I can’t take sitting in the class with Raul and Milan. I don’t even hide it. My eyes are looking at Milan and Raul. I’m making this heavy noise in the back of my throat.
“This dude is having some type of AB seizure,” Lucca jokes loudly to the rest of the class.
He may be right. I may at least be having some type of panic attack for all I know. I can’t help it. My body is betraying me completely. My heart is racing. My body is shaking. I’m getting a panic attack. I don’t know what causes me to get up at that moment and storm out of the room. I see the other students looking at me when I do it. I storm out in the middle of Armando saying something about our schedule and syllabus.
“Mr. Santos. SANTOS!” I hear Armando scream out after me.
I could care less about the fact that my young hot teacher is calling after me. I’m in the hallway and I press myself up against the wall. A couple of Class A students walk past me. They must be headed to their next class already. They look at me whisper something about me being the “Ab” and when I flash my fangs at them they quickly scanter away. It’s the first time that I actually was able to make my fang pop out. Now that they are out now I’m wondering how the fuck I can retract them to normal length.
I touch my fangs and feel how sharp they are. They are dangerous. They aren’t canine teeth. These things are tiny blades. Even running my finger across them gently causes me to prick my finger.
“You need to put those away,” I hear a voice say.
It’s Armando. If this wasn’t embarrassing enough how I reacted now my teacher is in the hallway coming to check up on me. He looks at me with a worried look and stands in front of me as other students are slowly beginning to empty out of their classes down the other side of the hallway.
“I don’t know how,” I explain.
“They are an extension of you. They have a tendency to come out when you are emotional,” he explains to me, “Try to calm down.”
“How the hell can I calm down when Milan is in there with…him.”
“You don’t have a choice.”
“I can leave. That’s a choice. Why would you bring BOTH of them here?”
“It wasn’t my choice,” Armando explains and looks away. His voice softens at that moment before he adds an honest, “I wouldn’t have done that to you.”
The way Armando looks at me is like he concerned. It’s kind of cute honestly but it’s hardly a distraction that on the other side of this wall Raul and Milan were there. They were probably holding hands. They were probably whispering about how stupid I look that they were able to get underneath my skin. I hated that I let them get underneath my skin. My emotions were so intense.
Armando’s tone is different with me when we are in private. He doesn’t seem authoritative. He just seems like he honestly cares. The more I think about it the more I realize that he probably wasn’t the one who made that decision and it’s no point in me getting pissed off at him.
“Then whose choice was it? Let me go scream at them.”
Armando gives me a sigh, “Here’s a hall pass. Yeah. I know. It’s elementary but it’s the rules. His office is on the first floor. He’s the Dean of the school. Our Version of a Principal. His name is Dean Caesarian.”
Armando was…helping me. I nod taking the pass from him.
“Oh and Santos. I wouldn’t recommend screaming at Dean Caesarian…”
Dean Caesarian’s office is what you would think when you think Vampire. The secretary is a pale woman whose skin almost looks translucent. She gives me a deathly stare and does this Nosferatu-like walk towards as she guides me towards the office. Caesarian’s office is cold. It’s almost as though he has the air conditioning turned up to the maximum. I get shivers down my spine as I walk through the door.
“Sit,” she commands me.
I sit in the chair and slowly the chair turns around with a loud squeak. Caesarian himself is a young looking man. He looks maybe in his early 20s. I still haven’t gotten used to the age thing with the vampires. It’s like I’m in a time loop or something where everything is upside down. Caesarian crosses his arms and looks at me with a cold blank stare. There is nothing friendly about him.
His thin fingers crawl up, “Is there something I can help you with sir?”
“My name is Santos…Santos Rios…”
The voice booms when he talks. It scares the fuck out of me. It’s almost like he’s reaching over and ripping at my vocal chords.
“My name is Santos Rios,” I explain to him.
