Born of SilenceBy: Sherrilyn Kenyon
The League_ Nemisis Rising 06
“You have got to be the biggest manwhore in the entire universe. What are you trying to do? Tie Caillen for the record on how many people you can sleep with in a single month? And just so you know, his is twenty-two.”
Maris Sulle, Darling’s oldest and dearest friend, laughed at his dry tone. “You’re only jealous you didn’t get the waiter’s digies.”
Leaning back in his ornately padded chair, Darling snorted in response. He swirled the wine in his crystal glass while they finished eating lunch in one of the most exclusive restaurants in Perona—the capital city of the southern part of the Caronese Empire where Darling’s family had ruthlessly ruled for more than three thousand years.
After the brutal suck-ass morning he’d already had, he really wanted something much stronger than this weak shit to drink, but his public persona kept him from ordering the hard liquor he craved.
He could only drink that whenever he was alone. Even then, he had to be careful no one found out lest they discover who and what he really was.
“I thought you were still involved with…” Darling paused as he mentally sorted through the lengthy roll of men his best friend had been with over the last year. “I can’t even remember his name now.”
Darling shook his head as he finally recalled the last boyfriend’s name, and it wasn’t Gregor. He’d fear senility had already set in, but it was more he had a lot of other things on his mind. Besides, no one could keep up with Maris’s ever revolving list of boy toys. “I’m behind apparently. The last one I remember was named Destin.”
“Drustan,” Maris corrected. “And yes, you are. You really should try to keep up. That was a good two months ago, and I’ve had three since then.” He looked down at the number on his mobile and smiled as he stored it. “Soon to be four.”
“Does Gregor know he’s being replaced?”
“Oh don’t get me started on that repulsive ape. I caught him in flagrante delicto with his personal secretary. His secretary… really? If you’re going to be such a slut, the least you could do is not be a common, clichéd one. Right?”
Darling laughed, then took a deep drink of wine before he spoke again. “I’ll keep that in mind for future reference. The last thing I’d ever want to be accused of is being a clichéd slut.”
“Oh please. You’re such a monk. I’m not even sure you’ve lost your virginity.” With a deep, horrified expression, Maris looked up from his mobile and slapped his hand over his mouth as he realized what he’d said and the land mine of pain he’d unintentionally exploded all over Darling. “I’m so incredibly sorry, Dar. That was so insensitive of me. I didn’t mean it. Gah, I can’t believe I said that to you, of all people. I wasn’t thinking, sweetie. You know I would never, ever hurt you. Not for anything… You can punch me if it’ll make you feel better.” He clenched his eyes shut and tensed, waiting to be hit.
It took Darling several more seconds before he could club the monster from his past back into the closet, slam the door on it, and then speak over the surge of barbed emotions that gutted him.
“It’s all right, Mari,” he said finally, his voice deceptively calm as he stroked the crystal decanter on the table. “I know you didn’t mean anything by it.”
Still, that didn’t stop it from cutting all the way to the marrow of his bones.
Darling set the glass on the table and wished he could rip some of his memories straight out of his brain. Most pathetic part? As horrifying as that had been, it wasn’t at the top of the list of things he’d kill to forget.
Opening his eyes, Maris reached out and covered Darling’s hand with his own. “You’re the strongest person I’ve ever known. You know that, right?”
Strange, he didn’t feel that way. Most days he felt even more battered inside than he was outside. And here lately those feelings of rage and resentment, of unrelenting hatred and vengeance, were forcing him into a place of darkness he wasn’t sure he could come back from.
Before Darling could stop himself, he pulled away from Maris’s touch and brushed his hand over the latest bruise on his cheek. Luckily the long hair he wore covering the left side of his face concealed it and the deep, rancid scar no amount of plastic surgery could get rid of.
Another pugnacious memory he could do without, and a perpetual reminder that he really was in this world alone. Friends were friends, but at the end of the day, they all went home. Not even Maris could be with him 24/7. And though he might have tiny slices of freedom for a while, sooner or later, Arturo got nervous and had him hauled back to hell.
His mobile alarm chimed.
That’s what you get for thinking about the bastard. Nothing like summoning the dybbuk up from his stygian hole.
Maris scowled. “What’s that for?”
Darling cut the alarm off, then slid his mobile back into his pocket. “My uncle’s activated my chip.” A lovely nano tracking device that was so microscopic it couldn’t be located, removed, or jammed. But the one thing Arturo hadn’t counted on was Darling’s ingenuity in writing a program that would intercept his uncle’s access to the chip. “I set the alarm to notify me whenever he sends his goons out to drag me home.” A constant in his life that always firebombed his temper.