A modern retelling of the classic Tristan and Isolde

This is how the story of my Tristan and Isolde started, peeps! Meet the invincible fighter Tristan. What’s his secret?

 

Dr. Schweizer sits back in the comfort of his loge, sipping his brandy. Down in the ruins of the ancient arena, two men hang sweaty and heaving on each other. His bets are on the big one with tattoos and savage hair, but surprise! The blond guy suddenly steps back, and he crashes a fist in his opponent’s face. The savage hits the ground, clouds of sand rising into the heated air. The audience surges, and Dr. Schweizer sits up straight.

He snatches the magnifying glasses from his lady friend’s hand, and holds them up to enhance his own vision.

The young blond stands over his sprawled opponent, muscle and old scars glistening in the limelight. His eyes are arctic blue. Chills crawl down Dr. Schweizer’s back. If this boy is Stahl Biotech’s Frankenstein, he’s definitely not what the doctor expected. He’s not some monster put together of dead body parts, but rather a beast created in Hitler’s very labs decades ago. Speaking of . . .

Dr. Schweizer drops back into his cushioned seat from where he has a high view over this secret underground arena. “Can’t be him. He’s too young.”

His lady friend takes the glasses from his hand and places them before her eyes with a delicate move. “Beauty is only skin deep, Viktor. So is youth.”

Dr. Schweizer scoffs, measuring the scarred muscle pack up and down. “Beauty. You’d call this wretch beautiful?”

Lady Marie France Cassel lowers the glasses just under her eyes, long dark lashes obscuring her gaze. “I’d call him fascinating.” She pauses, looking hard at the young blond. “His face. It’s the face of a warlord, not that of a slave.”

“Pure Aryan features. The Führer would’ve sacrificed an arm and a leg for a specimen like this.”

Lady Marie France holds the glasses before her eyes again. Dr. Schweizer looks from her to the young blond brute, whose foot is on his opponent’s neck. The crowd demands an execution. The blonde’s thigh flexes, the savage’s neck snaps, and the crowd booms.

Energy surges through Dr. Schweizer’s veins as well, compelling him to stand. His eyes rest on the blond man’s face—sculpted as if in ice, no trace of emotion. He stands by the dead body, naked to his waist, those arms capable of so much damage hanging motionless by his sides.

“If it is him,” Dr. Schweizer mutters, “he’ll wipe us out. None of our fighters is a match for The Ripper, they can’t protect us.”

Lady Marie France tilts her head to the side, inspecting the fighter with narrow eyes. “Now that we know his true identity, we’ll observe him from the shadow. We’ll stalk him. Find his soft spot. Then use it against him.”

Dr. Schweizer snorts. “The Ripper doesn’t have any soft spots. He doesn’t feel. That mechanism shuts itself down completely in men like him, and all that remains is anger. It’s the only way they can live thug life at this level.”

Lady Marie France’s eyes stay fixed on the fighter. Dr. Schweizer knows—beyond the hooded gaze, she’s assessing their nemesis like a high-power computer.

“If he doesn’t have any weaknesses, as you say.” Her eyes move slowly from the fighter to Dr. Schweizer. His heart skips a beat at the touch of her deep brown gaze. “We’ll make him one.”

Dr. Schweizer stops breathing. “What do you have in mind?”

Lady Marie France’s gaze deepens, and the doctor understands. He looks to the amulet hanging from a golden chain around the woman’s neck, now resting just above the swell of her breasts.

“You think your potions can take down The Ripper?” He can’t keep back a scoff. “With all due respect, Lady Cassel, I know you’re an imperial chemist and all. But maybe The Ripper is a size too big for your skills?”

Lady Marie France’s long-nailed fingers curl around the amulet that resembles a silver cross with a white gem at its core, right where the lines meet. Dr. Schweizer knows—once the subject’s blood is in it and mixes with the essence, the gem turns red, like a ruby. Or like scotch.

***

Enjoyed this? Plenty more where it came from : ) PLEASE NOTE THAT THESE CHAPTERS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN BEFORE I’VE DECIDED ON THE NEW TITLE, The Devil’s Elixir. Therefore, you’ll find them under the title Tristan and Isolde Reloaded.

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

Chapter XI

Chapter XII

Chapter XIII

Chapter XIV

Chapter XV

Chapter XVI

Chapter XVII

Tristan and Isolde Reloaded – Ch. XVII – Falling in love

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!

CHAPTER XVII – Falling in Love

TRISTAN

It’s five in the morning, my men scout the area around the block, and I’m sitting at the table in Isolde’s kitchen. My senses spike in order to feel her while her brother Roland makes coffee. She’s curled on the couch in the living room, wrapped from head to toes in a blanket, shivering with exhaustion.

Roland sets a mug in front of me. It’s a bang in my ears, and my hearing adjusts automatically to normal volume, tearing me away from Isolde.

“So, what’s your story?” he demands, dropping his bulk in a chair opposite from me, a mug with chipped rim in his good hand. Demerol fixed his shoulder, but it seems to still hurt a bit.

“I already told you what you needed to know.”

“You told me that Stahl Biotech wages a sort of cold war against the Institute for Psychosomatic Research. You told me that you hired my sister because of her unusual intuitive powers, in order to predict their moves. But what’s your quarrel with them?”

“Shrinks are making drug stores obsolete, to put it simple.” I glance at my watch. I need to cut this short.

“How do you mean?”

“I mean the power to create perfect health is within you. What you need is the right guidance, not outside chemistry.”

“And the Institute discovered that? They know how to do it?”

“They know that and more.” I stand, my chair scraping the floor.

“Wait.” Roland comes to his feet, too. “Stahl, what you did to that guy, it’s not—“ He pauses, looks hard at me. “It’s not humanly possible. You didn’t just crack his facial bone, you shattered it. Half his face was completely distorted.” He glances at my hand. “What is it made of? Your fist?”

“I’m made of flesh, just like you.”

He laughs. “Sure, only you can do things I’ve only ever seen done in Marvel’s comics. It’s obvious you’re not like the rest of us.” He walks closer around the table. “I want the truth.”

“I can’t give you the truth.”

“So matter-of-fact.” He grins mockingly. “Did you give it to Isolde?”

“Don’t push, Roland.” I stand in place like a statue, unnaturally calm. Anger should flood my veins, it always does when they interrogate me, but right now it seems asleep.

“Listen, Stahl.” Roland’s gaze darkens like a man’s ready to start a fight. Is he insane? “I’ll give it to you straight—I don’t care if you’re an engineered beast. If any harm comes to Isolde because of the way you’re using her, I’ll do everything in my power to kill you.”

For the first time in what feels like ages I want to laugh. “Lucky for me not much is in your power.” I turn to leave, but then Roland speaks again.

“You’re big and powerful, Tristan, while life has been a bitch to Isolde. She was only sixteen when our mother died, and she had me to worry about, too. Luckily she was already in high school, already on the right track. She could go to college, and the social system supported us, but that didn’t spare her bullying and beatings.”

The word fires in my head. I turn on an axis. “Beatings? Who beat Isolde?”

Roland exhales loudly, and leans on the table. He looks pensively down at his coffee while he talks. “We had to stay with a foster family until she was eighteen. The youth welfare office placed us with a family in East Berlin—for integration purposes, you know, us being Latinos and all. Later we realized this integration business wasn’t benefitting us—but the family. They had a herd of children of their own, all as blond as they come, and the father was a reformed neo-Nazi. Later we found out he still had a swastika under the family portrait on the wall. Having us benefited him and his wife in a number of ways; first, they got the child allowance for both Isolde and me, while also proving that they’d mended their ways. In truth, the woman would stand watch at the door, while the man dragged Isolde by her hair and kicked her in the ribs while she was on her knees, cleaning up.”

“Enough!” My blood starts to boil, and I turn, determined to get out.

“You know why he never raped her?” Roland calls behind. “Because his wife was unemployed, always at home, and very jealous. She used to slap Isolde a lot. She said she wanted to see if Latina skin could redden.”

“Why are you telling me this?” I grunt between my teeth, looking over my shoulder.

“Because I want you to be gentle to her.”

I stalk down the hallway toward the door, but when I pass the living room I can’t help myself. I halt. I turn my head to look at her, slowly, somewhere deep down knowing what I’m doing to myself. Just for a moment.

She’s curled on the couch, wrapped from nose to feet in a grey blanket, the light from the TV flashing on her face. My insides seem to melt. I drink her in, letting my eyes rest on her arched eyebrows, her long, dark lashes, caress her cheek, slide down her nose. Her wild cavewoman hair is spread over the couch arm. My senses adjust, I can now hear the blood course through her veins, her steady heartbeat. The urge to go there and bite into her like she’s a mouthwatering peach overwhelms me, but the idea of causing her pain drives a spear through my heart. I grit my teeth and rip myself away.

Speeding down the stairs, I grab my cell from the inside pocket of my jacket. The info man picks up. “I’m listening, boss.”

“Isolde Molnar used to have a foster father. Find him.” I clench my fist so hard the muscles in my arm hurt. “And when you do, bring him to me. Down in the cages.”

 

To be continued . . .

 

***

Enjoyed this? Stay tuned for more! Subscribe to this blog, and follow me on Facebook and Twitter to be notified each time a new chapter is uploaded. Feel free to roam the site – it has many goodies to offer, from personality tests to HOT psych information.

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

Chapter XI

Chapter XII

Chapter XIII

Chapter XIV

Chapter XV

Chapter XVI

 

Tristan and Isolde Reloaded – Ch. XVI – The Beast

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!

CHAPTER XVIThe Beast

TRISTAN

Isolde’s brother, Roland the Callboy, is staring at us with quivering eyebrows. His Latino lover muscles ripple under a white undershirt.

“You,” he grunts at me, fists clenching by his sides. “You’re the guy from the hotel. You blackmailed—”

“I blackmailed your client, yes. But I’m pretty sure she’ll be calling on your services again, nevertheless. No damage done.” I measure him up and down, assessing the danger. He poses none. He obviously miscalculates, though, and he launches himself at me with a war cry.

