Authors: Franca Storm
THE TWISTED DESTINY SAGA
Edited, Produced, and Published by Writer’s Edge Publishing
All rights reserved.
© 2015 by Franca Storm
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.
All characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
* * * The Redemption Series * * *
* * * Twisted Destiny Saga * * *
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Marella watched Ryan worriedly as she paced up and down the lounge in the castle of the Dark Realm. He sat on one of the couches knocking back a bottle of scotch. His son, still in wolf form, lay down beside him with his furry, white head, nestled against his father’s leg. He emitted a low, guttural purr as Ryan gently stroked him.
The furor of Nathanial’s deep baritone echoed thunderously through the castle as he argued in the Great Hall with his former wife, Oriana, about her sudden return to the Dark Realm. She’d forced him to show his son mercy, instead of allowing him to plunge a stake through his heart, which he’d been mere seconds away from doing when she’d suddenly appeared in a blinding flash of white light.
“She’s…back,” Ryan murmured quietly.
“For the time being.”
Ryan’s gaze snapped to hers. “What does that mean?”
Marella ceased her erratic pacing and perched on the edge of a couch opposite him. She hesitated on what she was about to say.
Is he ready to hear this?
He had that look in his eyes that she’d seen before, that insistent stare, signifying that he would accept nothing but the truth.
“Marella?” he pressed when she failed to respond.
“It is dangerous for her to remain here in the Dark Realm.”
“If Nathanial wanted her dead, he would’ve made an attempt by now. I would’ve stopped him, but he would’ve tried anyway, if that’s what he’d wanted.”
was never the threat to her, Ryan.”
“What? She went into hiding to protect herself from him.”
Marella shook her head sadly. “No. That’s not what happened.”
“You’re defending him over your own sister—your own family? Why? Was he really that good of a fuck, Marella?”
She flinched at Ryan’s cutting comment. It was too late to deny there was something going on between them. Ryan had seen the two of them in bed together. At least they’d both been clothed at the time and just talking with one another when he’d burst into the room, frantic about his son having shifted into wolf form. She knew Ryan was in shock and, despite his attempts to hide it, she could see the gut-wrenching emotion all over his face as he struggled to process his mother’s sudden return. A mother he hadn’t seen for two centuries. A mother he’d always believed had been forever lost to him in exile. He was wolf—it was his nature to lash out, rather than exhibiting hurt. So, she forced herself to swallow down his brash comment and hold back a scathing rebuttal. She wasn’t a submissive woman. She was anything but weak. Nothing intimidated her or unnerved her.
Well, except Nathanial, for some strange reason.
No one spoke to her like that.
Ryan was her family and he was in pain. She would let it go this one time.
“This is not about him, Ryan. It is simply the truth. When it came to light that your mother had, not only been with your father, but had even given birth to a child—you—Nathanial was under great pressure from his advisors to take immediate action—against both of them. As King of the Dark Realm, he couldn’t be made to look like a fool and especially not like a victim as a result of their betrayal. They willed him to torture and kill
of them and you.”
“Nathanial told me he
“He told you what you needed to hear, because you weren’t ready to hear the truth. And that truth is that he saved her life that fateful night. He smuggled her through the Dark Realm gates where Vazra was waiting for her outside, to help her and hide her somewhere out of reach of everyone. That same night, he banished you from the realm.”
She watched Ryan take her words in. He downed half the bottle of scotch he held in his hand and then placed it on the floor beside the couch and released a heavy sigh.
“I know her return is…unprecedented,” Marella said kindly.
“It is a fuck of a shock,” Ryan agreed. As soon as the words had left his mouth, he looked down at his son. “Don’t copy my bad language, wolf pup. Your mother won’t be happy.”
She watched as he wiped the sweat trickling down his brow with the back of his hand. He sputtered out a cough and leaned back tiredly against the couch. “Your sickness is worsening.”
He waved his hand dismissively. “It’s nothing. My body is just trying to reacclimatize to being in the Dark Realm after so many years away.”
Marella shook her head. “It is more than that, Ryan. The Dark Realm is a great distance from the White Realm where Cora is. Your distance from her is causing you pain.”
“I was away from her for centuries, Marella. I don’t think—”
“You hadn’t bonded then,” Marella cut in. “It is unnatural for the two of you to be apart. Once a bonding has occurred, mates are never to be apart.”
Before he could respond, a sudden roar came from Nathanial in the Great Hall. Ryan cocked an eyebrow at Marella. “If he was a wolf, his rage right now would’ve caused him to shift.” He gathered his son in his arms and moved to approach the Great Hall. “He might’ve vamped out on her, though,” he said worriedly.
Marella stepped into his path, blocking his way to the Great Hall. “Oriana has a gift for…getting under his skin. She was never very accommodating, even during happier times in their marriage. And now…with her hatred for him over what he did to Cornelius…she will be at her most antagonistic.”
“I’m not gonna stand by and let my mother get hurt, Marella.”
“He will not harm her. Even if he wanted to…her power is great. They are evenly matched, Ryan.”
He hesitated. And then his son started to cry. He was obviously sensing Ryan’s tension. She watched him draw in a breath and force himself to calm down. “All right,” he conceded.
“They will know you are here,” Nathanial growled as he glowered down at Oriana, the two of them standing so close that they were almost touching. He could feel his rage simmering just below the surface from being so close to her. But she hadn’t moved back when he’d stepped threateningly into her personal space in a bid to intimidate her and force her to heed his words. She was still as stubborn as he remembered.
Her hazel eyes flashed at him with the same hatred that he felt for her. Her once pure white hair was now tainted with black streaks: the marks of black magic.
