I’m holding onto Nero. Justice stares blankly having just stabbed his father. The sky is blackened. The sky has gone black. It’s almost as though Eden was dying with Nero. I look down at the man I love and I have a feeling there is nothing I can do to save him. I can’t stop the blood. I can’t keep him alive. I’m hopeless.
He’s bleeding below me. He’s coughing up blood. I attempt to put pressure on Nero’s wound. He looks up at me silently. He wants to speak but he’s struggling.
Panic takes over the room. The nobles are running out of the hall. There are screams coming from everywhere. I can feel my heart racing.
“What have you done?” Lucca asks Coco.
“I panicked. I…I wasn’t thinking,” Coco responds.
The men have grabbed Justice. They don’t know what to do. I stare in the corner and see Justice and Milan being restrained. No one notices my father though. Armando’s eyes look at mine. He walks over to me. His steps are cold and heavy.
“No point. Let him die,” Armando tells me, “It’s over. You can feel it. Come with me.”
Armando offers me his hand.
He outstretches his hand. The look on his face almost seems like he thinks he’s taken anything from me.
“Fuck you,” I tell him.
“Don’t be stupid. He’s bleed out,” Armando says.
Armando attempts to reach out and grab me away from Nero. It doesn’t end well. I twist his hand as hard as I can. I hear it snap out of place. I toss him across the room so hard that he dents the nearby wall. Armando collapses to the ground unable to get back up. He does manage to lift his head at that moment and give me this stare as though he’s disappointed. As if I’m the one who is betraying him.
“She’s coming,” Camilla notices.
“I didn’t mean to break it,” Coco explains.
“It’s too late,” Lucca continues.
I ignore them. They aren’t the only ones panicking. Some people have decided to make a run for it. Others are waiting in the room hiding out behind the King’s Guard who have formed at the front of the room.
“Sir…what should we do?” Roxanne asks.
Nero says something. I don’t hear what he’s saying. Everyone in the room is looking at the king wondering what he was going to say and what he was going to do. I’m looking at the man I love dying in my arms and there’s nothing that I can do.
“What’s he saying?” Countess Livia asks.
I lean into Nero. I hear him whisper something in my ear.
I look up at the others, “He’s saying to finish.”
“You’re lying,” Countess Livia tells me.
Sinclair looks over at Roxanne, “Ma’am…it is your call. The king can’t give orders.”
“He said to finish. He said to finish the wedding,” I state, “FINISH!”
“Look at his eyes…” Countess Livia states.
A few of them take steps away from me. My eyes were black. I was sure they were. My emotion was causing this to happen. I’m sitting here holding the man that I wanted to marry and they are all just letting him die. No one is helping. Everyone is so afraid of Lilith. A part of me wants to say fuck Eden. It would be so easy to say fuck Eden.
Except for Nero. I can’t forsake him.
“Arrest Coco,” Roxanne states, “Arrest Santos.”
They send the guards for me. Idiots.
They take Coco first. I can’t get up to help her. They grab her, kicking and screaming. They could care less that she is pregnant. It takes almost 6 of them to hold her down. As the guards approach me the stained glass in the cathedral fracture and break. There is a sound of shattering glass and a large gust of wind that enters the room. Thirsts have come into the room. There are three of them. The thirsts surround me.
At first I think Armando is doing this. Armando is controlling the Thirsts…but that isn’t the case.
I’m the one controlling them.
The Thirsts surround Nero and I. The guards surround Nero and I. They make steps towards the guards. Anything I think they can do. With a glance I can have the monsters rip these people to shreds if I want to. I can if I’d like and a part of me is so upset that I’m willing to do that.
I look down at Nero. Tears are in his eyes and his blood is still gushing. I hear him mouth the words one more time, “Finish.”
“You will finish our marriage,” I tell Roxanne.
Mentally I make the thirsts move forward. There are screams in the room. People have gone to the walls behind King’s guard. There are so many soldiers in the cathedral and more pouring in. The only thing between me and an army of vampires is three Thirsts.
Roxanne has a knife at Coco’s throat, “Send them back demon or I’ll slit her throat…”
I look over at Coco. Regardless of how stupid she was for breaking the Lucky One, Coco is still carrying my unborn child. I’m struggling at that moment. Roxanne seems like she actually may go ahead and do this. She is blaming Coco and me for letting Lilith in Eden.
“Roxanne this is enough,” a void says.
We turn and notice the person who is talking is Aiden. Aiden walks over to me. It’s strange seeing Aiden coming to my defense. Aiden crosses his arms and looks over at Roxanne.
