Semester in Blood, Chapter 12
I'm not surprised when I receive an invitation from Armando to come over for Thanksgiving. I have no doubt he is really trying to build this father-son bullshit ass relationship. I didn't plan on going but I have to. The reason is that my jealous boyfriend feels like he has something to prove and has challenged Armando to a Combat Sanglat---latin for a fight to the death.
There is no way that I'm able to get to Nero because he left to spend Thanksgiving in the Imperial palace without saying a fucking word to me so I have no choice but to knock on Armando's door.
“I'm shocked you came.”
Aiden opens the door. I know it's Aiden and not Milan because of the smile. Aiden's excitement to see me is non-mistakable. There was a time when I wanted more than to see this sexy ass man standing behind a door smiling at me. Right now wasn't that time.
“You're going to be here for dinner?”
Aiden laughs, “I spend a lot of time with Armando.”
He says it nonchalantly but I just roll my eyes and walk in the condo. The condo is broad and beautiful. The view of Eden's skyline is in the distance. Huge houses with ancient architecture makeup the skyline but there is also a modern feel on the streets. It feels like Rome with so much culture and history and everything can be seen out of Armando's views.
Aiden looks sexy. I have to admit it. He's saying he's surprised to see me but he smells all good. He has this black blazer on and a fresh gold chain. He has a fresh shave which is definitely more distinct from when I last saw his brother who was wolfing it up a little bit.
“You and Armando close huh?” I ask.
Aiden smiles, “I always looked at him as sort of like a mentor. A lot of people do though.”
“Like a father?” I ask.
Aiden looks awkward. A part of me wants him to. I can't help but to feel resentment at the fact that my father has become so close to the twins and yet his real son was alive the entire time.
Just when he is about to say something Armando pokes his torso outside of one of the bedrooms. He drips water on the wood floors and I have to remind myself he is my father because his body looks fucking amazing dripping wet like that. I shake off the stupid thought and watch as Armando does his best to put on a smile. It's the most unnatural thing for him.
“You're here,”Armando says, “How about you help Aiden set up the table? I'll be out in a minute...”
He is acting like everything is great. He's acting like he's not going to face Nero is a bloody fucking battle. He expects me to smile back at him but I don't. I just roll my eyes and follow Aiden into the kitchen where he is handing me plates.
“If I didn't know better,” Aiden whispers, “I'd think your father was trying to let us get back together or something.”
“Really cause I'm thinking he's the biggest cock block in the world.”
“Well maybe he see's what's best for you.”
“And that's you?”
He doesn't hesitate, “Of course.” And he pulls me in close, in case I missed how passionate he felt about this.
Looking up at tall ass Aiden is making my heart race. I'm uncomfortable but I'm pretty sure he likes the fact that I'm uncomfortable. This looks bad. I could imagine if Nero walked in the room with Aiden grabbing on the smiles of the back inches away from my face. I can smell his cologne and feel his breath against the small hairs on my cupid's bow.
I pull away quickly and change the subject.
“Is Milan coming?”
“No. He's taking Raul out to dinner. He said Raul wanted to see more of Eden. Why do you want him here? You need a cushion between us?” he asks.
Yes. God yes. Anything. I need an entire sofa between us.
“Don't flatter yourself man,” I respond, “I have a boyfriend.”
“So why is your heart beating so fast?” Aiden asks me.
I don't answer his question. I just turn and take the plates away. I don't owe Aiden an explanation anymore. Now that I realize him and Milan trade places in class it makes me feel good. I don't feel awkward every time Milan walks into the class. However I still have that weird feeling with Aiden. And I hate it.
By the time Armando comes out we set up all the food and everything. There is a freshly killed turkey barely cooked still dripping with blood. The rest is normal food. I assume when I first turned into a vampire that food would lose it's taste or something. That's not the case. All my senses are better now. That includes taste but it just isn't a necessary anymore. I never really feel hunger in the way that I did before. Hunger is now more like an excess desire...like sex. It's nice and I enjoy it, but I don't need food to survive.
“So how is everyone?” Aiden breaks the silence.
