And to celebrate I'm posting a sneak peek at the next Entwined Fates saga.
Christian Marcone sat back and only half listened to the bickering around the table. So much for bi-partisanship. The hope of getting anything through this laughing stock of a senate anymore was practically non-existent.
He looked to the head of the table where his best friend and now brother-in-law, Chancellor Alexander Dorn sat with his head in his hand, his finger and thumb squeezing his temples. Christian knew that position. Alex was close to his breaking point and shit was about to hit the fan.
Just as Christian thought it, Alex growled and lifted his head while at the same time slapping his palm against the table so hard the glasses rattled against the wood.
“Damn it, enough!” he bellowed.
And there it was—Alex’s breaking point.
Every senator around the table froze and stared at the formidable chancellor as he came to his feet and leaned his palms on the table. With eyes narrowed into hard slits, he slanted an angry look around the table that had several men swallowing their tongues.
Despite himself, Christian bit back a grin. When he wanted, Alexander Dorn could be quite intimidating. No wonder everyone compared the man to Christian’s father, Lord Sidious Marcone. He’d seen his father stare down a room full of men with that same exact look.
“If all you can do is bicker, get the hell out. I’ve heard enough,” Alex snarled. When no one moved, he added loud enough to shake the crystal light fixture above their heads. “Now!”
Everyone around the table quickly stood and gathered their tablets. Christian did as well, anxious to be out of this joke of a meeting. His heart wasn’t in it anyway, or his mind. All he could think about this morning was Sharna and the fact she hadn’t shown up for work this morning. Sharna was never late.
“Except you, Marcone,” Alex barked.
Christian sighed and set his tablet back on the table. Two men walked past, sending him looks of sympathy. Christian gave them a half smile before turning back to Alex and waiting impatiently for whatever his friend wanted to say.
Alex waited for the door to shut before dropping back into the leather chair with a sigh. “Tell me again why the hell we’re doing this?”
Christian snorted. “I’m the last person to ask. I’m not even sure anymore.” He picked up the tablet and touched the edge of it to the table. “I will say this though…” Alex raised a wary eyebrow. “When pissed you’re a dead ringer for dad.”
“Speaking of,” Alex began dryly. “Have you heard the latest talk working its way through the senate gallery?”
Christian winced. “I don’t listen to the talk, Alex. You should know that by now.”
Despite his arguments to the contrary, Christian knew exactly what Alex was talking about. He knew what the other senators said—what they accused his father of wanting to do.
“You should, Chris. Do you have any idea what they’re accusing him of?”
Christian pursed his lips and nodded. “Is this your way of trying to tell me my father paid you to marry my sister so our home world of Tillarus would be strategically aligned with yours?”
Alex harrumphed. “You and I both know your father would’ve paid me not to marry your sister.”
“Hell, Alex. I would’ve paid you not to marry her. I’ve seen you wield a flogger. I know how you like to have sex.” Christian shuddered. “And now I’m envisioning you flogging my sister. Thank you very much for that lovely image.”
Alex grinned wickedly. “Your sister likes my flogger.”
“Alex,” Christian growled, making his friend chuckle.
“This isn’t about me and Miya. It’s about your cousin, Jacquelyn and her royal husband Haydrian. Rhianna and her twin king husbands, Keenas and Jorel, your Uncle Stefan’s friend, King Lucian Amanpour. These are major alliances and the members of the senate are beginning to take notice and your father and Jonah’s snooping into the private affairs of the current senate regent aren’t helping matters.”
“The man is corrupt.”
“You’re preaching to the choir… Brother-in-law.”
Christian curled his lip at the reminder. Granted, he’d never seen his sister happier, or Alex for that matter. When his sister entered the room, Alex’s whole demeanor changed. He trusted Alex with his life; he also trusted him with his sister. He just hated the idea he had sex with her, especially knowing what he knew about him and his fetishes.
“Shouldn’t you be having this talk with dad?” Christian asked tiredly.
