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Poison Throne: A Dark College Romance

By:Tate James

Chapter 1


Rafe is gone.

Those three words ran through my head like a fucking curse spelling my downfall. Tonight had been the dance. A time for celebration with many members of the monarchy in attendance.

It had ended in death and destruction. Earthquakes. Fire. Blood.

The resistance had attacked, and who the fuck even knew how many were dead now. Meghan. Claudette—I mean, I hated that bitch, but still… And then possibly Felipe, Rafe’s father.

Running a hand over my face, I tried to wipe off some of the blood. Somehow I’d collected my fair share since the bombs had gone off, but truthfully, that paled in the face of Rafe being stolen away from me.

Fucking hell!

It had taken many resistance members, and we’d all put up a good fight. But in the end, their numbers and technology had been too much for us to withstand. Not without an army of our own to meet them head to head.

“We should strip them of their uniforms,” Jordan said, bringing me back to the present. He was kneeling beside a black-clad resistance body, already removing the man’s tactical vest.

Looking down at the dead bodies strewn all around us, I got what he was saying. If we were going to pull off the ruse we’d set in motion with the one living resistance fighter who hadn’t made it back onto the chopper, then we had to play our parts.

“This one is about my size,” I said, moving toward one of the prone figures.

Jordan watched me with hooded eyes for a beat, and I knew what he saw: robot Violet. This was the face I wore when the world got too much for me and I needed a break from the emotions. It was my Violence persona amplified until I was barely flesh and blood.

This was how I would survive until we got Rafe back.

“Hurry up,” the resistance asshole, who was lucky to still be alive, hissed.

We might have made a deal with—aka threatened—him to get us into the compound that Rafe was being taken to, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t still kick his ass.

“One more fucking word,” I warned him, not in the mood. His eyes, the only part of his face I could see, went super wide, and I took that for his acknowledgement that I had reached the end of my patience today.

With a huff, I stripped the uniform off the dead woman before realizing I couldn’t get out of this dress myself.

“Need a little help?”

Jordan was at my back, hands resting on the bare skin above the laced section of my ball gown.

“Please.”

Normally this would have been the perfect opportunity to get a little naked and have some fun, but that was the last thing on either of our minds. His touch was quick and sure, and when the outfit loosened around me, I reached down for the black clothing of the resistance, shimmied into the pants, and then donned the shirt. Followed by her boots.

A black mask with two holes for the eyes was the final piece, and then Jordan and I shoved the near-naked people out of sight.

“They’re on the way,” fucker-with-a-death-wish murmured. “Code phrase to identify yourself when you enter is 'death to the monarchy.'"

Right… How original.

The sound of a helicopter closing in reached our ears. He leaned down and shouldered one of the remaining bodies still all in black and gestured for us to do the same with the others. “We don’t leave our dead behind,” he said.

Jordan and I both heaved a body onto our shoulders as well, and I tried not to panic that we could be walking right into a setup. I’d do it, no matter what, because I needed to get Rafe back. Just had to hope that before we were ambushed we at least made it to the resistance compound.

Rafe was worth the risk we were taking.

They’re waiting for you.

I hadn't forgotten those words. Hopefully it meant that no one would kill me on sight… There had to be a way to use it to my advantage and get my prince back.

Then I would make them fucking pay.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" Jordan murmured to me, leaning down so we couldn't be overheard. "Rafe wouldn't want you to risk your life."

"You would leave him behind?"

Jordan jerked back like I'd struck him. "No! I plan on going, but I'd prefer you stayed here, where it is safe. Might be best so that we can relay information to you."

I loved Jordan. So many parts of him were absolutely perfect, but it was here that he and Rafe were total opposites. Day and night.

"I appreciate your concern," I told him with total sincerity. My words were almost drowned out by the helicopter; it was so close now. "But I don't need to be babied. And I never leave a man behind—especially if that man is Rafe or you. We’re getting him back, and there's nowhere else I'd rather be."

