Horsemen, Book 1
Ebook ISBN: 01730-00538
[ Dark Fantasy Romance, MMF ]
The attraction among the three is undeniable, but Madeea knows she can never be a part of the deep, abiding love shared by the two men. Besides, when they complete their mission, they’ll go to Paradise and claim their reward while she’s left behind to deal with the hellish aftermath and the coming of the other Horsemen.
Life was a bitch. Death, even worse. He had been cut down in the prime of his life, at his moment of greatness, but he had learned many lessons. In his time he had been known as Alexander the Great. Now he was simply Alex Megas — same meaning, but the man himself was different from what he had been when he was alive the first time. Now Alex conquered with words. Diplomacy was the weapon of the day.
He hated it. A people shouldn’t be conquered without ever striking sword against sword. The only reason he was doing this was because he felt like he had been cheated out of a life that should have been his. This was his chance to truly conquer the world.
Purgatory had been a kind of hell all its own. Fortunately, it had also prepared him for what was to come. He had watched as every event unfolded in every part of the world. The opportunities missed made his skin crawl. The whole planet could have been under one rule. Many times over. Everyone could have benefited. So-called “third world” countries could have been eliminated, and no one would have had to live in poverty.
Instead, here he was. Uniting the world under one banner, only to watch it fall into death. He had learned the same thing had happened many times throughout time. No one would survive this. Including him.
Thank the gods. When it was all over, this would not be a world he wanted to live in.
Alex looked in the mirror and straightened his blood red tie. The navy blue Armani suit pants felt good against his skin, as did the silk of his shirt. He had always had fine garments, but this was better than anything he’d ever conceived at the time. At least he’d go out in style.
As newly appointed chief diplomat for the United States, Alex had quickly proven to be superior at getting the U.S. what she needed. What the president didn’t know was that the stand down of arms, the ban on nuclear arms, and even control of the world’s food supply and shipping routes — all of it was a ruse. Arrangements had been made with key people within each government to give control of all those things to Alex personally. Alex then passed everything to Vlad. The Horseman of Death. Alone among all the people Alex had met or seen after his death, Vlad terrified him. For Alexander the Great, that was saying something.
He had a meeting with a Japanese scientist in an hour. When it was over, he hoped to have a super weapon that would change the face of civilization. A difficult task, but Alex was confident he could accomplish it. The woman’s government either didn’t realize the potential of such a weapon, or didn’t think it would actually work. The bottom line was they didn’t want to pay the price she was asking. He, on the other hand, was authorized to pay whatever she asked.
Once this was complete, he’d turn to the Middle East. With any luck, the majority of those negotiations could be accomplished in New York, and the most prominent terrorists in the world and all their networks would be in hand and ready for public execution by then. With any luck. If not, he’d get a pleasant detour. At this point, he was more than ready for a real battle.
With one last look at his reflection, Alex brushed a few dark curls from his forehead and from where they had caught underneath his collar when he’d dressed. Picking up his alligator skin briefcase, he checked the time on his Rolex and opened the door into the hallway. He took the elevator to the lobby and stepped out the front door to the black stretch limo waiting in the street. He ducked his tall, muscular frame into the outrageously luxurious automobile. As the driver closed the door, something caught his attention.
A slim, feminine figure dressed in a dirty gray coat darted from the alley beside his hotel. As she ran down the sidewalk in his direction, her appearance was what caught his attention. The girl was covered in dirt and grime from head to toe. Long, dirty, blonde hair hung halfway down her back in a mass of tangles. The stocking hat on her head was just as filthy as the rest of her, but her facial features were striking. High cheekbones, wide blue eyes, and a straight aristocratic nose spoke of an elegant beauty waiting to expose itself. She reminded Alex of the goddesses of his people in his time. Truly, she was not unlike Aphrodite herself.
Well, except for all the filth. That alone made her stick out in this part of town. The street people were never allowed near the hotels and shops.
His driver trotted around the limo to the driver’s seat, and Alex couldn’t seem to take his eyes off the curious creature. She somehow managed to cross the sidewalk to his limo without being stopped by the doorman and was now staring into his open window. Her eyes narrowed as she studied him, but when she leaned down and opened her mouth to speak, the limo lurched forward and she was left behind. Had he not been afraid he’d be late, he would have insisted the driver stop, but his plan involved him arriving first so he could set up the room the way he wanted. He had to be in the position of authority. No round table for this meeting. Everyone in the room had to know he was in control.
He had to be in control of himself and not thinking about a street urchin.
Still, he couldn’t help looking back. He wasn’t sure what he expected, but he thought she’d at least be standing there watching him drive off. But she was nowhere in sight. She’d vanished. Into thin air.
Madeea’s breath came in ragged gasps as she rounded the corner back into the alleyway she’d been drawn out of. The man’s essence had pulled her out of hiding, but now that he was gone, the noise of so many minds bombarded her like the screaming engines of a thousand jets at takeoff. The noise inside her head threatened to make her brain ooze out her ears like so much liquid mush, and she staggered back to her safe place in this part of New York.
