Chapter 13. The Queen Of The Kings
Joey stood in the middle of the hallway, waiting for us. His eyes looked heavy as if they weighed more. Joey didn’t look like he could stay awake much longer.
Aria and I stopped in front of Joey. My eyes studied his face for a long moment. “Joey,” I started.
“I’m fine,” Joey muttered and swayed slightly.
Aria grabbed Joey’s arm to steady him and flashed him a look of disbelief. “You look it, Joey.” Sarcasm coated Aria’s voice, and she rolled her eyes.
“How is she?” I asked.
“Come see for yourselves,” Joey gestured down the hallway.
The three of us walked down the hall. Joey entered a room. An ugly yellow hospital curtain divided the space between the door and the bed. Monitors beeped, but the curtain kept her hidden. Joey pulled the curtain back.
It wasn’t the same feeling as finding Andersen alive. We were told that Andersen was alive and that Jenny was likely dead. The memory of Aria lying still with a breathing tube down her throat flickered in my mind. The fact that Joey had to go through seeing Jenny the same way I had saw Aria made me cringe. Nobody deserved such a thing.
Jenny’s face was bruised and scratched. Her long chocolate brown hair knotted in different places, and it fanned across the pillow.
I sucked a breath in between my teeth and leaned away from the sight of her. “This is fucking surreal,” I muttered.
Joey sighed, and his gaze locked with mine. “I know, man. At least she was found. The doctors said without medical attention, she wouldn’t have made it into tomorrow. That old couple that found her literally saved her life. I wish I knew who they were. I would like to thank them.”
“Maybe we can find them,” Aria murmured. “God, I can’t believe what they have done to her.”
My gaze flickered to Aria. “Does she look familiar to you at all?”
Aria knitted her eyebrows together. “It might sound strange to you, but she really does.” Aria looked at Joey. “May I. . .” Aria trailed off and gestured to Jenny.
“Of course,” Joey said. “We will give you a minute.”
Aria walked over to the bed and grabbed Jenny’s hand gently. The action only proved that Aria was a much braver person than me. I wouldn’t know what to say or do to be that close to Jenny in her condition.
Joey and I left the room. I closed the door behind us. Joey leaned against the wall beside the door.
“Where is Joanna?” I asked.
“She went to find us some coffee.” Joey’s voice came out huskier than usual.
I leaned against the wall beside Joey. “Joanna must be horror-struck to see Jenny like this. It’s horrible, man. I’m so sorry that I didn’t find her sooner. I wish—” I stopped and ground my teeth together. My nostrils flared. It felt like my lungs ran out of oxygen. I wasn’t even sure how I was holding it together or how Joey could be so calm. “How are you, really?”
Joey stared at me for a long time. “I can’t even answer that question. I feel almost numb. I just want her to wake up. I want her to see me. I want to tell her how much I love her and how sorry I am. I drug her into this life, Ace. Jenny wouldn’t be in that damn bed if it weren’t for me,” Joey spat. “I’ll never forgive myself for this.”
“Joey, stop.” I grabbed his shoulder and looked him dead in the eye. “This isn’t on you, okay? Jenny knew what we were, and she made a choice to not live without you. Jenny knew what we did could be dangerous to all of us, including her.”
“What am I going to do if she wakes up and wants nothing to do with me?” Sobs built in Joey’s chest. Joey’s face flushed. “I don’t know how to live without her. We’ve been together forever. The entire time that she was gone, I was empty.”
“I don’t think you have to worry about her leaving. Jenny is strong, and she has never let anything come between you two in the past, and the two of you have had your ups and downs,” I said.
Joey rubbed his face fiercely.
The door opened. Joey and I turned to face Aria. Aria didn’t have to say it, I could see it in her eyes, and Joey did too.
“She’s awake, Joey,” Aria said barely above a whisper.
Joey rushed past Aria and into the room.
My body and mind froze in shock.
“Ace, are you okay?” Aria grabbed my hand in hers.
