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Revenge was not sweet.
It burned in his mouth and gut like acid. It seared his throat and lungs.
It long ago had charred his heart.
Raphael Vounó stood in front of the business that harbored his age-old foes. The business he now owned, as well as the crumbling building it was housed in. London’s icy rain slanted against the skin of his cheek and jaw. The chill did nothing to lessen the burn inside.
It was time. Finally.
He pushed open the hotel’s battered, steel door and strode in. The room was empty, but the low sound of a radio slid under the door behind the lobby desk. He did not glance to the right or left. He knew exactly where everything and everyone was in this cramped excuse of a building. His investigation had been thorough. Nothing was left to chance. Not this time.
Striding past the desk, he didn’t hesitate. His hand slapped the scrapped wood of the door.
There he was. The first of his two enemies.
The man had aged over these last ten years. But he still lived, unlike Raphael’s own father. Loukas Vounó had not been as lucky as this old man.
Whose luck had just run out.
The old man lifted his head from the papers strewn across his desk. His blurry eyes were hazy and tired. His skin drooped in gray flaps along his jaw. The years had not been kind, and today this enemy would find out that his remaining years would be even worse. “Who are you?” he muttered.
Leaning against the doorway, he gave the older man a mocking smile. “You don’t recognize me, Drakos?”
The hazy eyes slowly cleared. The man sat up. And then the curses flowed.
Raphael ignored them all. There was nothing this man could do or say that would hurt him. Not any longer. He’d spent the last ten years planning and plotting for this moment. Unlike his father, he took nothing for chance, trusted no one. He’d purposefully built a wall of protection around himself, his family, and his business. No one, certainly not Haimon Drakos, could touch him or his.
The old man glared at him. “Get out!”
Raphael laughed and prowled toward the desk. “No.”
“I will call the police and have you thrown out.” Drakos’s words were edged with forced bravado as he uneasily reached for the ancient phone on his desk.
“The police are now your friends?”
The seated man gripped the phone in his shaking hand. “They will come and enforce my property rights. I own this place and I demand you leave.”
“Demand?” Raphael slid his leg unto the wobbly wooden desk. Crossing his arms, he smiled. “You will no longer be making demands. Not here. Not anywhere.”
“What do you mean?” Drakos’s voice quivered.
Leaning down to stare into the man’s eyes, he delivered the first blow. “I own Viper Enterprises.”
The old eyes widened in horror. “No!”
“What’s going on?” The voice came from the open doorway. The familiar lilt, the unique slur at the end of the words…all unmistakably her.
Enemy number two.