You are my home. My resting place. My safe haven.
I come to you for comfort, for help, and for strength. You are my rock, my sweet angel.
Today again, I was blown away by your sweet nature and the kindness in your heart. How do you do it, my beloved Light of the Night?
I will work, day and night to make myself a man, worthy of your love.
I love you…
Landon’s POV – present time
Kara had been smart, but not smart enough. Since it had been me – on paper anyway! – that had filed the charges against Lexi, I was easily able to take them back, resulting in Lexi’s immediate release. Luka had filled me in on who to lure Kara to my office so he could get some evidence against her.
And put her away for a very, very long time!
“You were my BEST friend, for fuck’s sakes,” I growled, slamming my hands flat on the desk in front of me. My heart was beating in my chest and – sadly! – sorrow filled my chest. “Yet you stand there with a complete straight expression while lying to my fucking face!”
She had been my best friend. The one who made me smile when I was down. The one who took my side, when everyone was against me.
The who always believed in me…
Betrayal burned deep in my blood. But mixed in there was also the antidote against it. At any other point in my life, I knew this could have destroyed me. Destroyed my belief in anything good or that anyone who wanted to get close to me, just wanted to use me. But thanks to my friends – my real friends – I was going to be just fine.
I had my family…
I had friends…
I had Lexi!
I took a deep breath, letting the tremors of anger subside. I was still fuming, but knowing this wasn’t the end, helped me get through this…
“Tell me one thing, KARA!” I growled once I had the worse of my anger back under control. I turned to her, and she flinched under my gaze. “Was there ever a time, you saw me as anything but a tool to get to the top?”
“Landon, I…!” Kara suddenly said, her voice still faking innocence. I took a deep breath, but it was useless. Before she could continue, I pulled the necklace out of her hand and threw it in her face. She screamed and stumbled backward, bleeding from a scratch where the diamond ripped off her skin.
“Lexi NEVER laid a hand on that thing!” I growled, stalking over to her. She looked up at me, fear and finally terror filled her dark, brown eyes. “But THAT is what you wanted all along, wasn’t it? So why don’t you just take it and leave! I never want to see your face again!”
I was fuming and breathing heavily, forcing my wolf down and to not kill her.
The blood would be a bitch to get out of the furniture again…
“Landon you’re scaring me!” she cried out crawling on the floor, trying to get away from me.
“Then you better be careful, no?” I couldn’t help but grin wickedly. “Just in case my alpha wolf goes mad and decides to jump out to kill everyone!” Her eyes went wide with surprise and I couldn’t stop the dry, humorless laughter that escaped my lips. “Does that story ring a bell, Kara? Because you spun it with your own lips.”
“Don, I…,” she whimpered, having scrabbled herself into a corner. “I can explain!”
“I’m sure you can,” I said bitterly, crossing my arms over my chest while towering over her. “I’m just not interested in hearing it.” I motioned to the hidden camera in the corner and instantly the door to my office flew open. Her head snapped in the direction of my brother and two of his Sentinels. “But I’m sure your lawyer will love to hear all about it.”
“What?” her eyes flickered between the camera and wolves in uniform. She looked like a wild animal caught in a trap, desperate to getaway. But all her exits were cut off and now she had to lie in the bed she made…
“Kara Truman,” Luka said authoritatively pulling her off the floor and up against the wall. He held her immobile while he effortlessly put silver handcuffs around her wrists. “You’re under arrest for framing a human for a supernatural crime. And if it was a law,” he growled, roughly pulling her away from the wall. “For severely hurting my brother’s feelings.”
“Luka! You can’t do this!” she screeched, clawing, and fighting to get out of his grasp. “I’m a Sentinel, I have rights…”
Suddenly the room was filled with a loud roar and Kara found herself being pressed up against the wall again. Firm hands twisted around her throat and lifted her off the floor…
“Then I don’t have to read them to you,” Luka broomed, his deep voice made the room shake. The growl in there, instantly made everyone stop dead in their tracks--- but it was the RED in his eyes, that made their blood run cold!
