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“Oh, my, gosh.” Sintia said in breathless awe as they finally reached the top of the mountain peak. The view was stunning, she could see for miles and miles of endless rolling hills, mountains, and wide-open sky.

Delacourte had been persistent in his request for her to join him, he had said it was a private spot he and his brother often visited to clear their mind, a place like no other. She closed her gaping mouth still recovering from the view, it didn’t disappoint, she had never been this high up. Granted the hike had been difficult, but the pathway was marked with carved out steps into the mountain face where parts got tricky, and Rod and Don had offered her a hand a few times up.

“I knew you would appreciate it.” Delacourte said proudly looking from her back out over the snow-white wilderness. It had been important for him to get her here, let her see this favorite spot. “One almost feels…” He stopped searching for the right words.

“Invincible up here.” She filled in looking back at him with a smile.

“Exactly.” He smiled back as a rush of heat ran through him, those were the perfect words. He stepped up alongside her, near the edge where his brother and he would often shift into their wolf forms and free fall to the forest bed below. He frowned wondering what Sintia would think if ever she saw him shift.

“What’s wrong?” Sintia asked watching his features darken as he turned away.

“Nothing to concern yourself with.” Delacourte grinned but Sintia noticed the smile didn’t reach his eyes.

“If you regret leading me here then I will leave, I’d hate to be a burden.”

“No, no, it’s not you at all truly, come.” Delacourte put out his hand for her, Sintia looked back at the view not ready to leave yet.

“Can I not stay a little longer?” Sintia asked softly, she felt like an idiot for asking, but oh being on top of the world like this was priceless.

“We are not leaving, merely getting more comfortable.” He winked at her; his hand still outstretched.

A short walk later and Sintia was speechless, here, under an outstretched, ancient tree draped a string of fairy lights that just hung off the edge of this mountain peak. Fur throws with a small foldable table had been set up in the middle holding chilled champagne and a small bowl of cut fresh fruit.

“How did you?” She looked from it to him, but Delacourte just smiled mysteriously. “My oh my, you must win all the ladies this way.” She teased making her way to the fur throws taking a seat in them.

She knew how he had done it though, Rod and Don had carried backpacks but to her surprise, the fearless prince had four other guards of his own accompanying him this time, also carrying backpacks.

“You the first woman that has ever been up here.” Delacourte said pouring them champagne.

“Why?” She asked before processing the thought, what was it with her?! She knew why, men only wanted one thing. But for some bizarre reason she wanted his lie to be true, she wanted to be the only girl.

“Why not? You had a very bad start to the day, the least I could do for you is help you unwind.” He said handing her a filled glass, she took it savoring the way her fingers brushed his, Delacourte was always warm. When she had first taken his hand, she had felt a rush, blaming it on the thin air up here, but now, feeling it again, she wasn’t sure, he did something to her she couldn’t explain.

“How are you feeling?”

Sintia looked up realizing she had been staring at her glass, shaking her head she looked up at him with a weary smile.

“Fine.” She said taking a sip looking out at the endless surreal view.

“Biggest lie ever.” Delacourte snorted a small laugh downing his glass. “But it’s ok, I understand not wanting to talk, sometimes the best conversations are ones where no words are needed.” He said placing his glass down joining her on the furs. She said nothing sipping her Champaign, he was right, she didn’t want to talk, didn’t in fact know how she felt in the moment. The only thing she was sure of, was his cologne made her want to take extra deep breaths, when his eyes caught hers, her heart beat faster, and when he touched her, she wanted so much more.

But apart from this handsome man the gods had gifted her eyes with, Sintia felt drained, her emotions were all over the place. On the way here she had returned her missed calls to Richard, her lawyer finding out about the damage the blackmailing couple were doing to her. The police had gotten involved and she had told the truth about having a wild animal attack, and why she covered it up, as per her lawyer’s instructions, had also then handed the phone to Delacourte for him and Richard to confirm the story. The police and Richard had agreed, to ignore them and let the video leak. For if it did leak, they would be taken to court having a strong case in Sintia’s favor over recording the footage without consent and blackmailing her with it.

Luckily that was an easy fix. If it leaked Richard had a speech prepped for her as to why the lie, spinning it in their favor again.

The other problem, Jarred, not so much of a quick fix. She had informed the police of the assault at her company and had called Kiki to ensure she was ok, thankfully yes. Apart from bruised arms and knocked-over staff, everyone was ok. Kiki had informed her that he had learned of her being in Russia from the videos taken of her in the lobby after her wolf attack, and had found out via the million video comments as to her location. He had come to her office to get her cell phone number from Kiki, but more, no one knew.

“So, you think this, Jarred.” Delacourte sneered the name feeling a tinge of jealousy, “Will come all the way to Russia?” He asked breaking the peaceful silence turning to look at her.

