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The world as you know it is split into two Sectors, between Light - conservative, rigid, and unforgiving - and Dark - also known as a Free Sector where hard living, drugs, and rape are all too common. Tristan lives in a Dark Sector, takes a lot of drugs, and has hard/rough sex with a lot of women (but only one at a time!). Serene is studying Religion, a 'good' Light girl although she struggles with the rules and regulations that govern her life. These two meet when she sees Tristan 'asleep' under a canopy in the Church garden and is concerned about him. Due to a virus in his system, he is quickly obsessed by her but doesn't know why.
You don't learn too much about Tristan apart from what he shares with Serene or comments that are made. You do find out about Serene though, and the the fact she was beaten by her mother. This is okay though because she's in the Light Sector and this is acceptable! Eventually, there is a 'love' quadruple - Kamilla wants Tristan and Alex wants Serene. Tristan and Serene can't be together just yet but both thinks of the other.
I found the first half of this book to be rambling and disjointed. Others may like it but I don't like it when I am given a question or statement at the end of a chapter referring to what is about to happen. For example, "there was no way she could have prepared for what was about to happen." This just reminds me that I am reading and takes me out of the story.
The second half of the book is better - basically, once Tristan becomes a KROV. Then, I found my interest engaged and the book sped by. I still can't get my head around Serene and her actions but hey ho...
This was a good read with an interesting concept but with hard lines that some readers may have difficulty getting past.
I am a mum of three transplant from England, currently living in Germany. I started Archaeolibrarian in October 2013.
My three go-to genres are Fantasy, Paranormal, and Romance, but I will happily read anything if the description intrigues me 😊
I also write under the pen name of Morgan Sheppard.
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“Harder!” Kamilla challenged him as she held onto the heavy steel bed frame above her head. The sun was out now, and they had barely slept, but Tristan was never one to rush things.
Hovering over her, Tristan’s mid-length raven hair was doused in sweat, and his lean, muscular body was strained to continue. It was his fourth session with her that night and he was exhausted. Of all his lovers, Kamilla was the most demanding. He stopped for a moment to catch his breath.
“You really need to stop telling me what to do,” he warned through shallow breaths.
“I just need it harder.”
“I know what you need,” Tristan said, frustrated.
No matter how many times she begged him to use all his strength on her, Tristan knew Kamilla like the back of his hand. She yearned for the foreplay and the build-up that would cause the tension in her body to be wound up so tight, it had no choice but to snap into intense ripples of pleasure.
“I’m trying not to break the bed again. I just bought it.” He said, and then kissed her passionately.
Finally, when her frustration threatened tears, and her body surrendered to its fate, he gave in to her pleas. With every ounce of strength, he pounded into her, repeatedly, with a force that would have hurt the average human. Luckily, Kamilla wasn't human, she was incredibly powerful, but Tristan didn't know that. When he started dating Obsidian City girls a decade ago, their occasional use of inhuman strength used to alarm him, but now he'd grown used to it and jaded. For him, city girls were simply tough. Still, they needed to stop fucking up his furniture. Luckily, his new bedframe was made of steel and bolted to the floor. Just a few weeks ago, his interior decorator made everything in his bedroom unbreakable. He had learned his lesson and was tired of buying furniture.
Kamilla’s glistening body arched in pleasure and Tristan’s mouth met her breast. In ecstasy and unable to control her actions, Kamilla’s hands clasped the steel bedframe above her head, bending it to her will as if it were made of cheap aluminum.
Moments later Tristan laid next to her doing his best to regulate his breathing.
“I’m sorry,” Kamilla breathed, her eyes closed.
“For what exactly?”
She pointed above her head to the bent bars of the headboard.
Irritated, Tristan sat up and got out of bed. However, he jolted the moment his foot hit the floor. Curious as to the source of pain, he looked down and noticed black and blue marks on his abdomen. The effect of the illicit drugs had worn off, causing his head to pound and his body to reel in sudden pain. He tried to recall what had caused the bruises but couldn’t.
