One Hundred and Thirty-Four…

One Hundred and Thirty-Four: Nefarious

Contains content that might piss off some readers…

“Think carefully. Shouldn’t a peaceful solution be the ultimate goal? No more crazed shifters. No more wars between sorcerers. No more danger.”

Nicholas cradled the skull in his palms.

Rez studied it. Temptation urged him to grab it.

But what about his precious daughter? His only daughter? Would he dare choose peace over Azura? He’d chosen Shadowvale’s security over her before, but it was difficult to live with such guilt. Could he go through that again?

“If you choose to take the skull in exchange for Azura, I promise you won’t regret it. I will not disappoint you. I will treat Azura as a princess.” He smiled. “Peace. Peace is what awaits you, Sir Haas.”

“Maybe so, but I don’t understand why you want my daughter so badly.” Reznik shook his head in bewilderment.

“I find her very attractive. She’s one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever encountered. I’d feel quite privileged to take her as my wife.”

“And you met her… how?” Rez asked.

“Let’s just say I admired her from afar.” He winked. “So what do you say? Shall it be peace or war? The decision is yours and the time is quickly ticking away.”

Gingerly, Reznik slid his hands beneath the enormous skull. His stomach felt heavy with grief, his mind deeply troubled.

He could not meet Azura’s eyes.

“Daddy? Please don’t do this. Don’t leave me here with these people!”

“Forgive me, sweetheart. I don’t know what else to do. I’m sick of fighting, and sick of wars. It needs to end.” He hesitated, looking down at the skull. “Enough is enough. It’s time for Shadowvale to be a peaceful community. The wars have gone on long enough.” His eyes remained on the glowing skull.

Maybe someday he’d be able to look his daughter in the eye again.

Time would tell.

“I will never forgive you for doing this. From this day forward you are no longer my father.”

She turned away and marched off.

Azura’s cruel, hurtful words rang out like bullets inside Reznik’s head.

This too shall pass…

He allowed the witch Esha to live. That new found peace would begin immediately. Reznik didn’t expect any more problems from her. She seemed as weary of all the fighting as everyone else.

On the journey back to Shadowvale, Reznik lifted the offending object.

Cody, this is your fault. You started all this lycan/leader of the pack/wolf clan nonsense.

Reznik shook his head, grimaced. If only you were still a child, I’d take a whip to your ass, and it still wouldn’t be enough of a punishment.

His hands flew apart.

The enchanted skull dropped to the water with a huge splash.

Wolves’ cries cut off like a switch. It became eerily quiet.

It was over. The plague of lycans ceased to exist.

Rez’s lips twisted to a slight smile. Relief flooded his body, yet couldn’t entirely mask his sadness over Azura.

A sinister image materialized just under the water’s surface.

Dinner, wine, and dessert sat lonely and abandoned upon the table.

Azura refused to eat or drink, instead pouting on the bed inside her designated room. Nicholas had it cleaned and the bed made up especially for her.

Her mind obsessed over Brent’s cruel rejection and trickery. Thoughts of his childish but beloved gift cut into her soul and heart. A vampire teddy bear, the one that replaced Pebbles.

What made it worse? His sincerity seemed so real. He put on an excellent act and she fell for every phony gesture, every fake word he uttered.

Maybe Ezra was right. Maybe she really was selfish. He’d said ‘The only thing you’ve ever cared about is living in the moment, and what feels good to you at the time. That’s it. That’s all you’ve ever wanted.’ 

And now she was being punished. She probably deserved it.

Double doors shot open. In strolled Millificent.

“What are you doing in your robe and in bed? Get up! Get dressed! It’s time for your wedding. Nicholas is getting impatient.”

“Why should I care? I don’t want to marry him. So just leave me the hell alone.”

Millificent stomped over to the bed. “Get up. I won’t ask you again.”

“Good. Then don’t.”

“Smart-mouthed little twit!” Millificent clutched Azura’s hand, wrenching it back and forth.

“If you don’t do as I say, I’ll flop your ass right off that bed! Get up this instant, you petulant child!”

“NO.”

She grabbed a fist-full of Azura’s hair and yanked her off the bed.

“OUCH!”

“I told you to get up! You brought this upon yourself, spoiled little girl!”

Azura’s feet hit the floor.

“LET ME GO YOU STUPID FUCKING BITCH!”

Millificent released her. Azura’s ass smacked against the floor and she flinched in pain.

Millificent headed for the wardrobe, flung open the doors.

She rummaged through each outfit until coming to a fancy dress.