He bends from his waist, and his shoulder slams into my lower belly as his arms fly around my belt line. I flex my abs to dampen the impact, and he groans loudly. I grab him under his armpits, spin him around and haul him onto the couch.

“For God’s sakes!” Isolde cries, and hurries to her brother. Roland bares his teeth in pain, taking his good hand to his shoulder.

Isolde drops onto the shabby green couch by his side, hands on his arm, looking daggers at me.

“You brute! What are you made of?” Her despair sears like acid dripped onto my heart.

“He attacked first.” Hell, I even sound like an apologizing child.

“You barged in on him while he was naked in bed with a woman only a few days ago. What did you expect, a brotherly slap on the back?”

Before I can think of anything to say Roland redirects his anger at Isolde. He pushes her away with his good hand, and my body flexes to intervene automatically. It’s an effort to stop myself.

“You! You knew,” Roland barks at his sister. “You helped him stage the whole thing, didn’t you?”

“I didn’t have a choice, Roland.” Isolde makes herself small at the other end of the couch. Roland convulses toward her, and I can’t keep back anymore. Before I know it, I’m stomping toward them.

“You lay that hand on her, and I’ll fucking break it.”

Roland’s eyes snap at me. “How did you get her to betray me, you bastard? Did you blackmail her, too?”

I stop right by the couch, looking down on the pathetic callboy with tousled hair. “No. I threatened her. I said that she’d never get a decent job again, if she refused to work for me. I said I would destroy her life. And yours.”

“Get out,” he says between his teeth.

“Make me.”

“You’re not welcome here,” he insists.

“But I’m needed.” I turn around and walk leisurely to the window, parting two blades of the blinds with my fingers. “Did you see the pack of clowns and cheerleaders downstairs at the entrance, Roland? I have good reason to believe they’re here for your sister. And that they mean her harm.”

Isolde mumbles something, but Roland interrupts her.

“Let me guess,” he spits. “They mean to harm Isolde for some shit you got her into, right?”

“She wanted information on heavy bad guys. That’s power. Power comes with danger,” I say evenly, still keeping my back at them and my eyes out between the blades at the losers outside. I still my body completely, feeling my environment.

The hallways on the floors above and below sound empty. But there’s activity on the ground floor. My ears spike, expanding hearing range. Steps dodder up the stairs. I tune out Roland and Isolde’s arguing, and spin around the moment someone raps on the door. Isolde makes to get up.

“No,” I command. She freezes. “Roland, you go.”

“But, his shoulder,” Isolde insists.

“If they see you, they might hurt you right off.” I motion with my chin at Roland. “Go. Let them in.”

“Are you sure about this?” he mumbles. He doesn’t seem very combative anymore, like he’s low on fuel.

I nod. “And don’t worry. I guarantee no harm will come to you. I promised Isolde in return for her services I’ll keep you safe, as well.”

That brings back some of Roland’s hostility. “I can take care of myself, trust me.”

He rises to his feet, and shuffles to the door, still holding to his shoulder. His bronze muscles in that white undershirt would normally have a more intimidating effect, I’m sure, if it weren’t for the rough 3 AM face and the I’m-wounded posture.

I wait at the end of the hallway, right across from the callboy. Looking through the peephole, he asks, “Who are you?”

“Please, let me use your bathroom,” a female voice replies. She sounds a bit incoherent, like she’s tipsy.

“You climbed all the way to the third floor for that? Why not stop on the first?”

Pause. “There was no one home.”

“In the entire building until you came to my door?”

“Roland,” I hiss. He turns, his dark brown eyes meeting mine. “Just let her in.”

With his gaze still on me, Roland unhooks the door chain, turns the locks, and wrenches it open. A blue-haired girl with a beer bottle in her hand staggers in, all torn black stockings and smeared lipstick. She sees me across the hall, stops in her tracks, and smiles. She starts fiddling with her hair. “Oh, hello, handsome stranger.”

When Roland makes to close the door behind her two guys in studded leather appear on the threshold. The one with earlobe stretchers and braided beard slaps a hand on the door, keeping it open, while the one with long hair and chain boots walks in. They measure Roland up and down.

“We need the loo, too, mate. You don’t mind, do ya?”

Roland glowers at them, saying nothing. While the two thugs approach, the girl leans by the door, staring at me with that drunken smeared grin, still wringing her blue hair on thin dirty fingers. I know her type well – cracked in the head, gets off watching live fights. Women like her litter the seats around the cages.

“And who are you, mate?” the longhaired guy says roughly when he’s beside me. “You the bitch’s boyfriend, of the fuck buddy?”

Both thugs laugh, checking out the living room to my left, where Isolde sits on the couch, white-knuckling the edge.

“I’m her boss.” I motion with my chin at Roland again. The rest of my body is still as a statue. “He’s the brother.”

The longhaired guy circles me, the chains on his boots clamoring every time his heel hits the floor. “The boss, eh? Too young and too pretty for a boss, but say I believe you. You fucking her?”

I keep my eyes ahead. “Not yet.”

The guys and the girl burst into laughter.

“Then what you doing here at 3 A.M.?”

I turn my head slowly, and scan him from chained boots to ugly longhaired head. I can already taste blood in my mouth, my pulse quickens in anticipation, and my palms itch.

“Waiting for a chance to smash your face in. To break your legs, make you squirm on the floor, and step on your fucking head until your eyeballs swim in your scrambled brains.”

Fury explodes in the whites of his eyes, and I run my tongue over my teeth. My heart pumps adrenaline through my whole body, and time shrinks.

The longhaired thug balls his fist, opens his mouth in a cry of battle, face furrowed and eyes reddened. His fist starts on a curved trajectory towards me. I block it with my right arm. My left first crashes into his face, molding his flesh and uprooting a couple of teeth.

He lands on all fours, and spits his teeth out with blood. Then he falls on his side, half of him in the hallway, half in the living room, unconscious. His face is deformed. X-ray kicks in, and I assess the damage – he’s got a fractured cheekbone. Won’t be waking up anytime soon, and when he does, he’ll be in excruciating pain. I raise my eyes to see Isolde watch me with an open mouth, her soft brown eyes big and amazed. Is this a good thing? Or is she disgusted?

Movement at the entrance draws my attention. The other guy starts running towards me, but Roland tackles him to the floor. The girl breaks her beer bottle on the back of Roland’s head, making him get off the thug, cursing, good hand to his bloody head. I could intervene, but should I? The girl tries to sprint out the door, but bounces off Demerol’s huge bulk that appears in the doorstep. Behind him, I hear my men disable the rest of the mafia’s thugs.

I address Demerol, pointing at Roland. “Help him up.”

Demerol looks down at the callboy, frowns as if he doesn’t quite understand at first, but then reaches to grab him under his armpit.

“Not that shoulder, I might have dislocated it,” I say.

Roland comes slowly to his feet with Demerol’s help, while two other men tie up the screaming girl and the guy with earlobe stretchers. Rubbing the back of his head, the callboy squints at me like I’m the sun.

“You fucking maimed that guy with one blow, man,” he calls. “What sort of beast are you?”

To be continued

 

***

Enjoyed this? Stay tuned for more! Subscribe to this blog, and follow me on Facebook and Twitter to be notified each time a new chapter is uploaded. Feel free to roam the site – it has many goodies to offer, from personality tests to HOT psych information.

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

Chapter XI

Chapter XII

Chapter XIII

Chapter XIV

Chapter XV

Tristan and Isolde Reloaded – Ch. XV – Dark Desires

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!

CHAPTER XVDark Desires

TRISTAN

Thoughts knot inside my brain, and I spin on an axis, hurrying towards the exit. I run up the grand stairs so fast the air whips around my face, and I barge into Mark’s luxurious bedroom through the high double doors.

Mark and Isolde are sitting across from each other at a small round table by the high window, curtains aside to let them admire the star-filled night sky among tree branches. Mark’s blue eyes shoot at me from his pruned old head as he adjusts his wheelchair to face me.

“How may I help you, son?” The speaking device distorts his real voice.

“I’m sorry to intrude.” I glance at Isolde. Her hands grip to each other on her lap, ankles crossed. She’s defensive. My eyes slide down the curvy shape of her body wrapped in the cream dress that, admittedly, I’ve been wanting to tear off her since the moment she presented it to me at the store. I square my shoulders and look back at Mark. “But the girl needs to go now.”

He raises the arches of skin where his eyebrows used to be. “And why is that?”

Because I don’t want your foul hands on her. My jaw tenses, and my fists ball behind my back. “It’ s been a very long night. The club, Podgor, and she’s been feeling sick.”

He doesn’t look convinced, and I take a step forward. “She saw a man die tonight, Mark, if I may remind you.”

Mark’s body slackens in his chair. He must realize he’s been overeager. Very well, then.” He gives Isolde a tired smile, and my jaw tightens.

“I’ll have the staff prepare a room for you here, Isolde,” he says. “You’ll be more comfortable than at your apartment, which I expect you to move out of as soon as possible.”

Move in here?” The words leave my mouth before I can restrain my tongue. I sound too sharp, and Mark seems taken aback.

“Yes, here. With her powers now activated, she needs a safe place. A sanctuary.”

I hate the idea so much I barely keep back a growl. I don’t want her within his reach. I don’t want her within Gertrude’s either.

Isolde surprises us both by standing up brusquely, almost knocking back her chair.

“I appreciate your kindness, Mark.” She shoots me a glare as she emphasizes his name. Is she making a point of how close they’ve become? “But I’d rather keep my own sanctuary, my own place, plus that I need to be with my brother. Make sure he stays safe as well.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” I step in, gripping Isolde’s delicate wrist in my hand that seems a hammer compared to hers. The contact sends a soft tingle through my skin, a fully new sensation, but she pulls away.