Alex sighed and rubbed at his forehead again. “I tried.”
Christian’s lips twitched in a barely contained grin. That couldn’t have gone well. “How’d that work out for ya?”
Alex lifted his head just long enough to glare at him.
“You know dad’s not going to stop until he rids the senate of the corruption that got us into the whole dictatorship mess to begin with. He lost ten years trying to clean that shit up.”
Alex dropped his hand and leveled his tired stare toward Christian. The lines around his eyes looked deeper than usual. For the first time, he saw just how tired his friend was. “We’ve had four regents since building back the senate and he’s discredited every fucking one of them but the first.”
Christian inclined his head, fighting a grin. “Of course he wouldn’t go after the first. Dad picked him.”
“This isn’t funny, Chris. I told Sidious either leave the damn regents alone or take the fucking job himself.”
Raising an eyebrow, Christian stared in surprise at Alex. “Trying to force dad’s hand and get him into the one thing he detests more than corruption? And you left with your head intact?”
Alex dropped his head back against the chair and stared at the ceiling. “Barely. I think the only reason I did was because he didn’t want to leave Miya a widow.”
Christian snickered. “It was probably more he didn’t want to face Miya’s wrath. Sick her on him.”
Alex glared at him. Sighing, Christian dropped back into the chair. “Alex, Dad spent ten years of his life taking that dictator down. He and Uncle Stefan rebuilt this senate from the ground up. He believes he has to protect it.”
“By tearing it apart? Every regent he exposes as corrupt expands the ever widening gap between the senators. No one can agree anymore. No one trusts each other. Everyone’s too busy watching everyone else, wondering who will be exposed next.”
“Then perhaps they should behave themselves and do what they were voted into office to do. If you’re looking for sympathy from me, Alex, I have none. If keeping them in fear is what it takes to keep them in line, then so be it.”
“You sound just like him,” Alex grumbled.
“I take that as a compliment, but now I’m changing the subject.”
“I thought you might,” Alex replied without looking in his direction.
After a few seconds pause, Christian asked, “You haven’t by chance seen my assistant, have you?”
Christian didn’t miss the slight twitch of Alex’s lips, and he frowned. Did Alex know something? “Alex?” Christian snarled.
He then turned to face Christian, but his expression was unreadable as usual. “Why do you ask?”
“I had planned to…” Christian raked his hand through his hair. “I had a private dinner planned.”
Alex raised an amused eyebrow. “It’s about damn time. What happened?”
“When I got back to the apartment, I found a note on the kitchen island. She already had a date.”
Alex grinned before his expression turned serious once again. “You took too long. I said you would lose her if you didn’t get your act together.” Christian started to say something, but Alex held up his hand, stopping him. “Don’t give me that song and dance about how she’s your assistant; just tell me what you’re going to do to fix it.”
“For starters, spank her ass,” he drawled as images of doing just that ran through his mind.
He pictured the smooth fair skin of her ass pink from the strikes of his hand, his flogger, his paddle. He’d done nothing but think about her for months. He was tired of thinking about it. He wanted to finally make her his, but was Alex right? Had he waited too long? Would she even have him now?
“Sharna’s going to kill me for this, but I hate to see you so…” Alex waved his hand and chuckled. “Downtrodden.”
“Fuck you,” Christian growled. When Alex just continued to grin at him, Christian rolled his eyes and leaned back in the leather chair. “Go ahead.”
“She was at my house last night. Her and Miya went out for breakfast this morning. She made you think she had a date and was late deliberately to try and get a jealous rise out of you.”
Anger and maybe a bit of relief worked its way through his chest. Damn woman. Trying to make him jealous?
“Now,” Alex drawled. “What are you going to do about it?”
With a growl of aggravation, Christian stood, shoving the chair back across the tile floor. “Like I said. Spank her ass.”
He swung the door to the meeting room open so hard, it banged against the wall behind him. He ignored Alex’s amused voice as he called out to him, “About damn time.”