She’s been gone for weeks. I tore apart Dimitri’s house looking for her. Slammed more than one body against a wall. My roar of rage rattled windows when she vanished without a trace from Alex’s bachelor party. No one had seen anything and yet she had slipped right out the damn front door. I watched the security tapes myself. My fist clenches. I’m still a ball of rage ready to explode at a moment’s notice.
“Have a drink, Christos. You look like you need one.”
I turn from the balcony, away from millions of twinkle lights and the laughter echoing up from the gardens below. Dark emotions swirl around me like the finest mist. Even the most calculating and bold woman in the crowd knew enough not to bother me tonight.
“You’ll find her. But not tonight, or tomorrow for that matter. Paste a god damn smile on your face. You’re supposed to be my best mate, not the grim reaper.”
“I half-expected you to run, leaving her standing at the altar alone.”
“I thought about it. I won’t deny it. But since you won’t bankroll me, my new father-in-law will have to do.”
“You could work like the rest of us. I promised you, that I’d never let you be weak again. If I gave you money, what purpose would that serve? Man up Alex, it’s past time.”
“I know. Thank you, old friend. I’ll never forget what you did for me in Scotland when we were just boys. And bloody no, I won’t run. I’m a titled man, from one of the oldest families in Britain. Fuck no. She’s getting what she wants—the title of Duchess and I’m getting her money… seems fair enough.”
I shake my head at the scene below us, “This is a lot of fluff and romance for a marriage of convenience.”
He shrugs, sips his drink and takes out a smoke from the inside pocket of his sport coat. “You of all people, know how important it is to deceive. How appearance can be everything.”
“I might not have to do that anymore. The pills are working.”
“The ones my late mother donated her entire inheritance to fund research for. It’s off- market, still in trials, with me being the lead subject in the study. They’re fucking me up…them and her.”
“Bloody hell. I never thought a single soul would ever witness the day Christos Devillo, got fucked up over a woman. She’s a slippery one sneaking out like that though, eh?”
“Shut up, you wanker. Love sucks.”
“Now I know you’re fucking with me. Love? You? Not bloody likely.”
“You’re right. All I feel is—darkness. Despair. RAGE.”
“Makes sense to me. You are an evil bastard.”
“What does that say about you, Alex? Having me as your best friend?”
“It says, ‘I’m smart Better to be best mates with the devil than having him as an enemy.’”
I shrug, tipping my glass of scotch to my lips.
“Let’s go have a smoke.”
“Fine,” I reply, reaching into the inside pocket of my own sport coat for the small carrying case with my Cubans inside. “Those skinny sticks are for pussy’s like you.” I brush past him, deliberately knocking into his shoulder on my way down the balcony stairs.
“Fuck. I’ll help you find her just because I want to see what ‘lovesick fool’ will look like on your face, as you beg her forgiveness. I’m going to piss in my knickers; I’ll be laughing so hard.”
“That’s never going to happen. I might have my emotions turned on. But I won’t ever be a fool for love again.”
“Then stop acting like you are, and let’s fucking party, eh?” He claps me on the back, trotting past me down the steps. I knew he was likely going to be out of control tonight. I need to keep an eye on him, so he doesn’t take this last night of freedom too far.
My captain, Stavros, had called me more than once from the satellite phone on board Oasis informing me that Alex took his games too far. One girl had to be resuscitated after he choked her during sex. Luckily for all of us, she came to. We were able to silence her with a check, keeping what happened quiet. Alex might be poor on paper, but he’s a celebrity in the UK, and right up there under me and my other friend, Dimitri, on the ‘most eligible bachelor’s list’.
But tonight, he could do real damage if I don’t follow him. It’s the eve of the day he’s been running from. I crave rough sex as well. The more hair pulling with harsh foreplay the better. But I’ve never lost control…until her. I can’t blame her for running. Watching her with Dimitri enraged me but I wanted it. Craved it. The burning. The burning inferno of our love will never die. I fucked Fiona harder, turned on by watching my dove come while watching me hate fuck someone else.
I wish I could say I was a good man. A decent man.
But I’m not.
I’m a ruthless bastard.
I take what I want without apology.
And I want her back. Gagged and bound. I want to break her until she bleeds. I need to punish her for breaking me; El Diablo. The devil with no heart.
“Where are you? Thinking about her again?”
“Have you ever been in love Alex?”
He ignores my question and takes another drag of his cigarette while looking out into the night. “Maybe once. It’s fleeting, Christos. A sham of an emotion. Tricking your mind, but it leaves as quickly as it comes.”
“Theos, when did you become so deep, eh?”
The sounds of clinking glasses, popping bottles of champagne and notes from the live band floats through the trees where we watch, hidden by shadows.
“Where the fuck have the two of you been? I’m practically getting molested out there.”
A snort escapes me as Dimitri joins us in the shadows. He’s almost as ruthless as me and just as powerful. I haven’t seen him since that night. I’m still ornery as fuck about how he pushed me with her. And then had the absolute balls to try to take her from me.
“Christos here, is being a real pussy tonight. He’s cut up over his lost little pet.”
“Shut the fuck up, before I break your face.” I turn to Alex ready to lay him out with my fists.