“I’ll make sure that she’s well protected,” I tell Mark, still looking at her. Her gaze is burning, defying me. “I’ll have her apartment building monitored, men at every corner, two undercover constantly surveying the entrance.”

“The back door from the inner yard as well,” Mark demands softly.

I snort. “Of course.” I’m your right hand and personal bodyguard, you sorry bastard, don’t tell me what to do. I understand he’s trying to prove his position as my boss to impress Isolde, and anger punches me in the gut.

I turn around to restrain myself, and stomp toward the door, expecting Isolde to follow. She does after she kisses Mark good-bye on the cheek – I’ve learned to perceive what happens at every angle around me long ago, it’s a must-have skill in the cages. I swallow hard, and force myself to keep walking.

Mark’s glassy blue stare stings the back of my head as we walk out. I can sense he’s growing suspicious, but right now something else takes over my mind. I’m hyperaware of the soft sound of Isolde’s steps on the stairs behind me as we descend, and that puts a ball of fire in my stomach, the most awkward sensation.

Demerol is already by my car at the curb, and hurries to hold the door at the back.

“No, the passenger’s seat,” I demand.

Isolde steps in, looking messed up, but somehow snappy. She frowns, seeming irritated. I take the car keys from Demerol, planting a razor sharp glare right between his eyes. I could slash him across the face for wanting her the way he does. His looks alone are enough to stain her.

“I’ll drive. And we don’t need company,” I grunt.

With that I slide into the driver’s seat, slam the door shut, and fire the ignition. The tires spit out gravel as we drive away, leaving Demerol behind in a cloud of grey dust.

During the ride I can’t help glancing at Isolde from the corner of my eye, and I do it often enough for her to notice. Damn it, get a grip.

She makes herself smaller in her seat, bracing herself as if she’s feeling naked, cold, awkward, all sorts of uncomfortable, but I can’t stop. I’m pulled to her like a flea to honey. By the time we reach her place I’ve played a scenario in my head at least five times, a scenario where I pull over, bend her over the hood of my car and bang her brains out. Would it be enough to have my fill of her?

She opens the door to get out of the car, but then I notice something strange out in the night, a slight shift in the headlights. I grip her wrist to keep her in.

“Wait.” My eyes narrow, infrared kicks in, and I see them. Young men and women, party people hovering in front of the entrance to Isolde’s apartment building, waving beer bottles, tattoos and crazy hairstyles. This is Berlin, and this side of town is especially prone to sorry-ass “funk”, but something’s off. It’s almost three in the morning, on a weeknight. Not exactly the peak of “party mile” time.

“What’s wrong?” Isolde inquires, her eyes narrowed to peer outside through the windshield. Despite the headlights, we’re too far from the building for her to see things half as well as I do.

“This is not right,” I say, and pick up my phone. The call goes to Demerol. “Get a team, fix an undercover, and prepare to tail.”

“Surveillance of Isolde Molnar’s place?”

“Yes.” My tone sharpens even more. “You get them over here, but then you’ll be working with me. So don’t get an extra car.”

I hang up and open the door, addressing Isolde. “Let’s go.”

She’s looking at me inquisitively as I offer her my arm. Hers hooks around it and, even though she looks uncertain, she lets me lead her towards the entrance.

The gathering in front of the block pulls to the sides and lets us through. Some stare open-mouthed, some ogle us, and some – very few – frown defiantly. There’s no power on the stairway, and my x-ray vision is helpful when Isolde skids over a stair edge. Her body slams warm into mine. As I steady her my palm sweeps up her arm, feeling her goose bumps. Is it from the cold, damp air, or from my touch?

This is a crumbling block by the railway, smeared with graffiti, and I already know that Isolde’s apartment is right by the tracks. But when she pushes the door open and hits the lights the shabbiness of it still hits me.

She throws her keys and purse on a small chest of drawers by the door, and leads me down a narrow corridor to the living room. The train shakes the walls and, right after it’s passed, she turns to face me. She’s scowling, but she’s obviously nervous too. She shifts her weight awkwardly from one leg to the other as she speaks.

“Listen, Tristan.” Her voice is dry and shaky. “You were right back at the villa – I am tired, which is the only reason I didn’t intervene much in your talk with Mark. But know this.” She even points a finger at me. Seriously? For the first time in ages I want to smile, but I repress it. “I acknowledge you as my boss, but you won’t boss me around in my private life. The world technically switched poles for me ever since I met you, and in order to keep my sanity, I’ll keep at least a bit of the old world with me – this place.”

Listening to her, I pace around the room. I stop by the old glass case she must have inherited from a grandma or something, and pick up a porcelain ballerina, feeling strangely amused.

“No one is asking you to relinquish the old world, Isolde.” I turn the ballerina in my hand, inspecting it. “Only your contact with it.” I turn around to look at her. God, how I want to bite into those carnal lips that seem made of cacao silk. “Have you ever desired to be special? Of course you have, all of you little animals do.” I walk around her like a tiger around its prey, sniffing her scent of fresh meat and lilies. She listens petrified, her whole body unmoving but for her chest, rising and falling with her heavy breathing.

“Well, now you are special,” I purr. “The people outside, I think they’re here for you. The mafia bosses behind Podgor, they’re rich and powerful, and they get wind of things extremely fast. You didn’t have the time to write an entire article about Podgor, but you announced it’s coming soon, and now they’ll do anything to stop you from publishing.”

I halt in front of her. She’s so much smaller than me, so frail, and this vulnerability makes my shaft twitch in my pants. Her eyes are stuck on my lips, as if she’s afraid to look me in the eye. A fist seems to clench around my heart, and I want to sink my hand in her rich long hair and tug her head back. To kiss her. Fuck, this needs to stop. I wrench myself away from her and stomp to the glass case again.

“You want to keep at least a sense of freedom, of independence, and I understand that, Isolde.” My tone is meant to make her feel mocked. “I’ll grant you that. But you’ll have to suffer my presence here, in your home. Often.” Why the hell did I just say that?

Her voice trembles. “To what do I owe the honor of being protected by the mighty Tristan Stahl himself?”

Protection, yes. “You’re exposed to dangers that only I can face up to,” I throw over my shoulder.

Isolde walks closer behind me, slowly, carefully. My pulse quickens, and my throat clogs for the second time in one night. I force myself to keep my back on her.

“You speak of little animals, special people, and dangers that only you can shield me from,” she says. She’s so close now I can feel her voice vibrate between my shoulder blades. She grips my elbow gently to turn me around, and this time I respond like a marionette. I meet her soft brown eyes that look up at me with the purest interest anyone has ever shown. “What makes you special?” she whispers. “Who was Tristan a moment before he met Mark Stahl?”

At that question something cracks deep in my mind, like an old gate being wrenched from its rusty locks. The showers room swirls around in my memory, the other boys’ screams, the poison spraying down on my face. Anger shoots through my veins, and The Dutchman roars deep inside me.

I reach for Isolde, determined to crush her lips under mine, and her ample breasts beneath me, but before I can act on it the door creaks open. A man walks in. Isolde looks at him, and color leaves her face.

To be continued . . .

Enjoyed this? Stay tuned for more! Subscribe to this blog, and follow me on Facebook and Twitter to be notified each time a new chapter is uploaded. Feel free to roam the site – it has many goodies to offer, from personality tests to HOT psych information.

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

Chapter XI

Chapter XII

Chapter XIII

Chapter XIV

 

Tristan and Isolde Reloaded – Ch. XIV – For the first time

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!

TRISTAN

I pace the study like a lion in a cage after Isolde was taken to see Mark. But then I notice Demerol by the door, watching me from under his bushy eyebrows.

“Go back to where you came from,” I bark.

He hesitates, but instead of walking out he closes the door and stares me in the face. I cock an eyebrow, ready to punch him senseless if he dares come closer, and make an example of him. It would serve all the others well, a demonstration of my punishment for disobedience.

“You don’t like it,” he dares quietly. “You don’t like it, that your father wants her.”

The suit strains over my arms as I grip to the chair behind the desk. My knuckles go white, and the Rolex’s metallic band cuts into my wrist.

“I didn’t invite you in, Demerol.”

“The way you looked at her in the limo, when we brought her back from Podgor’s club, it was different,” he continues, approaching the desk. There’s a tremor in his voice – he’s scared, but for some reason he’s also stupid, taking risks like this. “She sat sprawled by your side, unconscious, and you drank her in.”

I throw my head back as I understand where this is coming from. “That’s why you kept watching in the rear-view mirror? I thought you were into her yourself, which is also the reason why I didn’t ask you to roll up the partition. ”

He ignores my mockery, stopping on the other side of the desk. We’re face to face now. “So you were aware of my watching. Still, it wasn’t enough to make you tear your eyes from her.”

“We hired Isolde for a reason. She was close to delivering what we wanted from her, and that could’ve happened any moment, especially in that state.” I lean in like a wolf spanned to attack, my eyes piercing Demerol’s. “I don’t have personal interest in the girl.”

“I’m sure that’s what your official fiancé Gertrude keeps telling herself, but she’s growing more hostile towards Isolde by the day. So I’m afraid that theory hangs by a thread in her mind, too.”

I keep my glare steady. “I don’t owe you explanations, pooch. Now get out, before I lose my temper.”

He doesn’t move an inch, but I’m still willing to let it go until he says, quietly, “Then would you mind if I took my chances with her after your father’s done?”

Impulse fires in my head, the muscles in my arm flex to snap, and my fist crashes into Demerol’s face. The feel of my knuckles drilling through his flesh to the bone is so fulfilling I almost roar with pleasure. The next second he’s on the floor, and I’m planting my feet on each side of him. I bend from my waist and grip his collar, lifting him just enough to look him close in that furry face.

“You listen carefully, slave,” I slur through my teeth. “It’s been so long that desire has pulsed in poor old Mark’s veins, that I don’t think he’ll get enough of her anytime soon. But if he does, I have other plans for the girl.”

Demerol seems to be choking, but his small eyes blaze with fury. “Other plans,” he croaks, the vein in his forehead swelling red. “Like do her and then slit her throat, right?”