I know he's doing it because it's silent. It's awkward. I'm still beyond mad at Armando. I don't want to be here. I'm surrounded by two of the men who have caused me all the real issues that I had mentally.
I don't answer.
Armando shrugs his shoulders, “Works just been work you know. Blood shortage. Rogues are trying to sabotage the blood donation operation we have outside of Eden. I guess they are trying to starve us out.”
Aiden shakes his head, “Damn. So what are you guys going to do?”
“Increase security. Hoping that the new Class O graduates soon and can help us out.”
Armando looks across the table at me. I hate being here. It makes me kind of sick to see Aiden asking Armando about his day like they are some happy family. I feel out of place here. I want to get up and leave but I refuse to leave without talking to Armando about what's going on. I swallow my pride at that moment and glare over the bloody turkey.
“Well we are working on that,” Aiden smiles, “Milan told me everyone was doing better. Even Santos.”
He looks at me.
“What's that supposed to mean?” I ask him.
He stops chewing, “I didn't mean anything about it. Just meant I heard you were getting better.”
“Milan lied to you. I still suck,” I respond.
Armando doesn't hesitate to jump in, “You'll improve. It's in your blood.”
I roll my eyes, “Whatever.”
“You have something you want say or are you just going to sit across the table and mean mug?” Armando asks me.
I drop my fork. Really? He had the nerve to sit here and scold me as though he raised me or something.
“Aren't you a middle aged man or something? Mean Mug? Really though?”
I'm raising my voice. I can tell Aiden is uncomfortable but I don't give a shit. Armando is looking dead at me. He's not backing down. I don't expect him to. Armando isn't really the type to back down from anything.
“I'm the same age as you,” Armando responds, “We're forever going to be this age. It's weird for me having a son that is my age. It's weird as fuck. But you still have to respect me. I'm your father. And I'm here for you---no matter how you feel about it. I always look out for your best interest.”
“How about starting with not fighting my boyfriend to the death?” I ask, “That's a really big interest of mine not having a dead boyfriend.”
Armando is thinking how to approach this. I can tell. He knew I was coming here to discuss this. He should have been better prepared.
I'm not surprised when Aiden jumps to his defense, “That's not fair. The prince challenged Armando. Armando had to accept.”
That was news to me that he accepted. It pisses me off even more.
I shake my head, “I'm not talking to you Aiden. I'm talking to my father.”
“I'm glad you are calling me that,” Armando replied.
“More like sperm donor. Don't try to change the subject. You want to build a relationship with me and you think you'll do that by accepting to kill my boyfriend. Let's be for real. We all know you're the better fighter,” I say.
It's not a secret even for someone new to Eden. Armando had a reputation. I'd heard it. Plus he was the Captain of the King's Guard.
“You should tell your boyfriend that,” Aiden barks back.
“You should mind your fuckin' business...” I reply.
I'm not backing down and neither is Aiden. This isn't coming from anywhere. He's been waiting for a reason to tell me about Nero and I can see him just on the seat of his fucking chair ready to go in.
“You are my business. I don't give a fuck. Everyone knows Armando is the best fighter in Eden. In Eden everyone also knows that Nero is a spoiled ass prince who no one trusts to lead Eden. Don't you remember? You can't even hit the prince without being charged with treason. Otherwise I would have knocked his bitch ass out a long time ago. Maybe I should have fought him in a Combat Sanglant so I'd have an excuse to show you what a real man is.”
His words are spewing with malice. His point about no one being able to hit Nero didn't mean that Nero was weak. Nero didn't make the laws. Nero actually went out of his way to protect me and lie for me when I was about to be charged for assaulting him.
There is no love loss there and if Aiden thinks for a minute I'm going to let him bash Nero like that he has another thing coming. Nero was there when his ass was hiding out following Armando's orders.
“Aiden---Santos is right. This is between me and my son,” Armando corrects him.
Aiden gets up from the table as dramatically as I think he can. I watch as he storms off into a bedroom and slams the door so hard I think it'll fall off it's hinges . I'm kind of glad that he's gone to be honest with you. I didn't want to be ganged up on. Then I look at Armando and realize this is just him playing that protective father bullshit that makes me sick to my stomach.
