“What are you waiting for Captain? Do your job,” Caesarian states.
For a minute, I actually think Armando is going to do it. I think Armando is going to run across the room and stake me, or rip my head off. I'm not exactly sure what kills a vampire to be honest. If the Grip covered it in Art of Killing, I was pretty sure that I dozed off during that section. I regret that part immediately.
Armando doesn't though. He looks over at the Dean and shakes his head, “I know you like to think that you the king Caesarian, but you aren't. I'll lock up the boy and let the king decide.”
At that moment, he tells his guards what to do and I am taken away. I look back to see Nero one last time, no not just Nero but Prince Nero. This whole time this boy was the fucking prince and I had no idea. I am shocked when I look over at him.
When I leave the building, I'm taken directly to the jail and it becomes clear that this is no small deal. There are swarms of Paparazzi all around me. You would think I was OJ Simpson or something by the way the cameras were going off. My heart is swamping in my stomach. Is this how the fuck I am going to die? Is this stupid ass reason why I was going to be killed?
It takes two hours of being locked up before Armando finally comes and gets me. He doesn't look happy when he pulls me out of the cell. He gives me some cold blood to drink and starts to escort me out.
“Thank you for stopping the Dean.”
“He has it out for you,” Armando lets me know; “His daughter was the talk of the town in Class O. Everyone assumed she would fall in love with Nero and become the next princess. I think he fed that to the media honestly. When you came around everyone stopped talking about his daughter. Everyone started focusing on you.”
“Wait Dean Caesarian has a daughter in Class O?” I ask.
He nods, “Sure does.”
“Let me guess. Coco?”
“That's the bitch. Moreover, with you taking attention away from Coco is making this even harder for me to protect you. You just seem to LOVE media attention. Do you know in the past week you got 20 hours of coverage on Fangtastic TV? You have a death wish or something?”
He had no idea how close to the truth his statement was. “No but I did try to kill myself when I was a human. That was an epic fail as you can see.”
Armando must think I'm joking until he looks in my eyes and sees that I'm not joking. His eyes are glaring up at me. When he sees that I'm serious, his face sinks into a little bit of a bothered frown. I can tell he's upset by me saying that.
He still sounds mad but not angry when he tells me, “It's hard to keep you alive. You know that? You know how many strings I had to pull not to get you killed immediately?”
“Why are you trying to keep me alive?”
Armando shrugs, “I'm not the only one. The crowned prince is doing anything and everything to help you. It's a media circus out there though. Even more so than it already has been. Everyone wants to know what's going on in Class O.”
I feel bad almost immediately again for attacking Nero. It's not because he's a prince. I mean that sucks but it's just because I allowed myself to get so angry that I hit him. I wasn't threatened. I wasn't in pain. There was no reason for me to head butt Nero the way I did. It was completely out of my fear of just how comfortable Nero was making me feel. It scared me to feel that comfortable with someone again after Milan.
“I didn't know he was the king's son,” I admit.
“He's not the king's son really. Vampires leave Eden, find a human have a child with them and when the child becomes of age, they take the child away from the other human parent and bring them to Eden. The King refused to leave Eden but he needed an heir so he adopted the son of a Countess who will killed by Rogue Vampires while she was in the human world raising Nero. Regardless Nero is a prince. Attacking a member of the royal family is treason.”
I look over at Armando, “Is he going to kill me?”
Armando stops walking at that moment.
“I'm going to stand out of the door. If the King orders you dead...I'm going to come and get you. I'm not going to let you die over something you didn't know.”
“Isn't that treason too?” I ask.
“Yeah it is.”
I'm so confused by Armando.
“Why would you risk your own life to save mine?” I ask him.
Armando shrugs, “Listen. You're special. I know you are. I'm just waiting for everyone else to realize it too.”
My heart flutters a little bit knowing that he believes in me like that. I smile at Armando but he doesn't smile back. I know that he's trying to be focused at that moment as we get to the palace.
The palace is a huge skyscraper building next to the Cathedral school. The roof of the palace is painted in the same style and manner as the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. This entire place actually reminds me a lot of Vatican City. There are priest looking people that act as servants. They are cleaning up the throne room as Armando guides me past. Their eyes are looking at me. They are looking in the way the students at the school were looking at me. These people are pretending to be professionals but I can feel their eyes following me. I feel so insecure. I remember all the paparazzi that swarmed Armando and his guards just getting me to the palace. These vampires were taking this shit really serious. It scared me honestly.
