Lured (Team Zero #1) - Rina Kent

Chapter One

Power is madness.

The moment you taste it, you won’t be able to taste anything else.

When it seeps under your skin and flows in your blood, it turns to poison. Either you find the antidote by claiming more power or you’re dead.

The best way to snatch power is by exploiting the human mind.

People are simple.

Make them crave something.

Give them what they crave.

Then snatch it from between their fingertips.

When they fall, only you will be able to catch them or let them crush to pieces.

Chapter Two

How can someone hold so much… power?

I stand behind the coffee shop’s counter, arranging utensils, but I’m not paying attention to my task.

It’s been two weeks since I began my little adventure to England from my home in France. Although my anglophile heart danced for finally being able to visit London, the most interesting thing hasn’t been Buckingham palace or Big Ben. England’s history and sights didn’t hold my interest as much as the group sitting at a large table at the middle of the coffee shop.

This place is by no means the classiest in London, but it’s cosy and famous for the barista’s special servings. The walls are covered in a calming peach wallpaper. Rounded, antique-style wooden tables scatter about. A few decorative lamps dangle from the ceiling, casting a warm glow on the group of two women and three men. They come over every morning to have their coffee before going to work.

All of them wear either designer clothes or tailored suits. My co-worker, Nancy, told me they’re either doctors, engineers, or CEO’s. They definitely fit the elite and privileged cliché.

They’re laughing.

All except one.

The one who’s been having my stalkerish attention.

Doctor Dominic.

He’s leisurely leaning back in his chair as if he owns the world and doesn’t care about the peasants around him. His dark brown hair is short on the sides but long enough in the middle to be slicked back. A tailored black suit clings to broad shoulders and gives him an imposing, all-domineering presence. His sharp jawline and dark brown eyes drip with so much authority, it’s like he can snap his fingers and the entire coffee shop would cave into him.

There isn’t even a need to try. He’s smiling along with one of his friend’s jokes, but the sheen of indifference doesn’t leave those frighteningly, alluring eyes.

He has a way of charming people. He does it so subtly, it isn’t noticeable. The only reason I’m perceptible to his scheming is because Papa is an army man and always trained me to read people. It’s another tactic that Papa used to shelter me with.

I’ve seen how Dominic took the king’s throne amongst his friends. He laughs and jests and has a cruel, yet grabbing smirk that I’m sure he inherited from Satan. While being his charming self, Dominic manipulates his friends to do his bidding. First, he boosts their egos, telling them what they like to hear, then he attacks. None of those hot-shot lawyers, doctors and CEOs notice a thing.

He made a lawyer bet his new, expensive-as-hell Jaguar to another friend by just playing on his ego. Another time, he made the friend who won that car offer it to a woman in their circle just because.

I watched day in and day out, waiting to see what he had planned for his entourage. Sometimes, it’s something insignificant such as the bill. Others, it’s as expensive as that Jaguar. I became curious. I’m curious by nature, but Dominic scored high on my radar. That curiosity turned into a habit and then, within two weeks, it became an obsession.

I’m fascinated by Dominic.

I often wonder how the hell no one else sees his manipulations. Granted, he’s discrete enough. The ease with which a predator like him can hide in plain sight scares me sometimes, but mostly, I’m amazed that I get to study a case like him up close instead of reading about it in psychology books and classes.

“Camille!” Samir, my boss, calls with a hiss from the threshold of the storage room.

I snap my gaze from Dominic to focus on Samir – or Sam as everyone calls him. He’s a big man in his mid-forties with the most beautiful olive skin; a result of his Middle Eastern origins.

He motions to the storage room behind him and all the unpacked boxes. I smile sheepishly. I was supposed to organise them, but Dominic’s group came in and I did a very human thing: I procrastinate.

I cast one last glance at Dominic as he twirls a spoon