In a world where wealth equals power, and the powerful are gods, only the ruthless survive. Ivan Drake was born to this glamorous world of excess, and he doesn’t survive. He rules. Drake knows the ugly darkness beneath the bright white marble and glittering facade. It’s the same darkness that rides his blood and lives in his soul. There are reasons people whisper his name in hushed tones, and he’s earned every single one of them. But the rumors whispered in shadows, aren’t nearly so dark as the secrets he keeps.
In a world where a good cappuccino, a chocolate croissant, and no meringue in her hair equals a good day, pastry chef and culinary arts teacher, Myranda Chase is the poster child for a simple, pleasant life. She had a loving family, good friends, a steady job, and according to what she read in that medical journal, being a virgin at twenty-three is perfectly normal. Okay, maybe not in this country so much as in Saudi Arabia, but still normal. All things considered, a happy, good, not boring life.
Two parallel worlds, existing in the same space, never touching, until one cold night in November…..
A flu epidemic, an interview, a virgin, a dominant, a sex club, a margarita, a stinky creep, a designer drug, one little mistake and two people who would have never met slam into each other and worlds collide.
Twisting Fate or Breaking his rules…still thinking about the title just not sure yet.
Twenty-four years ago……
“911 state your emergency.”
“A bad man hurt mommy….”
“Can I talk to your mommy?”
“She won’t wake up.”
“What’s your name?”
“Ivan, my name’s Liz, I’m sending some people to help your mommy. Is your daddy there?”
“No.” He didn’t have a Daddy.
“Are there any other grown-ups there?”
“No, just me and Vince and Mommy.”
“Where is he?”
“He’s sleeping. He goes to bed early cause he’s little.”
“Ivan, the police are on their way. I’m going to stay on the phone with you till they get there.”
“Can they come real fast?” Mommy was bleeding a lot.
“Yes, Ivan, they’ll be very fast. Do you know the man’s name that hurt your mommy.”
“Yes it’s the same as mine.” He hated that the man had his name. .
“Ivan Alexander Drake,” He scrunched his hands in fists. His tummy hurt bad, like it burned, like something big and hard was filling it up. It filled him all the way up to his throat, He had to let it out, “He says he’s my daddy, but he’s not. He’s not!” He yelled he screamed, but the hurt wouldn’t go. It kept getting bigger, he stomped his feet. He fell down and hit his hands on the cold white floor. His hands burned. He kept hitting the floor. The bad man loved the floor. He hated it. He hated the man. He looked around at all the things the man loved. He hated it all. Mommy said he shouldn’t hate, but mommy was hurt. Mommy wouldn’t wake up.
“Hello there, young man.”
He blinked his eyes at something shiny.
“You have a very strong heart.” He blinked again. A lady was smiling at him. She had pretty hair. He wanted to touch it. He raised his hand.
“Ah, you like my hair?”
He nodded. It was shiny like a new nickel. It was piled up on her head like a crown. He touched it. It felt crinkly, not soft like mommy’s…Mommy!
She was hurt. She was bleeding. She wouldn’t wake up.
“Ivan.” The lady said his name. He stopped. He was breathing hard. He hurt inside.
“Your mommy is awake. She wants to see you.” The lady was holding him tight. She said the words in his ear.
“Would you like me to take you to her?”
He wanted to scream Yes. Yes. Yes, but his voice wouldn’t work. He nodded.
“You are at the hospital. Do you know what that is?”
He nodded again. Hospitals were where people went when they got hurt. He’d been to them a lot.
“Your mommy is very tired. She needs to rest so she can get better, but she wants to see you.”
The lady lifted him off the white table. He stood next to her, “Will you hold my hand?”
He nodded, her hand was cool. He walked with the lady to the door, but then his feet stopped moving. His tummy was hurting again. He wanted to see Mommy, but he didn’t want to go out there…he’d be waiting.
The Lady squatted down so she was little like him, “Ivan, I need to tell you something. Something good.”