“And might I suggest you stay awfully quiet,” he said in a deadly calm tone, holding Kara up by the neck. “Because all that shit about wolves going nuts may not be true about Landon,” he continued, not giving anything of himself away. “But that’s not the case with me!”
I moved closer. Out of the four of us, Luka was the most protective. He’d kill anyone who threatened us – one way or another. And while his wolf was dormant, he did wake up from time to time.
Always with deadly consequences…
“Luka,” I said calmly, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Please take her away?”
“My pleasure!” he replied coldly, the red in his eyes bleeding away and returned to their original gray color. I stepped back and watched, as they took Kara out of the room. Her head hanging low in defeat, as she sent one last pleating glance my way.
But I was done being her pussy!
I took a deep breath and walked back over to my desk. I picked up my phone, making sure Anna knew not to disturb me the rest of the day. I couldn’t wait to get back up to my penthouse and have that damn talk with Lexi! I had to tell her everything and…
“Did Christmas come early?” Peter suddenly beamed behind me. “Cause, I could have sworn that that was Kara, your brother just hauled out of here in handcuffs?”
And now I had to deal with Peter…
“Peter…,” I groaned, not in the mood for his childish games. He of course knew about the whole situation, but if he was here to…
“No, I didn’t come here to gloat,” he interrupted me--- and interestingly held up a file in his hand. “I found some more information about Lucian King. And would you believe it? The bastard actually built a hospital for the poor back in the early 1800s?”
And apparently, that talk had to wait for just a second more…
I frowned, taking the file Peter handed me. It was full of ancient documents and deeds of the building in question.
“Yeah,” Peter grinned with an innocent shrug when he saw my eyes go wide. “And that’s not all.” He handed me another file. “He – and you might want to sit down for this one,” he warned, having a disbelieving expression himself. “He was married!”
I didn’t wait but ripped it open. And there she was! On the first page was an old photograph of a beautiful, young girl, with a relaxed smile on her lips and golden locks flowing around her pretty face. Her eyes were alive with love and kindness, while her squared shoulders dared anyone to mess with her.
I gasped, finally seeing the women, I’d heard so much about. The woman in King’s diary. A woman whose thoughts and deepest desires I’d read over and over again, ever since I first discovered her.
The woman, who in another life, could have been my mother…
“Aurora King,” I muttered, picking up the picture to finally look at her. My heart was beating erratically and--- somehow this moment seemed unreal. Like I was meeting someone special – someone, important to me. My blood simmered with a dull sadness, but also overwhelming joy.
I swallowed hard, unable to really understand or even comprehend the feeling I felt. I didn’t even know that she existed before I found the diary, yet it felt like I was meeting a friend. Someone long lost to me, but now found…
I shook my head, hoping it would clear out the fog. I turned the next page--- and sure enough, there was the marriage certificate.
Lucian King was actually, fucking married!
I let my fingers slide over her signature. I instantly recognized her handwriting; neat and elegant. Just like her picture--- and again, my heart compressed, forming a tight knot in my chest.
I took a deep breath.
Fuck! What the hell was going on with me?
I was just about to close the file when my eyes glided over another name. Her father had been one of the witnesses during the marriage.
Her maiden name had been Bruce?
Why did that name sound familiar---? My heart dropped and both my blood and wolf froze.
It was her father’s name.
Could it be…?
Had King’s beloved been one of Lexi’s ancestors? Lexi who was my beloved?
But sure enough, the more I looked at Aurora’s picture, the more similarities I noticed. Their golden blond hair, the way her nose was small and straight, and her jawline soft and curved. The shape of her eyes and the build of her body. They actually looked alike…!
I shook my head!
This had to be my brain playing some trick on me, right?
It couldn’t be…
“Was she his beloved?” I asked through the haze that clouded my mind. I looked up--- and noticed Peter doing that constipating, funny face he did when he wasn’t sure about something.
