My King died.
They said that he's gone because of me. They said that I killed him. They said that I was jealous of the power he possessed. And they said that what killed him was a deadly poison that infects the brain and gnaws away at the blood and tissue the second it comes in contact with it. It burns you from the inside out by searing, destroying, paralyzing, draining, and turning the person into a mere shell of their normal selves.
His "Blonde Beauty," as he liked to call me, was at his bedside just a few minutes ago. I held his pale and feeble hand in mine, gently running my fingers through his hair to calm him down as much as possible. He knew that he was going to die, and my being there was just enough for him. His physician, his non-existent family, and his missing friends, were nowhere to be found. Yet, his sly opponents were waiting eagerly for the moment the light dimmed from his eyes.
The moment my mate died, the King's seat would be empty and theirs for the taking. You cannot rule alone, they said. It's because you are a human female, they said. The new King will own you, they said. There is no other way but to accept, they said. It's either you stay in your seat, shut up, and let the lawyers handle it, or let the devoted common people hang you in the streets for treason.
At exactly midnight, the King died.
The muscular caramel-haired man that I married died. There were no last words, and he refused to kiss me out of fear that he would pass on whatever sent him to his deathbed.
That was it.
He died with his eyes closed and his mouth open in a gasp as he took his last breath.
His seat is empty.
I couldn't cry. I just couldn't. But I had to for the sake of those waiting outside. I had to cry. I had to prove that I was capable of deep emotions. So, I did just that. The Queen they believed couldn't even love her own mate cried in front of them. Yet, surely enough, the sly opponents smirked and gave me knowing looks.
I passed them in the hallway without another word and made my way to our bedroom. I shivered at those two words together in the same sentence. The tears dried just as my hand grasped the doorknob. I squeezed the cold metal tightly and sighed as I was bombarded by a flurry of emotions I thought I was incapable of possessing.
"I wonder... what would happen if I became King?"
I was startled by a voice behind me and I swiftly turned around. I did not recognize the voice immediately, but it was in perfect English and without a hint of an accent. His tall and slender figure, those red pupils, alabaster skin, sharp features, long pin-straight black hair, and pitch-dark attire, were enough to jog my memory.
"What do you want, Victor?" I spat out his name in pure disgust.
Victor chuckled and pushed a strand of his hair behind his left ear.
"I came here to see how you are holding up. You may be a great actress, but I know fake tears when I see them," he said, shrugging and reaching out to place a hand on my shoulder.
I sidestepped quickly to avoid his touch, clenching my fists when the vampire had the gall to look sad.
"You don't fool me for a single second. I know what you want, and you will never be King! If you try to touch a hair on my head, I WILL KILL YOU IN FRONT OF EVERYONE!" My voice echoed in the hallway, and I was genuinely surprised that my guards didn't come running to my aid.
Victor raised an eyebrow and pursed his lips. "You really think that low of me?"
I seethed in anger at his response.
"Let me remind you, my Love, that every time your precious 'Mate' threw a tantrum, it cost the lives of dozens of guards. I remember that his worst episodes started and finished with you. Sometimes even breathing next to him was enough to make him angry and lash out."
He came closer and my back hit the wall behind me instead of the bedroom door.
"He was careful not to cover you with any visible bruises and injuries, and he dared to fuss over them in his lucid moments. He begged you to forgive him, only to do it again, and again, and again. You became nothing more than his slave, while I was the one who worshipped you and treated you like a true Queen."
Victor tilted my chin up with his cold hand and I looked into his red eyes for the first time in a long time.
"You hate me for leaving, Alessandra, but I left because people were beginning to get suspicious of the man in disguise with the scent they couldn't place. I faked being called away so we wouldn't end up on the chopping block. I paid your precious guards to leave, and I installed devout soldiers who would do anything to protect you. And most of all..."
"What?!" I screamed. "Victor, you did what?!"
He lifted my chin up higher and brought his lips to my right ear. "I left because I doubted that you felt the same time when we made love. Every touch mattered to me. Every. Single. Touch. I left because I couldn't bear the thought that even if I have given you everything, you still treat me like I am nothing."
I froze when he pressed his cold lips to the crook of my neck and dragged his fangs across the tender skin, leaving a trail of sparks behind.
"Darling Alessandra, if your memory hasn't failed yet, you surely remember that you never felt sparks when Stephan touched you. You did when you begged me to bite you and when I took your blood and body simultaneously." Then he pulled away abruptly, stepping backward.
"I love you. I've always loved you, but you never saw me how I saw you."
"Victor-" I started to say, but he interrupted me.
"I didn't kill your 'Mate,' but after everything that he's done to you, I wish I had. I would have tortured him in front of everyone and then slit his throat, letting him bleed out. I wish I had killed him to prove to you that my love for you is endless and that I would stop at nothing to see you safe."
My nose and mouth burned, and my eyes stung as actual tears gathered and threatened to fall.
He turned around and started speed walking away. At the end of the hallway, he turned around and said, "I will be King, Alessandra, and trust me when I say that things will change drastically."
Traitorous tears finally rolled down my face, and I held my dress up, running to him as fast as I could. "Victor, wait, please!"
He chuckled darkly. "I will say it again. I love you. We are 'stuck with each other,' as you have called it, but remember that we are soulmates. You are my Beloved, my other half, and I just hope that someday my love will be enough for you."
With that, he disappeared into the shadows, leaving me completely stunned in the middle of the moonlit hallway.