When he went into the bathroom to brush his teeth, Kamilla followed and wrapped her arms around him from behind. Kamilla was Asian, pale, and almost gothic-looking, wearing only a tight black corset and dark make-up. However, her style was quite tame compared to the type of girls he was used to.
“What happened last night?” he asked, his head still foggy.
“You don’t remember?” Kamilla released her embrace and sat on the sleek chaise inside his luxury-style bathroom. “God, you really have to go easy on the Dust.”
As he adjusted the temperature in the shower, Kamilla dressed and then laid back on the chaise to enjoy the view. He didn't even bother sliding the shower door closed.
Tristan was a confident man, and rightfully so. Although his body was a perfect specimen, it was his beautiful face and eyes that entranced most women. His face was chiseled, with a prominent angular jawline, and his eyes, though always tired looking, were a captivating light green. He was also tall, with tattoos and just a few piercings in all the right places. Kamilla knew Tristan well, having been his constant love interest and, recently, his business confidant. They used to be a couple, but now they were simply occasional lovers.
"So, I was leaving the club to go to my car when a group of guys grabbed me in the alleyway. I had a gun in my boot, but I was forced up against the wall. I screamed for help and then you showed up. I was so scared…"
Kamilla continued to explain her fake damsel in distress story. She didn’t need saving, especially not from a human, but she was aware that Tristan had a soft spot for meeker females, so, pretending to be weak helped her win his affection.
“You really need to be more careful,” he said, as he relished the hot water that helped soothe the painful bruises he now had as a result of that fight.
“I know,” she admitted with a sigh. “I just don’t know why these things keep happening to me.”
“Really, Kam?” he scolded sarcastically as he shut the water off and glared at her through dripping wet raven hair. “As if you’re that fucking clueless.”
She noticed his sudden change of character but simply gave him a blank stare. “You know exactly why these things keep happening to you. You intentionally get in those situations because you’re desperate for attention.” He grabbed a towel and began to dry himself.
Shocked and insulted, she spat back, “Are you serious? You think I do this on purpose? You think I try to get beaten, mugged, and nearly raped on purpose?”
Tristan ignored her, put on a pair of jeans and walked towards the living room.
“Don’t you dare walk away!” she called, running after him.
“I didn’t say you wanted to be raped.”
“No, but you’re insinuating it!”
“No, Kam, I wasn’t! You misunderstood. I’m insinuating that you’re not an idiot, so quit acting like one around me. Did you seriously think I wouldn’t notice that you just happen to be in danger every time I’m nearby? You knew exactly when I was leaving the club! This isn't the first time you've done something like this. I then save you and console you and we end up—”
“Oh, so now, not only am I being attacked on purpose, you think I'm manipulating you?”
Tristan rolled his eyes. “Cut the crap, Kam. Why can’t you just be honest with me? Why don’t you learn to talk to me instead of playing these—”
“I have!” Kamilla’s eyes watered. “I’ve tried talking to you! But you’ve been pushing me away. You’ve been pushing everyone away since your mother died. And every time I talk about something—about us, you find every excuse to…”
As she continued to ramble on about his lack of commitment to her, he sat on the couch to organize the drugs on his coffee table.
“So, this is what you’re going to do again, Trist?” she complained as he ignored her. “Get high again, go fuck another girl, and then call me all depressed again?”
“Kam, please. Don’t do this,” he pleaded as he held his aching head. “Not you. Why has it been the same argument with everyone lately? Seriously, why can’t everyone just leave me the fuck alone!”
Kamilla was shocked that after all these years Tristan still didn’t understand why the clan obsessed over him. Her kind required a certain caliber of man, one who wasn’t intimidated by their women's god-like strength, among other things, and could satisfy them both sexually and emotionally. It was easy to train a male human, and most teenage boys would not object to learning. Yet now at twenty-five, what set Tristan apart was his uncanny ability to be physically rough, demanding, and punishing in the bedroom, while never losing his protective and compassionate nature. She only wished he was still like that.
Ever since his parents’ death, Tristan had become bitter, angry and distant. Even though, as a trainee they allowed him to have various women at once, Tristan was admired for staying true to his cardinal rule—one girlfriend, one faithful relationship at a time. Yet, now, to fill the endless void in his life he’d begun to soothe his depression with meaningless sex and drugs.
