Do give my book Roses & Fangs a chance.
Alex felt the smell of bacon, pancakes and scrambled eggs waft his nose. A sigh of satisfaction left his lips. A moment later a harsh light hit his face and Alex winced, a groan escaping his lips. He struggled to open his eyes.
After a few seconds of struggle, Alex squinted. The curtains were removed,, and bright sun kissed his face. He looked around. It was a lovely spacious room with beautiful bright blue walls and cute furniture. A gentle breeze floated through the window to him, and Alex was taken aback by the positivity that was radiating all around him.
Was this heaven? Had he been shot in the warehouse and sent straight to god’s abode? If he looked down from the window, would he see the Earth?
“Have this water,”
A surprised yelp escaped his lips, and he turned to the source of voice.
It was Nicholas.
The events of the warehouse slowly became more explicit in his mind.
“Nicholas, you saved me,” Alex whispered in awe, “how will I ever payback?”
Nicholas didn’t say anything. Alex was taken aback by his cold persona. What happened to his Nicholas? Alex continued to observe him. Nick usually wore elegant button-down shirts and trousers, but he was now in a tight black t-shirt which accentuated his rippling muscles. And his jeans were way too snug around his butt. Alex didn’t know what to think of it, but something definitely tugged down there.
There was something off about Nick. It was like he had removed a mask. Instead of the gentle Nicholas, he looked hard as a military soldier. There was absolutely no emotion on his face. Alex felt dread in his stomach. Usually, Nicholas’ hair would be like sweeping strands, but he has now chopped them close to his skull.
What happened to Nicholas?
“Where am I?” Alex asked.
Nicholas didn’t answer. He placed a table of steaming food in front of him, and Alex was momentarily distracted by it.
“I said, where am I?” There was more force in Alex’s voice this time. He wanted a clear answer.
Nicholas looked, glaring deep into Alex’s eyes before walking out of the room. Alex tried getting up, but the tubes attached to his body stopped him. He grunted loudly before taking a tentative bite of the crispy bacon. The greasy flavour soothed his confused and muddled mind.
A few minutes passed by, and Alex’s frustrations started to grow. Where the fuck was he?
“Hello?” Alex roared.
There was a click on the door, and man in a sharp suit entered the room. Nicholas entered the room behind him, he stood by with hands folded across his chest. But Alex’s eyes were on the suited man. The man’s face was lightly bearded, his deep and dark eyes stared right into Alex’s. This man was way bulkier than Alex. They were the opposites in their appearances except for their eyes.
“Ambrose,” Alex whispered.
It was his brother. In the first moment, Alex felt a surge of happiness bloom in his chest. He wanted to smile, give his brother a big hug and probably give a big fat kiss on his forehead. It was his big brother after all. All the beautiful memories Alex spent with Ambrose flashed before his eyes. The trips to the cabins for hiking, travelling around the world and so much more. Alex’s favourite was Mongolia. He was seven and Ambrose was nineteen. What a trip it had been. But those memories soon turned ugly. Learning how to shoot a gun at thirteen, sitting with his father in the most brutal of the meetings. Having to grow up so fast because his brother shunned away from his responsibilities!
An ugly snarl appeared on Alex’s face.
Ambrose stepped closer to him and sat by Alex’s feet.
“Alex,” Ambrose whispered.
Ambrose’s voice had gotten deeper since the last time. Of course, he was merely a boy of twenty-two back then. Now, he was a man. A very dangerous man.
“What am I doing here?” Alex snapped, “what is this place?”
“You are in Seattle,” Ambrose answered.
“Nicholas, why did you get me here?” Alex asked Nicholas, “and how do you know my brother?”
“Nicholas?” Ambrose raised his brow in question, “that is not Nicholas. That’s Malcolm, the best hitman and assassin in this world and an even better spy.”
Alex’s eyes widened, and he felt a sharp stab of betrayal.
“Looks like Malcolm did a great job,” Ambrose complimented him, “you wouldn’t even know if he is acting or being real. He is that good.”
Alex gulped and stared at Malcolm with a sharp glare. Malcolm’s eyes were dead, there was absolutely no emotion in them. Did he truly not feel anything when they were together?
“How dare you put your spies in our organisation?” Alex gritted.
Ambrose looked taken aback by Alex’s rude response.
“I had received reports of some activities…”
“That was none of your business. You and Victor had promised all the syndicates to stay out of our lives, but yet we see your cronies strutting around our city!” Alex snapped, “who asked for your help? We are better off with your interference.”
Ambrose’s eyes narrowed.
“I can shoot you in the head right now,” Ambrose whispered, “and no one will know. And even if they did, then all of the New York families can come together, and they would still not be enough for me. This place is a fortress, Alex. Look what I have done for myself despite being thrown out of the family without a penny in my pocket. What have you done? Why is it that our parents’ house is so vulnerable? Why was it so easy for my assassin to have all the insider information?”
“You don’t have an answer to that.” Ambrose continued. “And what were you even doing in that warehouse? What job did you have over there?”
