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Venerated: A Dark Romance (Hell's Bastard Book 5) by Emma James (1)

One down… two to go.

I casually throw me phone onto the rumpled bed with a satisfied smirk on my face, and then walk into the small, basic bathroom, flicking the last of the cigarette I’d been enjoying into the toilet bowl, a soft hiss of anger in reply.

Christmas Eve has brought me the gift of the downfall of Nicu/Adam. His life has been brutally snuffed out by the hand of me killer-for-hire. I mentally stamp the revenge for Cezar’s death as being partially paid with Adam Balan’s life.

Hearing him choking on his blood, the soft gargles spluttering out of him as the reaper came knocking has left me in a good mood. I wish I'd been there to see the recognition in his eyes when he heard my voice before the light left them, but I have other things that must be taken care of.

There were still two more victims whose drained blood would repay the debt in full and then I could disappear with me money and fade into the landscape.

Once all the bikers and company had cleared out of the printer building, I’d organized a few more items I needed at me disposal, and then I moved myself to the Embassy Hotel using me fake ID and credit card which had no possible way of tracing it back to the dead man, Filip. I used my real name, David Smith, for shits-and-giggles. Not that anybody could discover anything about the real me, because I was nobody until Cezar claimed me. David Smith sounded normal, trustworthy.

I played the part of the eccentric, single, well dressed, wealthy old man quite well. Nobody suspected a much younger man was hiding under the façade I presented to the busy eyes around me. Blame the silly season.

I check my reflection in the rectangular bathroom mirror, slowly examining meself from all angles, admiring my camouflage, making some adjustments where needed.

At the Embassy Hotel, I've been stalking Mathias for nearly a week. I've waited it out in the lobby, reading the local paper, checking out the whale water feature—anything—until Mathias showed himself, and then I shadowed him.

I sat near him while he ate in the restaurant. I stood right next to him in the elevator, pretending I was on the same floor so that I could follow him out and note the suite he occupied. He had no clue the old man beside him was a man seeking retribution with his life and had homicidal thoughts on his mind. If you act like you belong, nobody suspects a thing.

I pulled the numbers charade with the young, handsome, blond, flamboyant concierge, requesting a change of floor level and room to my ‘lucky numbers' suite with the excuse of not being able to sleep well without being situated in it. Nobody was going to argue with a determined, eccentric, old man at this time of year who wanted that room number. The suite happened to be being vacated later that day, which I already knew because I had struck up a conversation with the occupants after noting them leaving their suite when I followed Mathias past his room. Timing was my friend.

Too easy.

Once I had me a king-sized suite, the parabolic microphone came in handy, but I needed a better way to eavesdrop without having to be physically inside the suite next to him. The traitor was pretty much lazing about, hissing and groaning when he had to move. But I did discover his mummy was flying in from Norway to spend Christmas with him and the biker-bunch.

How fucking brilliant!

But hold onto your panties, the best news is still to come.

An opportunity presented itself a couple of days later for me to plan a suite invasion and plant some of me toys. I was standing right behind Mathias at the concierge’s desk while he was discussing the airport shuttle times, so he could greet his dear mummy at the airport and escort her back.

When Mathias turned to walk across the fancy lobby area, he didn’t even give me a wink of notice. He was moving much better for having had a bullet in his arse a few days earlier and blended in well with his surroundings. You would never have thought the man had worked his way up the ladder within a world only a few were privy to, becoming one of Cezar’s trusted sentinels, and then helped to bring down a powerful man and his complete world in one night. A man I believe was the closest to a father figure I had. Mathias got to walk away with only one fucking bullet in his arse for his troubles… or so he thought.

Now he was a marked man.

I had the time he would be leaving for the shuttle service, then all I had to do was pocket a master housekeeping key card from the housekeeping lady working the room several suites away, which turned out to be a simple bump from an old man who was a little unsteady on his feet. I was quite the pickpocket on the London streets in me youth. I knew Mathias would be a good hour once he was on that shuttle and I got to work on bugging the suite, which took no time at all.

A quick search of his suite had revealed the traitor was making himself quite comfortable and had done some online shopping with a closet of winter fashion while his arse started to mend.