Armando takes me past the throne room. I can feel his hand tightening on my shoulder. He's trying to tell me that everything is going to be all right. I want to believe that everything is going to be fine and somehow I am getting some type of comfort knowing that Armando is going to be close.
Armando takes me to a room and stands outside of the door. He looks me in the eye for a second. There are guards all through this hallway but that doesn't stop Armando from kissing me on the forehead.
Talk about favoritism.
“Be strong,” he tells me in a solid voice, “I'm right outside. Remember what I told you...”
He'd be there to save me if I needed saving. He wouldn't let me die.
The thought that Armando was on my side helped a lot. Armando wasn't some kid even though he looked probably exactly the same age as me. Armando was an experienced vampire. If we had to run there would probably be no one else in Eden I'd rather run with than the Captain of the King's Guard.
He opens the room at that moment and allows me to walk in. As I walk in to the king's chambers, I realize that I don't know what the formal thing to do is when you meet a king. Should I bow or was there some sort of vampire act of respect for me to show.
Luckily, I'm not alone with the king. I notice Nero. He motions a head nod at that moment as though tipping me off on what I should do.
I nod at the king.
The king doesn't seem like a scary person. He isn't anything like the Dean. Regardless of the fact that he isn't Nero's father they actually kind of look alike. They both have this mahogany orange reddish skin that looks like chestnut. The king's hair is wild however where Nero's is tame. Nero eyes are much more slanted than the king's as well and Nero's silver eye color isn't shared by the king. Those are the true giveaways that they aren't really related by blood.
“Sit,” King Arie, tells me.
I'm nervous but I take a seat next to Nero.
“King Arie----” Nero starts off.
I find it strange that Nero doesn't call him father even though King Arie adopted him. I'm assuming he must not see the king as his father. He doesn't get much out before King Arie hushes Nero.
“Shh...” the king hushes him before turning to me, “Santos is it?”
“Santos I find myself in a dilemma. I'm sure you noticed the cameras out there. Everyone in Eden is watching me right now. They are all wondering what I am going to do with the strange AB that attacked my heir.”
“Sir I want to formally apologize to Nero,” I say.
The king nods and smiles, “I know you're sorry. That's not the point. See, it was strange for me to put you in class O. As you know, Class O members are trained to be the King's guard. This would make you a very important Vampire when you graduate. My decision was very controversial. It seems like everything I do is controversial. Nothing makes them happy. They have no love for the fact that that I never chose a lover or that I didn't leave Eden to have a natural born heir.”
He looks over at Nero as he says that. I wonder if the people of Eden have some resentment towards Nero being the prince since he wasn't naturally King Arie's son.
King Arie continues after a short pause, “Now this dilemma. You attack my son. My son would like to forgive you. Honestly so would I.”
“Thank you sir.”
“I said that I would like to forgive you. Not that I would,” he interrupts me, “You see, when you are a king you rule for the nation, not yourself. People are waiting to see if I'm a strong king. They are waiting to see if I am going to sentence you to death. And I'm afraid I don't have a choice.”
“King Arie please,” Nero explains.
King Arie stands up at that moment and paces around the room, “The Jihad is now. Lilith's rogues are getting stronger by the moment in the human world. The King's Guard is the most vulnerable than it's ever been with such a small class O. An attack is impending.”
“They don't know where Eden is sir,” Nero tells Arie.
“For now they don't. But who’s to say someone in Eden won't get scared because of how weak the king is. Who’s to say a traitor won't give our location away. The entrance to Eden is our biggest secret. If the Rogues find out where we are...they'll stop at nothing to kill every last vampire. That is their nature you see. The nature of the Rogues is to kill. So I have to be strong. I have to show people that I'm not afraid to kill as well. I hope you can understand.”
He's polite as fuck. You would think he was telling me that he couldn't invite me somewhere or that he'd broken something of mine. He's telling me in the most polite way possible that he wants to kill me.
“It happened during sex!” Nero states.
King Arie expression of shock has nothing to do with my expression of shock. I look over at Nero wondering what the fuck Nero is even talking about.