“Vampires don’t use last names boy,” he tells me shaking his head, “You have so much to learn. I know who you are. After your spectacle all of Eden knows who you are. I’ll tell you this much. Those paparazzi outside of the school won’t get in these doors. It’s enough having Nero in class O. If you think you are going to get famous in my school…you have another thing coming.”
I don’t understand what he is talking about having Nero in Class O. Was Nero some type of celebrity or something in the vampire world?
I’m scared to ask. Besides I wonder if the Dean is exaggerating. Paparazzi? There were vampire paparazzi?
“I wouldn’t think of it sir,” I tell him, “I was just wondering…”
“Speak up. You sound like a little girl. Are you afraid? Do I frighten you?”
Caesarian gets up off his chair. He makes his way towards me. There is something so fucking scary and menacing about this man. This was a mistake coming here. It was a fucking mistake. His dark features seem to extend to a dark deadly looking stare. He presses his stare into me. He walks up behind me in the most threatening way. Is he going to snap my neck? Will he kill me right here and right now? My heart is racing. It looks like he wants to.
I ignore his question and basically spit out the reason I’m here, “I don’t understand the reason that Raul and Milan are here.”
“Milan has been here. He’s been in the O class. As far as Raul…we had no choice. Armando explained what you did to the boy. He explained how you nearly killed him. If we hadn’t turned him into one of us…he would have died. Is that what you want? Did you want to kill him?”
“Of course not.”
“Then why are you here.”
“Sir…he’s in my class.”
“Your class? That’s laughable. Class O is for vampires with O type blood. He has O type blood. The old lady tested it herself. Are you calling the old lady a liar?”
“No sir, of course not.”
“Are you saying that you have more right to be in that class than students who actually have O type blood?”
“Sir I’m just---“
“Sir I just think it would be weird being the history I have with both boys. Maybe I can be placed in a different class. Maybe I’d be better suited for class A or maybe class B.”
“So you are trying to overturn the decision of the king.”
“Of course not.”
“You think you are above the law?”
Caesarian grabs me. He puts his fingers around my throat. I can feel my body quivering underneath them. I try to push him off but it’s useless. The strength is something that I’ve never seen for. His eyes are all of a sudden black. Fangs are protruding from his mouth. The dean looks ready to rip me to pieces. My heart is racing. I’ve never seen anything like this before. I’ve never felt strength like this before. It’s almost like I’m being held up against this wall by a truck. I don’t even budge no matter how much I struggle.
“Of course not sir.”
“Then get the…FUCK…out of my office before I rip your fucking head off,” he tells me.
He releases me and goes back to his desk asking for the next student as though I’m nothing at all.
My heart is racing after my meeting with Caesarian. Armando seems to know what it’s like and I’m shocked when he tells me that I can the rest of my first day off. He says that it’s not important. He says he’ll write me a medical pass. Honestly I don’t know how to thank Armando enough. I am shaken up about my meeting with the Dean and I still can’t deal with my past.
I spend the rest of the day in the Class O dorm. The dorm is bigger than I remember. There is a note on my bed and I see that someone has left me some more golden clothes and some extra toiletries. I look at the note.
It reads: I didn’t snitch –but here are your stitches - Nero.
I roll my eyes at how corny Nero is but honestly I sigh a little bit wondering how long it’s going to be before he shows me his true self. With no one else in the dorm I feel comfortable exploring a little bit. The bunk beds are laid out in the front of the dormitory. The bathroom area is behind a door and has old fashioned stalls.
There is a common area in the back that has a fridge and a table. There are couches as there as well. Next to the couch there is a fireplace that is being unmanned. I guess the vampires don’t really care about burning down since they are immortal. That’s the only reason I can think of why this fire is going with no one around.
The fridge is packed with blood. The blood is prepackaged as if this is some goddam Capri Sun or something. Truthfully I remember how comforted I felt by the blood last time I drank it. Maybe that’s the reason I take some blood sit down and watch the television.
I turn on the television. There’s only one channel. Fangtastic TV. The show that’s on right now is an informative peace talking about farming in Eden and flaunting how the crops that grow in Eden are so much more superior to everyone’s elses.
