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Lethal Legacy: Unclaimed Mate

Luka Petrov refused to let the brutal legacy of his Slavic vampire father and the unsavory legacy of his human mother define him. As Dhampirs, he and his brothers had vampiric powers and wealth that ensured that they were feared and revered in both the immortal and human worlds. Fate gave him a mate he neither wanted nor needed. His fated mate was supposed to further his Slavic lineage, which was on the brink of extinction, but Luka wasn’t interested in continuing that lineage. Their legacy was steeped in blood and violence, a lethal heritage that didn’t deserve to be preserved, at least that is the reason Luka had always given. He refused to admit to the real reason, not even to himself.

Unfortunately, there were many in the immortal world that wanted to see the end of the Petrov line, the existing line and were willing to violently ensure their demise. 

Unwilling to claim his mate, and equally determined to protect and shield her from his enemies, Luka would destroy anyone who meant her harm. There was nothing he wouldn’t do to protect her.

Luna Cambridge didn’t understand the immortal world she’d been suddenly thrust into. Being told that the man she had only seen in her dreams was her fated mate had initially made her heartbeat accelerate with the possibilities, and then she met his mistresses. No power on heaven or earth would compel her to give in to the fated mate allure with a man who had so little respect for women, and certainly had no concept of monogamy. Fate made a mistake, and she wasn’t about to be lured into a path that is destined to fail spectacularly. 

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Book Excerpt

Prologue

“Extinction is the rule. 

Survival is the exception.”

 – Carl Sagan

 

Luka

I know you’ve heard it all before. How some diabolical experience in someone’s childhood changed their perception of life or made them into the hardcore bastard that they turned out to be. How their parents were such piss-poor examples of humanity that it couldn’t help but screw up their psyche and turn them into a psychopath. Yeah, psychopath, because that’s what some would call me. I don’t do emotions, play well with others, or give a damn about anything or anyone. Sure, I care for my father and brothers, but they’re family. I’m not completely devoid of humanity.

I have heard someone once describe me as wearing a cool emotionless mask, still others say I lacked a beating heart, but most have said that I had no emotions at all. Who gives a shit what they think?

I’m not going to try to justify my antisocial persona, but at this point, all you need to know is that I’m a ruthless bastard. Not the kind whose parents aren’t married, although I have that label too. I am the kind of bastard who does whatever it takes to protect my family and to hell with anyone else. I’m the kind of cold bastard who takes what I want, when I want it, and couldn’t give two shits of what anyone had to say about it. 

It was part biology—I was born without a soul—and the other part was sociology. This fucked-up thing called life ripped my heart from my chest. With no soul, no heart, my cold mask covered what I was, an abyss.

Yeah, I wear my antisocial, cold demeanor like a badge of honor. I embrace that shit with no apology because I don’t have to apologize. Ever.  I am fucking rich enough and powerful enough to destroy anyone financially or physically who gets in my way. I am untouchable. 

Some men thought that they were above the law. Fuck, I make the law. There was no politician or head of state that didn’t answer to our family in some way or another. Forget China. Every government of every major country in the world was indebted to us.

And if my wealth and power weren’t already unfair advantages, for some fucked-up reason, fate gave me a face and body that women couldn’t resist, and men feared. Yeah, I was what humans called handsome, attractive, or whatever else they wanted to call me to justify being drawn to me. I did mention that men feared me, as well they should. I am a lethal predator on even a good day. I didn’t need human weapons to kill. I am the weapon.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m not human. 

So, if you’re looking for a reason to like me, to approve of who and what I am, there isn’t one. And I don’t need you to like me. I don’t need anyone, except my father and brothers. The only family I have. I thought you should know that shit up front before you start hoping for some redeeming qualities to reveal themselves. There aren’t any.

I told you all of that to prepare you. So, don’t act like you’re surprised by the shit that I do or say. But, just in case you need to understand better, I will take you back to my beginning.

 

 

London England, 

1602

 

 

You know how people liked to label deadbeat dads as sperm donors? Well, let me introduce you to my egg donor, Jimena Broderick. I have always referred to her as Jimena, never mom, mummy, or God forbid, momma.

She was the most popular madam in London in the early 1600s with a reputation of being willing to perform any sexual act, being the most skilled at her craft, and being one of the most beautiful women in the world. She was a fucking World Wonder before that became a thing.

Men flocked to London in droves to sample her charms. None left unsatisfied or with a complaint. Yes, my egg donor was a sexual talent and a fucking beauty. Some would call her a seductress, but that was just too damn pretty a name for her brand of evil.

Because of her popularity, the price for admission was ridiculously outrageous, but then that only made her more in demand and more narcissistic. Having the exorbitant entry fee was only half the battle. She was known to deny entry to any man she suspected of being diseased or unclean. 