“I'm sorry about that,” Armando says about Aiden and then puts his hands on the table, “I'm sorry about this situation with Nero. But the challenge was sent out. It has to happen. It's a matter of pride.”
“You're the King's Guard. Everyone knows your reputation. Fuck pride. I'm asking you---I'm begging you not to do this.”
“You don't get it. A Combat Sanglant is the most ancient challenge for vampires. It dates back to when Vampires were in the Roman empire. Nero feels like he has something to prove. And honestly---maybe he does.”
“What could he have to prove? He's just a jealous boyfriend...he thinks we're fucking.”
“It's not just that,” Armando responds, “He's a joke. I'll just put that shit out there. Arie is a fierce strong king. Nero---not so much.”
“Nero is strong...”
“That's not what I'm talking about. Strength is one thing. Character is another. He's too...sweet...”
I can almost laugh about this. Nero is a nice person. He's always been a nice person since I met him. The fact that in the vampire world that is something bad blows my fucking mind.
“King Arie seemed nice too.”
“Behind closed door. Nero is nice to everyone. The King knows his heir's weakness. Why do you think he hasn't stepped down. Vampires are immortal but that doesn't mean they want to be active forever. Some vampires go into long sleeps...sometimes for decades and sometimes for centuries. Arie would like to go into a sleep but he can't because of his heir. People have no confidence in Nero He's nice but sometimes nice isn't a good thing especially when you are a Vampire prince. People aren't scared of nice.”
“Exactly. He is immature. HE doesn't know better. YOU do. Just be the bigger man,” I tell Armando foregetting at that moment that he isn't as young as I am.
“I can't just say no. Period. It's something I don't expect you to understand. Vampire culture...”
“Fuck vampire culture!” I scream at the top of my lungs, “I love him.”
I admit it. The words just roll off my tongue. The door is open again. Aiden is standing there. He's come out just to let me know that he heard what I said. I look at Aiden. There is a look of pain in his face. I don't think he realized how intense I felt for Nero. I don't think I noticed how intense I felt for Nero.
Armando sighs a little bit, “Listen. I won't kill him. I promise. But we do have to fight.”
“It's a fight to the death.”
“It doesn't have to be. The king has the power to stop it if one of the combatants beg for mercy. I'll beat the prince up a little bit. Throw him around. Make him beg for mercy. Thumbs up means that the king will give him mercy. Thumbs down---well, we don't have to worry about that. The king won't give a thumbs down to his heir.”
I just can't think of it. I can't stand the thought of Nero getting beat so bad that he is begging for his life. Ok---they might not kill him but the embarrassment was another story. Nero wouldn't be able to recover from that kind of embarrassment.
“I can't---I have to tell him?”
“Tell him what exactly?” Armando asks.
“That you are my father,” I explain, “That he can't fight you because you're my father. If he knew that he might not want to.”
“You can't tell him that,” Armando responds.
I start to walk to the door. I don't make it far. Armando speeds across the floor to stop me. He's there in no time blocking me from leaving. He's grabbing on my wrist with a strength that kind of scares the fuck out of me. If this is what Nero has to go up against I don't imagine the fight lasting too long at all.
“If you tell Nero that I am your father, people might figure out some things we don't want them to know,” Armando explains.
Armando and his secrets. He's looking across the room at Aiden. Aiden doesn't need to be told. Aiden walks back into the bedroom. He must be used to Armando and his secrets already. I can't with it anymore though. My heart is racing at the thought of it. Armando always has something to hide.
“Like what?” I ask again.
“Like who your mother is,” Armando explains, “Like who you are.”
I hadn't even thought about my mother. I don't know why. I guess I didn't want to know. It was already so painful realizing I had a father who had abandoned me. I didn't need to introduce a mother into my life either.
“She's alive?” I ask, realizing he said 'is' instead of 'was'.
“Sort of. Remember how I told you about the Vampire slumber. She's in one of those. At least that's what I think.”
“So what does this have to do with anything?”
Armando nods, “Sit.”
“I don't want to.”
It's not a question or a request. It's an order. Just from how Armando looks at me that moment I can tell. He eyes the chair at the dining table and I cross over. I take a seat in the chair. I look up at Armando as he stands over me.