“F-fine. Um, I think we should give those two some time. Maybe we should let Joey know that we’re leaving,” I said. I started for the door, but Aria stopped me.
Aria had a knowing look on her face. “Ace, I remember her. . .” Aria trailed off. “Not like a memory or two. More like several things.”
I grimaced. “We’re going to talk about that when we get home, bebita.”
Aria knew that I didn’t mean that we were going to talk just about Jenny. Aria and I were in for a long night. I couldn’t keep pawning off telling her the truth.
I knocked on the door lightly before I entered the hospital room.
Jenny gave Joey a half a smile, but pain and fear clouded her eyes. Jenny’s gaze left Joey and met mine. “Ace, hi,” Jenny croaked. Her voice came out weak as if she were suffering from dehydration.
“Hey, Jenny,” I said and smiled at her. “It’s damn good to see you.”
Jenny became hesitant. “Ace, is there something wrong with Aria?”
I snickered. Jenny had always been very observant like Aria. It didn’t surprise me that she noticed. “Aria lost her memory. It seems to be slowly resurfacing.”
Jenny’s eyes widened, and she put a hand over her mouth. Jenny looked at Joey and back to me. Jenny dropped her hand and shook her head. “I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t,” I said. “She is going to be fine, and it looks like you will be too. Aria and I are going to head back home. We will let everyone know that you’re awake but not to bother you tonight.”
“You don’t have to leave,” Jenny argued.
Joey smiled, but Jenny didn’t see it. Joey shook his head and rolled his eyes.
“Oh yes, we do,” I said and chuckled. “Keep me posted.”
“We will,” Joey said.
Aria waited for me in the hallway. “Ready?” Aria asked.
“Yeah, let’s go,” I said. I wrapped an arm around her waist and led her up the hall.
The elevator doors opened, Joanna and Benny stepped out. They stopped when they saw us.
“Hey,” Joanna said and smiled.
“Joanna, she is awake,” I said. “Joey is with her.”
“She is?” Joanna breathed. Her hand flew to her chest, and her eyes widened. “Oh, thank God.”
“Benny, I think they got it covered here,” I said.
Benny nodded in agreement. “Yeah, I’m just going to let Joey know that I’m leaving.”
Joanna hugged Aria and me before she barreled down the hallway.
Aria and I didn’t speak on the way home. I think both of us had to wrap our heads around the situation.
We stepped into the dimly lit foyer and hung up our jackets. Aria turned to face me.
“Let’s go to the study,” I suggested.
Aria followed me down the long dark hallway. The lamp on the desk gave little light to the room. The fire in the fireplace burned out.
We sat down on the couch together. Finding the right words wasn’t easy, especially since my mind fogged over from sleep. I should be used to sleep deprivation by now.
Aria rested a hand on my knee and leaned closer to me. “Whatever it is, Ace. I’m ready for it. Good or bad. It isn’t going to change anything.”
“Honestly, of all the things you remember, I’m rather surprised that this memory hasn’t returned to you yet,” I said. “I was hoping that you would remember it on your own. I didn’t want to explain it to you because it isn’t an easy story to tell.”
“So the dream I had. . .” Aria trailed off.
“It wasn’t just a dream,” I whispered. My eyes locked with hers. Our chests moved unsteadily. I waited for the anger. I figured she would be upset that I hid something like this, but the anger I expected never came.
“I thought so,” Aria said.
“You’re not upset?” I murmured.
“I understand why you wouldn’t want me to know about it right away. God only knows how I would have taken it if you had told me when I first woke up. I needed time to get used to things, and I have.” Aria shrugged. “Everything seems to be slowly coming back.”
“I thought you might be angry with me for keeping such a big secret. It’s not just that Carlos was a Latin King—”
“Carlos was the boss,” Aria said. “I know. You were his second. You’re in charge now that he is gone.”
I bit my lip. “Um. . .” I trailed off. My eyebrows knitted together, and I shook my head. I snickered and locked eyes with Aria again. “No, bebita. I guess you don’t remember the entire thing. You’re missing one important thing.”
“W-what?” Aria stammered. “Tell me.”
