“If you hurt her, the war you’ll face is something you’ll never recover from.”
I gave no reaction to Tyler Mykos’s threat, only staring into his black eyes. Though, the impulse to reach across the table and punch him in the face sat heavy in the back of my mind.
The fucker thought he held the cards when I was the one who could make or break this whole deal.
A deal worth over a billion fucking dollars.
A deal that came to the forefront because greedy assholes had decided it was time to fulfill an agreement created over a century ago in Greece.
“What, exactly, do you think I will do to her?” I asked.
The “her” we spoke of was my fiancée, a woman I’d never met, only seen a few pictures of, and had no intention of marrying, money be damned.
However, I wouldn’t let these dicks know it.
When a courier had delivered a message this morning with a request for a meeting with the heads of the Mykos Shipping empire, I’d known it would be an interesting day.
My would-be future in-laws and I weren’t the typical businessmen. We ran organizations, or let’s say, families, with generational histories. Ones tied by deals, feuds, marriages, and so forth from the times when everyone lived in Europe—Greece, specifically, in our case.
Moving to the United States had eased some of the old-world views, but not all of them. Especially when it came to running our enterprises.
If there was something to say about families like ours, we were traditionalist and patriarchal as fuck.
Hence the reason we were here. The first female born into the Mykos family in over one hundred years.
Olympia Nyx Mykos. My fucking fiancée.
I liked my life the way it was. Business was business, and personal was personal. Nothing comingled.
Then my idiot uncle had to open his fucking mouth, reminding the world the Mykoses had finally produced a female offspring, and it was my obligation to marry the girl in order to end the century-long feud.
And, of course, the feud was caused by the last Mykos female because she decided to run away with her bodyguard, or chauffeur, or whatever the hell he was, instead of marrying my great-grandfather.
Now here I was, sitting in one of the most exclusive suites of a boutique hotel in Manhattan, trying to get to the bottom of whatever these fuckers wanted from me.
“You have a reputation, Drakos.”
As if Tyler Mykos was all innocence and sunshine. Back in our college days, we’d shared a woman or two plenty of times.
Tyler sat next to his father, Phillip Mykos, and his other three brothers, Evan, Damon, and Nico. He posed as Phillip’s second, but everyone knew the truth. The eldest of the Mykos brothers was the power behind the Mykos shipping and syndicate empire. Nothing happened without his say-so, and this meeting was every inch Tyler’s way of conducting business.
No formal offices of any kind, only private suites in high-end hotels, with five-star service while negotiating business terms.
They thought this little show of power could intimidate me. They’d better get their shit together. When one was raised under the thumb of a son-of-a-bitch grandfather like Giorgos “Gio” Astros Drakos, it was rare that anything could frighten a man.
“Why don’t you enlighten me on this reputation, Mykos.”
“Your preference for convenient women who give you no trouble.”
Oh yes, I knew all about my bride. No one would describe her as convenient. She was known as the Mykos Hellion for having a tongue as sharp as the blades she was reported to pull on people who stepped on her wrong side.
Though some of the shit I’d heard about her seemed so off the wall, it wouldn’t surprise me if these assholes planted the information to keep people away from her.
“Are you saying your sister is going to be a troublesome wife?”
“Not all of the rumors about her are true.” Tyler’s tone grew cool, telling me I’d pushed a button.
Meaning some were.
“Spell it out for me, Mykos.”
“At the end of the year, she better be in the same state she is now.”
Was he implying his sister was a virgin?
Were twenty-six-year-olds innocent nowadays? Maybe with the type of protection these guys probably had around her. But if she was the rebel everyone believed, I’d highly doubt it.
Though, I had no plans to find out otherwise. That road ensured these assholes remained a permanent part of my life.
“And what state is that?”
Phillip Mykos spoke this time. “Happy. If my baby girl sheds a tear because of you, I will make sure your world burns.”
The way he held my gaze told me he meant every word.
Well, well, well. Wasn’t that interesting.
The last thing anyone would ever believe of Phillip Mykos or his four sons was that they worried about the happiness of anyone else.
Then again, it had taken over one hundred years for a female to come from the Mykos line, and it would make sense for a woman to be their greatest weakness.
