have to fight him.”
“You know I do.”
Nero has in his town car. Sinclair is driving and next to us are other security cars. It makes me wonder if this is how it would be like to be Nero's King. Everywhere we went there was security. 5 or 6 cars surrounding us. Gunmen on motorcycles attempting to break up the crowd who are attempting just to get a sight of the king with gunshots in the air.
I look outside the car. I look at the city. I would have been rid of all of this if Coco hadn't taken that stage and announced my plans to marry Nero and have my child be Nero's heir.
mine,” Nero explains, “You don't have to do anything you
don't want to do.”
“Combat Sanglant is tradition,” I tell Nero, “A fight to the death with vampires. Turning it down would mean you were a coward. I've just started gaining respect with people in Eden. They just started liking me.”
“Since when do you care about their respect?” he asks me, “Weren't we going to step down and give up everything?”
“We can't do that anymore,” I explain.
“I assumed you
didn't want to be the second King of Eden. That's why I was about to
agree to give up the throne.”
“I don't want to be...but if you are King then I belong right next to you,” I tell Nero, “Remember? At your right hand side.”
Nero clears his throat, “Sinclair. Take us to...the place we talked about.”
“Where are we going?”
We drive to the gardens of Eden. The gardens are a forest that surrounds the city. As we get there this place looks familiar almost immediatley. I've been to this part of the forest before, except it's not the same. A long time ago I hiked up this path. Now a road had been made cutting directly into the forest. It has been 100 year and I guess there were small changes made in the Eternal city in that time. Still the forest looks the same. There is still that sense of beauty there. I turn behind and watch as the security holds back away from us.
Only specific bodyguards stay with us. They open the door once we get deep in the forest.
“It's cold,” I state.
It's unusual for Eden. Truthfully I don't think it's the weather. I'm nervous for some reason. The more we walk the more this place looks familiar. A cold sweat drips slowly down my neck and onto my chest.
“Come here,” Nero replies.
He steps behind me and wraps his arms around me. My heart is beating faster and faster as we go deeper into the woods.
“Nero----why are we here?” I ask.
He laughs, “Do
you remember this place?”
“Santos you're crying...”
I hadn't even noticed. It. I remembered these woods. As we walk into the same exact spot I see there are people out there. They are dressed in tuxedos. There is a table set up out there as well.
“I'm glad you remember. After 100 years I'd thought you forget.”
There is an orchestra, I notice. It isn't one or two people. It is a full sized orchestra. There are 70 musicians there. They gather around and they are playing a serenade. A conductor stands in there giving dramatic hand gestures as he directs the performance. I don't recognize these vampires. I haven't seen them before but it doesn't matter.
Nero's arms wrap around me tighter.
“Nero this is so crazy man.”
“Well, I'm crazy for you,” he tells me.
The music echoes throughout the forest. We listen to it for a while. There is no place I'd rather be than wrapped in his arms. Nero is presses his face next to my face. We are cheek to cheek listening to this music. The world seems so far away. I don't care about Aiden or the Combat Sanglant or Armando or Coco or any of the drama happening.
Right now all that matters is this place.
you bring me here?”
“You remember what this place is?” Nero asks me, “You remember what I did here 100 years ago?”
This was where he first proposed to me.
I watch as Nero loosens his grip on me. I close my eyes. God. Was this happening? Was this really happening.
I tell him.”
I hear him kneel even though I'm not looking.
My heart is racing. The orchestra in front of me. This man that I love kneeling behind me and telling me to turn around was more than I could take.
“Turn around baby.”
Tears slowly trickle down my cheek and I turn around. I see him there. He's on his knees. The box is open.
“Santos. 100 years ago I asked you to marry me,” he tells me, “We never go the chance to go through with it. I'm not going to make the same mistake twice. So I'm going to tell you exactly what I said 100 years ago. Ever since I met you I loved you. Ever since I met you I knew you were the one that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. And even through the ups and downs I realize that I always will come back to you. Nothing else and no one else matters. And I needed some time away from you to really appreciate what I had. I want to tell you that I love you and I want you to be mine forever. Santos…will you marry me?”
100 years ago I fell in love with this man.
100 years later I loved him all the same.
The night leads back to the Imperial Palace. It leads into Nero's bedroom. Nero undresses me. He takes all my clothes off with his mouth. As I lay naked on his bed wearing nothing but the white diamond he gave me Nero smiles at me.
