ROMAN: Fury of Her King (Kings of the Blood Book 2) (8 page)

BOOK: ROMAN: Fury of Her King (Kings of the Blood Book 2)
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Spinning around as Nik, also known as Nikos, one of the younger
Kings, tapped him on the shoulder, Roman roared, “What?”

Holding up his free hand in a sign of surrender, Nik handed him a
large leather bound photo album and said, “I think you better look at this.”

Shock, followed by the icy cold fingers of betrayal, slithered
down his spine. Reaching for the book without looking at his brother, Roman let
the front cover fall open as he sat in the same chair where his mate had been
bound and let his worse fears come to light.

There, on the first page of the discolored parchment, was a
six-by-six-inch square, much lighter than the surrounding material. It was
where an intricate painting of Viktoras and him created in 44 BC had been for
as long as the General could remember. It was one of the only things he had
left from the early days after his rebirth, and something he’d planned on
sharing with his mate as he explained their special relationship.

He remembered vividly how he and his Commander had been camping
just outside the city of Pompeii when a painter, Quintus Pedius, and his new
bride crossed their path in search of new scenery for the young artist to
capture on his canvas. Both he and Viktoras were amazed at how well the deaf
couple communicated, having never met anyone with such a disability that was
not a beggar on the street. The world in those days was so different; so cold,
so uncaring.

Thank the gods things have changed…

As it happened, the Kings ended up taking the couple to a
beautiful waterfall they remembered from their travels. Fearing for the
couples’ safety, Romanus and Viktoras stayed with them while Quintus painted
and then accompanied them home.

Upon their arrival in Pompeii, Quintus presented them with the
small canvas as tribute for their courtesy. Sadness filled the General as he
remembered it was only a few short months later that word of Quintus’ death
reached them as they continued to travel across the country.

Pulling himself from the past, he continued to flip the pages that
contained the most pertinent details of his very long life. It didn’t take long
before he found another bare spot. This one had held a tintype photo from the
late nineteenth century and featured all seven of the Kings standing in front
of the bar they had just purchased in New Orleans, LA.

It was just after the Civil War and the city was in a state of
reconstruction. The Kings had sailed from Greece into the Port of Orleans with
spices, fabric, and riches the city had never seen. They were immediately
accepted into society and allowed to purchase not only their bar, King’s
Landing, but also a hundred-acre plantation. It was one of his favorite
memories and one he had wanted to share with Cynthia himself, not like it was
now unfolding.

As he looked through the rest of the book, there were several
other photos missing. Each with special significance and all pointing to one of
three people with the knowledge and opportunity to take not only his precious
album, but also attempt to harm his mate.

Standing just as Lee’s cell phone rang, the General had just
reached the stairs when his comrade called out, “Hey, Roman, you’re going to
want to hear this.”

Stopping with on foot on a step and one still on the ground, he
shook his head. “What now?”

He heard the sound of Lee pressing a button on his phone and then
Sal’s voice through the speaker. “Ummm…well, we found your mate, but she’s
locked in the bathroom at the truck stop about ten miles from where you are and
said she’d call the police or get, and I quote, ‘a wooden stake’ if we tried to
come in.”

“She’s where? How did she…” He stopped yelling midsentence, knowing
it was doing nothing but wasting time, and took a deep breath. It wasn’t his
brothers’ fault. Hell, it wasn’t 
his
 fault, but he had a good
idea who to blame and that was something he would be taking care of as soon as
possible. But in the meantime, things were spiraling out of control faster than
even he could have ever imagined. It was time to face the music and if
necessary, get his affairs in order before Cynthia took his head.

With his heart dropping from his chest, the General could only
groan. “Don’t do anything. Just keep everyone away from that door. Buy the damn
place if you have to. Make sure Cynthia is as comfortable as possible. I’m on
my way. This is my mess to clean up.”