He breathes heavy and reminisces, “She looked just like you to me. Beautiful. I'd just come to this country. I was an immigrant with the American dream. My parents gave me their last dimes to send me to the States. I didn't know what a vampire was back then. I fell in love with a woman. And it was...amazing for the first three months. I was so young---so fucking young and so when she got pregnant I felt so scared. I was in love but I was too young to get married. I felt too young to start a family.”
“Is that why you abandoned me?” I ask.
Santos stares longingly at the red Eden sky before answering with a long shake of his head, “I would have made it work---if that's the only problem. Felt like I would raise you well. If you were a girl you'd be my Santa Maria after the boat that Columbus came to the States on. If you were a boy...you'd be my Santos. I was so young, but so ready. I even picked up extra jobs to support my new family. Maybe that's why I didn't see the signs.”
That's when things get scary,
“Signs of what Armando?”
“Your mother wasn't human.”
“She was a vampire when she met you?” I ask.
He nodded, “The entire time. I hadn't known her for that long but the pregnancy was strange. You grew a lot faster than any baby. These people would show up. They'd have these strange ceremonies. They came more and more often as you got bigger. I thought she was into some sort of devil worship?”
“Were they vampire too? These people I mean?”
He nods, “Rogues. Back then it scared the fuck out of me. She said they were friends...but they weren't friendly. They were just...strange. They were so protective of her...even with me. I knew something was weird but I was afraid to speak up. I was scared to lose my family. So when she finally told me she was a vampire I didn't argue. When she offered to make me like her---I accepted. I should have thought it was weird though when she didn't turn me herself. She made someone else do it. As though something was wrong with her own blood. Looking back I understand she was just too different to waste her blood on me. But you'll understand why in time. They worshipped her. And the humans they brought were slaughtered...right in my living room. Every night...countless humans. Some weren't even drained. It was more like a sport.”
I shake my head at the thought of it. I didn't know that's how rogues were but I figured they had to be something bad. I knew the desire for blood as a vampire but in Eden there was no desire to kill. There was no desire to hunt humans. I couldn't imagine being that kind of vampire.
“You participated in this?” I ask my father.
He nodded, “I thought it was right. I was blinded by love. Anyway, after a four month pregnancy you were born. You weren't premature. You weren't just healthy---you flourished. You were vibrant. Didn't even cry. The most beautiful thing I'd seen in my life. And I knew then I had to steal you away from these people. And after years of planning...I was able to do just that. I stole you away from them. I put you in a foster care system. And then I was found by the King's Guard and taken to Eden. When I got strong enough I looked for you. I turned the twins just so they could be there to watch over you growing up.”
I know that Armando wanted to get this story off of his chest. He wants me to feel better about leaving him. A part of me feels something but right now I'm not sure what it is. Should I be relieved? He abandoned me to save me from my rogue vampire mother so I wouldn't end up like them. Should I feel like my father had my best interest in mind?”
I don't know what I feel.
“What's this have to do with why I can't tell Nero about you?”
“Because he won't understand.”
“Didn't you hear me say I loved him?” I ask Armando, “I don't plan on keeping secrets. I'm not like you with your million secrets Armando.”
If you tell him—if you tell anyone it'll give away the secret that is keeping you alive,” Armando stresses, “They won't ask any questions. You think he loves you? He will kill you. All of them will kill you if they knew who you were.”
“Who am I?”
“Your her heir. The same way that Nero is Arie's heir. You are the prince of a throne much bigger. You walk in the footprints much darker. Matter of fact---the Darkest. Your mother's name is Lilith.”
Lilith was the first vampire ever. She was really the first woman ever. A woman before Eve. A woman created equal to Adam. A woman who was known by human scholars and vampires alike to be a demon of nightmares. Lilith was my mother.
“You ok? You breathing kind of heavy?” Geneva asks me.
It's the first day back to school. Armando is standing in front of the class. Nero isn't in attendance. I have no one to talk to about this. I am completely alone. Armando is looking at me with this knowing glare.
“I'm fine. Why are you asking me questions?” I ask.
“Whoa. I'm not trying to pry or anything.”
