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Viktor:Heart of Her King(5)

By:Julia Mills

Lost in thought, Viktor was forced to hide his surprise when the voice of his oldest and most trusted friend sounded behind him.

"Contemplating world domination?"

"But of course," Viktor chuckled to hide his surprise. He couldn't remember a time anyone had been able to catch him off guard.

"I'm sure your distraction has nothing at all to do with Kat's arrival on our fair shores."

Viktor thought about correcting Roman's use of Katarina's nickname just  as he had every other time his friend had used it over the last three  months, but decided there were more pressing issues. He watched as Roman  strode towards the credenza, poured two fingers of single malt scotch,  looked over his shoulder, then shrugged before downing his drink. His  long-time friend made quite a production out of pouring himself another  drink before making himself comfortable on the settee in the middle of  Viktor's office, then picking an invisible piece of lint from his  trousers.

Never one to wait patiently, Viktor was forced to swallow his words when  Roman looked him right in the eye and asked, "You ready for your big  moment, old boy?"

Silently counting to ten to avoid punching his trusted comrade in the  mouth, Viktor took a seat behind his large granite-topped desk and  simply returned Roman's stare. Had his assistant not chosen that precise  moment to alert him to an incoming call, the supreme commander had no  doubt they would've been sitting there for years. After all, they'd had a  millennium to perfect the depths of their stubbornness.

"Mr. Katsaros, Mr. Giannopoulos is on line four. He says it's urgent."

"Of course he does, everything in his world is urgent," Viktor grumbled  under his breath before thanking Clara and pushing the speaker button on  his desk phone. Achilles', most commonly known in this century as Lee,  voice immediately filled the tense air in Viktor's office.

"Hey, Vik. How's everything? Have you seen her yet?"

Viktor for once ignored the use of the moniker he despised and instead,  leveled his stare at Roman, raising an eyebrow for effect. The man he'd  known longer than any other at least had the decency to look embarrassed  for sharing Viktor's personal information with another of their  comrades. The King knew he was overreacting. It was no secret that his  mate walked the earth. They'd all been with him the day she was born,  had been the ones to chain him up and keep watch over him after her  parents died. His friends had all lived over two millennia and were well  versed in the ways of their kind. All seven of them, the Kings of the  Blood as Zeus had named them, were bound by blood, bound by death and  resurrection, and bound by their unrelenting commitment to one another  and the world they'd chosen to protect. That included each man's custos  animae...but still it pissed him off.

Salvatore, the youngest of their kind and the philosopher of the group,  would say Viktor was projecting his anxiety on others and the younger  man would be right. The time that Viktor must reveal his true intentions  to Katarina and pray for her acceptance was close at hand. For the  first time in his very long life, Viktoras Katsaros had to admit he was  scared.

Clenching his fist until his knuckles turned white and his jaw until he  wondered if he had broken a tooth, Viktor took a long cleansing breath  before answering. "No, Achilles, I have not seen her yet. Our meeting is  scheduled for tomorrow morning at nine a.m. Now, I am somehow sure you  have more important things to worry about than my love life, so what can  I do for you today? And please, for the love of all that is holy, stop  calling me Vik."                       


Laughter floated from the phone while Viktor prepared for whatever  absurdity the comedian of their group was about to spew and he was  rewarded for his preparation. "Well, since you have me running all over  the world keeping the peace, I was wondering if you needed me to pick up  anything special for the wedding? Say Indian Turmeric from the markets  of Mumbai for the purification of your body and soul? You are, after  all, like a million years older than her."

"That will not be necessary," Viktor growled before remembering Lee  wasn't supposed to be anywhere near Mumbai. "And what are you doing in  India? You were to be in Australia for the opening of the mines."

"Funny story..."

"Aren't they all?" Roman added as he finished off his drink and shook his head.

"Don't you know it?" Lee laughed out loud. "Hey, Roman, how you been?"

Needing to end the chaos around him and get back to his brooding, Viktor  speared Roman with a look that said he might just cut out the other  man's heart if he answered. To Lee he repeated his question, but this  time with more force. "What are you doing in India, Lee?"

Again a chuckle and then an answer, "What else? A lady. Doing what I do."

Pushing his personal issues aside, Viktor gave Lee his undivided  attention. Focusing on his friend with the powers given to him by Zeus  as The Unum of their brotherhood, he asked, "What woman, Achilles?" At  the use of his given name, Lee's pulse jumped and his heart rate spiked.

Viktor could feel Lee trying to come up with a plausible explanation for  why he'd changed his plans without telling his commander the truth. As  hard as it was to wait, the King knew it was the only way he would get  confirmation of what he already knew...Lee was tracking his own mate.  Time stood still as the ancient warrior listened to his comrade's inner  debate.

Being the most open of all of them, Lee never tried to hide his thoughts  from any of the Kings, even when it would have kept him out of more  scrapes than any of them could remember. Viktor admired his friend for  his openness but still wanted to wring his neck for breaking the code of  their kind. Kings were never permitted to track, make contact with, nor  in any way be a part of their custos animae's life until she made her  way to him. It was an oath they'd all taken before their original death.  They simply could not interfere unless their mate was in mortal  danger...then all bets were off.

Viktor knew this was not the case. He'd discussed it with Lee more than  once. The young King's mate was approaching her thirtieth birthday and  still had given no indication she knew of Lee's existence. Their initial  bonding had been difficult to say the least, and over the years,  Juliette's adventurous spirit had nearly driven her King to distraction.  Apparently, Lee had decided enough was enough and was going to stalk  the keeper of his heart until she decided to notice him.

"Ah hell, you already know what I'm doing. Do I really have to say it?"

Lee sounded dejected and for the first time in a very long time,  hopeless. For just a second, Viktor contemplated letting his friend's  indiscretion pass but knew he couldn't; it was his duty and one the  Father of all the Gods would not let him get away with ignoring.

"Yes, Achilles, unfortunately you know that you must admit what you've done."

"Well, shit then. Let's just get it over with. I'm in Mumbai because  Juliette is in Mumbai. She's on a dig for the Archaeological Institute  of America in the Ghatkopar Hills during monsoon season. There will most  likely be landslides and only the gods know what else while she's  digging her little heart out nine hundred and ninety-one feet above sea  level. That has to count as her being in mortal danger, doesn't it?"

"You know it doesn't, but if you give me your word that you will get on  the next plane to East Kimberly and get that bloody diamond mine opened,  I will consider your punishment complete. I think Zeus would agree that  being marooned in the northern most region of remote Western Australia  with a crew of a hundred aboriginal male miners is sufficient penance."

There was silence on the other end of the phone. Viktor once again  listened to Lee's thoughts. His inner debate had turned to  self-recrimination, something a twenty-nine-hundred-year-old immortal  King of the Blood (or as they had been known since some man named  Dracula wreaked havoc in the Carpathian Mountains in the 1890's  –   vampire) simply should have no time for, but then Lee was a true  original.

Finally, the man who'd been an expert archer for the ancient Grecian  Army spoke, "Yeah, all right. I'm turning the jeep around." Then under  his breath he added, "Should've known better than to call. Why did I  call?"                       


Dismissing Lee's ramblings, Viktor responded, "Thank you, Achilles. Please do call when you arrive at your destination."

"Yeah, whatever, you got it, Boss," was the other man's only response before the connection was severed.