Thursday, August 10, 2017
Vile Villains from A Portrait of Love by Dellani
Gemma Reinhardt is a bit of a recluse. She's also worth several billion dollars, now that her parents are dead. She split the fortune with her horrid older brother, Henry, who seems determined that she won't marry. Now she's met Vik Windsor, that's likely to change. Henry finds out that Vik is staying there, recuperating after a fight. I have to admit – Vik is one of my favorite heroes.
The front door banged open and shut. Raised voices alerted her to a problem. Dropping her book, Gemma raced to the stairs. Henry paced the foyer, bellowing at Bernadette. She tried to calm him down, but he wouldn't stop yelling. James came in a few moments later, and kept Henry from advancing.
"This is my house!" her brother cried. "You can't keep me out!"
"Actually, it's my house," Gemma corrected as she dashed over to him. "And he most certainly can because I want him to. Why are you here?"
"Is it true you've got another one?"
"I don't know what you mean," she evaded his question.
"Don't lie to me, Gem. I know there's a man staying here."
"How could you possibly know? Are you spying on me?"
"If I am, it's for your own good. You're too damn naïve to watch out for yourself. And your people are suck ups who don't know how to tell you no or control you."
"Control me? No one needs to control me, Henry. I'm a grown woman."
"You're like a little girl! You have no idea what this guy is all about. The first one is crazy and now you've got this one? Have you considered that he might be after your money? That he got his buddy to beat him up so you'd feel sorry for him?"
"It's not like that, Henry. They didn't know I was rich!"
"Ken knew after he was over here. It's pretty obvious when you live in a mansion, that there's money."
"So what! It's my house and my money. I can do what I want with it."
"Even if you're throwing it away on some loser?"
"Enough!" James bellowed. "You have no business here, Mr. Reinhardt. This is your sister's house and you're here on her suffrage. I suggest you leave before I call the security team."
"Oh, you suggest I leave? I suggest you stand aside and let me in my house."
"My house," Gemma repeated. "And I don't want you here."
"Excuse me," Dolores said from behind them. "But my patient is in this house and your noise is going to wake him, if it hasn't already. He's recovering from some serious injuries. You need to go," she told Henry pointedly.
"Oh, God forbid we wake him. What's he gonna do to me?"
"Beat your sorry ass," came Vik's voice from the balcony.
Henry looked up at Vik's battered body and laughed. "You? You're a scarecrow. You couldn't hurt me if you came at me with an army."
Vik's face remained calm. "Buddy, I could put the hurt on you one handed and blind. But since you're Gemma's only family and I'm a guest here, I'll let it slide. Don't make me come down there."
"Don't make me come down there," Henry mimicked. "Oh, I'm so scared. There's an ironclad pre-nup," he continued, pushing past Gemma as he advanced on Vik. "Even if you convince her to marry you, you can't unless you sign it. If you divorce, you leave with exactly what you had coming in. My father left nothing to chance." He climbed the stairs two at a time, walking up to Vik, trying to intimidate him.
Vik smiled, his split lip twitching upward at an odd angle. He didn't seem quite as feeble up close. Henry took a step back, but Vik moved into the other man's personal space, coming alarmingly near. He was quite intimidating; taller and bigger than he'd seemed from downstairs. Every time Henry moved back, Vik advanced.
"I don't want the money," Vik said. "I want Gemma. She could be poor and homeless, I'd still want her."
Gemma followed them up the stairs. Henry turned, taking a step toward her, his hand raising as if to strike her. Vik grabbed his arm, spinning him to face the balcony. Hanging over the edge, Henry realized how much stronger and faster Vik was than he. Even injured, Vik managed to pin Henry with very little effort.
"You need to leave now," Vik leaned over and whispered in Henry's ear. "You aren't welcome right now. Because you're her brother, I'm not going to pitch you over the railing. You come at her like that again, I can't be held responsible. Are we clear?"
"Yeah," Henry grunted.
"And do I really need to tell you I'm a black belt and I can take you apart one handed?"
"Nyeh," Henry replied, trying to catch his breath.
"Gemma, I'm sorry I pinned your brother to the banister," Vik said, still holding Henry against the railing. "Where do you want him?"
"Outside," Gemma replied. "But I think you've made your point. Hasn't he?" she asked her brother.
"I'm going," Henry gasped as Vik let him up. "But you haven't heard the last of this, Gem."
"Yes. I have. I'm a big girl, fully capable of making up my own mind. You need to go now, Henry."
Henry straightened his coat and tie. "I've got my eye on you," he said to Vik, pointing his index finger at him.
Vik smiled. It was rather like watching a shark bare its teeth before striking. The mirth didn't reach his eyes. He pointed to his own eyes, then jabbed a finger at Henry. Without a word, he went back to his room.
© 2017 Dellani Oakes
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