The Ultimate Seduction(4)

By: Dani Collins

“A woman?” he asked.

“I don’t have the gender of our clients, sir.”

And if she did know, she wouldn’t say, either.

“No other requests?” He was hoping for a signal from international bodies that his petition to the UN was receiving a nod.

“Not at this time. Did you have any?”

Damn. He’d come here knowing he had a meeting request, hoping it would be a tip of the hand on his situation. Now he was under lockdown and liable to be taking a sales pitch of some kind.

“Not at present. I’ll accept an introduction on that one, nothing longer.” He nodded at her tablet.

“The time and location will be transmitted to your smartwatch. Please let us know if I can arrange anything else to ensure your satisfaction while you’re with us.”

He followed her out, confident that everything he’d preordered was in the suite. Zeus was exceptionally good at what he did. Ryzard had never had an issue of any kind while at Q Virtus, which made the exorbitant membership fee and elaborate travel and security arrangements worth the trouble.

Entering the pub-style reception lounge, he saw roughly thirty people, mostly men in tuxedos and masks. They stood with a handful of gorgeous petite q’s wearing the customary red designer gowns.

He accepted the house drink for this session, rum over ice with a squeeze of lime and a sugared rim, then glanced at his watch. At his four o’clock, a collection of dots informed him the small conclave of men to his right included Steel Butterfly.

He had no idea where Zeus came up with these ridiculous nicknames, but he supposed Raptor was apt for him, coming from the Latin meaning to seize or take by force. The bones of several dinosaurs in that category had been uncovered in his homeland of Bregnovia, too.

Eyeing the group, he wondered which one was his contact. One accepted a drink from a petit q and handed her his watch. It didn’t matter, he decided. He wasn’t interested in beginning a conversation in public that he was scheduled to have in private tomorrow. He waited until he was out of range in the gambling hall to activate his identity on his own watch. This resulted in an immediate invitation to join the blackjack table.

He sat so he could read the screen mounted near the ceiling in the corner. It subtly manifested and dissolved with blurbs on presentations and entertainment to be held over the course of the Q Virtus Quarterly. Tastemakers, trendsetters and thought leaders were flown in to provide rich, powerful, political forces such as himself with the absolute cutting-edge information and samples of global economics and technology. Meanwhile, at tables such as this one, he would pick up the other side of the coin: gossip about a royal’s addiction, a cover-up of a coup attempt on a head of state, a lie that would be accepted as truth to stem international panic.

He could only imagine what was said about him, but he didn’t let himself dwell on what was likely disapproval and distrust. His people were free, his country independent. That was the important thing.

Still, thoughts of what it had cost him crept in, threatening to inject disappointment and guilt into an otherwise pleasant if staid evening. He folded his hand, left the table and lifted a rum off a passing waiter’s tray as he moved outside in search of entertainment.


TIFFANY WAS STUCK and it was a sickeningly familiar situation, the kind she’d sworn she’d never wind up in again.

She’d love to blame Christian. He had urged her to step through the door when he’d been refused entry. Go in and ask, he’d hissed, annoyed.

Since her worst nightmare these days was being stared at, she’d forgone arguing on the stoop and stepped through the entranceway. Inside, pixies in designer nightgowns had fawned over the arriving men in masks. She’d looked around for a bell desk, and a stud named Julio had come forward to introduce himself as a petite q.

She, a seasoned socialite, had become tongue-tied over the strapping young man in a red footman’s uniform. It was more than two years since she’d been widowed on her wedding day. Even without the scars, that would be bad mojo. Men didn’t call, didn’t ask her out. If she was in a room with a live one, they rarely looked her in the eye, always averting their gaze. She didn’t exist for them as a potential mate.