Home > The Dark King (Deviant Kings #1)

The Dark King (Deviant Kings #1)
Author: Gina L. Maxwell

 

CHAPTER ONE

   Caiden

   Sex sells.

   It’s a commonly used phrase because it’s true. For as long as dicks have been getting hard, men have emptied their pockets when presented with their ultimate fantasies. Big or small, obtainable or not, it never matters. When the blood rushes south, the wallets open up.

   And here in Sin City—where deviance and debauchery reign—we sell every fantasy known to man and then some. It’s what we do, and we’re fucking good at it.

   Standing at the two-way mirror from the office that looks out over the main floor of Deviant Desires, I watch as men of all ages and backgrounds throw their hard-earned money at the busty brunette dancing on the stage wearing nothing but body glitter and a smile. They cheer and shout while making lewd gestures and rubbing the hard-ons through their pants. Because every time she makes eye contact, she’s selling them the fantasy that she can be theirs for the right amount of money.

   And the right amount is always more.

   Business is good—it always is—but it’d be a whole lot better if my manager wasn’t skimming the profits and smacking the girls around when they don’t suck his cock for the promise of better shifts.

   Narrowing my gaze on one of the girls giving lap dances on the floor, I use my preternatural vision to see what lies beneath the caked-on makeup. She’s hiding a bruise on one cheek and marks in the shape of fingerprints on her arm.

   It’s solid enough proof that the information my men gave me earlier isn’t just hearsay, and it sets my fucking teeth on edge.

   The girl isn’t one of my subjects—she’s human, after all—but she is my employee, which puts her under my protection. I don’t believe in abusing the innocent, and I’m not in the habit of mistreating my employees. This asshole is doing both.

   It’s rare that I make personal appearances at any of the several dozen businesses I own all over this city—I have people for that—but today, I’m making an exception.

   “I’ve just received word he’s entered the club, sire. Madoc has him.”

   Turning, I give Seamus Woulfe a droll look.

   My senior adviser is sitting in one of the chairs in front of the desk, his black suit pristine, silver hair and full beard perfectly styled. To look at him, you wouldn’t know he’s almost four hundred and fifty years old, although in the last decade, the lines around his eyes have become more pronounced and he’s slower getting around.

   Facts that my younger brothers, Tiernan and Finnian, tease him about mercilessly. As our father’s lifelong best friend, Seamus is like an uncle to us, and in an official capacity, he’s my most trusted adviser and near-constant shadow.

   Only the members of the Night Watch—my team of personal guards—are with me more often.

   “Enough with the sire crap already,” I grumble as I take a seat behind the desk. “It sounds ridiculous coming from you.”

   He simply shrugs. “You’ve deigned to leave your tower for once. There, you’re Caiden Verran, my pseudo-nephew and all-around pain in my ass. Out here, you’re my king, and I’ll address you as such. Don’t like it, leave me back at the tower.”

   I roll my eyes. There are two places I spend my time—Midnight Manor, the estate of the Night Court’s royal family where I reside, and Nightfall, my hotel and casino on the Vegas Strip—neither of which is a tower, but Seamus amuses himself by likening me to a self-imposed Rapunzel who locks himself away from the rest of the world.

   But I don’t have the luxury of a carefree life like my brothers.

   Though the media has dubbed the three of us the Verran Kings of Vegas since our father passed seventeen years ago, I’ve been the only one with an actual empire to run as king of our people.

   I scoff at his suggestion. “Like you’d listen if I told you to stay back.”

   His golden eyes twinkle with a smile big enough to flash his fangs. “No, Your Majesty, I would not. But you’re welcome to try anyway.”

   Our familial banter is cut short when Madoc, one of my Night Watchers, opens the door and shoves the manager in my direction, causing him to tumble onto the floor. My lip curls in disgust. He looks like he just came from getting sucked off in his car. His charcoal suit is wrinkled, tie loosened with top buttons undone, and his shirttails are sticking halfway out, like he was hastily tucking them back in before Madoc got ahold of him.

   It’s far from the professional appearance I demand of my managers, and I know for a fact he didn’t look like this when we hired him. He’s let himself go and gotten sloppy. Considering everything else I know, I’d bet my crown he started partying too hard. I don’t mind if my managers want to let loose with the occasional party favor—a little nose candy now and again isn’t enough to get in the way of their jobs—but when the only things you care about are doing lines of blow and getting blow jobs, it becomes a problem.

   A big one.

   Nodding to Madoc, I let him know that I can take things from here.

   Once the door is closed, Seamus gets up to lock it and stays on that side of the room, wisely keeping out of the line of fire.

   “Ralph, so nice to see you,” I say, the tone of my voice making my sarcasm clear.

   He struggles to his feet, then does a piss-poor job of pulling himself together, tugging on his jacket and swiping his greasy hair back with a meaty palm. Already, beads of sweat are dotting his forehead, and I can smell the stench of his dampening armpits.

   There are certain preternatural abilities my kind all share: superior strength, healing quickly, and heightened senses. It’s times like this when I wish I didn’t have the benefit of that last one.

   “Mr. Verran, hey there,” he says, his gaze shifting to where Seamus guards the door, then back at me. “To what do I owe the pleasure? Comin’ down to inspect the goods?”

   “I think you’ve been doing enough inspecting for the both of us. Sit,” I command. And like a cowering dog, he does.

   Steepling my fingers in front of me, I get straight to the point. “How long have you been stealing from me, Ralph? And before you attempt to lie, I suggest you don’t.”

   Ralph gulps audibly and shifts in his seat. “About three—” I arch a brow. “Okay, six. About six months. But come on, man, it’s not like you need it. You fuckin’ own this town. You probably got more money than Oprah! I just gave myself a little raise, that’s all. I mean, I earned it. Deviant’s the number one strip joint for miles around. Everyone knows we got the best whores in Vegas.”

   The fact that he’s justifying his actions like a spoiled child is enough to fuel my rage. But referring to my employees as “whores” offends me on a personal level. My city is, and always has been, sex-worker positive, and his lack of respect for the women who have more balls to do what they do than he’ll ever have hanging between his legs only serves to enrage me further.

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