The Devil’s Elixir – Chapter I (NEW Book Project)

Jumping up and down with joy, folks! A month ago I started a new book project that is advancing fast towards release, namely it should be out there by the 15th of June! But guess what–you guys get to enjoy it in advance, chapter by chapter (or, better yet, episode by episode) on here as an online series. This book can be read as a standalone, same as all of my books, since I don’t like to make my novels overly dependent on each other or condition my readers to read all of them. You can enjoy one or all of them if you choose to. This one is a sequel to The Executioner, Part One and Part Two already available on Amazon. Now this is what the sequel, The Devil’s Elixir, is about:

Leona Ignat is sex starved. She lives a secluded life as a teacher, and has occult abilities that abstinence sharpens. But when a mysterious stalker begins watching her from the shadow, Leona’s spells turn into deadly curses. Her powers run amok, and so do her hormones.

Nathaniel Sinclair is a monk. Gifted with all the allure of the forbidden fruit, Leona can’t help but lust after him. But Nathaniel is only here to protect her, and help re-channel her energies. He fights to keep her powers in balance and to find the shadow stalker, while Leona is faced with an even more dangerous villain—the consuming need to lead the world’s most resilient monk into temptation.

Enjoy CHAPTER I 🙂

THE MAN IN THE SHADOW

“You call this a teacher?” Pavel Tudose blurts. He’s the lecherous biology teacher at the Vocational School for Gypsies and Other Social Trash, as Leona calls it.

“Look at her!” He pulls Leona’s lapel, then lets go with disgust. “She sports the black outfit of a mourning governess, but the dress is so tight her tits might as well spill out.”

Leona looks him up and down. There’s a stain of sweat under Tudose’s armpit. He’s wearing the same slacks he’s worn all week, beard unkempt and eyebrows like bushes with dandruff. She keeps her hands together in front of her, her fingernails sinking into the back of either hand in order to keep from slapping him.

“I’m the only English teacher this shit hole could get,” Leona spews.

“Shit hole?” Tudose repeats, ostentatiously appalled. He turns to principal Serena Gheorghe, one finger still pointing at Leona, the stink of his sweat wafting over. “Did you hear that? You want that foul mouth teaching our teenagers?”

“You sure wanted this foul mouth all around your penis. When I made it clear it’ll never happen, you lost it and promised retribution,” Leona says, glaring at him.

“You little tramp,” Tudose exclaims, stricken that she dared tell. He moves to grab her, but Principal Gheorghe’s voice stops him.

“Remind me, Pavel, why did you bring Miss Ignat to my office?”

“You mean to tell me you forgot?” Tudose shrieks. “I caught her making out with a boy from 12 B just outside the classroom! He barely just turned eighteen!”

“Say what?” Leona exclaims. They hadn’t told her why she’d been summoned to the principal’s office until now.

“I remember that quite well, thank you. But I’ll need a name,” the principal demands.

“Armando Gabor.” Tudose throws Leona a vindictive look. “One of her own.”

He means also a gypsy.

The principal’s eyes fly over to Leona, narrowing. She’s a well-groomed woman in her fifties with a carefully designed chestnut perm and warm brown eyes, but now they cool with sternness.

“You’re not taking this guy seriously, are you?” Leona says, unable to control the volume of her voice anymore. “Armando Gabor is this school’s number one troublemaker, you know that. Yes, he grabbed me, yes, he does it often, he says things to me, like he says things to all young teachers, but we never made out! This is a gross lie!”

Doubt lifts from the principal’s face, and she nods at Leona. She knows the goods. Armando Gabor makes virtual headlines in this school every single day. Placing her hands on the desk the principal rises to her feet. Leona is grateful the woman finally takes charge, because her fingernails left searing scratches on the backs of her hands by now. Darn it, this scratching thing has turned into a nervous tic.

“Pavel, we’ve known each other a lifetime, and I treasure your dedication to this school,” Serena Gheorghe says. “You’ve always been willing to help these children form a set of values, but look at yourself now. You’re bullying your own colleague.” She pauses to let her words sink in. Beside Leona, Tudose is shaking with anger, his cheeks stained with red blotches. His blood pressure must have shot through the roof, sultry heat emanating from his body.

“This woman,” he grunts through his teeth, “has just called this school a shit hole. How can she possibly contribute anything of value with that mindset?”

Leona’s temper flares, and she makes a half-turn to him.

“Between you and me, you’re the useless one in this school.” She presses her own index finger into her own chest to mark every sentence. “I am one of these kids. I am a gypsy. I grew up in a family where the guts to break and enter, surprise a couple in bed and rob them was celebrated and respected. Where a woman worth marrying was illiterate. Where a real man was a pimp in a dark alleyway. I know these kids, I would have become like them, hadn’t someone given me a chance at a different perspective, at education. Yes, this place is a shit hole. But if anyone can help make it better, it’s people like me.”

Tudose’s eyes fill with hatred.

“You’ll never be anything but gypsy trash,” he grunts between his teeth. “The only thing worth a fuck about you is your ass.”

“Pavel!” Principal Gheorghe intervenes, outraged. As for Leona, this is where her reason shuts down. Anger boils in the pit of her stomach, and she can feel her whole face redden. She loses grip over her tongue. Before she knows it, she’s pointing at the biology teacher, her mouth moving of its own accord.

“You deserve to feel the flesh melt off of your bones like wax off a candle.”

Principal Gheorghe tries to appease her with light hands on her shoulders, but the bell rings, and Leona scurries out of the principal’s office before tears of frustration can flood her eyes.

She grabs the register for 12 B from the register cabinet and walks up to the classroom. This is where she has to put up with Armando Gabor’s brashness, twice a week. Today, though, she’s not up for it.

“Here’s our piece of crispy ass,” Armando shoots from the last desk by the wall. Leona tosses the register onto the teacher’s desk. She normally avoids his gaze, but all this strategy has ever accomplished so far was spur him on. Hell, for all she knows, he could be the one spreading the rumors about him and Leona making out on the school hallways.

Well, today things change. She grabs the edge of the desk with both hands, and shoots him a mortal glare, meeting his dark-russet look. He’s leering at her, his young gypsy face handsome if it weren’t for some teenage acne, his hair styled in a bad-boy ruffle. The tips of his hair are dyed blond. Leather jacket over a body that girls in the classroom drool over, shredded jeans and dirty boots, he’s sitting on the desk.

“Take a seat on the chair, Mr. Gabor.”

“I’m confortable like this. Might get even cozier if you come and join me.” He pats his thigh, then grabs his crotch.

“Take the chair, and I will.”