“You’d be doing me a favor. Christ, do I have to consummate the damn thing?” He shuddered.
Dimitri shrugs, “Put a bag over her head.”
“That’s bloody brilliant. But my cock might freeze and fall off if I stick it in her. She’s such a frigid bitch.”
“Do you want me to intervene? I’ve developed a talent for kidnapping.”
“Sod off! Bloody hell, did you just make a joke? Fucking, El Diablo, has a sense of humor now, eh?”
My cigar dangles from my lips as I drag both hands through my hair. The ache in my gut for her slowly lessens as the hot smoke uncurls in my lungs. This shit relaxes me. I just never realized that’s what it was before.
“Have there been any leads?” Alex asks.
“No,” I bite out, pretending to choke on smoke.
“You wanker. Are you crying?”
“Fuck no, you asshole. Ash flew in my eye. It’s breezy as hell out here.”
“You shouldn’t have fucked your ex-sub in front of her. Especially, if it wasn’t over between the two of you.” Dimitri chimes in.
“Maybe I wanted it to be over. Hell—needed it to be over. I’m fucking obsessed with her. Fuck…feelings are over-rated.”
“Then don’t be so cut-up about it. I wanted her. I would’ve taken her from you if she hadn’t escaped.”
“Fuck off Dimitri. Don’t you dare go looking for her. If you do—I’ll kill you.” I lunge forward, getting in his face. My emotions are wild; out of control. A million things hit me at once—memories of my mother singing me to sleep. My father belting me across the face. And her.
It’s always her.
My doctors are elated. Not only did the medication work, but I’m able to connect my heart with my memories. The pain that consumes me keeps me awake all night. I’m a mess; falling apart… without her love to save me.
I loved her.
Loved them both.
My mother and my dove.
But the pain is so intense, all I want to do is flip the switch off and sit in the dark. My fist is cocked, ready to take all my frustration out on Dimitri, when Alex grabs it.
“I’ll tell you where she is, if you do me a favor and fuck my wife for me tomorrow night.”
My head snaps back. I drop my fist. My cigar tucks to the side of my mouth as I turn and grab Alex by the front of his shirt lifting him two inches off the ground.
“Where is she?”
“Christ, I don’t know. I was just fucking with you.”
I throw him to the ground. “You’re like a brother to me, Alex. But, don’t fuck with me when it comes to her.”
“Maybe, you shouldn’t have pushed her so far. Fuck—making her watch you fuck Fiona was even hard for me to watch.”
“That’s because you’re bloody gay. I saw you looking at my dick.”
“Fuck off. I’m not gay; I just enjoy a little anal play. What’s wrong with that?”
Dimitri and I both rolled our eyes.
“It’s time to make the toast. Let’s go.” I mutter.
Alex puts a hand on my shoulder. “Turn it off. If it hurts that badly—stop putting yourself through the pain. I envy you. You can control when you feel and when you don’t now. Take the pills or don’t. Be a light switch.”
“It’s not the simple,” I mutter. “It takes a few weeks to kick in. Even if I stopped tonight—it would take weeks for the drugs to turn the lights off. The medication has a long half-life and stays in my system.”
“Here. Take this then.” Alex sticks his hand into the inside pocket of his sport coat pulling out a blunt this time.
I push his hand away, stalking forward. I’m not weak like he is. I won’t take drugs to take the edge off my pain. But he is right. I don’t have to feel. Maybe forgetting what love feels like is just what I need right now.
“Go ahead. I’ll catch up.”
Dimitri and Alex pause as I stall at the edge of the shadows. “I don’t like the look on your face right now.”
I grinned, shrugged my shoulders and inhaled the smoke from my Cuban. My hand held the bottle of pills that was both my salvation and my curse.
I pulled it from my pocket and walked to the edge of the cliff. The Aegean was still. Waiting. Taunting me to do it. Watching to see if I had the stones to do it.
“Don’t,” Dimitri warned.
“Do it,” Alex breathed.
The bottle flew in the air, disappearing into the abyss below.
I’ve survived thirty-five years without love, pain, anger and all the bullshit emotions that ruin people’s lives.
“Come on, you wankers. I have a speech to make.” I swagger past the two of them, both shocked at what I just did, but for different reasons.
Despite my pain—I feel stronger than I had in weeks.
El Diablo was back.
Darker than before and this time…no one will escape me. Especially not her. I push down the guilt. I won’t feel it much longer anyway. As soon as the medicine wears off my black hole of a soul will be back. And there will be nothing to stop me from taking absolute pleasure in hunting the world for my runaway pet, lock her up and keep her for the rest of my life.
Maybe this is who I was meant to be.
She knew it too.
Finally, she saw me without the mask and knew she couldn’t bear to be the devil’s consort. Her mistake was asking too much of me too soon. My mistake was for believing I could change for her.
My smile dazzles the crowd. My white teeth gleam in the night as I take the microphone and give my best man’s speech. I fool them all with my charm and charismatic grin. I am the devil in disguise.
Men are envious.
And I feel like I’m finally getting control back over my life. The first step was tossing those pills to the bottom of the ocean. The second is finding my dove. But this time she won’t ever escape the depths of my dark obsession.
How far will the devil go to keep his pet?
She and I are about to find out.