Rule number one: Nothing lasts forever.

Not you or your family or your house or your planet or the sun. It is an absolute rule. Therefore when someone says that their love will never die, it means that their love is not real, for everything that is real dies.

That's what they say.

That's what they say.


I snap out of my thoughts. I'm still in the courtroom. I'm still on the stand. I'm still being questioned about my intentions for Eden.

Sir...are you saying that you are going to destroy every single person in Eden,” my lawyer Gatticus asks me.

Everyone is afraid. The looks in their eyes is something that once upon a time I dreamed for. Revenge was something that I dreamed about. Right now though I didn't dream about those things. Right now I dreamed about just being with Nero and even in my anger all I can think about is speaking the truth.

“They say nothing lasts forever,” I tell the court, “There was a time that I didn't think that could be further from the truth. Could you imagine being buried alive? Could you imagine not being able to close your eyes? I scrape the coffin until my fingers bleed to no avail. I sung songs until I forgot the lyrics. There were times I almost forgot my name. And nights that I had to remind myself. There were nights I'd scream. Help me. Help me! Can anybody hear me. No one heard me. No one cared. I was forgotten. For 100 years I stared into the darkness...unable to sleep and unable to die. I was an immortal in pain. Forever is a long time. Could any of you imagine the pain and hurt that I went through? So did I hate Eden. Yes. I hated Eden because I screamed. I screamed Help me. Help me. Free me from this cage. Please. Remember me. I'm here. No one came...”

The jury whispers amongst themselves. A minute passes. It's the most awkward minute in the courtroom. I assume it's because in the distance there are whimpers amongst the crowd. Some cry ...others look on in confusion and some still look at me in disgust. I attempt not to cry and I hold my head up to the ceiling but that is so reminiscent of looking up at the roof of my coffin and I start to tear up without noticing it.

I don't know if any of them ever had that imagery of what it was really like.

Gatticus raises his eye, “You say hate as in the past tense. Do you hate Eden now?”

“I hate things in Eden...sure. But I've found things in Eden that I love as well.”

Gatticus looks around the room. He surveys the look on the face of the jury, “Santos, as you know one of your charges is kidnapping. Do you know anything about what happened to Justice.”

I look at my father.

He's sitting across the room. It's be easy to point him out but I don't. For some reason I still want to protect him. For some reason I know that all the fucked up shit he's been doing was in some sick way attempting to protect me.

No. I had no motivation to hurt him. Justice and I had a very...special relationship,” I explain, “Justice is one of the things in Eden that I love.”

The room gets quiet.

I notice Nero. He shoos Sinclair away and goes back to take seat in the aisle. He glares at me interested in what I had to say about Justice. I'm walking on eggshells right now.

Can you describe your relationship with Justice?”

“He taught me things. He was very...passionate about teaching me to let my pain go. It seems so impossible doesn't it. How do you let 100 years of pain go? Just like that. I thought it was impossible as well. Maybe I put too much into it all.”

“Put too much into what?”

“Life. Like a child I thought everything would stay the same forever. That's not the case, you know. They say Rule Number one: Nothing lasts forever. Not your family. Not your father who promised to protect you. Not your friends who promised to never leave your side. It's an absolute rule. Not your house. Not the sun. Nothing lasts forever. That's what they say isn't it? Not even hatred lasts forever. I did hate but just like everything else...it dies. It goes away. It took Justice to really explain that to me. He gave me a black rose. Back then it didn't mean anything but the more I think about it the more I understand it. Forever is a very long time and sometimes you have to let things die. If the rose can die then my hate can die as well.”

“So would you say your hatred has died for Eden?”

I smile, “I'd say that it is dying. Slowly. I won't lie and say I am Aiden the patron of Eden. No. I don't want to be Eden's hero either. However my pain isn't forever. And as I watch it die I realize that there is one thing that doesn't die. Us. We are immortals. We all sit here being these freak of natures breaking the rule that they tell us. And like the rose is symbolic of death, the vampire is a symbol that there is an exception. The exception isn't hate though. So at the end of the day I'm ok with some things dying as long as there is that one thing that breaks the rule.”