To ensure disease-free encounters, it was said that she had a legion of doctors on retainer to ensure her health after each night of debauchery. She rarely allowed a man his release in her; that was another price. A king’s ransom. And even then, she would have her fleet of doctors flush the seeds from her immediately after.

As intended, there were few men who could afford such an indulgence for one sexual act. Despite the decadent fee for such a privilege, Jimena still managed to get pregnant and give birth a total of three times from encounters with a mysterious male. Mysterious because she had no idea who he was, only that when he visited her, he came to her bedroom without being detected by any of the men she had guarding her home. Obviously, he was not a paying customer. And he kept her occupied for more than twenty-four hours, ensuring his seed stayed exactly where he wanted it. It didn’t help that the mystery man ensured that her doctors were painfully incapacitated whenever they tried to abort his baby, ensuring that she had no assistance from that avenue. No one wanted to suffer the penalty the mystery man inflicted.

Jimena was convinced that the mystery man did something to her that made her feel as though she was in a trance and unable to resist him. Or perhaps it was the blood-red wine he force-fed her before and after sex. The sex was beyond anything she had ever experienced before, and she couldn’t lie and say that she wasn’t an enthusiastic participant. She could have also sworn that he bit her in the neck each time and the erotic feel of her blood gushing through her veins and his hard body riding her only added to the eroticism of the sex between them. It was too bad that whenever she looked in the mirror after there were no bite marks or even a bruise to evidence any such thing happened, nor was there any trace of the red wine he had forced her to drink.

Whenever she accused him of putting her in a trance or drugging her in the rare moment of lucidity during his visits, he ignored her pleas. She had still to even hear his voice because he never spoke.  His visits were always the same, sex that lasted most of the night and into the next day. 

Jimena was enraged by his insistence on impregnating her not once but three times. He even insisted that she breastfeed his little mutts. Her words, not mine. There were three of us, my brothers and me. My name is Luka, named after my grandfather, I later learned. My brothers are Drako and Xander, names insisted on by our mysterious father. We are barely a year apart. I was the oldest at three years old, and looked as though I was seven, when my mother first started spewing her shit at me. Drako was two years old and also looked much older. And my youngest brother, Xander, was the baby at only six months old, but he was already walking and had a mouth filled with teeth. It was then that I had my first life lesson in evil.

Jimena had started complaining that our father was training us to drink blood from her wrists and breasts. Again, something she wasn’t absolutely sure of because whenever it happened, she felt drugged and had no markings to prove her vague memories. I didn’t bother confirming or denying her ranting. Father had already started my training on how to feed me and my brothers. She was sometimes the most convenient source, but not always.

It didn’t matter what she remembered, though. It was enough that we were a disruption to her business, and she had never wanted children anyway. And although Jimena was a woman of means, owning a large house in one of the most fashionable parts of London and an estate in the countryside, she refused to part with her hard-earned quid for useless children that she hadn’t asked for. She arranged for a skilled doctor to make her physically unable to become pregnant again. Unfortunately, his methods so physically ravaged her body she almost died. After almost a month, bedridden and needing further surgery, Jimena was unable to continue her profession. 

The loss of the use of her body did nothing to stop Jimena. She turned her energies to acquiring more women and girls to her brothel, whether by fair or foul means. She had girls in her employ as young as four years old. She was utterly depraved.

My father went into a blind rage when he came on his six-month visit and found that she could no longer accommodate him physically. She laughed with demented glee at thwarting him in this. I’m sure my father wouldn’t have left us if he had known what she had been capable of, but then again, how could he not know? That still puzzled me.  

According to her, boys were useless, and his sons were little more than savages if her repeated memories of us at her wrist were any indication. She was tired of our silent menacing stares and our habit of lurking in dark places that terrified her prostitutes and customers alike. Whoever heard of little boys who refused to play outside in the sun? Worst of all, we were still supposed to be toddlers, but we looked and acted significantly older. Girls she could have groomed to take over her brothel, but boys? What good were they?

It was then that she added a new product to her brothel. Young boys. She thought her first merchandise would be her sons. Drako and me.

Our loving egg donor locked us in one of the bedrooms with a huge hairy man. To us, this man, whose large frame jiggled, and made the sound of flesh slapping against flesh as he walked, his belly so big he looked as though he had already swallowed several children, he was what grotesque would look like. He was the largest, fattest man I had ever seen.

I wasn’t afraid though. Our father had taught me how to protect my brothers, how to disable an adult and run. However, my lesson had been on how to punch a man in the nuts, but this obscenely fat man probably wouldn’t feel any blows aimed there. So, when he made the mistake of reaching for me first, I struck the fat fuck with my fist to the soft tissue at the side of his head. His temple. Leaving an impressive bloody imprint of my small fist. I didn’t know then that I had that kind of strength. It had been purely reflex to defend me and Drako.

