This week, we’re featuring 8Letters Bookstore and Publishing authors premiering their new books. Here’s an excerpt of Marigold Andres Uy’s novel For Richer, For Richest. Fasten your seatbelts because you’re in a for ride.Katie Velez
Here’ the blurb of the novel:
Braxton Albrecht Neumann is one of the multi-billionaire heirs of a German elite family and Sojiro Natsume is a police officer tasked to arrest him. by his desire to go home and be with his mother for possibly the last time, Braxton teams up with Sojiro to solve the murder cases and clear his name.
Two years later, a budding businesswoman, Chrysta Ainsworth tells him about Julian Blackwood, the criminal who threatens every multi-million business owner. She and Braxton agree to team up to find a way to expose his crimes to the public and while Braxton doesn’t really show much interest in dating in general, Chrysta finds herself falling in love.
The final part focuses on Ban as a family man. When he thinks everything is going picture perfect, Hugh, his most trusted butler, has betrayed them. He goes home with his family to Germany to look for answers about this sudden turn of events and finds out that the problem runs deeper into the Neumann family’s past.
The static sounds from his radio and the disrupted message from his superior roused him from his dazed state. “Can you hear me, Natsume-kun? Report. What is the situation in your area?”
He raised his foot, having stepped on a pool of blood that came from the other side of the door. They opened it, swallowing and what welcomed them were three dead bodies, two frightened women on one corner, broken chairs, a strewn bed, and…
“Is this money?” One of his colleagues crouched low to pick up the cash that was on the carpeted floor. Blood had already matted on the scattered one hundred dollar bills. “If this is some kind of a joke, this ain’t funny.”
“It isn’t supposed to be funny, senpai.” The cop groaned, grabbed his radio, and answered the persistent questions their superior had been throwing at him since they split up to different crime scenes. “We found them, sir. The bodies are all here in one room.”
“Good, we’re going there. Are there any survivors in the shootout?”
“Yes, sir. Two women.” He gulped as he passed by one of the dead men. They were shot in the head but there were other bullet wounds on their chests, feet, and arms. Like they were shot multiple times just for fun.
A crackle. “Alright. Assist them. You know the drill, Natsume-kun.”
“Copy that, Chief.”
Back at their station, he placed two hot cups of tea in front of the ladies. Both were in a daze, their eyes puffy from crying. They were treated earlier for small scrapes and bruises. They had asked if they could contact their family members but both denied the need.
One woman, in the white fitted dress, trailed her eyes up at him, and then down at the tea being served to them. “There’s no need to be afraid now, miss.” He reassured, a small smile on his lips. “You’re with the police. No one can harm you here, we assure you that a hundred percent.”
The woman swallowed and then inhaled a big gulp of air. “Thank you!” She bowed her head, lips quivering as tears flowed down her cheeks again. “A huge wave of relief must have washed over her, poor thing.” He thought and frowned.
He didn’t start the questioning right away. He waited, always with extra patience, for the two women to relax, even just a bit. He tried to offer them food, told them soothing words of comfort. By then, he faced them completely, hands clasped above the table. “I am Natsume Sojiro, first police inspector from the Ginza Police Station. I’m here to ask a few questions.”
The second woman, who wore red, gulped in her fear and nodded. “We’re ready to answer.”
Sojiro nodded once and pressed the button below his desk, opening the mic so that his coworkers can hear the conversation.
“But please!” The woman in white jumped in and grabbed his hands in desperation, her head bowed, eyes tightly shut, tears flowing toward the tip of her nose. “Please don’t let anyone know that we’ve testified!”
“We all reassure you of that, miss.” He said, standing to assist her back to her chair. “If you wish, after we escort you to your homes, we will send in one or two of our police to accompany and guard you until we solve this case.”
They both nodded and as they all settled down to talk, the woman in red started, “We were all invited. It was a party.”
Sojiro nodded, quietly listening. Someone from outside the room listened through the speaker and took notes. His role was to just listen, like a friend who was ready to offer a helping hand.
“Did anyone among the attendees act suspicious?” He then asked. It was the key question and whether or not they gave a name, as long as there was a clue about whoever the culprit was, was enough.
“One of the men who died,” The woman in white shivered, “The one with us in the room… protected us from the shooters. He… he told us…”
The older lady embraced her friend and hushed her.
“I’m sorry you have to relive the memory.” Sojiro inserted.
“He said something like that can only be done by one person…” The woman in red swallowed, looking straight in his eyes. “Before dying, our protector told us to tell the name to someone we can truly trust.”