“What is that thing that breaks the rule that nothing lives forever Santos?” Gatticus asks me.

Love. I love Nero. My love for Nero is the one thing that breaks the rule...just like vampires do. So when everything fades around me. When there is no sun, no house, no friends, no family, no moon, no stars and no hatred---there will be one thing left. I love Nero. And when they tell us that nothing lasts forever we tell them that they were almost right. Almost nothing lives forever. We break the rule. We prove them wrong.”

Gatticus smiles, somewhat happy with this.

“No more questions your honor,” he explains.


It's later that day when the jury convenes and come back.

“ It is not our job to measure someone's hatred or their desire for revenge. It is our job to measure someone's actions. Because of this....we the jury find the defendant: Not Guilty of kidnapping, treason and terrorists acts.”

I may be the last one to hear the verdict. More words are said after that but I'm blanking out. All I see is Nero in front of my face. He's holding my hands. Coco is next to him. They are celebrating in the court. There are other people I don't know who seems to be either sympathetic towards me or on the side of Nero that are celebrating as well.

“Baby, baby you beat it...” Nero states.

Just at that moment he grabs me. I'm shocked when Nero starts kissing me. It isn't a peck either. He's kissing me mouth open, leaning me back at that moment and wrapping his hand around my waist. His tongue goes deep into my throat. The entire room seems to evaporate into fucking dust.

There is no one here in this room but me and the man I love. And I know it's true love. This man is happier for me than I am for myself. It's almost as though he got off on this trial. Right now he's the happiest man in the world.

I don't care about the cameras snapping. I don't care about people talking. Some people love it. Some people hate it. One thing is clear.

I'd just made a big impact in Eden.


His white guard is working hard at that moment. Vigorosa and her people are damn near dragged kicking and screaming out of the courtroom. The superior vampires and nobles have been embarrassed. They are looking amongst one another. I watch as some high names like Countess Livia, Countess Lucretia and Count Ortero hide in the shadows of the room. They are embarrassed and they don't know how to pick up their paces that I've been let off. All of them have spoken very publicly about their hate for me.”

The counts have nothing on one person though. There is one person even madder than Arie.

It's Aiden.

You're kissing your lover in front of me...in front of all of EDEN!” I hear Aiden bark out.

Aiden is standing there. As soon as the media is out he finally feels like he can speak his mind. It is all very political of him. While the media was around he was attempting to save face and act like this wasn't bothering him. Bullshit. He's not alone. His brother Milan is by his side. The two of them seem far past offended and I'm loving every moment of it. The twins faces are red with anger when Nero doesn't even back down from the kiss.

Matter of fact...Nero kisses me again right in front of Aiden. He does it deeper and longer than before.

He's your husband,” Milan defends his brother.

Not for long,” Nero responds.

Are you threatening divorce?” Arie barks from the other side of the room.

Nero crosses his arms, “No. I'm not.”


“I'm promising divorce,” Nero corrects him.

I don't know what happens at that moment but Arie growls, “Take him. Take Santos now!”

His white guards, the defectors, are coming forward. I count 10 of them in the room.

His white guards which were stationed in the back of the room start to pursue me but with just a look Nero's men storm into the room. Nero's people outnumber Arie's this time. The past king must not have been expecting it. He must not have been expecting Geneva to not show up. He must not have been expecting me to get up on the bench and actually defend myself in a way that people understood what my true intentions in Eden were.

For a moment I feel bad for Arie. A part of me does believe that he isn't thinking about himself. He's not like the twins who are trying to be Eden's heroes. Arie just wants the best for Eden and for some reason he just really assumes that I am not the best for Eden.

Everyone please stop. King Arie...” I start off.

Nero gives me a hard look, “He's not your King, Santos.”

I correct myself, “Arie. I love Nero. You have to see that.”

