Blood Rites

By: Amity Cross

(#2.5 Royal Blood) by Amity Cross


One

Vaughn





The thing about double lives is that no matter how hard you try not to cross the streams…nature always finds a way to fuck you over.

I stood on a side street in Kensington, London, the noise of the city ebbing and flowing around me. This whole area stunk of money and society, and the stores on this street were of the boutique variety. High prices and quality.

My gaze ran over the display of crystal in the shop window I stood out front of. Twenty-seven years on the planet and my life had amounted to this? What was next for my empire? Expansion was on the horizon, international expansion, but I needed a partner to take me there.

“Vaughn?”

I glanced up at Nathaniel Hawkes, my trusted bodyguard and advisor. He was the brawn of our outfit. Standing at six foot five, he had the shoulders of a rugby player and the aim of a military trained sniper. He was deadly with a weapon and his fists. He was ugly as fuck with his shaved head pockmarked skin, but he was quality. We looked a right pair together, slick suits that screamed wealth and a dangerous kind of refinement.

“Ready for some fun, Hawkes?” I asked, grinning.

“Always.” He gestured for me to lead the way.

Opening the door to the shop, I strode inside, the little bell ringing to signal our entrance. The shop floor was lined with all sorts of items, antique grandfather clocks, an assortment of vases and sculptures and display cases of crystal and jewelry. All old, all vintage and all worth a lot of money.

Our target emerged from out the back, a huge smile on his face. He was this thirty something, deadbeat business owner, who couldn’t seem to handle his cash flow very well for such high-ticketed merchandise. His business was suffering for his crack habit. When he laid eyes on us, his expression fell.

“Good morning,” I declared. “Expecting someone else?”

I picked up a business card and flipped it over. Jameson Jones, Pawnbroker. Glancing up at Jones himself, I flung it at him, my eyes narrowing. He looked like he was about to piss himself.

“Your payment is late, Jones,” I said, running a finger along the top of the glass display case. Diamonds sparkled under the lighting as I moved. Rings, necklaces, exquisite workmanship. Too bad he didn’t make them or I’d probably spare him the right hook he was about to cop to his jaw.

“I know. I’m sorry, but—”

I held up a finger to silence his pathetic excuses. Hawkes hovered by the door and there was a click as he locked it. Jones glanced from me to Hawkes with a look of absolute terror.

I rarely went with the brawn to send a message to my clients, so Jones was right to be terrified. The short of it was, from time to time I enjoyed getting my hands dirty. As long as it didn’t mark my suit and I got what I wanted, then we were all good.

“Fifty thousand pounds, Jones.” I leaned over the display case. “That’s a lot of money for a man like you.”

“Business is slow…”

Excuses. Men like Jones were all the same. The never knew their limits, they always got in too far over their heads and ended up paying the ultimate price. I glanced down at the diamonds. Not quite fifty grand, but it was a start.

Jones began to pale. “No, not those, I need them for a very important client, Mr. Vaughn.”

“Some society rich bitch?” I asked, cocking my head to the side.

“They’re vintage…heirlooms.” He wrung his hands together, becoming agitated.

Narrowing my eyes, I said, “Come here.”

Jones hesitated.

“Come here, Mr. Jones,” I snapped, pointing to the floor in front of me.

He rounded the counter, his features pale, and stood before me. Curling my fingers into a tight fist, I struck. My hand connected with Jones’ jaw and his head snapped to the side. I sucker punched him so hard he stumbled against the display case and fell to the floor. While he was down, I kicked him viciously in the stomach.

I gestured to Hawkes who rounded the counter and began gathering the diamonds as Jones moaned on the floor like a pathetic weasel.

My daytime career was Financial Investment. My secret nighttime career was hard drugs, women and weapons. Military grade arms, cocaine, heroin, that kind of thing. Big money, bad men. The two lives never crossed and that’s the way I liked it. My extracurricular activities were kept off the society pages and in the shadows, where they belonged.

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