Has he gone mad? He knows I could slit his throat in a second, yet he pushes. His large, warm hands strain on my wrists, but he can’t even move me. I pull him up, swirl him around and haul him against the bookcase by the wall, folders tumbling to the floor and knocking him in the head. He trickles to the ground, a huge bear in a suit, dizzy on his ass in front of me. Seems his wits are back, and he doesn’t make a move to fight me again. He looks up at me like he doesn’t know what hit him.

“What do you care about what happens to Isolde Molnar?” I grunt. He doesn’t answer, only stares at me with an open mouth. The scene he painted flashes in my head – my very hand slitting Isolde’s neck while my shaft still throbs between the walls of her smooth, hot inside. The image sends a sharp pain through my chest, like a spear that pierces me all the way to my back, and I know I’d want to die if I ever hurt the little cavewoman.

Angry as hell at the revelation, I grab the stunned-looking Demerol by his collar, and force him up, slamming his back against the bookcase and speaking so close to his face that my spittle lands on his cheek. “Why are you playing her savior? Did you fuck her?” I’m seeing red. Blood threatens to burst through my ears. “When? Talk, or I swear to God I’ll tear you apart!” Before I know it, my fist crashes into the bookcase, splintering the wood. Demerol flinches, like never before ever since I met him in the fighter cages of our underground. He’s one of the toughest thugs I ever recruited, yet he shrinks in my grip.

“I, I, God, Tristan, I promise you, I never had her,” he stutters. “You sent me for her so often, pick her up from home, take her shopping, follow her around, and she’s, she’s, please, Tristan!” He searches my eyes desperately, so I guess my thirst for blood is showing big time in my face. “She’s a special woman. She’s the kind that won’t leave your head once inside, you know that.”

“Do I?” I purr dangerously.

“Damn it, Tristan!” Demerol looks me up and down, terrified. “Look at yourself! Look at how you’re reacting. I expected you to be mad, but I didn’t expect you to fuckin’ beat me up for her.” His eyes rest on mine, begging. “You’re into her, boss. For the first time since you and I have known each other, you desire a woman. And it’s even more serious than I thought.”

Serious. Like an illness. My hands drop off the man as I begin to understand, and I take a few steps away from him.

***

To be continued . . .

Enjoyed this? Stay tuned for more! Subscribe to this blog, and follow me on Facebook and Twitter to be notified each time a new chapter is uploaded. Feel free to roam the site – it has many goodies to offer, from personality tests to HOT psych information.

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

Chapter XI

Chapter XII

Chapter XIII

Tristan and Isolde Reloaded – Ch. XIII – He loves me, he loves me not

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!

CHAPTER XIII

ISOLDE

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 . . .

Enjoyed this? Stay tuned for more! Subscribe to this blog, and follow me on Facebook and Twitter to be notified each time a new chapter is uploaded. Feel free to roam the site – it has many goodies to offer, from personality tests to HOT psych information.

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

Chapter XI

Chapter XII

Tristan and Isolde Reloaded – Ch. XII – Revelation

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! 

CHAPTER XII – Revelation

“That’s basically saying we humans function on renewable energy.”

“We basically are,” Tristan replies, leaning back and relaxing in his seat. I look down at my glass to avoid blushing. “That’s how Viktor Schweizer survived the concentration camps in Hitler’s days.”

My eyes snap back at him. “You know that Nadine talked to me about Dr. Schweizer?”

Tristan smiles a new kind of smile that makes me think of the wise Gandalf. I suddenly see an old soul in the body of a young hustler with wild blue eyes and white blond hair.

“I knew she’d do it before she actually did.”

I lower my glass of scotch as conclusions fall into place in my head. “You manipulated her every move.”

The smile lingers on his sculpted face. “Your intuition is kicking in. Good.”

Indeed. It’s like a kind of mystical logic at the back of my mind. My eyes become slits as I talk, I can feel their corners crinkling. “You put hints in her way. What she thought she discovered in the beginning, you already had all that info.” The pattering of the rain and the candlelight have a strange effect on me, too, they put me in a fuzzy mood.

“You’re getting there.” His tone is even – he’s not impressed yet. Show him what you got, Izzy. I lean forward, studying his face.

“You planted quests in her way like in a video game. But she eventually did get to a part where she made new discoveries, like the whereabouts of Viktor Schweizer, who you always suspected ran the Institute. Of course, he was always among your main suspects, but you had no idea where to find him and, even if you did, he would’ve slipped through your fingers. But you foresaw he would open up to Nadine, make himself available, which he would’ve never done if he sniffed your workings behind her actions.” I point at him like I’ve hit the jackpot. “You played Nadine like a marionette.”

He still smiles, but it doesn’t look like my deductions blew him away. He stands and plucks the now empty glass from my hand, walking with it to the drinks cabinet for a refill.

“Good start, but not nearly satisfying. I need your intuition on full power,” he says as he takes distance. “So sit back, relax, and let it flow in from the back of your mind.” His voice is now frighteningly soft. So unlike him, so unlike any young man. He sounds like an ancient prophet.

Maybe it’s just the alcohol. I drank on an empty stomach, and now I’m tipsy – dizzy comes with the territory. I’m not even shy anymore as I ogle Tristan up and down, drinking in the athletic shape of his body molding the suit.

He comes back to me with the refilled glass, his shirt open just enough to reveal the light tan of his taut chest. Maybe it’s Marie France’s love potion, but the more I look at him, the more unusual his beauty seems. As if he’s not even human, but a fallen angel. His skin is so perfect it seems photoshopped. Unable to hold his gaze, I take the glass when he hands it to me, and look down.

I notice I’m barefoot, my shoes lying around on the fluffy dark mahogany carpet like they’ve been tossed. I cringe – having naked feet in front of someone always made me uncomfortable. I’m still wearing the cream lace dress I’d been wearing at the club, only that it’s looser on my hips and my back. Tristan must’ve unzipped it to make me more comfortable when he brought me here. I let my locks fall down the sides of my face in case I’m blushing. The pins have been removed, and now my hair is free, feeling silky against my cheeks.

Tristan is now inches from my nose, the material of his suit trousers curving on the muscles in his thigh.

“I don’t know what exactly you expect of me,” I whisper, trying to keep my heartbeat in check.

He reaches under my chin and touches it with his thumb and forefinger, making me look up. His scent of winter is fresh in my nostrils, and the feel of his skin on mine fires a tingle straight to my gut. My eyelids flutter, and I can’t keep back a soft moan. The ice in Tristan’s gaze seems to shift too, but it may be just wishful thinking on my part.

“There was a reason we took you along to see Boris Podgor, although you were never actually required to do anything.”

Indeed. What reason? But I can’t speak. My jaw is locked, my eyes hooded.

“And there was also a reason we manipulated Nadine to show you her discoveries.” Now I realize – the softness of his voice is not that of a nice person, of a friend or even a shrink, it’s the deep lure of a hypnotist.

The events ever since I met him run around in my head, firing connections to each other: Stahl Biotech searching for the true identity of the Institute’s leader, Tristan hiring my best friend as an investigative journalist and me for my unusual intuitive powers; Nadine discovering Viktor Schweizer runs the Institute, one of the Jews Mark Stahl experimented on in a concentration camp back when he was a Nazi doctor; the alchemist’s potion, Marie France squeezing the blood out of my finger right into Tristan’s drink; the alchemist planting the invitation in the mobster Boris Podgor’s office.

I don’t know at what point the stream of thought becomes a stream of images, but a princely ballroom starts swimming around me. The image is warped, and muffled music and laughter reach me as if through water. People swirl around dressed in ball gowns from centuries past, velvet caps and perfumed wigs. The scent is like insect powder, it makes the edges of my nostrils itch and burn. I’m sure the allergy is spreading all over my face.

This whole thing feels like a lucid dream at first, but then the images settle down, the colors and smells so stark my temples throb. This must be real, but how did I get here? I bump into a woman with a painted mole above her red mouth just before she leans her wigged head back and laughs. I can see the foundation like flour on the wide pores of her skin, the pearls straining around her neck.

My eyes don’t even bother to move around. It’s like I know exactly where to go, and I simply put one foot in front of the other. The dark stairwell beyond the empty fireplace in an abandoned side-hall takes me down to what looks like a huge ancient arena. Sand and gravel sting the naked soles of my feet, making a crunching sound. Torches surround the arena that unfurls before me with every step I take. Another piece adds to the picture with every footfall, until I stand in the middle of it. I swirl in place, and people start populating the seats all around, loud and cheering. The same people from upstairs, their roar growing until it turns deafening, the smell of perfumed wigs and wet sand choking me.

Something screeches sharply in my ear. I spin around one more time. Right behind me Tristan hangs on a cross, torso bare, chains around his forearms. Air leaves my lungs as I scream, but the sound doesn’t make it out of my body. This can’t be real. It’s a very lucid dream in which my eyes glide all over Tristan’s body that seems a work of art, a Greek god marred with bleeding cuts. His eyes are hooded, the blue irises opaque, his beautiful features immobile, and his mouth slack. I look at his belly, searching for signs of breathing – it’s not moving.

He’s dead. Two men with evil grins hold fork-like pokers by his side. They’re dressed like ancient Roman soldiers. Seems one of them notices me, and approaches. He reaches for me, and my heart slams hard against my sternum.

I jolt up, and I find myself in Tristan’s study. The relief I feel when my eyes find him, his body wrapped in his fitted suit and shirt, his eyes as cold as ever. His scent of winter is particularly vivid, and I realize he’s standing so close to me my chin almost touches his lapel. I’m not thinking as I put my hands on his chest, eyes up, hanging to his.

“They killed you! They killed you a long time ago!”

He smiles a lazy smile. The blue in his eyes liquefies. “No. They will kill me.”