“What?” the King asks.
“I was having sex with him,” Nero explains immediately, “I know it's fast but it just happened. We were in the back and, well you know how passionate vampire love making can be.”
I'm shocked when Nero puts his hand on my hand and holds it. He was a pretty good actor. I'd have to give the prince that.
I squeeze Nero's hand, “I wanted to say something but I didn't want to embarrass the prince.”
“Embarrass? Embarrass!” The king says.
For a moment, I think he's mad.
“This is GREAT NEWS!” King Arie says at that moment.
Nero and I look at one another.
“This is exactly what Eden needs. It needs an amazing love story.”
“Love?” Nero states.
I was pretty sure Nero's lie was about sex...not about love. All of a sudden, Nero looks a little scared and nervous about the lie he came up with.
“Exactly. I can see it now. It'll give these bored vampires something to obsess over. And it's much better than Caesarian's bitchy daughter,” King Arie states, “This is perfect. Well done Nero.”
It happens fast. I’m not sure how fast it happens. King Arie gives the orders almost immediately to set up a press conference where we would break the news to the Vampire media. My mind is blown at what is going on. I don’t understand.
I’m sitting there looking at Nero. His eyebrow rises. A few minutes ago, I walked in here wondering if I’m alive but now all of a sudden with a single lie my life was going to change again.
“What…just…happened?” I ask Nero.
He looks over at me, “I think you just became my boyfriend.”
My heart is racing at that moment.
“Don’t worry,” he tells me, “It was the only thing I can think of. The people want it. We can fake it for a little bit. You know how to fake it right?”
I didn’t answer his condescending question. I just look in his eyes with the most suspicious look that I can muster, “Why are you helping me?”
He shrugs, “You’re helping me too, believe it or not. Everywhere I go people are trying to get with me because I am the heir. That’ll hopefully stop. And hell, I’m saving your life. A thank you would be nice.”
I let the words leave my mouth barely, “Thanks…”
“Relax Santos. It’s fake. I know I disgust you.”
“Disgust me? I never said---“
I don’t get the chance to finish what I’m thinking because we are swarmed by the king’s maids at that moment. I watch as the King’s publicist pulls me away from Nero. He goes over all these crazy scripts that I have to say as the beauticians get me camera ready. In the corner of my eye, I can see Nero having the same thing done with him. He looks extremely uncomfortable and I feel a little at ease that he’s actually doing all of this for me. I don’t get it. I don’t get why Nero is lying to his father. I don’t get why Nero is planning on lying to his city.
Nero and I did not get along. It was actually the opposite. We were fighting. How the fuck was I supposed to convince an entire city that we were in a relationship.
“We aren’t in love…but we’re getting there.”
The whole day goes by fast and the press conference goes by even faster. It’s all a blur. All I remember is being in a hot room with a bunch of cameras and so many people. Nero seems to be a professional at it. He talks easily and luckily, for me he’s taking the spotlight and fielding most of the questions that come in. It kind of worries me how easily Nero lies to the cameras. It kind of makes me sick. By the end of it all, I’m struggling looking for Armando but Armando is nowhere to be found. Now that he doesn’t think I’m in immediate danger it’s he has completely abandoned me.
For some reason I feel like I’m in a different type of danger though. I wasn’t exactly the type of guys that princes of the underworld fell for. What if no one believed my story?
“Long day…” Nero states.
He smiles at me. His smile is perfect. His teeth are perfect. He is everything you would imagine a prince would be…even if he is a vampire prince.
I turn back around, “Have you seen Armando?”
“Is there something going on between the two of you?”
“You and Armando. Not that it’s any of my business.”
I roll my eyes at the thought, “No. It’s just. He’s cool.”
“Damn what the hell does someone have to be to be cool to cold ass Santos?” Nero asks laughing a little bit, “I have been trying…”
He’s the ideal boy and right now the ideal boy is walking me back to the Class O dormitory and he’s holding my hand.
“Do we have to keep doing this?” I ask, “Holding hands and shit. It just seems so…”
“Yes sir. Almost like we are trying too hard,” I respond.
“I never been in a relationship before,” he says letting go of my hand, “My bad. Not really sure how this shit works. Spent my whole life worrying about becoming a vampire. Love wasn’t exactly that important.”
