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About The Author
Also by Rachel Van Dyken
The Dark Ones Saga Book 3
by Rachel Van Dyken
Copyright © 2016 RACHEL VAN DYKEN
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.
Copyright © 2016 RACHEL VAN DYKEN
Cover Art by P.S. Cover Design
To anyone who feels like they don't deserve the love of others — I hope you enjoy Alex's story and finish the book with the absolute knowledge that everyone is lovable.
“HE’S A BASTARD!”
I was used to the word.
It was tossed in my face during every waking moment that I saw my father, though he wasn’t my father by blood.
One look was all it took.
He was ugly.
Wearing his sin and darkness on the outside, like a cape wrapped around his body, his every step was cloaked with a heaviness of despair as if one faulty stumble would cause his overly large body to fall to the earth, cracking the marble floor in half with a resounding slice.
He limped toward the balcony, my mother followed, her ever-present smirk in place.
She was horrible.
A disgusting human being who fed off others’ pain the way that most humans were taught to feed off love.
And she was good at it.
It was why the immortals cursed her with me.
I was a curse.
Though, at the time, she had thought I was a blessing, it made sense after all, the immortals blessing the most beautiful of the Emperor’s wives with a son who was prettier than most males should be.
As I walked through halls of gold, males and females alike stared at me with wide-eyed curiosity, I needed only to look at them and know that they wanted me in every physical way possible.
I never acted on it.
They weren’t worthy of my love.
And sharing my body with a human would mean love, wouldn’t it?
Nobody had taught me about love.
Except my best friend.
A serving girl.
She’d held my hand.
And even though I was a bastard — I was royalty.
And she’d dared to touch me.
So my father slit her throat.
Blood still stained the dagger he held in his hands. My mother thought it funny. “Claudious, really, she was just a girl.”
“No girl will touch him.”
“And men?” At nineteen, I knew I was stronger than my father, but he’d purposely not allowed me to fight, worried that it would ruin my perfection. And since my perfection held people at arm’s length, since they feared the rumors were true, that I was touched by immortality, that kept him powerful. “Am I to have any of them?”
His face turned a splotchy red. I could hear his disgusting thoughts as clear as day; he warred within himself, unable to control the fact that even his own blood called for me.
Because of what I was.
My blood promised him everything.
He jerked his attention away from me and onto my mother. “I will ask you once and for all, who sired him?”
She smirked, “And I’ve always answered the same, have I not, your grace? He is of immortal blood. A man with black and red hair and shining armor of gold lay with me. He was beautiful, he tasted like cider, and when we joined, it was the most—”
He slapped her across the face sending her body against one of the golden walls.
“Mother.” I ran to her, but she held up a shaky hand.
Frowning, I stopped. Why did she never want me to touch her?
And then, I allowed myself to hear her thoughts of jealousy.
Of her own son.
Of my beauty and how hers paled in comparison.
I wondered often, what that word meant as I glanced back at the slave girl. Was it this feeling of pain in my chest whenever I thought of the life that had been stolen from her? Or was it more? It had to be more or men would not fight wars.
“Alexander.” My father seldom spoke my name aloud, but when he did, he uttered it as though he were conjuring spirits. Sometimes, it felt like he was, as though I were evil — like there was something brewing beneath the surface of my skin, burning, clawing to break free. My greatest fear was that he was right and one day, I’d reach my full power and let it. “Kill her.”
“What?” I jerked back as my entire body shook with rage. “I will do no such thing.”
“Hah!” My father gave a thunderous laugh. “Do you think she cares for you? She’s a selfish bitch, who would have strangled you as a babe had I not saved your life… oh, do you not know? Your own mother tried smothering you with a pillow when you were two months old. She knew it was getting impossible to hide your beauty from me, she knew I would discover her treachery. But then she realized how transfixed people were in your presence and used you as a pawn.” He took a breath. “Kill her, or I kill you.”
I had never been told I was immortal. I simply knew it. Like I knew how to walk, inhale, exhale. I knew I was different, just like I knew I was hated for it.
But I didn’t want to test the knowledge. The last thing I needed was to test the gods or worse, anger them.
So I did nothing.
I never did anything.
“Alexander.” My father spoke my name like a curse, his voice low and venomous. “Kill her now.”