The blow didn’t kill him as I initially thought it did. The fucker’s vacant stunned eyes stared back at me even as his massive body fell back on the filthy sheets of the bed. Since his heart was still pumping, wildly I might add, and my brothers and I were thirsty, we found the veins at his wrists because the fat around his neck was too thick. Yeah, in that moment we were the little savages our egg donor often called us.

Jimena found us a few hours later. She had clearly expected that the fucker had buggered us. Her shrieks of outrage on finding the bastard’s pasty carcass, lifeless and drained of blood, brought three of her guards bursting into the room. As we had sealed over the puncture marks, there was no clear evidence of what we had done. The guards assumed that the bastard’s heart had failed from excitement. Our egg donor glared at us suspiciously.

We belched loudly, taking malice delight in watching her eyes bug out in understanding of what we had done.

“Just to be clear,” I told her menacingly, “this is what will happen to any perv you try to give us to.”

She shrieked again. And from the evil glare she directed at me, I knew that the bitch would try again. For the next week, I never let Drako or Xander from my sight. I watched them like a hawk. And when she tried a second and third time to lock us in that bedroom with men, the result was the same. The last one, we didn’t bother cleaning our faces from the feeding. We were deliberately messy feeders, letting blood spill on our clothes even.

Her guards had a new fear in their eyes when they looked at us. The whispers started then, and people started making the sign of the cross whenever they saw us.

I encouraged their fear by staring at them vacantly, with cool disinterest, and a chilling lack of fear.

But then our egg donor had one last evil to visit on us.

Jimena sold us.  Yeah, you’re reading me right. The bitch sold us. She sold us to John Tillerman, the leader of a group of young boys for three pence.

Tillerman was known to be one of the most brutal and inhuman criminals in London’s slums. And after living with Jimena’s depravity, that was saying something. He had groups of young boys who did anything from chimney sweeping to picking pockets, robberies to prostitution, kidnapping for ransom and sometimes murders for hire. There was nothing Tillerman didn’t force his band of boys to do. Some even hinted that he trained the boys in all things before sending them out. This was who Jimena sold her sons to, her own flesh and blood.

I was not only tall and lanky but I was also incredibly fast, strong, and already had a fearlessness in my cold eyes that unnerved the fuck out of people. With the dark coloring and the steely gray eyes of my father, I was instantly feared by Tillerman’s other boys, despite them being much older than me. Tillerman wasn’t too much better, even though he tried to hide it. I knew because I could smell the bastard’s fear.

However, despite his fear, Tillerman sent my brothers and me to perform a chimney sweep after only hours of owning us.

There is something you need to understand about me. I don’t let anyone fuck with my brothers. My father taught me that early.

So, Tillerman’s orders for my little brothers to climb into a tight, dark tunnel was fucking dead on arrival. Although, at six months old, Xander could walk and talk as though he was a two-year old toddler, he was still a terrified baby. So, the chimneys assigned to him and Drako were cleaned by me despite Tillerman trying to intimidate me into letting my brothers do it. 

The cold glare I leveled on his ass forced him to shift his gaze from me, swallow audibly, and breathe a sigh of relief when I didn’t punch his face in. He next put us on the street to pickpocket since I finished a day’s work within two hours instead of the ten hours for three boys he had anticipated. This shit went on for two days with Tillerman being beyond pleased at how proficient and efficient we turned out to be.

Already starved from lack of opportunity to feed as our father had taught us, I knew that I had to get my brothers to safety. My brothers were distressed, and hungry, as regular human food didn’t quite satisfy us, at least not in the meager quantities we were given. We were used to feeding weekly, but the little food given to us didn’t keep the hunger pangs at bay. 

I waited until the dead of night before stealthily creeping out of the makeshift lodging Tillerman forced us into with the rest of the boys. During one of our pickpocket assignments, while we roamed in some darkened corners of the city, I noticed the staff entrance of a very large hotel that didn’t seem to be well guarded. Besides, there was something about that hotel that called to me, that compelled me.

It took nothing for me and my brothers to slip into the building during one of those unguarded moments. We not only found opportunities to feed, but we also found our father.

Chapter one

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper

and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”

 – Laurell K. Hamilton

 

Luka

St. Petersburg

Present Day…

 

“That’s a very talented mouth, Elena,” I praised.

Her reply was only an enthusiastic hum because her mouth was stuffed full of my cock.

My praise given, I continued to tongue fuck Sofia, and finger fuck Nicolette.

