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Codename: Aconite

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Being the daughter of a mafia boss and an assassin has led to an interesting life for Dasha Hatzis. The blood and knowledge of the women who came before her, taught her that if she’s going to be the only woman in a room full of men, to make sure she's the deadliest thing in that room. After finishing up a contract that ended with surprising results, she thinks that's the end of the matter. But what happens when her prey suddenly becomes her ally? Dasha finds herself teaming up with an unlikely partner as they attempt to stop a plot that has assassins unknowingly targeting other assassins. Tension and attractions rise, friends become enemies, and everything will be put on the line as Dasha fights to stay alive and secure her legacy as the infamous assassin known as Aconite. Codename: Aconite is the second book in the Codename trilogy and acts as a prequel to book 1. It can be read as a standalone book.

Chapter 1: Aconite

I drum my glossy red fingernails along the patent leather steering wheel as two guards take a painstakingly long time to scan my car for explosives. If they take any longer I’ll be the one exploding.

I was busy cultivating my batch of nerium oleander – more commonly known as oleander – a strikingly beautiful flower that is extremely deadly from root to petal due to containing lethal cardiac glycosides known as oleandrin and neriine. However, I was interrupted by a call from Uncle Dimitris begging me for a favour. As my favourite uncle, I couldn’t say no, but then again, no one says no to the most powerful νονοί in Athens.

With my car finally cleared, the gates in front of me open and I am ushered through. I step on the gas and begin weaving through the familiar winding road umbrellaed by Mediterranean Cyprus trees. The road eventually opens to an expansive gravel driveway filled with cars all parked in neat rows, which alerts me to the meeting going on inside. I can even see my father’s car parked closest to the house.

The large driveway lays beside a pristine, white luxurious 2.600sq.m mansion built on a 4.675sq.m plot of land. The white stone it’s made from is so perfectly white it causes a glare in the midday sun, but I’m not here to admire the home I practically grew up in. I park my car, get out, and make my way through the compound until I come to the outdoor sitting area. Guests are given a delightful reception when they walk past the 10x20m swimming pool that resides at the front of the house. Its crystal blue waters look all the more luxurious framed by the majesty of the mansion behind it. Can’t tell you how many times they’ve had to pull a body out of that pool, not to mention the number of times blood has damaged the filter; several occasions at the least.

I make my way down the length of the pool and walk up one of the two mirrored winding staircases at the front of the mansion that leads to the second floor. As I approach the double-glass patio doors, two strapping bodyguards look me over and nod in approval.

“He’s waiting for you,” the one on the left greets as he opens the patio door for me.

I step inside with my head held high and a ‘don’t f*ck with me’ posture as I enter the bar area. Men are seated all around the spacious room either mixing drinks at the bar, playing chess on a lounge, poker on the couch, or reading a book in one of the small nooks. Each of these men is dressed in a black suit with unconcealed guns holstered at their sides or on their hips. Each is a bodyguard for one of the twelve heads of the Drakos Mafia family.

The two men at the far end of the room look up from their books and smile in my direction giving me a warm nod, and I return a nod in greeting. Ajax and Castor are my father’s bodyguards and have been for the last twenty-seven years. Four years longer than I’ve been alive, meaning I’ve known them from the day I was born. My father trusts these men with his life and so do I.

There are only a handful of women here, wives or daughters of some of the family heads. You won’t ever find my mother sitting with these women. My mother should be in Columbia right now on assignment, but even if she wasn’t, she’s not like these women. These women all bow their heads and follow their husband’s commands, whereas my mother would drop dead before she allowed herself to be like them. I would take a different approach. I’d happily kill any man who expected me to be his trophy, or worse, his incubator.

I walk to the double doors across the room and just as I place my fingers on the handle, a strong hand clamps down on mine. I slowly look up curiously at the 6’4 brute who dared place his hairy paw on me.

“You can’t go in there,” he says harshly.

“Oh?” I casually ask.

