BLACK COLLAR QUEEN
Black Collar Series #2
by AN Latro
Release Date: April 16, 2015.
Claiming the Morgan Syndicate was supposed to be the hardest part—but now they have to keep it.
Seth Morgan has taken his place as the head of the Morgan syndicate, with his cousin Emma by his side. But the change of regime came at a heavy price: Emma’s mother is missing, and the Oliver syndicate want the Emma’s head on a platter.
And there are secrets—skeletons from their parents coming to haunt them. Seth is moving pieces, struggling to keep Emma safe and peace in the city while Emma alienates her lover and grapples with her past.
With threats on every side, and unable to trust their allies, Emma makes a misstep that could cost more than the syndicate is willing to pay: the life of it’s young queen.
SERIES BUY LINKS:
Black Collar Empire
Black Collar Beginning: New York
Black Collar Beginning: Cuba
BLACK COLLAR QUEEN - Excerpt
They're here for business, but they are content to walk along in a thick silence. Lately Seth has taken a cue from his brother, and has kept far fewer office hours. In the wake of the fight between his cousin and his partner, he thought Rama might appreciate the open space. Central Park, as neutral as it gets, and their security details trail at an acceptable distance.
Rama takes a drag from a cigarette, his other hand also in pocket, then he flicks the smoke away. His breath is visible on the air when he says, “Everything is in place. I just need my family's blessing.”
Seth's brow furrows and his lips press into a thin line. His voice is edged when he says, “What do you mean your family's blessing? I thought you came on their behalf.”
Rama's lips also thin, evidence of his aggravation, so quick, so unusual. He says, “I did, but our customs say they must physically bestow their blessings upon us before the alliance is complete. In person.”
Rama bristles, and Seth shifts so that there's more space between them. This is a flashing moment when Seth can see the aggression that waits beneath the calm of the Buddha. He's seen it before, but Rama's self-control is enviable—he is always calm and centered. Just now though, the Thai is strung like a tightrope, close to snapping under the pressure of his world. How strange, for these roles to be reversed.
Rama says, almost offhanded, “One of you, anyway, since Caleb is dead.”
Seth winces, the pain of that jab very real. Another piece of the shattered puzzle slips into place. Caleb spent months in Bangkok, and secured an alliance for his family. He did the same thing Seth was doing. Now, Rama has left this very last detail until the deal was carved into stone. Sometimes, it's easy to ignore the fact that the Morgans have effectively fucked over the Ratchaphure in the past. It's easy to forget the sins of the fallen, until they come back around to haunt him.
“It should be me,” Seth says. Rama turns his attention to Seth, eyebrows arched and shrewd gaze hidden. Seth keeps his eyes on the path, adds, “Emma doesn't have the experience to represent us on her own, and I won't have both of us gone from the city again. We have too much that needs attention here.”
Rama watches the ground for a stretch, vying against the anger that rises at her name. It takes him several steps to grasp the honest truth in Seth's words. The Morgan king isn't trying to keep his queen from the foreigner. No, he has been fairly hands off since their return from their island. But Seth is right. Hadn't Rama said it himself? Emma still has so much to learn.
“You're right,” says Rama, “but I wasn't going to make suggestions on how to handle your empire.”
Seth makes a quiet laugh, his shoulders shaking the slightest bit. It's an easy sound, as rare to Rama as Seth's sporadic shows of concern. Mostly, it's a reaction that says that Seth recognizes the snide tinge in the undercurrent of Rama's words. They are suddenly playing a precarious game of court.
Seth says, “So you would let me set her up to fail instead?”
Seth's tone is light enough, but his question is a heavy one, tricky. Rama matches the tone and the ferocity when he answers, “I never presumed you to be that foolish.”
Seth nods. The quiet fire in Rama reminds Seth again of that first meeting, in the VIP bar of Bamboo, and the talk they had in the office. Seth had been the one raging, and when he was looking for someone to blame, he found someone he could relate to. That strange respect has carried him to this point, so that he actually feels for Rama. The pimp is hurting, once again at the hands of the Morgan family. His fortitude is admirable.
Seth says, “You mean foolish enough to send her into a business occasion when love is involved?”
Rama's steps slow. Seth's words could be a low blow, but then Seth has stared down the barrel of a gun in his lover's hands. A frustrated sigh leaks from him, almost too quiet to hear.
Seth doesn't seem bothered to match Rama's pace, he just keeps his eyes forward, and a good grip on his natural grace. Despite his cousin's current emotional trauma, a brotherly sort of concern manifests. Perhaps because Seth knows what it's like to suffer from the top, knows the cold, lonely peaks of greatness. Or maybe it's because in a world crowded by enemies and alliances, there aren't many he can call friend.
Rama is silent, locked in the rage that waits beneath his surface. So Seth continues, “Emma is young. She's not the same kind of young that I was. Innocence was never a natural attribute for me, or for Caleb, but she was different. My father wanted her to be different, and everyone kept her sheltered. She has changed so much since I came back, but there's still a lot she doesn't have a clue about. So much she can’t know because she hasn’t experienced it. No one's ever broken her heart before.”
AN Latro lives in Florida, where the ocean is her favorite muse. She enjoys wine and tequila, and old movies about the mafia. She likes good books and big dogs, and she loves hearing from readers on Facebook and Twitter. The Black Collar Syndicate is her first series.
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/