Home > Dangerous King

Dangerous King
Author: Sienna Snow

 

1

 

 

Danika

 

“Why bother showing up if you were going to frown all night?” I muttered to my cousin Jayna as she glared at her father, my Uncle Ashok, for the fifth time in less than ten minutes.

We stood to one side of the massive ballroom of the Andhi New York City, one of the many boutique hotels under the conglomerate my uncle owned.

Tonight’s gala had everyone from the upper crust of Manhattan society to A-list celebrities in attendance. They were here more to rub elbows with each other, to be seen, or to make the next deal than to support the charity the event championed.

I, on the other hand, had to be here. Given the choice, I’d rather be head deep in a pile of paperwork for the gallery I ran with Jayna than pretending to enjoy the socialite lifestyle. Sometimes I wished I were more like Jayna. She had always marched to the beat of her own drum. If Uncle Ashok had ordered her to attend any event, she’d have ignored him and done what she’d wanted. Nothing seemed to scare her, least of all the wrath of her father. But then again, we weren’t all born into the circumstances she was.

“Some of us aren’t lap dogs like you, who jump whenever he calls.”

Direct hit.

I resisted clenching my jaw and tried to hide the pain I felt every time anyone referred to me as Ashok Shah’s lap dog.

It was my own fault. I’d become indispensable to Uncle Ashok, making it so he would never question my loyalty to him.

Ever.

If he needed me to research something or make some connection, I’d do it. If he needed a date for an event or for me to represent him at a fundraiser, I’d do it.

I played the dutiful niece who he’d plucked from poverty and placed into a life of opulence and luxury. The one who let the world believe I was the perfectly molded, well-educated society princess.

If only people knew the truth.

I lived in a gilded cage.

One partly of my own making. But for a good cause. And for a multitude of reasons. Reasons that ran as deep as razors to the core of my soul.

Truth be told, I hated Uncle Ashok with every fiber of my being. And one day, I planned to dismantle his empire brick by brick.

Patience was the key to achieve my goal, and I was slowly setting up each piece of the puzzle. Until that day, I’d let others believe what they wanted about me, no matter how much it hurt to hear.

Well, it pissed me off when Jayna made her comments. She knew me better than most people; she should know the truth.

“Haven’t you ever heard of the saying ‘keep your friends close but your enemies closer’?”

“That doesn’t mean that you jump every time he says so.”

“That’s exactly what it means. It’s part of the game, Jay. If he thinks I’m loyal to the bone, he won’t look in my direction when things don’t go his way.”

“I want him to suffer, Dani.” Jayna pursed her lips again. “He’s taken too much from us.”

“He will. I promise.”

I glanced to my side and studied Uncle Ashok as he mingled with the event attendees. A beautiful blonde stood next to him—Amber Tuttle, a former property developer and widow of one of my uncle’s investors.

They made a striking couple in their late fifties. It was obvious they took care of themselves.

Every interaction I had with Amber told me she was a kind person with an innocent heart. She believed Uncle was the illusion of the man he’d created, instead of the monster I’d grown up with. She wanted to become the next Mrs. Shah. Poor woman had no idea she was in for a surprise if it ever happened.

Hopefully, Amber would do her due diligence before jumping in. She had a fortune and her sanity on the line.

The one woman she should consult before making any life decisions was Auntie Monica, Uncle Ashok’s ex-wife. She suffered for twenty-five years under Uncle’s hand. That was until she built the courage needed to leave.

The women in this house lack discipline. If only God saw fit to give me someone in this house worthy of the Shah name.

Jayna and I had lived through enough of his form of discipline to know he believed the women in his life were to do as he said or suffer the consequences.

“What aren’t you telling me?” Jayna probed, snapping me back to the present.

“A lot. It’s better you stay in the dark.”

I couldn’t reveal anything yet. I had to have irrefutable proof of Uncle Ashok’s corruption. Plus, the moment I let my plan hit the air, it would no longer be a secret. The fewer people who knew, the better.

“As I told you when I decided to come tonight, I don’t need you to play interference between me and Papa anymore. It’s time for me to take my life back.”

“Meaning?” I asked as I smiled at a New York City councilwoman and her husband as they passed us.

“Exactly what I said. I lost Kiran, but that doesn’t mean my life ended when his did. And what better way to gain some semblance of normal back than by destroying the bastard that took my love from me. Please, let me help.”

I stared at Jayna for a second. There was no way I could hide my surprise at the way she spoke so casually about Kiran’s death.

For the last few years, I could barely mention my childhood friend’s name without worry about hurting Jayna. Kiran had been killed in an explosive car crash almost two years ago, where nothing had remained of his body but bits of bone and ash. The trauma of her loss followed by a mugging that resulted in a miscarriage had her becoming all but a recluse.

The only times she ventured out of her townhouse were to work at the clubs and the art gallery she owned or to help me with some projects for my exclusive clients. Over the last four months, she’d done neither, spending most of her time on a private island off the coast of Greece owned by Sylvia Thanos. A woman we affectionately called Yia Yia Sylvia.

She was the grandmother of one of my girlfriends and a very good client, who happened to be an eccentric billionaire who had her hands in everything, legal and illegal. Sylvia had a tendency of taking in lost souls, healing them, and then sending them out into the world again. And it seemed as if Sylvia had worked her magic on Jayna.

“Jay, I’m not sure.”

“Come on. I need to feel like myself again.”

I examined her face. She looked so much healthier than when she’d left. The shadows under her eyes that I thought would become permanent had faded and she’d finally gained enough weight to return to her curvy bombshell figure. I’d felt guilty for pushing a reluctant Jayna to take Sylvia’s offer of an extended vacation and now I was glad I had. Her whole energy was different.

Maybe I could convince Sylvia to work her magic on me when I finally took that long-overdue vacation I kept promising myself.

For now, I had to keep my focus and keep my eyes on the goal.

The fall of Ashok Shah.

“If you’re serious about helping me, then I’ll bring you in, but it will be on my time, not yours.”

She pursed her lips in annoyance. “You’re really not going to tell me what you’re up to?”

“Let me get a few more things in order and I’ll share everything. Uncle Ashok is setting the stage for something and I want the details before I execute my plan.”

“Who are you and what did you do with my cousin?” Jayna grabbed two wine flutes from a passing server, handing me one and downing the other before I’d barely grabbed hold of my stem. “I’m the rebel, not you.”

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