Throne of Power (Throne Duet #1) by Rina Kent
Am I, though?
I release a deep breath as memories of sinister blue eyes invade my head. At times, they’re the best part of a dream, and at others, they’re the most horrifying thing in a nightmare, the one thing that jolts me awake in the middle of the night, sweating, shivering, and shaking.
No. I’m over that bastard.
He betrayed me first. Now, it’s my turn.
I push the dining room door open and go inside with my head held high just as Dedushka taught me.
It’s easy to be intimidated by the leaders of the elite group. Most of them, Granduncle included, have served time in jail. While that’s disgraceful in the outside world, it’s a stamp of honor for any member of the Vory.
Granduncle Sergei sits at the head of the table. He’s old, in his sixties. His once-blond hair is now completely white and washed by time. While cancer has made him look older, it didn’t take his hair away, probably because of his stubbornness about refusing to undergo chemotherapy. I try not to glare at him now that I know he’s trying to ship Anastasia off to one of these ruthless men who will eat her alive.
Vlad leaves my side and sits on Granduncle’s right, which is his position as the Sovietnik. On his left sits Adrian, the Obshchak. He holds the same level of power as Vlad, but instead of coordinating between the brigadiers and the Pakhan, Adrian holds a more critical role that entails securing the brotherhood. He knows the right people to bribe and has a line of intelligence that rivals the CIA, probably because he has big connections within the Mossad itself.
Despite being in his mid-thirties, Adrian has been around since Dedushka’s time and played his role without fail. He keeps his cards close, and he’s the most private out of the elite group. That’s why I feel like I should always be wary of him.
The fact that he showed up at this meeting means it is important. Adrian rarely attends gatherings or invites anyone to his house, but he always got a free pass from Dedushka and Granduncle because of his crucial role. In short, no one wants to get on Adrian’s bad side, because those who do? Yeah, no one knows where the heck they disappear to.
He’s silent to a fault, too, and only speaks when he absolutely has to, which is when the boss addresses him. Adrian is loyal to the Vory, but that’s the only thing he’s loyal to. He wouldn’t hesitate to crush me if we somehow ended up on different sides of a battle.
The four kings, aka the brigadiers, occupy the rest of the chairs: Damien, the old man Igor, Kirill, and the motherfucker Mikhail.
The latter glares at me and I glare back, unblinking. Despite being old himself, a bit younger than Sergei, he still stands tall and his blue eyes are piercing to a fault. I have no doubt he’s the one who suggested marrying Anastasia off, probably to one of his sons, who are more loathsome than he is.
That asshole is in charge of the most despicable part of the Vory, the one I’ve been actively trying to eradicate: the prostitution ring.
He wants me gone because I boldly suggested in front of Dedushka that the brotherhood doesn’t need the prostitution ring, that we’re wasting effort on that part when we can secure better money from V Corp.
Mikhail has wanted me dead since then. He’s the one who backed Ivan, my mom’s cousin, to become Pakhan and kill me off. If he thinks I would ever forget about that, he must not know our last name at all.
“What are you doing here?” he snarls, as expected.
I ignore him, take Granduncle’s hand, kiss his wrinkled knuckles, and lift it to my head. This is how all the members of the Vory greet their Pakhan. I might not have an official title or position, but I’m one of the pillars keeping this organization standing whether they like to admit it or not.
Behind every member of the elite stands their best boyevik, which is basically their senior soldier/bodyguard whom they trust with their lives. Usually, these leaders don’t move without a horde of soldiers, but in a meeting with the Pakhan, only one is allowed out of respect to the boss.
My senior boyevik, Ruslan, follows after me and stands behind my chair as I sit beside Damien. The latter grins down at me in that snakelike way. I smile back and don’t bother to hide that it’s fake.
He’s not only a slippery slope; he’s also reckless as hell. Damien is the type of king who orders hits on other crime families within our territories if they’ve disrespected us in any way. He says it’s to teach them to bow their heads when the brothers are around. His violent nature and unsatiated ambition have always kept him on my ‘to be wary of’ list.
Kirill clears his throat from his position opposite me. He has a physique similar to Vlad’s, bulk-wise, but he’s more calm like Adrian, probably due to the camouflage he excels at. His black-framed glasses make him appear sharp, smart, but they don’t hide the intensity of his foxlike eyes. I smirk internally. I have something on that sucker, so now he can’t open his mouth and agree with Mikhail’s statement.
“Do you have something for us, Miss Sokolov?” Igor asks in his serene, but very noticeable Russian accent. He’s also as old as Sergei but appears younger because he’s healthy and still actually works out with his soldiers. Igor’s brigade is the most closed off and family-like. They would go to war for him with their eyes blindfolded if they had to. After Dedushka’s death, he was one of those who helped me put Sergei in power, but he’s also a traditionalist and sexist like the rest of them. He’d never bow down to a woman.
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