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The Dark Prince(The Dark Light Series #2)

By:S.L. Jennings

The Dark Prince(The Dark Light Series #2)
S.L. Jennings

       Chapter One

Numb.

I have never wanted to be an unfeeling sack of flesh and bone more than in this moment. Because I feel everything. Pain. Betrayal. Grief. Sorrow. Every fucking thing I hate about feeling. Everything I've tried so hard to avoid.

I look down at the photograph crumpled in my rigid grip. It suddenly feels like glowing red hot coal in my hand. It burns me, sears the skin of my palm. In my hand I hold everything that I love. My parents, both adopted and biological. And him.

Dorian.

I know what this is. I know this is my truth. My past. My present. My future. It is what I knew all along and, like a freaking idiot, ignored because my beautiful illusion was so much better than my tragic reality.

For once, I had embraced happiness. Bliss. In spite of finding out what I was, finding out that I was a half Light, half Dark inbreed, I was happy. Even with a damn supernatural assassin out for my blood, I was content. Because of him. He made me whole. A new and improved Gabs. A girl that wanted to be good enough. For him.

Fuck. Him.

On autopilot, I stuff the photo into my purse. Then I am mindlessly dressing myself. Right arm in sleeve. Left arm in sleeve. Sweatshirt over my head. Legs sliding in jeans. Feet stepping into shoes. I'm almost there. I'm almost numb.

"Gabi?" my mom asks as I breeze by the living room robotically. I stop in my tracks and gaze at her, my face stoic and unreadable. "Dear, where are you going? Are you ok?"

I look at my adopted parents, the wholesome couple that took me in and cared for me as their own when I was nothing remotely like their own. I am not even human. But they gave me a human life. Despite the pure evil festering within me, bubbling just at the surface, they chose to believe I could be like them. They wanted to believe I could be good.

Fuck. Good.

I fish the photograph out of my purse and thrust it towards them without another glance or word. What would I even say?

Found this picture of you guys and my birth parents. And by the way, I am screwing that guy in it. Plus he hasn't aged a day. In twenty-freakin'-years. No big deal.

"Where did you get this?" Chris asks, though it sounds like more of a demand in his low timbre.

"I don't know," I hear myself say. "I think it was in Natalia's book. I just found it."

"Oh my God, it's us," Donna replies in her breathy soprano. "Us and your parents, Natalia and Alexander … "

"And? And him?" I ask jutting out my finger at his maddeningly beautiful face. Dark hair, impossibly blue eyes, and that sexy smirk that makes me forget my own name. Him.

"Him? That's, uh," Donna stutters before swallowing. "He was your father's friend. His partner."

I meet her pale blue eyes and nod, needing no further explanation. "Dorian."

Chris and Donna's brows furrow simultaneously, first in confusion then in terrifying understanding.

"He's here," Donna squeaks, barely above a whisper. "Oh God, no. No. No!"

"Dammit!" Chris shouts. "How the hell did this happen? How do you know him?"

Donna crumbles into chest-heaving sobs. "Oh please, no! Please, Gabriella! Don't tell me … don't tell me it's him! Don't tell me he's the one!"

She knew. For months she read it in my aura. She knew I was involved with someone and something had changed in me. She knew I had fallen in love. She just never imagined it could have been with the epitome of all that is corrupt and immoral in their world.

With him.

I couldn't say anything. There was honestly nothing left to say. Admitting I was in love with Dorian would only throw salt in the wound. Theirs and mine.

"I have to go," I mutter. I start to turn towards the door then hesitate. The photo. I need the photo. "Can I have that back?"

"Where are you going?" Chris asks. Again, it sounds like a demand. An accusation.

"I have to go," I repeat. "To see … him. I have to know." I snatch the photo from his grip and stuff it back into my purse.

"You have to know? Know what? What the hell is there to know?" Chris shouts.

My face heats with anger, tiny beads of sweat forming on my forehead. I reflexively swipe my sleeve across it. "Why he's here. Why he came. Why he …  I just need to know."

"Absolutely not! You will not leave this house, do you hear me? Dorian is off limits!"

Chris steps towards me with the intent of grasping me by the shoulders. Yet for some reason he recoils, stumbling several steps back, shielding his wife with his broad body. I hadn't even noticed the lights. Every light in the entire house is blinking rapidly, casting ghastly shadows across their horrified faces. It's happening again.