Sintia looked at him sprawled out in the furs next to her, his powerful muscled arms folded up under his head, he looked like a god, untouchable, and knew it.

“I don’t know, his words didn’t make sense, see you soon? As in perhaps he is coming here or knows I have to go back soon?” She asked. “And what was with the marriage proposal to be married this weekend! I am so sick and tired of that man proposing to me!” She let out a frustrated groan before placing a hand over her eyes. “I am sorry, I shouldn’t bug you with this, we were a bit serious, and I, I ended it badly, but I have the bodyguards I need now, thanks to you.” She had been warned about the man taking breakup badly and had still decided to date Jarred or whatever the asshole’s real name was. Why was who he was such a big secret? To think about it, she honestly didn’t know that much about him, every personal thing she could think of, was, nothing.

Sintia felt his warm touch pulling her hand away from her eyes. She opened them to see him on his side, leaning forward slightly over her. Her breath hitched; it was not possible for him to be so flawless, hypnotic blue eyes so…

“Bodyguards can only keep you safe to a point, when you shower you are alone.” He said with an odd knowing look in his eye, a wicked smile, interrupting her thought process. She blushed slightly as if he had seen her naked.

“So, what, do you want to protect me?” She cringed at her own words; he is a prince Sintia! Wow, but thinking straight around Delacourte was hard work. “I’m joking. I can handle this on my own.” She swallowed mentally kicking herself for the fifth time.

“I wasn’t offering my help.” He smiled leaning on one arm. “You wouldn’t accept it even if I did. No, I wanted to perhaps give you some self-defense training, ever used a gun?”

“Do I look like someone that has used a gun?” She cocked an eyebrow, but internally, completely charmed by this man, for once a male wasn’t trying to tell her how things were done in a man’s world, wasn’t trying to take over and push her back. For once here was someone wanting to show her how to do it herself, even if it was to potentially kill someone. She frowned realizing how casually they had just spoken about actually using one.

“No, but you have surprised me before.” He moved nearer the intensity in his eye from earlier returning. “I bet you could handle it like a pro, care for a lesson?” He whispered a mischievous spark in his eyes.

“Are you the teacher?” She whispered back suddenly envisioning this man her teacher back home in South Africa; half her town would be overrun with lovesick girls pretending to be Russian putting on mafia accents, and she, their ring leader.

“You don’t trust me to teach you? I might surprise you.” He winked down at her.

“Your men would never allow you to do that.” She shook her head with a playful smile.

“They won’t mind, besides I trained half of them.” He smiled looking up to where his men should be, he frowned looking over his shoulder expecting to find the other, but there was no one.

“Where are my guards?” He asked sitting up looking for any sign of them, even Rod and Don were out of sight. His frown deepened as he listened for any signs of struggle.

“Perhaps they knew what you were trying to plan with all these furs, and champaign.” She teased reaching over him, stretching with the grace of a cat for her glass finishing it before leaning over him again slowly placing it back down. She caught him through the corner of her eye looking down at her lustfully, and positioned herself back down on the furs, blowing gently at a snowflake drifting towards her face. The sky was starting to darken, but she refused to let snow rob her of this time.

She had promised herself on their way here that she would not let him touch her again, but looking at him staring down at her with so much in his gorgeous eyes, she wanted to melt into him, the craving for him stronger than anything she had ever desired.

He leaned forward positioning himself on top of her with all his weight supported in his arms and legs, not touching her. Sintia’s toes nearly curled from the anticipation as she lay back looking up at the man, if she kissed him like this, she doubted the words ‘stop’ would ever come from her.

Delacourte pressed down gently, wanting nothing more than to consume her, the desire for him in her eyes had his body tensing, the wrong brain functioning.

He lowered himself dangerously close to her neck breathing her in.

He had no idea what perfume she wore but her natural scent and the increased heartbeat pulsing in her neck had him silently gulping.

Closing his eyes, he turned away and hopped up to his feet offering her a hand. She was beyond breath-taking laying in the furs surrounded by nothing but stunning nature, but the way he wanted her would hurt. A woman like this deserved better, a gentle lover, a man with all the time in the world for her. He clenched his jaw again trying to expel the thoughts of wanting to be such a man, “Don’t fall for her” His brother’s voice echoed again, forgetting all about his missing guards.

“So, what do you know about guns?” He smiled masking his thoughts as she took his hand raising to her feet as a snowflake drifted down onto their hands.

I’m sorry brother, I fear I fell harder than intended.

* * *

Vinchenzo launched to his feet from behind the desk, he had been answering a few emails, when the lights went out and a window shattered. Instantly he heard rapid gunshots and shouting from his guards outside, a smoke grenade began fogging up the passage leading to his office.