“That's not the point.”

It gives me hope that Arie doesn't even deny how I feel about Nero. For some reason this guy really thinks that I hate Eden and I'm out here to destroy it. That's not the case at all. For some reason he has been sold on this idea and I have no idea how to change his mind.

“Is it the throne? Because I don't want to take Aiden's place. He can have it,” I state.

Are you not merciful?” Aiden laughs, “I'm the 2nd King of Eden and you have the nerve to say that I can have the throne as though it's some sort of concession prize that you can pass on? Who are you Santos? I know you better than Nero. I know you better than anyone in this room. You are nothing else but a lost little boy two inches away from the edge...about to fall and waiting for someone to come and save you.”

I'm angry. I'm so fucking angry. He's talking about the night that I was about to kill myself. He's talking about the night that he came back and saved me from the human world. The fact that Aiden is bringing this up right now blows my mind. He's crossed the line. That was one of the most emotional times in my life.

You'll learn to respect him. He will take your place one day,” Nero responds, “I promise you that.”

“Actually no. I'll be taking your place, Nero,” Arie explains.


“If something were to happen to you it wouldn't be. I'd just marry Arie and we'd live happily ever after,” Aiden explains, “Forever is a long time remember?”

Nero is shaking.

That wasn't the deal...” a voice says.

I'm confused when I see Lucca and Camilla standing there both in shock and staring at Aiden.

Shut the fuck up Lucca,” Aiden tells him, “Important people are talking right now.”

Aiden is very blunt. I don't think Lucca ever was talked to in that way in his life by his reaction. I don't know what deal Lucca made with Aiden but it's clear Aiden has no interest in taking that deal. Aiden has other plans. Almost like nothing I watch Aiden and Arie hold hands at that moment.

Did they plan this?

Were they doing this on purpose? Were they trying to get under our skin? I shake it off but it seems to be working with Nero.

“So the two of you plan on ruling together. If
something were to happen to me? You say?” Nero asks.

Nero lets go of my hand. At that moment I barely recognize him. I wonder if this is how it feels like when the monster is coming out of me. Nero has this dark energy all around him and he looks like he is ready to just explode on these people. I've never seen him so pissed. All I see is fangs and anger. He pushes his own guards out of the way and he's standing face to face with Aiden. The two of them stare each other down like bulls ready to stampede.

King Aiden. Arie. Are the two of you threatening the life of King Nero?” Countess Roxanne asks, “Because if you were...that would be treason...punishable by death.”

“Of course we aren't,” Aiden says with a deceitful smirk.

Well then you are excused. Santos has been found innocent. There is nothing left for us to discuss on this matter,” Countess Roxanne explains, “Bow to your king and excuse yourselves.”

The respect is there for Countess Roxanne. Everyday it seems like they are getting braver, more ruthless and much more desperate.

Milan, Aiden and Arie take turns bowing. It's Aiden who lets out a slight smile, “Long love the king.”

With that the three of them are gone.

The next day passes and I spend it waiting for Nero. We are in his quarters. Aiden has been kicked out. When Nero finally gets back from a long day of looking for Justice with his men he goes straight into the shower without saying much of a word. I can tell that he's depressed that Justice is still missing.

Every single day that Justice is gone is a day that Nero seems to...not be himself.

He's been out. I think that maybe I have to break the news to him about Justice. How do you tell someone that his son is dead? How do you not only tell someone that his son is dead but your father was the one who did it? I feel bad. I feel like this is all my fault. Armando has gone crazy in the last 100 years and it's because I was locked up. He's doing things that show that he's not all there in the head.

Nero I have to talk to you...g'dam...”

“What?” he asks.

Nero is shirtless and has nothing on but some underwear. The underwear cling to his man meat exposing his priceless royal jewels. His dick print is as clear as day as it makes my mouth water.

I lost my train of thought with you looking like that,” I explain to him.