There’s sudden silence, while everyone stares with surprise spread over their faces. Whohohohoho they eventually burst, laughter and balls of paper flying all over the place. Only Armando’s jaw is still slackened, and he’s looking at Leona in shock.

“Do it,” she slurs. “And I’ll be right there.”

The class goes crazy, while Armando frowns, trying to understand what the hell is happening. Leona knows he’s much smarter than he lets on, so he surely expects there’s a catch. Still, he grabs the chair, drags it the necessary distance from the desk, and takes a seat. As promised, Leona squares her shoulders and walks over. She stops by his side, and bumps his thigh with her knee, nudging him.

“Be a gentleman.”

Armando offers his leg for her to sit, his features locking as he’s trying to hide his bewilderment.

“You.” She pats his desk mate’s shoulder, a chubby ginger haired kid with glasses. “To the blackboard, pick up the chalk, and write what I dictate.” She lets her arm glide over Armando’s shoulder while she talks, under his leather jacket to his back. Everyone stares, mouths open, the classroom so quiet only the rustle of paper here and there is audible. “Everyone, copy from the blackboard or, should Bobi here write it wrong, write as you know is correct.”

The chubby kid pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose and walks heavily to the blackboard. A “kick me” sign is still glued to his back, but no one cares right now. Leona puts up a far better show. Armando looks up at Leona, daring a naughty grin and opening his mouth to say something, but she holds up a finger to stop him, without touching his lips.

“Do not speak, hunk,” she says, loud enough for the class to hear. “But when everyone’s looking away, you may start to touch me.”

The Inspectorate will catch fire when they hear about this, but to hell with it. She’s not gonna help any of these kids by patting their heads. For years it has been tried and tried and tried again, and they’re still ending up being pimped and dealt to in dark alleyways. They need someone who speaks their own language. Someone who’ll buy their crack and then slap them over the face with it.

She turns her attention to Bobi, her fingers already finding the area on Armando’s back.

“Go ahead, Bobi, write this: I. Shall. Not—” She speaks slowly, giving the kid time to write. She’s ready with her fingers around the right spot on Armando’s spine. As expected, Armando can’t believe his luck, and his hand touches her knee, going up her thigh, over her black pencil dress. Everybody is looking, more or less obviously, as expected.

“—touch my teacher in the manner I would touch a lover.” She says the words slowly, pressing hard enough for her fingers to activate the spots on Armando’s spine through his t-shirt. The young man’s features distort as he realizes something’s wrong.

“What the fuck,” he cries when he notices his fingers cramp and crumple, stiffening in the shape of claws. The grin stretches over Leona’s face as she drives her fingers harder into the nerves around his spine, drilling through the kid’s taut flesh.

“I shall not touch my teacher in the manner I would touch a lover,” she repeats like a spell. Armando jumps up from the chair, causing her to stumble from his lap. He’s thrashing around with his fingers still clawed.

Getting off the floor and cursing inwardly for the glitch, Leona continues to chant. “I shall not touch my teacher in the manner I would touch a lover. Or my hand will wither and fall off. I shall not speak to my teachers in the manner I would speak to stray dogs, or my tongue will dry and die. I shall not grab a girl against her will, or my cock will prune out and hang like a rag in the wind.”

She imagines that last part would be funny, if everyone weren’t so stunned at what’s happening with Armando. Girls and a few boys start screaming, while he begs, “Please, please, make this go away!”

Leona grins. “I would have to touch you again. But I imagine you don’t want my hands on your body anymore, do you?”

“Just fix this!”

“Come here.” Leona beckons him over with her finger. He hesitates, then gives his own hand a scared look and hurries over. He’s a head taller than Leona, and she realizes she might have to fear his retribution when his shock and fear subside, but now the fireball is on the roll. She winds her arms around Armando to make it look like a hug, hands going inconspicuously under his jacket from his waist. She drives her fingers into the right spot, and his begin to regain flexibility.

“Remember,” she whispers into the kid’s ear. “I know what spots to hit to make everything else I said happen, too.”

Released from the embrace, Armando looks at his hand, then at Leona. His eyes narrow, but not in the dangerous expression she expected—the boy is curious how she did it. Maybe there’s still hope for his future, as outrageous as this would sound to other teachers.

“Go back to your place, now, please,” she says, turning her back on him and walking behind her desk.

With a satisfied smile, Leona turns her attention to the stunned Bobi. When the kid meets her gaze he closes his mouth, pushes his glasses up his nose, and swallows audibly. She approaches the blackboard, inspecting the words he’d written: “I shall not touch my te.” He didn’t get to finish, of course, his attention sucked towards Armando when he’d started screaming. She didn’t expect any less than perfect spelling, really. Bobi is as close to a nerd as they come in this place.

“Now, let us finish that sentence,” she says.

***

 

Late in the evening, as Leona’s steps echo along the corridor towards the exit, and the lights go out in her wake, fear begins to nestle in the pit of her stomach. What if Armando Gabor got over the stun already, been through the relief stage and by now decided he wants retribution? In the end, she did humiliate him in front of the entire class. He was the badass leader, and now she made a fool out of him.

She stops in front of the exit door, clutching the handle of her briefcase tighter. She straightens her back. You won’t let these pricks intimidate the shit out of you. She places a hand on the rusty door latch, scrutinizing the schoolyard beyond it through the bars that protect the glass.

A screeching sound draws her attention from behind, making her look over her shoulder. The door to the students’ closet is ajar, moving loosely in the draught and evoking the start of a horror movie in Leona’s mind.

Unable to resist, Leona heads for the closet. The only company she finds is her own reflection in the mirror, which is cracked at one corner, and smeared with prints and other sticky stuff. Low moans seem to come from the last stall and, though her heart is thudding in anxiety, she can’t fight the urge to walk over. Someone might be in trouble, and the only help around at this hour is her. The janitor is probably lying drunk in the small storeroom at the other end of the hallway.

By the time she reaches the last stall the moans have stopped. Leona stays in front of the door, the line of blackness between it and the doorframe an invitation for her to push it open. Her heart beats faster, as if it knows something terrible awaits beyond it. Her fingers tremble as they touch the dirty stall door and give it a slight push, which reveals someone’s foot with a worn shoe. Seems the person is slouched by the toilet. Panicking, Leona pushes the door all the way.

It bumps into the person’s other foot instead of the wall, but it’s enough for Leona to take in the full view—Pavel Tudose is on his butt with his back at the toilet, head tilted backwards over the toilet seat, half his face, beefy neck and upper part of his chest crumpled as if the flesh has disintegrated. His tongue sticks out of his mouth, blackened and porous, still gurgling with some kind of pus, as if worms are eating it away. Leona gives out a sharp cry, her first thought being her own words for him in the principal’s office. But then her terrified gaze lowers to the large stain of blood on his shirt at the level of his stomach, and she understands this has been murder. A murder committed in the exact fashion of her curse. She notices a sandglass shaped bottle in his hand, but her time has run out. Blood rushes from her head to her feet, and she blacks out.