Down the alley, around the corner to the next one. One more alley, three more turns and down eight steps to a vacant basement apartment entrance, where she sat on the ground with her back to the wet concrete. Tucking her knees under her chin, she placed her hands over her ears and rocked back and forth, humming a steady monotone.
A long time ago, in this very spot, a woman had sought shelter as she gave birth to a baby boy. She was on her way home from work when the pain started. Unable to think straight, she’d panicked and tried to walk to the hospital, only to run out of time. She’d had her baby here, with the help of a police officer who’d heard her cries and screams. The baby was born, and the officer had taken her to the hospital. The psychic signature was laced liberally with pain and fear, but also with love and an understanding that all the discomfort — physical and mental — was worth it to see the face of the child she had carried inside her for so many months. The overwhelming emotion of love embedded within this place filtered everything else and allowed Madeea a respite from the emotions teeming within this great city.
It took several minutes for her to regain her composure, but when she could think again, she contemplated the man and why she’d been drawn to him. Violence swirled around him, but also goodness, ambition, love, and a driving need to be the most powerful man in the world. Such conflicting emotions and personality traits were a rarity in Madeea’s experience, and those who exhibited them were usually destined for greatness. Still, that wasn’t why she’d left her safe haven.
There was something about him, something that dampened all the emotions around her and allowed her to sense only him when she was near. He was like her portable safe haven.
The first time she’d noticed him, and discovered his effect on her, she’d been sitting tucked inside the alley across from his hotel. Something had drawn — no, pushed — her there hours before and she was nursing a killer headache from all the people around her. He had exited that same limo and as he approached, her pain, as well as the bombardment of so many minds around her, lessened tremendously. She had been confused at first, stepping from the indention in the building’s wall where she had sheltered. She still huddled there, but her mind and eyes were keen and on alert for the source of her salvation. To Madeea, it seemed like a light from the heavens itself shone on his dark, curly head. There had been absolutely no doubt whatsoever that he was responsible for her relief, and, more importantly, the reason she had never left this city and its mass of people.
When he had disappeared inside the hotel, all the emotions he had sheltered her from came crashing down on her with the force of an atomic bomb. That was when she’d found a haven behind his hotel.
And there she had remained. She wouldn’t remain there much longer, though. Tonight she planned to get closer. If at all possible, she planned on sleeping in the same room with him. She’d be his silent shadow. He’d never know she was there. Why was it worth the risk? Because she had tried to leave this city and all the strife for someplace peaceful, someplace where she could be alone. Someplace where millions of minds didn’t fight for entrance into her own. Every time she tried to leave, something pulled her back, an overwhelming sense she had a greater purpose in New York, and she had never been able to force herself to go.
She had never liked being around people. Her parents had somehow sensed that — or maybe they had the same gifts she did — and sheltered her in peaceful surroundings. That all came to an end when they were killed in a car crash when Madeea was only ten. She had been shuffled from one foster home to another only to run away time after time. Her parents had acted as a barrier for her. When they were removed, the emotions of everyone around her overwhelmed her at the best of times. At the worst, the pain in her head was so intense, she wanted to die before enduring another second.
Slowly, but steadily, she had migrated from her home in Iowa to the great city of New York. Oh, she had fought against it. Hard. But something always pulled and pushed her in that direction. She wasn’t sure exactly what she had to do, but finding this man she had been trailing had been a blessing. She couldn’t shake the thought that whatever reason she had to stay in New York stemmed from this man. At the moment, however, the only thing that mattered to her was getting a good night’s sleep. She’d deal with her destiny later.
Her man was staying in the Royal Suite at the Imperial Hotel. Very difficult to get into, especially given her current state of dress and personal hygiene. She was disgusted with herself for being in this condition, but she hadn’t left this area in almost two weeks. The garbage in this part of town always held good leavings, so food wasn’t a problem, and she’d only left for very short periods of time to relieve herself. She had been afraid he’d leave without her knowing it, so she’d kept a persistent watch. Until she’d figured out how to get inside, she’d needed a place to wait. She’d found a little place in Central Park that wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t quite comfortable, but she should be able to concentrate on her next move. She didn’t intend to let this man leave New York without her. She had a feeling he held as many questions as answers for her, but she didn’t feel like she had a choice. She was never one to run from destiny.
Besides, she was a firm believer that destiny always caught up with you sooner or later. Why postpone the inevitable?
Many things would have to happen if she were going to get into that hotel. The first of which was a bath and a change of clothes. Focusing inward and drawing on all the mental strength she had left, she set blocks between her mind and the outside world as best as she could. They never held for long, but maybe she could hold them long enough to make herself presentable. After that, well, she’d play it by ear. She would find a way inside, and from there into her man’s room. That was where she would remain. He would return, and she’d be waiting for him. Then she would follow him. She would find a way to follow him no matter where he went. Her sanity depended on it.