Nero walks over to me. He grabs me into his muscles, lets me smell his fresh bathed body and cup onto his man breasts that is like hard armor attached to his heart. I worship every muscle definition. I feel safe here and I love it so much that I'm just breathing him in for a few minutes.

You always make me feel better...even on the worst days,” he says, “There is no trace of Justice. No trace of the Thirst that attacked him either.”

“You are working yourself too hard. You've spent literally 13 hours today looking for him and organizing the search party.”

“It's stressful...especially with Aiden and his men out there.”

“Why are they there?”

“Supposedly to help look for Justice but I feel like they are really there just to annoy me. If they did find him they'd most likely try to pull Eden on their side and be the hero again,” Nero responds before shrugging, “The funny thing is I just miss my son. I could care less if Aiden is the one who brings him back.”

I feel so bad for Nero. I've never thought about being a parent. In the past I had wished Nero and I could raise a child together as. In the past I had hoped that we'd be able to really work out as a family.

Nero have you thought that maybe...maybe Justice might...”

I can't finish the thought.

“No. Absolutely not. He's out there. I know me and my son argued a lot but I love the kid. He's strong. He's not someone who just gives up like that. I'll find Justice and as soon as I do I'll focus on getting rid of Aiden once and for all.”

Getting rid of Aiden. I watch as Nero lays on the bed. He pats the bed and extends his arm as though welcoming me to join him. I go to the other side of the bed and stare at the sheets in this master bedroom for a second. I've been staying here all day and I'm still not used to how fancy the King's suite is. The room is about the size of a fucking ballroom. There is no reason anyone needs so much space. It's beautiful too. Baroque designs are everywhere. Old decadent blinds fall from the windows with detailed ruffles, golden statues décor the room and the walls all slant like architecture right out of Vatican City.

Is this his side of the bed? Aiden's, I mean...” I ask as I lay on the bed.

I already had the sheets changed. I can change the entire bed if you want,” Nero responds.

“Naw. Just. Did the two of you? Fuck...”

Nero doesn't seem to be expecting this. I guess he isn't trying to change the subject though because this is much easier to talk about then Justice in any case.

“Not since I knew you were awake,” he tells me, biting onto his lower lip, “As soon as I knew you were out of that grave I wouldn't lay a finger on him.”

“I was alive though. You could have waited.”

“Santos I did.”

“You could have looked for me.”

“Santos I did that too,” he explains before grabbing me, “You have to believe that. I know you're trying to change. I heard all the things that you said in that courtroom. I know it's going to take time and patience but please try to see things from my point of view. I looked for you for a lifetime. I didn't touch another man. I'll always regret that I made the mistake of moving on after almost a century but honestly I'm here now. I'm going to fix things. Forever. Remember?”


We are disturbed. There is a knock on the door.

I jump up to open the King's door only to find Sinclair. Sinclair looks at me and he seems confused that I am the one actually answering Nero's door.

“Sir. I have a guest who would like to see King Nero.”

“Who is it?” Nero asks Sinclair.

“Count Lucca. Sir. Escorted by Countess Camilla.”


Send them in.”

“Sir they requested a private audience.”

“This is as private as they are going to get. Tell them they can either come in now or fuck off forever,” Nero responds.

Sinclair leaves the room.

In the next few minutes he escorts Lucca and Camilla in the room. They are dressed in their noble outfits. They look like their true selves in these clothes. They seemed so out of place when they were in the clothes the elite team has worn. Now that Justice was gone and no one was leading the Elite team, it seems like they returned back to their old selves. Lucca has on his tuxedo with his bowtie and Camilla has on a black ball gown with this embroidered turtleneck that makes her seem like she is some sort of demon bride.

The two extravagant vampires walk into the room and stop there.

Nice to see you Santos. How you been?” Lucca asks me.

I stare at him hard.

We've...missed you,” Camilla states, “God you two look amazing together. Gay couple of the century. Aiden was way too tall. I swear.”

Lucca agrees, “And honestly that speech that you gave Santos. Brought me to tears. Your description of being locked in that grave.”

