lukas would have given his life to save his best friend’s if he could. He wished he could go back in time, but he couldn’t. Now, his priorities were the other Renkovs, father and daughter. He became more ruthless, more cold, more Zmeya. Iliya wouldn’t just waltz in and jeopardize everything if he had a say in it, but he trusted Nataliya. Surely, she saw what Iliya was doing. Nat wouldn’t stand for it. She’d make some big announcement about denying Iliya. Maybe she’d utilize some of the dirt he scrounged up and had sent to her room.
This dinner was huge. Lukas would spend time preparing himself for it back in his room. He had something planned if Nataliya didn’t step up to the ball. Lukas wasn’t made second in command for nothing. He had influence, but Nataliya did too. If they could come together in an opinion, almost no one would oppose. Ivan just saw dollar signs when he looked at Iliya. Lukas saw more. He was already having his contacts and acquaintances gather as much as they could on the guy. He tried to track calls, uncover fraudulent activities, and behead the dragon that he was. Ivan may think the man was nowhere as strong as the Renkovs, but he would be wrong about that. Iliya didn’t have one honorable bone in his body. How could Ivan not see that?
Lukas finished, spritzing expensive cologne as he dressed in a prim suit, tailored specifically for him. It was worth a couple thousand. Peeks of his tattoos showed out of his sleeves, proving that he wasn’t some expensive prick like Iliya. There was more to him, and he was willing to take on the Beverly Hills playboy if he had to. Iliya didn’t know what he was dealing with. Lukas got there early, moving instantly to Ivan. Leaning forward and speaking in his ear, Lukas warned, [b “I advise you take another look at your potential son in law. That man is not worth whatever price he’s offering. You can’t control him like you do others, especially if he has your daughter.”] Ivan took another long puff of his Cuban cigar and then turned, grabbing the Zmeya with an iron grip. Anger flashed in his eyes as his gravelly voice came, [i “I know what I’m doing. I’ve been in this business since before you could shit on your own. Do not doubt me. If I am even thinking about this, then I know what comes with it. I am not stupid boy. Remember your place. I haven’t forgotten.”] Blowing some smoke in his face, Ivan then hobbled off to take his place at the head of the table.
Clenching his jaw, Lukas nearly broke the glass in his hand with how hard he tightened it. Taking another look around, he sat down, waiting for the star of the show to arrive. She needed to change her fathers mind. She needed to listen to him before it was too late. Taking sips of scotch, Lukas eyed the crowd, just waiting for the one person that could change what would happen with the marriage deal that wasn’t him. [i “Come on Nat... come on kitten.”] He worded under his breath, a little nervous for the first time in a long while. He had no control over this. He couldn’t just eliminate his target as easily as he would have liked. Lukas liked doing things alone, but he had to think about the collateral damage of the Renkov family, especially Nataliya. He wouldn’t let anything bad happen to them again, even if it took his life to do so.
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