“We all know Nero wants him to finish,” Aiden explains, “Regardless of what we think Santos was meant to be king. If Nero is going to die...if we are all going to die then the least we can do is give them that. At least give them that. After 100 years and after trying to avoid this shit for so long it happened regardless. Lilith is in Eden. She’s coming for all of us and we’re all dead. And you know what. It’s not because of Santos.”
Roxanne is thinking about it.
I look at the door.
“Block the door,” Roxanne orders Sinclair.
Dozens of guard run to the front door and abandon me and the thirsts. The Thirsts remain still almost like statues waiting for my command. Roxanne releases Coco at that moment. Somehow Aiden has influenced her.
She brings over the Alphabet of Ben Sira to me.
“I’ll skip to the end,” Roxanne explains.
“Do you, Santos take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, in sickness and in heath, in good times and woe, for richer or poorer, keeping yourself solely unto him for as long as you both shall live? If so, answer. I DO."
“Do you, Nero take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, in sickness and in heath, in good times and woe, for richer or poorer, keeping yourself solely unto him for as long as you both shall live? If so, answer. I DO."
Everyone looks at Nero.
She’s coming. We can all feel it. The door in the front of the cathedral is breaking up! It continues to fall down. I turn to Armando. Armando is laughing. He’s enjoying every moment of this.
“You fools. You fucking fools. You’re all dead. You’re all dead…” Armando is laughing.
He may be right.
Guards are pouring in the room from the upper levels. They whisper something to Sinclair.
Sinclair looks over at Roxanne, “Countess…the streets of Eden are bleeding.”
I don’t know what he means by that but I could only imagine he’s saying it in the most literal way possible. The streets were literally BLEEDING with dead vampires. Lilith was coming.
“Hundreds…” he says.
The door at the front of the cathedral being to break open. The guards abandon the door and get to the other side of the room. The locks break off the door. The doors are starting to slowly part. There is this force coming for us. We all know this.
“Finish,” I tell Roxanne.
Roxanne looks over at me.
Nothing is going to stop this. 100 years couldn’t keep me away from Nero and not even Lilith would keep me away from Nero. I didn’t care at this point. I’d be married to this man regardless.
Roxanne looks over at Nero, “I’m waiting for the King to answer.”
Nero is weak.
He is struggling to open up his mouth.
The heavy Cathedral door opens a little more. The building is shaking. It feels like an earthquake or something. Is this the power of Lilith? Is this what she brought with her. Even the bravest soldiers look like they are about to piss their entire pants. Sweat beads are forming at Roxanne’s forehead. Lucca and Camilla are too weak to even stand at this point.
“I do…” Nero manages to say.
“By the authority vested in me by the State of Eden. I now pronounce you man and wife and what God hath joined together, let no man nor woman put asunder.”
“Pointless,” Armando says.
No one argues the point with him.
“Sir you are the King of Eden,” Roxanne tells me.
She’s looking down at me. That’s when I see it. I see the real reason she finished. Aiden may have convinced her but it was deeper than that. They were all scared. All of them. They needed me. So I watch all these people who tried so hard to keep Nero away from me.
“What should we do?” Aiden asks me.
Funny how the people who were so against me needed my help.
“King Santos…what should we do?” Roxanne asks, “What should we do.”
I look at them. The room of royals looking down at me.
“Shut the fuck up,” I tell her.
Nero isn’t moving. He’s just laying there. He’s the only thing in this fucking room I give a fuck about at that moment. At that moment all my focus is on him.
Nero’s eyes close. He just lays there.
“He losing too much blood,” Roxanne tells me, “You’re our king now.”
“I’ll give him my blood.”
“It won’t do any good,” Aiden explains, “You have different blood types. It’s not a match. Even if you did give him a blood transfer…it wouldn’t matter…”
Nero is dying.
He just lays there. The silence in the room is deafening.
It’s Coco that runs over to me. She puts a hand on my shoulder, “I’m sorry. Santos. I’m sorry.”
“He’s not dead yet,” I tell Coco.
He’s breathing just barely…but he’s breathing.
“You’re our king now,” Roxanne explains again, “What should we do about…the Darkest…”
“Please Santos,” I hear Lucca say.
“Save us Santos…” Aiden adds in.
They were dead serious. They were fucking dead serious.
And then I laugh.
“You think I married Nero to save all of you?” I ask at that moment, “You think I did this to be king after all the shit you people took me through. Save you? Is that what you’re asking me? For mercy. Would you like me to talk to my mother. Beg for your lives. No it’s begun. You heard. The streets are running with blood. She’s coming. You feel it. She’s close.”
And they can all die for all I cared.
