The Queen of All That Lives (The Fallen World Book 3)(11)By: Laura Thalassa
The king blinks several times, his eyes a bit too bright. “Your hate—I’d … forgotten.”
He’s still coming towards me, and I can tell he wants to touch me. I begin to move, one of my legs crossing behind the other as I circle the king.
“I was your wife,” I accuse.
“You still are my wife.” That voice of his—so sure, so commanding.
“No, Montes, you forfeited that right a long time ago.”
Suddenly, he’s no longer casually strolling. He strides forward. “You will always be mine, and you will never—”
As soon as he is within range, I cock my arm back and I slam my fist into his face.
He staggers, his hand reaching up to his cheekbone.
I stalk forward, and then I sock him again. And again. Pain radiates out from my knuckles, and I relish it.
Montes falls, and I follow him to the ground. My fists have a mind of their own. They land wherever they can, and the meaty slap of skin meeting skin echoes throughout the room. My tears fall along with them. I didn’t realize I could feel like this—angry and desolate—all at once. And with every blow, I wait for that flood of relief to come. I’m meting out my revenge.
But this doesn’t feel like revenge. The king keeps taking the hits, and he doesn’t raise a hand against them, not even to protect himself.
“Fight back, you bastard,” I growl.
He laughs, and those white, white teeth of his are now stained red with his blood.
My husband is insane.
We both are.
Finally, his arms come up, but only so they can encircle me. He pulls my body flush against his. “God, I fucking missed you, Serenity.”
And then he kisses me.
I taste his blood on my lips. This is not how the reunion is supposed to be going.
It was supposed to end swiftly with his death, but in an instant I’ve gone from killing the man who betrayed me to kissing him. Unwillingly.
One of his hands comes up and palms the back of my head, making it impossible for me to pull away.
I move my own hands to his neck, and I begin to squeeze.
He releases me, but he doesn’t try to pull my hands away, just stares up at me with those too bright eyes as I choke the life out of him.
“Death in a dress.” He barely gets the words out, but I hear them all the same.
I close my eyes, feeling two more tears slip out, and squeeze tighter. I remember the exact moment he first said those words to me.
“Why do you think I wanted you in the first place? Death in a dress. That’s what you were when you descended down those stairs in Geneva. I knew you’d either redeem me or you’d kill me.”
With a sob, I let Montes go, casting myself away from him.
I cover my face with my bloody, shaking hands. I can’t do it.
I can’t do it.
I love him. To kill the thing I love … that might just destroy the last bit of my conscience, and there is so little of it left.
I feel another tear drip down my cheek, and I taste it on my lips. Tears and bloodshed, that’s all this relationship has given me. All that this life has given me, really.
His hand touches my cheek. “You didn’t do it,” he says.
I drop my palms away from my face and open my eyes.
He watches me, and there is no indifference in his gaze. Quite the opposite. Whatever he feels for me, the years haven’t dulled it, though they might’ve transformed it into something else.
It’s not anger that’s riding me now. It’s a hurt so vast I can’t see any end to it. I could fit entire galaxies into the space it’s carved out for itself inside me.
I stand. I look around me. The room had, in all likelihood, once been used for entertaining. But not anymore. This man’s vices are devouring him from the inside out. I’m nothing compared to them, just a desperate, angry girl who’s been under someone else’s thumb for far too long.
I can’t be around this. I just … want out.
I back up.
Montes leans back, his arms slung over his knees. If I didn’t know him better, I’d say he was completely at ease. But he never did like me walking away from him, and I can see the controlled panic in his eyes.
“The queen I remember never leaves until she’s made a threat,” he says, watching me back away from him.
He remembers more than I thought he would.
And now, of all things, he wants me to threaten him. Because that’s intrinsically something I would do.
I pause, only for a moment, and exhale, suddenly very weary.
“Not for lost causes,” I say.
And then I leave him.
I don’t move until the door closes behind her. But once it does, I can’t seem to move quickly enough.
I pull my phone from my pocket and dial the head of security. “Serenity is not to leave the palace grounds under any circumstances.”
My guard is quiet for a beat too long.
“Understood?” I say.
Finally, he says, “Understood, Your Majesty.”
I click the phone off and bring it to my lips.
For the first time in a hundred years, my soul flares to life, my heart along with it. And it hurts so fucking bad.
No one’s ever been in my situation, so I couldn’t have foreseen that love doesn’t function as other things do. It took decades for it to fade, and an instant for it to come roaring back.