Twisted Fate

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Chapter 64

Arlo

If someone told me six months ago, my mate would give me the chance to make her happy, I’d say that person was an idiot. I had to pinch myself with my claws until a thin trace of blood formed. Nope. I wasn’t dreaming.

Nothing in my life had ever been perfect until that very moment on the Ferris wheel. I wanted to freeze time and replay that moment over and over until it destroyed every terrible memory that was stored in my brain.

Ok. I’m willing to try and make this work. She made me the happiest man alive with those words. But she would never understand just how much.

Everything had been absolutely perfect until the moment we stepped foot off that Ferris wheel.

Louisa had rushed over with her face paler than I’ve ever seen before to inform me about Sorcerer Prine’s body. He was dumped in a dumpster almost thirty miles from Salem. I almost couldn’t believe the news until Louisa showed me the email the witch council had sent her with photos of his mutilated body. Louisa couldn’t bear to look at them for more than a glance. I’ll admit the images were pretty graphic, but let’s be honest, I’d seen worse. Much worse.

Sorcerer Prine was dead because of me, and I would do everything in my power to avenge his death. But the coven’s safety and Astrid’s were my top priority.

After that, I sent out some of my wolves to search the surrounding areas for any lingering threats, and had my strongest guys guard the guest house while Astrid and Rosie slept at night. I took a shift myself since I sure as heaven wasn’t sleeping a wink at night. Not when my girls were vulnerable, and that bitch was out there itching to break through Salem’s enchanted borders.

One restless night, I tossed around and watched Rosie and Astrid sleep across the room. Since I’d brought Rosie to visit, she never left my mate’s side. I couldn’t describe the intense feeling I got inside my chest seeing them form a strong bond, even stronger than the one I had with my little angel. Maybe it was hope that one day this could be our life permanently. Me and my two favorite girls.

Overwhelmed with emotion, I had gotten up from bed and relieved Kiera of her watch duties for the night. Kiera was one tough she-wolf, and she’d cut my balls off if I left her out of the rotation just because she was a woman. But most importantly, I trusted my beta for the job more than anyone else.

She chuckled at the sight of me and told me I should work on my sleep schedule, otherwise the bags under my eyes would stay there forever. And then she left me to sit there all night wondering when this was all going to blow up in my face. When would Astrid realize she made a huge mistake giving a demon like me a chance?

When you’ve been through as much trauma as I have, you learn to not get your hopes up. I’m used to people disappointing me. They always do in the end.

For the past few nights, my mind has drifted to that dark, lonely place. I can’t seem to get away from it. I find myself in the same state days later as I stand in front of the bathroom mirror.

Rosie has gone back home, so Astrid is sleeping alone in her bed tonight. I look over my shoulder and watch her sleep for a minute. She lay in a fetal position with her hands resting on the pillow, the moonlight cascading over her face. She looks beautiful that way. She’s always beautiful.

One minute I’m admiring my mate’s features and the next I’m choking on air. I can’t breathe due to the familiar whistle I heard clear as day coming from the dark corner of the bedroom. I try to brush it off, but there’s no way I could mistake it.

It’s the same fucking song. The one that plays in my head during the darkest times and accompanies me in my nightmares.

That melody will haunt me until the day I die.

The whistling bounces off the bedroom walls as a dark figure steps out of the shadows and walks across the room. When I look into those beaming red eyes, I feel like the same scared little boy that lives deep inside of me. Small and weak.

The figure hovers over my mate and watches her sleep for a while before taking a seat on the chair beside the bed. Astrid remains unconscious and completely oblivious to the danger that sits beside her. I can only stand there and watch helplessly as he caresses her cheek with his fingers. I want to break those fingers.

“She’s beautiful. Almost like your mother.”

I grip the edges of the counter and close my eyes for a second. I haven’t heard that voice in years, but it still has the same affect now as it did back then.

“No,” I shake my head vigorously, squeezing my eyes shut. “You’re not here. You can’t be here.” I cup my hands under the running water and splash my face. When I open my eyes, he’s still sitting there, staring at me.