She held both his hands, “The man who hurt your mommy is gone.”
He kept his eyes on the door. The man never left for long. He’d come and get them and take them back.
“Ivan, look at me, child.”
He looked at the lady. She had dark, dark eyes. Darker than his. Darker than the bad man. She said her name, but it was so long, it went on and on he couldn’t keep up. She said I swear and the word blood and a bunch more words he didn’t know, but at the end she smiled, “The bad man will never hurt you, your Mommy or Vince ever again.”
He watched the lady’s eyes, and he wasn’t scared anymore. She took his hand and he went with her to go see mommy.
They walked and walked down long empty halls. They stopped in front of the elevator. She let him push the button. He thought his voice would work now, “You have a lot of names.”
The lady laughed. It sounded nice and happy. She squeezed his hand, “That I do, brave little man. That I do.”
Twenty-four days ago…..
“Mr. Drake, he’s here.”
“Very good, Abbot.” Ivan Alexander Drake III sat back in the ridiculously expensive chair behind his atrociously pricey desk and waited.
The heavy mahogany door blew open, a man stormed in. Handsome devil, Drake had to admit. The guy was in his fifties, his midnight hair was going silver. Tall and still fit, he wore his five thousand dollar suit well. His face still movie star handsome. It was no wonder his third wife was twenty years younger. He’d been a perfect catch on the surface, handsome and rich
Although now only one of those was true.
“You fucking prick!” The snarl burst forth guttural with rage, the same rage that blotched his face red and made his chest heave, “Do you know what you’ve done?”
A stupid question. Of course he knew. He’d crafted a meticulous plan and carried it out with infinite patience. Since the question was ludicrous he chose not to answer. Just rested his elbows on the desk, steepled his fingers, and waited.
“You’re leaving me with nothing. NOTHING!”
That was more true than the man knew, but Drake wasn’t one to rush things better savored, “No, you did that when you siphoned off the profits, stuffed your balance sheet with trash assets, and misrepresented your liabilities.”
The man had held out longer than most. He was a sneaky bastard and hid his tracks well, but as time goes on and the money dries up, even the most careful get reckless. All he had to do was wait. He’d approached the board of the private equity firm without the CEO’s knowledge. They’d been desperate for cash. Desperate men will believe just about anything. A few mis-directions and open statements and they were signing everything away, not that they had a choice. He’d already been quietly buying up stock. It was a long process, but in the end not all that difficult.
“If I were you, I’d just be glad you got out before the feds came knocking.” Private investment firms were falling like flies in the aftermath of the financial crisis in ‘08. The feds needed to look like they were doing something. The large banks were too big to fail, it was said. So they concentrated on the smaller investment firms.
“You put the feds on our asses. It was you.” The man in front of his was shaking with rage his face gone purple the veins on his neck standing out.
He allowed himself one small secret smile, “Now, why would I do that?”
“You son of a bitch.”
“Uncle, I will allow you some leeway as your family,” He lowered his hands, gripping the underside of the desk in an effort to avoid temptation, “But if you insult my mother again, you’ll count yourself lucky to be leaving here in an ambulance.”
The man who so resembled his long dead sire opened his mouth, but Ivan had well earned the title he shared with his ancestor. His terrible deeds had been whispered from dark corners for years. Desmond Drake snapped his mouth shut.
Pity. Perhaps if he pushed a little, “How’s the arm?” Years ago, it had been broken in three places.
Hate and rage twisted his Uncle’s handsome features into an ugly mask, “You’ll regret this Ivan.”
“I doubt it.” He wasn’t one to waste time with regrets.
“You’re not invincible.” The man snarled. The vein at his temple pulsing.
“No, but I am smarter and a good deal more ruthless.” He allowed the mask he wore for the world to slip.
The red in his uncle’s face faded to white, his lips turned bloodless, then came the last ditch effort he’d been waiting for, “What about Debra and the boys. They’re innocent.”