***

 

 

Leona is sitting on a sofa in the teachers’ lounge, a blanket around her shoulders, rocking back and forth. Her mind has been blank for a while now, and her stare fixed on the floor tiles. She’s loosened the tight bun that she’s normally wearing on top of her head, releasing the strain at the root of her hair, her thick black mane draped over one shoulder to the side.

She’s aware of the policemen swarming about the place, the spinning lights that play on her cheek, the fill of voices and rip of tape they use to seal crime scenes. Apparently they keep finding evidence related to the murder, drops of blood, and did they say acid?

“The bottle in his hand contained acid,” she hears the detective repeat somewhere close to her. She lifts her eyelids to see he’s speaking to principal Serena Gheorghe. The woman is bracing herself, her shiny perm a bit messy from all the times she’s run her hand through it.

“We still have to determine whether it bears the prints of anyone else besides the victim himself,” the detective concludes. Leona catches him glance at her and, noticing she’s back to herself, he heads over.

“I already told you everything I know,” she says in a cracked voice as the heavy man hunkers down before her, the hem of his worn-out beige coat splaying over the floor. He’s got salt-and-pepper stubble, receding hair, and drooping, detached eyes. He doesn’t seem moved by any of this.

“People tend to remember details as the shock lessens, ma’am,” he says in the same impassible voice he’s interrogated her in just half an hour before. “Just thought I’d make sure there isn’t anything that came back to you and that you might want to share.”

Leona gives him a tired smile, now looking him directly in the face. She still doesn’t feel anything, not dread, not sadness, not anger, but she is a bit amused. “You suspect of me, don’t you? At the very least you think I’m hiding something.”

“Are you?”

Leona shrugs. “Why would I? It would only make my own life difficult, isn’t it?”

The detective keeps looking at her, saying nothing, his gaze impossible to interpret. Well, Leona could care less if she’s a suspect or not. She’s so tired all she wants is to sleep for like a decade or so.

“Listen,” she says, her shoulders sagging. “I know that hiding anything or making things up would only make this hard on me. Plus that I watched enough Navy CIS to know you guys have a lot of tricks in the book, and I’m no match for them.”

“You might be quite a match,” the detective says. “Your ex-boyfriend, Inspector Hector Varlam, must have taught you a thing or two.”

The name snaps in Leona’s head. “Mr.—” Did he even introduce himself yet?

“Marin. Detective Constantin Marin.”

“Well, Detective Marin, Hector Varlam was never really my boyfriend, and he’s been out of the picture for three years now. I spent two of those years in a monastery to get over that part of my story. He did bring quite a few things into my life but, I assure you, tips and tricks to get away with murder weren’t among them.”

“But an unhealthy obsession was, right?”

“What do you mean? I wasn’t—”

“Obsessed with him? Maybe not. But you seem to have sparked obsession in him.”

This can’t be right. “What makes you say that?”

The detective motions with his head curtly in the general direction behind him. “See that woman over there?”

Glancing in that direction, Leona sees Pavel Tudose’s wife crying and gesticulating between two police officers, right this moment actually pointing at Leona. She can’t hear what the woman is saying, the acoustics in the teachers’ lounge has always been crappy, and now with so many people it’s impossible to hear that far. But her hatred of Leona is alight in her distorted face.

“According to her,” the detective continues, “her husband has been keeping pictures of you in a box under a plant in his study. The wife discovered them a few days ago and confronted him, but that only led to domestic violence. Apparently, the man was stalking you, and some of the pictures even have traces of semen on them.”

Leona’s flesh creases, and her nose too.

“Now, connecting two obsessed men and the acid,” the inspector goes on. “It was said acid that made the victim’s flesh melt off his bones. Those were the words you used when you cursed him, right? Well, at first glance it looked like, in his madness for you, he offered himself as sacrifice to your fantasies, but the stab in the stomach ruled that version out. Someone killed him, someone crazy enough about you to be capable of murder.”

That someone would be so crazy about her

“But if the murderer could have made this look like suicide, why not only use the acid? Why stab the man and make murder only more obvious?”

“It actually makes a whole lot of sense.”

“Say what?”

For the first time the detective’s face betrays emotion. His drooping eyes sparkle, like he thinks he’s on to something. “I think this murder is an offering to you, and the perpetrator wanted you to know it.” He leans in so close that Leona can smell the scent of cigarettes on him. “I think the murderer is an obsessed stalker, namely Hector Varlam, Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like you to—”

“Actually, she does mind,” a deep voice rumbles from the crowd. That voice is enough to make Leona’s heart jump into her throat.

She looks up to see Viscount Nathaniel Sinclair make his way among the people in the teachers’ lounge. His overly muscular figure in a black shirt grows larger and larger as he approaches. People move out of his way with open mouths, and some even go, “wow,” “I’ll be damned,” and “what the fuck!” And no wonder, really. The Viscount isn’t your average gym pump, he seems a real-life Hulk, one with a handsome face and slightly dark skin, making it impossible to place his origin beyond “somewhere exotic”.

“And who are you, if I may ask?” detective Marin says, doing his best to hide his bewilderment. He gets heavily back to his feet.

“Tell him, Miss Ignat. Who am I?” Nathaniel’s sparkling eyes meet Leona’s awe-struck face. They make such a contrast to his skin that it’s compelling for any human’s eye. Leona’s throat goes dry. She’s often slapped herself inwardly for the sin of lusting after him, since he’s basically a freaking monk. What a freaking waste….

“He is….” What is she supposed to say?

“I am her spiritual adviser and confessor,” Nathaniel says and offers the detective his hand, since Leona is consistently failing to speak.

“Oh, a priest, then?” The detective measures Nathaniel up and down. Detective Marin is fleshy, and he sports a worthy gut, but he’s half the Viscount’s bulk, and two heads smaller. “You don’t look like a priest.”

Actually he does, in some weird way. The black clothing he always wears, even his huge, protective bulk. He has a strange, compelling beauty though, which gives him the hellish sex appeal of the forbidden fruit.

“I’m of a less known confession,” Nathaniel rumbles softly.

“But why are you here? Did Miss Ignat confess to you anything she should now tell me?” Marin looks at Leona with a suspicious frown.

“No, detective, I assure you. But Miss Ignat has been in the monastery for a reason, and that was to process the trauma Hector Varlam had put her through. As you probably imagine, I’d like to avoid that trauma returning.”