 

Chapter Six

 

“Maybe the wooden stake comment was over the top,” Cyn mumbled to
herself as she looked in the foggy old bathroom mirror. Shaking her head, she
fingered combed her tangled hair before grabbing more paper towels, covering
the counter and climbing back up to sit and wait for Adele.

As if being kidnapped and tormented by the reincarnation of
Morticia Addams wasn’t enough, she had awakened to find that damned album
laying on her lap, then had to find her way out of a dirty, smelly warehouse
all to end up in literally the middle of nowhere and feeling like the hounds of
hell were staring at her through the bushes.

Disheveled, dirty, and barefooted after walking almost two miles,
she’d hitched a ride with the first vehicle she’d seen since emerging into the
bright light of the noonday sun. Thankfully, it was a kindly old farmer who did
nothing more than tell her she looked like his great-granddaughter who’d gone
to the ‘big city’ to some ‘fancy college’.

After thanking him for the hundredth time, she made her way into
the diner, begged to use the phone, screamed at Adele to get her to stop
ooooing and aaaahhhing about Cyn’s night with the millionaire, and then locked
herself in the bathroom to wait. That was where two men, who identified
themselves as Roman’s friends, found her and tried to coerce her to come with them.
That was also when she threatened to stake them if they came through the door.

“And that was where I showed my hand. Now, they know I know what
they really are and if this nightmare follows every TV show and movie I’ve ever
seen, they’re going to have to kill me to keep their secret.”

She jumped down from the counter, careful to land on the paper
towels she’d spread across the grimy floor like Dorothy’s yellow brick road,
and began to pace. “But that video could’ve been something made by one of
Valentina’s friends. A hoax to scare me away from Roman.”

Turning when she reached the far wall, Cyn headed back toward the
sink, continuing the conversation she was having with herself. “But what about
the pictures? They are most definitely real.” She picked them up from the
counter as she once again spun on the balls of her feet and continued to pace.
“But, pictures can be doctored, too. And Valentina definitely has the means to
do whatever she wants. The girl’s shoes alone cost as much as my rent.”
Throwing her head back and looking at the wads of dried paper hanging from the
ceiling, she let out the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding and sighed,
“But still…”

Looking down at the four photos she’d removed from the leather
bound book, Cynthia touched the face she knew beyond all doubt belonged to the
man she’d been dreaming about for as long as she could remember. It didn’t make
sense. It wasn’t possible, at least by any stretch of her imagination, but
there it was in living color, right before her face, evidence that Roman
Marinos was centuries, maybe millennia older than the mid-thirties he looked to
be. “Talk about falling for an older man,” she chuckled sarcastically. “Leave
it to me to have the hots for Dracula’s cousin.”

Stopping midstride, she studied the most recent photo more
closely. From the fashion of the clothes the three men were wearing, it had to
have been taken in the early eighties, but that wasn’t what she found most
interesting. What drew her attention was the fourteen-foot-tall Big Boy statue
holding a forty-inch hamburger with the name Bob’s Burgers painted on the side.
It was the same monstrosity she’d looked at every morning as her mom drove her
to school. The same smiling, red-cheeked boy who’d welcomed her and her friends
every afternoon after junior high for French fries and sodas, and the same
damned image that had been on her paychecks from the age of sixteen until
eighteen when she graduated from Muleshoe High School and went away to college.

Looking even closer, she saw the reflection of the Grand Opening
banner in the huge plate glass windows that surrounded the restaurant and knew
from the pictures on the wall of the diner she’d slung burgers at that it had
opened in Nineteen Eighty-Two, just a few months after her birth. Coincidence?

“Sure, if I believed in coincidences,” she shoved her bangs out of
her eyes. “But I don’t, and especially not with everything else I’ve seen in
the last twenty-four or so hours.”

Lost in thought, Cyn screamed when a knock at the door echoed
through the tiny bathroom. “What?”

“Cynthia?” His voice was just as warm and inviting as it had
always been. Maybe a touch less confident, but still able to make her all warm
and tingly at just the sound of her name.