All three women moaned with escalating pleasure as I pumped my cock, my tongue and finger faster and deeper. With the low-level energy infused in each point of contact, all three women were soon a symphony of high sopranos ricocheting throughout the large room.

I increased the speed and energy voltage just a bit more, and all three women screamed in release. Like a well-choreographed dance, mere seconds passed before Elena crawled on top of me and rode my cock with an expertise that would make a porn star take notes. I wasn’t passive. I gripped her waist and tunneled into her at vampiric speed, fucking her as I knew she liked. Still sensitized from her recent cum, she was soon helplessly screaming through another orgasm. And the dance continued as both Sofia and Nicolette took their turns riding my cock to the same devastating, erotic end.

I wasn’t surprised when they curled down on the bed beside me in pliant satisfaction, sandwiching me between their damp, feminine bodies. Still in a slight daze, all three women were trembling in the aftermath of being thoroughly fucked. Whoever crawled down in front of me, I didn’t know and didn’t care, I curled an arm around their hip, and cocked their ass to receive me. I was soon fucking the available ass as hard as I liked. What had gone before was for them, now this was for me.

With the others kissing my back, fingering my hair, caressing my chest, wherever they could reach, the room was again drowning in collective moans and grunts of sexual gratification. With my own climax close, I gripped one of the feminine necks behind me and dragged the creamy flesh to my elongated canines. Warm, sweet blood flowed onto my tongue, and the woman under my canines reacted violently to my bite. The pheromones in my saliva triggering a sexual stimulant that had her climaxing almost instantly. I continued to feed from the writhing female as pleasure licked throughout my body, and the familiar tingle up my spine and pelvis crushed through me as I poured my seed.

I left my mistresses to their slumber after wiping their memories of my feeding. The sex they would remember, and in fact their bodies will feel the impact of the sex for a few days. Every time they move, their pussies and asses will still be pulsing from my possession. I headed toward my castle at vampiric speed. My mistresses, who were all humans, lived in a cottage on the estate, separate from the castle. They had served my sexual and feeding needs, and now I had to return to the clusterfuck of my brother and his mate’s visit.

Standing in the doorway of my bedroom, I gave Anya one of my cold, stony stares. The bitch was stretched out on my bed naked in a wanton pose as though to entice me. As if I would touch that putrid bitch again. Instead, I wanted to rip her throat out. Anya represented everything I hated most in females. 

The female vampire, although beautiful with sensual, vampiric allure in spades, did nothing for me. Even if I had not been returning from a visit with my mistresses, I wouldn’t have been interested. 

“Privet, Luka.” Her sultry, breathy voice only annoyed me further. 

The need to protect my brother from this viper had my fangs aching to descend and destroy.

“Come to me, Luka. Let me show you how much I love you, how much I can satisfy you as no other woman can,” Anya entreated softly. She moved sensually on the black silk sheets, her slender body, smooth porcelain skin, pert perfect C-cup breasts, conclave flat stomach, tiny waist, and round ass were provocatively displayed. Feminine perfection. Anya was making every attempt to entice me to come to her, but I wasn’t even a little tempted. 

“Get the fuck out of my house, Anya.” I didn’t raise my voice; I never did. I not only wanted her out of my bed, but I wanted her out of my house. I wish I could push her ass out of my and my brother’s life just as easily. However, I knew that Anya had her hooks in Xander so deep that my younger brother was completely infatuated with the golden-haired beauty.

“I know you still want me, Luka, and you can have me. Xander won’t be back for hours,” she murmured seductively, running her fingers slowly, provocatively over her pale, alabaster skin, the hardened tips of her perky breasts, her stomach, and lean waist. She knew how beautiful she was and that most men would find it virtually impossible to resist her. 

I’d gained immunity from her shit when I glimpsed what a cold-ass bitch she was. And this kind of behavior only reinforced my view. I would stick my dick into a fucking meat grinder before I would screw that bitch. 

“You and I have been over for more than fifty years, Anya. The day that you became my brother’s mate only made it more definitive.” I moved farther into the room even as I sent a mental command to my assistant, Zachary, to come remove this unwanted guest from my house. Zachary was another werewolf from my head of security, Owen’s pack, one of many that staffed my castle. “Why you thought becoming my brother’s mate would grant you permanent access to my bed still baffles me.”

“I love you, and you refused to see me. What else was I supposed to do?” Anya cried. “No one gets to see you socially unless they’re family or your current lovers. This is the only way for me to be with you.” 

“You’re not with me,” I gritted out. “You’re nothing to me.”

“Don’t say that,” she sobbed. 

