Home > Hidden Truths (Truths and Lies #1)

Hidden Truths (Truths and Lies #1)
Author: Nikki Ash



The dark blue waters of Mirabello Bay are calm this evening. Unlike the storm brewing inside me. Where the sea before me shimmers in a serene way beneath the moonlight, the one I hold claim to is raging.


I lift my tumbler to my lips and sip the ouzo, relishing the burn that races down my throat when I swallow. It only adds fuel to the anger flickering inside me, threatening to spread like wildfire. When my wrath has been unleashed, men who wrong me—who shit on the Demetriou name—get burned.

Someone clears their throat. Just once. Quietly. A reminder to move the fuck on.

Yes, Father.

Reluctantly tearing my gaze from the bay, I regard my new guest with cold, barely contained contempt. A skoulíki in our rich, fruitful soil. A man so slimy and dirty, I can barely look at him. He doesn’t belong here, tainting the exquisite room he’s sitting in.

Niles Nikolaides.

Nothing but a filthy worm in dire need of being plucked from the dirt and fed to a fucking bird. Ignoring the piece of shit who’s sitting uncomfortably in a leather armchair, with all eyes on him, I skim my gaze around the room. They’re all waiting for me to make a move, especially Father.

The move I want to make is to grab Niles by the throat and throw him off the goddamn balcony. Too easy. Too fucking easy for a man like him. A man who has been stealing from right under our noses. Allowing passage into Thessaloniki without paying the Demetriou tax.

“You think because we are in Crete we don’t see what it is you’re up to at our port?” I ask, my tone icy and condescending.

Niles clenches his jaw and sits up, shaking his head. His good looks won’t help him in a room full of men who hate him. And while my father has never come out and stated why, I can see pure hatred for Niles flickering in his hazel eyes.

Father leans back on the leather sofa, and a small smirk tugs at his lips. He’s enjoying seeing Niles in the hot seat, the center of my thunderous attention. Beside him, my brother, Aris, grins. While forcing Niles to squirm some more—like the worm he is—as he waits for me to continue, I study my brother.

Aris is so different from Father and me with our dark hair, calculating eyes, and permanent scowls.

Ezio Demetriou and I could pass for brothers rather than father and son. It’s Aris who stands out with his golden skin, light brown hair, and playful brown eyes. He is soft to our hard. Warm to our cold. Weak to our strong. Aris is my mother made over, much to my father’s disappointment.

“Sir,” Niles starts unwisely.

I sear him with a glare. “You are here to listen, fíle.” Friend.

Aris snorts, earning a sharp look from our father. We all know Niles is no friend.

Motioning with a quick flick of my fingers, two of my most trusted men approach from the shadows of the room. They’re dressed in black suits, hiding enough weapons to take out a small army beneath their jackets. Adrian and Basil are the largest men in this room. Imposing, threatening, cruel. All it takes is one nod of my head and they’ll drag Niles, the skoulíki from Thessaloniki, to the kelári for a proper punishment. A punishment extracted with his blood. He must sense the violent storm churning in my eyes because he does what they all do.

Spews more bullshit.

“I can make this right, Kostas,” Niles pleads, eyeing Adrian and Basil warily. “I was in a bad place. Everything is better now. Think of it as a loan.”

Ignoring him, I walk over to the table where the expensive bottle of ouzo sits and refill my glass. I pour two fingers’ worth of the clear liquor into the glass of ice and then splash in some water from a decanter. Like oil trying to mix with water, the ouzo becomes cloudy, but never truly mixes. I give the tumbler a shake before draining the glass and setting it back down.

“Ena macheri,” I demand coolly to Basil, holding out my hand.

Basil pulls a sharp Benchmade Nimravus knife from inside his jacket. At just four and a half inches, it’s small enough to conceal, but long enough to do lethal damage. Niles knows this because he starts shaking his head.

“No, Kostas, listen,” he pleads. “It was all part of my plan. To get into better graces with the Demetriou name.”

I take the knife from Basil and study the pointy tip of the blade. “Explain how you taking our taxes and keeping them for yourself, when it is us who allows the ships passage into the ports, gets you into good graces with us.” I dart my gaze to my brother. “Aris may be the numbers whiz here, but I must say, even I know something isn’t adding up.”

Niles, known for his killer smile and charm, pales as a frown wrinkles his brow. He ages ten years before me. His green eyes that usually light up with a calculating glint have dulled. A man knows when death is knocking on his door. He may not want to answer, but we’re fucking here whether he likes it or not.

The negotiator slides back into the pilot seat as Niles’s eyes light up with their usual devious glow. “The numbers didn’t add up when you started tripling the taxes I owed a decade ago,” Niles says without meeting my father’s barely hidden murderous stare. “And yet I didn’t argue. I paid my dues to the Demetrious.”

Father’s eyes narrow and a vein jumps in his neck. Aris frowns, shooting me a questioning look. It’s rare for my father to show emotion. He hates Niles. Always has. It’s always been clear to me, although I’ve never understood why. Nor have I asked.

Niles is smarmy.

That’s enough for me to have my father’s back.

“Your point?” I demand in a bored tone, picking at my nail with the tip of Basil’s knife. “I feel as though you’re unsuccessfully trying to make one.”

“My point is I’ve been paying more and more over the years without argument. The taxes I collect on your behalf at the port are being underutilized. All I did was gain new contracts. I didn’t take from your current ones.” His face breaks out in a grin, as though his new reasoning will somehow save him from my wrath.

“The territory still belongs to us,” I snap, no longer able to keep my fury on a leash.

Aris smirks at my outburst, while Father’s brows furl together in an irritated way.

Sorry, Father, but this prick is pissing me off.

Taking a deep breath, I regain some composure before I speak again. “The territory is ours. Therefore, new contracts are ours. That fucking means new taxes are ours.”

“And you’ll get your money,” Niles lies smoothly. “You always do. I’ve simply invested it in other ventures. When I earn it back, which is soon, you’ll be paid back for the taxes. Plus interest.”

I can tell Father wants to take over. He doesn’t like that I’m allowing Niles to continue to plead his case. The worm needs to die.

“What are these other ventures?” I ask, ignoring the anger rolling from my father in waves.

“Mostly trafficking,” Niles says, his green eyes flaring with wickedness. “Of the human variety.”

My stomach roils in disgust. Not because of what he’s chosen to traffic, but the fact he’s allowing these vermin to pass through our ports. The Demetrious aren’t the mafia or cartel. No, we’re a dominant crime organization. Masters of power, influence, and wealth. We manipulate it to our advantage without having to scrape the bottom of the barrel ever.

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