“No women allowed,” he says smugly, his gold tooth glinting at me. This malaka should have spent that money to fix his bald patch.

“I suggest removing that hand if you want to keep it,” I say politely.

He throws his head back and laughs, “You think I’m scared of a tiny thing like you?” He says as he looks me over, hunger burning in his eyes as he drags his tongue across his lower lip, and I can feel my stomach ready to heave.

I smile at him, and with cat-like reflexes take a firm grip of his d*ck and balls, digging my almond-shaped acrylic nails into his flesh as I watch his face turn bright red and contort in pain; a cry escaping him, the sound of which is akin to a dolphin being strangled. From the corner of my eye, I can see men cringing and cupping their balls, while Ajax and Castor are hiding in their books trying not to laugh.

“Now, why don’t you be a good boy and go find an available vacuum, because, with an attitude like that, it’s the only thing that will let you stick your d*ck inside it,” I say icily, giving his family jewels another squeeze as I push him away and watch him drop to the ground and curl up in the foetal position. How utterly pathetic.

I look over at Ajax and Castor and throw them a wink that has them breaking composure and busting out laughing.

“They never learn, do they?” Castor says between laughs.

I smile, open the double wooden doors, and step inside.

The moment I enter, twelve heads turn in my direction, some looking displeased to see me, but I couldn’t care less. Each man is seated around a large oval mahogany table, in a dimly lit room just big enough to fit them all in. At the head of the table is Uncle Dimitris. His dark blue eyes focus on me, but he does nothing to acknowledge my presence. He’s 54, with a slim-toned build that comes up to 6’1. His salt and pepper hair is flat to his head but slightly swept to the side revealing the lines of age etched into his forehead. His trimmed salt and pepper beard hides his pointed jawline and almost disguises his olive-toned skin. It’s even more toned down due to the long-sleeved black button-down shirt he’s wearing that becomes taught as he leans his elbow on the arm of his chair.

Sitting to his right at the table is my favourite man in the whole wide world. Mihalis Hatzis, my father. My father and Uncle Dimitris look like they could be brothers, but they share no blood. They are family by oath. My father has dark brown hair that is slowly greying, more so at the sides than anywhere else. His hair is thicker on top and trimmed at the sides, but his thin beard is definitely showing more signs of age than his hair. He has deep blue eyes and smooth olive skin with very few wrinkles. He’s still fairly toned, but a little slimmer than Uncle Dimitris, but he is hiding his figure under a grey suit and gold dress shirt.

My father smiles warmly at me, and I don’t hesitate to make my way to him, bending down to kiss his cheek.

“Geia, patera,” I greet him warmly.

“Geia, louloudi mou,” he smiles, patting the back of my head affectionately.

I walk over and gently kiss Uncle Dimitris’s cheek and stand at his side patiently.

“What the f*ck is she doing in here? Even the wives were kept outside. No women are allowed in,” Zephyr snaps aggressively. That man is still living in the 50s. It’s 1989, get with the times.

“Dasha is here at my request. She is a member of this family, and you will all do well to remember that,” Dimitris says coldly.

“We have rules and traditions for a reason. She doesn’t belong here,” Zephyr says before turning his attention to me, “Women are good for one thing; carrying our names and our heirs, besides that, you have little to no value. Well, maybe you hold a little more value with that *ss,” he grins sickly, as a couple men in the room snigger. Men I’ve known since I was an infant, mind you.

Zephyr Bakirtzis is the definition of a useless neanderthal. He’s 56 with sickly white skin, brown bushy eyebrows, and a salt and pepper beard that is so unkept that it’s varying in length. His hair is a mid-length mousy brown and if it weren’t for his beard and hair flopping into his eyes, he’d look emaciated. The man seriously needs more red meat in his diet. The dark brown suit he’s wearing is hanging off him and doing nothing for his complexion.

My father’s hand slams down on the table as he glares at Zephyr, “Speak to my daughter like that again, and I’ll remove your f*ck*ng tongue,” he says murderously. I do my best to hide my smile, but I do love how protective my father is of me, even when he knows I can take care of myself.

