“What the f**k?” I deadpanned, staring at what could easily be my father’s clone like the man himself had risen from the grave and sewn his head back on.
I couldn’t process the thoughts churning in my head enough to formulate any other response, but I couldn’t help but feel as though those three words summed things up brilliantly.
He had the same thick hair, composed of the darkest onyx, that Holly and I inherited, along with the startling eyes. His build was definitely larger than my father’s, but his face, the wide-set jaw and sloped nose-that was the same.
The man who claimed to be my uncle – as if that wasn’t the weirdest thing I’d ever said, raised one of his dark eyebrows. “Well said.”
“You’re Deacon?” I managed, my voice a touch suspicious.
He nodded imperceptibly, “That’s what I’m called.
“The former King doesn’t have a brother. I spent nearly all of my time by his side, and never had he mentioned a brother. How is this possible?” Tristan grimaced, hovering protectively at my side.
Deacon snorted at Tristan’s reaction, his broad shoulders shifting in the process. The other Vampire’s in the warehouse, the one’s he’d been conversing with, stared with equal parts curiosity and contempt.
“You think just because you spent your every waking moment preening after my brother, means you get access to his secrets? Try again.
My brother would’ve served your head to the witches on a silver platter if it meant getting what he wanted, no matter how loyal you were.”
He replied, rubbing at the stubble on his chin as though he had a second, more amusing thought. “No wonder you’re following this one around. You must be grateful she got rid of him before he could get rid of you.”
The teasing and condescending tone laced within his rough voice made me bristle, sending a rush of heat down my neck and arms.
“Lola. My name is Lola.”
“How right you are, Lola.” He replied, putting emphasis on my name as he stared at me with those glacier eyes -cold, but not nearly as cold as my father’s. “You’ve changed since you beheaded my brother. You’re stronger, more confident in yourself.”
I set my jaw stubbornly, refusing to break my stare from his, even with all the Vampire’s in the room hovering nearby. “That happens when you k**l someone.”
“That’s not all that happened though, is it?” Deacon asked, his tone implying he wasn’t expecting an answer. “Luna and the Vampire Queen. You must have your hands full.
Does your mate know you’re here? Alpha Asher is a well-known name in this country, though you’re becoming more popular by the day.”
“You left out the part where I have a bunch of witches trying to k**l me, and yes, Asher knows I’m here.” I kept my voice hard, molding it into granite so nothing could slip through.
Deacon crossed his arms over his chest and tilted his head ever so slightly. It was something my father would’ve never done, a movement that lacked the class and etiquette he had prided himself on.
“Mmm, I think you’re lying, Lola. I think your mate has no clue you’re here, and even if he does, I have a strong feeling he doesn’t know where here is.
So, what’s keeping me from separating your head from your body like you did my brother, and sending your little minion here marching out into broad daylight?”
At my side, Tristan went rigid. Waves of pure loathing radiated off of him like a furnace, so scalding that I thought he might sink into a defensive position and a****k.
“How would you know anything about Asher?” I snorted, smirking up at the man who had just threatened to lob my head off. I craned my head to the left and right, pretending to look around. “As far as I can tell, you’re holed up here, in a trashy warehouse. Some leader you are, Uncle.”
Deacon’s lips twisted upwards, and as they did so, I realized why my father never smiled himself.
He was horrifying in the same way my father was, eyes glinting with unshod knowledge and cruelty. Even though there were differences between the two, I had a feeling they were alike in more ways than I could count.
“I have my spies scattered along my web like little spiders. They whisper inf ormation down the threads, and I hear it. How else would I know about the murders in your pack, or of your mate’s unhinged nature? I can relate, you know.
Living with someone cruel and violent is draining – constantly on your guard, wondering when the day will come when you see your blood being spilled.”
I swallowed a snarl, letting it rumble in my chest rather than giving Deacon the satisfaction of knowing he’d gotten to me.
A thought slithered into my head, and rather than play it safe in hopes my uncle wouldn’t m****r me, I opted for reckless and impulsive.
“I’m impressed, truly. You know so much about my pack, it’s frightening.” I nodded solemnly. “It affects me so deeply because a certain prisoner of mine, the one who gave me the directions to this place, she didn’t mention anything about who you were. I can’t help but feel that Bridgette left out a huge chunk of information when we last spoke.”
Deacon’s entire demeanor changed. Like a switch had been flipped, the cruel and almost humorous light to his eyes vanished, blown out like a candle whose wisps of smoke trickled and faded into the air.
“Everyone, get the f**k out.” His tone was flat, not too loud but not too quiet.
Without pause, the Vampire’s surrounding us began to move, bustling towards the fallen shelves, headed in the direction we had come from.
“You can stay, Dina.” He grunted at the last second.
The African American Vampire who’d stopped our bike in the middle of the road nodded, and I swore a wave of understanding passed between the two, one I wasn’t sure I’d ever understand.
Once every single Vampire was out of sight, Dina’s mate included, Deacon shattered the tension-filled silence.
“I want you to tell me everything you know about Bridgette, and if she was with any other Vampire’s when you found her.” His entitled demand coaxed a dry laugh from my throat.
“Yeah, and I want you to tell me how my father has a secret brother, and everything you know about the witches that want me d**d.” I retorted, losing some of my steam when his eyes remained unbreakably hard.
I knew the look from staring at Asher half a dozen times. Deacon cared about Bridgette, but he was a man carved from steel, honed by cruelty and a past most likely laced with darkness. He’d b**n down the world for her, but he’d never let it see him break.
“Look, she’s still alive. I didn’t have her tortured or anything. What information she gave me, she did of her own free will.”
Deacon didn’t let his relief show, but I had a feeling it washed over him the same way it had washed over me when I heard Asher’s voice two night’s ago and realized he was alive.
“You didn’t use any magic on her?” He narrowed his eyes as he asked. “Yeah, I know about your magic, and I’m not talking about the shadows, either.”
I wanted to know how he knew, and while I planned on asking that very question, the time wasn’t right.
“No, I didn’t use magic on her.”
Deacon watched me, his expression rigid and unfaltering. I’d long mastered the art of keeping a Vampire out of my head, but I couldn’t help but reinforce my walls as his stare turned penetrating.
“I was what the royal family called a ‘back-up child. ‘ If my brother were to\ defect, then I would take the throne. As it turns out, I’m the one that defected. When the eldest child takes over, there’s no need for a back-up anymore.
The only mistake my brother ever made, other than getting his head chopped off by you, was letting me live.” Deacon huffed, launching into an explanation I knew was horrendously shortened.
“I was banished, but I wasn’t alone. My brother had already been King for some time, long enough for some of his people to see him for the madman he was. Some of those Vampire’s decided to come with me. Now, tell me about Bridgette.”