He's studying my body.
“You're the most beautiful thing I've ever seen,” I tell him as he looks down at me.
It's the truth. The way he looks when the light reflects off of him.
“I'm going to
make love to you all night long Santos.”
“I wouldn't want it any other way.”
Nero takes off his shirt. He throws it to the ground. He takes off his pants and then his underwear. His dick is already hard. As he approaches me I hear something of a ruckus outside of the door.
The door bursts open and I know exactly who it is. It's the only person that can get this far with the guards not beating the fuck out of him.
Aiden is standing there.
“Is it true?”
Nero looks over at Aiden. There is a host of guards behind him. The guards look like they are panicking with Aiden storming into Nero's bedroom like that.
“Sir, we tried to stop him,” Sinclair tells Nero.
“You are excused...I figured it was a matter of time before this happened,” Nero states.
Sinclair and the other guards leave the room. They leave Aiden there. I cover myself up but Nero could care less that Aiden is looking at him butt naked.
“I was just about to fuck my fiance...but if you'd like to sit and watch that's fine. We are getting a little bit used to it,” Nero states before turning to me, “Aren't we baby?”
Aiden's face looks like he is about to just hurry across the room and kill us. I know he's too smart for that though. He's standing there with this angry look on his face and I can tell that he is going crazy.
“So it is true. You asked him to marry you?” Aiden asks.
Aiden sighs, “You could have at least stepped down before you did something so irresponsible.”
“Santos will be king.”
“He is the son of LILITH and you think the people will be OK with him being King?” Aiden asks.
“The people are warming up to me,” I reply.
Aiden laughs. He's standing there actually laughing at me. This man has completely lost it. He is so desperate for a throne that he would do anything to take it. Nero and I look at him. His laughing isn't getting to Nero but it's getting to me.
think you qualify?” Aiden asks me, “Nero have you lost
your mind. You love Santos. Santos loves you. We get it. I got it
100 years ago when Santos chose you over me. What I don't understand
is why you would want him to be king. You trust...him...? The son
“With all my heart and more,” Nero states, “You sound bitter Aiden. It really doesn't suit you.”
“I'm still the king.”
“No you aren't. The judges have approved my annulment. “
I'm not the only one confused. Aiden is confused as well. Nero hadn't even mentioned to me that this happened.
“It was right
before the masquerade.”
“I didn't get a defense.”
“You didn't need one. See...while I was looking for Justice...I came across a journal that Justice kept. It details all the times that you slept with Justice, cheating on me.”
Nero picks up a book off the table. I was shocked. Justice kept a journal? Aiden looks at the book. He seems to be panicking. Any judge would annul a marriage if they saw that.
Aiden is struggling to defend himself, “Oh please how many times have you had sex with Santos?”
“Santos do you keep a journal?” Nero asks me.
I shake my head, “I
Nero smiles, “Then I never had sex with Santos. I don't know what you're talking about Aiden. I stayed loyal to you...my beloved husband and you were cheating on me with my son the entire time. That's what I told the judge at least. And I had papers to prove it.”
Nero was a million steps ahead.
He's telling Aiden that he never had sex with me while standing over his bed with me on it butt naked like Adam in the Garden of Eden.
Aiden falls to his knees.
annulled the marriage.”
It's not a question. Aiden was coming to a realization and he was coming to it really hard.
“You are no longer a King of Eden,” Nero states.
Aiden is on the floor. He looks like he is about to break down into tears. I almost feel bad for him. He lets out this painful grief stricken sigh and I know that he realizes that he's been beaten by Nero. He looks so desperate at that moment.
We can talk about this. Listen. You and Santos can be together.
I'll just be the acting King. I'll just---”
“King's don't beg Aiden,” I tell him.
For the first time in a long time Aiden looks truly fucking pathetic as he's sitting on the floor. He gets silent and he looks up at me. You would think I was the one who forced him to have sex with Justice or even that I was the one who used Justice's journal against him.
You won't come up on any criminal charges for cheating,” Nero
responds, “As long as you give back the Lucky
“You know. The ring that belongs to the spouse of the King of Eden,” Nero explains.
“My ring,” I respond.
“No. I'd never give this up!” Aiden says.
“You can either hand it over to Santos willingly or I'll have it recovered from your pile of ashes,” Nero threatens Aiden.