“I have no intention of making your daughter’s life hard. This is a business arrangement between us. As long as your daughter and I understand each other, we will have a pleasant future together.”
“That is where you’re wrong.”
The hell it was. We weren’t ever going to be some happy family.
“Meaning my sister is personal. You fuck with her, you fuck with us. Therefore, it’s personal until the engagement ends.”
“First of all, what is it you think I’ll do to her?” I leaned forward, ready to wipe the threat from the smug shit’s face. “And second of all, what makes you think I will end this engagement? The contract states she’s mine. You gain half the trust, except her portion of it, which will go into a new trust for our children. It’s a win-win for me.”
Tyler met my challenge, ready to push up from his seat. “Listen, asshole. You don’t want her any more than she wants you. Everyone knows about your perfectly chosen bride waiting in the wings.”
Before I could say anything, Phillip set a hand on Tyler’s arm and rose from his seat, taking a set of folders from one of his men before passing one to me.
“We have an offer that will make it worth your while to break things off with my daughter at the end of the engagement term stated in the original contract between our elders.”
Settling back in my chair, I glanced at Kasen Alexandros, my cousin and my second-in-command. He shrugged and then scanned the contents of the papers.
As I skimmed my own documents, I couldn’t believe what I was reading.
Were these fuckers for real?
This was the last thing I expected when I walked into this hotel suite.
For years, I’d been trying to purchase a long-haul cargo port in Cypress to no avail, only to find out later a conglomerate of Mykos Shipping owned it and would never sell to anyone with a Drakos name.
“You’re using the very port that you refused to sell me for the last five years as incentive to walk away from your daughter?”
“My empire is strong without it.” Phillip shrugged. “You, on the other hand, can benefit from it tenfold. We will sign over our port in Cypress the second the trust clears and the engagement officially ends.”
When my grandfather, Pappous Gio, had died in a helicopter crash a little over ten years ago, he’d left me a shipping conglomerate and territory poised for a hostile takeover. At twenty-three, I’d taken up the reins and, with the help of a few key allies, had fixed the mess my grandfather had created.
Today, Drakos Shipping stood strong enough to take on the Mykos empire, even if its patriarch believed otherwise.
“Tell me, what is it you think I will do to your precious Olympia if I marry her?”
“Her name is Nyx. Call her Olympia, and you’re likely to get a blade to the throat,” Evan, the youngest of the Mykoses, interjected with a tinge of humor rarely heard out of any of the brothers in public.
Deciding to rephrase the question, I asked, “Why are you so determined to keep me from marrying her?”
“Our world isn’t right for her,” Phillip answered. “She needs her freedom. You’re not the man for her.”
I studied the old man I’d viewed as a cold, calculating bastard my whole life. So many times, I’d wondered if he even had a heart. Especially when stories reached me of his detached, almost surgical means of information extraction from those who crossed him. He ran his empire with an iron fist, or the better words were “honed blade,” and he’d taught his children all of his methods.
Well, more than likely the brothers were the ones who’d taught Olympia—correction, Nyx—her noted skills with knives. I highly doubted Phillip, with his overprotectiveness of his daughter’s happiness, would want her doing anything in such an unrefined realm.
The fact he was showing this side of himself to me said his daughter truly meant a hell of a lot more to him than just a bargaining chip for alliances.
Might as well let him know they were off the hook. It would make the next year a hell of a lot easier.
“On that, we are in agreement. As she isn’t the woman for me.”
“Then you accept our terms.”
“I have one term to add.”
All five of the Mykos men narrowed identical gazes and waited.
“I want your backing when I take out the one who killed my parents and orchestrated my grandfather’s helicopter crash.”
“So, you figured it out, did you?” Phillip asked with a slight nod. “It’s a hard lesson to learn who to trust.”
“I figured it out years ago. I needed to put the chips into play.”
“Is that so? Giving him enough rope to hang himself?”
“I always knew you were more like Ky than Gio. It must have pissed your grandfather off to hell and back to know he couldn’t beat his errant son out of you.”
His words felt like a punch to the gut, knowing how wrong they were.