“I assure you, miss, that you can trust the police.”
Braxton Albrecht Neumann stood tall, a glass of wine in his hand. Dark eyes twinkled in the bright lights of the chandelier, his attention on the five million yen vase that was being auctioned. Or so it seemed to most ladies that had their eyes on him.
From the corner of his eyes, he could see two waiters whispering to themselves from time to time, looking at him. In other circumstances, that would have been normal. Braxton was a being to behold, standing almost at six feet tall, no one can miss him in the crowd of bidders. But this wasn’t just any usual circumstance, and those two men weren’t servers at all.
He raised his hand, doubling the price of the vase. He didn’t have any interest in it at all, but he liked to keep up the fun for the old man who seemed to want to buy it for his wife.
When he grew tired of it, he touched his earring, contacting his butler through the microscopic speaker embedded in it.
“The car is ready, Young Master.”
He scoffed, walking away from the crowd. Everyone’s eyes darted toward him as he left: jeering, judging, condemning. They made way for him, with fake smiles, taps on the shoulder – a gesture to bring his ill-fortune with him. He was well aware of it but he ignored them all.
Instead, as he exited the building, he chuckled. “You don’t have to call me ‘young master’ anymore, Hugh. I’m too old for that.”
His butler laughed, “You’re most certainly not, Young Master. As your mother had said, twenty-three is still young.”
The door to the edifice closed, a faint beeping sound telling him they had locked it.
Braxton smirked. Fine. After all, no one wanted to be associated with a murderer on the loose.
He buckled his seatbelt and took in a sharp intake of breath. After killing those he had made his business partners, his father chose to kill him next. Not just that, they were doing that even though they framed him for everything. So whoever his father had sent to kill him plus the police were both hot on his trail.
“Young Master, this is reckless,” Hugh spoke through the car’s speakers now. “You cannot just order me to standby.”
“Didn’t I tell you to quit it with the ‘young master’ thing?” He laughed. “I told you, I’d just lure them out and see if I can—”
“This is not the time for your jokes, Master Ban.” The butler’s voice then turned serious. And yet despite his worry, he knew the older man wouldn’t go against his orders. He was that obedient. “And this isn’t a game. You will get yourself killed!”
“For once, will you just trust me, Hugh?” He frowned now, all the amusement he showed to hide his anger now gone. “I told you, I want to do this not just to prove my innocence but to…”
Hugh sighed a defeated one. “You’ve told me that countless times already, Young Master. But no matter how much you distance yourself from your family, you will always be a Neumann. By act. By wealth. By blood.”
Ban’s frown deepened. He knew that, of course. And besides, it would be a disgrace to their family if they pushed through with disowning him. So he didn’t have a choice.
They didn’t have a choice but to do this either.
With a tight voice, he then managed to say, “How is mother doing, then?”
For a moment, there was silence, and then Hugh said, “Her condition is getting worse and she wishes you to come home.”
He swallowed and nodded. “Tell her I’ll be back next week.” He wanted to thank his butler but decided against it the last moment before cutting off their communication.
The police were hot on his tracks, but that wasn’t what he’s afraid of. It was them.
He stepped on the accelerator as hard as he could, going past the speed limit, bumping with a few cars. He didn’t mind. As long as he drove back to his mansion, he would be safer there. He had a plan. It was kind of fucked up and not thought of very well, but he wanted to bet it on luck.
Sweat trickled down his forehead despite the cold air coming from the aircon, and the equally cold weather outside.
For two years, he had managed to live well in Japan, better than how he had lived in Germany. All his life, he had been primed to follow his father’s footsteps, despite being the youngest. For how many years, he had been schooled and trained to run their companies. That would have been well and good but when he found out about his father’s connections to the underground society, the grudge most of them had for his family, everything changed.
He rebelled, wanted to be erased from the family registry, wanted to get his share of the family fortune, and just live in peace with his mother somewhere in Europe. His father never agreed to his terms.
So he went to Japan to distance himself.
For two years, his family never contacted him. Never helped him. So he made connections on his own. With the few million that he had, he easily grew his business and earnings, making him one of the richest men in Japan under thirty years old… if not the richest.
It was all going well. Or so he thought.
When news of several murder cases of connections he had made reached him, he knew his father was the one behind it all. Viktor Neumann framed his son so that Ban would go back to him, his tail behind his back, and admit his mistakes. Should he not do so, his wish to be removed from the family registry will be granted. But not the way he wanted.