I grip to his lapels. “But Tristan, I had a vision of you in ancient times, you were being –”

He cups the sides of my face, and I go mute. My heart starts on a rabbits’ race. I can’t believe this, his face is so close to mine, his palms big and hot. “You didn’t see the past, Isolde. You saw the future.”

 

***

 

Enjoyed this? Stay tuned for more! Subscribe to this blog, and follow me on Facebook and Twitter to be notified each time a new chapter is uploaded. Feel free to roam the site – it has many goodies to offer, from personality tests to HOT psych information.

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

Chapter XI

Pic source.

Tristan and Isolde Reloaded – Chapter XI

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! 

CHAPTER XI

I’m lying face-up on a couch. My body feels so heavy, I think I’m a boulder sinking into the leather cushions. I blink to clear my eyesight, and I recognize the high shelves of books spiraling toward the arched ceiling in Tristan’s study.

I shoot up to a sitting position, and my head swims. I take my hand to it with a grunt. “Crap.”

“Here,” familiar baritone says. Tristan holds a bar of chocolate under my nose. “It’ll help.”

I look up his arm and suited body to his face. Those eyes like blue ice knock me back, but I can’t let him do this to me now. When I try to stand I go instantly dizzy, and my legs give away under me, making me drop back down into the cushions.

Tristan doesn’t say another word, but keeps the chocolate in my face. I take it with trembling fingers and bite into it. The sweetness spreads over my taste buds, and I close my eyes in delight, but the yawning cuts in Boris Podgor’s throat snap at me, and my eyes shoot open again.

“For God’s sakes,” I cry. “She killed him! The woman with the white gloves, she freaking killed him!” The scene is glaring inside my head. The heavy, rusty smell of the man’s blood still clings to the inside of my nostrils.

“If you knew the kind of scumbag he was,” Tristan says coldly, “you’d say we went too easy on him.”

I look straight into his face, scowling with everything I have. “You and your pack, you can’t go around killing people, no matter what reasons you think you have.”

His features remain as if sculpted in ice as he hunkers down before me. He’s strikingly beautiful, the Ice Prince. I remember what my mother used to say – the devil is the most beautiful of angels; in the end, he used to be God’s favorite.

“Boris Podgor used to fool girls from Eastern European countries,” Tristan says, “promising to bring them here, to Germany, to work as nurses and baby sitters. But once he imported them, he’d take their papers away, lock them up, and force them to prostitute themselves. He also made a fortune of selling a particularly nasty drug in his clubs. It’s called crocodile.” He brings his face closer, and I swear I can feel coldness oozing out of his skin and touching mine. “Have you ever heard of crocodile? It’s known as the ‘zombie drug’ because it practically eats the flesh away. Care to see pictures?”

I swallow and shake my head.

“I thought so,” he says, places his hands on his knees, and stands.

I watch him walk to the drinks cabinet, and can’t help my eyes from sliding up and down his body. Despite myself, I love the way his suit jacket stretches over the breadth of his back. I love his fighter frame. It seems God created him especially to spite me, to make me drool and suffer that I’ll never have him. Heck, I shouldn’t even want him, he’s a bad guy.

“What do you make of what Boris said?” I murmur as he pours a drink. It’s easier talking to his back, less intimidating. But my heart still beats in that way it did when I was thirteen and had my first crush.

“He said a lot. Which part do you mean?” he asks calmly.

“About Marie France and what she put in your drink.”

He turns with two glasses of scotch. Walks over, hands one to me, then returns and leans against his desk. “I’m not worried about Marie France’s potions. Mark is.”

I take a sip, studying him. The alcohol stings my dry lips, but the burn running down my guts feels good. “He must have a reason, your father.”

“He’s an old man. A bit paranoid.” He looks up from his drink, his arctic eyes sharp. “Marie France aimed to chemically manipulate my feelings. According to my people’s recent investigations, that’s what she specializes in.” He juts out his chin, and I know he’s defying not only me, but the whole world. “Too bad I’m a psychopath. I cannot feel, not like Marie France understands emotion. If her potions have any effect on me, it’s unconventional to say the least.”

Now my heart is my throat, beating to gag me. “Unconventional in what way?” I manage. I realize Marie France wanted him to have feelings for me, which backfired big time. I sipped from that glass, too, and I’m falling for him. Crap.

“Seems it only intensifies what I normally feel – mostly anger.” He drains the scotch, and sets the glass on his desk, right by the antique lamp that burns low among neatly arranged documents. “But enough on the matter. Back to business. Since Mr. Podgor had to leave us before revealing something worthwhile, we took the liberty of searching his back office. We found this.”

He fishes what looks like a shiny wedding invitation from a pile, and walks over. He hands me the shiny thing, and drops into the armchair by my side, scotch in his hand. I look at what turns out to be an invitation indeed, only not to a wedding, but to an event at the Charlottenburg museum castle. “Science Evening – celebrate groundbreaking discoveries by candlelight”.

“What?” I hear myself exclaim, flipping the invitation around to glance at its silvery-framed back, as if the explanation of its existence in Boris’s office could be there. “Not the kind of thing you’d expect someone like Boris Podgor to get invited to,” I think out loud.

“Exactly,” Tristan murmurs, twirling the glass of scotch lightly. “Except if he’s got ties with people from the field, which we know he does – through Marie France Cassel, the Institute’s alchemist, at the very least.”

I narrow my eyes, looking at him. “Speaking of the Institute and alchemy. Aren’t they supposed to focus on psychosomatic research? Why do they mess around with chemistry? I mean, pharma – chemistry – is the domain of your company, which they try to prove useless with their psychology research.”

“Chemistry and psychology are related. Think anti-depressants and calmatives.” He runs his free hand through his hair. The way it catches the cozy lamp light, the orange dance of flames on liquid white gold . . .

I swallow hard and clear my throat. “You make it sound as if, in truth, there’s nothing beyond the physical. As if concepts such as mind, soul, dignity, aspirations are nothing but a mix of chemicals and –”

“No, it’s not like that.” His voice is softer than I’ve ever heard it. It sends a burn through my limbs, and I feel like freaking ice cream melting on his couch. It’s dark outside, the rain patters against the high windows, and I begin to realize the atmosphere is romantic. I’m alone in a fairy-tale library with the most powerful man on the continent, who happens to look like a fairy-tale prince, too.

He takes a deep breath and continues, his eyes on the dark window. “They’re trying to prove that, with proper psychological guidance, people don’t need drugs or any kind of chemicals in order to heal.” His eyes shift to my face, and my heart jumps. “They’re trying to prove that human mind can beat any disease by itself, with no input but from sunlight, wind, and water.”

***

Enjoyed this? Stay tuned for more! Subscribe to this blog, and follow me on Facebook and Twitter to be notified each time a new chapter is uploaded. Feel free to roam the site – it has many goodies to offer, from personality tests to HOT psych information.

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

 

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Tristan and Isolde Reloaded – Chapter X

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!

CHAPTER X

The driver walks me to a big metallic door. The visor opens, there’s a grunt, and the lid is slammed back shut. The door is yanked open, and a huge bouncer fills the doorframe, scowling down at us. He recognizes the driver, and escorts us to the wardrobe.

Standing there in my cream lace dress that hugs my body tightly from breasts to mid-knee, my hair a tail of locks bouncing heavy down my naked back with every step, I can’t believe the attention. Everybody in line stares, including the pack of security guards.

I can still feel their eyes on me as the big guy escorts us to a glass elevator that speeds to the highest floor. The elevator is practically a glass cage outside of the building, and while I’m in awe at the city lights, I can’t bear the sight for long. Heights freak me out. By the time the doors open to let us into an elegant foyer all dark wood and soft lights, my stomach has migrated to my throat.

Beyond the foyer, there’s the club. Unlike the one I used to work in, the scents that assault me are of expensive cologne instead of sweat and beer. Men are all fancy designer suits and women wear cocktail dresses, clustered around tables with candles and drinks. What fills my ears is the soft beats of dance instead of the raking house from my last workplace.

Mark Stahl waits in his wheelchair at a table at the far end, the skyline with its city lights shimmering behind him through the glass wall. I panic – am I supposed to peer into the abyss the entire time? My stomach churns, and I drop in a black leather chair by his side instead of across from him, my back to the glass. Bodyguards gather around our table, and Gertrude takes a seat close to Mark’s wheelchair, crossing her ankles like the Queen.

She and I lock eyes, and the enmity between us thickens. Even Mark picks it up. His pruned hand settles on my knee, his sleeve perfectly starched. He seems a mummy in a suit.

“You and Gertrude didn’t hit it off?” he asks in his robotic voice. I glance at the speaking device connected to his throat, then at his hand, and then at Gertrude’s shiny blond bob with white strands. I doubt she can hear us over the music.

“Let’s say we don’t have the best chemistry.”

He pats my knee. I shift, uncrossing and crossing my legs. He lifts his hand off me to allow the movement but, to my dismay, he places it back on my thigh when I settle. “You won’t have to put up with her for very long. I’ve chosen her as Tristan’s mate. She’ll be busy carrying beautiful babies soon, and she’ll leave our entourage for a while.”

I’ve chosen her as Tristan’s mate. That slaps me across the face, especially when I see the triumphant smile stretching on Gertrude’s. I look Mark up and down, barely hiding my bitterness. Luckily, he’s not looking at me but at Gertrude, a grin on his face as if he’s a proud granddad already. The Nazi goals are still deeply rooted inside of him, I see. Words tumble to the tip of my tongue, and I can’t keep them back.

“You think Tristan would have ugly babies if he were to mate with someone like me, for example?”

The grin wipes off Mark’s turtle face. The blotches on his skin seem yellow in the club lights. “Point taken. To prove that I’m not some racist prick, I’ll confess I’d like to go through the process of making children with you myself.”

The words make my flesh curl like I’ve just eaten lemon, and I think he notices. A sad smile pulls at the wrinkled corner of his mouth. “Don’t worry, I don’t intend to put this body on you.”