“Well, I don’t know the details of her relationship with my former colleague, but if it was a traumatic one, shouldn’t she have turned to a shrink instead of a priest?”

“Mr. Sinclair was all the support I needed,” Leona intervenes, also getting to her feet. Her knees are shaking, and she gathers the blanket tighter around herself to mask it.

In truth, Nathaniel never spent time with Leona at the monastery, even though she worshipped him like a god and lived for the glimpses she got of him. Every time he’d glance in her general direction she’d cling to hope, but he looked away without a twitch on his face, and she remembers that painfully well.

“I would like you to stay in town and available at all times, Miss Ignat,” the detective says from behind Leona as she starts pacing towards Nathaniel, blanket even tighter around her. Excitement swells in her chest as he places his huge, warm hand on the small of her back.

“You will have access to her, detective,” Nathaniel says. “But it will have to go through me.” He hands the inspector a business card, which the detective flips over and then again over.

“You also happen to be a lawyer, Mr. Sinclair?”

With a cordial smile for the detective, Nathaniel’s warm hand applies a little pressure to the small of Leona’s back, and she starts walking. All her colleagues, their families, friends and police staff are staring as she and Nathaniel leave the teachers’ lounge, his bulk a huge guardian by the side of her slim figure.

“I gather they never saw you in the company of a man before,” he says in a low voice. It’s the first time she hears it in years.

“You made it pretty clear that male company is to remain a no-no for me.”

“I’m glad to see you didn’t disregard my instructions.”

“Come on, Viscount. You would have found out, and confined me back between the monastery walls in no time.”

Leona and Nathaniel emerge under the overhang outside the teachers’ lounge, rain pouring down beyond it, thick bubbles splashing onto the cracked asphalt in the small courtyard that surrounds the teachers’ exit.

“Why didn’t you use this exit when you were leaving the school earlier this evening?” Nathaniel inquires calmly. Leona’s chest tightens, and she turns halfway to look up at his face.

“The janitor had already locked it. Why? You suspect of me, too?”

His bright irises fix her face directly, making the muscles in her core clench. “I hear you cursed him in the principal’s office. Considering your talents, a direct influence isn’t excluded.”

He presses the button on the umbrella stick in his other hand, and the umbrella opens above them. He shields Leona from the rain until they reach his car, where he opens the door for her to get in. His presence strains poor Leona’s starved hormones. She grabs the edges of the blanket tightly and reminds herself that, even if she hadn’t sworn off sex forever, Viscount Nathaniel Sinclair is as much off limits as Jesus Christ.

Still, she masochistically enjoys the prickle in her stomach as he slips into the driver’s seat, making the car tilt. But after only a few minutes she begins to wonder about their destination. The pouring rain leaves thick rivulets on the side windows, blurring the nightly city lights, teaming up with the sound of the wipers.

“Where are we going?” she says.

“I’m taking you home,” he replies in his gentlemanly tone. “Then we’ll have a talk.”

“You want to talk at my place?”

“Where else?”

Leona turns to the side, with her shoulder against the back of her seat to face him.

“If I remember correctly, you avoided being seen at all, let alone with someone, even less with a woman. Your identity as head of the Order of Lords is top secret. You mean to tell me that, after you made an appearance worthy of a stage back at school, you want to take it up a notch and make a show at my place, too?”

He frowns at the road. “Your place is safe. I made sure about that.”

Made sure?” It hits her. “Oh,” she whispers as understanding deepens. “You have me monitored. I thought you trusted me.”

“I can’t trust anyone who knows the Order’s secrets, Leona. Not after everything that happened with the Executioner, and sure as hell not after I found you in bed with the chief villain, inspector Hector Varlam.” He throws her a glance. “That’s how we first met, remember?”

The shame from that night strikes, weighing like a stone in Leona’s chest. She drops her eyes to her shoes. The motion of the car makes her sick, but she can’t look at Nathaniel right now.

“Well, I suppose I should thank you for watching over me. If it weren’t for you, I would have ended up in police custody tonight for sure. But, as you may know, I live with my aunt in an old house in the peninsula, which we share with a big gypsy family. Everyone would see you, plus that I’m not allowed to bring men at home.”

She still can’t look at Nathaniel, but she feels his sparkling gaze on her head. “I know who you live with. As I know that you’re not allowed to cross the threshold in male company, and that you’re not allowed to spend nights out.”

Leona looks up at him as she understands more and more of this. “I never actually had a chance, vow or no vow at the monastery, did I? The gypsy family, they’re your people, right?”

“We can talk here,” Nathaniel changes the subject abruptly, pulling over in front of the old dilapidated building that is Leona’s house. He lets the engine run, probably because it’s obvious she needs the heat by the way she keeps the blanket about her, and makes herself small in her seat. Thank God he doesn’t know she’s shivering because of him.

“How come you stepped in personally, Viscount?” she says. “Your identity is such sensitive information. A few years ago you wouldn’t have intervened for matters much more serious than this.”

“This matter is way more serious than you imagine.” Gravity deepens his gaze. “In one thing I agree with Detective Marin. Whoever killed your colleague, they did it for you.” He pauses, giving his following words more weight. “Either a secret admirer of yours killed the man out of jealousy or out of obsession for you, Hector Varlam being among the suspects. Or you killed the man yourself—these are the two scenarios that detective Marin would choose from. To me, there’s also a third possibility. One that has to do with your curse.”

“The curse? The man was stabbed in the gut! It was clearly murder.”

“Magic doesn’t work the way people expect it to,” Nathaniel says. “It makes things tie together, often in very logical ways. Your curse could have put the murderer in there with Mr. Tudose. It could have attracted the murderer into his life, so to say. Anyway, I’m glad to see you got over the shock of discovering him in that closet.”

“I’d be lying to say Tudose’s death makes me in any way sad. Since you’re so well informed regarding my life, did you know he tried to force my head into his lap once when he brought me home in his car?”

The muscles in Nathaniel’s arms flex, and his eyes gleam like a panther’s ready to attack. It lights a spark in the pit of Leona’s stomach, seeing him so ready to protect her.

“Why didn’t you notify the Order?” he demands, his tone now hard, contrasting with the soft-spoken giant from moments before.

“What would you have done?” she whispers, searching his eyes. She hungers for his answer. How would he have defended her?

“I would have sent my men to extract him from your life. You don’t have to put up with abuse.”

The expectation in her chest deflates. Not exactly the answer she dreamed to hear. She forces herself to look away from him before he can read the disappointment in her face. But the moment she shifts her gaze she notices two strange figures at the entrance to the neighborhood bar.