“Nothing to pry into.”
The darkest. I was the son of the Lilith. I was the birth son of the first vampire. My world has been turned upside down. Armando is looking at me. He's right about one thing. No one would understand. They hardly even spoke Lilith's name around here. They acted like she was some Boogie-woman used to scare kids to behave.
Geneva raises an eyebrow, “You sure? Listen, I know we haven't had the best of times but you can talk to me about this.”
I look around. Did she know something? Had Aiden overheard what my father said in the apartment? Had word went around? Did anyone know?
“Of course I'm sure. Why wouldn't I be?”
“Well today is the day that Nero is supposed to fight Armando. And you know we both don't want our friends fighting over anything.”
It's crazy to say but I'd completely forgotten about the fight. I had been so engulfed with what Armando had said. I left his apartment immediately after my father broke the news. I can tell he is standing in the class wanting to soften the blow. There is nothing to soften though.
“It's happening today?”
“Have you been under a rock? It's all over TV. At the Coliseum. We've been excused after homeroom to attend. It's happening in a few minutes.”
“Wait what?” I ask.
We are interrupted by Milan walking up to me. I'm surprised that he's doing it especially with Raul being around. Milan is completely ignoring Raul though and kind of looks over at me at that moment.
“Hey Geneva, you mind if I cut in?” Milan states, “I was going to walk Santos over to the coliseum.”
“Sure. I'll see you guys there,” Geneva states.
She smiles at me weakly as though trying to give me some confidence. I can see a look in Geneva's eyes though. She is scared. She is nervous. I have all this stress on my hands right now.
I watch as Milan leads me out of the room. He walks right past Raul who is staring at us a little confused by Milan. I'm a little confused by him too. By the time we get to the hallways and see the mass exodus of students out of the building I realize that this isn't Milan. He's staring me down in only the way that Aiden could stare me down.
“You switched?” I ask Aiden.
“I told Milan I was worried about you,” he responds, “You just stormed off yesterday. What did Armando tell you?”
I couldn't trust anyone. No. One.
“He didn't tell me anything.”
“I want to apologize,” Aiden continues on by the time we get out in the street, “I feel like you have a lot of resentment towards me for leaving you. Sometimes I have resentment towards Armando for making me leave you...”
“NONE of this is Armando's fault,” I respond.
“Whoa chill out. You ok?”
All of a sudden Armando's over protection made sense. It all clicks to me. I'm not mad at Armando. He didn't just save me from some regular rogue vampire. Armando saved me from the woman in my nightmares. He saved me from that terrible monster that I kept seeing all the time. That terrible monster was my fucking mother.
I realize that I owed Armando everything now.
“I just didn't realize how much I owed that man for protecting me,” I explain to Aiden, “Until yesterday. Now everything is just kind of clear.”
“Wait you're not mad?”
“How can I be? He did what was in my best interest---”
Aiden had no idea. He had no clue who I was. What if I had slipped up and told people that Armando was my father. What if they started questioning more into who my mother was? What if they found out my mother was Lilith?
My entire life would be ruined.
We are in this coliseum and my stomach is doing turns. The coliseum is like a Roman Coliseum from back in the day. It's a huge structure probably double the size of the one in Rome. Vampires from across Eden have filled out the coliseum. I'd never seen so many vampires in one place. It kind of makes me sick how excited they are at that moment.
Aiden sticks by my side despite Raul thinking he is Milan and staring us down. I try to not let it bother me. Armando's confession definitely gave me a new appreciation for secrets. We all had secrets and sometimes those secrets were what was keeping us alive.
“Nero doesn't stand a chance,” I hear Coco's voice.
I'm sitting two rows behind her. She is talking as loud as she can. I know she is doing it on purpose. Why? Because she's Coco. She isn't alone. Raul is sitting next to her. Geneva is on her other side. Lucca and Camille are next to me on my left hand side with Aiden sitting on my right.
“You do realize his boyfriend is sitting right there?” Geneva asks.
“Listen I'm just telling it how it is,” Coco says shaking her head, “Look at the crowd. Everyone is ready to see what royal blood looks like.”
