I held my high heels to my chest, grateful that I’d remembered to grab them. My heart hammered in my chest and I did my best to quiet the sound of my breath. Closing my eyes, I waited and heard the door to the records room open, the hinge squeaking just a little at the intrusion.
The scrape of multiple shoes against the stone floor chilled me to the bone. It wasn’t only one person, it was a group of them.
“She’s in here somewhere. The surveillance footage didn’t show her leaving this room,” a male voice said, rather matter of fact.
Damnit. I could have smacked myself in the head.
Of course he had cameras.
I had scanned only briefly, seeing nothing, but that didn’t mean they weren’t there. I should have been more careful.
“Search the room. Check each row of bookcases,” another man said.
In a panic, I looked around me, trying to see if there was an escape route, but found nothing. Quietly, I moved backwards on my hands and knees until my back hit a wall. The room was small, cool, dank, and completely empty. I couldn’t block the door with anything. There was nowhere to hide and no possible means of escape.
My heart fell.
I heard them push boxes aside, their footsteps loud as they searched the room, and my skin crawled with anxiety. I slid my hand down to my ankle and felt the gun concealed there. I had a limited number of bullets. One full chamber. That was it. I could kill them all, but then more would come. My chances of getting out of here undetected were getting slimmer as every second passed. I had zero options left.
Light poured into my little hiding place as the door swung open.
“I found her!”
Sitting at my desk sipping my favorite vintage, I watched as my guests enjoyed the party. Sometimes I attended, most of the time I didn’t, but I knew the importance of keeping the people who served me happy. I made more money that way. Every once in a while, I needed to impress my business partners with the fruits of my wealth and reward them for looking the other way when we smuggled artifacts, drugs, or even humans using their connections, boats, jets, or whatever. I held gatherings like this pretty much yearly, and the invites were always highly coveted from the rich and famous around the world. I had amassed a collection of very powerful friends over the years, including many members of government, mafia, and national federations across Europe.
I liked it that way. I was untouchable. I felt like I owned the world.
Fuck. After everything I’d been through, I’d earned that right.
The night had begun as usual, until I’d spotted an overzealous partier who’d ventured where she shouldn’t. There was always one, every single fucking time. I had cameras everywhere for this sort of thing. This was my home, built on top of what remained of my castle and I had many expensive and important things to protect behind locked doors. Things a drunk partygoer didn’t need to see.
I’d have to teach her a lesson not to go where she shouldn’t. I licked my lips. I looked forward to the moment when I could taste her.
At least she was making tonight interesting.
I’d sent my men off to investigate. I knew what she looked like, dressed in a scandalous floor-length gown. They’d bring her to me and then she would try to explain. It was always the same story. She got too drunk and got lost on the way to the restroom. At least, that’s probably what she’d say anyway.
I hadn’t recognized her from the camera footage, which meant she hadn’t been here before. Upon searching the faces in earlier recordings from that evening, I found out that she’d come on Antonio Vitale’s arm. I made it my business to know my business partners and I knew for a fact that she’d never come with him before. I wasn’t particularly surprised by this though. The man was a known player and brought new girls around more times than I could count.
A firm knock on my door broke me out of my thoughts.
“Come in,” I commanded. I smiled when my men filtered through the door, dragging in a struggling, feisty little dark-haired Greek goddess.
“Get your fucking hands off of me,” she demanded, and it took a tremendous amount of effort not to laugh at her audacity.
They forced her forward, forming an impenetrable wall behind her. She turned to try to run, but quickly realized that she wasn’t going anywhere. Her hair covered her face and for a moment, I was disappointed.
“She had this strapped to her ankle,” Nick said, the man in charge of all the people I employed to guard me and my estate. He waved a small 9-mm at me, before tucking it into the waistband of his dark gray slacks. It looked like government issue of some kind.
Defeated, she turned back toward me, pushing her hair out of the way, and that’s when my heart stopped.
It was her. The Warrior of Light in the flesh.