He will be killed, and be treated as someone who had never even existed.
Sojiro Natsume removed the ribbon around his neck, annoyed with it since the moment they had to put it on. He crossed his arms, his brows knitted in concentration as he watched Neumann’s car drive off. They planned to follow after a few minutes, to avoid suspicion, but when the limousine sped off the highway in lightning speed, Sojiro jumped in surprise.
His senior stepped on the gas just as quickly when they realized that the young business magnate must have known he was being watched.
“Shit.” Sojiro clicked his tongue. “Sharp, huh?”
“Considering he knows what he has done, he still has all the guts to run away.” Inspector Toudo grumbled, turning on the siren. “Might as well give in and indulge them.”
“As long as we capture and arrest him, that is.” The younger officer leaned forward, feeling a vein pop on his neck in agitation. His eyes darted to the side and rearview mirror, noticing three black cars following them. They didn’t have plate numbers, all three of them. He turned back, trying to make out who the fuck those were. “His minions? Did we fall into some kind of trap?”
Panic building up, he inched his hand toward his gun, priming his mind that he needed to shoot to defend themselves. He gulped, the limos closing in. Waiting for an attack with bated breath, he was surprised when nothing happened. The three black cars only drove past them.
Sojiro knitted his brows in confusion. “What?” He picked up his water bottle from the cup holder and took a thoughtful sip.
For a moment, nothing was happening, and they continued to chase after Braxton Neumann’s limo. But then, he saw a man emerging from the sunroof of one of the three black cars, holding what might be a rifle. He almost choked on his drink when he realized the man was targeting Neumann.
“What the fuck?” He wiped his lips with the sleeve of his costume.
The business magnate’s limo skidded to one side, crashing with one car, that one crashing into another in a domino effect. Toudo stepped on the brakes before they could collide with the car in front.
The two policemen groaned. “We’re losing them.” The senior officer clicked his tongue, trying to maneuver their way out the tangle of disrupted traffic.
“The hell is happening?” Sojiro took in a sharp intake of breath. Back in track, they spotted the same three black cars still following Neumann’s limo. “Why—?”
The foggy evening didn’t help the chase. As the sun began to set, the fog began to thicken around the area. Not just that, it seemed as though the snow had begun to fall.
They were headed toward the bridge, outside the city proper. But then, they heard the loud screeching of tires on the pavement and saw the expensive limo skid toward the side of the bridge.
Toudo stopped the car and both he and Sojiro went out to defend their suspect. Whatever was happening, they needed to secure their suspect and arrest him alive. If this was some revenge on him for the crimes he committed, Sojiro was afraid he cannot turn a blind eye on it.
So, both of them stood before Braxton Neumann, defending him.
“What are you doing?” He groaned, holding his bleeding forehead and leaning back on the hood of his car. “Get out of the way!”
Several men went out of the black cars, each holding a gun.
Sojiro gulped and gritted his teeth. Nervous sweat trickled down the side of his face toward his chin as he faced all of them. He turned his head back for a moment to look at the businessman. “We’re here to arrest you, Mr. Neumann.”
Braxton scoffed. “Great.”
“We also need you alive, so first—” Sojiro’s eyes widened when all guns were pointed at them. “Mind explaining this?”
“Can’t you tell?” The business magnate smirked, “I’m their target.”
One bulky man charged at them, punching Toudo in the gut. Sojiro skipped sideways, avoiding the next jab. And just as he thought he was going to be attacked too, the man ignored him and went straight for Braxton.
Then… nothing. Not even a sound.
But Neumann was bleeding heavily from his gut, and the man carried his innate body toward the side of the bridge.
“Wait—!” Sojiro was too shell-shocked to speak and move… even though he had to do something, anything. The man looked at him through his thick sunglasses but didn’t say a word. He just walked ahead, ordering the others to retreat, as ‘their job was done’.
“What the—?” he swallowed. Toudo was unconscious not so far away from him. Braxton Neumann was probably floating away in the river by now. He’s probably dead.
When he processed his thought, he snapped out of his trance state, and though his whole body was shaking and his knees threatened to buckle any moment, he walked toward the side of the bridge and looked down. There was no sign of the businessman’s body.
“Shit. First big case and you failed big time.”
He bit the inside of his cheek and fisted his hands until they shook. Taking in a big gulp of air, he shook his head, wiggled his shoulders. Stepped back. Ran. And jumped.
Aren’t you excited to read the rest of the novel? Pre-order a copy at 8Letters Bookstore.