Coco is right. It makes me sick at that moment to see the crowd cheering. I see the King's booth. He has Countess Roxy, Dean Caesarian and all the other elders in the booth with him. I'm looking at the King and he's sipping out of the cup. He's laughing amongst the nobles as though it's nothing that Nero is about to fight to the death. It's almost like he doesn't give a fuck! The cheers are getting louder and louder. People are chanting.
The stadium erupts as the vampires seem so ready as though we were watching an NBA Knicks game or something like that. At times I feel like this is so great. Vampires aren't what I expected them to be. They are so civilized. This isn't one of those times though. The way they are calling for blood makes me so sick that I immediately run out of my seat.
I get away from the spectators and make my way into the back area of the coliseum away from the chanting of the bleachers. There are fucking snacks. SNACKS being sold back here!
“Are you ok?”
Aiden has followed me out. He's not alone. Lucca, Camille and Geneva are also with him. They surround me with looks of concern on their faces.
“We were worried about you,” Geneva says at that moment.
Camille nods, “Coco's a bitch.” As though we didn't all know that.
Geneva shakes her head, “I never liked her...”
I'm sure she's trying to explain the fact that she has been hanging around her for so long. I'm sure Raul doesn't like Coco either. No one liked her. But Raul was still being a dickhead.
“The King won't let anything happen to him. That's his heir. Nero will be ok,” Lucca replies, “He'll call this off before it starts. I'm sure he's not OK with this.”
The way she is saying it makes me think she doesn't necessarily believe it. They are just trying to make me feel better. I have to admit that it's nice to know that I have friends who seem to give a fuck about me.
We turn at that moment. Raul and Coco have followed us out. Coco is standing there with her arms crossed. She has a smirk on her face that freeze the Sahara.
“You following us now?” Lucca asks her.
“Just making it clear. Lucca you think you're Mr. Popular and you have it all figured out. You don't,” Coco explains, “What if I told you guys that the King actually suggested to Nero that he prove his manhood for once and challenge Armando?”
My heart drops.
Lucca looks over at me trying to boost my confidence like he usually does, “C`mon. You gonna trust this snake?”
“My father told me. I have no reason to lie,” Coco replies, “The King literally called Nero a pussy and told him that he needed to prove once and for all that he had what it took to be the next king of Eden.”
I'm struggling with this and then an idea just clicks to me from what Coco is saying, “What if he doesn't want Nero to be his heir?”
“You think?” Lucca asks.
We all look at one another. The thought of it all scares the fuck out of me. This could all be a set up. I didn't understand what other reason the king would have for throwing Nero out there like that? What would the king gain from having Nero fight Armando to the death?
Geneva shrugs, “I have to admit. The king didn't look too upset with this. Armando is the best fighter in Eden. And Eden is vulnerable as fuck without Armando. If the king did want a new heir---one that he thought was more worthy, this would be the way to do it.”
Everyone looks at each other. Then they look at me.
My heart is racing. Fuck. “I have to stop this...”
Horns are blowing in the distance. Loud horns.
“It's too late...” Coco tells me.
We run back out to the bleachers just in time to see that the fight has already begun. Nero is in gold. He has on a gold outfit formed with a cape with a dragon on the cape. He has a shield in his right hand and a carved stake in his left. Armando is also there but he is in silver. He has no cape. He looks like an ordinary soldier. The crowd erupts in the bleachers shaking them so much to see the two men out on the sand below us.
Nero runs forward blindly. He doesn't make it far. Armando pivots to his right so slightly that he barely puts any effort into it. Nero damn near stumbles past him. Nero comes back again after gaining his composure. He charges...Armando sidesteps again. This time Armando trips Nero.
Nero falls flat on his face in the middle of the sand.
“Nero is an idiot...he's a fucking dumbass,” I'm saying.
He should have never let his emotion get the best of him. He really is fighting this guy to prove something. He's fighting my father because he thinks we are sleeping together. I can't stand this. I can't stand to watch as Nero struggles to get up from the floor with a bruised face. Armando hasn't even raised his weapons as of yet and Nero was already losing.
Laughter runs through the crowd at that moment. They are laughing at Nero.
Aiden leans over to me, “Remember your father won't kill him. He'll just...teach him a good lesson. It'll be ok.”
