The Queen of All that Lives Page 1

Chapter 1


I draw in a breath of air.


I draw in another. And another.

The air tastes good. Is that even possible? To taste air? Because in this moment I swear I can. I take deeper and deeper lungfuls. Light filters in through my closed lids, beckoning like an eager lover.

“She’s waking up!”

“I can see that, you wanker.”

“Harvey, you capturing all this?”

“Styx is getting the livestream as we speak.”

“Would you fuckers shut up? You’re going to scare her.”

My eyes flutter open. At first, I see nothing. The light is too bright. But then my eyes adjust, slowly. Color bleeds in and my surroundings began to take shape.

I stare up at a metal roof. My brows furrow. The king’s ceilings are either gilded molding or exposed wood. Not dented, rust-stained metal. And never so low.

That’s when I notice the rocking. My body shakes from side to side. I’m inside a vehicle, I realize.

What the hell is going on?

I brace my hands against the edge of the bed I lay in, my pulse climbing.

Nothing about this is right. People don’t wake up like this.

Where am I, and why can’t I remember how I got here?

“I can’t believe we did it.”

I startle at the voice. I have an audience—of course I do. Situations like this don’t just happen; people orchestrate them.

I begin to sit up.

“Whoa, whoa, my queen,” a man to my right says, placing a hand on my chest, “easy.”

I glance down at the hand touching my chest. I follow it back to its owner. A soldier in his late twenties stares back. He’s not the king, and these are not the king’s men. Which can only mean …

I got fucking abducted.


“Who are you?” I ask, my voice hard.

I’m going to have to hurt more people, kill more people. That’s the only way anyone’s going to learn that I make a terrible captive.

The man dips his head. “Jace Bridges, Your Majesty. Former infantryman in the king’s army. Current regional commander of the special ops unit, European division, of the First Free Men.”

All I got from that was that this man is dangerous. That’s helpful to know.

Five other men circle my bed. All soldiers by the looks of them, all equipped with weaponry, all standing between me and freedom. They stare a little too intensely, making me distinctly aware that for all my training, I am still just a woman lying in a bed in the back of some vehicle, surrounded by a bunch of men. There are too many of them and only one of me. I could easily be overpowered.

As my gaze sweeps over the soldiers, they dip their heads and murmur, “Your Majesty.”

And all of them show me reverence. This is a first. I’m used to being hated. I don’t know what to do with their respect.

One of them holds a camera, its lens trained on me. I frown, unsettled at the sight. If they’re here to liberate me, why do I feel like an animal on exhibit?

The First Free Men. I’ve never heard of the organization, but I hope to God the king has, otherwise I’m going this one alone.

The king.

“Where is Montes?” I demand.

The six of them share a look.

“He’s far away, Your Majesty,” Jace says. The way he says the words, it’s as though they’re meant to reassure me.

Where is he? And why can’t I remember?

“Is he dead?” I ask. And now I really have to control my voice. The thought of my brutal husband ceasing to exist is … unfathomable.

Another look passes between them in.

“No, Your Majesty.”

I release a shaky breath.


I can work with alive.

“Why did you take me?” My eyes pass over the soldiers again.

They look at me wondrously, like I hold the answers to all their problems.

I’m in a car full of eager men. Not good.

Jace leans forward, resting his forearms on his thighs. “How much do you remember?”

Remember? My blood chills. If this is another one of the king’s memory serums …

But that cannot be. I wouldn’t remember him, I wouldn’t remember myself—I wouldn’t remember anything before this moment.

And I do. Don’t I?

I eye the soldier warily. “Remember what?”

Jace sighs and rubs his face. “Does someone else want to take this on?”

“Shit no,” one of the other soldiers says.

My heart is still pounding like mad, but now it has more to do with confusion than adrenaline.

“Your Majesty—”

“Stop calling me that,” I interject. I hate the title, hate that the king made me what I am.

Jace inclines his head. “Mrs. Lazuli—”

Naturally, he chooses a name that’s even worse.

“Serenity,” I say.

“Serenity,” he repeats. “My men and I were given the task of finding the lost queen.”

I frown.

“We’ve been searching for you for decades.”

I stop breathing.

What in God’s name … ?

I look over them again just to memorize their faces.

These men have lost their minds. People don’t disappear for decades. I don’t disappear for decades.

I went to bed last night, right after … right after …

“We found you buried beneath one of the king’s palaces. He’s kept you there for close to half a century, as far as we can tell.”