The Gossip Parlor is a meeting place for wild students and some older drunks seeking to impress the youngsters with made-up adventure stories. Loud rock music shakes the bar, and cigarette smoke floats so thick you could cut it with a knife. Leona has only been there once or twice to get vodka for her aunt late at night when all other stores were closed, but the patrons are regulars from the neighborhood. They all know her, and she knows them. All wild and loud, but decent, really. Which is why the two hooded figures looking like dealer and client surprise her. She catches a glimpse of one of the men as he looks anxiously over his shoulder, and her jaw drops.

***

Stay tuned for a new chapter next week loves 🙂 Until then, you can enjoy any of my other books, all available for you here. Two of them are even on promotion today, available, for 0,99!

 

 

 

 

FREE ROMANCE for everyone!

Hello, dear peeps! I have some awesome goodies for you today. Lots of hot, hot, hot FREE reads – because sharing is caring, and I love sharing the good stuff with you guys. Click HERE and see the Heart Pounding Romance Giveaway list with all the gems it has to offer. Hyperion-The Assassin is among them, so grab your copy if you haven’t gotten one yet.

Stay tuned for more free reads this month! Soon I will be sharing with you Spooktacular stories, part of a special Halloween themed project that I’m part of. Can’t wait to tell you more, very soon 🙂

Hugs,

Ana

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. 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 – 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

 

Pic source.

 

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

 

Pic source.

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?”

 

***

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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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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.”

***

 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.

Further chapters:

 

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

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Tristan and Isolde Reloaded – Chapter VI

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 VI

TRISTAN

Isolde’s brother sleeps with rich women for money. With his designer muscles from Men’s Gym and his Latino tan, he’s perfect for the jobs he does – callboy and bar buffoon. To be frank, I think he actually likes screwing older ladies.

He beams a perfectly white smile at the wilted Marilyn he meets in the hotel lobby, her lips puckered under red lipstick. By the way he scans her up and down, I think he’s looking forward to stripping her of the white fur coat covering her from shoulders to ankles. She’s the one who’d recommended “Frany C.” – Marie France Cassel – to him, asking him to get the woman hired at the club. And she’s the one who’ll lead us to her again. As was to be expected, Ms. Cassel never made her appearance again at the club after the night she manipulated my drink.

Isolde sits across from me, gathering her coat tighter around her body. She’s uncomfortable, obviously. She’s watching her brother through the glass wall that separates lounge from lobby with a look of guilt on her face – in the end, she betrayed to me the time and place these two would meet.

“You did it for his own good,” I remind her in an even tone. She just nods, and presses her lips together. Doesn’t look at me, which makes me ball my fist on my thigh. I want her looking at me when I’m talking to her. As if she senses it, she braces herself rigidly, and casts her eyes down. She makes herself smaller in her armchair, like she’s hiding.

“Relax. He can’t see you here, the pane is a mirror on the other side,” I sneer.

Again just a short nod. It hits me, and I can’t keep back a sour grin. She’s not hiding from him, but from me.

I rest back in my armchair, and study the side of her face that she offers. She has the same Latino complexion as her brother but, other than that, they aren’t very much alike. Her features are finer, her lips darker, and the small craters in her cheeks – probably the marks of chicken pox – make her look pleasantly vulnerable. Little animal. I breathe in her scent that makes me think of a stable. And lilac.

“Get used to this, Isolde.” I feel wicked satisfaction as I say the words. She’ll betray everyone and, before this is over, the only one she’ll have left will be me. “You’ll bait many people working for me. This is only the beginning.”

Demerol walks on the other side of the pane and gives the inconspicuous signal that it’s time. I push myself up from the armchair. Behind me, the men grab Isolde from her seat and urge her to follow. I know every move that takes place behind me, I can “read” the shift of air against the skin on my nape, but I still feel the need to turn. To look at her, see those wet doe eyes beg me not to do this. I curse under my breath and steel myself against it.

The elevator ascends smoothly, the numbers blinking green as we ride to the floor where Roland is banging Marilyn. We wait on the corridor outside their room for a while, my men sending away anyone walking out of the elevator to get to their rooms. When they protest, Demerol invokes a mission of the Secret Services. By the look of us except of Isolde, the story isn’t hard to buy.

I glance at my watch. Half an hour, the cameras must’ve gotten enough by now. I look at the men by the door, motion with my chin, and the one closest produces a fine wire from between his fingers. He’s dexterous with that, he used to steal cars before I recruited him. He works the lock and opens the door silently. The others follow him in, and the woman inside shrieks.

As I make to cross the threshold Isolde grabs my wrist. I stiffen and look down at her, arching an eyebrow at her boldness. She releases my hand and drops her gaze.

“He’ll never forgive me for this,” she whispers. She’s shivering. I look away and make to step in again. My men shove her from behind, signalling her to follow me. She resists.

“Don’t make me do this, Tristan,” she pleads. “He doesn’t have to know it was me who made this happen.”

Against all odds, I find myself wanting to concede. I grit my teeth. “Fine, stay here.”

I walk in coolly, my fingers skimming over the white fur hanging on a chair at the tea table. The woman stands on her knees on the bed, I see her from the corner of my eye. Roland, Isolde’s brother, is fully naked, my men holding him back by the arms against the carved wood headboard, a silken pillow resting against his private parts. The canopy hangs flowingly from the bed frame.

“Well, Mrs. Simova,” I slur as I pace, hand caressing the fur. “I’m sure your husband – the man who paid for this fine coat, that fat designer bag and, I’m sure, unknowingly, also for your lover – would very much hate to –” I pluck the small camera from the vase on the table, “ – discover who his trusted wife of over twenty years really is.”

The woman clutches the silken sheet above her breasts, her ash-blond Marilyn locks ravished, the skin on her arms sagging.

“Who are you? Why are you doing this?” she babbles desperately, her eyes darting around at the men in black who now flash more cameras in her face, producing more proof. Roland jerks from the men’s hold toward me, but they keep him back. His pumped up Latino chest heaves, and I barely refrain from ordering him thrown in the cages. Let him try to take it out on me there, the piece of shit.

“You bastard!” He glowers and wriggles. “You come in here with a whole squad to threaten a poor naked woman?”

I snort, which comes out more like a laugh full of contempt. “Poor isn’t exactly a word I’d choose to describe Mrs. Simova, young man. In fact, it’s the opposite of it that lured you to this bed, is it not?”

His knitted eyebrows form one dark line that now quivers like he’s confused. It must be the way I talk, it throws many off balance. It’s a mark of the old day I haven’t quite gotten to master over the years.