Millificent pulled it out, folded it, and brought it to Azura.

“Here. Put this on and hurry up.” She dropped it to the floor.

“I don’t want to.” Tears emerged, which pissed her off more. She didn’t want Millificent the Bitch to get the satisfaction, so Azura blinked away those tears.

“Do it. Nicholas wants you ready within twenty minutes.” Her stern voice commanded Azura to comply.

It was useless to fight it any longer. Once Millificent left, Azura stood, unfolded the dress, dropped her robe, and slid on the purplish outfit.

Then lingered in front of the mirror.

I really don’t want to go through with this wedding. I don’t even know this dude!

She debated on running the hell away. But how would she sneak out without them seeing? The bedroom windows were too small.

Someone else sauntered into the room. Azura quickly looked around, wondering if Millificent the Bitch had returned to torment her again.

Her relief lasted about one second.

“I have to do your hair really quick,” the stranger said.

“Fine. Just hurry up and get this shit over with.”

Doors creaked open, out walked Azura. She didn’t even care how nice she looked. Just the thought of marrying a total stranger made her shake with trepidation.

Will he try to fuck me later? Will I have to put out? Oh god I hope not…

Azura stepped toward him. Closer, closer to Nicholas.

She got a little woozy. The room seemed to shift, as Nich’s form edged farther away.

Please don’t faint. Please.

He stared intently at her. She couldn’t look away from intense eyes of citrine. Her heart sped up like the beating of a dove’s wings.

She refused to admit his obvious good looks to herself. Wouldn’t do it.

“You look absolutely breath-taking, Azura. Beautiful.”

“You remind me of a porcelain doll… your skin is positively radiant; glowing.”

“Am I supposed to be grateful you said that? Because I’m not. I’m not flattered either.”

“Azura, try not to think of me as the enemy. I swore to your father I’d take care of you and your child. I will keep my word.”

“Yeah, well tell that to Millificent. She just pulled me out of bed by my hair. It kinda hurt, you know.”

“I apologize for her behavior.” He shot Millificent a harsh look. She quickly looked away. “I promise it won’t happen again. Millificent and I shall have a talk later.”

Azura shrugged. Either way, if she does it again I’ll shove my fist down her throat.

The priest read a few lines from a leather-bound book.

Nicholas slid the ring on Azura’s finger. She closed her eyes, hoping once she opened them the entire scenario would disappear like a dream.

No dream. No fair.

Reluctantly, Azura placed the glistening ring on Nich’s finger while avoiding his gaze.

Her own ring felt tight. Constricting. So did her throat. This wasn’t the time to panic, however.

She tried to think good thoughts. Emerald grass framing rushing azure rivers. Gorgeous horizons with air-brushed clouds, blended hues of fiery red, gold, orange… oh Jesus just take me outta here. Take me to a place without war, where I’d never be traded in for peace and betrayed, hurt by those I love. A safe place to raise my baby.

“And may eternal love bind you together. By God’s grace, that bond shall remain linked and your hearts united evermore. You are now husband and wife.”

Azura made a face. Then Nicholas’ hands glided to her cheek and neck as he leaned over to kiss her.

Attractive lips drew near. Her heart wanted to rip out of her chest, it was pumping so hard.

His mouth made contact. Softly.

Nausea invaded and she backed away. Bile rose in her throat. There was nothing she could do.

Azura doubled over, fell to her knees.

“Are you alright?” he asked. Vigorously she shook her head.

Here it comes…

A nasty stream of puke shot forward… right on Nich’s fancy slacks and shoes.

The fluid splashed and dribbled down, making a small puddle on the rug.

“Uh…” the priest said.

Nicholas looked none too happy.

“Oh… holy shit.” Azura gradually straightened. Her mouth gaped and she felt exhausted. The bitter, repulsive taste of vomit remained on her tongue. An urge to throw up would likely come back.

“Feel better, my dear?” he asked.

“No. I don’t feel any better.”

Apparently her mishap disgusted a few of the wedding guests.

Fuck ’em. If only Azura could’ve aimed for Millificent instead.

Later that night…

Nicholas stood in her bedroom as if waiting for something.

Uh-huh.

“I’m not gonna fuck you,” she said. “Leave me alone.”

“Who said anything about fucking?” Nicholas returned in his distinguished British dialect.

“Don’t bullshit me. I know what you want and I’m not doin’ it. But I DO need some new clothes. My stuff is getting too tight. I don’t know if it’s because the baby’s getting bigger, or it’s water weight gain.”

“Consider it done, my dear.”

“Stop calling me that.”