“V!” Called Joel, Don’s brother, and Vinchenzo’s trusted soldier. “V?!” Joel called again rushing through the mansion, banging on doors as he went.

“In here.” Vinchenzo replied stalking towards the bookshelf. “Who is it?”

“Molchalin.” He answered as Vinchenzo yanked the small wolf stone bust on a bookshelf. It slid aside displaying a fully stocked rack of weapons.

“How many?” Vinchenzo sneered as he pulled on a bulletproof vest, he knew they would seek their revenge for just dumping their dead, but he hadn’t expected a retaliation so soon.

“A huge score, we not sure yet.” Joel said watching Vinchenzo grab a few filled cartridges for his Desert Eagle pistol sliding them into his pockets.

Another window in the manor shattered as more rapid gunfire continued. Joel edged to the study door keeping an eye down the passage.

Vinchenzo slung a Mossburg 500 over his shoulder and a Maruli MK46 over the other handing Joel an LMG 006 with an extra block of ammo for it.

Joel looked from the door taking the hand-held machine gun, then to Vinchenzo doing a double-take.

“What?” Vinchenzo asked strapping on a final belt of MK1 Grenades around his waist.

“I knew you had weapons but, this.” Joel gave him a quick once over.

“Everyone has hobbies, weapons are mine.” Snatching his phone off the desk he dialed his brother’s number as panic ran through him for his safety. Da was still in Moscow, they wouldn’t attack there at least. But Delacourte had a few calls to take care of and was only due back in another four hours.

He looked down at the phone as it went to voicemail, he tried again placing it on the desk as more gunfire was heard, voicemail again.

“Shit D!” Vinchenzo tucked the phone into his bulletproof vest and pulled up his MK letting Joel follow him out the study into a smoke-filled passage.

“You should be behind me sir.” Joel whispered, “Your safety comes first.”

“Not today, this is personal.” Vinchenzo replied as they stalked their way through the left-wing of the house. The smoke smell had mostly died out, the vapers no longer affecting them apart from slight irritation to their eyes. The rapid firing of guns had died down to a few random shots till they turned out the passage into a smoked clouded hall. Vinchenzo raised his Maruli MK46 to his shoulder as they scanned the hall, nothing could be seen, with the lights still out, the shadows swirling in the fog were deformed, highlighted briefly by shots before falling.

“Vinchenzo take cover!” Came a guard’s desperate cry somewhere ahead, followed by three shots to the guard’s head and chest.

Before Joel could react Vinchenzo grabbed him by the vest yanking him under the nearest staircase with him. They were all trained to handle pretty much anything, but when his men used his full first name, he knew, something worse than bullets was on its way.

Within moments, he heard it, an RPG had been fired and he blinked watching it part the smoke flying by them down the passage.

“Run.” Vinchenzo growled yanking Joel out. They bolted through another door as the rocket hit the study they had left, exploding. Both men were thrown off their feet with the force into a bathroom just off the hall. Joel whipped around aiming his gun as more shots were fired missing them and shattering the toilet, sink, and wall mirror. Vinchenzo crawled into the shower positioning himself to look through the cracked mirror.

“A fucking RPG really?” Vinchenzo roared holding his weapon close keeping his eyes on the mirror shards still hanging. “You so scared of me you need a fucking rocket?” He called out again a deadly smile pulling at his lips. He pushed his boot out slowly to touch Joel’s side as he lay on the floor aiming, he caught his eye and nodded.

“Try again, you missed.” He called watching the mirror for movement.

As expected, they heard his voice and crept forward through the smoke and debris. Vinchenzo watched as a line of men stalked forward waiting for them to line up, he tapped his foot and Joel let it rain down on them taking out ten men. Vinchenzo kept his eye on the mirror scanning the hall again, but no more shadows moved. They remained still listening to the crackling of fire coming from the study, they adjusted their ears listening for anything else, it was quiet.

“Was that seriously it? You pups are useless.” He called out.

Footsteps came rushing forward shooting blindly, Joel rolled to the left as Vinchenzo unhooked a grenade unpinning it with his teeth, throwing it out.

Leaving the flooded bathroom Vinchenzo pulled off a piece of the mirror and they headed out greeted by grave silence. Stepping slowly over the debris and bodies scattered through the house. He used the mirror to look around the corners waiting for an attack. Spotting movement from the right he whipped around pointing his MK46 till the man raised his hands in surrender.

“V, its Leo.”

“Right-wing clear?” Vinchenzo asked lowing his gun, Leo was part of his team and looking closer now, was holding his arm, and leaning on one leg.

“No, it’s quiet but I know it’s not clear, they took out my team.” Leo said hopping nearer, “I can’t take them by myself, I came to look for more men, if any are left.” Leo said grimly nodding towards Joel in greeting.