“I’ll leave out the pleasantries.” I stop by the end of the bed, squaring my shoulders. Demerol throws the picture of Marie France Cassel on the bed, right under Mrs. Simova’s nose. “You had this young man find this woman a job at the nightclub. Her true intention was to get to me, and manipulate my drink. She succeeded, and disappeared. Where do I find her now?”

Mrs. Simova takes the picture in her trembling fingers, the other hand still holding tightly to the sheet above her chest. I scan her and her much younger lover. They seem two maggots on the bed, slimy and stinking. It would be so easy to squash them. And hell knows they deserve it, both of them. Maybe I’ll send those pictures to the woman’s husband anyway when this is all over. And the callboy, I could throw down in a cage, feed him to the Dutchman. Isolde wouldn’t know, she’d be long cold by then. My insides knot at the image of her lying stiff in a coffin, and rage burns in my fists.

“Talk,” I thunder, and the woman winces.

“Frany, yes, she used to be my maid,” the woman babbles. “My husband was unhappy with her.” She gives me a meaningful, almost reprimanding look under her fine eyebrows, which are barely more than faint blond lines on a face like crumpled paper. “I’m not the only one with guilty pleasures, you see. He’s been screwing secretaries and maids for a lifetime, and this one wouldn’t give in.”

I nod, unimpressed. “Go on. I don’t have all day.” I didn’t come here with a squad to intimidate a woman and her paid lover, indeed. I’m going straight after Cassel when this is done, and I expect she has serious back up from the Institute. In the end, they create men like me.

“I don’t know where she is or what she does now,” the woman bursts in obvious despair. “I swear, I don’t.”

“No need to panic,” I say coolly. “I’ll just take the next best lead. Who got her into your house?”

She frowns. “Excuse me?”

“Who recommended her to you?” I flash a glance at Roland. “I was in contact with his sister. So Ms. Cassel must’ve known you were seeing him, and she manipulated her way into your house. So who got her working for you?”

The woman ponders. I’m sure she sees my point. “Boris Podgor, my husband’s partner. He owns a Russian restaurant down in Mitte.”

Connections bolt through my head. Boris Podgor, a Moscow scumbag who trades girls and crocodile in the underground. Particularly nasty. “Thank you, Mrs. Simova.”

I throw the tiny camera device on the bed, spin round and head for the door. Behind me, the men shift and shuffle, expertly removing all proof of our presence there, starting with the cameras. On the corridor I encounter Isolde. I make to stomp by her, and she withdraws by the wall, still clutching her coat tightly around her. Her lips form a distorted line – is she crying, or is she disgusted with me? At that thought I stop brusquely. My face snaps to her, and I can feel current flash in my eyes.

“Thank you for your cooperation.” I sound cold as ice, but on the inside I’m bustling with hot rage. Rage because I want to sink my fingers in her thick messy bun, pull her head back and bite into her full, dark lower lip until I taste blood. For a moment I picture pulling her into the next room, throwing her on the bed, and ripping her clothes off. Subduing her, branding her mine. Like cattle, she’ll be put to death when the time comes, that’s inevitable, but until then I can consume the heat of her body, the essence between her thighs. The Dutchman roars, my rod stiffens with an urgent need to feel her skin on mine. It’s so strong it clouds my head, and it’s so new I don’t bother to understand it. Just this once.

I reach for her, but the elevator doors zing open, and Gertrude walks out of it, one silky, toned leg in front of the other. She’s wearing a pencil skirt, shiny pantyhose and patent leather shoes. She’s been trying real hard to impress me, but she fails every time. Her white silk gloves give out a smooth sheen in the corridor light. She throws Isolde a bad glance.

“Your father wants to see her,” she tells me. “Right away.”

***

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.

Further chapters:

 

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

Pic source.

 

Cover decision – which one?

Hyperion – The Assassin is going to be released in only a few weeks! I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to finally release this story of an ancient assassin who gets entangled in a love story with his target’s wife as a stand alone. Can’t wait to share with you the story of Hyperion and Ligia! But now, the question is – which of these two covers should we go for? How about you make the decision. Which one do you prefer? I’m looking forward to reading from you!

Tristan and Isolde Reloaded – Chapter II

Blurb:

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 II

Tristan Stahl is a villain. He provides the mafia with opiates, hallucinogens and the finest prescription drugs, and that’s not the end of it. It’s not the Russians, Mexican cartels or Kosovar thugs – it’s big pharma, under Stahl’s command. It’s not dealers at street corners or in dumps full of smoke and wasted losers – it’s deliveries in bulletproof vehicles and distribution in exclusive rooftop clubs. That’s the information Roland got me from his connections to the underground.

Stahl does have the power to fuck up my life completely, but I won’t go down without a fight. There is this one alternative he can’t take away from me – going to his most feared competition, selling them what I have on him. I’ve been trying to contact the Institute, but they keep their decision makers well fenced in. I have no doubt I’ll get to them eventually, though.

Meanwhile, Roland got me a job at the nightclub to bridge over this period. It was my last hope after months of searching and begging at different companies, then at restaurants, then coffee shops until I went desperate enough to take a job as a public toilet cleaner at the airport. Roland put a stop to that after just one day. Now, like Stahl threatened, I’m grateful to be wiping tables in this place that’s a sort of Hooter’s on steroids, wearing a short skirt and a push-up top. My breasts overflow from my cleavage whenever I bend over, and I want to throw up every time I look in the mirror.

But there’s a good side to the whole thing. My little brother and I get to spend more time together. Our bond deepened. Right now he’s juggling bottles behind the bar and winking at giggly broads with a crush.

“Incoming!” a girl shrieks behind me. I turn to see little Frany, the other new waitress, lunge at me with wide eyes and a tray full of drinks. The tray lands on the floor, yet I manage to balance Frany on her feet.

“I’m so sorry, Izz,” she babbles, her face all red. We both get down to gather the shards and save what’s to be saved.

“Don’t worry, not your fault.” I throw a glance behind us. Of course, as I expected, a group of guys laughs hard, slapping each other’s backs and praising the idiot who tripped her. I stand, whisk my pink apron and march to them, unable to restrain myself. It can’t get me in any more trouble than it did with Stahl, so what the hell.

“Hey, pretty boy,” I yell over the music. The perpetrator stares at me from amidst his friends as I hold out my palm. “That’ll be twenty.”

“I’m sorry, what?” He cups his ear as if he can’t hear me. I bend to him.

“Twenty for the tray of drinks you just sent to waste. You tripped the girl.”

“Do you have any witnesses to support that?” he sneers, and someone slaps the naked back of my thigh. The skirt must’ve risen to reveal my garters, which tends to send males wild in here. In my purposefulness I forgot I’m not wearing the most commanding outfit.

