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Tarnished Embers: Chapter 38

EMBER

We spend the next couple of weeks basking in each other, spending time in our love nest, as Oct calls it, and talking about what we want to do in the future. The guys have all enrolled in online courses to bring them up to speed, and I love that they are each able to follow their own dreams and make their own decisions for what they want their future to look like.

I’ve contacted Mimi, and she’s going to resume my lessons and help me create a portfolio so I can get into Goldsmith’s and pursue my dream to study art.

Oct, Kit, Cas, and I are lounging on the comfy outside sofas on the patio, the weather having been warm all week now that we’re into summer, listening to the sounds of nature around us.

My heartbeat instantly picks up when I see Prince striding towards us from the house, his jaw tight and his brows drawn, and I sit up straighter, away from Cas’s side that I was snuggled into.

“What’s happened?” I ask, my voice soft and rasping, worry making the beautiful sunset pale.

“Nothing, yet, Sugar,” he assures me, coming to sit on the low table in front of me. Then he takes my hands in his, his grip warm and comforting. “But there is something we need to discuss.”

“O–okay.” I swallow past the lump in my throat, my hands trembling in his as I search his stunning green eyes. I watch as he takes a deep inhale, closing his eyes briefly, then opening them to fix his stare on me.

“We need to decide what we’re going to do about the men that hurt you.” His tone is firm with the barest hint of anger in it as he watches me, drinking in how I flinch slightly. “I know that I’m not alone in saying that they need to be punished, that I can’t let them walk away from this.” The others murmur their agreement, but I don’t look away from the man in front of me, a part of my soul that I never knew I was missing. “But the question is, do you still want to be involved too?”

“Prince,” Cas grits out, his hand coming to rest on my thigh.

“No, Cas. She has the right to dole out justice for what they did to her. More so than us,” Prince answers, his gaze never leaving mine. Warmth suffuses my body at his words, at the fact that he didn’t want me anywhere near the revenge that I desperately wanted to seek before, yet now he knows I need it too. I need closure to take back the control that was stolen from me.

My chest feels tight, and I’m not sure if it’s because of what he’s suggesting, or the fact that he’s offering me a chance to get revenge. A chance to make those bastards pay for what they did to me, how they hurt me and almost made me give up.

Do I have what it takes to hurt them back? Am I that kind of person? Or would those nightmares haunt me as much as the others still do?

Prince patiently waits while I think, never pushing me one way or another as I weigh up all the options and end up coming to the only conclusion.

“I want to take the power back, to make them feel as helpless as they made me,” I tell him, my voice solid and sure even if my body trembles.

“Then that’s exactly what will happen, Sugar,” he replies, squeezing my chilled hands in his. Then he leans forward, ghosting his lips over mine, his breath smelling of whiskey and all things Prince. “And we will help you every step of the way.”


The following week goes by in a rush of anticipation, but somehow it also seems to drag until I’m going out of my mind with the need to just do something. We went with our previous plan of inviting them to another supposed party at the old house, Oct using his tech genius to make it seem like another, more private party was being hosted.

The idea of burning that place to the ground with those men inside fills me with all the warm and fuzzies, which I’m sure should be worrying, but I can’t find it in me to care what is socially acceptable given that these men, apparently pillars of society, have never had to face their multitude of crimes.

Oct used his hacking skills to look into every one of them and the reading was stomach-churning.

First up we have Lord Alaric Blackthorn, a charming and influential aristocrat who hosts lavish parties in his grand estate. On the surface, his parties are all just fun for the rich and famous of the world, however, there is a darkness that rarely gets seen. It’s not just the copious amounts of drugs and alcohol that are on offer, guests can indulge in all of their darkest fantasies, and consent is not something that is required. Behind closed doors, Lord Blackthorn is also involved in dark occult practices, including human sacrifice, and trades in forbidden and stolen artefacts. His never-ending pursuit of power and pleasure comes at a high cost, as he’s willing to sacrifice anyone who stands in his way.

Then there’s Benedict Caldwell, a revered banker and philanthropist. Caldwell is the face of many charitable foundations, however, his wealth has been amassed through deceitful schemes, extortion, and trafficking. Beneath his gentlemanly demeanour lies a man who sees people as mere commodities, using them for his pleasure and then discarding them. He uses the charities to find his victims, preying on the most vulnerable of society and often helping source entertainment for Lord Blackthorn’s parties.

Next up is Judge William Sterling. Respected in legal circles and feared by criminals. Judge Sterling is known for his harsh verdicts and unwavering attention to justice being served, but by night, he runs an underground network of vice dens, indulging in his and his friend’s darkest desires. He has no morals, often using his connections in the criminal underworld to buy his victims.

Finally, we have Dr Benjamin Vale, a celebrated surgeon and academician. Dr Vale is hailed for his revolutionary medical research, but unknown to many, he conducts forbidden experiments on unwilling subjects in his private lab, and we can assume as he’s friends with the other three, his tastes run just as dark and depraved.

How Odette found such monsters is beyond me, but she chose well, and it’s no wonder they took to their role as my abusers with gusto. The one thing I’m certain of after we discovered all of their secrets is that these monsters deserve to die, and there is no doubt in my mind that my part in their deaths is doing society a favour.

I’m getting dressed on the night of what I’m calling the reckoning when Prince enters my room. Like me, he’s head to toe in black, though that’s not unusual attire for him. He looks devastating, like a dark angel seeking vengeance, and I pause in zipping my black leather boots just to admire him.

“How are you doing, Sugar?” he asks, stopping in front of me as I sit on the bed before going to his knees and taking over zipping my boot up.

I take a shaky inhale, not entirely sure what to say. “On the one hand, I’m terrified, shitting myself about what’s to happen tonight,” I confess, giving him my other foot when he demands it.

“And on the other hand?” he asks softly, zipping up the boot, then resting his fingers on my calf as he looks up at me.

“Excited?” I whisper, my cheeks flushing with the confession. “Which is all kinds of fucked up.”

He squeezes my leg, then still kneeling, he shuffles between my thighs, taking my face in his hands.

“It’s not fucked up, my love,” he tells me, his thumb stroking my cheek. “It’s perfectly normal to be excited about hurting those who hurt you. About finally standing up to them and showing them they were wrong.”

“Wrong?” My brows dip as the word sits between us, and I watch as his lips quirk up in a half smile.

“They were wrong that you were a victim and not the strongest woman they’ve ever met.” He places a light kiss against my lips before pulling back again to look at me. “Wrong that the only way they would ever get a scrap of attention from you was to take it, because you are a motherfucking queen and they are not fit to lick the ground that you walk on. Wrong that you were ever alone, that they would never have to face the wrath of not only the men who love you but wrong that you were incapable of making them pay.”

Tears fill my eyes, trailing down my cheeks in hot rivulets as he speaks, and he brushes each one aside.

“Wrong that they would ever see a sunrise that we didn’t allow them to, that you didn’t allow them to, Ember. Now let’s show them the error of their ways.” He leans in and fuses his lips to mine, kissing me with such passion that I can feel it scorching across all my nerve endings, lending me a fire that I’ll need to get through tonight.

All too soon he pulls away, giving me a devilish smile that leaves my core clenching. Standing up, he holds a hand out to me and I take it, sliding my palm into his warm one and letting him help me up.

Tonight I will get my revenge, and not just for me but for all the other countless victims that didn’t have the support of four beautiful, broken men at their backs. Tonight we will serve justice and then bask in its fiery glow.


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