The Devil Wears Kolovsky

By: Carol Marinelli

CHAPTER ONE


ZAKAHR could have walked, but he chose not to.

The offices of the House of Kolovsky were, after all, just a short stroll from the luxury hotel that was for the next few weeks Zakahr Belenki’s home.

Or, to avoid the press, he could have taken a helicopter for the short hop across the Melbourne skyline.

Except he had long dreamt of this moment.

This moment of the future was one that had sustained Zakahr through a hellish youth—and now, finally, the future was today.

His driver, on Zakahr’s instruction, took the long route from the hotel, the blacked-out windows of the sleek limousine causing heads to turn as it made its way through the smart streets lined with galleries and boutiques. As instructed, the driver slowed down at the original House of Kolovsky boutique. The cerulean blue building with the Kolovsky gold logo was familiar, and its wares were desired worldwide. The window display was, as always, elegantly simple—swathes of heavy silk, and one large opal that shimmered in the morning light. Aesthetically it was beautiful, but as always, wherever this sight greeted him on his travels, Zakahr tasted bile.

‘Drive on.’

His driver obliged. A few moments later they pulled up outside the offices of the House of Kolovsky, and the moment was Zakahr’s.

Cameras were aimed for their shot, and for once he didn’t mind. Impossibly wealthy, and with brooding good-looks, he had dated many of Europe’s most beautiful and famous women. His heartbreak reputation had been exposed and examined often in the glossies. Though Zakahr usually abhorred the invasion of his privacy, here, on the other side of the world, and especially this morning, it did not faze him, and a wry smile was contained as he thought of the Kolovskys watching the news as they ate breakfast.

He hoped they choked.

Questions were hurled, cameras flashed, and microphones were pushed towards him.

Was the House of Kolovsky being taken over by this European magnate? Or was he here covering while Aleksi Kolovsky honeymooned?

Had he enjoyed the wedding?

Was he a relation?

Where was Nina, the matriarch?

What was his interest in Kolovsky?

That was a question with merit. After all, this fashion industry icon was but loose change to a portfolio like Belenki’s.

Zakahr made no comment, and neither would he later.

The facts would soon speak for themselves.

The sun beat on the back of his head. His grey bloodshot eyes were hidden behind dark glasses, his lips were pressed together, his expression unreadable, but he was an imposing sight.

A head above everyone, he was broad-shouldered too. His skin was pale, beautifully clean-shaven, and his black hair was short and neat, but despite the immaculate suit, the glint of an expensive watch and the well-heeled shoes, there was an air of the untamed to him—a restlessness beneath the sleek exterior that had the journalists holding back just a touch, with an unusual hesitancy to push for answers. Because no one wanted to be singled out by this man. No one wanted that unleashed power aimed solely at them.

He strode through the street and then up the steps, scattering the press, pushing the golden revolving doors. Zakahr was in.

Perhaps he ought to stand and relish this moment, because finally all this was his. Except there was a hollow feeling inside Zakahr. He relished challenges—had come ready to fight—yet when his identity had been revealed the House of Kolovsky had been handed to him on a plate, and it was now for Zakahr to decide what to do with it.

He sensed the unease of everyone around him.

It did not move him.

‘Mr Belenki.’

The greeting followed him. The lift doors were waiting open and he stepped inside. The lift glided up.

He sensed trepidation here too, as he walked out on to the floor that contained his office. As surely as if it had been pumped through the air-conditioning he could feel it—in the thick carpets, the walls, behind every door as he walked down the corridor. And they had every right to be nervous. Zakahr Belenki had been called in, and in the business world that heralded change.

No one outside family knew who he really was.

Zakahr headed to his office. He had been here several times now. Just never as Chief.

He opened the heavy wooden doors, ready to claim his birthright, but his moment was broken as he stepped into darkness. Zakahr frowned as he turned on the lights, and then his jaw clenched in anger—there were no staff to greet him, the blinds were not drawn, the computers were off.