“You…never been in a relationship. You’re a virgin?”
“Whoa, I didn’t say all that. I just never got serious. You know,” Nero responds walking me up to the dorm room. We stop outside of the door. I can tell Nero is hesitating to go in and see the rest of class O. I’m probably as anxious as he is about all of this. It’s one thing to fool people in front of the cameras. It’s another thing to completely fool people all together.
“It’s hard to believe someone that looks like you never had a relationship,” I say.
“Yeah because I’m the biggest catch huh?” he says sarcastically.
“You’re sexy as shit, you are a prince and you have a good personality,” I respond as though he’s dumb as hell, “You trying to tell me you don’t see why Coco and every female, gay guy or bisexual is obsessed with you? I’m not dumb. You ready to put on our show?”
I start to open the door to the Class O dormitory but Nero stops me. He looks down at me with those silver eyes and for a second I’m feeling my heart do fucking flips. He is holding onto my hand when he does it. He keeps his hand right on mine to stop me from turning the doorknob.
“Wait hold up,” he stops me, “Did you just say I’m sexy as hell?”
He raises an eyebrow as though I definitely just sparked his interest.
I sigh realizing that the low self-esteem bullshit was probably just a front. I want to give him a push but I think I’ve learned my lesson about putting my hands on Nero. I turn the door at that moment and walk into the class O dormitory.
The first thing I hear are sobs. They are coming from Coco. She’s sitting by the window and Sextus has his arms around her comforting her. Coco looks like she is straight up wrecked. The girl is crying a fucking river and it’s clear why. The television is on the common room. Geneva and the others are crowded around it and the news is covering the press conference. I can’t help but notice how fat in the face I look especially next to camera ready Nero.
“You think you can do this to me?” Coco tells Nero, “You think you can just string me along this whole fucking time!”
She’s screaming in Nero’s face. Nero’s mouth hangs open as though he doesn’t know what to say. It’s clear he doesn’t know how to react. The rest of the class is watching Coco go off. I could tell they were probably sitting there waiting for her us to come back and see how Coco was going to respond after hearing the news about Nero. I don’t get why she thought she had a chance when he was basically disciplining her with his words every chance he got. He clearly didn’t think her pranks were funny. Coco just seemed like a nasty person and honestly, I think Nero caught on to that a long time ago.
I’m shocked by it at that moment. I don’t know what causes me to defend Nero but I do it without thinking twice. I sneak up beside him and let my fingers intertwine with his. His fingers are warm and he jerks as though surprised that the same person who wanted to pull his hands away earlier is now attempting to hold his hand again.
“You might want to be careful with the tone that you use,” I warn Coco, “You are talking to your next King.”
Coco looks at me. I think for a moment I hear Camilla snicker but before I catch it, she stops and pretends like she’s looking at Lucca. Coco eyes are glaring at me with a flame that I swear is coming straight from the depths of hell. That is the only comparison I can make from the look in her eyes. I can see now how she happens to be the daughter of Dean Caesarian.
Coco storms off and a part of me expects Lucca, Camilla and Sextus to follow right behind her since they are her little crew.
Sextus is the only one who leaves the room with her.
Camilla and Lucca actually walk over to Nero and I. At first, I’m not sure what the fuck they want. I’m not sure if they are going to stick up for Coco but when they smile I realize it’s going to be nothing like that.
Lucca is the one who starts it off, “You guys looked amazing on tv.”
Camilla smiles next to Lucca, “Everyone’s talking about you two.”
I’m not sure how it happens but for the rest of the night Camilla and Lucca are in our faces. They are specifically in my face. When I go watch television they are there gossiping about how old the architecture of the houses in Eden look. When I try to have a conversation with Geneva, the two of them are also there all of a sudden attempting to input themselves into the conversation.
It isn’t until nighttime that they go to sleep that I finally shake them. I mean the fake shit is more than I can really handle.
“You have some new fans,” a voice says.
I turn and see him standing there while I’m in the bathroom washing my face. My old best friend. Raul.
“Don’t start no shit, won’t be no shit,” I warn Raul.
“I didn’t come in here to start shit with you,” Raul tells me at that moment, “Milan is worried about you and so am I.”
