Chapter no 40

Once Upon a Broken Heart

Chaos was suddenly before her, taking her gloved hand in his and bringing it to where his lips would have been had he not worn the bronze helm.

Jacks might have tried to tug her away, but she was only half paying attention to him. She’d made the mistake of looking into Chaos’s eyes— although, as soon as she had done it, it didn’t feel like a mistake. How could eyes so magnificent be a mistake? They were bottle green and brilliant, with slivers of gold that made it look as if they’d been shot through with broken pieces of stars. Or he was a star, fallen to the earth, and if she made a wish, he could grant it with one—

“Evangeline,” Jacks growled. His cold fingers gripped her cheek and wrenched her back until her eyes met his. She wanted to return to the other, beautiful bottle-green eyes. But Jacks’s harsh gaze worked like an antidote to the vampire’s wonder, reminding her that looking into Chaos’s eyes would not lead to wishes come true but to shackles and cages and sharp teeth tearing into her skin.

Don’t do that again, Little Fox.

He dropped his hand from her face.

Evangeline felt her cheeks go red. It was just what he’d warned her about. Sometimes all it takes from a vampire is one look, and you’re theirs. The first vampire had been attractive in an expected way, but it was as if something extra poured off Chaos, something that hadn’t been there the other times they’d met. Even now she could feel it, tempting her to take another look, to forget the way that LaLa had called him a monster.

Chaos laughed, loud and easy. “You should have prepared her better, my friend. She seems particularly sensitive to allure. Or maybe she just likes me more than she likes you.”

“She hates me,” Jacks said pleasantly. “So even if she likes you more, that’s not saying very much.”

“Are you certain about that?” Chaos slid another gaze Evangeline’s way.

Fresh heat prickled her skin.

There were different types of vampire gazes. Evangeline was not yet familiar with them all. She couldn’t completely tell the difference between a hungry gaze and a seductive gaze, or the gaze of a vampire right before he gives chase. The gazes she’d felt so far just felt like heat, as if parts of her were too close to a fire. She could feel that burn coming off Chaos now as he offered her his arm.

“Don’t worry, princess, the only people who are put in those cages are ones who wish to be there.”

Evangeline still weighed her options. Earlier, it would have been appealing to take Chaos’s arm just to irritate Jacks. Now that choice wasn’t as inviting. But considering that they were there to acquire information from him, she wasn’t sure it was wise to dismiss his offer either. In fact, it probably wouldn’t have been wise to reject it even if they didn’t want something from Chaos.

Evangeline accepted his arm. Despite the layer of leather, he felt much warmer than Jacks.

Don’t get too cozy, Little Fox. Jacks’s expression was a mask of disinterest, but the voice in her head was distinctly irritated. There’s a reason why he wears the helm.

Why is that? Evangeline asked.

But Jacks didn’t answer her question.

After a moment, she cast a quick look up toward Chaos’s cruel helm. She caught a glimpse of flawless olive skin, but she didn’t dare look past his cheekbones, and even they were obscured by spikes jutting out of the headpiece. It couldn’t have been comfortable. The entire lower half of Chaos’s face was completely covered, including his mouth, which, now that

she thought about it, was peculiar for a being supposedly controlled by its lust for blood.

He turned his head, gaze scorching her as he caught her staring. Quickly, she tore her attention away.

“You don’t have to avoid my eyes.” His velvet voice moved to her ear, the warm metal of his helm intentionally brushing her temple. “The helm you were staring at is cursed, and it prevents me from biting anyone. You’re perfectly safe from me. Isn’t that right, Jacks?”

“He’s been trapped in that thing for centuries,” Jacks confirmed. But you will never be safe with him.

They traveled through another series of hostile halls before Chaos finally released Evangeline’s arm to open a heavy iron door with a mere tug of gloved fingers.

At a glance, the room they entered could have belonged to a scholar. There were bins of papyrus scrolls and shelves and tables laden with leather-bound books, pens, and parchments, all drenched in warm candlelight bright enough to read by. Even the air smelled of paper, mixed with redolent hints of mahogany.

It wasn’t until Evangeline went to take a seat in one of the chairs that she noticed all the thick shackles on the arms and legs, some of which had nasty barbs that would pierce a person’s skin when the manacle was put on. She went for another seat, but all the chairs contained the same ominous restraints.

“Really?” Jacks took one of the shackles and twirled it in his fingers as if it were a cheap piece of jewelry. “These are getting to be a bit much. You might want to reconsider how you entertain your guests if you have to chain them all up.”

“I’m surprised you’re so judgmental,” said Chaos. “I heard about what you did with that princess. What was her name— Diana?”

“I have no idea who you’re talking about,” Jacks said smoothly, though Evangeline noticed him tense just as he had when LaLa had said that Jacks had been obsessed with Princess Donatella.

Unfortunately, Evangeline didn’t get further answers. Chaos didn’t say more on the subject as he crossed over to a pair of burgundy curtains and

parted the drapes halfway. Not quite enough for Evangeline to see what they’d been concealing, although she heard chatter from the other side; it sounded like a number of people all trying not to talk too loudly as their voices echoed upward.

Giving into her curiosity, Evangeline moved closer to the parted curtains.

It seemed they were actually on a balcony overlooking a small amphitheater. The railing on the other side of the drapes was all marbled stone, as was the floor far below, where a gathering of vampires and humans stood on a massive black-and-white checkered board.

She hoped they were playing kissing chess. She couldn’t bring herself to imagine other more likely reasons as to why all the vampires were dressed in bloodred and the humans were clad in white, and standing on opposite sides of the board.

Many of the humans might have appeared attractive or strong under other circumstances, but in comparison to the row of vampires, they looked tired and worn. Their shoulders weren’t as straight and their hair was duller; their various shades of skin did not gleam like polished stone.

“I hope you all know,” Chaos called down, “I’ve come to think of many of you as my family, and I hope your fate turns out better than theirs did. Good luck.”

The amphitheater erupted in movement.

“What are they doing?” Evangeline’s hands clutched the marble rail as she watched the vampires cross the checkered floor in blurs of speed. Bloodred collided with white as each vampire found a human, and Evangeline could already tell none of them were going to be kissing.

“Isn’t this practice rather archaic?” Jacks asked. He’d dropped the chair’s fetter to join them at the balcony rail. But he appeared far from entertained by the scene below. If Evangeline hadn’t known better, she might have thought Jacks was concerned. He gripped the railing almost as tightly as she did while the vampires bared their fangs and bit into the necks of every human on the floor.

You'll Also Like