I smiled. “You’re a Latin King, bebita. The queen of the kings, to be exact. I didn’t take over when your father died. You did,” I whispered the last part.
Aria’s lips parted, and the air escaped her lungs. “M-me?” Aria jumped to her feet and dropped my hand. Aria grimaced and stared down at me. “No. N-no, that isn’t—” Aria stopped. “That doesn’t even make sense.”
I got to my feet and closed the distance between us. My fingers brushed her cheek. “It’s the truth, bebita. It’s handed down from father to oldest child or oldest son. At that time, you were his only child. You inherited it.”
“Ace, I don’t know how to—”
“Oh yes, you do. It runs in your blood. You were born to do this. I’ll admit some Perez’s have it, and others don’t, but you have it. Before that explosion happened, you were doing an amazing job. I’m glad that I wasn’t the one that took over because I can’t do it like you can. You have made some of the hardest choices, and they turned out for the best. You’re smart, strong, brave, and sexy. . .” I trailed off. My eyes swept over her.
Her lips parted. Her chest rose and fell heavily. “But—”
“I took over since the explosion, but I can’t even keep up. You always kept up, and I’m not even sure how. Hell, you were ahead most of the time. I don’t know how the hell you did it, but you did damn good at it.” I grabbed her face between my hands. “I need you to come back to me. Not just a little, and not just half. I need all of you because I can’t do it without you,” I murmured.
Something started to cloud Aria’s eyes, but I couldn’t wait to see what it was. Her lips screamed for mine. It wasn’t just that I wanted to kiss her, she wanted me to kiss her, and I knew just by her body language.
My lips collided with hers, and everything disappeared. The concerns about her memory were gone. The concern for Jenny was gone. All the problems we battled for months vanished.
For months it felt like I held only small pieces of her, and at that moment, it felt like I had all of her. Aria wasn’t completely herself, but she got closer with every day that passed. She was so close to being back to herself that I could practically taste it on her lips.
Aria’s hands clenched my shirt, and she pulled me closer. She wasn’t shy or fearful of touching me. Her lips moved in rhythm with mine.
I never believed any moment in life could be perfect. In real life, time didn’t stand still the way it did in movies. There weren’t perfect moments in life the way people portrayed in films, or so I thought, until this moment. It could have been due to all the hell I had gone through the last couple of months, but I suddenly felt like I was in paradise.
We stumbled toward the desk as we stripped each other of the clothes that kept us hidden from one another.
My forehead rested against hers as I tore the last piece of clothing from her, literally.
Aria gasped when I tore the black lacey thong that kept me out.
I chuckled. “Don’t worry, bebita. You’ll get used to it. You have plenty extra.”
Aria’s memory hadn’t returned enough to know that most of her underwear didn’t last long. Aria shook her head and giggled. Her fingers knotted in my hair, and her lips crashed against mine. The hunger she felt, no doubt, matched mine.
I swiped my hand across the desk, and things clattered to the floor. The lamp that had been on the desk hit the floor, and the lightbulb broke, but I didn’t care. The sound didn’t surprise her. I gripped her thighs and sat her on the desk. Our tongues moved in sync. The desire to be inside of her had never been so potent. I could have taken it slower or done it smoother, but that just wasn’t me, it wasn’t us, and I think that Aria already somehow knew that. My cock sprung free from my boxers, and I slammed inside of her.
It had been so long that the tightness and wetness of her overwhelmed me. A groan escaped me. My hands tightened on her waist.
Aria broke the kiss, threw her head back, and moaned loudly. When her eyes met mine, I saw the craving for more. From how she looked at me and touched me, I had all but forgotten that she had very little memory of me.
Thunder shook the mansion. The study lit up from the lightning. The lightning flashed across our faces and in her eyes. My thrusts became faster and harder.
“You do bad things to me, bebita,” I grunted.
A knowing look flashed in her eyes, and she moaned. “Damn, papi. You do bad things to me too.” Aria’s eyes widened in shock at what she said, but then humor flickered in her eyes when she saw the look on my face. Aria laid back on the desk.