“Joel, go with him.” Vinchenzo said pulling out his phone dialling his brother again.

“But sir.”

“Joel, that is an order, Leo won’t make it alone.” They both nodded as Joel helped support Leo heading back down the right wing. Vinchenzo watched them disappear down the dark passage as his cell reached Delacourte voice mail again. He growled with frustration as he turned towards the front door, he had no idea how many men of his or the Molchalin were left alive.

The left wing of his home was on fire, the right filled with the enemy and two of his soldiers, and outside, well he was no fool, outside felt like end of days, he knew they waited out there for him, hungry for his blood. He looked down at his phone again, trying to supress the panic for his brother, he feared not death, he would take them all down if it was the last thing he did, but his brother, fuck, his brother had to then make it.

“D, I hope you alright.” He whispered placing his phone back in his vest, sticking to the shadows as he looked through his buckled front doors. It had begun to snow, the sky dark, spot lights were scanning the house and smoke rose from different parts. Taking a deep breath, he unhooked the Mossburg 500 ensuring it was in front and ready, refilled the MK46.

More shots were exchanged outside and a few more came from the left wing, hoping like hell one of his men had made it.

“Fuck this.” He snapped unhooking two grenades pulling the pins out with his teeth as he charged out the front door throwing each towards the blinding spot lights.

As expected, they opened fire as he rolled to the side hiding behind a wooden support. The one grenade landed right under the van closest to him exploding it up and knocking it into the van nearby. Taking advantage of the explosions he opened fire on the men he saw ensuring each moving Molchalin scum had at least four bullets in them.

He ducked away from the wooden support as it begun to crack with the fire power, moving to the next, he heard the launch of another RPG.

“Shit.” He dived forward off the steps to the protection of the over turned van, hissing at he smacked his head into its exhaust pipes. Watching the rocket take out three support columns collapsing the one side of the roof. He looked at his home being destroyed and a new found rage fuelled him.

Launching to his feet he unhooked the shot gun stalking forward, a man dropped to the floor reaching for a gun as he neared turning to aim, but Vinchenzo ended him mid aim.

The others came into view and the impact from his shot gun sent two flying while the other dropped with is MK.

“You dare, entre my home!” He roared dropping his empty MK refilling his Mossburg 500. “What did you expect?” He roared trying to ignore the sight of all his dead, loyal men scattered about. “An easy target?” He snapped shooting two more popping out from behind a van.

“When you and your brother are separated, yes.” Called a man from behind exiting his home. He whipped around to see a Molchalin man he recognised from the bar holding a rifle. They both pointed their weapons at each other not moving. “You think you can kill my men without consequence and just dump them?”

“They were on our lands; you broke our laws.” Vinchenzo snarled listening carefully around him for any more men trying to sneak up, reaching behind him slowly with his free hand for his Desert Eagle.

“Fuck your laws.” The man spat taking a step nearer kicking one of Vinchenzo’s dead men out the way. Vinchenzo’s nostrils flared at the action, his inner wolf growling at the disrespect, the guard he kicked had been a good man, a loyal guard for many years. “And fuck you and your family.”

Vinchenzo stood still, they were just words, as much as the last had his wolf wanting to explode forth, there were still guns involved. He listened to the man ranting as he stepped nearer, this was a distraction.

His ears picked up on a gun being cocked, it was aimed at the back of his head, the Molchalin in front of him smiled.

“Lucky me, two Alexeyev in one cold afternoon, how perfect.”

“Wait.” Vinchenzo called raising his hand to the man behind to hold fire, keeping his shotgun still aimed at the man in front. His heart began hammering in his chest at the last statement. “Two?” He asked as his blood ran cold, he would happily die to protect his brother, but they couldn’t both fall, they had a duty to their country, a promise to their father, they would not let the Alexeyev line end with them, one had to survive, they promised.

“Your brother.” The Man smiled proudly, “Why else wouldn’t you be able to get a hold of him.” The triumph in his eyes made Vinchenzo’s blood run cold, his gut twist as goosebumps crashed over him. “You, will be my second dead, royal wolf on this glorious day.” He smiled looking up to the snow falling sticking his tongue out to catch a few flakes.

Vinchenzo shook his head, denial, denial, denial. No Delacourte couldn’t be dead, he could still feel him, their connection, it was week but still there. Wasn’t it? He tried to focus, but the panic gripping him wouldn’t let go, why hadn’t he answered his phone? Was he hurt?

“He can’t be dead.” Vinchenzo said through gritted teeth trying to control his breathing, his inner wolf howling, clawing at the surface to take control.

“Goodbye, your majesty.” Came a menacing laugh as both men fired at Vinchenzo.

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