Well, at least that’s a face that’ll sober up even Vodka…
“As much as everything points in that direction,” he said uncertainly and as a nervous tick crossed his arms over his chest. “I just can’t believe it.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, frowning slightly. Of course, Peter didn’t know about the diary, but The King wouldn’t go out and just marry any girl off the street, right?
“Because no one can force a mating and no woman in her right mind would ever accept Lucian King as her beloved,” he explained--- very reasonably. Although his logic was sound, it still didn’t stop the sagging of my shoulders. I didn’t even know why I was disappointed. Perhaps it was finding out that your biological father had seduced and screwed over some innocent human girl or the fact, that she truly believed him to be in love with her was the sinking feeling settling in my heart…
Either way, it really stung…
“Unless she was his Gifted beloved,” Peter continued and sighed. “But I just can’t see that happening.”
“A Gifted Beloved?” I asked, my interest suddenly perking up again.
“Yeah,” Peter said, with a shrug of his shoulders. “A vampire can be Gifted a Beloved, if we – say, do a noble deed, have a change of heart or something like that.” He waved it off, not really explaining anything. “It has to be something selfless and knowing the King…” he snorted. “He was anything but!” He shook his head and the jealously in his tone when he continued, was hard to miss: “And no way did that bastard have a beloved…”
“Why not?” I asked--- and finally understood why curiosity killed the cat!
“Because building a hospital just doesn’t qualify!” Peter exclaimed, throwing out his hands before he started to pace the room. “I mean, if that all it took, ALL vampires had to do to get one, was kiss some catholic ass and we’d be fucking set!” He was pissed for some reason, frustrated and angry. And I’d bet my bottom dollar that it had something to do with Pat…
I leaned back on my desk and watched him pace. After a while, he finally noticed and stopped. His face slightly red with embarrassment when he faced me again.
“You wouldn’t understand this, since you’re only part vampire,” he sighed, crossing his arms again. “But as much as eternal life sounds like the bomb, it sucks to constantly live with a gaping hole in your chest.” He sighed. “Any vampire would do just about anything to have a Gifted Beloved.”
“Pretend I grew up with werewolves,” I helped him along and motioned the sofa. “Sit and explain! Why are Gifted Beloved so important?”
“Ok, so,” he started out, hating being the storyteller. “In the beginning, The Master of the Night, created an army of dark, vile creatures to take over the world. They had red eyes and a taste for blood…”
“Vampires,” I cut him off, slightly annoyed. “I got it.”
I really wanted to get this over with, because I really, really wanted to go talk to Lexi. But--- I also really, really, REALLY wanted to know about this Gifted Beloved business…
“And I was trying so hard to wrap it in and hold the suspense,” Peter replied in his usual sarcastic tone. “Anyway, The Goddess of light – that would be your Moon Goddess – didn’t like it and created her own army of creatures, that could fight against vampires and protect humankind.”
“Werewolves,” I again cut the story short. He nodded.
“In short: they kicked vampire but,” he wrapped up an apparently long and legendary war. Good! There was hope for him yet! “But once the Master of the Night he was defeated, he begged the Moon Goddess to spare his creatures. She agreed on one term: that they prove, that they could do good onto the world.” My eyebrows shot up and now I was more than genuinely interested.
But the look on Peter’s face told me, that this story didn’t end with a ‘happily ever after’.
“They didn’t!” He replied to the question I didn’t ask. “And one by one, they were picked off by werewolves until only one remained--- or at least the one who’s important to the story.” He leaned back and got more comfortable. “His name was Vavista Primis and one day he walked into a small village, that was under the rule of a cruel and harsh baron; you the kind that liked to rape, kill and torture his people, doing his best to be the worst humankind has…” He shrugged, as he probably at this point already had witnessed most of everything that humankind had to offer – the good, the bad and the horrible. “Anyway, Vavista killed him and freed the village, setting the people free. But then – plot twist: the people wanted Vavista to become their governor.”
