Wickedly handsome and shamelessly rich, Tristan Stahl is a villain. A businessman by day and an underground cage fighter by night, he fears no one, and respects one man alone – his adoptive father, Mark Stahl. It’s at Mark’s request that Tristan recruits Isolde Molnar for her “special talents”. He doesn’t expect complications from this “piece of livestock”, but working closely with her turns out challenging in more ways than one. Throw a modern alchemist’s potion in the mix along with Mark Stahl’s growing infatuation with the girl, and there you have it – Tristan and Isolde Reloaded. Enjoy!
What the –?
“No, you don’t understand,” I yelp. Then I realize – perfumed wigs and long inflated dresses aren’t ancient. They’re from the more recent centuries. Those Roman soldiers in the arena were the only ones dressed like ancient characters. It hits me. I rise on my toes, bringing my nose within an inch of Tristan’s. “A theme party, a masquerade, a ball –”
He nods. “The ball at the Charlottenburg museum castle.”
Indeed! “You mean . . .” I frown as the idea creeps into my head. “They have that planned for you?”
He cocks his head to the side, narrowing his bright blue eyes. God, he’s beautiful.
“You are smart indeed, Isolde. Mark was right about you,” he says softly. His eyes are wandering all over my face. Now I put my finger on the emotion they express – respect. I’ve actually triggered respect in the feared mogul Tristan Stahl.
He lets go of me and helps me sit back down on the couch.
“What you just did,” he says. “Mark always knew you had that ability. To be honest, I doubted the actual power of your talents at first, but Mark insisted. He was right. I was wrong.”
My brain is afloat, and I feel weak all over. Life seems to have drained from my limbs, like I’ve just heard some shocking news. But then again, all this is so much to take all at once. “Good God, I never even suspected that I’m clairvoyant.”
“I’m not sure I’d call it clairvoyance, Isolde.” Tristan hunkers down before me and swipes his palm over my forehead and cheeks like he’s checking me for fever. His eyes are sharp, but his voice soft. “Your intuition is so powerful that, given the right input information, your subconscious calculations become visions. Maybe it wasn’t even a vision, but a –”
“An experience,” I murmur, interrupting him. “Yes, an experience. I was in the scene.”
Tristan cups my face. My stomach knots, and I blink rapidly, trying to grasp what’s happening. He pauses for just a few seconds but, to me, they feel like minutes. The clock’s tic-tock is loud in my ears.
“Isolde, I don’t say this often,” he slurs darkly, “but I’m impressed. Hadn’t you seen what you just did, I may have actually fallen in their trap.” He gives me a faint smile that puts a wicked dimple by the side of his mouth, a bit smug. “It wouldn’t have killed me, of course. But it would’ve been damned close.”
“Trap?” I murmur, eyes locked on his sweet lips. Right now he seems an angelic boy whose only sins are the passions he unwittingly ignites. Indeed, how deceiving appearances are.
“Boris Podgor. They knew all along Mark and I would go for him, and they planted the invitation in the mobster’s office, knowing we’d find it. At the ball, they’d have ambushed us.” He stands, and walks over to his desk, opening a drawer and pulling out a file. He slaps it on the mahogany, and gestures to it. “Please, have a look.”
I push myself off the couch, and head slowly to the desk. I’m nervous, and the way Tristan watches me approach doesn’t help my cause. He may have a somewhat softer attitude than usual towards me, but I still feel like I’m the prey and he’s a hawk circling up in the sky, waiting to stick his powerful beak into my guts.
He steps behind the leather chair and guides it under me as I sit down. I pick up the file, which is thick. It’s on Boris Podgor, and his illicit affairs, as it turns out as I leaf through it.
“Don’t think I’ve forgotten our agreement,” he slurs. “I promised you golden nuggets to put on your blog.” He bends in over my shoulder, the warmth of his body touching my cheek. He opens the laptop’s lid, and hits a key on the keyboard. “You’ll have to write it from here, though. Our servers are safer than safe.”
“I bet,” I whisper, breathing in his scent of winter, candle wax and Christmas love stories. There’s so much emotion in my stomach right now, and my heart beats in my throat. He’s too close, the smooth fabric of his suit brushing my forearm, and giving me the goose bumps.
“But how come they sacrificed Boris Podgor?” I say, trying to distract myself before the reactions of my body expose how I feel inside. “He was their man, they used him to infiltrate Marie France into the club to manipulate her potions into your drink.” Thereby making me crush on you like a freaking schoolgirl.
“As I said, Boris Podgor was scum. A pimp, a drug dealer. But the Institute, they claim to be on the side of the good guys. So they used his services, and then rid the world of him.” Again he takes distance from me, taking a seat on the couch, right across from the desk. We’re looking straight at each other. “Should you have any questions on that file, I’m at your disposal.”
He’s at my disposal. The way his masculine baritone voice wraps around those words . . .
I read through the file, but I can barely focus while being so aware of Tristan’s ice blue eyes on me over the rim of his glass of scotch. My eyes cling to the laptop screen as I type clumsily, but blood pulses in my ears, and I can’t think of what I’m doing at all. I’m painfully aware of his open neckline that falls between his hard pectorals, of the smooth skin on his face and the way it stretches over his angular, aggressive bone structure. Everything about him is so darn sexy, from the way his suit trousers glue to the muscles in his thighs to the way he twirls the glass slightly in his hand, looking at me.
I could take advantage of this moment. I could push the chair back and walk to him, losing my dress in the process and stopping naked in front of him. Then maybe he would let his hand slide up my thigh, and pull me onto his lap, where his body would finally press against my naked flesh. But when I risk a glance at him I catch him glaring at me just like he did that day on the hotel corridor – like he could tear me apart. His eyes are once again those of a demon made of ice.
The door opens suddenly, ripping me out of my own imagination. Gertrude’s white-blond bob shines in the cozy orange light as she steps into the study, and my heart sinks. I remember Mark Stahl’s words – she is the mate chosen for Tristan. The perfect Aryan couple, Tristan and Gertrude, making Tristan’s adoptive father who’s a former Nazi happy. I can feel my mouth curl in sour jealousy.
To be continued . . .
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