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Nikolai: Mine to Protect


First Chapter Sampler!

Prewarning: it is HOT!

Chapter One

Nikolai

A battle is coming.

I can sense it in the air, feel it quivering over my skin as my blood furiously pumps to cool my unnatural body temperature. I want to pretend my unease arises solely from Justine’s brother’s impending release, but my gut is warning me to remain cautious. This feels bigger than that, as if I’m about to face my deadliest battle to date.

This frustrates me more than it excites me.

Only a year ago, I would have craved a blood bath. I had nothing to lose and no fear of dying. Now I have more than my reputation at stake. I have my Ahren to protect, my gift for years of suffering.

Fools may say the odds are stacked against me, but I wouldn’t cut off my nose to spite my face. Justine may be my only weakness, but the lengths I’ll go to protect her are well known by my enemies.

I killed the man who raised me to keep her safe, and I’ll do the same to any vyperdusch stupid enough to take up the challenge Vladimir’s death instigated.

If Alexei’s death isn’t proof of this, I’m sure I can find more convincing factors.

Alexei arrived on my home turf to kill my man and take my woman. He left with not even a legacy. His family moved on from his death as quickly as the Popov entity recovered from Vladimir’s dethroning. Both losses were scarcely registered.

Their deaths are proof that what Rico said earlier tonight is true: “Good leaders don’t tell you what to do. They show you how it’s done.”

If I hadn’t seen the glint his eyes got every time he caught his kitten’s eye, I would have mistaken his comment as him forging a way back into an organization that’s profited more the past year than it did the prior ten, but that wasn’t what he was doing. He was commending me.

I’ve learned many things the past year, but accepting praise isn’t one of them. More times than not during my childhood, commendations arrived with painful citations. The more ruthless you are in this industry, the greater your reputation becomes. Because Vladimir never wanted to be seen as weak by his enemies, he wasn't just the patriarch of our family, he was the governor who ruled it with an iron fist.

Although I have no intentions of following in Vladimir’s footsteps, a weak leader will be quickly weeded out, meaning I must not only remain on my toes when it comes to Justine, I have to continually peer over my shoulder, keeping watch for the next challenger to bid for my throne.

My crew is the strongest it’s ever been, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't remain on alert. Vladimir was pushed from his perch because he became reckless. He thought the reputation Rico and I had developed was enough to stop his reign from being challenged. He was an idiot. If anything, it should have made him warier.

He abused Rico and me for years, believing fear would stop us from demanding our share of the glory.

That was his first downfall.

I was plotting his demise years before Justine entered the picture. My desire to protect her merely sped up the process. If I had the means after my sixteenth birthday, I would have initiated my takeover bid earlier, but with patience came greater reward.

By waiting, I not only dethroned Vladimir, I took his place. I now sit on his throne with my queen by my side.

For how long, I don’t know.

Justine only moved to Vegas for one reason. Although I have no doubt of my importance in her life, I’m also confident about the bond she has with her family.

She wants to go home.

The pleading looks she’s given me the last three hours assure I can’t be mistaken.

Unfortunately for her, a trip to H