If I was the type of man prone to laughter, I would have laughed at her fake-ass crying. I simply ignored her, knowing that if she didn’t move under her own steam, Zachary would soon be here to drag her out. I certainly wasn’t going to touch her or even go near her. She would like that shit too much.

“We could be together if you’d let us. Xander would give me up for you. Just say the word, Luka.”

This woman was clearly delusional. I moved toward the drinks’ bar that was kept well stocked in my room and poured myself a glass of red wine. I briefly stilled as I brought the glass to my lips. If I hadn’t been watching I wouldn’t have noticed that Anya seemed to be holding her breath, waiting on something. Was she wondering if I would kill whoever had helped her get into my bedroom? I frowned at that thought. Yes, how did this bitch get past my security?

Instead of taking the drink, I lowered my glass and glared at her. “How did you get in here? How did you get into my bedroom?” I could read her mind and find out, but she had her shields up, and I rarely used my gift when there was a chance of detection. Anya knew that I could read minds as some vampires could, but she didn’t know that I could override her shield, and I wanted to keep it that way. If I tried to read her mind, I would have to hurt her to get past her shield, and she would know what I’d done. My brothers and I always kept the immortal world guessing at the extent of our powers. No one ever knew for sure exactly what we were capable of.

Besides, reading the thoughts of others was never pleasant, as most people were extremely selfish and their thoughts were bent to their selfish desires and dark inclinations. Anya would be even more so.

She bristled with indignation, but I didn’t miss her brief expression of impatience before she masked it. “You invited us here, remember? Xander’s birthday?” she hissed.

“The invitation was to Xander, not you,” I told her coldly. “In fact, feel free to interpret any invitation to my brother from me, is to my brother only. No plus one. Ever.”

“You are such a self-righteous bastard, Luka! You will get what’s coming to you! You will get it, and I will dance on your grave!”

“Good thing I didn’t take your avowal of love a few minutes ago to heart.” With a sardonic twist of my lips, I gave her a hard stare, knowing that my eyes would be hard chips of ice and devoid of emotion. I raised the glass of wine to my lips again. And again, I didn’t miss her held breath and her eyes glowing with pure hate. I stilled as icy suspicion intensified in my belly. Coolly regarding her, I brutally shattered her shield and surfed through her mind. 

She shrieked in shock. However, she couldn’t stop what was happening.

Disgust filled me. I learned as a child that women were not to be trusted. My mother taught me that significant valuable survival lesson. And there had been no woman in the past four hundred years that had even come close to changing my view. I have taken part in any manner of debauchery and sexual escapades with women. There was nothing I hadn’t explored at least once in years of existence. All except I didn’t inflict pain or gain enjoyment from receiving it; I wasn’t that jaded or depraved.

Every woman since my mother had only inspired a few more adjectives in my vocabulary like materialistic, cheats, vile, opportunistic, mercenary, and poisonous. Those were only a few adjectives that had been proven time and time again. Keeping with those views had served me well over the years in dealing with all women passing in and out of my life. I had never come close to feeling even a mild affection for any woman. They were all the same. 

Anya was child’s play in comparison to some of the other bitches that I had encountered. Given the unlikely event that I would ever find my fated mate, I had resolved long ago to never take a mate, never to subject myself to any female manipulation. Women had been regulated to two uses for me, and two uses only, sex and food. A role my human mistresses fulfilled nicely, in triplicate.

“Would you like some of my wine, Anya?” I asked her mildly, knowing that she suspected that I had read her mind, but she had no way of knowing for sure.

Her eyes filled with stark fear just as Zachary gave a sharp rap on the bedroom door and stepped into the bedroom with two other male werewolves.

“Sir?” Zachary’s dark brown eyes looked directly at me, not even sparing the nude female a passing glance.

“My brother’s mate seems to have forgotten which bedroom has been assigned to him. Please ensure she is returned immediately.” I wanted her out of my house, but I couldn’t get rid of her without telling my brother why. I refused to hurt him like that.

Zachary nodded to the werewolves behind him, who immediately pounced and captured Anya’s arms and legs, effortlessly carrying out my orders.

Anya screeched, yelled, and swore at the top of her lungs as the men dragged her toward the separate wing of the castle, where Xander’s appointed rooms were.

As soon as I could no longer hear Anya’s screeching, I leveled my assistant with a furious glare. “No one besides my brothers are allowed into my bedroom. Any deviation from that going forward will result in lethal termination. Am I clear?”

Zachary swallowed audibly. “Won’t happen again, sir.”

“See that it doesn’t.” I gave him a hard look before turning abruptly and picking up the bottle of red wine.  “Have every bottle in this bedroom tested. I want to know how many of my bottles she contaminated.”