“You want her dead?” I started walking away. “You do it.”
What was love?
I didn’t feel the blade enter my body, but I did see it poking out
“Valeria!” My father shouted in outrage.
“Die, you demon!” my mother hissed in my ear, jerking the knife from my stomach while simultaneously shoving me to the ground.
I bled as any human would.
But my blood was not red.
It was silver.
“Guards!” My father’s yell shook the palace walls. “Kill them both!”
I turned and held up my hands, it was protective, the instinct to live. Wasn’t it for all beings?
The world around me froze as if I’d just stopped time. The sound of wings grew louder and louder until I almost had to cover my ears. As it was, my eyes squeezed shut of their own accord.
“Found him,” a smooth voice sighed as if disappointed. “He’s been stabbed, but he’ll live.”
“I’ll live?” I repeated. “That sounds promising.”
My eyes fell to a man over seven feet tall, he had dark hair and blue eyes. Standing next to him was another man with green eyes and fangs where normal teeth should be.
“Immortals,” I breathed.
“Welcome to the club,” a gruff voice said behind me. “And no, we aren’t making T-shirts.”
“T-shirts?” I repeated. “What is a T-shirt?”
“I should have never revealed that future,” another voice interrupted; this one was stronger than the others, and when I turned I knew immediately why.
He was an angel.
His purple wings spread out across the room, their span so wide they nearly touched each wall. The flapping increased as the purple feathers turned bright red then shuddered as the blood around us disappeared into thin air.
“Time to go, Alex.” One of the gruffer men who looked more beast than human grabbed me.
“It’s Alexander,” I corrected in my haughty prince like voice.
“Eh, I’m gonna go ahead and go with Alex, Alexander’s too much of a mouthful.”
“Mouthful?” What were these words they used? I understood nothing, but I knew I needed to go with them. That my future was not here, perhaps it never had been.
The burning beneath my skin increased as I clenched my teeth and waited for what would come next, either my death, or my purpose. I was ashamed to admit I was afraid of both.
The angel whistled and then tilted his head back as his eyes rolled white, and then I knew nothing but warmth.
It was the first time in my life I’d felt safe.
“TURN IT OFF already,” Mason grumbled. “We get it, even plants are attracted to your scent. Now, hurry up, my nuts are freezing.”
“That right there—” I rolled my eyes. “—is why you’ll never have pups.”
“For the last time, wolves do not have pups!” Mason growled nearly swiping me with one of his claws as I tried to focus on everything but the current predicament I was in.
“Maybe she’ll be nice.” Mason offered in a gruff albeit slightly encouraging voice as he slapped me twice on the back and then held out a berry in his paw.
“Dear God, man! Do I look like I need a freaking berry right now? If you don’t have whiskey or anything stronger then that don’t, just don’t.” Mason’s paw trembled. “Shit.” I reined in my emotions, careful not to kill any nearby flowers with my emotional intensity. “Sorry Mason, I didn’t mean it. Not really. Damn it, stop whimpering and just give me the stupid berry.”
Mason wound up and threw it at my face.
“Yup.” He shook out his paws as they returned to fingers and shoved them in his jean pockets. “Besides, I was trying to make you feel better, you don’t have to be such a jackass about it.”
“It’s what he does.” Ethan said sweeping into the room with all his creepy vampireyness. That was what I called it when he looked like he was one bite away from orgasming on the spot in front of God and everyone. Have a little decorum — am I right?
“Eat.” I yelled in his direction. “And for the love of God, could you please, block your thoughts for one second?” The vision of him sucking Genesis’s blood while simultaneously stripping her of every inch of clothing burned into the forefront of his mind as he bit down on her neck. “I’m busy having a nervous breakdown and the conversation you just had with your wife about nakedness and whipped cream was it? Yeah, not helping.”
Ethan lunged for me.
I ducked behind Mason and held up my hands. “Lover, not a fighter.”
“Son of a bitch, invade my private thoughts again, and I’ll gnaw your arm off without numbing you first!”
“Promises, promises.” I sang then willed him to calm down. His eyes dilated slightly before he gave his body a shake. “Better?”
Calming down another immortal always took a bit more concentration, but lucky for him I needed something to concentrate on other than the fact that I was going to enter into a room and go under lockdown with a weak, sniveling little human.
