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God of Ruin: Chapter 1

MIA

Tonight, a certain eyesore presence will get a taste of his own medicine.

I stride through the darkness of the night with a chip on my shoulder and rage boiling in the very marrow of my soul.

My fingers splay on the strap of the mask covering my face. Breath condenses against the plastic and sweat coats my upper lip.

The place where my plans will take place materializes in front of me—huge, imposing, and dreadfully heartless.

Not empty, though.

These types of hedonistic meccas are often brimming with wannabes who like to think they’re worth more than their parents’ bank accounts.

But, oh well, none of my plans would have meaning in the absence of a crowd.

The dazzling lights of what can only be called a mansion slash through the night with the brightness of a falling star.

There’s nothing modest about what I’m looking at. It’s a huge three-story architectural wonder whose front brims with wide, tall windows.

That’s where all the lights shine through, particularly on the first floor. LED strips cover the trees in the vast garden surrounding the property. I can’t help feeling bad for the poor trees that are being suffocated for some random celebration.

The mansion’s exterior boasts a welcoming Victorian-like vibe that promises great fun, but I’m not fooled.

Inside that mansion lurks skin-crawling danger wrapped in a dazzling appearance.

And tonight? I’m going straight for that danger’s throat and bringing him to his damn knees.

“Slow down, Mia!” a feminine voice calls, crowded with frustration.

I throw a glance back to find my twin sister, Maya, holding her carnival mask with golden ornaments in hand as she pants.

My eyes grow wide behind my own mask and I pull her to the side before we cross the property’s gate.

She struggles under my firm grip, her whines resembling those of a petulant child.

“Ugh, you’re hurting me.” She releases herself from my merciless hold after a long struggle. It’s no secret that I’m the twin who loves strength training. Maya is more interested in massages and sculpting her model body.

We’re under a tall tree with bent branches that offers some form of camouflage from any onlookers.

Maya hikes a hand up her hip over the skintight glittery black dress that leaves nothing to the imagination. My sister has always been proud of her slim hourglass figure and C-cup breasts, and she’s never shied away from showing them off.

We’re identical twins, so we have the same petite facial structure, almond-shaped light-blue eyes, and full lips, though hers are slightly bigger than mine. Our hair is shiny platinum blonde, but she keeps hers long—currently swishing to her lower back—while mine falls just below my shoulders.

Usually, I’d have a ton of ribbons in mine, but since I’m trying to stay under the radar, I have it in a ponytail tied with only one blue ribbon.

I’m also wearing my least attention-grabbing outfit—a simple strapless leather dress that reaches the tops of my knees.

My boots for the night are the tamest I have and the only ones that aren’t chunky or covered with chains.

Maya, however, chose to wear heels, as usual, not seeming to care about whether or not that would hinder our mission.

I point at the mask in her hand and gesticulate to her face, then sign, “You’re supposed to be wearing that! They have cameras around, and you might have just offered them a front-row seat to our identities.”

She rolls her eyes dramatically, proving her position as the ultimate drama queen I know. “Relax. The camera range only starts once we’re close to the gate. And I was going to put it on, if you’d been patient for, like, two seconds.”

“Don’t mess with me.” I snatch the mask and smash it to her face, then strap it around her head so that it’s secured.

She whines and groans. “You’re running my hair, idiot. Let go. I’ll do it myself.”

I only release her once I’m satisfied with the mask’s placement. She glares at me through the eyeholes as she proceeds to fix her hair.

“Don’t give me that,” I sign. “You know how much effort it took for me to get a goddamn invitation to this pretentious event. The last thing I need is for something to go wrong.”

“Yeah, yeah.” She throws her hand in the air with obvious exasperation. “I’ve heard the story about your sacrifices a thousand times, to the point that I can recite them back.”

“In that case, stick to the plan and stop giving me headaches.”

“Yes, ma’am.” She does a mock salute and I make a face behind my mask.

Since she can only see my eyes, Maya can’t get the full picture, but she still smirks anyway like an annoying idiot.

My twin sister has always been my best friend, but she often drives me up the wall with her shenanigans.

After I make sure neither of our faces is showing, we start walking toward the mansion again.

Or more accurately—the Elites’ compound.

When I first came to Brighton Island, I had to learn a few rules. The most important one is that there are two rival colleges on this island. The one I belong to is American and called The King’s U. It’s funded by powerful people whose pockets are filled with new money. The kind whose source or motives are hard to pinpoint.