“Sir?” Zachary looked horrified on realizing what a serious lapse in security his poor judgment regarding the beautiful female vampire had resulted in. He knew then that I had every right to kill him on the spot. Usually, I didn’t give anyone a second chance. Zachary was Owen’s brother, and that’s the only thing that saved his ass at that moment.

“A fucking aphrodisiac, Zachary.” I twisted my lips with distaste. 

I left St. Petersburg within the next hour, not trusting that I wouldn’t go find Anya and rip her damn throat out despite my brother’s feelings on the matter. Anya had slipped an aphrodisiac into every bottle on the bedroom bar. The aphrodisiac, laced with some spell, was potent, and I might not have been able to fight it. I shuddered to think what the sight of me fucking his mate would have done to my brother. After reading her mind, I also knew that she had intended for Xander to find us in the act. She had sent him a note requesting that he come directly to my bedroom on his return to the castle.

Xander might love his mate, but he certainly didn’t trust her with our secrets. If he had, Anya would have known how futile her deception attempt would have been. I was the only Petrov who could read minds, shield or not. Well, I can do some other fucked-up shit with the mind, but I’ll not get into that now. Not even my brothers knew.

 

 

New York,

Three Day Later…

 

I climbed out of my black Rolls-Royce, ignoring the numerous humans who stopped and stared at me and my entourage as though I was a fucking celebrity or spectacle. I knew what they saw, what kept them so spellbound. It wasn’t something I could do much about. I moved with a loose-limbed, animalistic grace that would be impossible for a normal mortal male to replicate. The mortals out there saw it, and they saw the innate power that emanated from every pore in my body. They didn’t understand what they were seeing. Something in their psyche stopped them from seeing the obvious, from seeing what was right in front of them.

My three mistresses were beside me, while my head of security and chauffeur, Owen McGregor, hovered behind us. There were two other cars, one in front of the Rolls that had a security team, who would have already cleared our path for any potential danger ahead of us, and another car behind the Rolls with another security team to scope out the two-mile radius of the restaurant for the same purpose.

We moved toward the entrance of the trendy Italian restaurant for a meeting I didn’t want. As the eldest son of Alexi Petrov, one of the three ruling heads of the immortals, I was constantly under threat from my kind and from the other immortals. Like my brothers, I was forced to always travel with a security detail. The added security also deterred unwanted mortals from approaching us.

Owen was a werewolf, the Alpha of the wolfpack of werewolves that protected my brothers and me. There were twelve elite werewolves that served as the personal bodyguards for us. The pack, along with their extended families, which numbered in the hundreds, had been with us for more than four hundred years. Owen was only the third alpha in that time. The pack was split between my brothers and me, but all answered to Owen as their alpha. I glanced briefly at the three other werewolves that had returned from their reconnaissance run of the area around the restaurant to ensure no threat was lurking in wait.

This was the last place I wanted to be tonight. I was here because I had been forced to leave St. Petersburg before I gave in to the burning need to break Xander’s mate’s neck. To avoid such an event, Drako took over my place in Russia, while I came to New York, Drako’s base. Unfortunately, Drako had agreed to discuss an arms transaction with Giovanni Romano, the New York Capo for one of the deadliest Sicilian mob families, before clearing it with me.  

Drako knew how I felt about criminals, corrupt politicians, and terrorists, alike. I hated the fucking mob. I hate what they represent, hate who they are, and basically hate any association with them. Drako had agreed to this dinner invitation, and now I am obligated to go through with this farce. However, I have no intention of any transaction with this asshole to ever be executed. I should kick Drako’s ass for this shit. I’d kick his ass just because I now had to act like a fucking diplomat for the next few hours so that I could extricate our company out of this mess without damaging our reputation. Our organization was known for always honoring a contract, verbal or otherwise, so I was forced to play nice.

Although our company was the largest global arms manufacturer, selling weapons and tactical technology to the largest militaries in the world, we usually engaged some contracts with private security firms and wholesale sellers. While we could afford to be discriminate in our customers, we couldn’t afford the publicity if we blatantly discriminated against such a large criminal network. Well, we couldn’t afford to have these fuckers come after us. It would be a bloodbath. Theirs, not ours. Yeah, I would prefer not to have to kill a bunch of mobsters and alert the human authorities to our existence.

In the four hundred years of our existence, our conglomerate had grown to astronomical proportions. We dabbled in shipping, banks, hotels, communications, and weapons. All very diverse, but while we were the owners behind the scenes, our companies had human executives. And as far as the world was concerned, the human corporate heads were the true heads. For obvious reasons, my brothers and my association with any particular company remained obscure, and the public only associated us with the weapons company because Drako was so damn flamboyant. 