I had brought with me a small sewing kit and quickly picked the lining of a couple of winter coats and restitched them, tucking the tiny bugs in snug. Then I dropped a bug in each of the left back pockets of three pairs of designer jeans because Mathias was right-handed and he would put anything he needed in his back right pocket or coat pocket. I’d observed him enough in The Pen.

These little beauties were top military devices, which had a long distance range on them. I had my micro earpiece in place, and then all I had to do was listen in at a non-stalker distance while appearing to be an old man minding his own business.

I managed to slip the card back to the oblivious female staff member without her even knowing it had been missing.

I was that good.

Mathias thought he had been playing a good game of undercover-fucker, but I was better because I was now invisible to him.

Filip was dead!

The sentinels knew me as Filip, but who was Filip? Anything to do with Cezar or myself was off the record. No medical files, no criminal connections.

Nothing!

Filip was nobody in the real world, only in Cezar’s world, just like David Smith was nobody in the real world.

I’m now a very angry poltergeist, biding my time with patience and planning. I wasn’t making any noise at the moment, but I was going to raise the roof and shake those fucking tiles until they rained down.

I decide to cover all me bases and contact another man on Cezar’s books who lives here in Alaska. He’s proven himself to enjoy Cezar’s money and can be trusted. The men on Cezar’s books never know who they are working for and they never ask, they get the job done and get paid handsomely. The lads surrounding the little bitch think the danger is over and will be returning to regular life soon enough. I'll need my man on standby because I don't want any of these people going off my radar when they leave Alaska.

I was an anonymous entity planning my next move on the chessboard.

I walk back over to the messy bed, ignoring the naked body in it and fit my black boots on, then strap a handgun underneath my right pant leg—should a reason arise to use it. And now I wait until it is time.

For the most part, it's been fucking tedious stalking Mathias, but then mummy arrived, and all was going sickly well for the reunion, but then a man known as Boxer came a-knocking, twenty-four hours later with a small request. His visit produced startling news, which seeped through those suite walls.

Knock me over with a feather!

I wanted to order popcorn and a soda.

Worlds were being turned upside down.

The twisted tale just got better and better and the hilarious part, Lily had told a few porky-pies to Mathias, you know for all those usual reasons of not wanting to hurt him. Blah…blah…blah.

Those little insects I had planted brought me so much joy. Couldn’t have made that shit up if I tried. The probability of this outcome was a long-shot to none. But those surprises are still to be unwrapped for Whisper and her bunch of guardians.

Never a dull moment.

I've been so captivated by the turn of events that I have been enjoying spending a lot more quality time eavesdropping on mother and son.

When I would hear them rise to get ready to leave their room for breakfast I would head down to the lobby pretending to be interested in the taxidermy bears the hotel designer thought was a bang on idea to have displayed.

I found myself amused as much as entranced by Mathias’s respect for his attractive mother and the way she touched his arm lovingly and smiled warmly at him.

I would continue to sit near them, daring Mathias even to feel my presence, but he never noticed the old man.

My heart has never felt comfort or love from a parent—biological or foster. I don't remember why me birth parents didn't want me. All I know is I was on the streets at a young age, blocking out why I made me escape from the foster homes I was put in. I learned to harden up—real quick—or be swallowed up and spat out by the streets of London.

I was cunning, manipulative. I could steal, fight. I was a survivor.

Last night, while they were sleeping, I had enjoyed meself out at a club. I needed a break from the two of them. It was sickening listening to the ease of their mother and son relationship.

During the day disguised as the old man, I’d asked the very flamboyant concierge, Gavin, some prudent questions about the hotel, which I had no interest in. I managed to manipulate the conversation, enabling him to feel safe to let me know when he finished and what he was doing that evening. My interest appeared purely conversational, and he took it as such.

An old man staying at the hotel is no significant threat. I was full of confidence and rather enjoyed amusing meself with this game of secret identity. Young people aren't interested in seeing below the surface of the wrinkled mask and age weary voice.

Gavin had only been at this job for a little over a month and being a new resident of Anchorage, was out to make some new friends—as he put it.

I heard: Gay man on the prowl.