Alex’s widened, and he stared at Malcolm.
“You didn’t tell him?” Alex asked.
“Tell me what?” Ambrose asked.
“I arrived at the warehouse right after Alexander had been shot. I wasn’t able to see anything because saving Alex’s life was pivotal,” Malcolm gave a crisp answer.
“What did you see in that warehouse?” Ambrose asked.
“That is none of your business,” Alex whispered.
The Tsar’s words echoed in his head.
“I wish I could spend some more time here with you, Alex. You have grown up, and I would love to catch up with you. But I have much more important things,” Tsar said, “like inviting your brother back to the city. Ambrose and I have some unfinished business.”
Alex stayed quiet.
“You know your silence can harm several people,” Ambrose whispered, “I know you are angry with me. And I get it, but you’ve got to tell me what is it that you saw the warehouse.”
Alexander didn’t say anything. He was still reeling that Tsar, their greatest enemy, was out and materialising his plans. What were his plans? What were his intentions? Why did Tsar return into their lives?
“I can see the questions on your face, I can see you contemplating. Share, Alex. Please,” Ambrose requested.
Ambrose never requested.
Had Ambrose Valentine gone soft?
The revelation had a more profound impact on Alexander, for some reason. It made him question everything. Maybe staying in Seattle had made Ambrose soft. He didn’t really have any enemies. Although the magazines still called him the world’s more dangerous man.
But Alexander could see how Ambrose had changed. He could almost see compassion in the man. Ambrose wasn’t compassionate. Ambrose was a hardened mafia king, that was the only Ambrose that Alexander could recognise with.
“I have to leave,” Alex replied, “my family awaits me.”
“I am family too,”
“Traitors are not my family,”
“I thought you understood….”
“Understood that you ousted the entire syndicate to the FBI? That you basically shared each and every dossier and record with them? You took the fear, the mystery, the enigma and the pride away from the Valentine family. You destroyed us all. No one regards us with the same level of respect as they once did. And I blame you for that,” Alex spat.
Something flashed in Ambrose’s eyes.
“I don’t care what you think of me or anyone. I am not letting you out of this place, and you will soon come to realise that this place is a fortress and not the fucking security system that you have, if you even call it that.”
Alex gritted his teeth as Ambrose walked out of the room.
“Malcolm, get Alex for dinner, I think he is well enough to walk till the dining hall,”
Malcolm nodded. Alex’s eyes flashed. How well had this man impersonated the identity of the clueless and lovable Nicholas? All the times he was worried for Nicholas when he should have been concerned for himself.
Alex felt sick to the core.
“I need to talk you,” Alex said.
“What do you want to talk about?” Malcolm asked.
“What happened between us….”
“It was my job. I am devoted to Ambrose, that is all. Don’t read into it.”
“So, all those conversations….”
“Like I said. Don’t read into it. I will do it again if I have to. It is a part of my job.”
Malcolm was stoic and robotic, and Alex was astonished at the stark contrast. He couldn’t wrap his head around the switch. Where did Ambrose find this man?
“Why are you loyal to Ambrose?” Alex spat, “you are not even Italian.”
“I don’t owe you any explanations,” Malcolm droned like he was bored to be in this room, “I will pick you up at seven in the evening, a maid will have some proper clothes delivered to the room. Ambrose keeps a very special guest in the house, don’t look at her in the eye. She belongs to Mr Vasilakis and his eyes only,”
Confusions creep into Alex’s mind, and so do Alfonsi’s words.
“Ambrose lives a very secure and tight life. You cannot really guess what is going on inside the fortress he lives in,” Derek said, “but word has it. And I am not really sure about this, but there may be a girl in Ambrose’s life.”
“Who is this girl?”
“She is Ambrose’s Muse. She is the only person he has painted. You will not look at her in the eyes, you are beneath that, Alex.”
“I am beneath a girl? I am his fucking brother….”
“I don’t care if you are the queen of England. But I will not tolerate you looking into her eyes, she is our little princess and belongs to Ambrose. If you try disrespecting her, then I will not be held responsible for my actions,”
A part of Alex understood Malcolm’s words. Ambrose had always been very clear about the boundaries he laid around his possessions. And he was still insanely protective of those he loved. Alex had experienced that love and protection; it was annoying, but that was Ambrose for you. He loved without any inhibitions.
“How long have they been together?” Alex found himself asking.
Malcolm walked out of the door, not bothering to ask.
The evening rolled in, and Alex found himself walking towards the dining hall. The house indeed was a fortress with guards all over. No one could enter the estate; the security was very tight. Alex took note of everything, he would be implementing some of these strategies back at home. How much ever angry he was with Ambrose, there was always something Alex could learn from his brother.
Alex reached the dining area and took a seat. A smile came upon his face when Victor ruffled his hair. Ambrose didn’t say anything, he looked tense. Malcolm too didn’t look particularly happy, what was going on?
A few moments later, Ambrose sat up straight in his chair, his eyes suddenly glittering with love and affection. Alex followed his line of sight.