Tristan lit a cigarette, and when he noticed she had finished arguing he patted the seat next to him. Kamilla stood with her arms crossed but eventually sat down.
“Look, I'm sorry," he said, holding a cigarette and looking at her tenderly. “I can't… give you what you want right now. If I could I—” He stopped, unable to hold her gaze.
“Let’s just try it again, Trist.” She placed a hand on his leg. “Hey, what do you have to lose? We are basically a couple now anyway. And listen, we don’t even have to be exclusive.”
“Kami,” he sighed. “It’s not about that. I’ve told you before if I wanted a girlfriend, I’d have one. You’re right, I've pushed everyone away and you’re… you're my best friend. I don’t want to jeopardize that by being a shitty boyfriend. I'm just not in a good place right now.”
And there, he had said it; She would always just be his best friend. Kamilla was filled with rage. He wasn’t just some charity case to her, and she wasn’t the fuzzy, cuddly, human-helping type. Everything she had done, she did with a single goal in mind—him! Kamilla had tried to be patient, but it had been months since his parents’ death, and this path of destruction he was on had to stop.
“Alright!” she cried, frustrated and disillusioned. “You know what? Fuck this, Trist! I’m leaving!” She stood up.
“Come on, Kam. You admit that other girls are crazy when they try to force this on me!”
“I am not other girls!” She hated being compared to other females. “I’ve been by your side for years. When you were nothing! When you were a teenager in and out of juvie. Who would bail you out? Me. Who helped you build your businesses? Me! If it wasn’t for me, you would have rotted in jail or overdosed on—”
“You know damn well everything I did was to help mom! Plus, you act like I haven’t done anything for you.” His eyes narrowed. “Last night? This morning? It was all about you. What else do you want from me? You want me to commit to you because you run my business? Because you did me favors? That’s not how it works, Kam. I’ve never once asked you to do any of it!”
“Oh you’re right." Kamilla paced with her arms crossed. "You're absolutely right Trist. I don’t have to do anything for you! And it doesn’t even matter because you’re just going to end up a broke, homeless drug addict on the streets once you go through all of your father's money and your nightclubs go to shit! You know what? Stay here wallowing in self-pity until you die. Don’t call me or talk to me ever again!”
“Kam!” He tried to get her attention, but she had grabbed her purse and was already on her way out.
“No. I’m done! I’m worth more than this.”
After she left, he stayed seated, annoyed and alone. He knew she was right, and he knew she deserved better; It was one of the reasons he wouldn't date her again. Kamilla was an amazing woman, and at the moment he was in no position to be the boyfriend she deserved. The truth was, he just wanted to be alone in his darkness, but the women he knew were high maintenance.
He looked at the closed door and wondered if she honestly intended to stay out of his life for good. Which wasn’t what he wanted. He just needed… space.
A few days later, as was his usual evening routine, Tristan went for a walk through the dirty streets of Obsidian City. These walks reminded him of his most recent ex-girlfriend, Sophia. She had a small white Pomeranian, so they would take long walks together. He had hired her as his interior decorator when he bought his upscale city condominium. From the moment they met, he was drawn to her, and when she was done with the renovations, he asked her out. She was a simple but elegant girl, which was a deep contrast to him and most of his exes. There was something very different about Sophia, a vulnerability, and Tristan had never been more attracted to a woman before.
Unfortunately, Sophia mysteriously disappeared from his life. And in the two weeks they dated, they never slept together. His friends never understood why he'd become so obsessed with her. Everyone took one look at him, and they assumed he wanted the wild, darker-type girl, and for reasons he didn’t yet understand, that was the only kind of girl that ended up in his bed. He believed it was probably because of his work environment. He excelled at partying and organizing musical events, and he turned it into a career.
After his father died, he inherited a decent amount of money and he used part of it to build a few successful ultramodern event venues, bars, and industrial rock clubs.
His phone rang.
“Hey Mack, what’s up?”