Embracing her anger and shaking off the effect Roman had on her,
Cyn spat, “What do you want?”

“Just to talk.”

“So talk. I can hear you just fine from there.”

A sigh followed by the sound of what she was sure was his forehead
hitting the door three times, he pleaded, “Please open the door. I promise I can
explain.”

Looking at the door knob then the pictures in her hands, she shook
her head then remembered he couldn’t see her and yelled, “Nope. No way. Say
whatever you have to say from right there and then go away.” Wrapping her arms
around herself to calm the shaking that had begun at just the sound of his
voice, she added, “Adele is on her way. I want to go home…
alone
.”

Silence was the only answer Cyn received but she knew he wasn’t
done. Could feel it in her bones. Knew that Roman Marinos did not give up
without a fight. Had been down this road with him a few times before. Yeah,
this was different but in so many ways the same song, fiftieth verse. He had
been caught in a web of lies and secrets and was trying to figure a way out.
Well, she wasn’t buying it and if he wanted a fight then he could just bring it
on. She’d had a hell of a night and needed a shower. It was not the time for
debates or discussion. She needed a bottle of wine, a soak in a tub and three,
maybe four days of sleep.

Walking to the door, Cyn leaned her head against the scarred wood
and just listened to the beat of Roman’s heart. She had no idea how or why she
could hear it over all the background noise but nonetheless, there it was,
strong and powerful and in sync with hers. It wasn’t fair, but then again life
never was, and it wouldn’t do any good to sit around whining. Time to take
action.

Taking a step back, she raised her arm to beat on the door and
tell Roman to go away just as she heard a familiar squeal. “Where the hell is
she? Where is my Cyndi?”

The shrill tone of Adele’s voice, coupled with the tap of her
heels on the linoleum and the use of the name only her grandpa and her best
friend were allowed to use, brought a smile to Cyn’s face. If there was one
person in the world she could count on, it would always her girl, Addie.

True to form, Adele came in and took complete control. Through the
door, Cyn listened as the short, sassy, redhead ordered, “Mr. Marinos, I’m
gonna need you to back away from that door and let me through. Cyn needs me and
not you or your goon squad are going to stop me from getting in there.”

“But…I…All I want…”

“I don’t care what you want. All that matters is giving Cyn what
she needs and after the night and day she’s had, I would say you are most
definitely not what the doctor ordered. Now, move away from that door or I will
have to move you myself.”

Cyn could only imagine the look on Roman’s face as Adele gave
orders and demanded they be obeyed. She nearly burst out laughing when one of
the men who’d spoken to her before Marinos arrived chuckled. “Roman, my man, I
would move out of the lady’s way. Sounds like she means business.”

With her hand over her mouth to keep from laughing out loud, Cyn
unlocked the door and took several steps back when Adele knocked and called
out, “I’m comin’ on in, darlin’.”

The door quickly opened and in rushed her best friend, slamming
and locking the door behind her before leaning against it and wiping her brow.
“Whew! That man wants in here more than a fox wants in the hen house. You sure
you didn’t do a little something-something to get him all fired up.”

Scowling and shaking her head, Cyn assured, “I didn’t even see the
idiot. Like I told you, some crazy ass vampire wannabe and her big dumb friend
kidnapped me, drugged ne, threatened me, and let me go. After that I called
you.” Crossing her arms over her chest and huffing her bangs out of her eyes
again, she added, “And now you are up to date.” She held out her hand for the
red duffle slung over Adele’s arm. “Give me my clothes so I can change and we
can get the hell outta here. I just want this all to be over.”

Laying the strap of the bag over her hand, her friend asked, “All
of it?” Then waggled her eyebrows.

“Yes.” She snatched the duffle away. “All of it.” Then yelling
towards the door, “And most of all, Roman Marinos.” Opening the stall door
behind her, she added even louder than before, “If I 
never
 see
him again, it will be too soon.”