My parents are included in the group of powerful people. We’re Russian mafia royalty and they happen to be leaders in the New York Bratva.

The other college is Royal Elite University—or REU. British, loaded with old money and pretentious aristocracy.

Our college has two clubs: the Heathens, with which our loyalty lies since my brother and cousins are members; and the Serpents, who are second on my shit list.

First on that list, however, is the Elites. The secret club and the holy grail of REU.

While the Heathens are full of mafia heirs and American royalty, the Elites are…dangerously different.

They appear elegant and suave, but there’s a nefarious undertone lurking beneath the surface.

Maya and I are infiltrating their mansion and party. It’s impossible to get an invitation to these close-circle gatherings unless you’re part of the club or their family and friends.

Lucky for me, I managed to snag two invitations that were meant for someone who’s part of the family.

When Maya and I arrive at the entrance, a large man stops us. Masks are mandatory tonight, and he’s wearing a black carnival one with golden ornaments.

From my research, I gathered that mask nights are important nights. They’re not only a members’ meeting, but they’re also when they celebrate wins and announce plans for the future.

It’s the main reason why I waited such a long time to execute my plan. There needed to be this level of significance for the mission to be satisfying.

I reach into my bag and show him the black invitation card with ‘Elites VIP’ written in gold. After Maya does the same, he takes and scans them with a special gadget.

Geez. No wonder it’s impossible to get into these things. They even scan invitations to make sure there are no forgeries.

Once the light goes green, he nods more to himself than to us and motions behind him at his colleague, who’s in a similar mask.

“You’ll leave all your personal belongings here. No phones or cameras are allowed inside.” His gruff voice with a barely understandable British accent fills the air. “If we find out you snuck any communication devices inside, you’ll be thrown out.”

Maya releases an exasperated sound as we ditch our bags. “You better protect it with your life. Actually, since this is a special edition Hermes and is, therefore, worth more than your life, lose it and I’ll use your skin as my new bag. Capisce?”

The man shows no reaction to her dramatics, and I grab her arm and then basically push her inside a dimly lit hallway.

“You just made him take note of us,” I sign discreetly. “What happened to our plans about blending in, idiot?”

“Excuse you. My bag is worth more than this mission.”

“Are you telling me a bag is worth more than getting revenge for our brother?”

“Well, since he can get that himself—which he should’ve by now, but I’m not sure why he hasn’t—I think…yes?”

“Maya!”

“What? I had to pull strings to get that bag.”

“Then maybe you shouldn’t have brought it on a night like this?”

“It’s my lucky bag. Of course I’m bringing it to your suicidal mission.”

“I have everything planned. It’s not suicidal.”

“It will be when Niko finds out.”

I wince at the thought of our older brother, Nikolai, catching a whiff of this. Pissed off is going to be the milder reaction.

Maya’s eyes twinkle behind the mask with a mischievous grin. “He’ll skin us alive.”

I lift my chin. “Don’t care. I’ll deal with him once I’m done with our revenge.”

Our conversation comes to a slow halt as we exit the hallway and find ourselves in a main hall.

Huge chandeliers hang from the high ceilings, illuminating a glittery interior, marble flooring, and ornate pillars.

All the attendees wear masks similar to ours and are dressed up in fitted tuxedos and elegant party gowns. I definitely look the least sophisticated of the bunch, while Maya blends right in.

“I told you so,” she whispers in my ear in reference to her earlier suggestion that I wear a showier dress.

I elbow her side, but she only laughs in mock reaction.

If she weren’t my sister, I would’ve kicked her in the face a long time ago.

We each grab a drink from a passing waiter, but I don’t take a sip. One, I’d have to lift my mask, and I’d rather not reveal anything about my identity. Two, I’m such a lightweight that even a beer can get me tipsy. So I only pretend to drink while keeping my attention on the people mingling about.

Some of them are dancing to unknown classical music like they’re a bunch of middle-aged couples. Others are talking and laughing at what I’m sure are boring topics.

The subject of my revenge, who should be somewhere in the middle of the charade, isn’t here.

“Do you see him?” Maya signs, as is our habit whenever we don’t want someone to eavesdrop on us.

I shake my head.

My foot taps on the floor in a manic rhythm. This is bad.

That asshole is the star of the show, so unless he shows his ugly self, our plan is practically null and void.

All of a sudden, the lights dim. My eyes adjust to the darkness, but I can only see shadows and silhouettes of other attendees.

My spine jerks upright and my manic tapping comes to a halt, mainly because the panic is too great to be contained by mere tapping.