Drako was often reckless with our image. He didn’t care about the consequences, tended to play too close to the edge of the cliff, and did shit that got us noticed. He was the most volatile in temperament and personality of us. Dark-headed like me, Drako had green eyes that were often lit with rage and defiance, a stark contrast from my much colder, emotionless eyes and Xander’s gentle, open gaze. In fact, as much as we are very similar in size, with all three of us being a similar height of six-four, with lean muscles and predator-smooth movement, we are very different from each other. We’re not only different in our personalities and views on life, but we are very different in our looks as well. Drako and I have our father’s blue-black hair, while Xander has reddish-blond hair like our egg donor. Our eye colors are also different. I have silver-gray eyes like our father, while Drako and Xander inherited our sperm donor’s sea-green eyes. 

Hiding our existence from humans was only part of why we kept such an under-the-radar and unassuming profile. As our father was one of the leaders of the immortals, we were constantly under threat and scrutiny. The three immortal leaders were Conrad Greyson, head of the werewolves, Vincent Borelli, head of the demons, and Alexi, who is head of the vampires. Conrad and Vincent have been in their roles for a mere decade, while Alexi has been the leader of the vampires for over three hundred years.

None of the immortals trusted the witches, because the witches had always been jealous that they could only achieve immortality through spells and dabbling in forbidden sorcery, often using immortals with lethal effect to achieve their ends. So, the witches weren’t invited within the leadership ranks. The leadership was mainly created to maintain peace among the immortals and to protect our main food supply, humans.

To understand how Alexi became leader, and has remained so for so long, is to understand who Alexi really was. Alexi came from descendants of a Slavic vampire brotherhood who were the original Heads of the Slavic Catholic Cardinals, and Alexi was the last surviving member of the twelve Cardinals. Alexi has always been rather secretive about how they became vampires but I’ve long suspected that the witches had something to do with it. His dislike and distrust of the witches ran too deep for it to be usual.

The Catholic Cardinals had embraced their vampire powers to retain control and considerable wealth within the Catholic Church. Several centuries in, they realized that their numbers had been greatly diminished because of the in-fighting among themselves and the vampire curse limiting their ability to influence the human population during daylight. 

The six remaining Cardinals, Alexi among them, wanted their lineage to continue, wanted to reproduce like humans did. They engaged the help of witches to achieve the ability to impregnant human women without killing them or their offspring. Up until then, a vampire could only be created from a turn, as female vampires were frozen in their current state and could not reproduce, and the bodies of human women were too fragile to reproduce a vampire child without the fetus killing the mother before birth. And the fetuses were not strong enough to survive such a premature birth or the survival was so rare that it didn’t satisfy the overwhelming need to reproduce, and reproduce in large, consistent numbers.

However, the witches reneged on their agreement with the Cardinals. While they gave the other vampires the ability to reproduce with humans and create the dhampir race, a human-vampire hybrid, none of the Cardinals could reproduce unless they found their fated mate. So, unlike the werewolves and the demons, who could reproduce with their kind and with humans without the witches’ help because technically they’re alive, unlike vampires, the six remaining Cardinals, who were the most powerful vampires in existence, could only reproduce with their fated mate. The curse also extended to their descendants.

Of course, the chances of the Cardinals finding their fated mates was near impossible, and the Slavic Cardinals still faced extinction. Not only were human bodies so fragile, but humans also had such a short lifespan, and the human female also had a short reproductive span. The chances of finding their fated mate with such limitations was near impossible.

Alexi had wanted to be a father so badly that he had been willing to pay any price, even go along with his brotherhood to engage the witches. The fact that he had us made him smug with his decision. Even now, when he had the power to avenge what the witches had done, he had no interest. He was too grateful about our existence to care about that. His only interest was in restoring the Petrov legacy, his original human family. Although the Petrovs had been a prominent, wealthy family once, albeit a legacy steeped in criminality and violence, even linked to the Russian aristocracy, Alexi had been for a long time, the only remaining member.

 When Alexi had found his fated mate in London in the early 1600s, he deliberately kept her existence a secret, even from his brotherhood. If anyone in the vampires’ or witches’ worlds found out about her before she could give him his sons, his adversaries would have done anything to end her life to prevent that miracle. The witches, because they feared retribution, and the vampires, because they feared beings more powerful than they were. And there had been a strong possibility that any offspring of the Slavic Cardinals would be powerful indeed.

Of course, Alexi could have removed Jimena’s vulnerability by turning her or constantly feeding her his blood. Instead, he only fed her when she was pregnant with his child. I have no doubt that if Jimena hadn’t done what she did, Alexi would have had at least ten children. That was how much he loved being a father. He was not the typical soulless vampire. His capacity to love and for benevolence was antithetical to a blood-sucking, homicidal vampire, and probably why he had been a Catholic Cardinal to begin with. 