I know Aiden is just trying to comfort me. I realize it even when he sneaks his hands to my side in an attempt to hold my fingers close.
I can't be comforted right now. The two of the most important men in my life were fighting right now.
Nero gets up off the floor again. He lets out a scream probably of frustration. This time he doesn't just charge forward. He uses his stake and he squares up with Armando. He slashes at him. His right arm swinging wildly at Armando. Armando blocks it with his shield. He dodges a few others. Armando knees Nero in the stomach so hard that Nero coughs out blood.
Nero saunters forward. I espect him to fall over but he catches himself and grabs Armando when Armando isn't expecting it. He attempts to throw Armando to the ground. It doesn't get him too far. Two elbows Nero's shoulder and Nero is back on the ground again.
“This isn't even a fight,” Coco laughs, “Serves that asshole right.”
She was still salty. It's not hard to see. She's right though. This wasn't a fight. This was Armando playing with Nero. He was embarrassing Nero in front of the entire city. By the time Nero charges at Armando and Armando uses his own body weight to toss him into a side panel of the coliseum I can no longer watch this.
“I can't do this,” I respond.
I want to leave. I get up. I can't watch Nero get the shit beat out of him.
“Oh shit look...” a voice says.
I turn to realize that the voice is actually Raul. Raul is standing on his feet and pointing. The others are gathering up around him at that moment. I turn back toward the fight to see what they are all looking at.
That's when I see Nero slashing at Armando again. This isn't Armando just playing with him when Armando defends himself either. Nero is screaming at the top of his lungs as he is rushing towards Armando. Nero all of a sudden isn't only defending himself and playing with Nero but he's going on the aggressive.
The two men clash into each other dropping their weapons in the collision. They both fall to floor. Nero punches at Armando when he's down delivering a heavy punch to his abdomen. I think at this moment we realize that shit just got real.
That's when Armando takes it serious. I watch as he grabs Nero, lifts him up and slams him back to the ground as though it were child's play. He picks him up and slams him back on the ground, over...and over...and over.
Armando is bearing his fangs.
As Nero is laying on the floor struggling to get up Armando bites him. He BITES Nero in the fucking shoulder so hard that his fangs carry a piece of Nero's flesh with him when he releases.
“It's over...it's over...” Aiden is telling me.
“Mercy. Please. Please Nero beg for mercy,” I'm hoping out loud.
It's useless. Nero is laying in pain, chunks of flesh missing from his shoulder, blood coming out of his arm. He uses his other arm to attempt to attack Armando. Long nails that I've never seen before have grown from Nero. They are almost like claws. I didn't know vampires had that ability until now. We hadn't learned it in Combat class. Nero is slashing a few times and most miss but one scratch manages to link with Armando. Armando isn't moved by it. He bites Nero again...this time sinking his teeth into Nero's wrist.
Nero falls down and Armando straddles over him almost immediately biting into him. My heart is racing. Nero is losing blood. He's losing so much blood. Armando will kill Nero if he continues to do this. He'll just kill him!
I scream as loud as I can. With all the cheering around me I swear it is useless for me to scream at all but I swear also at that point that Armando lifts his head up. He searches the crowd and I can tell he's looking for me. He's stopped biting into Nero. And he never does find me with all the people in the crowd but something within me knows that I'm the reason Armando stopped.
My father stopped because I needed him to at that moment.
It was a connection that I just knew was there.
“Oh shit...” Aiden says.
I don't know immediately why Aiden is saying that but then I see that the Nero has grabbed onto a stake. Somehow wherever they fell just happened to be the same area they dropped their weapons.
He grabs the stake---
He impales the stake right into Armando while Armando is searching the crowd for me!
“Oh god no...oh god no,” I say.
My mouth goes dry. Aiden is squeezing my hand. I'm squeezing back. I squeeze back so hard that Aiden screams out in pain. I'm standing up. I'm staring. Nero has the edge of his stake in Armando.
That's when Nero looks towards the king.
The king stares for a minute.
The king gives 'Thumbs down' to Nero as Nero drives the stake deeper into Armando until Armando falls to the ground lifeless.
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