It’s Armando who is standing next to me, “You’ve done well son. He’s gone. Let him go. It’s over…”
And at that moment I’m done.
Armando offers me his hand and I take it.
Nero is dead. He isn’t breathing any longer.
“You can’t just leave us. You can’t just leave us…” Aiden says.
“I told you. I told you he’d do this,” Roxanne tells Aiden.
We all look at Roxanne. Her eyes are bleeding. I look around the room. All of their eyes are bleeding. Even Armando’s eyes. Everyone’s eyes but mine.
“Justice can have the throne. Since he wanted it so bad,” I state.
“I wanted it with you,” Justice tells me, “We can do this…together.”
“No. It’ll be a lonely throne. You and your dead bodies,” I reply.
I start walking to the door.
The doors open at that moment and the room gets completely quiet. Lilith walks into the room at that moment.
The woman is beautiful. She is bald. Her eyes are piercing cold color. She is completely naked and her body is that of perfection. The vampires stare at her and this wailing spreads throughout the room. They’ve met their maker…literally.
I walk up to my mother at that moment.
“Santos…come,” Armando states, “Let’s leave them. You don’t want to see what is about to happen here…”
“What about me?” Coco asks, “I’m carrying your baby…”
“She is impure…” Armando says about Coco.
I look at Coco. All I see is darkness though. Nero is dead. Why have Nero’s child? What would be the point. What would be the point of trying to save them? Coco wanted this child for her own needs. She was just like the rest of them. None of these creatures were better than the other.
I walk over to Lilith. Our eyes connect. She doesn’t speak. She is less of a presence and more like some sort of godly figure. Her mouth doesn’t open. It’s almost like I know what she is thinking without her even speaking. She wants me to leave this room.
They are crying. Coco is calling out to me. I don’t see her. I see darkness. This is what it must feel to be Lilith. I feel nothing but emptiness as the trail of my wedding outfit follows behind me.
Some of the guards are already falling over. As they look at the glory of Lilith they fall over and perish. I make my way past Lilith to the door.
I walk to the front and turn to close the door on these vampires and this life forever…
“Santos…” I hear a voice say.
For a minute the darkness flickers for a little bit when I hear Justice speak out of all of them. He was the only other person that I truly cared for here. No. He was the one who had taken my Nero from me. He was the one who had taken my Nero from me.
Fuck him. He can die too.
“Don’t bother with them,” I hear Armando say at my side.
Armando is already outside of the cathedral and he’s waiting for me. I am about to slam the door shut at that moment completely and leave the vampires there. All of them are stunned. Maybe they are too afraid to move or maybe Lilith has some control of the vampires. They don’t move. They just stand still at that moment.
“Santos!” Justice screams out again, “He’s alive! Don’t leave SANTOS! He’s ALIVE!”
I stop in my tracks before slamming the door shut.
I open the door up completely again and see Justice there. He’s over Nero. Nero is alive. Nero is sucking from Justice’s blood. Acceptable blood that can restore him. Justice is giving his blood to Nero and Nero is drinking it. He’s surviving off of Justice for some reason and I watch at that moment and all of a sudden I feel this happiness.
“Santos don’t…” Armando states.
Armando looks desperate. He watch as my father makes a dash for Nero. He launches himself across the room and kicks Justice off of Nero.
Justice flies to the other side of the wall.
Armando bends down to kill Nero but somehow I’m there before he can lay a finger on Nero. My hand goes through Armando.
It goes clear through his chest to his heart and I rip it completely out of his chest.
I look at my father. This hatred that destroyed him for just a quick second seems to disappear and he says something to me. He says, “There it is.”
I don’t know what my father means by it. There it is. He falls over and disintegrates to dust before I can stop him.
I look down at Nero.
“Don’t give up on us,” Nero tells me.
He is still weak but he’s alive.
For some reason whatever spell Lilith had on the vampires of Eden seems to break. I’m not sure if I had something to do with it or if Lilith was just distracted by me killing Armando. The vampires are able to move now. Their bleeding eyes have seemed to stop.
They aren’t spellbound anymore.
And neither am I.
All that anger…all that darkness that was in me just a minute ago is gone now.
“ATTACK HER!” Roxanne screams out.
A wave of guards are running at Lilith at that moment. I want to stop them but before I can open my mouth Lilith swipes the air and dozens of heads are beheaded almost instantly without her even moving a foot or physically touching them.
The Darkest stares at that moment at the ashes that were once Armando. There isn’t emotion there but there is some sort of acknowledgement. If the woman who calls herself the Darkest does get upset this may be the closest that she is to it.