Innocent was not a word that could ever be linked with Debra, but she’d been surprisingly easy to manipulate and had proved useful, “They’ll be fine. As a matter of fact, they should be on a plane well on their way to New York by now.” Debra was returning to her roots.
“What are you talking about?” Real fear flickered in the man’s eyes.
“It seems wife number three found out about your multiple mistresses. She’s been planning this for a while. That secret account of yours in the Cayman’s has been emptied as of…” he checked his watch, “Two hours ago.” Ten million dollars, not much when one considered what his uncle was used to, but it would have made his life bearable. Ivan couldn’t allow that.
The rage came back, “You fucking bastard. I’ll see you….”
He calmly rose to his feet and rounded to the front of the desk. Though his gait was leisurely the other man must have guessed his intent. He took a step back, raising his hands, the dark blue eyes, so like his own, wide and panicked.
He hated those eyes.
He slammed his fist right between them, pulled back and plowed a round house to the square jaw. He shared that too. Then because he hated the nose they shared, he grabbed his uncle by his inky black hair and yes, they shared that as well, and rammed the man’s face into his antique mahogany desk…twice. Blood poured. Bone crunched.
“Ambulance it is then.” He dropped the unconscious man on the floor, and circled back to his desk, hitting the com to his assistant, “Abbot…”
“Yes, Mr. Drake?”
“Have security come up to my office and remove Mr. Drake.”
“Certainly, and shall I call the ambulance service at Mercy Hospital or Drake Memorial?”
“I’ll take care of it. Anything else?”
“No…” His eyes strayed to the red staining his antique desk, the Italian marble floor, and the obscenely expensive Persian rug. Janice would have a cow. His cousin was also his decorator. The last time he’d gotten blood on a carpet she’d chewed his ass for twenty minutes. The woman loved her Persian rugs. “Ah, yes, we’ll need housekeeping to come clean up and the rug…
“I’ve already called housekeeping. They’re on the way. We’ll take the rug to Mervin’s. They did a great job with it last time.” Abbot had been with him six years. He was convinced the guy wasn’t human, but some kind of administrative droid-bot, the NSA had sent to gather intel on him, but Abbot was so efficient he didn’t care.
“Thank-you. That should be all.”
He looked over his desk at the man he’d broken. All in all, not a bad way to end the week.
Twenty four hours ago…..
“You have to talk to the press. This isn’t going away.”
“You think I don’t know that.” Drake ran a frustrated hand through his overly long hair. He was overdue for a cut. He’d been busy. And now this…. damn this.
“Listen. It’s a great story. You rescued the kid. You’re a hero.” His lawyer was in placate and achieve mode. Pacify the beast then lead it where he wanted it to go. Overall it was an effective tactic. Even though he knew what he was doing, it usually worked. Mainly due to the fact that he never shied away from unpleasant tasks. Best to get them over with and be done, but this was different. The consequences of a mis-step… “If they start digging, it all comes out.”
“Would that be so bad?”
That was a stupid fucking question. He just glared.
“Okay, yes,” Maxwell Jenson conceded, “You’re right, that could get….messy.”
Damn, this was his fault. He hadn’t moved fast enough. Sloppy. Dammit, he hated sloppy. Restless frustration had him up out of the chair and crossing his office to stare out the wall of windows at the gray sheets of rain and the quaint brick buildings of Old Town, Alexandria. Already decked out in white lights, even in the cold November drizzle it was picturesque, just like all the glittering white buildings up and down the mall of D.C. Impressive beautiful – hiding the rot of kings.
Wait a minute Old Town…. He hit the com, “Abbot…”
“Get Theodore Lewis on the phone.”
“Certainly…Oh…ah…shit…Aaah God….” Drake had a half a second to wonder what the hell, before the unmistakable sounds of retching hit his ear. Well, damn, Abbot had succumbed to the flu. The man was human after all.
He strode across the room and into the reception area to see his supremely efficient Administrative Assistant bent over a trash can.
“I’m calling James.” Abbot’s partner worked on the same block.
