Home > Dark Surrender (The Dark Ones Saga #3)

Dark Surrender (The Dark Ones Saga #3)
Author: Rachel Van Dyken

Alex

Rome

48 AD

“HE’S A BASTARD!”

I was used to the word.

It was tossed in my face during every waking moment that I saw my father, though he wasn’t my father by blood.

One look was all it took.

He was ugly.

Wearing his sin and darkness on the outside, like a cape wrapped around his body, his every step was cloaked with a heaviness of despair as if one faulty stumble would cause his overly large body to fall to the earth, cracking the marble floor in half with a resounding slice.

He limped toward the balcony, my mother followed, her ever-present smirk in place.

She was horrible.

A disgusting human being who fed off others’ pain the way that most humans were taught to feed off love.

She manipulated.

And she was good at it.

It was why the immortals cursed her with me.

I was a curse.

Though, at the time, she had thought I was a blessing, it made sense after all, the immortals blessing the most beautiful of the Emperor’s wives with a son who was prettier than most males should be.

As I walked through halls of gold, males and females alike stared at me with wide-eyed curiosity, I needed only to look at them and know that they wanted me in every physical way possible.

I never acted on it.

They weren’t worthy of my love.

Nobody was.

And sharing my body with a human would mean love, wouldn’t it?

Nobody had taught me about love.

Except my best friend.

A serving girl.

She’d held my hand.

And even though I was a bastard — I was royalty.

And she’d dared to touch me.

So my father slit her throat.

Blood still stained the dagger he held in his hands. My mother thought it funny. “Claudious, really, she was just a girl.”

“No girl will touch him.”

“And men?” At nineteen, I knew I was stronger than my father, but he’d purposely not allowed me to fight, worried that it would ruin my perfection. And since my perfection held people at arm’s length, since they feared the rumors were true, that I was touched by immortality, that kept him powerful. “Am I to have any of them?”

His face turned a splotchy red. I could hear his disgusting thoughts as clear as day; he warred within himself, unable to control the fact that even his own blood called for me.

Because of what I was.

Perfection.

My blood promised him everything.

He jerked his attention away from me and onto my mother. “I will ask you once and for all, who sired him?”

She smirked, “And I’ve always answered the same, have I not, your grace? He is of immortal blood. A man with black and red hair and shining armor of gold lay with me. He was beautiful, he tasted like cider, and when we joined, it was the most—”

He slapped her across the face sending her body against one of the golden walls.

“Mother.” I ran to her, but she held up a shaky hand.

Frowning, I stopped. Why did she never want me to touch her?

And then, I allowed myself to hear her thoughts of jealousy.

Of her own son.

Of my beauty and how hers paled in comparison.

Love.

I wondered often, what that word meant as I glanced back at the slave girl. Was it this feeling of pain in my chest whenever I thought of the life that had been stolen from her? Or was it more? It had to be more or men would not fight wars.

“Alexander.” My father seldom spoke my name aloud, but when he did, he uttered it as though he were conjuring spirits. Sometimes, it felt like he was, as though I were evil — like there was something brewing beneath the surface of my skin, burning, clawing to break free. My greatest fear was that he was right and one day, I’d reach my full power and let it. “Kill her.”

“What?” I jerked back as my entire body shook with rage. “I will do no such thing.”

“Hah!” My father gave a thunderous laugh. “Do you think she cares for you? She’s a selfish bitch, who would have strangled you as a babe had I not saved your life… oh, do you not know? Your own mother tried smothering you with a pillow when you were two months old. She knew it was getting impossible to hide your beauty from me, she knew I would discover her treachery. But then she realized how transfixed people were in your presence and used you as a pawn.” He took a breath. “Kill her, or I kill you.”

I had never been told I was immortal. I simply knew it. Like I knew how to walk, inhale, exhale. I knew I was different, just like I knew I was hated for it.

But I didn’t want to test the knowledge. The last thing I needed was to test the gods or worse, anger them.

So I did nothing.

I never did anything.

“Alexander.” My father spoke my name like a curse, his voice low and venomous. “Kill her now.”

“You want her dead?” I started walking away. “You do it.”

Love.

What was love?

I didn’t feel the blade enter my body, but I did see it poking out through my stomach in all its metallic shining glory.

“Valeria!” My father shouted in outrage.

“Die, you demon!” my mother hissed in my ear, jerking the knife from my stomach while simultaneously shoving me to the ground.

I bled as any human would.

But my blood was not red.

It was silver.

“Guards!” My father’s yell shook the palace walls. “Kill them both!”

I turned and held up my hands, it was protective, the instinct to live. Wasn’t it for all beings?

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