“Leave here,” I tell Roxanne.
“And go where?”
“You’re no match for her. None of you are. No matter how powerful you think you are…you won’t last. So leave. I don’t know where. Hide. FIGURE IT OUT.”
“Do it,” Nero says.
Roxanne calls out to the Nobles, “In the back…everyone…”
-You plan on saving them. These useless creatures. How do you plan on doing that exactly?-
The vampires are attempting to run. Not all of them are making it. Some manage to make the way across the room others fall to the ground and just die. No explanation. No attack. They just die. I know Lilith is behind it somehow. I know she is somehow getting into my brain.
“Get out of my head,” I tell her.
“What?” Aiden says.
“Why the fuck are you still here?” I ask him.
“I’m not leaving you,” Aiden explains.
“Neither am I,” Justice says.
Justice is to my right and Aiden is to my left. There was a point in my life that I loved both of them. The only person I loved more than the two was Nero and he was still laying in the floor.
I look over at Justice, “Get your father out of here…”
“I can fight,” Nero states.
I don’t know Nero manages to stand at that moment but Justice’s blood must have definitely helped give him some sort of strength because he joins Aiden and Justice.
They love you. All three of them…in their own way. Do you understand what love does to you. It makes you weak.
“You loved Armando,” I state.
-Armando gave me you and for that I appreciated him. Because you are more than my son. You are my weapon and you got me in here to destroy this place that I hated so much. But do I love Armando. No. Not love. I learned not to love a long time ago. Adam showed me how to hate. And I realized love was weakness. This is the best lesson I can give you, my Santos. Destroy your love until there is nothing but anger left. There is strength in anger.-
“I’m not yours. And I’m nothing like you,” I state, “I refuse to be defined by my bitterness.”
Lilith doesn’t like that. Her eyes pierce ever so slightly at me in an angry way.
“Santos…you’re bleeding,” Justice tells me.
I wipe my eyes. He’s right.
“Is she in your head?” Nero asks me, “What’s she saying?”
“She’s wants me to be like her,” I tell Nero.
“GET OUT OF HIS HEAD BITCH!” Nero says.
Nero runs forward. He damn near throws himself across the room. He doesn’t make it far though. For whatever reason Nero falls to the ground as though consumed by some invisible pain. It pierces through his stomach and I watch him clutch it and fall to the ground rolling around.
“STOP!” I scream at Lilith.
I’m watching Nero in pain. Justice and Aiden run to Nero’s side to help him. I feel so helpless. It’s as though there is nothing I can do.
-He loves you the most out of them. I’ve never seen anything like it. Not even Adam. It’s a strange thing to see that kind of love. It’ll hurt more when he rips your heart out. Trust me. I am saving you the heartache that comes with being betrayed. So let me know, my Santos. -
-Should I kill him first? Or would you prefer me to hold him to last.-
I raise my hand at that moment.
The thirsts that were frozen in the room are reanimated when I raise my hand. The three Thirsts turn to my mother and attack. They get further than the other vampires did. One of them almost even lays a hand on my mother but just barely. They fall to the ground at that moment and die unexpectedly by Lilith’s power.
-How can you do that?-
Lilith seems as surprised as I am that I am able to turn her own monsters against her. There are no monsters between me and her now though. Lilith seems to be annoyed more than anything by this attack.
Nero is screaming in pain more. Justice and Aiden were helping him but all of a sudden the two of them fall to the ground in agony.
Nero looks like he can’t hold on much longer.
I’m by his side before I know it.
“Don’t let her steal your love, Santos,” Nero explains, “Promise me…”
He grabs my hand.
“I promise. You don’t give up,” I tell him.
That’s when I feel it. Nero hands me something. I don’t know what it is at first. I wrap my fingers around the object he gives me though.
“Don’t let her steal our love,” he says and then screams out in a wincing pain.
I can’t take it anymore. I can’t see Nero in pain any longer.
-What did he give you?-
Lilith is in my head. She is attempting to read my mind but the thing is that I don’t know what Nero gave me so she can’t read my mind to tell. Nero is in too much pain for her to get the information from him. Whatever he gave me is completely confidential.
But I know that Nero must be giving me something to stop her.
So I get up and I walk over to her, clutching this object in my hand.
-Don’t be stupid.-
I can feel my stomach turn in pain. My eyes turn red.
I don’t stop.
Lilith laughs at that moment.
-Do you think you can really resist me forever?-
I keep moving. I can’t let her take my love. At the beginning of time Lilith was betrayed. She was the first woman and she was the first person who felt the heartache of love. Her love destroyed her and she was banished from Eden. She was replaced by Eve. When my mother was replaced she went to the Sea and mated with the demons there. She created the first vampires.