My face bustling with indignation, I turn around at just the right time to stop the guy from slapping me again. He grins and immobilizes me in his arms, clasping my wrists behind my back. He’s a big guy with a shaved head, neck tattoos and piercings.

“Look at you, you’re a pretty one. If I were drunk enough, I’d bite those succulent lips.” He leans into me and breathes in my ear, “I’m still shy now, but the night is young.”

I struggle from his clasp, and he lets go.

“Later, babe,” he says, and I know it’s a threat. He just made me the night’s hunt, but I expect Roland’s tanned bulk in a tank top to intimidate him when he decides to make the first move. It always does.

With flushed cheeks I make my way to Frany, who’s getting a new tray from Roland at the counter. Her face is all worried when she looks over her shoulder back the way I came.

“I’m gonna have to pass them again.” Tears glimmer in her innocent hazel eyes, and my heart breaks.

“I’ll take it for you, then.”

“But to you they’re even more dangerous. The big guy with a bald head, he’s not taking his eyes off of you.”

“Don’t worry about it.” I’ll be damned if I ever let anyone bully me again. It hurts enough that I’ve become a piece of meat wiping tables with her tits at a badly famed nightclub, I won’t be made to feel any lower than that.

I grab the tray, but Frany stops me before I take the first step. “Wait, you’re cut.”

I notice the blood on my forefinger, then the nasty wound. My ego still on fire, I don’t feel any pain. “Hardly anything to worry about.” I grab a napkin and make to leave again, but Frany insists.

“Ignore it now, and it’ll swell later. This will only take a moment.”

She squeezes my finger above the cut to drain the potentially infected blood, then dips it in a glass of scotch, and keeps it there for a few seconds. When she’s done she bandages it with a napkin, her lips moving all the while as if she’s casting a spell. She says it’s a traditional prayer that healer women use back where she comes from, a place she named a number of times but that I keep forgetting. I let her do her thing and suppress my need to sneer at her practices. I like her too much for that.

With Roland now busy at the other end of the bar she rearranges the tray herself and sends me with it to the V.I.P. area. Just to make sure the drinks reach their destination safely this time I snake among the crowd and make every effort to avoid the bully table. They can’t trip me without being obvious, but by the predator look in my admirer’s eyes I know he’s plotting something for later.

A set of stairs delimits the V.I.P. area from the rest of the club. Business people smoke cigars and drink whisky, laughing hard and closing deals – rich “work” – looking down at dancing masses. But as I approach table ten, the one Frany was supposed to wait, my legs grow heavy. I recognize the pool of blond bodyguards, and my heart jumps in my throat. I want to stop walking, but my legs compel me to approach, my eyes seeking for the Ice Prince like for a gem in a nest of vipers. The bodyguards shift from my path, and finally reveal him sitting on the leather couch.

Tristan Stahl’s white blond hair is combed back, clearing his razor sharp irises. He wears a designer suit, his jacket open, his neckline loosened, making him a perfect model for Boss Bottled as well as, maybe, Gold Gym. I’ve discovered he’s far from just a pencil pusher. He’s as feared in illegal underground fights as he is at negotiation tables.

I put down the tray, struggling to recover my wits. For a moment there I really believe this is just a humiliating coincidence, whisk my apron and turn to leave with what’s left of my dignity, but someone grabs my shoulder and pushes me down on the couch facing Stahl, just like last time. I realize I’ve been maneuvered into this situation, and my heart drums so hard it’s choking.

“Champagne?” Stahl offers in his thick baritone that goes to my head. Here the music is much lower than downstairs – the V.I.P. area is business-talk area – so I can hear him clearly. I blink a few times, then nod. A drink should at least help even out my pulse.

He looks up at a bodyguard-slash-butler and motions with his chin that I be served. “I believe I’ve made my point, Isolde. There’s no need to prolong this situation, it must be unbearable to you.”

I manage to clear my throat, but still can’t speak. Not until after I’ve drained the glass of champagne in one move, sending warmth to my cheeks, and my brain on a light spin. “Does this club belong to you, too? Like the café where we first met?”

“I have a hand in every club in town.”

“Then you allowed me to get this job?”

“I might’ve even steered you toward it.”

All the slaps I’ve gotten over my butt in the last few weeks burn my buttocks again, and anger claws my heart. I bite it down this time, promising myself I’ll have Stahl pay for what he put me through. And I know just the way to do it.

“Does your offer still stand?”

“Excuse me?” He leans in, nailing me down with the frost in his eyes. He heard me, the bastard, he just wants to have me beg. I clear my throat again.

“Your offer, does it still stand?”

“Why, you suddenly interested?”

“Say I am.”

“But you don’t even know what my offer was, Isolde. You left before we got a chance to talk about it.” The upper part of his chest muscles is visible beyond his open neckline, and I do my best to look away. Luckily he makes it easy on me by leaning back and stretching his arms on the back of the couch again.

“You wanted me to keep working on your competition, the Institute for Psychosomatic Research, didn’t you?” I say. “You wanted forecasts of their moves so you can block them. I can do forecasts. Where do I sign?”

I look around for the woman in the white gloves, smugly expecting her to have my contract ready, but she’ not here, and Stahl’s icy laughter shakes my confidence from its hinges. “Isolde, I didn’t get where I am in life by being uninformed or easy to manipulate. I know you’ve been trying to contact the Institute’s decision makers. Help them nail us.”

“Nadine told on me?” I sneer.

“Your friend just wanted to save you from the filthy swamp you were sinking into.”

“Then back to our business. What exactly will you have of me?”

“I want you to use your intuitive talents on the Institute’s scientists. They’re very hard to pin down, so I need you to divine their future whereabouts – conferences, vacations, things of the sort.”

“As I told you the first time we met, my intuition works with data that’s stored at the back of my mind. If I am to intuit my way to these people, I’d have to know at least something about them.”

“I’ll feed you the information, of course. I don’t expect you to function on thin air. I know who these people are, just not where to find them. The Institute keeps them well protected, as I’m sure you’ve learned in your attempts to contact them.”

Useless attempts. “I can hear the mockery in your tone, you know.”

“I hope you also hear the praise. I’m almost impressed, Isolde. You don’t have any money, hardly any worthwhile connections, and still, you manage to produce results, however insufficient.”

He reaches for a glass of scotch and rests back, ankle on his knee. I can’t help but noticing how the white shirt wraps the athletic shape of his body, and I feel he’d make a great villain for Marvel. He’s crushingly handsome, wealthy enough to outrage Bruce Wayne, and damaged to the core – he must be, having the mafia on its knees. I wonder how much his past before the adoption by Mark Stahl has to do with his nerve.