I fall asleep to it.
For the second night. I don’t dream.
When I wake up I realize the others are back. I didn’t even hear them walk in. Geneva is sitting on the couch next to me. I look in the break room to notice the others eating. I can’t help but to notice Milan and Raul. Raul is sitting next to Milan. He looks shy and he’s being quiet. What bothers me however is the fact that Coco is there. She’s smiling. She’s seeming to break the ice with Raul. She’s actually being nice. What bothers me even more is Nero. He’s chatting it up with Milan at the breakroom table in the common area. They are far enough away from me that I can’t hear what they are saying.
“Don’t bother…these walls are enchanted. They block vampire hearing. Only the older vampires can use that trick here,” Geneva states.
I look over at her. She’s been there for a while. It’s clear by how comfortable she looks. I don’t know how long I’ve been asleep but it must have been for a while.
“Does Nero know Milan?” I ask Geneva.
“Of course. They are like best friends.”
“Great…” I say.
I can’t hide my disgust. It’s clear now why Nero is over there laughing it up with Milan. They are talking amongst themselves. I wonder if Milan was raised a vampire too. Had he known that when he turned 18 he would be turned into a vampire his entire life. Is that why he disappeared two years ago? Was he preparing or something. I have so many questions that I want to ask but instead I just lean back in the chair with Geneva and grab the blood I was drinking earlier.
“I wouldn’t drink that if I were you,” Geneva stated, “Blood needs to be cold or fresh or it’ll make you sick. You don’t want to get sick. Even though Armando says you’re already sick.”
Armando was covering for me.
“Something like that.”
“Coco and the others were trashing you when he told them. You should have seen Armando. God. He’s so sexy isn’t he?” Geneva asks, “What I wouldn’t do to taste his blood…”
She smiles a little bit. I’m not sure if she’s being friendly or perverted. I look over at her and see that it might be a little bit of both. I can see why someone would have a crush on Armando. I mean he was the leader of the King’s Guard. He was clearly strong, powerful and he was handsome as fuck. His curly hair made him look vibrant and alive…not what you expect from a vampire.
“Armando’s cool,” I tell her.
“That’s an understatement. Though the new guy is kind of cute. Raul, is it? He’s clearly gay though. And he’s clearly with Milan. Not fair.”
I can’t hold it back.
Geneva looks at me with a curious look, “Do you know them?”
I think of telling her what happened. Geneva seems cooler than the others at this point but I don’t see the point of letting her know how Milan and Raul played me. Milan seems to be looking my way right now. His eyes make eye contact with me. Raul seems to be avoiding my eye contact all together. Just being in the same room with them makes me sick.
“No,” I respond to her and let out a blunt almost angry, “I’m going to bed.”
Geneva seems confused, “You just woke up.”
I know I’m being anti-social. As I sit there I’m watching Coco and the other vampires clearly warming up to Raul. That should be me. I should be the shy guy that Milan is dating and introducing to his friends. I should be the one getting welcomed. This was my life that Raul was stealing. It’s not fair. He was gay this entire time and he didn’t let me know. He let me suffer being gay alone. Now that he was out of the closet he was around people who welcomed being gay. I was still the outsider. I was still the one who didn’t stick out. Raul was still on top. He’d always be on top.
“I’m going back to bed.”
I wake up the next morning to the smell of garlic. The scent seems to drive me crazy. I don’t know how it happens but the smell of garlic is super strong at that moment. I scream and jump out of my bed and when I open my eyes I see the other vampires around me.
Coco, Lucca and Camille are standing off to the side. They are struggling to hold out a giggle. Then I notice who is with them. Raul. He giggles viciously. It’s clear they pulled a fucking prank. It’s clear I’m getting fucking messed with. I can take that. What I can’t take is Raul laughing. I don’t know what goes over me. I storm across the room at that moment and I grab Raul by the throat.
My fangs come out, “You think that’s funny you bitch.”