He disregarded her request. “Come here, my dear. I have something for you.”

“Is it a key to unlock the front doors?”

Nicholas chuckled. “I admire your sense of humor. Now come.”

Slowly, nervously, Azura approached him.

That anxiety wasn’t helping her nausea. “The only thing I want from you is to let me go.”

He grinned, shook his head no. “I want you too badly to let you go, my dear.”

She rolled her eyes. Whatever. At some point I’ll find a way to escape this hell hole. I promise. I’m not your fucking toy or pet.

“Turn around,” he said.

“What the hell for?”

“I have a necklace to give you. I trust that you’ll love it.”

Nicholas tugged the jewelry from his robe pocket.

That troublesome anxiety continued to tighten her stomach. His warm breath brushed her neck as he gathered her hair to the side, and draped the necklace around her neck. Nicholas fastened the sparkling token of his affection.

His hands rested on her shoulders and squeezed. She considered him out of the corner of her eye. Nervously.

Azura observed the shimmering pendant. She did not want to admit how lovely it was.

“Thanks. I guess.” That was all the appreciation she felt like muttering.

“I hope you like it. As for sex, I’m a very patient man. I will wait until you are ready, my dear.”

Well you’ll be waiting an awfully long time.

The Haas Residence…

Reznik dreamed bits and pieces about the events in Lunira.

He also dreamed about slicing Esha’s throat, in contrast to reality.

Something exploded. Rez’s eyes shot open.

Doors lay haphazardly across the floor. Lauren stood near the threshold, looking ready for a fight.

“You gave up our daughter in return for that skull! You didn’t even have the balls to mention it, I had to hear it from Vaclav. I’m her goddamn mother, you asshole!”

“They didn’t give me much choice, Lauren. It was either that or we’d continue being held hostage by monsters! Do you have a better solution? If so, I’d love to hear it!”

“So why not grow a pair and use your magic to fight? You could’ve easily killed Esha and Nicholas.”

“Yes. I could. And then more drama would perpetuate afterward. Like dominoes. You think Esha and Nich doesn’t have minions? Do you think those minions wouldn’t seek vengeance? You really think we’d be better off? Every fucking action has consequences! You of all people should know that.”

“And to tell you the truth, I’M FUCKING SICK OF FIGHTING!” Breathing hard, he glared at her. “And where the fuck were you when Azura needed you? I was always the one there for her. You got closer to Lucifer than to your own daughter.”

Lauren gaped. Then her lips closed and stiffened.

She flew right at him.

Pinned him to the floor. His backside slammed the carpet. Agony shot up his spine.

Stunned, Reznik had never seen Lauren so angry… nor violent. It was like a whole different person.

“You wanna know why I wasn’t as close to Azura? Huh? DO YOU?”

Rez didn’t speak.

“It’s because our daughter had the shitty luck of inheriting YOUR selfish traits, you sonofabitch! That’s why! All she wanted to do was to get laid, and couldn’t make up her mind which guy she wanted to keep. Now she’s pregnant! May God have mercy on her and her child!”

Reznik replied in a low, guilt-ridden tone. “So you think it’s all my fault? Is that it? As if I magically injected my personality into her, so she could be just like me?”

“Did you? I wouldn’t be surprised.”

“You actually believe I’d do something like that? I have powers but not anything like that. You sound crazy.”

“Fuck you, dickhead.” Her eyes blazed with rage.

A tempest of emotions swirled from within. Her accusations infuriated him, yet her sudden toughness and dominance attracted him. Also, she looked as adorable as ever. Just like the first time he ever met her.

The incredible stress over the last few months was enough to drive even the sanest person to a nearby bridge. Only for a second it would be nice to forget all that turmoil. And forget that he already had a lover.

Yes. Only, only for a second. One sweet delectable second…

Rez jerked her down and kissed her roughly on the lips.

Mmmm mmm… mmm.” He raised his leg, sliding it across Lauren’s hip. One hand lowered to her ass.

She didn’t protest at first.

Then she bolted upright and started punching Reznik. Several times.

“Dammit Lauren!”

“I hate you,” she muttered. “Hate you.” Fists kept flying at his face.

Wetness poured down to his lips.

“Get the hell off me, you crazy bitch!”

Reznik lunged, grasped Lauren’s arms and shoved her against the wall.

“Go straight to hell,” she cried struggling to move.

“Whatever. Are you finished being a psycho bitch yet?”

“Yes, asshole.”

Reznik set her free.

“You… stay the hell away from me. Just stay away!

She dashed from the room.

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