I waited for him to walk to his car in the staff parking lot out front and carefully followed him in the SUV to his townhouse on a quiet street. What I would later discover was rented and placed a tracker on his car he left parked under the carport. I then drove to a restaurant and had meself a meal.

Once I saw he was on the move again, I tracked him to a club, which catered to the gay male community. If you were looking for another male for the night to fuck—this was the place.

Then I drove the short distance back to the building opposite the fake printing business, where I had stored a lot of the things I didn't want to keep in me car or the suite and transformed meself into the real me, albeit a new cover name, Colin Marks. I collected my duffel bag with all the things I would need for the night and a few things for any deviation from the plan.

Always be prepared for a twist in the plot.

Why did I bother with the concierge and not a random pull in a club? Because this was a game, I enjoyed amusing meself with. Trading the old man disguise for a chance to reveal Colin Marks, aka the-physical-real-me, in an environment of male sexual appetites was too good an opportunity to pass up. After all, I was nobody on paper, especially in a club scene. I paid cash leaving no paper trails.

No loose ends.

Paranoia was always Cezar’s friend, and I knew the value of it.

Gavin-the-concierge knew I had been watching him during the night, but I also spoke to many other men, just like he did. I made sure our eyes kept connecting, enough to tease his dick and seal the interest I was directing at him. I was a prick teaser, getting his dick hard and then when he looked like he would approach I would turn my back on him and talk to another man. I had him on a fishing line, ready to reel him in and I knew he was up for it because he kept watching me, waiting for me to approach him. He knew I was the dominant one and he'd caught onto the game I was playing.

After a couple of hours of meaningless talk with other men and before I could push him too far and lose his interest I tucked a note into Gavin-the-concierge's free hand discreetly as he sipped a drink, waiting for the male he was chatting up to return to their table. The note told him to meet me outside in the alley in six minutes, and he was to show no interest in my whereabouts.

Nobody saw us connect in the club. We left at different times. It was important we didn't bring attention to ourselves.

When he appeared, I slammed him up against the cold alley wall, teasing him enough with a rough kiss while my hand fondled his hard dick on the outside of his pants, then he was leading me by the hand to his car. With the heater running we acted out some foreplay and then his dick was in my mouth.

The concierge was a handsome man, but he screamed like a girl when he came, which almost put a stop to the night until he reciprocated with a very satisfying blow-job, making me coming hard into the back of his throat. The guy had good gag-reflex. Then it was game on, and he was topping me. He knew how to fuck hard and rough, even though he was so feminine. He was quite the surprise, holding my interest.

It was dirty street sex, something I could understand more; it appealed to my dark soul. I earned his trust enough, or my huge cock gained his approval, and we moved the party back to his townhouse for rough play in the bedroom. He had a few toys we played with for the rest of the night until we were exhausted and slept through the day.

Being Cezar’s right-hand man didn’t enable me to have a random fuck with a male or female of my choosing. We had too many secrets to hide. There was no life outside of Cezar’s world for me.

Last night I gave myself time off to fuck, and that was going to be that, the concierge got to live and return to his place of employment.

But then I had to kill him.

It was a shame, because he was up for some pretty rough play I enjoyed.

Why did I kill him?

Later in the day after we had eaten and more of our sexual appetites fed, we showered together. I was happy to leave the guy breathing and go our separate ways, but he decided to take a bloody selfie of us—without my permission. No heads up, just smile and let me get you unmasked on my phone so I can brag to whoever about the sex we’d had.

Fuck that, the silly twat.

I didn’t let my anger show, deciding to let it slide; holding back the urge to punch Gavin-the-concierge in the throat. I knew I was going to delete it. No harm no foul. But then the dumb-fuck was caught going through me duffel bag, while I finished up in the bathroom.

I’d left the SUV parked a couple of streets from the club. When the decision was made to continue to enjoy each other back at his place, I excused myself to jog over and get me bag while he waited in his car for me to come back. He wanted to drive me to the car, but I didn’t need him to see the SUV or license plate—not that it mattered now.