Raul doesn’t respond. He’s just looking at me. There is an anger in his eyes. If he thinks me almost killing him was bad he didn’t know that I missed the mark.
“Holy shit,” Geneva states.
I know what she’s referring to. She’s referring to the fact that I have Raul dangling from the ground. Raul is giving me no expression. He’s not giving me anything at all. He just dangles there. I want to snap his neck right here and right now and be done with him. A part of me doesn’t care what the vampires do to me if I kill Raul. This time I’ll make sure that there is nothing left for them to bring back.
“It wasn’t him,” a voice says
Milan is standing there. Of course he would come to Raul’s defense.
“Fucking liar,” I say.
Milan walks up to me. I can hear him whisper in my ear, “Please. I know you’re upset. Can we just…talk about everything. Just please…”
“What makes you think I want to talk to you?”
I don’t know how I do it but I push Milan. I push him so hard that he falls into the bleachers.
Coco and her followers find all of this amusing, “This is getting interesting…”
“It wasn’t Raul. It was Coco,” Nero stated, “I saw her leave for the market after class yesterday.”
Nero walks out of the shower. Nero has a towel wrapped around his waist. His body is beyond distracting. It’s hard to stay mad when a half naked god-like figure walks out of the bathroom. I’m not the only one who seems to be noticing just how sexy Nero looks either. Other eyes are staring too. Coco doesn’t even seem to be that match that Nero straight snitched on her. She smiles at him flirtatiously at that moment.
“It’s just a joke Nero baby,” Coco states, “Santos can take a joke. Stop being such a tight ass---mhmm…with a tight ass…”
I watch as Coco leads her crew out of the room. Lucca, the big dumb looking guy and Camilla follow her closely. It’s Coco who bites her lower lip and smacks Nero’s ass.
“Do you know who the fuck I am?” Nero barks as soon as she does it.
Coco smiles. There is something devious behind her smile, “I know…exactly who you are…”
I don’t know what that means. Exactly who is Nero?
I return my glance to Raul. I’m still holding him. I can feel the redness around his neck as I’m holding him.
“She just admitted to doing it. Why don’t you chase her down? Quick to forgive her huh? Are you going to let me go?” Raul asks me.
I don’t see my best friend for years in Raul’s eyes. I see my enemy. I see someone I hate. I see an enemy to me when I look at Raul. My heart races. Finding out that Raul didn’t actually leave the garlic doesn’t matter. Him even laughing at it doesn’t matter. Him being here is painful. It’s so painful to me.
I feel Nero walk over at that moment, “Santos let him go.”
I drop Raul at that moment. He looks at me like I’m a crazy person as he rubs his neck. Milan asks him if he’s ok and I see Raul angrily walk off. I’m thinking he’s mad about Milan about something by how he ignores him but I’m not sure what it is. The two of them storm out of the room together.
I’m left alone again with Nero.
“Are you…ok?” Nero asks me.
“I don’t believe you. Just like I don’t believe Armando when he says you were sick yesterday. You didn’t look sick. What the hell is going on with you?” Nero asks me.
“It’s none of your fucking business,” I tell Nero.
I turn to walk away to see if I can scrub the garlic away off of me. Nero grabs his hand, “I’m not done talking to you.”
Nero grabbing my arm kicks me into defense mode. I don’t know what causes me to strike him in his face. I hit him hard. Nero doesn’t expect it. I attempt to chop his arm away from me. Nero seems fast this time though. He grabs my arm, swings it around, in an attempt to wrap me up with my own arm. I watch as Nero’s towel drops as he struggles with me. It doesn’t happen on purpose the movement probably makes it happen. I get a slight glimpse of his manhood and I’m shocked! In the confusion I realize that Nero now has wrapped me up with my own arms. He has me facing away from him. He has my arms crossed over my chest and pinned to the back.
