The Queen of All That Lives (The Fallen World Book 3)(12)By: Laura Thalassa
As far as my heart is concerned, no time has passed.
And yet, Serenity was nothing like my memory. None of my imaginings could’ve made her so perfectly flawed.
I can now recall the exact color of her irises—somewhere between gunmetal gray and a frigid ice blue. And her anger—part of the reason I didn’t stop her from laying into me was that I was mesmerized by that inner fire of hers. My beautiful storm.
I touch the side of my face tenderly. The skin’s beginning to swell.
I breathe harshly through my nose to beat back a shout. I did leave her in a machine to rot. She couldn’t protest, so I didn’t listen. And now she’s back with a vengeance.
The fool I was who first laid eyes on her all those years ago did one thing right—he saw redemption within his reach, and he snatched it up for himself.
And then he sabotaged it again, and again.
I’m still brooding when I hear a knock on my door twenty minutes later. I already know who’s on the other side. I squeeze my phone tighter as a wave of anger washes over me.
I should’ve known.
He should’ve told me.
I pull myself together, breathing in and out through my nose to calm myself down.
I knew this was coming.
“Come in,” I call.
This is something else I’ll eventually have to explain to Serenity, something else she’ll want to kill me for. And maybe this time she’ll be successful.
I rub my face. Redemption has always been within my reach. I’m just too damn guilty to accept it.
I thread my hands behind my head and pace once more inside my room.
I’ve only ever had one job: to take out the king. I failed at that task time and time again.
I can kill easily enough. There are six dead men who can attest to that.
And no one is more deserving of death than the king. The man has done so many unconscionable things.
My stupid, idiotic feelings.
And what now?
A century ago, I had a purpose. Marriage for peace. A voice for my people and all those who were downtrodden. I might not have wanted the life I was forced into, I might’ve lamented it, but at least then I understood it.
I don’t understand this.
The future, the lost, obsessive king and the war he still futilely fights. Why life has made a joke of my existence.
I take a deep breath.
I never had much time for pity. I still don’t.
The king and his world have moved on. I’m no longer needed to hold together two hemispheres.
My gaze travels to the window.
I could leave.
I could leave. Not as someone else’s prisoner, but on my own.
The thought is heady. Freedom has always been just beyond my reach. To finally have it … It would almost make up for my tragic, broken heart.
But if I did leave, I would need boots, fatigues, weapons, food, water and a means to get more. That would take time to acquire, and there’s always a possibility that outside these walls, I will be recognized and fought over as a pawn to be played in this war.
It would be a hard life. A life where I couldn’t make much of a difference, a life where I was expendable.
A life without the king.
I walk onto the balcony and spread my arms over the marble railing. The ocean stretches out as far as the eye can see.
That life might be what I want, but my existence really was never about what I wanted. I was woken to save the world.
And the best way to do that would be to stay here and work with the very man who destroyed my heart.
I draw in a breath through my nose.
If that is what is needed of me, then that is precisely what I will do.
Even if it breaks me.
Not too long after I come to my decision, there’s a knock on the door. I cross the room, my skirts swishing around my ankles.
When I open the door, my hand tightens on the knob.
Montes stands on the other side, his hands in his pockets. The gesture is so reminiscent of how he’s always been that my knees weaken.
It’s too soon. It physically hurts staring at his face and feeling like things can never be the same between us.
I may have decided I can’t kill Montes, and I may have decided to help fix all those things the king and his war have broken, but I’m not ready to be civil with him. Not yet.
He just stares at me for a long time, not saying anything. His face has already begun to swell, and that leaves me cold.
I turn on my heel and head back to the desk I was working at. I’ve been jotting down notes on what I must learn to help the people I now live amongst.
I hear the sound of his footfalls behind me.
“Are you here to torment me?” I say over my shoulder.
“How did you know?” he says. “That’s precisely what I had in mind.”
“You haven’t lost your silver tongue,” I note.
I glance up from my writing, and my gaze meets the king’s. Had I noticed how tormented his eyes were? How weary they appeared? But even as I watch, that weariness dissipates. In its place I see a familiar spark in them.
“What you have done is unforgivable,” I say.
He moves leisurely towards me, every step deliberate. It feels like the whole world extends outward from him, like the very universe shaped itself around this man. The king’s always been larger than life, but now, if anything, he seems grander and more unnatural than he ever was.