Throne of Power (Throne Duet #1) by Rina Kent
Like me, he wants to keep Dedushka’s name in the ruling position.
“It’s either Vova or Vlodya, miss. Don’t use American nicknames on me.” He speaks with a Russian accent, but it’s not as distinctive as everyone else in the brotherhood.
“I will use whatever I want.”
He grunts a response. He does that a lot, grunting and releasing breaths as responses. He’s brooding to a fault, and it especially shows when he expresses how much he really doesn’t like the American half in me or how that half addresses him.
Vlad is generally a grumpy but intense person who barks orders at his soldiers with a tone that’s only meant to be obeyed.
He also has the looks that go with his grumpy personality. I’m not short by any means, but he’s so tall and broad that he blocks my vision whenever he stands in front of me. He dwarfs his suit’s jacket, and his beard adds more to his intimidation factor.
“Now, move, Vlad. I have a meeting to attend.”
His small pale eyes remain the same, but he steps between me and the door. “You were not invited.”
“Still, I have something to say.”
“I think it’s better if you keep your words to yourself, miss.”
“Guess what, Vlad? I don’t care what you think.”
“Vlad.” I meet his impenetrable gaze with my own.
“You don’t want to be inside.”
“The four kings are there.”
“The more the merrier. They all need to hear this.”
He grunts. “You cannot embarrass the Vor in front of them. It’s a sign of weakness.”
“I know that, and it’s exactly why I try to not displease him in front of them, but if you think I will let them rot his mind while I stand by and say nothing, then you don’t know Rai Sokolov.”
“Rot his mind?”
“They want to have Anastasia. Granduncle told her to get ready for marriage, and do you know who’s behind this? Those four fucking kings, that’s who, because Granduncle wouldn’t want to marry her off.”
Vlad’s expression doesn’t change, but he says in a monotone tone, “No.”
“What do you mean by no? I can’t allow them to coerce Ana into marriage. She’s fucking twenty, a kid who doesn’t even understand the world yet and wants to continue studying. I will claw their eyes out before they put her into a wedding dress.”
Vlad stares down at me with what seems like condescension mixed with bemusement. “I’m sure you will.”
“You bet I will, so don’t stand there telling me no.”
“I meant no, as in Sergei won’t force her into this.”
“How would you know if neither you nor I are there, huh?”
“You are not allowed to weaken the boss, miss.”
“Yeah, yeah.” I throw a dismissive hand up at his stern tone. He reminds me of that fact every day.
He remains silent for a second, and I think he’ll fight me tooth and nail on this, but then he asks in a contemplative tone, “How about you do it?”
“You’re older—you can take a husband.”
“Have you lost your mind?”
“This is, in fact, a perfectly sane solution. The only way to protect Anastasia and to continue ruling is to get married.”
“You think I haven’t thought about that? But any husband within the brotherhood will make me into his obedient tool. I would rather die first.”
“What if you can make him your obedient tool?”
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t take a husband to rule for you. Take a puppet you can rule through.”
“And you think such a man exists in the brotherhood? Every last one of them is hungry for power.”
“There are those who, like you, have other people ruling in the background on their behalf. You can just take that position.”
Oh. I have heard stories about that, but I always thought they were myths.
“And how would I be sure such men exist?”
“They do. I’ve encountered a few, and that’s how I came up with this plan.”
“I like the way you think, Vlad.”
He grunts and I smile. Even though he’s a little rough around the edges—okay, a lot—Vlad has my best interests in mind. If we can find someone who fits the criteria, then this can solve Ana’s problems and mine. I can push my puppet husband to the top and then, not only will I preserve my grandfather’s legacy, I will also protect Anastasia from any barbaric wedding.
“Any candidates in mind?” I ask Vlad with a coy smile.
“I will look into it and bring you complete files.”
I grab his chin with my thumb and forefinger. “Have I told you lately that you’re the best?”
“More than enough.” He pushes back, muttering under his breath, “Americans and their need to touch.”
“I heard that, and I’m as much of a Russian as you are, Vlad.”
His face remains the same. “If you go inside, it’s to tell Sergei you’re available for marriage.”
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