I can feel Nero’s naked body pressing up against me. My heart is racing fast. Thank god I’m turning away from him because in a matter of seconds my dick is hard from having Nero’s naked body pressed up against me. Nero is strong. He’s keeping me pinned in this position making sure that I don’t move. He holds me there longer than I expect him to letting me breathe and calm down before he even says anything.
“You’re stronger than you should be,” he says.
I don’t know what he means “then I should be”. I’m a vampire now. Aren’t all vampire strong? Then I think about how I was able to hold Raul the way that I did. In my anger Raul was light as fucking feather. Somehow the anger is causing me to be so strong. Nero is powerful too though. There is something so manly about him. The way he is holding me though it isn’t all about dominance. He isn’t just showing me that he’s strong too. The way he has me pinned with my own arms and is pressing me from the back almost feels like it’s comforting. It’s almost like when your home making dinner for your man and he walks in the house and he hugs you from behind to let you know that no matter what you been through that day everything would be ok. For a moment I feel myself thinking that this is me and Nero. It scares the fuck out of me. It scares me so much that I begin to struggle.
“Let me GO!” I roar. There is so much rage in my voice. I hardly recognize it.
“I’m not your enemy,” Nero tells me, “Stop struggling. Calm down.”
His voice is commanding.
“Everyone is my enemy,” I explained.
Nero seems confused, “Santos. Who hurt you? You can tell me what’s wrong with you…let me…be there for you. Please…”
I don’t know what causes me to do it. I don’t know where the rage comes from but I feel myself swing my head back. I swing my head back as hard as I can. I head butt Nero right in the eye. I know that he isn’t expecting it and when he releases me I feel this sense of accomplishment. Who does he think he is to comfort me? Who does he think he is to wrap his hands around me and try to calm me down.
Nero turns away from me at that moment. I don’t see anything but Nero’s firm ass at that moment. I have to admit. It is very firm. It’s like he did a million squats. It’s lifted to the fucking sky and perky as shit. At that moment I’m swear I’m a little jealous that Coco snuck in a small smack.
“I warned you,” I say at that moment crossing my arms, “I told you to let me fucking go.”
Nero isn’t whining in pain but it’s clear he feeling it. It’s clear by how he doesn’t face me.
I can hear his voice struggle with his pain, “Don’t tell anyone about what you just did.”
“Nero are you---are you ok?
“I’m fine. Just please. Just promise not to tell anyone what you just did.”
I don’t know why the fuck Nero is trying to hide the fact that I got the better of him.
The art of killing was taught by a man known only as the Grip. The Grip was an older looking vampire. I had assumed that all of the vampires were young and vibrant looking but no…not the Grip. The Grip looked like he was damn near in his 80s. I don’t understand why someone would want to turn someone into a vampire at the end of their life. His speech is long and dreary. It’s easy not to pay attention. It’s also easy when I can’t stop thinking about Nero.
The reason I can’t stop thinking about Nero is because Nero didn’t come to class. Geneva is sitting next to me as the Grip goes on and on about the Art of Killing. He’s explaining what the class is about.
“Your head is the most vascular part of the body. The neck in particular has several veins. When biting into a human it’s best to lean their head back exposing their veins…” The Grip is preaching at the front of his class.
I’m dozing off. I’m not the only one. The big guy, who I now learn is named Sextus is snoring in class. The Grip doesn’t seem to mind at all. It seems like he’s probably used to people sleeping in his class.
“I wish someone would bite into the vascular part of my head after listening to this,” Geneva laughs.
I am amused by her. I have to admit.
“Be careful. He might be able to hear you.”
“Nero is lucky he got to skip this. They said that they wouldn’t treat him special.”
“The Dean of course.”
I’m confused on why Nero would be treated special. I shrug at that moment at the thought though, “I got to skip class yesterday.”
“That’s only because Armando clearly has a soft spot for you,” Geneva explains, “God. If sexy ass Armando happens to be gay I’ll just jump off a bridge.”
Her crush on Armando is clear as day. I actually sit there wondering if Armando could be gay or not for the next couple of minute. I mean it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Armando was attractive as all fuck.
