Chapter One

Her neck snapped as he thrust once more, the last ripples of his orgasm fading in time with the life draining from her body. 

Henrik pulled out of her and wiped himself clean of her with the crumbled up bedding. Tossing the blood-stained linen onto her lifeless body, he went in search of his pants. 

He twisted his torso to stretch the tight muscles of his back. It had been a long fucking day, and he still had unfinished business that would keep him away from his bed for hours. 

After buckling his belt, he gave the woman on the bed another glance. Smooth skin kissed sweetly by the summer sun, round ass, and legs that could probably wrap around him twice. Such a waste.

He went about gathering his phone and his gun, tucking it at his waist before shoving himself into his jacket. 

Oliver stood outside the door waiting for him in the hallway. 

“Shit.” Henrik glared at him. “You didn’t need to stay right at the fucking door.” He pulled the door to the bedroom closed and began walking down the long corridor to the winding staircase. 

“He’s already downstairs,” Oliver said.

“Good.” Henrik tugged the sleeve of his shirt beneath his jacket. He jogged down the staircase easily, the same as he’d done his entire life. “My father?” he asked.

“On his way. The plane took off half an hour ago.” Oliver hesitated. “Your mother is with him.”

Henrik stopped several feet from his office door where two of his men stood. “My stepmother,” he clarified as he turned around to face Oliver, his first in command. “Why is she coming with him? I thought she was spending the summer overseas.” 

“I don’t know, and I wasn’t about to ask. Your stepmother goes where she wants.” Oliver spoke plainly. Henrik had known him since they were both young boys taking peeks into the girls’ locker room after gym class—not a practice either of them needed to continue as they grew older. Women required no coaxing to enter his bed. 

“If they took off half an hour ago, we have maybe another hour and a half before they storm through my front doors. Best to have this situation finished before he gets here.” His father disliked dealings with the Creon family and left the matter at Henrik’s door. 

Henrik entered his office. 

“Gentleman.” Henrik’s voice boomed into the room. Christian Creon may have been the head of his family, and several decades older than him, but Henrik was still the man of this house. He would not cower to their supposed power. 

A firm handshake handed out to Christian, and a curt nod to his two men standing in the background. Henrik waved Christian into his chair as he rounded the large mahogany desk to his own seat. As a child, he’d used the hulking piece of furniture in his games of hide and seek. His father would always keep his silence as Henrik hid at his feet while the other children searched the house for him. None of them would dare enter Jackson Olympus’s office without being granted permission. 

But this wasn’t childhood. This was no longer his father’s desk. This was Henrik’s office, his home, his business. 

“Matthew McKinnly will no longer be a problem for you,” Henrik said confidently.

Christian’s tense expression mellowed. “You’re sure?”

“Saw to it myself.” Henrik confirmed. “His body has been delivered to his wife this afternoon with instructions on what she should do. My men tell me she’s already packed herself and the children up and left the city.”

“The men loyal to him—”

“Men can be bought,” Henrik said plainly. “And without the head of their family, they’re lost. Easy pickings.”

Christian relaxed in his seat, unbuttoning his jacket. He could relax now. Wars between the families had to be dealt with delicate hands. Even with Jackson’s permission to take out the newest family to the Network, it was best the Creon’s didn’t handle it themselves. Sending Henrik to deal with it assured no backlash from any of McKinnly’s allies. Not that there were many. McKinnly was a backstabbing cheap steak. Families within the Network didn’t look kindly on that.

Now with McKinnly handled, Christain would be gifted the abandoned territory, and he could peddle his whores and drugs without competition. 

A commotion outside the office drew Christian’s attention. The door flew open, and a man rushed through. Henrik’s men followed, hunger for a fight written all over their faces. 

Henrik waved them back. “It’s okay. Let him in.” 

“What is it?” Christian demanded, getting up from his chair. “You don’t just barge in when I’m in a meeting,” he chastised the man, whose lips curled inward at the sight of Henrik sitting so casually at his desk. 

“Henrietta,” he spat out the name of the woman upstairs. “She’s dead.” He pointed a finger at Henrik. “He killed her.” 

Christian’s eyes were wild when he spun back around. His cheeks reddened as words attempted to form on his lips. 

“She’s up there naked. Looks like he raped her too.” Anger shook his words. 

Henrik lifted his shoulder. “Rape suggests she wasn’t willing. Which she was. The woman couldn’t get her clothes off fast enough. I’ll probably have marks on my cock from her enthusiasm.” 

He sighed. Obviously, his humor was lost on them.

“Henrietta was fucking McKinnly. She was giving him information. That’s how your shipments were being messed with.” Henrik hadn’t cleared the kill with Christian. When he agreed to take care of the McKinnly situation, he took the matter seriously. Both the original target and the traitor had been dealt with. 

Christian’s shoulders slumped, and he waved his men out of the room. “Get the car. I’ll be right out.” When they hesitated, he ordered, “Go!”