And then I feel it. My hands are hot; scorching. And though it feels as if I have thrust them into a raging fire, it does not burn me. I look down at my palms, enraptured in a dull red haze, glowing hot with fury. They are trembling uncontrollably. My whole body is. I can't stop it; I can't even understand it. Anger and grief have completely overpowered me.

This isn't numbness. This is wrath.

Tiny icicles assault my retinas, pricking my eyelids until they sting. My eyes feel too cold, frozen even, yet my vision is not obscured. I can see … everything. As if I have been blind for twenty years. The arteries beating in their rigid necks, the tight flex of their jaws, the fear inscribed in their faces. I see it all. I see them. Human. Frail. Infantile. I had always considered myself as one of them, but as I gaze upon them now, they appear alien to me. I can't comprehend this sudden revelation but I know it is real. It is the realest thing I have ever felt.

"Gabriella," Donna whispers hoarsely. "Please."

She's pleading. Begging. Why? Her petrified tone startles me and my emboldened resolve falters. The tremors cease, the red glow from my hands extinguished. Even my eyesight has dimmed and the alarming chill has dissipated. I tumble back down to Earth. Back to my humanity.

"There's something you need to know. Please let us explain before you go," she pleads from behind Chris.

I nod stiffly, afraid to do or say more to provoke their fear. I can't be certain what would happen if I did. She steps around my dad cautiously and stands to face me. Chris's eyes dance wildly between us, his fists pressed into tight balls of hard steel.

"Dorian was your father's partner. The one who tried to keep Alex and Natalia's secret. He wanted to keep them safe; to keep you safe. But once word traveled back to the Dark, he was taken. His punishment was harsh but he was spared."

I fold my arms in front of my chest, not completely sure where Donna is going with this. I already knew that from Natalia's journal. "Ok. He was punished; I get that. But he suffered a loss too. He lost his best friend. Why do I need to stay away from him?"

"Dorian is … special. And that is the only reason why he was not executed along with your father. He made a deal to save his own life. He was petrified- frozen in time, his magic stripped from him. His sentence was 20 years." Donna takes a step towards me, her expression a mix of fright and concern. "The deal Dorian made was that he had to kill you. Once he was released from petrification, he had to hunt you down and slaughter you. And if he fails, he will be put to death."

I struggle to process Donna's words, my already shattered heart desperately urging my brain to reject it. But even in angst my mind can't hold onto the illusion. I know what she is saying is true. Dorian was sent here to kill me. Everything we've shared, every ounce of passion we've exchanged has been a lie. And somewhere amidst all my hang-ups and denial, I knew it all along. What else could he possibly want from me?

I turn towards the front door when I feel a large hand grasp my forearm. "Where are you going?" Chris asks.

My glazed eyes fall to his grip and he instantly pulls it back. "I have to see him. I have to hear him say it."

"What? Why? Did you not just hear your mother? He will kill you, Gabriella! He does not want you! He does not care about you! You are nothing but prey to him!"

Chris's words sink the knife deeper into my hemorrhaging chest. I laboriously swallow down the bile rising in my throat. "I need to hear him say it," I repeat with a shaky voice. "He's not going to get away with being a coward. If he wants me dead, he has to tell me himself."

"No, Gabriella! Don't do it! He will kill you!" Donna shrieks. But I don't meet her horrified eyes. I don't respond to their pleas to stay in the safety of our home, away from the darkness that craves my demise. I am already out the door, guided by my own darkness festering deep inside me.

I don't notice that I am at the Broadmoor until I am already there. I don't even know how I managed to make it here in one piece. But as I gaze upon the double doors of Dorian's suite, I can literally feel my heart beating out of my chest. I know I've been standing here staring at it but I've completely lost all sense of time.

The door suddenly swings open, startling me out of my anguished daze. And I am face to face with him. Dorian. Still dressed in his suit and tie, he is so amazingly gorgeous it physically hurts to look at him. His black hair is styled in its usual disheveled perfection. His jaw is shaved and smooth. Even his eyes seem bluer and brighter. I bite down the gasp at his splendor and fight the urge to melt into his arms.

"Gabriella? Are you ok?" he asks after a moment of my gawking. His eyes rest on my face, no doubt housing a mixture of pain and confusion. "What's wrong? Are you hurt?"

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