Aiden walks forward. I think a part of Aiden didn't think Nero had the balls to go through with this. A part of me didn't think Nero wanted to either. Aiden was what the people loved. Aiden was the king that the people adored. Nero saying “fuck that” was going to be hard on Eden. I knew it and I think he knew it.
Aiden shakes his
head, “Nero...you're making a mistake.”
“Did he tell you? Did he tell you that destroying one of the Lucky Ones will let the darkness in. Lilith will be able to come into Eden.”
I had no doubt Aiden heard this from Armando. It makes me sick to my stomach that Armando shared that information with Aiden.
Nero doesn't seem to be phased by this, “I know. And I still
want Santos to have it.”
“Are you joking? You trust Lilith's son with this? Seriously?”
“GIVE HIM THE FUCKING RING, Aiden,” Nero states, “I won't ask you again.”
Aiden walks forward. He's in tears now. They are coming fast and furiously. He takes off the ring and he hands it to me.
With that Nero excuses Aiden.
I look down in my palm.
The Lucky One was mine. I slide it on my finger at that moment.
Arie feels the sweat dripping down his forehead. His own personal guard are in the room and they stay with him no matter where he goes. He had to think far ahead. If Nero was smart Nero would kill him before Arie had the chance to kill Aiden.
“Have you heard?”
Arie turns to see Armando walk into the room. His personal guard, all dressed in white, clamour to stop Armando.
“Let him pass,” Arie tells his guard.
Armando walks into the gym. Arie is sweating bullets. He stinks. It's not very comely for royalty but Armando is an old friend. As Armando approaches Arie wipes the stink of sweat off of him. He stare at Armando confused on why he's here in the first place.
“Have you heard?” Armando asks.
haven't heard anything.”
“Nero has asked Santos to marry him,” Armando states.
“Well I figured that would happen,” Arie responds.
“Aiden had to give up the The Lucky One Ring,” Armando states.
Arie rolls his eyes. He punches the punching bag a few times. It has been quite a long time since Arie has fought but he was still strong. He'd taught Armando how to fight. Many don't know that. They assumed Armando was the strongest fighter in Eden. They were wrong. Arie was fine with Armando taking the credit however. He had never been one to show off. He'd always been the type to only do exactly what needed to be done. That was how you ruled as a king.
everyone who marries the King gets the ring. That's what happens. I
don't get why this is news to you.”
Sanglant needs to be cancelled”
“Are you serious? It was your idea that as a last option I challenge Santos to Combat Sanglant,” he explains.
Armando laughs, “You
can't beat Santos.”
“Old friend, have you forgotten? I trained you.”
“And I stand no change against Santos.”
“So what is this. Are you trying to protect me?” Arie asks laughing at the idea.
“Of course not. I'm telling you that things have changed and now the Combat Sanglant needs to be canceled,” Armando explains, “Immediately.”
“Why would I do something like that?” Arie asks.
anything about you canceling it.”
“Did Nero cancel it?”
“I'm confused. Who do you think you are to cancel the Combat Sanglant?”
“You fight Santos, Santos will kill you. There is a chance people may resent him for that. I was OK with that. Hell I wanted that to happen. Things have changed now though. I have to make sure people HATE Santos. Resentment isn't enough. If he kills you in the Combat Sanglant that will be too fair. It won't be enough.”
“Excuse me?” Arie replies.
“Do you want me to repeat it, or---”
“You wanted me dead?” Arie asks.
Arie looks at Armando. Hearing his old friend say something like that sends a chill up his spine. He's been preparing for this fight with Santos for quite a while now.
“I still do,” Armando says.
Arie's guards are gathering around Armando at that moment.
you lost your mind?” Arie asks him, “You were the one who
woke me up. You said your son was out of control. You wanted me to
help you take him down.”
“You could never take down Santos,” Armando replies, “He's a living God.”
Armando laughs. The laugh is cold and distinct. It pierces the gym. The guards surrounding Armando notice how strange he's acting.
choose you over my son. If I thought for a minute you could really
hurt him I would have killed you a long time ago. People are
changing their minds about Santos. They are liking him after the
trial. That can't happen. I'm sorry old friend, but you have to be
sacrificed. If people think Santos murdered you before the Combat
Sanglant...they'd hate him. So I'm sorry old
“You have to die.”