I was my grandfather’s creation. Everything he couldn’t get from my father, Kyros, he’d molded into me, sometimes with a belt or fist.
My father was the second son, the one who shouldn’t have inherited the empire but had because his brother had died in a territory war. He had been the son who’d shunned responsibility and married a woman of his choice instead of his dead brother’s fiancée to keep a family alliance. The son Pappous couldn’t control. When my parents had been killed in a car crash, my grandfather got a do-over—me.
I gave no reaction to Mykos’s statement and instead asked, “So, do I have your support?”
“Yes,” Tyler answered for Phillip. “We don’t like traitors in our midst, especially when they’re family. You follow our terms, we follow yours.”
I nodded. “In a little over one year’s time, I will break the marriage contract, we will split the trust, and you will hand over the port. Then, when I call on your backing, you will show up to take out the trash.”
“Excellent.” Tyler lifted a glass of wine to his lips, took a deep swallow, and then said, “One more thing.”
“No one outside of the people in this room will know about this arrangement.” The order in Tyler’s tone grated on my last nerve.
“What about Nyx?”
Nico spoke for the first time. “Obviously, she will find out. This does concern her life, after all.”
“What you’re leaving out is that she has no idea we are meeting now. Why?”
“There was no point in saying anything until we had your agreement.”
I studied the men. They were most definitely keeping something from me. Whatever it was, I planned to find out.
“I see. Is that the last stipulation for our agreement?” I asked, ready to get the hell out of the hotel and on the road to catch the flight waiting for me in the hangar at JFK.
“It is. One year from the date of the official engagement we will meet again and finalize everything.” Tyler stood, offering me his hand.
Rising from my seat, I shook his hand. “Now, gentlemen, I have another meeting to attend. I will see you in three months’ time, at my engagement party.”
Without another word, I moved to the door.
I waited to speak until Kasen and I were in my car and my men were following behind me. I couldn’t trust any of the Mykoses not to have men stationed around the hotel property.
“I want anything and everything on Nyx Mykos. They are too fucking protective of her happiness for my taste.”
“We’re already watching her. She’s clean as an angel. For the last month, we’ve watched her day and night. All she does is play with her plants, hang out with her cousins, and have her bodyguards shadow her. She’s boring as hell. I’m beginning to think she was a target of those socialite bitches and that’s why she moved to Vegas.”
It was possible. Anyone who refused to conform to the standards of our world suffered the ramifications of the majority, especially the women. Being different wasn’t a good thing. And Nyx Mykos marched to the beat of her own drum.
But then again, my gut said that line of thought was all bullshit. And my gut had never let me down.
Well, I’d find out soon enough.
It was time for one last meeting, one to set the rules for the next year.
With my fiancée.
I couldn’t help but smile.
Her invitation had arrived in a similar fashion as her brother’s, but more upfront, to the point, and with the complete confidence that I’d fly across the country on such short notice.
I have an offer you can’t refuse to end our engagement.
To learn the details, meet me at 7 p.m. tonight @ Epieikeia.
Ida Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas.
Her sheer balls made her proposal irresistible. It had been a long fucking time since anyone had piqued my curiosity.
And in the way my men and Kasen seemed so enamored of her, it made it more than imperative to find out if she was the nature nymph or the New York hellion.
“When you meet her, are you going to let her know about the deal with her family or are you going to string her along to see what she offers?”
“What do you think?”
Kasen shook his head. “I think this is going to blow up in your face. Don’t fuck with her, she’s an innocent. Plus, you need her family as much as they need you.”
“No Mykos is innocent.”
“This one is.”
“Stop worrying. By the time her family tells her about our agreement, we will have established our ground rules.”
“Let me guess. No scandals, no trouble, no fucking around.”
“I’m the one with the power of the morality clause to my benefit. Her family loses everything if she doesn’t stay in line. Might as well make it clear.”
“As I said, you won’t have any problem with any of this. She is nothing like the rumors.”
“Then it won’t be any problem to reiterate it.”
“Wouldn’t it make your life easier for the next year to have a fiancée who likes you versus one who hates you?”
“This is business. I don’t care how she feels about me as long as I have the money and my agreement with her family stands.”
“Famous last words.”