Sweat trickles down my spine and the rotten stench of mold invades my nostrils.

I’m not going back there…I’m not…

“Hey.” Maya’s soft voice fills my ears as she wraps an arm around my shoulders. “It’s going to be okay. You’re not alone, Mia.”

I stare into her eyes, which are identical and yet somehow different from mine. As the seconds tick by, my breathing slows back to normal.

She’s right. I’m not alone, and I’m definitely not back in that humid, dark place from ten years ago.

I flash her a tentative smile because I’m so thankful for having her, but at the same time, I’m so ashamed of my weakness.

My inability to get my shit together even after all this time.

Every year, I say this is the year I get over it, but so far, I haven’t had any luck.

“I’m okay,” I sign, then force myself to focus on the scene.

Sure enough, a few newcomers dressed in gowns and tuxedos walk in as if they not only own the place, but also expect everyone in it to worship at their feet. They’re wearing luxurious masks and are holding their noses in the air as if it’s their mission to judge the world.

Our target is in their midst.

No doubt about it.

In fact, he’s probably the one in the middle who has one hand in his pocket and the other hanging nonchalantly at his side.

My blood boils and it takes every ounce of my control not to jump for his throat and claw his eyes out.

Stay patient, Mia. Everything is sweeter in its own time.

Maya and I exchange a look, our twin hunch activating at the same time, and we nod at each other.

We slip between the party people who are too mesmerized, by whom I assume are the club leaders, to notice us.

For the first time in forever, I’m thankful for the darkness. Maya and I go unnoticed all the way to the designated hallway.

While it’s true that getting invited to an Elites party is a highly selective process, gaining access to the mansion they use as a compound isn’t as hard.

Especially since I’m friends with someone who lives here.

Not sure he’ll still consider me a friend after I’m done with his asshole of a brother, but, hey, he knew I would never forgive him for kidnapping Niko and, in retrospect, causing his injury.

Someone needs to teach that bastard a lesson, and what am I if not a Good Samaritan?

Since I had access to the mansion yesterday, I managed to stack our weapon of destruction within the party’s main event.

All we have to do is go up and hit the button for all hell to break loose.

But before we can do that, we have to make sure what I planted is still in place.

To do that, Maya will check the power supply and I need to reach the trigger button.

There’s no need for any communication outlet because we’re the type of twins who feel each other no matter what.

If everything is all right, I’ll get a hunch before I push the button.

We slide our palms against each other and tap the back of our hands together in our special shake, then part ways.

I reach the second floor, and since everyone is busy with the pretentious assholes, I don’t encounter any of the invitees. But there are definitely guards and cameras, which is why I’m pretending to go to the bathroom.

Once I’m there, however, I hop on the sink and remove the vent cover, jump into the airway, and close it behind me. I’m slim enough to fit. Once I’m inside the tight space, I breathe deeper and start crawling.

You’re going to be all right, Mia.

This is not that place from ten years ago.

You’re just serving justice for Niko.

I’m so close to relapsing into my illogical panic, but I don’t. It takes me about five minutes to get to the other end. By the time I reach my destination, I’ve inhaled more dust than a vacuum and I’m sweating like a pig.

I slowly open the vent cover and once I listen in to make sure there’s no one in this bathroom, I maneuver my way out until I land on the sink, then jump to the floor.

Phase one. Done.

Maya should’ve gotten to the other side by now. She doesn’t need to do any jumping or crawling. Nor can I ever convince her to ‘lower’ her ‘sublime’ status.

She probably just needs to flirt with a guard if she encounters one.

I tap my mask to make sure it’s in place, then check my reflection in the mirror, smooth my hair, and dust my dress. Once I’m satisfied with my look, I exit the men’s bathroom. Anyone could walk in and ask what I’m doing here, but oh well, even if I’m caught, I’ll pretend that I got here by mistake.

All I have to do is reach the control panel at the corner and activate the timer.

The moment I’m out the door, the hair on the back of my neck stands on end.

However, before I can turn around and inspect the source of the intrusion, I’m pushed back inside the bathroom with a blinding force.

I’m too disoriented to focus, let alone try to stop the inhuman, raw power I’m handled with.

My back hits the wall and I groan, then lift my hand, ready to flip whoever it is a thousand fingers while kicking them.

All my plans come to a halt when my gaze clashes with dark-blue eyes.

Familiar eyes.

The eyes of my enemy and the target of my revenge.

Landon fucking King.


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