Slamming the metal door shut, she leaned against the door and blew
out a long breath. Did she really never want to see Roman again? Would she be
happy if she never saw that cocky grin he got when he knew what she was
thinking? Or live without ever seeing the look in his whiskey colored eyes that
made her want to run into his arms and let him tell her they would be together
forever? Could she really live without ever seeing him again?

“Well, I’m damn sure gonna try,” she mumbled under her breath
while sliding her ruined black dress over her hips.

“What was that, hun?” Adele asked.

“Nothing. Just talking to myself.”

“Mmmmhmmmm…” Came her friend’s all too knowing answer.

Dressed in her favorite sweats and T-shirt, Cyn slid her feet into
her flip-flops and shoved her ruined dress into the duffle. Picking up the
photos she’d taken from the album she knew Valentina purposely left to cast
further aspersions against Roman, she put them in the bag and decided to think
about them later.

Stepping out of the stall she asked, “You didn’t happen to bring a
brush did you? This hair,” she flipped the ends of her platinum locks with her
free hand, “is driving me batty.”

Pulling a hairbrush from the huge purse she always carried, Adele
muttered, “That ain’t all that’s got you losing your mind.”

Giving her friend a glare she hoped spoke as loud and as
unapprovingly as she wanted it to, Cyn took the brush from her friend’s
outstretched hand and quickly ran it through her tangled tresses, stopping only
when she felt almost human again. Stepping up to the mirror, she took a quick
look, declared herself no worse for wear, and looked over her shoulder at the
reflection of Adele looking back at her.

“Okay, girlie, let’s get to gettin’. I know as sure as God made
little green apples that your man is standing outside that door waiting on you,
so buck up, buttercup, I’m opening the door.”

Holding her breath as Adele threw the door open, Cyn was shocked
to see the hallway empty. Following her best friend out the door and into the
diner, she was further surprised to see the place empty and a note with her
name taped to the front door.

Looking at Adele and then back to the note, she shrugged, “You go
get it?”

Shaking her head like it was on a swivel making her red curls fly
around like corkscrews from another of her crazy up-dos, her best friend
adamantly objected, “Oh, heck no. That’s all you.”

Taking another deep breath, Cyn walked to the door, pulled the
note down, and read, 
I will give you your space…for now. Always, Roman.

Throwing her hands in the air, she spun on her toes and shouted to
the ceiling, “And what the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Give me that,” Adele ordered, grabbing the paper from her hands,
quickly reading the note, and then shaking her shoulders as she taunted,
“Ooooooooo ‘for now’ huh? Sexy man’s not giving up.” Swatting Cyn on the
shoulder, she laughed out loud, “Told ya. You’ve got that man all tied up in
his underwear.”

“Yeah, well,” she pulled the door open and walked outside, “I
don’t want him, tied up or otherwise. That man is bad news with a capital B.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all…” Adele suddenly changed the
subject, “Hey, Cyn, do you think we need to lock up?”

Shrugging as she slid into the front seat of her best friend’s
little blue car, she said, “Don’t know. Don’t care,” as her head fell back
against the headrest and she immediately fell asleep.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

 

“Get up, girl. I’m not carrying you up those stairs and I don’t
trust you not to get kidnapped again.”

Cyn groaned as she forced her eyes open to the sound of Adele’s
shrill tone.

“We’re home already?”

“Already hell. It was an hour and a half drive and that was after
we had to sit for thirty minutes while one of those farmers had the road
blocked looking for his cow.” She swatted Cyn on the shoulder. “Now, get your
lazy bones up. I brought some extra clothes. I’ll stay with you till Monday but
right now, I need food. I was thinking about Chinese. How’s that sound?”

Rubbing her eyes and fumbling for the door handle, Cyn grumbled,
“Not hungry. Just want a shower and my bed.”

BOOK: ROMAN: Fury of Her King (Kings of the Blood Book 2)
5.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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