“We need a few shipments. Our inventory is running low. I’d order them, but we need someone to sign off on payment.”
“Okay? Call Kami,” Tristan coldly instructed.
“We did. I’ve been calling her but she won’t answer. She hasn’t been here in over a week.”
“Goddamnit,” he whispered. “All right, I’ll be right over.”
Tristan knew Kamilla was still mad at him. However, she had a stake in these businesses, and it wasn’t like her to ignore her job over a personal argument. Clearly, she was doing this to spite him.
As Tristan made his way back to retrieve his car, he passed by a white Gothic-revival style church. It was a magnificent structure linked to many buildings and it took up the whole block. Unlike the dirty, advanced and corrupted surroundings of Obsidian City, the church block was like a rose in the rubble. Its manicured gardens were safely protected by tall, shiny bronze gates.
Obsidian City was a free sector, otherwise known as a ‘Dark sector’ to outsiders. Dark sectors were cold, dirty and driven by its focus on technological advancements. Light sectors by contrast had strict religious laws and were bright, clean, and full of colorful vegetation. This church was a protected Light sector sanctuary within the city, which is why it looked so out of place.
Tristan heard singing coming from the main cathedral and it reminded him of his mother, Marivel. She died in a car accident on the way to this church. Had he listened to her pleas to come, perhaps she’d still be alive.
Marivel was a single mom who worked hard to put food on the table. His estranged father never helped her financially and it was torture for young Tristan to watch her struggle. He did everything a teenager could do to help, but his wages were never enough. Eventually he resorted to a life of crime. Tristan could still see her tearful face of disappointment when she learned the truth about the money. The guilt still consumed him.
In a cruel twist of fate, only months after inheriting his father’s wealth, she died. This beautiful church was a painful reminder of his loss.
Tristan climbed out of his black Tesla roadster as he studied the line outside of his club. Cyberpunks, cybergoths and others who wore dreadful masks were waiting impatiently to enter. He looked up and noticed that the bright yellow hologram signage advertising his club was flickering. He made a mental note to get it fixed.
When Tristan approached the entrance, the very buff bouncer straightened up and adjusted his tie. Tristan always dressed down, usually in black T-shirt and jeans, but his employees always feared and respected him. He was a fair but uncompromising boss. Those who mistook his kindness for weakness were sent packing.
“Good evening, Mr. Leonhart,” the bouncer said, unable to lock his gaze.
“Rez,” Tristan said, greeting him.
The bouncer opened the throbbing doors and Tristan was greeted with loud industrial metal music. It was obvious by the crowd that the 800-guest capacity had been reached. The fluorescent painted faces and bodies created waves of color that could rival a Tom Bacher painting. Women holding drink trays, while dressed in skimpy outfits with black bunny masks, greeted him with a smile. The renovation was complete, ultramodern and highly expensive. Glowing colors illuminated the ceiling and walls; even the two bars were lit. Sexy women danced on raised platforms, most of whom instantly noticed his presence. As he made his rounds to the back, a girl grabbed his hand.
“Hey, Trist! It’s so good to see you again!” she said with a high-pitched voice. She was pale, with medium-length blonde hair, dark make-up, and a skimpy pink and black cyberpunk outfit. She looked like a corrupt futuristic version of Marilyn Monroe, sexy with a full figure. She threw herself at him with a kiss before he could object. He knew her, of course.
“I’m… sorry, Lea. I’m busy right now,” he said tenderly.
She pouted. “Promise you’ll come say bye to me before you leave? Pretty please?”
Slightly annoyed, he muttered, “Sure honey.” Sporting an overdone smile, she skipped away.
Even though his list was long, Tristan wasn’t a player; at least, he didn’t think so. He simply didn’t want to be attached to anyone at the moment. Yet, his female friends were drawn to him. He felt bad that he couldn’t offer himself exclusively to one person, so he’d cater to his girls with affection, clothing, money, and in Kamilla’s case, special privileges. He also had to be careful how much he led certain girls on. Even before the money, a few girls had gone from obsessed to downright crazy.