My bag had the usual bad guy shit: gun, bullets, a sheathed hunting knife, small explosive, what made up my old man camouflage, his clothes, fake IDs’, and a great wad of cash, more than what would fit inside my wallet comfortably. It looked like a regular hit man’s bag.

I quietly exited the bedroom catching him red-handed.

Curiosity always killed the cat!

When I questioned the nervous bellend because he had stumbled across shit he shouldn't have, he babbled about finding me fresh underwear, which the dumb-fuck was probably doing for me. But who carries ammo and weapons and an old man’s disguise, which he recognized, in their duffel bag?

Well… me.

By now the cogs in his mind were moving, and he knew I could quite possibly be a dangerous fuck-buddy.

The dumb motherfucker couldn't mind his own business.

I’d learned during our chats that he had Christmas Eve through to Boxing Day off work.

Perfect!

I launched meself onto him, much to his panicked surprise and smothered him quickly with his pillow, because he sure was no fighter. Loose lips sink ships.

I notice the bedside clock bringing me back to the present time and the concierge’s naked body behind me.

It was late afternoon Christmas Eve and darkness had fallen, so I figured it was time to swap Colin Marks for the old man.

It takes time to disguise myself. Mrs. Doubtfire made it look easy. But all I've got these days is time on my hands, so I head to the bathroom with my gear and get to it.

I have to carefully apply all the pieces with special glue, adding makeup and a few other touches.

When finished, I'm no longer a black man; I can pass for a white man. A latex or silicon mask wouldn't be authentic. There's no movement in the facial features. The wig is next and then the cap. I never rush the process because it's what is going to keep me anonymous.

I check my phone. I can see the Buick and Mercedes are on the move. I call my standby-guy and let him know he's now on the clock. I transfer the tracking of the two cars to his phone. His mission: To do whatever it takes to keep me in the loop on their whereabouts. Anybody on Cezar’s books, are resourceful and know how to do the impossible on short notice. I doubt they are going too far, they put too much effort into that Christmas garden, but I can’t have my Christmas day surprise ruined this late, so it’s worth having them followed.

I slide on my fake glasses when finished and check meself in the bathroom mirror, satisfied with David Smith, the old man disguise back in place.

I come out and take one last look around the bedroom. I leave a parting gift, before picking up my bag and heading on down the stairs.

The cold air hits me outside like a whip, slashing across my face. I burrow down into my winter coat and check my surroundings for any curious eyes, shoving my gloved hands into my deep pockets, the bag hanging from my right shoulder.

There's nobody out on the quiet street; they're all inside celebrating the eve of Christmas with their loved ones.

I keep up appearances and walk like an old man for three blocks and then book an Uber, which has an estimated time of six minutes to get to me.

I appear on the sidewalk just as the driver arrives like I’ve just stepped out of the house behind me.

Once inside the toasty heated sedan me finger taps impatiently on the detonator as we head towards the café near my parked SUV.

The driver pulls over in front of the busy café full of happy customers. I wait until he drives away before throwing my bag over me shoulder, pulling up the hood on me winter coat and then stuff my hands back into me coat pockets and continue on with my old man walk to the SUV, the snow crunching under me boots.

I remember the tiny earpiece and insert it into my ear. I can hear the traitor talking in his suite. According to their prattle, Mathias and Lily will be enjoying a movie and dinner tonight.

I smirk to myself. That will do just fine for what I have planned next.

I park the car a couple of streets away from the hotel and pack the Santa suit carefully into my duffel bag closing the door and then beep the locks. I'm satisfied nothing inside the car can incriminate me if it gets towed or broken into. I've left all my significant toys back at the building across from the fake printing business and walk back around to The Embassy Hotel with my duffel bag in my hand.

I make it through the lobby, tipping my hat at the new concierge on deck for the evening, who gives me a broad smile in return. Nobody approaches me concerned for missing a night at the hotel because nobody pays attention to an old man.

And then I click the detonator button inside my coat pocket.

I can’t hear the BOOM of the explosive that detonates underneath Gavin’s bed as confirmation the bomb exploded, but my work never fails.

And then I smile to meself because I may have neglected to mention the teeny, yet effective, bomb I attached underneath Mathias's bed.

You know, for when the urge arises to blow him apart.

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