“Give me a tranq gun, then ask.”
I gasped. “You’re going to tranq Mason in the ass?”
“Nobody’s tranquing anyone in anyone’s ass!” Cassius entered the room with a resounding crack. I hated it when he did that, as if we weren’t all painfully aware that he was like one percent away from being an actual archangel and owning our asses on a silver platter.
Just to piss him off.
He growled in my direction. “The humans are ready back at the compound.”
“Goody,” I said in a dry voice. “Pray let’s not keep them waiting, my liege.”
Cassius leveled a glare in my direction as ice filled my veins, freezing me on the spot. He smirked.
“He can’t perform sexually if he’s frozen.” Ethan pointed out, his fangs flashing in my direction. “Though the idea does have merit.”
“Bite me!” I yelled.
With a wink, he shot me a knowing glare. “You’d enjoy it too much, Siren.”
“Yes, I just live for teeth cutting into my soft flesh, it gets me off, said no man ever.”
“Well, some men—”
“Not now Mason!” I interrupted.
Cassius waved a hand in front of my face, unthawing my body. “She’s scared.”
“Aren’t they taught that we’re attracted to fear?”
Fear after all was the reason that we were in this predicament wasn’t it? Humans were needed in order to keep the immortal race alive — but over a hundred years ago, because of the arrogant asshat Ethan, we’d had trouble calling their numbers again. Meaning that mating with humans to create immortal children had suddenly stopped working. The humans kept dying, and a great chasm erupted between both races. The humans that knew of us and served us still tried to raise their human daughters and sons to please us, but the remaining council members, me included decided that we didn’t want their deaths on our hands, ergo, we allowed ourselves to go extinct. And then Cassius, with his damn hero complex, decided hey why not call one and I’d take her? Only problem? Genesis wanted fang boy, and Cassius was still in love with my adopted sister.
Insert mind-numbing visuals that no brother should ever have to see in his entire existence here.
Long story short, the humans are no longer dying and in order to fight a pissed off fallen angel, all of the council members need to be at their strongest.
I had to mate.
I shuddered for the third time that hour.
Mating with a human was, in my mind, a lot like befriending a sad, blind yet arrogant mouse. No, thank you.
“Yes.” Cassius nodded thoughtfully interrupting my trip down memory lane. His scolding look said it all. Suck it up. Be a team player. Basically, in Cassius speak, he meant, don’t be an ass, aka don’t be yourself. “They are.”
I tried to read the rest of his thoughts, but he blocked me with the precision of a well-practiced creepy old man, damn him.
“One,” he repeated emphasizing the word.
“How about all or nothing?” I offered with a flick of my hand.
“How about I rip your skull from your neck and feed it to the bird outside my window?”
“Tempting,” I croaked. “Very tempting.”
“Go.” Cassius urged. “And remember your powers will be somewhat dwindled behind the cement walls of the room, we don’t want you killing them.”
“Hah, death by orgasm, nice.” I made my way toward the door then froze as Stephanie moved to block my way. “What up, sis?”
“Be nice.” Her eyes swirled white and blue. “Please?”
“I am nice,” I lied.
“You’re manipulative. There’s a difference.”
“Just…” She took a deep breath and pressed her hands against my shoulders her fingers digging into my flesh. “Please give this a chance. There’s a war coming, and we need to be strong, every one of us.”
And there it was.
She may as well have taken the weight of both the human and immortal realm and settled it quite nicely on my six-foot-five frame.
Cassius was our king.
What he said went.
And we weren’t strong on our own, we needed mates.
And because the very idea sent Mason into a pinecone and berry coma where I’m pretty sure he started reverting back to a childlike state as he rocked back and forth in the corner — I offered as tribute, hah, see what I did there?
Damn it, the immortal version of The Hunger Games.
Fight or be killed.
And I couldn’t fight if I was half of the whole I was supposed to be.
I was one of the four oldest immortals, and a council member to boot. My job for centuries had been to make sure that the humans, at least the small percentage that didn’t work for us, had no clue about our existence, and of course to make sure there were no feedings. Of any kind.
Not the vampire kind.
The werewolf kind.
The siren kind. Not that we fed, we typically just had lots and lots of mind blowing sex with anything that looked at us twice, but I digress.