“What body then? Are you a shape shifter or something?” Then I realize what I’ve just said. I bite my lip and look away, my gaze bumping into an elegant man standing right across from us, his hair slicked back. He looks like an Italian Mafioso from the movies, white shirt hugging a well-fed body.

“Mark Stahl,” he booms, and I wince. His voice is so strong, his greeting covers the music. His accent is thick. “What an honor!” He drops in a leather chair across from us and glances around, a bit anxious. “Only ze fazer, or should I expect ze son as well?”

A retinue of bodyguards shifts behind him. Between their moving bodies I spot Tristan approaching us, and my heart jumps into my throat. His neckline is open, and his suit jacket wraps his fighter body so perfectly that for a moment I wish I were it. I shake my head to lose the stupid idea.

“I’m afraid this visit is a pleasure I chose to share with my son, dear Boris,” Mark says.

Tristan glides right behind him, arranging his sleeve cuffs as if he’s getting ready for a boxing match. Boris turns, startled, and his jeweled hand grabs on to the chair arm.

“Some party you got here,” Tristan says in his thick baritone that makes my senses vibrate. “I was disappointed not to receive an invitation.”

Boris’s knuckles turn white and, by his sagging face, I can tell he’s intimidated. “Stahl’s hit man.” He realizes he thought out loud, and takes in a sharp breath. His grip on the chair edge tightens, his rings biting into his flesh. “Sorry. But zere are stories about you.” He gives out a forced laugh when Tristan doesn’t say anything, but simply nails him down with his irises that seem ice bolts. “Not zat I believe half of zem, but you know how it is.”

It’s Mark’s robotic voice that replies. “Don’t believe the stories? You should. He earned his reputation.”

Tristan bends from his waist, making Boris flinch, but instead of head butting the man – which seemed to be his intention – he picks up his glass of scotch from the table. He drains it, all the while keeping his razor sharp eyes on Boris. The way his perfect marble skin stretches over the muscles in his neck . . .

Mark points to the fruit salad on the table, and Gertrude feeds him a grape, slowly. He bites into it, making the juice squirt.

“You’ve been playing a dangerous game, Boris.” He speaks while he’s chewing. The sound is gross. “You thought I wouldn’t find out about your plan with Marie France Cassel? The alchemy she tried to work on my son?” He motions faintly to the glass in Tristan’s hand.

The Adam’s apple in Boris’s throat glides up and down. He doesn’t dare look away from Tristan. “Marie who?” he babbles. Tristan slams the glass on the table. Both Boris and I jump from our seats.

“Are you playing with me, Podgor?” Mark’s robotic voice is now threatening. Boris starts to shake, and words jitter out of his mouth.

“She knew things about me. I’m afraid of the Institute, Mr. Stahl. They’re powerful people, and they create –” he glances at Tristan fearfully, “– men like him. Had I refused, it would’ve been the end of me and my business.”

“You’re afraid of them,” Mark says. “Then you should be terrified of us.”

There’s a shuffling of bodies behind Tristan and Boris. Their men exchange blows and shoves, but the whole thing is over before I can make much sense of it except that Tristan is now free to move as he pleases around Boris, the commotion now moving toward the exit. Tables are knocked down, people yell, and many run like there’s an earthquake.

Soon only the waiters and some customers from the bar are left around us, watching with open mouths, some frozen with drinks in their hands. Tristan doesn’t seem to care, he’s not trying to make a secret of himself or his skill. He grabs Boris’s wrist and twirls him around so fast the man stumbles and smashes his shin against the low table edge. I hear a groan and, before I know it, Boris is down on his knees, howling in pain as Tristan twists his arm behind his back. Tristan’s face is a cold mask, his blue eyes almost neon in the club lights. If looks could kill. The music has stopped, and I push back in my chair, scared stiff.

“I’m a very busy man, Boris,” Mark says in his viper-like manner. “I don’t have time to waste. What did she aim at with the chemistry she put into my son’s drink, and where do I find her again?”

“Your psycho son, the freak you fished from the corpses,” Boris howls. “He’s not invincible anymore.” His scrunched eyes snap open, his eyeballs reddened and full of hatred. I can see the muscles move under Tristan’s jacket, and Boris screams again.

“Go on,” Tristan demands calmly, unfazed. Boris still hesitates, grimacing. Tristan’s muscles move again, and this time Boris screams like he’s being nailed to a cross.

“You damned Frankenstein! You’ll be sorry for this!”

“If I had a penny for every time I heard that,” Tristan says. He bends to the man’s ear. “Start talking, worm, or I’ll make your bones snap.”

Boris looks at Mark as he speaks. Despite the pain, he grins. “Marie France has hi-jacked your perfect Aryan warrior.”

Mark’s pruned hand grips tighter to the rail arm of his wheelchair. It draws my attention because the thing creaks. “What the hell do you mean?”

Tristan twists the man’s arm harder, bringing him to the border of madness with pain. “No more wording games.”

Boris turns his face to him, grinning like a nutcase, as if the pain took his mind. “You’re going to know love, beast, and you’re going to know agony. You’re going to twist on the floor like a stabbed snake. Because –” He rises on his knees, bringing his nose an inch from Tristan’s. “You’re going to kill what you love, and you won’t know that you love it until it’s gone.”

Tristan straightens up, like he’s heard everything he needed to hear, and wasn’t either surprised or impressed. Not a muscle moves on his face. He releases Boris, and shoves him forward, making him buckle over the table. His neon blue eyes settle on Mark.

“You won’t get any more out of this one.” He glances at me, then at Gertrude. “Finish him.”

Before I can blink Gertrude leaps from her seat, hitches the white silk glove off of her right hand, and metal fingernails shoot out of the tips of her fingers. She grabs Boris by the hair, and claws his throat as fast as a bullet. The last thing I see is Boris’s stunned, open-mouthed face turn upward, his throat sliced open in three ragged lines, thickening with dark blood. They yawn wider, exposing his naked reddish muscle. He falls backwards, his blood pooling around Tristan’s shiny black shoes. Life drains from my head, and I black out.

 

***

Enjoyed this? Stay tuned for more! Subscribe to this blog, and follow me on Facebook and Twitter to be notified each time a new chapter is uploaded. Feel free to roam the site – it has many goodies to offer, from personality tests to HOT psych information.

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

 

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Tristan and Isolde Reloaded – Chapter IX

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!

CHAPTER IX 

I’m sitting on a stool in my room like a plastic doll, hands in my lap, staring at the clock on the wall. It feels like every move could destroy the perfect make-up and hair-do that professionals worked on for hours on end, swirling around me. So I haven’t moved since they left, waiting for Mark Stahl’s car. He said the driver would call when he’s here.

Nadine walks in, startling me. She places her briefcase on the floor and shuts the door furtively, as if she doesn’t want my brother Roland to know she’s home. The train speeds by the window, making the sidewall shudder.

Nadine drops to her knees before me and clutches my hands in hers.

“We need to talk.” The lines on her face bear the tiredness and worry of a stressful job. Stahl Enterprises has used her so intensely these past weeks that she hasn’t been home at all, always on the move.

“Hello to you, too, stranger,” I whisper as if just awoken from a dream.

“You need to get away from them, Isolde,” she warns. I notice her natural hairline like a tiara from which her red hair emerges, coiled in a business chignon. She hasn’t even had time to dye her hair.

“You mean Tristan and Mark?” I say matter-of-factly. I’m calmer than I should be, like I’m on crack or something. “There’s no running away from them.”

Nadine frowns. “Tristan and Mark? These two basically run the continent, Isolde, and you call them Tristan and Mark?”

I shrug. “I’m going out with the father tonight, aren’t I? It would be a bit awkward to call my date by his last name, or Sir, wouldn’t you say?” Bile rises up my throat, but I swallow it down.

She squeezes my hands tighter. “Isolde, what’s going on here? This isn’t like you. You’re not a gold digger, you don’t go kinky over old guys either, so why are you doing this?”

I press my lips together and look down at our hands. “It’s part of my job, Nadine.”

“Sleeping with that old turtle is part of the job?” she spits.

My lips curl bitterly. “Well, not just yet. They’re taking me along tonight because I might get to certain information easier than either of them. But later on . . .”

“Speaking of information.” Nadine reaches for her briefcase, opens it and shuffles through old looking papers. They’re yellow, translucent and a bit like unironed cloth. She drops them in my lap. I give her a questioning glance, and she motions with her chin towards them. “Behold and shudder.”

I frown down at the first paper. Columns with endless numbers, then names, then locations – I recognize Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen.

“These are prisoner numbers and names from the Holocaust,” I shriek. Some of them are highlighted with felt, obviously once neon-green, now faded.

Nadine glances over her shoulder and puts a finger to her lips. “Hush! Roland might hear you, and this is top secret information.”

“Then why are you showing it to me?” I push the papers back into her hands. “This could get you in an awful lot of trouble!”

“I’m already in trouble,” she says. She rises on her knees, her face now closer to mine, enhancing the air of secret. The words leave her mouth in short breaths. “If anything happens to me, I need someone else to know. Mark Stahl used to work for the Nazis. He’s ninety-six years old and very ill, but he’s keeping himself alive by means that he discovered back then.”

“I don’t understand.”

Nadine glances over her shoulder again, then brings her face even closer. “He used to be a Nazi doctor. And these –” she points to the papers now resting on top of her briefcase, “these were the people he worked on. He experimented on them and, when he got the results he was looking for, he used them on himself.” She grips my shoulders, her reddened eyes an inch from mine. “Isolde, the experiments made these people special.”

She picks up the pages and leafs through them with desperate fingers, as if she can’t find what she’s looking for fast enough. She finally points to a name, the pink polish on her fingernail chipped. “Viktor Schweizer. A doctor himself, a psychiatrist. Got rescued by the Americans. Once safe in the States, he wrote this.” She rummages in her briefcase, and fishes out a torn paper that she pushes in my hand. The lower edge is like the teeth of a shark, and the paper thin and fragile. “This is part of his report. Like most worthwhile information, it was never shared with the world.”