My mother swore to get her revenge but when her descendents decided not to let their bitterness overtake them they came to Eden to live in peace.
My mother couldn’t have peace. She would destroy Eden. She would destroy the vampires. She would destroy Eden. She would have her revenge.
At least that’s what she thought.
What she didn’t count on was the fact that there was someone here whose love was stronger than her hate.
And right now I’m standing right in front of my mom.
I open my hand.
It’s a Lucky one. The Lucky one that Nero kept in the chain around his chest. The one that he kept close to his heart.
That’s when I hear my mother.
She realizes what I have in my hand. I pull at the cross that is on the pendant and realize that there is a stake underneath the tip of the cross.
With all my power I strike forward. I strike forward right through Lilith’s heart.
“My father once told me my power came from hate,” I tell her, “He was wrong…”
My power came from love.
And with there was no more darkness.
The sky is a golden color. It’s been some months since the darkness is gone. The eternal city had finally changed and it’s for the better.
“How is Coco?”
“She’s awake…” Justice tells me, “She is asleep.”
I’m finally arrived at the room. My nerves had gotten the better of me. I could take on the most fearsome vampire and save Eden from destruction but I couldn’t deal with the birth of my first child.
“The baby…” I ask.
Justice smiles at me, “He’s waiting for you. With his other father…”
“I should go…”
“Wait King Santos.”
I stop at that moment and turn to Justice.
“Justice, you don’t have to call me that.”
Justice laughs, “Actually I kind of do. Listen. These last months you’ve given Eden peace. Hell even Lucca and Camilla are done with all their shady actions. You’ve brought happiness and I don’t think I ever got the chance to truly thank you and apologize for…”
“If your father forgives you then I forgive you. And I want to thank you for helping Nero and supporting us…”
Justice smiles, “I wanted to give you this.”
He hands me a black rose, freshly picked.
“You need to watch it die. You never got the chance to before,” He explains, “I don’t think you need it however. Not anymore. You’ve already found your peace. And honestly I’m happy. I’m happy that Nero has someone like you Santos. I couldn’t see it any other way.”
He smiles at me.
“You should come in to,” I state, “You should come be with your new brother and your father. As a family…”
“I can get used to that idea regardless of how weird it is,” he explains, “But I think I should give you guys your time alone. I’ll have enough time with him later, I’m not going anywhere. Besides Aiden is waiting…”
I smile, “Tell Aiden I said hey…”
Aiden and Justice have been a couple for quite some time now. Milan of course was put in jail after attempting several more times to kill me. I guess you couldn’t really please everyone. The peace they’ve found with each other was interesting and I was sure one of these days they’d be getting engaged. I had no doubt that Lucca and Camilla would plan that wedding. They were literally just standing on the sidelines waiting for it. Luckily a time of peace had come and the nobles didn’t hate me as much so I assumed people would be looking for me to support their wedding. I had all plans to do that.
It was interesting and curious to think of my ex-boyfriend with my stepson. I guess that’s what happens when everyone stays young forever.
“He looks just like you,” Nero states.
He’s shows me my son. A beautiful baby boy. I stand there and I am just staring at him.
Nero leans over and gives me a kiss.
“He looks so scary…” I say.
“You need to hold him baby,” Nero explains, “He’s our son.”
“I know it’s just…you’ve done this before. I don’t know what I’m doing,” I admit.
“That’s why I’m here,” Nero explains, “Coco already signed the adoption papers. He’s going to be the first human baby to be raised in Eden completely. I’ll make sure that I have that connection with him that I didn’t have with Justice. And I think it’s important that you do too.”
Nero offers me the baby.
I’m so nervous.
I finally take a deep breath and grab the baby from Nero. Nero gives me a soft kiss on the lips and holds me from the back. It feels good having my husband with me. I have a feeling that Nero won’t ever let go of me again. I know that no matter how scared I am I have Nero with me to help me raise this child. He’s going to make sure that I’m secure. He’s going to make sure that we do this the right way.
And for the moment I’ve never felt so much love as I look down at our child.
And I’ve never felt so powerful.
“He still needs a name,” Nero states, “A powerful name. The darkness is gone for now but nothing lasts forever. Forever is a long time, remember Santos? Forever is a long time. He’s going to need to know that we have his back forever.”
“You promise. To stay with me. To love this child like he was made from you.”
“I promise,” Nero hugs me tighter, “As far as I know we had this child together.”
“Then that is what his name is going to be.”
“The vampire, Promise.”
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