Wicked Rule (Heartless Kingdom #1) - K.I. Lynn

Dear reader,

Thank you so much for being here! Wicked Rule has been a labor of love. For those of you that follow me you know that life hasn’t been easy this past winter, but I finally did it!

The Heartless Kingdom was an idea born in 2019, and I knew immediately it was going to be a multi book series. The titles were immediate, and in no time I had eight family members ready to emerge.

This book…Wicked Rule is long. Why? Because it sets the stage for the entire series. All eight from this massive family saga are introduced, as is much of how their world works.

It will be the longest book in the series, and the following will be shorter, but no less intricate.

If you’ve read The Rulers, click here to pick up where you left off.

Ten months ago…

The woman beneath me burned. Hot and wet. Each moan from her lips, each gasp as I drove deeper into her, sent a jolt down my spine.

Finding myself looking down into the irresistible eyes of the blonde siren was not the outcome I had expected when I went out for drinks with my cousin to one of the posh clubs that he owned. I didn’t pick women up often, and when I did, I certainly didn’t take them home.

Well, not home exactly. To a hotel I owned.

A few hours earlier, I’d begrudgingly stepped across a threshold and into the cesspool known as a nightclub. Immediately my skin prickled, and I fought the urge to turn around and retreat to my sanctuary, but an arm dropping down onto my shoulder halted me.

“Don’t even think about it, cousin,” Rhys said, pulling me through the crowd and the sea of gyrating bodies.

The music thumped loudly as we passed the speakers, making my head pound in time.

“This isn’t necessary,” I said as we approached the velvet rope at the base of a set of stairs where a security guard kept watch.

“Good evening, Omar!” Rhys said with a jovial smile.

The guard smiled back. “Evening, Mr. de Loughrey,” he replied, then unhooked the rope and moved aside. “Have a good time.”

“That’s the plan,” Rhys called back as we ascended the stairs to the VIP section.

After a long, hard battle of a week, all I wanted to do was sink into my bed and not move for a few hours, but, as usual, my wants were never a consideration.

“Relax. We’re here to enjoy the evening and maybe the company of a lady or two. Maybe three, if we’re lucky.”

Club rats were not my taste, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy the view.

We entered the private space filled with couches and a table hidden by large, heavy curtains. Shortly after, a barely dressed waitress came in and took our order.

“Would you relax?”

I narrowed my gaze at him. “Said the snake.”

“To the lion. If anyone is eating anyone, it’s you.”

I blew out a breath and rubbed my hands across my stubble.

“We need to celebrate.”

“It’s been six months,” I argued.

He rolled his eyes. “Six months since you’ve been CEO, and not once have you celebrated that accomplishment.”

“It’s hard to celebrate something that I always knew was going to be mine.”

“It’s still an accomplishment. You didn’t get it simply because you are the firstborn. You worked your ass off to climb to the top.”

He was right. From a young age, it was drilled into me that I needed to be the best and that only the best would lead the de Loughrey legacy into the future. If I failed to rise to the top, the mantle would have been passed to whoever was worthy.

The music drew me to the railing, and I surveyed the crowd, watching the pulsing lights beat in time with the bass thumping from the speakers. It was too loud for my tastes, but Rhys was correct—I needed to celebrate.

For years I’d sacrificed everything in my climb to the top—to the point that the company was my life. Every minute of the day was spent thinking about the many workings of our near two-hundred-year-old family business. We’d come out unscathed in the battles of the Industrial Revolution, survived the Great Depression, and exploded in the Technological Age.

“Are those grey hairs I see in all that dark blond?” Rhys said, forcing me to acknowledge his close proximity.

I narrowed my gaze as I turned toward him. His grey eyes sparkled with mirth. They were the same eyes as my younger brother, Hamilton. The same as my father and uncle, as well as