Home > Flesh and Blood (House of Comarré #2)(11)

Flesh and Blood (House of Comarré #2)(11)
Author: Kristen Painter

Yes and no questions he could handle. And if he was locked in, he assumed Mal had done that because he’d gone out. Doc sat on his haunches and shook his head slowly.

‘No human form?’ She frowned. ‘Do you know where Mal is?’

Again he shook his head.

‘Great.’ She sighed. ‘Just when I think I can help him, too.’ She reached down to scratch his neck again. ‘Are you supposed to stay inside until you can shift back?’

This time he nodded, even though the thought of running through the docks suddenly seemed like a very good one. There were rats out there the size of small cars. Why was he supposed to stay in?

‘When Mal gets back, can you remember to tell him I was here? If he comes home soon, tell him I went to Seven to see Dominic. Maybe he can catch me there.’

Doc hissed.

She held up her hands. ‘Sorry, I know you and Dominic have a bad history. Just remember to tell Mal I was here and that … that … Oh rats, just tell him we need to talk.’ She gave him a little wave and shut the door.

Doc stared at the closed hatch and meowed. What had the human said about rats? His stomach reminded him that food was a good idea.

He took off toward the galley. Rats liked the galley. And really, what else mattered besides the hunt?

Chapter Four

‘I am deeply sorry about your brother, Nasir.’ Tatiana dug the tip of her tongue into one fang until tears came to her eyes. ‘So very sorry. I didn’t know him that well, but as any valued, upstanding member of the House of St. Germain, he will be missed by all of us.’

Nasir snorted and muttered something in Arabic. ‘Really? Missed by all of you? The line of St. Germain is hardly given much respect by the other houses.’

‘I have a great deal of respect for the abilities of your house.’ She pulled the glove off her metal hand and flexed her fingers. ‘What your brother did for me … ’ She swallowed as though overcome with emotion and hoped that revealing her imperfection would gain her some sympathy. Otherwise Nasir would be reunited with his brother sooner than expected. ‘I will be forever in his debt. Your brother was exceptionally talented.’

‘He was.’ Nasir nodded, all traces of umbrage gone from his face. ‘Your sympathies are greatly appreciated.’

‘As the Elder of the House of Tepes, it is the very least I can do.’ Tatiana smiled softly and took Nasir’s hand in hers. ‘The very least.’ Amazingly, she could actually feel the sensation of his fingers against her metal ones.

She studied the vampire across from her. Nasir was quite possibly more beautiful than his late brother. But could he match Zafir’s talents?

Nasir squeezed her hand tighter. ‘I still can’t believe he’s gone. Almost two hundred years we’ve been together.’ He swallowed and stared past her like he was remembering. ‘I keep imagining him in that fire, what it must have been like … ’

‘Now, now, you mustn’t torture yourself like that.’ Tatiana moved closer, letting her hand slide up his arm, discovering the delicious surprise that Nasir’s bulk came not from his clothing but from an abundance of muscle – at least twice what Zafir had carried on his much-leaner frame. A tickle of pleasure tightened the skin across her belly. ‘There was nothing anyone could have done. When I arrived, the fire had already engulfed the basement and first floor.’

Fortunately, Nasir had his own house. Unfortunately, it was in the same wretched neighborhood. ‘The fire wiped out everything. Did you share a laboratory with your brother?’

He shook his head. ‘No, I have my own. Zafir and I were very competitive in our work.’

Well, that was good news. ‘You must go on with yours. He would want that.’

Nasir pulled away slightly. ‘I don’t know that I can.’

She leaned in, allowing the neckline of her gown to fall open. ‘I have endured great loss in my life as well, but I have never let it stop me from achieving everything I put my mind to.’

‘How?’ Dark lashes fringed his eyelids. ‘How did you get past it?’

She hadn’t. Her hand reached his hard bicep and trailed across his chest to smooth the lapel of his mourning coat. Bloody hell, he was a rock of a man. ‘By surrounding myself with things that brought me pleasure. Losing myself in them. Reminding myself how good it felt to be happy.’ She tried to remember what innocence looked like, then fixed the memory on her face. ‘Perhaps you would let me help you?’

‘My lady—’

‘Please, call me Tatiana.’ Her breasts brushed his forearm. This was almost too easy. She tamped down the urge to giggle.

A flicker of understanding registered in his eyes. ‘When you say help, are you suggesting … I mean, I wouldn’t want to take advantage—’

‘I could use someone with your talents in my employ. Besides, you cannot take advantage of something freely offered.’ She flattened her hands on his chest, feeling his body stiffen under her touch. ‘Why should two creatures as beautiful as us be alone?’ She stuck her bottom lip out a fraction. ‘Or do you not find me beautiful?’

‘I find you very beautiful. My brother and I often remarked that not another noblewoman in Corvinestri could compare to you.’

‘Then kiss me,’ she whispered, giddy with the sound of puzzle pieces sliding into place.

He bent his head and did as she asked, filling her with great satisfaction that her charms were very much intact and that men’s defenses against women had evolved so little in so many years.

   
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