What has she been involving herself in since her exile?
It was shorter—barely shoulder length. And, unlike Marella’s gorgeous curls, it was as straight as could be. She was nothing like the woman he had married all those centuries ago. She no longer wore the expensive royal gowns that she had when they’d lived together in his castle. She had never been as sophisticated as her sister. Marella possessed a class and quiet dignity that Oriana never had. Although Marella wasn’t royal born, she carried herself as such. Like him. Perhaps that was what had drawn him to Marella initially, rather than Oriana.
Why had I settled? Why hadn’t I pursued what had been just beyond my reach? The one I truly wanted? Marella. So many years wasted.
Oriana’s pants clung to her thighs. They were a dark red, the color of dried blood. The material looked familiar.
Dragon hide? Is that what it is? So rare. How did she get a hold of that?
The cape hanging loosely off her shoulders was made of the same material. A short, black bustier that barely contained her breasts was so tight that it looked like it had melded to her skin. As she stared up at him, her hands on her hips, she made no pretense of the fact that she was thrusting her breasts out in a desperate attempt to manipulate him with her raw sexuality.
Same old tricks.
“Do not flatter yourself. You cannot tempt me.” His eyes bore into hers as he hissed, “You forget that I know all you have to offer. It didn’t satisfy me
, Oriana. It certainly will not now.”
Her eyes flashed at his scathing insult. “You dare to speak to your own wife that way?”
“I will speak to you however I wish when you are in my home. And, to clarify, you are no longer my wife. I nullified our marriage shortly after you left the realm.”
“It was easy, given your betrayal. I barely had to lift a finger to make it happen. You are no longer Queen of the Dark Realm. You haven’t been for two centuries. You have no power here. No say at all.”
She made a move to slap him, but his reflexes were far beyond hers and he caught her wrist with ease. “You are hurting me, Nathanial,” she said, struggling against his crushing grip.
He leaned into her and told her in a dangerously low whisper, “If I were truly hurting you, you’d know it.” He released her roughly and growled, “I want you gone. Now.” He stepped back from her, putting some much-needed distance between them, unable to endure being so close to her any longer. It was threatening his self-control. The monster was desperate to break free. “You should never have come here. You couldn’t even do me the decency of quietly teleporting here. Instead, you expended as much magical energy as possible by ripping through the very fabric of the realm!”
“I was in a rush, Nathanial! You were seconds away from killing our son!”
“A fate that he had brought upon himself!”
She scoffed, dismissing his remark. “Where did your guards take him and Michael?”
at the edge of the realm.”
She gasped. “The prison of purgatory?”
He rolled his eyes at her use of such a term. It was what the commoners referred to the prison as. Such a term should have been beneath her and it just emphasized her complete lack of class.
What an error in judgment it had been to marry such a woman.
But, at the time he’d needed a queen quickly to bear him an heir. He’d wanted her sister; it had always been her. But Marella had been involved with someone at the time—that poor excuse for a warlock. And so, he’d chosen the next best thing. Oriana.
“I could not risk having Michael here in the castle dungeons. As you are well aware, there is potent dark magic running through the castle—my power. He violates the rules of magic without concerning himself with the consequences, meaning he could have succeeded in calling some of the dark power unto himself, putting everyone here in jeopardy. And, as for Luca, I do not wish to look upon him. I do not want him anywhere near my home…or the thrones.”
“The reputation of the
prison is notorious, Nathanial. Prisoners are sent there for one reason—to be broken. I will not allow you to torture our son.”
“He is fortunate that I did not kill him. I showed him mercy that he did not deserve, because of
“He is my son, too! You do not decide for the both of us!”
“You are wasting your energy on the wrong son, Oriana!”
“Ryan does not need my help.”
“No, he does not
unlike Luca, he is nothing like
“What does that mean?”
“Ryan does not possess
temperament, your flawed decision-making. He is very much his father’s son. He has Cornelius’s wisdom. Luca was not so fortunate. He is all you.”
She shot out her right hand and fisted it in his silk shirt. “Do not mention Cornelius to me! His name should never cross your lips, Nathanial!” she roared. “How dare you!”
Nathanial snarled down at her. “I will give you one chance to release me. If you do not, I will break every bone in your hand,
Incensed by him calling her a
and referencing her true mate, Nathanial felt her power rising. Her hands warmed quickly. She was right on the edge of releasing the full furor of her magic upon him.
They locked eyes and he stared her down. He doubted she would actually strike him. She was strong, but she was also very well aware of how great
power was, especially when he was riled up. Furthermore, he was faster and physically stronger. He wasn’t an ordinary vampire—he was the Vampire King. Faster and stronger than all, especially a sorceress.
She released him with a curse and then turned her back on him and strode towards the lounge.
“You do not turn your back on
!” he thundered after her.
But she ignored him and continued on.
He stood in front of her in a burst of vampire speed, blocking her way to Ryan and Marella at the door into the lounge.
“Mom,” Ryan breathed.
Oriana glared up at Nathanial and demanded, “Step aside. I wish to greet my son.”
Nathanial didn’t move. He just stood there glaring at her, refusing to give into her demands, refusing to give her anything she wanted at all. He just wanted her gone. Now.
“Nathanial,” Ryan growled.
Nathanial looked at Ryan and saw immediately that it wasn’t a request. It was a clear demand with a prevalent warning. He snuck a quick glance at Marella and he saw the sympathy in her eyes for his plight. She nodded with a reassuring smile.
Allow it. It will be okay.
He grunted and stepped aside.