“Tear him apart!” Arie says.
Arie's guards attack Armando. They go at him at every direction. Armando is much too fast though. He bears his fangs and in an instant he takes down each one of the guards coming at him. He snaps the neck of two of them. He rips out the esophagus of two others. The last guard's head is completely taken off of his body with a single pull. Armando's mere strength is all that is needed for this.
“Do you have more guards I need to kill?” Armando asks Arie.
Armando steps over the dead bodies.
“How are you so...strong...”
“I drank from her. Lilith. She gave me her blood. She made me strong. She wants to protect our son just as much as I do. There is no length that she won't go. Do you understand that?”
Arie attacked Armando. He punches several times into the air. Armando dodges all but the last. The last seems to effect Armando. Arie successfully hits him in the stomach, causing Armando to bend over a little bit. He leaves an opening where Arie sweeps his feet under Armando. Armando jumps away though. He's so fucking. Arie fought many people before but no vampire was able to glide through the air as quickly as Armando just did.
“I'll stop Santos. I'll stop you,” Arie tells Armando.
“Do you remember when you put him in the ground?” Armando asks his old friend, “You made me watch as you dragged my son away. I wasn't strong enough them to protect him. You made me watch. You made me fucking watch. Do you know how long I waited for this moment to get my revenge? I can taste it. I can taste it...now...”
“Enough talk,” Arie states.
Arie runs forward, fangs first. His mouth is outstretched and his teeth are dripping with saliva. He's never moved so fast either. He's never been so intent on anything in his life. He had to stop Armando and then he had to go stop Armando's son. He'd have to do this no matter what.
Regardless of whether Santos meant to be or not, Santos was a danger to Eden. Santos was a danger that needed to be destroyed. Arie knew that. He always knew that.
He gets close to Armando. Armando dodges him. Armando kicks at him with his foot but Arie dodges the attack.
Arie sinks his teeth
into Armando's leg right after blocking the attack.
Armando yells out in pain!
He can taste Armando's blood dripping underneath his fangs. He shakes his head watching Armando struggle to maintain his balance. Yes. He's got him now. He can kill him now. Or at least that's what he thought.
Then Armando lets out this...shriek.
It's a strange sound.
And Arie turns to
his right he can see it coming. He can see this...thing. A
“Did you just call that?” Arie asks, “Holy shit.”
One thirst finds its way into the gym. Another thirst finds it's way into the gym. A third thirst and a fourth. Arie lets his attention slide from Armando. The Thirsts are huge. Their wings spread out about half the size of a basketball court.
The beasts don't even seem to notice Armando. There eyes are glaring at Arie.
Armando is laughing,
“I waited 100 years for this moment. I waited 100 years to get
my revenge on you.”
“You control them? It's been you all along. You control the thirsts?”
“She gave me
this power. She wanted me to revenge him. And I will...”
Armando states, “Goodbye old friend.”
The thirsts attack at that moment. All three of them at once...ripping Armando apart.
“Mother?” I wake up.
Nero is next to me.
He's asleep naked. We'd had sex throughout the night. My body is
still sore but honestly I loved every moment of it. As I wake up in
the middle of the night I could have sworn that I heard Lilith.
I hadn't heard her since I was buried alive.
I wasn't imagining it. It was my mother's voice. I get up at that moment. I'd never heard her voice before but I knew how it sounded. There was this connection that I didn't understand. I make my way out of the room at that moment.
“Sir, are you ok?” Sinclair asks.
“I'm fine. Guard the door,” I state.
Sinclair nods, “Yes
I walk down the hallway leaving Sinclair to guard Nero. I can hear the voice. It's almost like she's leading me somewhere. I follow it. My curiosity gets the best of me. All I can do is follow the voice towards her.
I'm lead down towards the gym area. I open the door and I walk into the area. That's where I see it. All these people...murdered on the ground.
“Oh my god.”
All of a sudden the voice is gone.
I notice one of the bodies. Arie. He's dead. He's laying in a puddle of his own blood.
That's when I hear a
scream from behind me. The cleaning crew has come in. The lights in
the gym are on and I'm standing right over the bodies of these dead
men! What were the fucking chances the cleaning crew would come in
at that moment!
They are looking at me like I'm some sort of monster...
To read the next chapter in advance go to www.crushedcrown.com