As with all fated mates, Jimena had a low-level psychic ability. She had been a seductress, able to inspire desire in most men, and wielded unusual charismatic abilities with women. If Alexi had turned her into a pure vampire or maintained the mate connection, her ability as a seductress would have evolved and enhanced significantly stronger and would have made it impossible for any male, human or vampire, to resist her. She had already been able to convince women in droves to work in her brothels and be content doing it. That kind of power in the hands of a woman with Jimena’s black heart would have been catastrophic. At least Alexi recognized that truth.

The werewolf and demon leaders usually served very short terms because of their volatile nature, and politics which was much like the humans. Alexi remained the leader of the vampires, not only because he was well liked or because of his superior power but he remained leader because he had three adult sons.  We were not just dhampirs, but we were dhampir with Slavic vampiric powers. We were tremendously more powerful than most immortals, lived longer than the dhampir from other vampire fathers, and together, we were next to invincible. It was probably why we needed to drink blood more often than the normal dhampir to survive. But not as much as a pure vampire though. 

As dhampirs, created from the union of his human mother and vampire father, we had powers of a vampire while having the benefits of human flesh and blood. We had acute sight, hearing, strength and the ability to regenerate. Unlike full-blood vampires, we could walk in full sunlight without being instantly vaporized. The sun could severely burn us, more like a bad sunburn, but it wasn’t the death sentence it was for a turned vampire. We could also sense other immortals easily, so sneak attacks against us were almost impossible.

As Alexi’s sons, with Slavic vampire powers, we were also extremely gifted in various psychic abilities, including reading minds, telepathic communication, and telekinesis, our powers seemed to get stronger with every century that passed. It also helped that we were powerful in both the human world and the immortal world. In fact, we were more powerful than Alexi, both physically and in material wealth and influence. While Alexi had gifts of his own, his gifts were in no way as lethal as ours. Alexi was untouchable as long as his sons lived, which made us the first line of defense to Alexi, and we were always being targeted because of it. And why not? We made no bones about our love for our father. Anyone harming a hair on his head was as good as dead.

Adam Dressler, who was the only remaining vampire turned by Alexi and was the oldest vampire in existence after Alexi, has spent the last three centuries, since learning of our existence, trying to kill us. Believing himself Alexi’s only true son, as we were half-breeds according to him, Adam has become obsessed with getting rid of us.  And he has turned hundreds of men to create a powerful army for himself. Adam and his army of vampires have never even come close to harming us, much less kill us, because we are always one step ahead of them. We’ve staved off every attack and foiled every attempt on our lives. No one other than Alexi knew of our capabilities. The other immortals knew of our physical strengths, but they could only guess at our psychic powers. Which made attacking us extremely stupid.

Adam had been growing impatient in the recent century and had stepped up his attempts, even trying to enlist the help of other immortals—using persuasive arguments like too much power accumulating in one family, hinting of how the Petrov men could so easily dominant the immortal world, and even appealing to the prejudice of the other dhampirs, who were not as strong or who didn’t have such longevity as we did. Yeah, the immortals were starting to worry that we were possibly immortal. No one knew, not even Alexi, because no dhampir had ever lived past two hundred years. We should, by all rights, have been dead by now. Adam was tired of waiting for that event, tired of watching Alexi grow more and more powerful with each century.

Alexi had hinted that the witches seemed to be getting into bed with Adam. Grand Wizard Warren Tennerson was spending more and more time in Rome where Adam lived. The only reason the lot of them weren’t dead already was because Alexi did view Adam as a son and couldn’t bring himself to kill him. 

Alexi is a laid-back vampire, almost gentle in his outlook, and was against turning humans to vampires. Xander was the only one of us who matched Alexi’s personality almost exact, while I, who looked like Alexi’s twin, was the complete opposite of him in temperament. Alexi claimed that I had the temperament of the Petrovs of old.

I stopped just inside the entrance of the restaurant to glance at the messages making my phone vibrate. There was a message from Alexi, another from Drako, and an expected message from Xander. Xander had been sending me messages for the past two days wanting to understand why I, who had never missed his birthday, had done so now.  In fact, there had never been a time when either of us missed each other’s birthday.  Xander was worried that he had offended me in some way, and I didn’t have the stomach to return his call or respond to his message just yet.

I swore viciously under my breath. I couldn’t talk to my brother yet. I couldn’t tell him why I had left St. Petersburg so abruptly. Just remembering the scene with Anya, Xander’s mate, made me furious all over again. She was not a fated mate. So, her faithlessness didn’t surprise me, but I knew that it would devastate Xander. That kid was just too fucking trusting, too gentle to survive with a mate so cunning and greedy.