“Can we please get back to the meeting? Why have we all been called here today?” Helios asks with a frustrated glare at Zephyr.

Zephyr lazily lifts his glass to take a sip of the amber liquid inside and I step around Dimitris’s chair.

“It’s so frustrating how the loudest man in the room is usually the dumbest,” I say bluntly.

“Excuse me?” Zephyr asks in a hard voice as his glass pauses near his lips.

I slowly make my way over to him and can feel the tension building in the room, “For so many years I’ve heard you speak with this unrelenting level of confidence and arrogance, and yet rarely have you ever had anything of value to say. I wonder, is the reason why you want women to stay silent because you think they have nothing to say, or perhaps,” I say, placing my hand over the top of his glass and lowering it away from his face, “It’s because you fear that every woman in the room will prove how much smarter than you they are,” I say with a smug smile.

His brown eyes harden, and his hands shake trying not to shatter the glass in his hand, “Dimitris, are you going to sit there and let her speak to me like this?!” He shouts.

“Ever heard of the Blue Ringed Octopus, Zephyr?” I ask as I make my way back to stand at Dimitris’s side.

Still, no one dares say a word. No one but Zephyr, of course.

“What?” He asks, thrown by my question.

“It’s a tiny octopus with vibrant blue rings on its body, the name is exceedingly self-explanatory,” I say casually, resting my arm on the back of Dimitris’s chair.

“Why the f*ck are you telling me this?” Zephyr spits, before downing his drink.

“Well, this majestic little creature happens to naturally produce a highly lethal venom. A neurotoxin known as tetrodotoxin. It’s found in a lot of sea creatures and is the whole dangerous appeal of eating fugu. You see it takes very little to kill someone. The beauty of this poison is the paralysis it causes. Complete shutdown of every muscle in the body. A person injected with a lethal dose can be left trapped in their own body in agonising pain until they suffocate to death, provided they don’t go into cardiac arrest first. Always depends on the dose, the source of injection, and the patient, of course,” I continue.

“Since you have sh*t in your ears, I’ll repeat. Why are you telling me this?” He hisses.

I chuckle, “Oh, I wasn’t telling you. I was telling the other gentleman in the room. I wanted them to have the facts so they can decide whether or not to attempt to save your life.”

The men around the room begin to whisper as Zephyr’s features drop and with trepidation in his eyes he slowly glances at his now empty glass on the table. He looks at me with fuming anger in his eyes as he jumps to his feet, slamming his hands on the table.

“What the f*ck have you done?!”

“Sit the f*ck down,” Dimitris says with a coldness in his voice that sends a shiver through my spine. Dimitris is a businessman, and death and murder are part of the job, but he has always been rather aloof about it. However, there is a coldness he exhibits only in the rarest of cases, and Zephyr has definitely earned it.

“Dimitris–”

“Don’t you dare f*ck*ng speak my name as though we’re friends. I understood Mihalis’s rage when you sat there and insulted his daughter. I feel that rage tenfold every day when I think about my daughter, Athena. That girl is the light of my life, and my enemies snuffed that light out,” he says through gritted teeth as he rises to his feet, “Day after day she hides in her room, too traumatised to even let me hold her and bring her comfort because it reminds her of the men who dared touch her. I have always protected my family, so I found it hard to believe my enemies could get to her so easily, and that’s when I knew. I had a traitor in my family,” he sneers.

The room has turned deadly quiet, everyone hanging on Dimitris’s words while Zephyr begins to turn pale, and it’s not from the poison he ingested.

“I knew I had to find who was responsible for what was done to my daughter, and so I called on Dasha, who didn’t hesitate to look into it. I’ve always admired her skills, and the skills of the women in her family, and she didn’t disappoint,” he says, sliding his hands into his pant pockets.