“Armando doesn’t have a soft spot for me. I was sick,” I lie, “And no one’s treating Nero special. Him and I got into a little physical altercation this morning. You weren’t around.”
Geneva looks at me with a really worried look, “Wait…you and Nero did what? Your joking right? Oh god your joking. You did not fight Nero?”
Was that so hard to believe.
“More like he tried to restrain me and I headbutted him. I kind of feel bad about it but I told him to get off of me.”
Just as we are discussing Nero the door opens the door and walks in the class. All of a sudden Nero walks into the room. If I felt bad before I felt worse. He clearly made an attempt to try to cover up his eye with makeup but it’s the wrong shade of makeup.
“Did you steal my makeup?” I hear Camilla ask, “I know my shade anywhere. Wait. Nero. Oh my god…what the fuck is wrong with your eye!”
The rest of the class has the same expression. My stomach is drowning when I see that I’ve given Nero a black eye. It’s fucking huge. I knew he was trying to help me but still. What the fuck was I thinking? Nero tried to act like nothing is wrong. He takes a seat in the back of the large classroom but even the old Grip doesn’t seem to buy it.
“Let’s not make a big deal out of this. Let’s not---“
That’s when it happens. The Grip speeds out of the room. The old man moves faster than I could imagine. The others are looking around the room. They are panicking all of a sudden.
I don’t get it. Nero got a black eye. Who gives a fuck right?
Why the fuck were they acting like that?
“Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god,” Geneva is stating, “You have to leave. You have to make a run for it.”
“What? I gave him a black eye. It wasn’t a big deal,” I respond, “I can just apologize.”
“It was you?” Coco asks.
The Grip returns in to time. It’s a bigger deal than I can imagine when I realize he’s not alone. The doors open at that moment and I see guards walking in the room. It’s not just one or two guards. It seems like the Grip has found every fucking guard in Eden to start filling up in the room. Dozens of guards are piling into the fucking room. My heart is sinking. What the fuck is going on. Geneva is shaking her head at me. She is slowly whispering “oh my god’ over and over again.
It’s not only that.
“What the fuck is going on?” I ask.
Before I notice it Milan is standing next to me. He grabs my hand, “Please tell me you didn’t do what I just think you did. What the fuck are you thinking? You shouldn’t have left me. I told you there are things that you don’t know about this place. There are rules that you don’t break.”
“You don’t headbutt someone? Damn. Holyfield wouldn’t last long in Eden huh?” I laugh.
No one laughs at my joke except for Raul who kind of just smirks a little bit. It kind of reminds me of when we used to joke around. When he realizes that it’s me who made the joke though he straightens up. Raul is just as clueless as I am about Eden and their ways.
“Please no one say anything, please…” Nero asks the other students.
Him begging them go on deaf ears. Coco, Camilla, Lucca and Sextus are staring at me at that moment. They get out of their seats to stare at me. I don’t know why I turn at that moment and realize Nero is grabbing onto my arm. I don’t know how he cleared across the room so fast. More guards are walking into the room. More people are seeing what happened to Nero’s eye.
The Dean walks into the room followed closely by Armando.
Dean Caesarian takes a look at Nero’s eye.
That is when he says, “Prince Nero. How did this happen?”
Wait. Prince Nero?
“I fell,” Nero states.
“No he didn’t,” Coco immediately barges in, “The AB did it. The AB assaulted the crown prince.”
Her finger points at me. Armando looks at me at that moment. He looks reluctant. He looks sad.
Armando is looking at me, “Is this true?”
I am confused. So much is happening, “I’m…sorry…”
Dean Caesarian shakes his head at that moment, “Well that was a very short experiment. The punishment for assaulting a member of the Royal house is the Final Death.” Caesarian is blunt, cruel and almost empty when he turns to Armando and orders him, “Captain Armando, if you can please kill Santino…”
To read the next chapter in advance go to www.crushedcrown.com