“Fuck me. I can’t believe you said that.” I placed her legs on my shoulders and dove back into her. My mouth watered as her breasts bounced from my thrusts. I licked my lips.
Aria placed one of her hands between her legs. She rubbed her clit and her back arched. She moaned loud, dirty words as she came undone, and I came undone with her. I couldn’t possibly hold back after that. Her pleasure mirrored my own.
I brought her to a sitting position. She leaned her head against my chest as both of us tried to catch our breath.
“Damn, what did we just do?” Aria whispered.
I chuckled. “Nothing unusual, if that tells you anything.”
Aria’s eyes met mine. “Have we done this on the desk before?”
“Mhm,” I hummed.
“A lot or?” Aria pursed her lips.
“We did it a lot in general. I don’t think you’re ready to hear all the places we’ve done it,” I said and smirked.
Aria shook with laughter and buried her face back into my chest.
As we were getting dressed, I realized that I didn’t wear a condom or pull-out. Do I tell her? Nah.
Aria and I walked hand in hand back to the foyer. We stopped when we noticed Andersen dusting off a statue. Aria tilted her head and arched a brow at me. “Really?” Aria mouthed.
“Um, Andersen,” I said.
Andersen looked at us as he continued to move the duster along the statue. “Yes?”
“What the hell are you doing?” I asked.
“I couldn’t sleep,” Andersen pursed his lips. “I came in here and couldn’t stop sneezing. There is so much dust. Your new butler doesn’t seem to know what the hell he is doing.”
I chuckled. “Yeah, well, Nicolas hasn’t done this type of work before. He’s new and still getting used to it.”
“Now that I’m back, you don’t need him much anymore,” Andersen hinted.
“Well, I hate to fire him for no real reason. He seems to be trying,” I argued.
“I’m actually not so sure, Ace,” Aria said.
My eyes flickered to her.
“He seems distracted most of the time. I heard him ordering Ramone around the other day, and Ramone has been here way longer. To be honest, I get a weird feeling with Nicolas. He’s a bit rude and sarcastic at times. He isn’t polite with other people here, and everyone here has been nothing but kind,” Aria explained.
“Damn. Well, why didn’t you say something before?” I asked.
Aria shrugged. “I didn’t want to seem like an asshole. Besides. . .” Aria trailed off. “I thought you were the boss now that I know different. I might fire him.” Aria smiled at me and smiled at Andersen.
Andersen chuckled. “You told her?”
“I did,” I said.
Andersen laughed. “She sure does seem like herself, doesn’t she?”
“Slowly but surely,” I agreed. I kissed the top of Aria’s head. “We’ll take care of it in the morning. Let’s go to bed.”
Aria took a step forward but stopped. Aria looked past Andersen at the front door. A gasp escaped her, and she stumbled back. Her hand pressed against the side of her head. “Ouch.”
“What? Aria? What’s wrong?” I gripped onto her arm to steady her. I felt helpless because I had no idea what to do to take away her pain.
Aria pressed a hand to my chest when I tried to move her. “Wait,” she said. “I-I remember. . .”
Andersen stared at Aria, surprised.
“What do you remember?” I demanded.
“Give me a piece of paper,” Aria instructed. Aria put a hand out as if waiting for me to give her what she asked.
I gazed at Andersen to shocked to move.
Andersen walked over to a small table and came back with a small notepad and pen. He handed it to Aria.
“Aria. . .” I trailed off.
Aria stared off. It was as if she was here physically but somewhere else mentally. Aria stared at the door as she wrote on the paper. Aria didn’t look at the paper as she wrote at all. It was as if watching a blind person writing. Something took control of her, and I couldn’t understand what.
Andersen and I stood on either side of Aria to see what she wrote.
“Numbers?” I asked. “What are they?” On the paper, Aria had written down a bunch of numbers.
“I don’t know,” Aria whispered. “My head hurts. I can’t explain the numbers, but I think they are important.”
Andersen and I shared a confused glance.