The three men filed out, and Henrik’s men shut the door, leaving them alone. 

Christian helped himself to the bourbon, pouring himself a healthy glass. Henrik declined joining him. In one quick swallow, Christian downed the liquor, pulling his lips back and sucking in a long breath as it made its way down his throat. 

“Henrietta was my niece.” Christian’s gaze settled on the hardwood floor. “My sister’s only daughter.” 

Henrik folded his hands on his desk. A choice was made and carried out. Regret played no part in the future; a traitor was found and dealt with. 

After a long pause, Christian dragged his gaze up to Henrik. “Did she suffer?” 

She’d been in the throes of an orgasm when he’d twisted his hand into her hair and yanked her head back. A simple tug was all it took for him to snap her neck. 

“It was a quick end.” And better than she deserved. While he’d had his way with her, she’d spilled all of Creon’s secrets. Admitted to helping McKinnly end her uncle’s reign because he’d been mean to her, wouldn’t shower her with the riches she felt she deserved. 

Christian huffed. “She was a spoiled bitch. I’m not surprised she would sell out her family.” He put up a hand. “My sister passed away last winter. Breast cancer.” He sighed. “At least she won’t have to suffer the pain of her daughter’s betrayal.” 

“Henrietta has brothers.” Henrik didn’t need fallout from this. Assurances would have to be made. 

“I will handle my nephews,” he agreed. Christian picked up his hat from the desk, holding it in front of him. “They may want reparations,” Christian said cautiously. “Although I can’t say I disagree with your actions, you did  advance without consulting me.” 

Always looking for another bite of the pie. Not that he was completely wrong, but Henrik didn’t owe this asshole anything. 

“I’m sure my father will have something you’ll find beneficial. He’s due here tonight,” Henrik assured him. Let the old men work out payment amongst themselves. Henrik didn’t play the diplomat between the families. His father, being the majority owner of the Network, dealt with all that. Henrik was simply the muscle. 

 “Would you like Henrietta’s body brought—”

“Burn it.” Christian waved a hand in the air. Even as a traitor, the niece of one the most powerful men in the Network could still be given a proper burial. Her family could still mourn her. But as one of the most powerful men in the city, Christian Creon needed to send a message: traitors are not family. 

“It will be taken care of,” Henrik promised. Christian took the betrayal and death of his niece better than expected. It could be a cloud of smoke, or it could be true relief the woman was gone. 

“Thank you.” Christian inclined his head, then took his leave. The door closed softly behind him, sending Henrik’s office into full silence—a sound he hadn’t enjoyed since his morning run. 

It was short lived, however. Oliver stepped inside, curiosity wrinkling his brow. “So?” 

“So.” Henrik clapped his hands. “It’s done. Did his shipment move through yet?”

“Yeah. The women have been put in the barracks on the east side of the property. The handlers are due to arrive in the morning. They’ll be gone by the afternoon,” Oliver assured. 

The Network was made up of over twenty different families. Some transported drugs, some cleaned cash, but they all dealt in flesh. Every family was afforded the protection of the Network, mostly provided by Henrik and his men, for a small fee paid to the owners, Jackson and his brother, Haden. The men all made their millions while Henrik kept the law at bay and squashed the skirmishes between the families. It was an easy setup, and fucking hell, the pay was good. 

 “And the girl upstairs?” Oliver asked.

“Get the room cleaned. Her body can go in the incinerator. He doesn’t want her.” Henrik looked at his watch. “My father should be here soon. I’m going to change.” 

“What do you suppose your stepmother wants? She never comes without an agenda.” Oliver followed behind Hendrik. 

Hera would have a task for him, of that Henrik was positive. And whatever it was, it was going to set his anger ablaze. Just looking at the woman soured his mood. But for the love of his father, he’d keep himself in check. 

“Whatever she wants will be dealt with. As always.” Henrik stopped at the foot of the stairs. “Creon took the death of his niece easily. Even knowing I fucked her before I snapped that little neck of hers.” 

Oliver’s eyes widened. “You can’t keep away from the fire, can you?” 

Henrik slapped him on the back. “The deal was McKinley. Fucking Henrietta was payment for dealing with her.” 

“I hope you’re right about him taking it well.”

“I didn’t say he took it well. I said he took it easily. Just to be sure he’s not secretly mourning the loss, I want a guard at the gates tonight, and another in the security room here at the house.”

“I’ll get it done.” Oliver, Henrik’s top man and closest friend, never let him down.

Henrik made his way up the staircase. A few more hours and he could get his ass into bed. It would be a short night, but the headaches of today would be in the past. 

“Henrik, they just pulled up.” Oliver’s voice carried up the stairs, smacking Henrik in the back. Fuck. 

He was going to have to greet his father and stepmother with the smell of pussy still lingering in his beard.

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