There was no more time for conversation, and as he straightened, tension pulled the muscles tight in his broad shoulders. He wasn't happy, but he also didn't argue.

The helicopter appeared at the side of the building then, another stealthy-looking beast like the last one. We moved toward it with the resistance member, and from the rooftop we tossed the dead bodies across the narrow gap into the open doorway, then went back for more. The resistance solider said they didn’t leave their dead behind, and he was serious about it.

Then it was our turns to make the leap.

When I landed steadily, I was already prepared for a fight. I hadn’t noticed the resistance asshole giving us away when he communicated with his team, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a code word I’d missed.

This could legitimately be where we were ambushed.

Jordan landed behind me, protecting my back, and both of us remained in that stance as we waited for instructions.

Black headsets were handed to us, and I slipped mine on over the mask I wore, just like everyone else. Whatever meshy material they used in these outfits, it allowed sound to penetrate.

"Identify," a voice said in my ear.

The resistance asshole went first. "Death to the monarchy. Red East."

"Death to the monarchy. Red East," I bit out, not sure what the chick had sounded like, but hoping none of them would know the difference.

Jordan spoke up quickly as well.

We took our seats after that, everyone strapping in as the beast took off into the sky.

“The prince was secured,” one of the pilots said. “We lost ten members tonight, but their sacrifice will not be in vain.”

I almost lost my cool and killed them all before I reminded myself that I needed to get to Rafe and these assholes were my best chance. Patience might not be my strongest suit, but eventually they’d get what was coming to them.

The helicopter moved very differently than a plane, its motions jerky and rapid. In a blink we were out of the school grounds, the darkness hiding most of the landscape below.

Jordan reached out and grasped my hand, and I felt instantly better. We didn't dare speak, aware that everything would be heard through our headsets, which meant I was stuck with a running reel of horror in my head.

I could barely believe everything that had happened tonight. Arbon Academy had been attacked by the resistance with some form of “earthquake machine” that’d ripped the ballroom apart. It had been a ploy to take out a bunch of monarchs while they were in one place, and it'd succeeded.

Rafe's father... he'd been hurt badly. Neither of us had any idea if he was even still alive. Jordan had lost his betrothed, who was like a sister to him.

Despite his calm strength beside me, I knew he had to be devastated. Still, he never faltered, remaining exactly who and what I needed in this moment.

I was fucking lucky to have him.

Giving his hand one last squeeze, I settled back in the uncomfortable chair. I wanted to close my eyes and rest, knowing that this was the lull before the shitstorm, but I was afraid to let my guard down. If this was a setup, the moment I relaxed, they would take full advantage.

This wouldn't be the first time I’d gone into a fight sleep-deprived—in fact, it used to be a common part of my training. I could make it work either way.

It grew even darker the farther we traveled from the school, and outside of the occasional buzz from a radio with tersely barked orders, there was nothing but silence in the chopper. I almost couldn't believe that we'd managed to get this far without detection, but maybe luck was on our side.

We traveled through the night, stopping once at a station to refuel. This was where they dropped off their dead, and I was pretty happy about that—smells had started to creep through the helicopter, and honestly, no one wanted to be chilling with a ton of dead fuckers. Bad vibes.

With more space to spread my legs, I settled in for the rest of this journey. It was frustrating not knowing where we were going, but there was no discreet way to find out, so I’d just have to make do.

How the fuck did they even manage to get around in an aircraft like this without having to log flight plans? Air security was tight, but possibly the resistance had “inside people” that took care of that shit for them. They were clearly not without power and contacts. Tonight wouldn’t have happened otherwise, and since we were heading straight into the belly of their stronghold, that really didn't bode well for our survival.

Rafe had better be in one fucking piece when we got to him. I knew he was part of the Society, as they called themselves, but this extremist branch of the resistance was not the same and I had no idea what they wanted with the Swiss prince.

They hadn't killed him on the roof, though, and they could have. So they must need him for something.

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