My pulse is so loud in my eardrums that it muffles the next train that makes the room quake. I pick up the paper and look down at it like it’s holy. “Where did you get this?”

I barely hear her voice over the scream of the train. “The American embassy. Viktor Schweizer is the ambassador’s right hand. I think he actually runs things from the shadow.”

“Nadine, how did you come upon all this?”

She gives me a clever grin, one of the few traces of sanity she has left. “I’m an investigative journalist, remember?”

I grip her hands in mine and look deep into her eyes, determined to talk sense into her. “You were careless, Nadine. Don’t you think Mark and Tristan had your activity monitored somehow?”

She snorts. “You mean like they wanted me to discover all this?”

“Not necessarily. But like they know that you did.”

Her brow furrows. “Then how come they didn’t try to stop me?”

My intuition, that for which Tristan first approached me, fires theories through my head like laser. The X file on top of the pyramid on Tristan’s desk flashes back at me. Viktor Schweizer, a psychiatrist. Mark Stahl once experimented on him in a concentration camp. The experiments worked. Now he’s back to take Stahl down – with new medical discoveries that will shake the world once released, and that will kill the entire pharma industry. I narrow my eyes. “Because Viktor Schweizer is the leader of the Institute for Psychosomatic Research.”

Nadine springs to her feet. “What?”

I nod. “You heard that right. Mark and Tristan have been trying to get to him since forever. It’s what they hired me for. Now it turns out they took you on their team for the same reason. They knew you’d be appalled when you started uncovering Mark’s dirty past, so they let you feel you were working against them, for the greater good. In truth, you’re taking them closer to Viktor Schweizer, who probably isn’t going out of his way trying fend off your investigations.” Intuition strikes again. I squint as if to peer through the man’s reasons and secrets, as if they’re hidden deep in Nadine’s face. “You’re a smart young woman with a fierce instinct for justice. The kind of person someone like Schweizer would enjoy to watch at work, and grow to trust. Sooner or later, he will make himself available to you.”

Nadine pulls a chair and sits across from me, folding her arms and opening her mouth, letting it sink in. She stares at the wall behind me. Another train screams by. Once silence sets in again, Nadine says, “And what part does Tristan play in this story?”

 

***

Enjoyed this? Stay tuned for more! Subscribe to this blog, and follow me on Facebook and Twitter to be notified each time a new chapter is uploaded. Feel free to roam the site – it has many goodies to offer, from personality tests to HOT psych information.

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

 

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Tristan and Isolde Reloaded – Chapter VIII

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!

CHAPTER VIII

It’s the third dress that I try on, the third one Gertrude dismisses. She stands there perched on her pumps, white jacket and pencil skirt perfectly starched, shiny blond bob flawless, ever-present white gloves covering her elegant hands. I wonder why she always wears them, but she intimidates me too badly to ask. Her expression is stern and sour, making me think of a woman General whenever our eyes meet.

I’m all twitchy and flustered because we’re at this mega high-class store surrounded by ridiculously expensive cocktail dresses, and Tristan is just walking to the glass doors from his bulletproof black car. I watch him and the bodyguards flanking him in the mirror. I recognize the bear-looking Demerol – he’s so hairy, he’s virtually furry; he’s taller and broader than Tristan, but it’s easy to see he fears his boss; he glances at him too often, as though he’s waiting for a pat on the head like a big dog.

Tristan is just about to walk in, and my heart rate speeds up. It’s that forbidding air of his that cuts me to the bone, I tell myself. He crosses the threshold, dressed in a dark gray suit that highlights his boxer build and authoritarian stance. His white blond hair is casually ruffled, his irises sparkle like ice, and his angular face looks so young and handsome it’s hard to believe he’s real. I surprise myself hoping he likes me in this dress – green always suited me, making my skin look good –, and fire whips up my cheeks. But, to my dismay, Tristan looks me up and down coldly.

“You’re not done yet?” His gaze turns to Gertrude, who shifts her weight from one leg to the other, at a loss.

“We’ll find something to suit her in a minute,” she mumbles.

“You’ve had hours. Time’s up.” Tristan walks to one of the trolleys and begins unhooking dresses from the rail. He tosses the first one away, right into Demerol’s hands, then another and another.

“Too slutty. Too widowy. Too slippery.” He freezes with the next dress in his hands. Holds it at an arm’s length, inspects it. Hands it to Gertrude, ignoring me. “This one.”

He walks over to the beige cushioned sofa and drops on it like the boss he is, pulling out his smart phone. Cheeks still burning, I take the hanger from Gertrude, barely daring to touch the expensive fabric like it’s a sacrilege. I draw the curtain to the fitting room, and breathe out in relief. This little bit of privacy is worth gold right now. Tristan’s presence takes such a toll on me that it’s hard work just being around him. I feel I have to watch my every move, my every word, my manners. Why do I even care what he thinks about me? I sure didn’t give a crap the first and second time we met. Only yesterday he had me betray my own brother, I should resent him like Black Death. But ever since the club night and Marie France’s potion I go giggly only when I think of him, and my voice fails me whenever he’s around.

The zipper gives me trouble. I grimace in the mirror, my arms twisted awkwardly behind my back, trying to get the darn thing to zip up. It’s too tight. My breasts almost spill out of the cups. I’m embarrassed to show myself in this strapless thing with my chest and shoulders bare, even though . . . I cock my head to the side.

The light inside the fitting room might be deceitful, but I like the way my Latina complexion contrasts with the cream-colored lace dress. I have far from perfect skin, and it rarely looks so complimented. Still, the dress is too small at the upper back, and it’s bursting at the seams at my hips. I decide to dismiss it, but that moment a head pops in.

“You done?”

I spin on an axis, and stumble backwards against the mirror. I slap my hand on my chest as my eyes find Gertrude’s face.

“God, you scared me.”

She measures me up and down. “She needs another one,” she calls over her shoulder.

“Why?” That’s Tristan’s voice.

“This one’s too tight. Not sure your father wants to make his appearance with –”

“Let her come out, I want to see.”

With a scowl Gertrude shoves in a pair of cream-colored stilettos that match the dress. “Put these on.”

I step into the shoes, take in a deep breath, and walk outside of the fitting room.

Tristan drops his smart phone and looks up at me with the cold gaze of a judge. I feel my cheeks catch fire like someone just bit them.

“It’s perfect,” he says. He’s sitting with an arm stretched over the back of the couch, legs apart, aggressive. His bodyguards stand flanking him behind the couch. He seems an Ice Prince indeed, powerful and defiant in his beauty. A vicious grin curls up his lips. “She looks exactly like she’s supposed to – the escort of an elderly billionaire, all tits and ass wrapped up properly.”

The contempt in his tone angers me. Before I know it I’ve stepped forward, and jutted out my chin. I haven’t been so bold since the day I met him. “Your father sees far more in me. I can help him get information from the Russian mobster, information that you, his son and chief of operations, cannot.”

Everybody in the room stiffens and holds their breath, from Gertrude to the bodyguards to the middle-aged saleswoman who’s frozen on the way to me holding a clutch that matches my dress. Tristan looks arctic daggers at me.

“Don’t make the mistake of thinking you understand Mark Stahl’s decisions, Isolde,” he purrs dangerously. “He’s wanted you on his team, yes, but remember that I remain the head of that team.” He bends from his waist and places his elbows on his knees. “To be honest, I think he likes you in a plain carnal way, Isolde. It’s been a while since he’s displayed a woman on his arm. Think about it – the mighty Mark Stahl, the man who’s kept out of sight for years, the man who runs the entire pharma industry from the shadow, wants to show you off as his escort. Doesn’t that make you wonder?” His tone drops, and he’s looking at me from under his eyebrows. “Maybe he’ll want you in his bed.”

Disgust explodes all over me. Then I hear myself say the most preposterous thing. “And how would you feel about that?”

He blinks. I realize I haven’t seen Tristan blink often, he always kept his stare inhumanly steady on me, but this time my words seem to take him by surprise. He leans back, his face regaining its cool expression in a moment. “I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s not like he’d marry you. He’ll use you and toss you away.”

I meant ‘would you be jealous,’ not ‘would you worry about your father’s heart’, but this response will do. It makes it clear once again that I’m no more than road kill to the Ice Prince. I sink my gaze and nod my head. My chest tightens so much it feels like a heavy ball, and I realize I want to hurt him. Badly. I feel the corners of my mouth curl downwards in a bitter expression. I keep my head down, and thereby my feelings to myself, bringing my hands together and pressing them against each other in front of my lower belly.

“Can he even, still, you know. I mean, he is old. And very ill.”

Tristan pauses. “Are you actually considering –?”

My eyes shoot up, finding his. The words fly out of my mouth. “I’m a virgin, Tristan.” That’s enough to stamp shock on his face, but I got more. “I figure, since I waited till twenty-six to be with a man, I might play my cards right and land myself an outrageously rich lover. Even if it’s short term, surely some advantage would come out of it.”

Tristan stares at me, while my blood seems to gurgle in my veins. I can’t believe what I’ve just said, the picture of myself that I’m painting for him. But I want to hurt him so badly, punish him for his indifference, for the brutal way he talks to me that I don’t care how I do it.

He gets up in a flash, so unexpectedly that I back off. He looks me up and down with an expression so cold that it’s impossible to gauge, and starts towards the exit. Demerol hurries to open the door for him and, as the bear-looking bodyguard holds it, Tristan stops and looks back at Gertrude.

“Make sure tonight Miss Isolde Molnar is primped according the special purpose she kindly shared with us.” He walks out the door, and tears of frustration creep up to my eyes.

***

Enjoyed this? Stay tuned for more! Subscribe to this blog, and follow me on Facebook and Twitter to be notified each time a new chapter is uploaded. Feel free to roam the site – it has many goodies to offer, from personality tests to HOT psych information.

Read the FIRST CHAPTER of Tristan and Isolde Reloaded here and the SECOND CHAPTER here, THIRD CHAPTER here, and CHAPTER IV here, and CHAPTER V here, CHAPTER VI here, and CHAPTER VII here.