“You’re not real. You’re not real. You’re not real.” I’ve resorted to slapping myself in the face and pulling my hair. Anything to make this figment of my imagination go away.

Azazel throws his head back, laughing in hysterics. “I see you’re still the same pathetic loser you were back then. Things haven’t changed much.”

I’m staring at the same demon I watched die from the flames of hell. To make things even more bizarre, the marking of Asmodeus I received at birth sends a burning pain at my side from the sight of him. I lost this mark the day Azazel died. It came back a few months ago but thought little of it.

Louisa tried every spell in the books to help me get rid of it, but nothing worked. Not even burning the damn thing could make it go away. I sat there for three hours and let Nicolas brand me like a cow just for the mark to make a reappearance the next day.

He reaches over to run his hands through her hair, and I almost lose control of my demon-wolf. The ache on my side keeps me from walking past the doorway.

Don’t fucking touch her!” I growl. Those hands have done things. Terrible things. I don’t want him anywhere near my mate.

He doesn’t listen to me. He just keeps petting her like she’s some doll for him to put his disgusting hands all over. Leaning forward, he stares at her face pensively.

“I almost feel bad for this she-wolf. Seems her goddess doesn’t think very highly of her, given she’s mated to your sorry ass. Surely, she can find someone more…” he distastefully looks me up and down, “…competent.”

My sorry ass? He’s joking, right?

“You know, that’s funny coming from you. Considering you weren’t man enough to take care of my mother,” I snarl. My challenging tone seems to trigger him. He stands up and crosses the room before I have the chance to blink. His face is inches away from mine and all I want to do is cry tears of frustration. How did he do it?

For the first time in a long time, we’re standing face to face and out of habit I almost want to cower away. Hide in the darkest parts of the woods to save myself from the whip biting into my flesh.

I get a sudden flashback of Carson’s tear-stained face staring at me from under the bed as Azazel strikes me over and over. He was the one who was supposed to be under the whip that time. But I never let Azazel touch my brothers. Especially Carson. There were times Kane had to suffer a slap or two, but mostly, I did my job as a big brother.

I remember thinking if only I could be bigger. Stronger. Faster. Carson would never have to cry over my beat-up body again. It would have saved my brothers from witnessing so much damage. Saved mom. I was so helpless and small, I couldn’t even save myself.

But this time is different.

I’m not a little helpless boy anymore. I’m a grown man who can defend himself.

“It was me who took Loretta away from her miserable life. She had nothing before me, and she would’ve continued to live as an outcast had I not saved her from her family. Your grandparents never loved her. Your mother was nothing but a whore. The only thing she was good for was spreading her legs, and even then, she gave me three worthless bastards.”

With his words, my demon surfaces and I grip the collar of his coat with my fists. Shit. The fact that I’ve just physically grabbed this demon makes my skin crawl. But I continue to tell myself it’s all in my head. It must be.

My voice drops to its natural, demonic tone, and I get close to his face, so I know he’ll hear me loud and clear. “Don’t fucking talk about my family. Ever. You couldn’t be a decent man when my mom was alive, but you will respect her name in death.”

“Oh, no,” He deadpans, “I’ve upset the big bad wolf. Looks like I’m in trouble now. What are you going to do? Kill me again?” He bears his razor-sharp teeth at me.

“No,” I say with a sardonic smile, “It was too easy for you. If I had the chance to kill you again, I’d do it differently. I want to watch you suffer.” His grin fades and a dark look crosses his face. I swear for the first time, I think I see fear in his eyes before he shoves me off.

“You will do nothing,” He grumbles, fixing his coat. Even in hell, it’s his most prized possession. The all-black coat with Zaltamia’s symbol on the left pocket was gifted to him by his mother -my grandmother Lilith- after his 118thbirthday.

When I was seven, he took a knife from the kitchen and cut my palms with it because I wore it outside and got it dirty. After all this time, the sight of it still makes my throat dry.

