Throne of Power (Throne Duet #1) by Rina Kent
“I want to.”
Ana has been interning at V Corp for almost a year now. She followed computer engineering, which everyone thinks is useless in our line of work. I’m the only one who encouraged her because it’s the thing she chose freely and without shackles. She’s a numbers genius and it would’ve been a waste if she didn’t put that talent to use.
“As you wish. Where’s Granduncle?”
“He’s in the dining room…but you might not want to go in there. Papa is having a meeting with the rest of the Vory.”
“Of course he is, and let me guess—Mikhail is in there?”
Why am I not surprised that Granduncle brought up the whole marriage thing when that pest was around?
“Go back to your studies, Ana. Don’t let any of this get to you.”
She hesitates, then blurts, “Be careful. You know they don’t like you there.”
“They will dislike me more after today.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll be careful,” I say to please her even though I’m already plotting a war.
She steps forward and hugs me. “Stay safe, Rayenka.”
Then she takes moderate steps up the stairs.
I’ve never liked my Russian pet name unless Anastasia says it. When I came to live with Dedushka, he insisted that my mother named me Rai and that it was in fact short for Raisa, a Russian name. He invented that whole story just so he could have a Russian pet name for me.
Since his death, only Anastasia ever calls me that anymore. Oh, and Granduncle Sergei when he’s not mad at me. Let’s just say, he’ll have no pet names for me today, because I’m fully prepared to ruin his meeting.
The one I wasn’t invited to—again.
After Dedushka’s death seven years ago, Ivan, Grandpa’s nephew whom he raised as his own son, wanted power so badly he attempted to kill not only me but also his own uncle, Sergei.
I went through hell and back, working in the background and arranging meetings with the security group, the support group, and the four brigadiers who are the working arm of the Vory. I even went as far as recruiting the powerful boyeviks, whom the brigadiers’ leaders trusted more than their own family.
Dedushka left me the black book that contains names of influential people the Vory deals with. He said whoever has that book is meant to rule. Needless to say, everyone in the brotherhood would’ve killed me before allowing a woman to reign over them.
It’s not that I wanted to, but Dedushka entrusted me with the family name. My mission in life is to protect my family’s honor. Just because I was born a woman, doesn’t mean I’ll let anyone stomp all over me.
But since I knew any resistance would get me, Ana, and Granduncle killed, I gave him the book. With that, Sergei Sokolov became the current Pakhan. The boss. The leader of the brotherhood.
At least on the surface.
Only he and I, along with our most loyal member of the elite group, know that Granduncle has lung cancer he’s been fighting for months.
The moment the rest of the elite group know, it’ll all be over. The Pakhan can’t be weak. He can’t lead the Vory if he can’t stand up straight.
They will remove him and then it will be an all-out war between the four brigadiers, the literal kings who bring money into the brotherhood. The leaders of the security and support group might join too. It will be wolves against wolves, and one thing is for certain—Anastasia and I will either be coerced to marry into their families or killed in the case of disobedience.
Considering my rebellious character, they’ll definitely kill me.
There’s no way in hell they’ll kick me out of the brotherhood that prospered in Dedushka’s time. He started this legacy, and I will continue to uphold it.
While Granduncle has been ruling, I’ve risen up in V Corp’s ranks. It’s the legitimate front of the brotherhood and funnels a lot of money that takes care of most of the tax business.
I snatched the executive director’s post from a greedy associate of the Vory a year ago. In such a short time, V Corp’s net profit grew by fifty percent, and it will continue to in the future.
Granduncle is the CEO, but it’s only in image. In reality, all the work falls on my shoulders.
I’ve never considered it a burden, though, since it’s my way to claim my place at their table. Granduncle began to proudly invite me to the Vory’s meetings due to the accomplishments I’ve been presenting to the brotherhood—but not all of them, apparently, since I wasn’t invited to this one.
Inhaling deeply, I stand in front of the dining room. Its double doors are rimmed with golden ornamentation, and I use the intricate design as an opportunity to meditate.
Right on, war. Here I come.
“Miss Sokolov.” The sound of my last name coming from my left stops me. I stare at Vladimir—or Vlad, as I like to call him.
He’s part of the elite group, a Sovietnik, which is essentially the main coordinator between the Pakhan and the four brigadiers. He plays an important role that keeps the peace between the four brigadiers and makes sure they bring in profit to the Vory.
Vlad is the only member of the elite group that I trust—or more like I trust his loyalty. He was brought in by Dedushka and rose in rank to become who he is today.
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