“The one you helped me get into?” I ask Lucca.

Lucca and Camilla glare at each other, “We had no choice. King Arie demanded that you be put into the ground. We were just doing our duty.”

“Yes our duty. You understand right?” Camilla butts in.

Lucca gives me his best political smile, “It was beyond our control.”

I am so sure Lucca has damn near couched Camilla exactly what to say. He was the puppeteer and she was his favorite doll. The thing about Lucca is he felt like he could play everyone to his chords in the same way that he played Camilla. I wasn't hear for it.

I understand when things are beyond your control,” I explain, “Such as me walking over to you the way I am now. Me running my fingers over your throat Lucca---the way I am now. Then my finger nails turn sharper and sharper. Do you feel that? Lucca. Do you feel how they grow? That is beyond my control how they grow. You feel that?”

My finger nails on are on Lucca's throat. He's standing very still. Camilla isn't helping him. Instead of helping him she takes a few steps back and looks like she is ready to run and abandon Lucca any minute now if shit hits the fan.

Now...Santos. We were friends once. Remember...”

I can almost laugh at that, “We were never friends. You snake piece of shit. Don't ever use that term with me. I should rip your pretty face off right now and eat it whole. Then say that I had no control just like you did 100 years ago.”

“King Nero...” Lucca pleads.

“Don't look at me. If Santos wants to do it the only part I'll play is his cover up. Seems like we've already found ourselves a damn good lawyer that can get him off...if charges are even pressed. I don't think no one will miss you to be honest Count Lucca.”

When it's clear he isn't going to get help from Nero Lucca is damn near in tears.

Please Santos. Please.”

“Give me one reason I shouldn't kill you right here and right now,” I ask him.

I can help you.”

“Help me?”

“Vigorosa is an agent of mine. Aiden promised me that he'd marry Camilla. He went back on that promise. I have no reason to be loyal to Aiden anymore,” Lucca explains at that moment, “I can have her change your image in the media. People are already having mixed feelings about you. With Vigorosa's spin on it...people will love you. Maybe the two of us can make a deal.”

“Deal?” I ask, “Nero did you hear that?”

Nero snickers, “I don't think Lucca is taking you seriously baby. I think Lucca honestly doubts how much you want to take his face off and eat it. Maybe you should show him.”

“Good idea.”

“No PLEASE! PLEASE! Anything you want!”

“Here's the deal. You make Vigorosa run those positive articles and I won't sneak into your room and kill you when no one's looking, then find Camilla...kill Camilla...then find every single one of your little secret spies, agents and rats in Eden and kill them. Deal?”

“Deal,” Lucca states.

He squirms out the room at that time faster than I could imagine.

I spend the night with Nero and when the morning comes I wake up early and leave. I have to go running. I don't know what comes over me but I have to go.

I decide to take the only person besides Nero that honestly doesn't mind spending time with me. Coco.

So let me get this right. Camilla and Lucca showed up at your door trying to get back in your good graces?” Coco asks me.

We are running through the streets of Eden. Eden has beautiful morning air and the red sky has pale yellow tint to it. We run through the horizon into the gardens and back exercising. It's a good way to burn some steam off. I'm still a little nervous about public opinion on me though so I do have on one of Nero's sweatshirts that I found in his closet to cover my head.

I was two seconds away from turning into the Vampire Hannibal and eating my own kind,” I explain to her.

Coco seems to be enjoying this more than I do, “I would have paid money to see that. I really would have.”

“Have you heard from Aiden and the others?”

“They don't trust me but I feel like they are up something. I don't see them just giving up and letting you and your man live in peace forever. They are plotting something.

I figured that much but still I sigh in annoyance at the thought of it.

“I don't want his throne Coco.”

Coco stops me, “Look. You are either way too scary or way too nice. You need to find a nice inbetween. Take it from me. In Eden you have to be a little bit of a bitch to survive. The only way that you are going to live in peace is if you take that throne from Aiden. Period.”