Ok! I didn’t see that one coming!
“He refused, but they begged and begged until he ultimately showed his true nature – hoping it would scare them away,” he continued, but then grinned. “It didn’t!”
OK! Definitely didn’t see that one coming!
“They accepted him and freely offered their blood as a sacrifice to him in exchange for his eternal protection,” and I thought he was about to end the story. “And that’s exactly what he did.”
I frowned. That’s it?! Where did the whole Gifted come in? But before I’d opened my mouth to ask, when Peter suddenly continued:
“After some years, the Goddess of Light saw the change within his heart and granted him a soul,” he said, looking up at me. “A Gifted Soul.”
And then I understood.
“A Gifted Beloved!”
“Exactly,” he nodded and took another deep breath. “Their children became the vampire population we have today – or at least the part that didn’t get a bite to the ass!” He laughed dryly at his own joke (he was a turned vampire, and it wasn’t completely voluntary on his part) and sighed. “Vampires are born hollow,” he explained. “We need the lifeforce of others to live, and without it, the void can easily take over, leaving us as nothing but starving animals. This is also why we come together in clans; the company of others helps relieve that void and to some extent make our unbearable existence…” he snorted. “Well, bearable.”
I had so many questions--- but just one passed my lips. The one thing I’d been wanting to know, ever since he started the story:
“What would happen, if someone had a Gifted Beloved,” I asked, barely able to contain my excitement, and looked at him. “But lost her?”
“It would drive them insane,” Peter answered without hesitation--- before realization finally dawned in his eyes. “You think that King…?”
“Yes!” I replied before he had a chance to ask. My heart was hammering and every fiber in my body was standing on end with excitement. If ‘finally’ was a feeling, I was having that feeling right now! I’d been looking for something and now – FINALLY! – I was so close to getting the answers I wanted.
The answers I needed!
I practically ran around the desk and pull out The King’s diary.
“I think Aurora was his Gifted Beloved and someone killed her,” I said and handed him the faded journal. “That’s why he turned into a megalomaniac.”
He took it and turned a couple of pages.
“That’s… Wow!” he muttered, his eyes glancing over the poems and messages written there. “This is so cute it’s making me nauseous!”
“Peter!” I growled annoyed. This was big! HUGE even! Hell, it proved that I wasn’t a monster! That I didn’t have to hold anything back! I wouldn’t hurt her! I wouldn’t hurt Lexi and…
I stopped my train wrecking brain.
Did I just think that?
I paused and thought back – WAY back! To when I started my search of all of this. It started right after I met Lexi! The moment I wanted to be more than a hybrid, more than a Master--- and more than the son of a monster!
I began all of this because I wanted to be someone – for her!
“OK! OK! I see it,” Peter exclaimed surprised, his eyes wide as he continued to stare at the book in his hand. “I just can’t believe it! Lucian had a beloved…?! Damn, he was an ass when I met him and the devil by the time he died, I never…” he shook his head in disbelief--- before he suddenly snapped his head in my direction in alarm. “Have you asked Riis about it?”
I nodded in disappointment.
“Riis said he met Lucian after she passed away…”
“No, that’s not possible,” Peter cut me off, jumping to his feet and rushed to the folders he’d brought up with him, searching for something.
“What do you mean?” I asked following his movements. He didn’t reply. Instead, he searched the folders and papers, until he finally found what he was looking for.
“Because he knew her!” he shouted in triumph and handed me a small photograph. I took it--- and my heart literally dropped. I was a fucking carbon copy of my biological father. Tall and dark, with a build that was sleek, but dangerous. The woman next to him was captivatingly beautiful and looked only to be a few years older than the picture in her file.
And then--- there was the third man. Tall, dark, and mysterious. A man, that put ordinary creeps to shame.
And the realization hit us both at the same time.
My heart sank and my skin turned cold, as my Dad’s words sounded inside my head again:
“Jealousy doesn’t target you, but the person you love!”
Lexi was in danger!