“Why are you here and how did you crawl out of that big black hole of yours?” I don’t know how he outsmarted death, but even the most powerful demons have trouble finding their way out of the abyss. Demons lose their power and are sometimes traded off as slaves to the kings of hell after death. Of course, Asmodeus wouldn’t allow it. He took pity on his favorite son and allowed him to rot in isolation. But like the others, he never allowed him to walk the earth again. It’s physically impossible for him to be here. And that scares me more than anything on this earth.

Without answering, he turns his attention back to Astrid and takes a seat at the edge of the bed. “Are you planning to marry this she-wolf? Have pups. Start a life. Whatever fairytale dust you have shoved so far up your ass, you can forget it. She’ll never be with you after what you did.”

“Leave. Get out of my head.” I don’t need a reminder of the sins I’ve committed. Their screams haunt me every day of my miserable life.

His face turns a deep shade of red as he glares at me, and I already know what’s coming.

“I can’t believe after all this time you still haven’t mastered my powers. You took it from me the day you sent me down to the abyss, and for what?” He spats full of rage. “WHAT WAS THE POINT IN KILLING ME IF YOU WERENT GOING TO ASSIST THE THRONE!”

I tune him out as he paces the room aggressively and points an accusing finger at me. I’ve heard it all before. He screams at me and wishes he’d never given me life. I’m useless because I haven’t claimed my place in Zaltamia as the dark prince. And my powers go no further than hellfire and telekinesis.

Truth is, if I could give him back these powers, I would do it in a heartbeat. I’ve never wanted any of it. Zaltamia’s throne means shit to me.

“You think just because the dumb bitches playing matchmaker up in the sky gave you a mate, that makes you better than me? You’re my son. You have my blood running through your veins.”

“Stop talking.” I’ve given this demon my whole life. What more could he possibly want? He’s taken everything.

“I wonder how her screams will sound-“

I don’t let him finish that sentence. I’ve heard enough.

I can’t take this anymore!

“Stop. Talking.” I lose all control and wrap my hands around his neck. He doesn’t even try to fight me off. He just looks at me and smiles. I’ve killed him once. A second time shouldn’t be that hard. “GET OUT OF MY HEAD.”

Before I can apply more pressure and squeeze all the life out of him, I suddenly realize I’m staring into the blue-green eyes of my mate. Her hands wrap around my wrist and that’s when the sparks bring me back down to reality.

I immediately drop my hands.

She sucks in a sharp breath.

Betrayal and hurt cross her pale face, her hands shaking as she lifts them to touch the spot on her neck that I just had my hands wrapped around. I almost choked my mate.

“Arlo…” she whispers my name in disbelief. I look down at my feet because I need a second to control the knot in my throat. I can’t stand the way she is looking at me. It’s killing me.

She winces when I lift my hands to wrap them around her shoulders, and it breaks my heart even more. But I deserve so much worse for what I almost did.

“Astrid, I…I’m so sorry,” I speak slow and soft, checking her neck for wounds. There’s two red spots and a scratch on each side of neck from my claws., “I thought you were someone else and I got confused. Astrid, I would never hurt you.”

“I heard you yelling.” Her voice is weak, her shoulders trembling.

“I saw someone standing in our room and I thought they were here to hurt us.” She looks like she’s about to cry, so I take her hand in mine, hoping she’ll forgive me. “I’d rather die than see you hurt. Whatever just happened, I swear it will never happen again.”

Although she fears what I just did, she seems to believe that it was an honest mistake. I wrap my arms around her waist, pulling her closer to me. I exhale the breath I was holding when she buries her face in my neck. We stand like that for a while before she breaks the silence.

“I see him too sometimes,” she whispers into my chest, “Your father. The dark prince.”

I pull back and try to process what she just said to me.

How do you know about my father?”

“I’m your mate. I feel everything you feel, and I know he haunts. Sometimes…I see him in my nightmares.”

Astrid kneels and takes my face in her hands after I sit down on the edge of the bed. She tries talking to me, but I can’t hear anything over the ring in my ears. I want to ask so many questions, but I feel sick to my stomach over what happened tonight. How am I supposed to keep my mate safe from Cassandra, Azazel… and myself?

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