I can almost laugh at that moment.
“You and Milan worried about me.”
“Yes, believe it or not,” he explains, “We never meant to hurt you. But the way to get back at us isn’t by having some fake relationship with a guy you don’t even know.”
“Get…the fuck away from me Raul,” I warn him.
I can feel myself maddening.
Raul looks at me, “Oh come on. So are you trying to tell me that it’s real?
“I’m over him and I’m over you…” I tell Raul.
Raul laughs. The motherfucker actually laughs, “You and I both know that it would take a lot longer to get over Milan than that. I hurt you. You hurt me. Let’s just move on.”
“I didn’t hurt you enough,” I explain to Raul, “Get away from me. Now…”
“Is everything ok in here?” a voice says.
Luckily, Nero walks into the room at that moment. He seems to sense the tension. Raul doesn’t remove his eyes from me.
Raul nods, “Yeah. Yeah everything is just fine. See you around Santos.”
Raul walks away at that moment.
I watch as Nero eyes him as he’s leaving. Nero looks suspicious. I have no doubt Raul and Milan haven’t told anyone what their history with me is. I don’t think they want to let it be common knowledge the types of snakes they are. My heart races every time I am around them. I just need to avoid them. Fucking around with Raul and Milan was the reason that I got in trouble with Nero in the first place.
“Are you going to tell me what’s up with you and them or am I going to have to ask them?” Nero asks.
Tears are falling down my eyes at that moment. They have a red tint to them. Maybe it’s true that vampires cry blood.
“Please Nero,” I repeat.
Nero takes a deep breath, “We should sleep in the same bed from now on. Just so that people around here don’t get suspicious…”
For some reason I’m not as anxious as I think I am when I lay down next to Nero. The bed is small. Nero doesn’t have a shirt on. He warns me about this beforehand and asks me if it’s ok. He says he doesn’t like sleeping with a shirt on. When I lay next to him I kind of feel like Nero is a little bit more nervous than I am.
That’s when I see Milan. He walks past in the darkness and makes his way to his own bed. When he sees Nero and I, he stops. The look in his eyes says that something bothers him and instead of going to his own bed he ends up walking over to Raul’s.
A pain shoots through me.
“You ok?” Nero asks.
He’s studying my face again. He can read me so easily.
“I’m fine,” I explain to him, “Let’s just go to bed.”
He nods and whispers, “Is it ok if I put my hand around you. You know…just for acting purposes.”
I shake my head. My mind just keeps wandering to Raul and Milan. I let Milan in once. I was more attracted to Nero. Nero was even more attractive then Milan. If I put down that gate and he hurt me…it would hurt forever. I wasn’t going to let that happen, not now, not ever.
“No one’s watching,” I tell him shaking my head and crawling up as far away from him as possible.
“Oh yeah. Yeah. You’re right. Goodnight.”
I dream at that moment.
A woman. A woman with a bald head is in Eden. She has dark skin that reflects the light of a red moon. She moves like a snake through Eden. She walks slowly. Her eyes focus intensely and her feet are sticky.
Her feet are sticky because she’s stepping in blood.
Piles and piles of bodies are around her.
Then I realize some of the faces of the bodies she steps over. My heart is racing as I see this woman walking throughout Eden. I see Nero. I see Armando. She steps over Camilla, Lucca, Sextus, and Countess Roxy. She makes her way right up to me and she rips my head off.
I wake up panicking. My heart is racing. I’m drenched in sweat. As I wake up Nero panics waking up with me. He grabs my hand at that moment and holds it. He doesn’t seem to be turned off by how much I’m sweating. He actually seems to want to pull me closer and I’m the one who’s holding back from him.
“What’s wrong?” Nero asks.
“I had…a dream. I had a nightmare.”
Nero looks at me, “What?”
“I had a nightmare. A woman with a bald head.”
Nero’s eyes seem to be glued onto me, “The prophecy is true. You are him. You are…”
Nero looks at me.
“Vampires don’t have dreams, Santos,” he says.
“I just had one.”
Nero nods, “I believe you. There is a prophecy. It says that when the vampire with AB blood comes to Eden he’ll dream. And when he dreams, Lilith will wake up again and once again walk the Earth. And Santos…if Lilith finds a way into Eden…we are all dead…”
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