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Cruel War (The Gilded Sovereign #1)
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From USA Today Bestselling Author Dani René, comes a new adult romance filled with lies, secrets, and steam!
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I’m pacing a pathway in the carpet of my office as I think about the future. My youngest son’s sixteenth birthday is coming up, and I know I’m going to have to tell him about the Sovereign. But I have a feeling he already knows.
Glancing at the clock on the wall above the fireplace, I note it’s almost midnight. My plan is in place for next week. It took me years to make sure I had the right people in my corner. And it’s finally time.
My office door clicks open, and Philipe saunters in with a smile on his face. My eldest son, who is eighteen now, is like me: cold and ruthless, and he doesn’t care for anyone outside our family. That’s what a true Sovereign is, but Ares, I worry about him. I don’t know if he has it in him to join us.
“The job is done,” Philipe tells me, satisfaction on his face at the admission. The blood splattered on his shirt is evidence that he’s finished the job correctly.
“Good,” I nod, before turning to my desk to pick up the folder. Philipe will take over the head of the table from me when he turns twenty-one, but he’s been doing odd jobs for me since he came of age.
Once he joins the Sovereign, he’ll have all the power I ensured for him. This is our legacy. I hand him the manila folder and watch him flip it open.
“They voted this evening,” I tell him. “You’re taking my seat at the table, you’ll only be sworn in when you hit the age set out in our history. Ares will be the second chair once he’s old enough.”
“I doubt Greg will be happy about this,” my son remarks. The second eldest member of the Crowns, Gregory Birchwood, wasn’t happy about two Lancasters at the table, but he can’t do anything about it. His daughter isn’t allowed to step up. Grecia Birchwood isn’t meant to wear the gilded crown.
“He made his vote. There’s no going back. The oath was signed; blood was shed.” I make my way to the armoire, which sits in the corner of my office and pour myself and Philipe a shot of whiskey. Handing a tumbler to him, I lift my own. “To the Sovereign and the rule of the Lancasters.” I clink my glass on my son’s, and a smile beams from his face.
It’s uncanny how much he looks just like his mother. There’s a soft golden hue to his light brown hair, and his eyes, the color of the freshly grown grass on a hot summer’s day, match hers almost identically. I watch him take a sip before he narrows his gaze on me.
“I’m leaving,” he utters. “I’m ready to go to New York. It’s the one thing I’ve wanted, and it’s time. I’ll be back for my inking.”
“I didn’t think you’d stay, but remember, if we need you…” I allow my words to trail into the heavy silence in the office. He doesn’t realize what being an Elder means, but he’ll learn.
We still have time before Ares, Etienne Durand, and Tarian Calvert come of age, so Philipe will take the reins until the three younger boys step up and they form one entity.
Philipe swallows down the amber liquid before offering me a grin. “I’ll be here whenever you need me.”
“Go, I know you’re itching to get to your girl,” I tell him, shaking my head when he chuckles.
“See you tomorrow.” He leaves me in the office with my thoughts. I’ve done things in my life that were needed to ensure my family are safe. Even though most wouldn’t agree with my actions, it is my choice, and I’ll never apologize.
My phone rings shrilly on the desk; when I pick it up, I note the name before answering. “What?”
“We found her. She’s a crown,” he tells me. I knew they would. The men I have around the country, around the world, would’ve tracked her down one way or another, and she knows it.
“Good, we’ll keep an eye on her. The father?”
“Bring him in, the job I have for him is important. I want it done next week.” Hanging up, I smile when I pour myself another drink and savor the burn of the whiskey as it travels down my throat.
I sit back and stare out the window. The full moon is high, reminding me of how small and insignificant we truly are in the grand scheme of things. But I also know that nothing can stop the events that will take place in the coming years.
My sons will rule the Sovereign with iron fists.
I gulp down the last of my drink as my office door opens, and my wife strolls in. She’s my life. I fell for her when I was a boy, and even though she knows of the darkness that resides inside me, she hasn’t run; she continues to love me even after all the shit I’ve put her through.