Home > Blood Rights (House of Comarré #1)

Blood Rights (House of Comarré #1)
Author: Kristen Painter

Prologue

Corvinestri, Romania, 2067

The servant trembled in front of the grand fireplace that had never been lit and never would be. ‘The girl … the girl is, well, it seems … that is, we cannot … ’ He bit at his lip.

The gilded mantel clock ticked toward sunrise. Tatiana yawned and rolled her hand through the air. ‘Go on.’

His hands twisted, fingers knotting. ‘We cannot find the comarré, my lady.’

Tatiana’s veins iced and she stilled at the mention of the female blood whore. ‘What do you mean, you cannot find her?’

‘We’ve searched Lord Algernon’s manor, and she isn’t there.’

Tatiana and Lord Ivan had discovered Algernon’s body just that evening, a rather unusual occurrence in a vampire death. Ashes yes, bodies no. ‘How long do you suppose he’s been dead? Not more than a few hours, surely.’

His hands fisted at his sides. ‘We believe two days, perhaps three. We think it happened just after the Century Ball, my lady. Perhaps that night or the next morning. We have no way of knowing exactly.’

A spark of pain lit her palms. She glanced down at the tiny crescents of blood left by her nails, watched them vanish as she forced herself to relax against the velvet upholstered chair. Algernon’s death meant the Elder position could be hers, but proving herself worthy of that title would require this chit to be brought to justice. The girl would be found. Even with a three-day lead, how far could she travel alone and unprotected? She was a simple comarré, bred for her blood and her social skills, little more than the vampire’s equivalent of a geisha. The girl knew nothing of the kine world, just as humans knew nothing of this one. The girl would be simple to find among the kine. Like a sparkling gem in a mud puddle.

‘Search again. Search the grounds as well.’

‘Yes, my lady.’

‘Now. Begone.’ Tatiana leaned her head into her hand. With Algernon’s death, the council would have little choice but to appoint her Elder. Her reign would be a very different one from that old fool’s. She would start with bringing that thin-witted girl before the council. By making an example of her to the other comarré. A dark joy lifted Tatiana’s thoughts. When she was appointed Elder, Algernon’s manor would be hers. Along with all his property in it. Not that she cared for any of his baubles and treasures but one, the one she and Lord Ivan had come to fetch when they’d found Algernon’s body.

At last, the pieces were knitting together. All her work, her meticulous attention to detail, her endless studying of the prophecies, her personal sacrifices … finally, she would wear the mantle of power she’d been stitching these many years.

The taint of her past, the human years spent in poverty and squalor, those wounds could only be salved by the protection of great power. The ghosts of those who had used her, treated her like rubbish, those ghosts still haunted her, as spectral as the lost loves of her human life. Power could exorcise them, once and for all. She had to believe that. Or go madder still. Her fingers drifted to the locket around her neck.

The scent of kine had not dissipated. She looked up at the servant, dropping her hand from the locket. ‘Why are you still here?’

He shifted from one foot to the other. His head stayed bowed. ‘There is one other thing, my lady.’

Tatiana sighed out the end of her patience. ‘What?’

‘She appears to have taken a few of Lord Algernon’s possessions.’

Her nails drummed the chair’s carved arm, wounding the old wood. ‘Such as?’

‘As best we can tell, some jewels, gold coins—’

‘Insignificant. Now go, search again.’ Finally, she could join Mikkel in bed, where he undoubtedly already chilled the sheets for her. Of all the paramours she’d had since her turning, he’d lasted the longest. Perhaps it was his youthful exuberance.

The minion stayed put. Fear wafted off him in delicious waves. Her stomach growled, causing him to jump.

‘What else?’ Bothersome mortal. Kine really were good for one thing and one thing only.

The servant shivered. ‘The ring you asked me to look for? It was not on Algernon’s person or anywhere else in the house. I believe that the girl has taken it.’

Bloody hell. The ring of sorrows, gone. Wood splintered beneath Tatiana’s grip. That old dolt must have shown the girl the ring. Probably bragged about it. Algernon deserved to have his head removed from his neck. Unfortunately, the girl had beaten Tatiana to it. She forced the tip of her tongue against the razor point of one fang until blood coated her mouth. With pain came clarity. ‘How many searched with you?’

‘Twelve.’

She tested him. ‘And they also know the ring is missing?’

‘No, my lady.’ Concern lined his forehead. ‘I told no one else, just as you instructed me.’

She smiled. ‘You did well.’

He relaxed and tentatively returned her smile. ‘Thank you, my lady.’

In one lightning-quick move, she was beside him, her fingers threaded through his black curls. She snapped his head back, exposing his throat. His pulse fluttered like a wounded sparrow, his heart pounded wildly. Deliciously.

‘My lady?’ He paled beneath skin that showed an arrogant hint of tan. Did he think his ability to face daylight something to flaunt before her?

The tremor in his voice stroked pleasure over her skin. The clock chimed 6 a.m. Nearly sunrise, but she had work to do. Loose ends to tie up. A lifetime of planning to protect. The Nothos must be sent after the girl immediately. The unnatural creatures enjoyed a good hunt now and then, especially when put to the task by their vampire half-brethren. ‘You’re positive no one else knows the ring is missing?’

   
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