“Imagine everything you could accomplish if you had my resources at your disposal, Isolde,” he tempts. “I’ll not only pay you richly, but I can open doors for you that you never dreamt to see unlocked. I can bribe any gatekeeper in your way and remove anyone with more stubborn morals. You can pay back all those who ever looked down on you or slammed a door in your face.” He sips from the scotch, watching me for the effect of his words. I sip.

The crisp and cool of the champagne mess with my head, and I relax back against the couch. The club started to spin a little. All I have to do to see myself free of this dump is tell Tristan Stahl yes. Sell my soul to the devil, and I’m afraid I’ll soon be drunk enough to do it.

“If I refuse, it’s nightclubs and airport toilets forever, isn’t it?” I look at him to find that his steely eyes haven’t wavered from me.

“If you refuse, I’ll fulfill my promise about the red light.”

“You sound almost sorry,” I spit.

“Take the job, Isolde. It’ll be money and privilege, plus a bright future for those you care about.” He glances over the banister to the bar downstairs, and I know he means my brother. “It would be a waste to ban you two from social success.”

“That choice is in your hands. No one is forcing you to destroy our lives.”

“Come on. I’m technically offering you the world. A refusal would make you the unreasonable one.”

I drain my glass and tilt my head to the side, narrowing my eyes. “Why me, Tristan? Why is a mogul who can hire the smartest heads ever born want me of all people?”

“My reasons are my own.”

“I’m afraid you’ll have to disclose them if you want to win my allegiance.”

Tristan Stahl’s glare slices through mine like knife through butter. “What do you think I am, a knight in shining armor? I’m not trying to win you, Isolde. I want to buy you.”

“I’m sorry, then. My services cost more than money.”

I lean in so that my breasts swell from my cleavage as I stare daringly into his eyes. They don’t lower. His scent of mulled wine and magic winter nights envelops me, but I resist it.

“You owe me more than money, Tristan. You brought me in the worst position I’ve ever been in, ever. Not even after Mom died did I have to wipe tables with my tits in order to buy food and clothes for Roland and me, and that was when I was sixteen.”

His features go all frost. “And now what? Remorse is supposed to rob me of sleep, to have me tossing and turning at night for what I’ve put you poor orphans through? You’re no longer a child, Isolde, you’re twenty-five.”

“Oh, I don’t mean to turn you back into a human, don’t worry,” I jeer. “But I’ll have you make up for the moral damage. I’ll have you do things for me, Tristan, and you’ll do them often.” The satisfaction that rinses my heart with every word that rolls out of my mouth is incredible. Maybe it’s the booze, the tribal music and his scent, but I’m drunk on how I feel. It’s all or nothing, I’m on the edge challenging a fucking lord of the underground, and I’m loving it.

“You’ll ask for nothing indecent, I hope.” It sounds like he’s mocking but not quite, as if he’s had sexual arrangements proposed to him before. I wonder if he gave course to any of them.

“Oh, no, I wouldn’t have you soil yourself like that.” I glance around at his exclusively blond entourage, all of them holding their tumblers and staring at us like they can’t believe the cut scene. “Judging by your choice of friends I guess you’d rather go albino than have a tanned ass bouncing in your lap.”

He grits his teeth, I can hear it. I’m finally pushing the Ice Prince’s right buttons. I look back at him and find his face much closer to mine than I’ve left it, a frosted sculpture with cruel eyes.

“Don’t play with me, Isolde.”

“Oh, you think this is a game for me? You’ve proven you can fucking destroy my life with your little finger.”

“Then why take further chances? Ask for the contract and sign it.”

“I will sign, Tristan. I just have a few terms of my own.”

“Then stop wasting time, and name them.”

I look around, acting tough but actually avoiding the pressure of his glare. “I run a blog. I regularly post my rants, and it already has quite a lot of awesome followers as angry as I am, but in order for it to achieve its ultimate goal I need it to spread like wildfire.”

“You want me to pump it viral? You got it.”

“No, Tristan, that kind of pumping would still be money. I’ll have the money myself because you’ll be paying me a whole lot of it for my services.”

“What do you need then?”

“Info. The exclusive, five-star kind of info.” I run my tongue over my lips. I hunger for his reaction to this. “You’ll deliver me top secret data on top secret people. You’ll reveal the true names of those who control the most powerful multinationals. You’ll feed me everything there is to know about them, from what they eat to whom they fuck. All the clean ones will be spared, enjoying their elite status, but you’ll help me nail the evil scumbags, Tristan, one by one. I’ll write the articles and put in the money to propel the blog to the top, but you’ll be the one delivering the golden nuggets.”

Maybe it’s the booze soaking my brain, along with the music and my choking pulse, but it seems the features of this young Viking prince are melting. He inspects me like I’m Alien. “You aim ridiculously high.”

“Well, I just got my hands on a ridiculously powerful weapon.” I look him up and down. “You’re a nuke.”

“At the whims of a child.”

“Oh, I won’t even go in on the subject of whims and brats. Will you do it?”

He pauses for a moment. “Believe it or not, it’s easy to say yes, Isolde.”

“I bet. Most of those I’m after must be below you in money, position and good deeds.”

“It’s not only that. But some of the names worth considering for your project are the very ones I’m asking you to work on.”

I narrow my eyes. “Are you trying to manipulate me?”

“I’ll give you the information, Isolde, and you’ll judge for yourself if they’re evil scumbags or not.”

“Okay. I’ll take it.”

“The job?”

“Yes.”

He puts the scotch down, but not a muscle twitches on his face, as if he’d never really had a doubt about the outcome of this conversation. “Well then, it’s set.”

He offers me a big hand, and I take it. His palm is callous and his knuckles like those of a boxer, which I go crazy for in a guy. I struggle to stay focused.

“Super. When do I start?”

“Just be prepared. I’ll send a car for you in a few days. Don’t ask questions, just get in.” With these words he waves me gone, and I’m stunned. I thought I had him impressed, but he’s dismissing me like I’m nothing, as if he’s lost all interest once he’s had me. I stand up, seeking his gaze, but he looks away.

“Take this with you.” He motions dismissively to the tray on the table, then he reaches to the inside pocket of his jacket for his smartphone. Moving on to the next business, I guess.

I bend to take the tray, aware his men get a good view of my butt, and wondering if it bothers Tristan in the least. It sure doesn’t seem to, and I feel like a whore. I swallow my pride and turn away, telling myself this finale has a good side to it – it makes it even easier to hate the Ice Prince.

***

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Read the FIRST CHAPTER here.

Further Chapters:

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Chapter IX

Chapter X

Pic source.