“Come into the light, Kaden Regan.” Her words more of a command
then a request. A low growl preceded the scowling young man that walked from
the shadows, eyes never leaving the goddess’s face. Aveta gave him a small
smile when he stopped a foot from father’s body. They stared at
each other, one slightly amused and the other wary but defiant.
“You certainly look like Taylor.” Aveta mused as she studied
him. While the man stood taller and more muscular then his sister,
they looked the same. “Except your hair,” she muttered. Where Taylor’s was
midnight black with swaths of silver framing her face, Kaden’s was silver with
swaths of black. She could see the range of emotions as they swirled in his
dark eyes. Anger. Fear. Confusion. This boy… no, this man had seen and
done things that would haunt him forever.
“Who the fuck are you?” Jaden rasped, body
shaking, hands fisted at his sides.
“I am the Goddess Aveta,” Aveta drew herself up,
straightening her spine and seeming to grow a few inches. “I helped bring you
and Taylor into this world. I protected your sister from…” she glanced down
to the body at Kaden’s feet. Kaden’s eyes followed hers and one corner of his
mouth curled up into grimace at the sight of William’s body. It smaller than when the man had lived.
“And me?” He bit out before looking up, angry
gaze locking with hers. “Who was supposed to protect me?” Jaden took a half step
closer to Aveta, almost touching the body at their feet. “Who decide I wasn’t
worthy of being protected like my sister?”
“William wanted a son, he wanted you.” she answered. ” I knew
you would live…”
“Live?” Jaden ground out. “Do you even understand what my
life’s been like? What growing up with that… that… piece a shit of a
father was like?”
“But you did live!” Aveta pressed home her point. Jaden
stepped over the corpse, closing the last foot between them. Aveta, tall in
her goddess form, still had to tilt her head back to meet Jaden’s gaze.
“No, not living,” Jaden sneered angrily, “I was just surviving.”
Drawing in a deep breath, Jaden closed his eyes, working to regain some control over his emotions. Eyes still closed he continued. “Do you understand what my life was like with him?” He opened his eyes , anger still there but now they also held a haunted expression. He didn’t wait for the Goddess’s response before continuing.
“I don’t remember very much of him before my thirteenth birthday,
just lots of different women working to care for me. They never lasted longer
than a year or so. Now I realize he’d kidnapped young women with any
kind of magic in their blood. They were permitted to care for me while he drained
their magic…” Aveta touched Jaden’s arm, stopping him .
“You don’t need to tell me, Kaden, I know full well what your father
did to you.”
A snort escaped him. “You knew he was grooming me to do the same
thing? That he compelled me to fuck countless women from the time I turned
thirteen? You understood those…” his voice cracked. “Girls… women…
died each time I fucked them to steal their magic?” He paused and glared into her
eyes. “You knew all of this but decided to only protect my…” With a
snarl he stepped to the side, breaking Aveta’s grip on his forearm. Jaden’s eyes
moved to the couple on the floor. “Was I so worthless you couldn’t…?”
“No!” Now it was Aveta’s turn to be angry. “I… we never thought of you as worthless, Jaden.” She reached out to him. “As much as I disliked leaving
you with him as a babe, I had to. You have your own destiny to fulfill. What
you have endured made you stronger…”
Jaden threw back his head and laughed contemptuously. “Made
me stronger?” The laughter ended abruptly. “What it made me is just like my
father! It made me a murderer.” Turning away, he scanned the floor.
“Kaden, no,” Aveta insisted. “You didn’t kill those girls, your father
did! William wanted you to believe you had, but each one of those countless
deaths came at his hands!” Jaden ignored her comments, spotting the object he’d
been looking for. Bending, he picked up William’s withered heart and clenched
his fist around it. He watched, mesmerized, as thick black blood oozed from
between his fingers and dripped slowly to the floor.