Further chapters:

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

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Giveaway! Enter to win

Enter to win! That’s all you have to do. Solstice Publishing is celebrating Plots & Schemes Vol. 1 becoming a best seller in Germany during its release by giving away three autographed copies of the print edition of this fabulous anthology.

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/237966-plots-schemes-vol-1

All you have to do is click on the Goodreads link between May 26 and June 9 and enter. It’s that simple. Once the contest ends, Goodreads will notify us of the winners names and you will receive your copy.

plots & schemes-001

Her child vanishes in a puff of smoke.

When Murder is on the Itinerary

An eavesdropped comment leads to an impossible scheme!

Mysterious events pull Dana into danger.

A rock star’s murder leaves Emlyn Goode questioning everything she knows about herself.

Murder most foul puts this cop to the test

One murder, one plan, two possible outcomes.

Losing your mind is scary…

If you’re not at the beach, the Tough Luck stories will take you there.

Trail Town Texas leans heavily on their sheriff

 

Murder, kidnapping, mysterious events, and more are our treat to you in this wonderful anthology from Solstice Publishing. Discover the talents of K.C. Sprayberry, Debbie De Louise, Donna Alice Patton, E.B. Sullivan, Susan Lynn Solomon, Johnny Gunn, K.A. Meng, Leah Hamrick, Lois Crockett, and Stephy Smith.

 

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Here’s a little taste of what you’ll find inside this intriguing book!

 

A smile was on his face. Despite the fact that he was supposed to connect with the egg donor of this lovely child, he had no thoughts of doing that or returning the kid at the appointed time. His timing was perfect. The child—Lanie is such an idiotic name; I’ll have to come up with another one—would be five in a few days. In time, she would forget there had been his loser ex in her life. She—Sheila will regret divorcing me—had battered through his training, all he’d gone through to make her a compliant and complacent wife. She’d run away after he ordered her to get an abortion.

Good thing the bitch ignored me. I wouldn’t have this gorgeous child to raise to be like me.

Granted the child was weak now, but he would fix that, as soon as he made sure they vanished forever. No one would stop him from raising his daughter as he saw fit, and that meant keeping her away from her weakling of a mother.

Quietly, Mark Jannson, scion of the globally famous Jannson family, whose assets numbered in the billions, removed anything he considered important from his lavishly furnished thirty room mansion located in the mountains above Denver. His mother’s jewels were carefully packed into a leather satchel, to be given to his daughter, if she remained true to the Jannson name. The woman who called herself his mother had been consigned to a hovel in the southeast somewhere, once she showed her true colors by attempting to take him from his father.

“Let the bitch live in poverty the rest of her life,” he whispered.

 

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Tristan and Isolde Reloaded – Chapter VII

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!

CHAPTER VII

ISOLDE

Gertrude shoves me from behind, and I stumble over the threshold into Mark Stahl’s room. I refrain from swearing, and step to the side of the door, my eyes skimming over the pillars and vaulted ceiling.

The library downstairs where I met Tristan a few days ago knocked the air from my lungs, but I’m more resilient to the opulence of this old castle now, on second impact. Still, the place gives me an eerie feeling, a chill that makes my skin pucker. It’s like a cold whisper in my ear about things being done onto people within the confines of these walls.

There’s semi-darkness ahead. Curtains are drawn before ceiling-high windows, light only faintly making it through cracks between them here and there, licking the rug. Gertrude either has the eyes of a cat, or she knows her way around the room by heart, because she stalks confidently forward. I can see the sheen of her gloves and her patent leather shoes in the middle of the room, where she stops like a reporting soldier.

“The girl is here, as you requested, milord.”

Something creaks, like old wheels turning. A twisted shape emerges from the shadow, rolling forward. I open my eyes wider as it approaches, to see better, trying to make sense of this crumpled form. The brass spikes of wheels become clear on each side of it, then the rest of the . . . installation. I draw in a sharp breath and take a step back. My back hits the closed door.

Mark Stahl is in a wheelchair, surrounded by tubes, cables and devices. He’s like a mummy on mobile life-support, thick veins visible in his forearms and neck through flesh that looks like fruit left out to dry for far too long. He must be very old. Unnaturally old.

His glassy blue eyes, the liveliest part of him, inspect me up and down with interest. The device at his mouth – seemingly an oxygen mask – is removed with a high-tech buzz, and then he speaks. My nails pierce my palms. He sounds as old as he looks, his voice a scrape that seems to hurt his vocal cords with every word.

“Special, indeed.” His eyes lick over me. My hands claw into the fabric around my body. The whole day I’ve been clutching this darn old coat, but then again, this day has been the scariest of my life.

“Mr. Stahl,” I murmur, trying to keep my voice from jittering. “To what do I owe the honor?”

“The honor is all mine,” Mark Stahl says. Speaking seems to cause him pain, but still, he doesn’t spare words. “If you’re of such value to Marie France Cassel that she personally intervened in your life, then you’re of great value in yourself.”

He rolls closer, and I stiffen by the door. The closeness of this man is like the silent crawl of a viper. His leathery, blotchy hand reaches over, touching the rim of my coat like I’m a holy relic. There’s so much reverence in the way his fingers skim over it that I’m baffled.

“Isolde Molnar,” he whispers, “the girl who got the attention of gods.”

“The first of which was you,” I retort without thinking. A smile like a loose seam appears on his face.

“Tristan said you were a well of smart replies.”

Tristan. My heart starts in a gallop. I want to blurt out the questions, when did you adopt him, and from where, but I bite my lip. Mark Stahl looks at me from under his eyebrows, almost a cunning scowl.

“He also says Marie France wanted the glass that he’d drunk from. But I hear there was more than that involved. It was she who’d fixed his drink, your brother the bartender having been conveniently away from the bar – probably maneuvered by her people. Do you remember the exact alchemy she worked on my son’s scotch?”

Good question. I narrow my eyes, trying to remember. “I haven’t really paid attention, I was –” It hits me. “ – impaired.”

“In what way?”

I’d cut my hand, and Marie France might’ve squeezed my blood into your son’s drink; I might just be part of that alchemy. But I dread to say it. I don’t know what consequences it might have. Tristan is already unfriendly enough, and there’s this permanent thundercloud of violence hovering over him. I wouldn’t want it to explode in my face. “I was worried about the guys I was about to pass by. The ones who’d given Frany – Marie France – a hard time, and then me. I was studying them.”

“I hear my son took care of those pricks after your talk, yes?” He has a gentlemanly, protective tone. As if that’s what he educated Tristan to do, aid damsels in distress.

“Yes,” I whisper and lower my gaze. My chest caves in – I’d hoped Tristan had done it in a fit of jealousy. I’d hoped that he might feel attracted to me. I still hoped even on the hotel corridor less than an hour ago, when his features hardened as if he were made of metal, and his razor sharp blue eyes cut through me. The readiness of violence engraved in his face, his “I got nothing to lose and would stick my teeth in anyone who dares challenge me” expression, it had me chilled to the bones. But his young Scandinavian beauty still compelled me.

Mark puts his thin, dry hands on the wheels and creaks the wheelchair farther away from me. I wonder why the high-tech device makes these sounds, it looks new and powerful like a space ship. But then the entire life-support gear attached to it sways a bit as he rolls around, and I realize it’s too heavy for the chair to sustain.

“I’m going to be straight forward with you, Isolde,” he says heavily, his voice robotic. I notice he holds his hand to his neck, with another device. “You’re special. You drew our attention because you have unique talents that we saw good use for.”

My cheeks burn with embarrassment. I never could take a compliment. “I wouldn’t say –”

“You weren’t aware of these talents before you met Tristan,” he interrupts, and retreats even deeper in the shadow. “Isolde, my son and I, we know exactly why we want you working for us. But we don’t know why Marie France Cassel went through all that trouble to work alchemy between you and Tristan.” So he knows. His glassy blue gaze deepens. “There must be more to you than even we had expected.”

My face is now on fire. I have no idea how to react to this. “Thank you?” I whisper shyly, and put on what must be a dumb smile.

“No need to thank, Isolde. It’s a fact, not a compliment.” He measures me up and down with interest. “But you must beware. My son, Tristan, he’s special, too, and not in a good way. The family he comes from, you see, the genes.” His gaze fills with secretive meaning. His eyes are all I see now in a crack of light between the curtains. The rest of his face is obscured, like he’s wearing a facemask. “What Marie France did might’ve awoken evil feelings in Tristan toward you.”

That punches me in the chest. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell I’m road kill to Tristan. “I won’t lose my head for him, don’t worry,” I whisper.

“Good. I like to see a girl who stands fast even in the face of such painful beauty as my son’s.”

Painful beauty. Yes. I shake my head, open my mouth to say something, then reconsider.

“You know, Isolde,” Mark Stahl says in a subject-changing tone, “I’m sure we stand better chance of catching Marie France if you make your appearance by our side more often. She might come out in the open for you again. We will go visit Boris Podgor, this Russian mobster from the underground who infiltrated her, and I’d like you to come with us.” He turns his head slowly, indeed like an old viper, and scans me up and down. “Tristan will take you shopping. It’ll be a big night when we meet Mr. Podgor, and you’ll want to look your best.”

“I’m sure I can –”

“You need to look expensive. Opulent. I doubt your wardrobe contains anything proper.”

“You don’t have to –”

“Yes, I do. Just as I have to see Mr. Podgor in person, and with you on my arm.” He may be old as a turtle, but he sounds like a boss. I feel the need to lower my head.

“Thank you, Mr. Stahl.”

His tone softens even through that robotic device that helps him speak. “Please. Call me Mark.”

***

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Read the FIRST CHAPTER of Tristan and Isolde Reloaded here and the SECOND CHAPTER here, THIRD CHAPTER here, and CHAPTER IV here, and CHAPTER V here, CHAPTER VI here.

Further chapters:

 

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

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