Coco may be right. She was much more cut throat than I was. I'd spent a long time in her path. I knew just how resilient she can be when she wanted something. I wondered if I could learn something from her.

It's just I don't hate Arie. I kind of respect him. And honestly I have this history with Aiden that I can't get over.”

“Don't trust anyone.”

“What about you?”

“Especially me,” she responds, “That's your problem.”

That is a very interesting thing to say.

“So what are you and I?” I ask Coco.

“Listen. I don't know yet.”

“You said that you didn't want anything.”

“Actually I said that I didn't want anything as of yet,” she explains, “I'm not Lucca and Camilla. I'm not going to go out of my way to kiss someone's ass and use them. However I would be stupid if I said there wasn't a reason that I was emotionally invested in you and King Aiden ruling together.”

“What reason is that?”

Coco stops me.

She breathes heavy. I knew Coco wanted something. Everyone in Eden wanted something...

“I'd like to have your child Santos. Of course you and Nero would raise it. I'd just deliver the baby for you. I'd be your surrogate. Still that would raise my family back to it's former glory. By extension we would be royals. I want the child we have together to be the heir to the throne...”

Armando presses up against the glass. They are in his house on the other side of Eden. He gets to the door and his wife Geneva opens up.

A messenger from King Arie came to see me. He's mad I didn't show up at the trial,” Geneva tells Armando.

“We expected this didn't we? Don't worry about Arie. He does everything that I say.”

Geneva looks at him. Her long hair is damn near flowing down her ass, “I don't know about this Armando. Santos doesn't trust me anymore. He's on to us. Maybe we need to find another way.”

“What other way is there?” Armando asks his wife with more annoyance than ever, “Santos has to be the one to destroy the Lucky Ones. We can't do it. He has to do it. Period. The Lucky Ones can only be destroyed by someone carrying the blood of the Darkest.”

Geneva sighs.

“Maybe we should go talk to the Darkest.”

“Go pray to your Goddess if you would like. She's not going to answer. Lilith cares only about one thing. Death and destruction. You are useless to her if you aren't providing a way for her to do one of those two things,” Armando warns her.

He is annoyed by Geneva. There was a time, very briefly that he felt something for her...but it was brief. He couldn't focus on Geneva. The only thing he cared about was doing for his son. He only cared about making sure that his son got the justice that he deserved. There was no room for romance in this equation. The only love that Armando could have in his heart was his love for Santos. Geneva was a tool to him and she was quickly starting to outlive her usefulness. Her questioning his every decision and wanting to revert back to Lilith was annoying to Armando.

Even Lilith was a tool as far as Armando was concerned. She was a very powerful tool but she was a tool nonetheless. He needed her to come into Eden and show all these vampires exactly what Santos felt like when he suffered.

Santos just seems...happier then ever...”

“You weren't there. You weren't at that trial. He described how he felt in that casket. I could feel his pain. Everything else he said was just to convince them not to put him in the ground.”

Geneva sighs, “I don't know...it felt...honest. Maybe he honestly just wants to be in love. What do we do then?”

“Anything we have to. I have a plan. Halloween is coming up. Things will change then.”

“I hope so.”

“Have you been working on what you needed to work on?”

“He's fine.”

“Take me to him...”

Armando follows Geneva down these steps. They walk into the basement of their household. That is where they see him. Justice is sitting there.

Justice isn't tied up.

He isn't in chains.

“I'm sorry you have to sit in this basement. It seems really uncomfortable for a prince,” Armando tells Justice.

Justice shrugs, “Listen. We had a deal. If I have to fake my kidnapping and hide out in a basement for a month or two in order to get my father out of the way and marry Santos...that's exactly what I plan on doing.”

Armando smiles and nods just amused that the idiot really believed this was about taking over Nero's throne instead of destroying Eden all together.

I'll toast to that. Long Live the King.”

And by the King, Armando meant his son sitting on a throne of his enemies' bones. Justice had no idea he'd be the first willing set of bones on that list.