Power Games

By: May Sage

Prologue





Charles had started to realize that the woman he’d admired for years, and perhaps even loved, was no angel. No angel lied with such ease. What she was, though, he didn’t know. Not yet.

“Did you kill my wife?” he asked her.

He had to. And he had to observe her very closely to see if any of her features would betray a lie. None did.

“No.”

“But you want to take her place.”

It wasn’t a question, but she answered nonetheless.

“Yes.”





1





The Wicked Princess





Seven years ago



“Mr. Grant. Glad you could make it.”

The tall, larger than life, and still handsome former president greeted him with his booming voice, hand outstretched. Charles smiled as he shook it.

He’d gotten over most of his awkwardness by now, but sometimes, he still had to wonder what the fuck had happened to him. A simple kid with a simple life, and middle-class parents—and now, he was meeting presidents, senators, and doing business with some of the most powerful men in the world.

It wasn’t his doing. He’d worked hard his whole life, but none of what he’d achieved by himself had placed him in the privileged position he occupied. Charles had just enlisted right out of high school, after marrying his first serious girlfriend. Meanwhile, his mother’s older brother, Quinn Jacobs, an ex-professional football player, worked his ass off and become an honest-to-God millionaire.

After seven years of service, an explosion and bits of shrapnel derailed Charles’ life, pushing him to another path. His uncle took pity on his ass, gave him a job, even allowed him time to finish his MBA.

Charles hadn’t understood what Quinn had been doing until it was too late. The man had been diagnosed with cancer: the terminal kind. Quinn didn’t have children, a wife, or even a girlfriend, so he’d groomed Charles for the responsibilities ahead, and handed him his empire.

Quinn had sat him down and told him the news a year ago. He didn’t have long to live; his doctors gave him weeks at most. Quinn wanted to properly introduce him to the board and smooth the transition, so that no mayhem followed his passing. Hence Charles became chairman of Jacobs Enterprises a few days short of his twenty-eighth birthday.

What a mind fuck.

Twist. Mind twist. He had to learn to keep his vocabulary clean. Most of the time he failed.

Thankfully, his company employed people who knew what they were supposed to do at the office. Jacobs bought struggling businesses and turned them around. Charles was learning, slowly, but he didn’t doubt that he was the least qualified member of the board. His main responsibility was public relationships. The board had asked him to concentrate on polishing his appearance. He got to play with kids, provide aid to people in need all around the globe, that sort of thing. He could handle that.

He’d just started recently, but Charles was getting well-known and well-liked. Exposure like that attracted politicians like flies; invitations had started to flood his inbox from both Democrats and Republicans. If anyone had told him just a few years back that he would be invited to a former president’s home for a party, he would have recommended they take a drug test, but here he was. As Charles had been very careful to avoid speaking about his political ideas in public, he was pulled in every direction.

It had amused him, for a while. Not of late. He doubted anything could amuse him for a very long time.

The former president turned to the woman attached to Charles’ arm, the source of his grim humor.

“And this exquisite creature must be…?”

Izzy giggled next to him, before giving Theodore McNamara her hand. The man politely lifted it and kissed the back of her palm.

“Isabella Grant,” she replied. “I’m Charles’ wife.”

He swallowed with difficulty. Yes. His wife.

Two months ago, he’d come back early from work, after being told the news: Quinn was dead.

He and Izzy hadn’t properly connected for a long time, but he’d wanted, needed support that day. So he went to his wife, although part of him told him he probably should just head to a bar and get wasted.

And he still half-wished he had, because then he wouldn’t have walked in on her, legs widespread and high in the air, as she screamed her head off, a naked ass pounding inside her.

She’d fucked her lover on their bed. Who even did that?

But she was his wife, still, so he’d heard her out. He had to agree with some of what she’d said in her defense.

They were each other’s first relationship. They’d basically been children when they’d met, and they should never have gotten married back then. Everyone had cautioned them against it. Seven years in the Army hadn’t helped; he’d been absent, or too tired to be attentive.

Izzy said that when he’d come back after his injury, she’d believed they could start to be an actual couple. Instead of taking the time to get to know his wife, he’d thrown himself into his new job and his studies.

Charles could have argued that he had done it all to ensure they built a better life, but justifying his choices didn’t change the facts. They’d gotten married ten years ago, and they’d barely spent any time together since then.

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