Abbot shook his head, “I can make it home…”
“It’s either that or your mother.”
He was sure Abbot would have sent him a killing glare if he hadn’t had his head buried in the trash can. Threatening a guy with his mommy when he was sick, that was low.
It was also effective. Within a half hour Abbot was gone and he was looking at the wide brown eyes of his temporary assistant. The early flu epidemic was taking a toll, half the people in the building were out. He was left with a receptionist from their PR division. Jenifer something or other, some senator’s niece or sister or daughter or some shit.
“So, I’ll make these calls….um is there anything else?”
Good fucking question. Just what the hell did Abbot do all day, who the hell knew?
“Just answer the phones….and…” Shit and what….
“Uh, okay.” She fluttered her lashes, gave him what he was sure she thought was a flirtatious smile and asked, “Would you like me to get you some coffee?”
“No.” Shit no. He turned and strode back into the office, dreading the next couple of days. Next year everybody was getting the fucking flu shot or they were going to be out of a fucking job.
Twenty-four minutes ago…..
Myranda Chase added bleach to her load of t-shirts and gym socks and reminded herself of the unbelievable deal she got on rent in this building and therefore it would be imprudent to tell her landlord to shove it.
But Lordy, she was tempted.
Ted Lewis wasn’t a bad guy. In fact, he was one of the most honest men she knew, but his obsession with the The Old Town Crier, the neighborhood paper he’d started and ran with zealot enthusiasm from the basement/ laundry room of their building could be inconvenient at times. Like right now, when she was tired from a long week and just wanted clean laundry, a hot shower, a good book, and an early night. If Ted had his way, none of that was going to happen.
Closing the lid on the washer, she braced herself and turned to face the fanatical gleam in Ted’s eye, “I don’t have any experience interviewing people.” There, that was calm and concise and reasonable….. and it bounced right off of him.
Her landlord grabbed his comb-over in both hands, blustering as if he were the editor of the New York Times, “Dammit girl, you’re all I’ve got.” His voice boomed off the cinder-block walls, “Whole damn staff has the flu.”
The staff being his twelve tenants, who like herself and her room-mates got a great deal on rent in exchange for help with the paper. She’d gotten the shot early. She thought she’d been smart to do so. Now she wasn’t so sure.
“We’re damn lucky to get this interview.” More Ted ranting, “Everybody in the country wants to talk to Drake since he saved that kid.”
“What about Jose?” She knew her room-mate wasn’t sick and he’d interviewed people before. Her only contribution was a small monthly article on locally produced foods.
“You work with that children’s home he sponsors.”
“The Methodist Home?”
“That’s silly. The man’s loaded. He probably sponsors dozens of charities. Jose has experience…”
“He’s not here. You are.” Lewis ducked around some silky unmentionables hanging from the drying line and shoved a wrinkled sheet of yellow legal paper and a tape recorder from the stone-age at her. Ted wasn’t a fan of modern technology. Thus the old style printing press and the overpowering smell of ink. “It’s not rocket science. Just turn on the tape recorder, ask the questions and let the man talk.”
“Ted, I’m covered in powdered sugar…” The result of an incident involving a ten pound bag of the stuff, an industrial sized mixer, and an overly enthusiastic student, “I need a shower…”
“Hell, girl,” Ted cut her off and started shoving her up the basement steps, “You’re white as Casper’s ass anyway…”
Well, he had her there….
“Nobody’ll notice. Now, get down to this address,” He shoved another little slip of paper in her hand.
“Ted I need to get my coat.” It was bone chillingly damp, and the metro was five blocks away.
Cursing under his breath he grabbed his old, stinky, bomber jacket and shoved it at her, “Here, don’t turn your nose up. It’s warm. Now, get the interview and get it back to me ASAP. I’ll be here all night to get the paper out by tomorrow. Next year everybody’s getting the flu shot or they’re out of a fucking job.”
Being that Ted looked five seconds from a stroke, she felt it best not to point out it wasn’t really a job if you didn’t get paid.