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Empire of Desire: Chapter 2


I use the voice command to call Nate.

The sound of ringing fills the car, but there’s no answer.

“Fuck.” I hit one of my fists against the steering wheel as I take a sharp turn to the right.

I zigzag between cars, ignoring their honking and the occasional name-calling.

Right now, I’m on a mission.

One that will only be fulfilled once I’m at the firm and talking to that low-fucking-life.

When I first saw the document this morning, I thought something was wrong. Surely, the name and the fucking proof that lay in front of me were some sort of a mistake.

A miscalculation.


A fucking anomaly in the system.

But it wasn’t.

And neither were the facts that I learned from the private investigator. Neither were the records that I had to stoop low and call in favors to acquire.

The truth was sitting squarely in front of me all this time, hiding in plain fucking sight and I was too blind to see it.

Was it arrogance?


After all, I’ve grown so fast in so little time. Not only that, but I’ve also taken on unnecessary and endless battles for the sake of my pride. My bitch of a stepmother who nearly got me killed would attest to my ruthlessness. I’m out to destroy that woman, but only in small doses until she’ll consider taking a rope to her own fucking throat. But then again, she’s too narcissistic to ever consider that option.

All this time, I’ve thought myself above being manipulated or toyed with. After all, I’m Kingsley fucking Shaw, owner and cofounder of Weaver & Shaw, which has grown tremendously in only a couple of years.

That’s what happens when two geniuses leave their fighting days behind them and decide to take over the world. We once wondered what would happen if Nate’s ambition and my power collided. What would happen if he chose to crawl out of his senator father’s shadow and become a force to be reckoned with?

What if I used the fortune Dad left behind and I fed off my best friend’s ambition?

The answer was simple. No limits.

That’s what I’ve always loved the most about Nate, even back when we used to punch each other, race cars, and compete about who got the hottest girls. Even when I win, he bounces back stronger and on the verge of breaking all hell loose.

His tenacity is endless.

Like a loop or an infinity sign.

Like a fucking horizon.

If you give Nathaniel Weaver the right resources, he’ll build one castle, then more, and then a whole fucking city of them. Other people may dream big, but he dreams of taking over the world. Not in a political way like his father, but in a discreet type of way. From the shadows, where no one can see or hurt him.

Just the way I prefer it.

That’s why we’re like yin and yang.

When we first met in high school, it was hate at first sight. We were both driven, him more inwardly, me outwardly, and it was only a matter of time before we clashed. That happened in one of the underground fighting rings since we often participated in matches. I box to stop myself from killing. He does it to blow off steam.

Back then, I beat him within an inch of his life. But he never fell down and he refused to forfeit, even when his blood painted the floor red. The organizers had to stop the fight before I killed him.

It was the first time I’d seen a worthy opponent. I can still remember the sheer force of his determination when he stared at me, coughed up blood, and bounced back to his feet.

That’s when I knew he wasn’t a spoiled senator’s son after all. He was more.

I beat him to pulp a few times after that, but he still came back for a redo, over and over, until he was able to win against me. Then it became some sort of a ritual.

We were rivals but often saved each other’s asses from the principal, our parents, and even the police.

We had our own world and no outsiders were allowed inside. Many women tried to get in; they wanted to play on both sides, but we dropped them within a fucking minute. We could fight over anything—opinions, strategy, employees—but never over a woman.

It’s not worth jeopardizing our partnership and friendship for it. Though friendship might not be entirely accurate; we’re still rivals in a way. We still compete and fight and call each other on our shit.

But like yin and yang, we complete each other. Where he’s quiet, I’m loud. Where he’s cold, I can be hot-blooded, which makes our partnership extremely profitable.

When Nate and I are on a mission, nothing can stop us.

Or at least, I thought so until this morning.

Until the fucking phone call I had not so long ago.

Until I realized the actual danger to my daughter’s life.

The daughter I didn’t think I wanted when she showed up at my door. But one look into her innocent rainbow eyes made me fall in love when I thought I wasn’t capable of the emotion. I never even considered giving her away, I couldn’t. She was a part of me and I knew I had to protect her. It didn’t matter that I was young and reckless at the time. It didn’t matter that I knew shit about raising a child.

Living with a strict father who kicked Mom out to marry his mistress turned me into an unfeeling motherfucker whose sole purpose is destruction—my own included. And when that same mother killed herself, I swore to never forgive my father, his wife, or the fucking world that made my mother end her life.

That’s why I took a reckless path as a teen and nearly ruined everything.

But that was before this tiny baby with little hands and a rosy face bulldozed through my fucked-up existence. Even before I did the DNA test, I knew she was my flesh and blood. I knew she belonged with me.

She’s the blessing I never thought myself worthy of. Which is the reason behind her name. Gwyneth.

Her existence gave me a new purpose that was entirely different from wrecking my life. I’ve always been addicted to power, but she’s the reason I did everything to acquire it.

Because those with power can protect their family.

And Gwen is the only family I have.

The family I’ll slaughter everyone in my path for, just so she’ll remain safe.

But there was a miscalculation on my part.

I didn’t look close enough at my surroundings and, therefore, I didn’t identify the one person who could threaten her. The one person who could take her away from me after I’d raised her for twenty years.

“Fuck!” I hit the gas and call Nate again.

He finally picks up and speaks with a bored tone. “What is it, King? I have a meeting.”

“Fuck meetings. This is an emergency.”

“What is it?” His voice sobers up.

I open my mouth to rain hell down on him, but the blaring of horns interrupts me. A car cuts in front of me and I hit the brakes hard, the loud screech echoing in the air.

But it’s useless.

A haunting sound of metal against metal fills my ears and I’m swung back by the airbag until my neck nearly cracks.

My eyes are half-open as liquid streams down my forehead and forms a red haze in my vision.

In a fraction of a second, I’m disconnected from my body as if I’ve somehow left its confinements and am now existing someplace else.

My ears buzz long and hard and my body doesn’t feel like mine anymore. I’m floating somewhere, motionless, unblinking, but there’s movement.

Not from me.

Sounds, colors, and sensations blur together as a commotion from outside slowly filters in, and with it comes Nate’s voice. “King! Kingsley…say something. What the fuck happened?”

“Gwen…” I croak. “Take…care of…her…”

I want to say more.

I want to curse him for what he brought into our fucking lives. It’s all because of him and his safe and strategic plans that everything is going to hell.

But no words come out.

My vision slowly darkens, and invisible hands drag me under.

I’m so sorry, my little angel.


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