“It didn’t take me long to find out that while you may manage several clubs that the family uses to funnel money through, you’re also in the Ariti family’s pocket. I managed to capture one of them and it didn’t take him long to talk,” I smile darkly.

“You helped them abduct my daughter,” Dimitris practically growls; the men in the room shrinking under his energy. All the men except my father, who has kept his eyes on Zephyr this entire time. Probably hoping he suffers in the worst way possible. “Because of you, grown men tortured and brutally r*p*d my little girl. They took her innocence, her hope, HER LIFE!” He screams as his body begins to shake with rage.

“Dimitris, you can’t believe a word she says,” Zephyr argues feebly, much to the disgust of everyone in the room.

Dimitris storms over grabbing Zephyr by the throat and slamming his head into the table, pinning it in place, “You dare to f*ck*ng make excuses for what you’ve done! You’re a traitor to me and this family, but even then, I’d have given you a quick death. But for what you helped them do to my daughter, I want you to suffer. I needed time to think about how I wanted you to die, but when I decided, I called Dasha here immediately. I called you all here, to witness what happens to those who cross me. What I am willing to do to the next person who would f*ck*ng think to touch my family!”

Dimitris lets Zephyr go, who, on shaky legs, rushes to the door and tries to pull on the handles. Dimitris adjusts his shirt and smooths out his hair as he makes his way back over to his chair. He looks at me with grateful eyes and squeezes my shoulder.

“Efcharistó para poli, Dasha,” he says appreciatively.

I smile graciously and squeeze his hand, “I’m glad I could help you bring Athena a little justice.”

“Let me the f*ck out!” Zephyr screams as he pounds on the door. He loosens his tie as sweat forms on his brow, and in a state of panic he begins moving from man to man, begging each one to help him, but each quickly shoves him away.

“How much longer?” Dimitris asks.

“Working himself up like that isn’t helping. Paired with the dose I gave him, I give him another twenty minutes,” I say while turning the poison ring on my finger over. Works every time.

“Then these are twenty minutes I hope to never forget,” he says as he sits down in his chair and leans back watching intently as the minutes tick by and Zephyr slowly succumbs to the effects of the poison.

Days like today I’m glad I followed in my mother’s footsteps.

I come from a long line of assassins. Knowledge and skills passed down from mother to daughter. Sometimes the odd kill is a quick way to turn a profit, but then there are times like right now, where I’m able to give someone justice. Athena was a bright young girl, who at just sixteen had her whole future ahead of her, and a group of men took that from her. They violated her body and mind in ways she may never recover from. I may not be able to take back what was done to her, but I could at least make those men pay.

Took a little time, but I managed to find every single one and give them the deaths they so greatly deserved. The only one left was Zephyr. The one who started it all. His death will act as a warning to every man in this room, and maybe, just maybe, it will stop it from happening again. And if it doesn’t, then let them know I’ll be coming for them. They may all know me as Dasha Hatzis, daughter of Mihalis Hatzis; right-hand man of the of the most powerful mafia family in all of Greece. But to the rest of the world, I am known by my codename – Aconite; a lethal assassin who fears no man.

Chapter 2: Avenging Angel

I watch with satisfaction as the cleaners wrap up Zephyr’s body to carry his worthless carcass out of the meeting room. The men slowly slink out one at a time, glancing at Zephyr’s face frozen and contorted in a state of agony as the cleaners zip the body bag closed. Some men’s eyes fill with contempt for their traitorous brethren, while others fill with trepidation. It’s the trepidation that concerns me. Contempt tells me they feel he got what he deserved. Trepidation means they think they could be next, and that begs the question… what have they done to make them fear such retaliation?

As the last of the men leaves the room, Dimitris walks over and places a gentle hand on my shoulder, once again giving it a firm squeeze as he looks at me with appreciative eyes.

“I know I keep giving you my thanks, but I am truly grateful for everything you’ve done,” he says with deep sincerity.

“Don’t mention it. What’s family for if not to torture and kill your enemies?” I ask p

Heroes

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