Ruin (Rhodes #1) - Rina Kent

Chapter One


They lurk everywhere. Monsters. Demons. Voices.

‘Set your own killing list, Aaron,’ Aunt’s freezing voice rebounds in the corners of my head.

Father hums. ‘That would be more fun.’

This isn’t the time for such discussions, demons.

I approach the heaving mess of flesh and bones. The cold blade in my hand absorbs heat from my gloved fingers, fuelling my resolve.

Vibrant blood soaks Jake Hampton’s suit and drips onto the room’s tiled floor. Tiny drops extend into unusual forms underneath him. They grow larger and larger. Every atom in my body stands in keen attention. What is it about the mix of erythrocytes, leukocytes, thromboses and plasma that excited me? Why can’t I be like those textbook cold-blooded killers? Why do I always need to stop and stare whenever the crimson liquid is in sight?

Jake stumbles to his feet, eyelids swollen. Blood gushes from his cut arm, soaking the white tiles. He opens dry lips to speak, but has to swallow a few times before a coherent sentence comes out.

“You think you’re invincible, you sick fuck?” He spits a mixture of saliva and blood at my feet. “Your father had the same thought, and we all remember where that led. Someday, you’ll screw up too and end up just like him.”

“You disappoint me, Jake. I thought you’d put more of a fight. I am done playing.” I flick my wrist and throw the knife straight into his femoral artery. Jake drops to the ground with a thud, a cracking sound of bone breaking echoes in the dungeons.

“Give me the information I need or your family will join you.” I hover over him, twirl the knife inside his wound, then snatch it with a jerk.

A fountain of blood splashes from his thigh, marring my plastic coat. An overwhelming euphoria courses through me at the warmth of it.

Jake’s lacerated hands tremble as they attempt to apply pressure to the wound. I laugh. It’s no use. Blood pours out, forming a pool around his body as if his heart insists on kicking the life out of him. His frantic gaze searches mine in a silent plea for help. Too bad. I’m the wrong person to ask.

I tilt my head. “Better tell me before you bleed out.”

“A-all right...” He cracks and tells me everything. They always do. The name he gives is no surprise. My family has always been surrounded by traitors.

All I’m left with were Jake’s vacant eyes and a need for more blood.

Why do they have to die so soon?

My nostrils prickle at the distinctive metallic scent. I inhale it, deep and slow as I removed my plastic gloves, coat, and slippers.

Kane, my assistant and chief of my guards, comes inside with the rest of the team. They line near the door in perfect military style. Their black suits stand out against the white walls and the blinding fluorescent light of the room.

Jake’s corpse looks even more beautiful.

Kane steps forward, his pale blue eyes as unfeeling as Jake’s dead one. “Mr Hampton’s son passed the gate and is waiting upstairs.”

I nod. “Clean it up.”

Father’s yawn invades my mind, his voice a shred of the woods. ‘That was boring, Aaron.’

‘We expected more blood,’ says Aunt, her tone like a scentless anemone.

It’s mostly Father and Aunt banging inside my head. Mother’s lavender-scented voice is rather rare.

The walk through the dark corridors soothes me. The old grey walls murmur a compelling tune— or perhaps they only mirror the voices in my head; a long humming of thunderous nights. Aunt’s favourite song.

I climb the stairs to the estate’s Northern Wing when my phone vibrates.

A text from my cousin.

Tristan— Don’t reject Hampton’s contract renewal before I get back to you.

The bastard did it again.

Me— I don’t take orders.

Tristan— Do me a favour and don’t reject Hampton’s contract renewal before I get back to you.

That’s more like it.

Me— He has been waiting for some time.

The reply is almost immediate.

Tristan— Try to delay him as long as possible. Converse. Do your thing. There has been a change in the market and I need to make sure of the circumstances.

I thrust the phone in my pocket and stand in front of the main hall’s mirror, scrutinising my grey suit for bloodstains.

My gaze flicks to tall portraits of my ancestors, decorating the walls of the Grand Hall.