After over an hour discussing business with Mack inside the club’s office, Tristan came out and was surprised to see Lea still waiting for him. He was slightly annoyed since he just wanted to see and settle things with Kamilla.
“Hey, Trist!” Lea said, as she jumped up to hug him.
“I’m so sorry, Lea, I’m just busy tonight,” he said, walking past her, but she grabbed his hand and walked alongside him.
“I can see that. You look like something’s got you down,” she gave him a cartoonish frown. “Anything I can do to help?”
Lea was special to him. Her voice and her spunkiness always made him smile. She was a sharp contrast to Kamilla who was extremely intelligent, while Lea was just… sweet. Still, she was a girl, and a bisexual, so maybe she could help him figure out how to get Kamilla back on his good side. As they walked outside, Lea held onto his arm proudly, to make other girls understand he was hers for the time being.
As they approached his car, he noticed Lea’s excitement, but this wasn’t a trip to his house for some play. He simply needed a woman’s advice. When they got in his car and sat down, he rubbed his forehead.
“Okay, sexy, what’s up?” Lea said, “I know something is wrong. You're not—”
“No, I’m fine. I promise,” Tristan assured her.
Lea pressed her lips together. He had attempted to end his life more than once recently, and if it weren’t for her and Kamilla, this last attempt would have been a sure thing. Lea was aware that Tristan’s mother had been the only other human in his life, and when he wanted to end his life, he had mentioned feeling alone, and disconnected. Lea wanted to tell him the truth, that his feelings had merit. That everyone he knew personally was a Krov. That he was alone, isolated in his humanity. But, it was forbidden to disclose that kind of information to a trainee without the group’s permission.
“It’s just Kami, she’s being impossible,” Tristan continued.
Lea rolled her eyes.
“What?” Tristan asked, examining her face for clues.
“Nothing. I just don’t like her.” She scrunched her face.
“Okay, seriously. Why does everyone hate Kamilla?”
“She’s just… not who she is around you.”
“How so?” It wasn't the first time he'd heard women express this double life Kamilla seemed to have. He shrugged it off, knowing that Kamilla was a businesswoman who had a thriving career. She had to be tough in public, but she had a gentle side, sometimes.
Tristan saw Lea contemplate telling him something, but she bit her bottom lip instead.
“Nothing. So, what’s the problem Trist?”
"She wants to be exclusive again. You know I haven't been myself lately. I know mom died two months ago. I should be over this by now but... I just don't want to drag Kamilla into problems that I need to solve myself."
"Have you... been sleeping with her?"
"You know she's not exactly the easiest person to say no to. Last night I found her getting assaulted just outside the club. I brought her home, she was crying and begging me to let her stay. One thing led to another…"
"How many times?"
Tristan sighed. "I don't know. Like... four? Maybe five times."
“Tristan! You can’t just be friends with a girl, have mind-blowing sex all the time, be the way you are, spend so much time together, and then expect her not to want more.”
“So, what am I supposed to do? Blow her off entirely? You know how bad her temper can get.”
“No. Do the opposite." Tristan narrowed his eyes. “Look, you can push a girl away, but you have to be nice to her. Buy her something; tell her how much she means to you. Don’t mention the word 'friends', some women hate that. She obviously wants to be more than that, but if I were you, I’d leave the sex out of it for a bit. Focus on your friendship.”
He lifted an eyebrow suggestively and repeated, “Leave the sex out of it, eh?”
She pushed her head back on the headrest and did her best to look irresistibly cute.
“Well, for her. I’m just satisfied with every little ounce of you I can get.”
He smiled, knowing that’s what they all say at first. She leaned over to kiss him, and he initially accepted getting lost in the moment, but after a few seconds, he pulled away.
“I’m sorry, sweetie. Not today,” he whispered. “But God do you look amazing tonight.”
“See, just like that,” she sighed in disappointment. “You turned me down gently, unfortunately.” She got out of his car and leaned into the opened window. “But it won’t work forever! See you later, Trist.”
“You’re the best, Lea!” he called out as she walked away.
Published on August 15, 2020
Contains explicit content ⚠️
Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆
Genre: Action & Adventure