Reign of a King Page 1

Author: Rina Kent

Series: Kingdom Duet #1

Genres: Romance

1

 

 

Aurora

 

 

Drastic measures.

They aren’t something I want to take, but something I have to.

I’m only playing the cards I’ve been dealt. Well, I’m also paying for not being more careful, but it’s pointless to ponder on the past.

I, of all people, know that so well.

The wedding isn’t what I expected from grandiose families like the Kings and the Steels.

It’s a simple ceremony with a few people present. They’re probably the elite of the elite if they managed to get invited to this event.

I sure wasn’t.

Instead, I spent an entire week trying to forge an invitation. I ended up going out with one of Steel Corporation’s leaders, Agnus Hamilton. He’s not just the CFO. He’s also Ethan Steel’s right-hand man.

In a way, I killed two birds with one stone. I got to learn more about the corporation — not that he talked a lot on that subject. I also got invited to the wedding as his plus-one. I didn’t even have to try as hard as I predicted.

Agnus gave me a direct opening into Ethan Steel’s entourage.

He only escorted me inside the reception area, then disappeared somewhere.

I’ll have to find him so he can introduce me to Ethan, but first… I need to practice my pitch again.

That’s why I’m standing in a secluded area by the buffet table, nibbling on a piece of lobster and taking note of my surroundings.

The wedding reception is set up around the pool of the Steel household. The bride’s home.

The afternoon’s dim sun glints on the surface of the water, illuminating the light blue colour. It’s an elegant picture frame filled with distinguished men in expensive tuxedos and women in designer gowns.

My research paid off in recognising almost all of the big shots present here today. I learnt early on to never be blindsided, and for that very reason, I did as much research as possible.

For instance, the shorter man in a sharp tuxedo is Lewis Knight, secretary of state. He’s smiling at something the two men with aristocratic features have said. They’re actual nobles with titles. Duke Tristan Rhodes and Earl Edric Astor.

It doesn’t end there, though. The Prime Minister, Sebastian Queens himself, and his wife are congratulating the bride and groom.

It shouldn’t be a surprise.

They all belong to the same circle of influential figures. Power oozes from every corner of this ‘familial’ reception.

Corrupted.

Infinite.

Untouchable.

It’s like being in the sun’s immediate orbit. If a normal person wants to approach that type of power, they should be ready to be burnt.

I guess I am.

Because I have no choice.

Desperation leads you to radical decisions you would’ve never considered before.

This is my only chance to save the livelihood of hundreds of workers, their families, their futures, and their debts — that they funnel for these rich people. They say you always have a choice, but distinguishing between those choices is never clear cut.

Making decisions is even more difficult. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t have stepped a foot here. If it were up to me, I would’ve avoided this circle of people like the plague.

The groom lifts his head and I slowly retreat behind a young couple who are laughing. Xander Knight, the son of the secretary of state, and a green-haired girl, who, if I remember correctly, is the daughter of a famous artist and a diplomat.

They’re university kids. Just like the happy couple who got married today.

When I first heard they were both nineteen going on twenty, I admit to being surprised. I didn’t realise kids these days married so young. I’m twenty-seven and it’s not even on my radar. Not that it ever will be.

I’m defective, and I won’t inflict my atypical life on anyone.

But hey, I’m thankful they chose to get married now. It’s given me a straight opening to this scene that I would’ve never dreamt of walking into.

Even if Agnus had helped beyond inviting me, he wouldn’t have presented me the chance to have a meeting with the great Ethan Steel, even if I’d offered my body.

Not that I would.

This is my perfect opportunity.

Today is the union of two powerful families in the United Kingdom. Ethan Steel’s daughter is marrying Jonathan King’s son.

In other words, the long, ruthless rivalry between the two ex-friends, Ethan and Jonathan, is coming to an end.

King Enterprises and Steel Corporation are turning the page with their children’s union. They even joined forces for a partnership with the family business of Tristan Rhodes’s — the duke I saw earlier.

Or that’s what the magazines say. In reality, it could be something entirely different.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in my life, it’s that the truth isn’t always what it seems. Especially with the powerful and the mighty.

The people who have money and influence pumped through their veins instead of blood think differently than the rest of us peasants. They act differently too, which is why I need to be careful.

I can’t be caught.

Especially not now.

I do another discreet sweep of the guests, searching for Agnus. There’s no trace of him or Ethan. Could they be in a private meeting?

No. The prime minister, the duke, the earl, and the Secretary of State are outside. Since Agnus and Ethan belong to their closest circle, they wouldn’t leave them out. Did they perhaps go to the other side of the garden?

I need to get this over with and leave before I meet him.

Or worse, before he recognises me.

I can’t stress enough that I cannot be caught. It’ll blow everything up in smoke.

That’s the only downside of coming here instead of scheduling a meeting in Steel Corporation. I have better chances of striking a deal, but there’s also the risk of confronting him.

Sucking deep breaths through my nose then mouth, I smooth down my black mermaid dress with a double deep V at the front and back. It shows a bit of skin, but not too much, and moulds against my curves perfectly. I’ve accentuated the look with the pearls my best friend got me for my birthday.

My hair is tied elegantly at my nape and my makeup is bold — red lipstick, heavy eyeliner, and too much mascara. It’s nothing like I would normally wear on a day-to-day basis.

Living my whole life in the shadows has taught me to never stand out. If I do, it’s game over.

Today, I’ve had to go against my core survival method for a different survival game.

My appearance suits being on Agnus Hamilton’s arm. Not that the man knows how to compliment, but considering his position in the great scheme of things, I needed to look the part of his date.

And also, to pique Ethan’s attention.

I’m about to head back to search for them when a presence suddenly materializes by my side.

My heel steps back involuntarily and a shudder shoots up my spine and engulfs me in a thick shroud of fog.

Run.

They found you.

Fucking run.

I swallow those thoughts and steady my breathing. I’ve lived here for five years. No one knows me.

No one.

Smothering the panic, I plaster on a smile and stare up at the person who’s appeared out of nowhere — without even making a sound.

I know because I’m usually the best at hearing the smallest noises. It’s how I’ve survived this long.

Next