Home > Flesh and Blood (House of Comarré #2)(16)

Flesh and Blood (House of Comarré #2)(16)
Author: Kristen Painter

Mortalis rested one six-fingered hand on his stomach. ‘Feeding me like a king.’

‘Well, you still have the waistline of a prince.’ She suppressed the urge to chuckle. Laughing at a creature better armed than you was never a good idea. The twin hilts of a matched set of fae thinblades rose above his shoulders, but the weapons she couldn’t see beneath his dark green leathers definitely outnumbered her hidden ones. ‘I’m happy for the two of you. You should come over to the house sometime. Velimai would probably like some fae company.’

‘I’ll talk to Nyssa.’ He dropped his arm back to his side, the barbs along his forearm still flat to his skin. ‘You’re here to see Dominic?’ His voice held a hint of surprise.

‘Yes. I need to talk to him about my mother.’ They rounded a corner. The floor sloped downward, taking them into the underground levels of the building. ‘If anyone would have answers about her, it would be him.’

Mortalis nodded. ‘Yes. I’m not sure he’s here, however. Since your mother’s death, he’s been scarce around the club.’

‘His private quarters are here, aren’t they?’

‘Yes.’ There was hesitation in Mortalis’s voice and a frown on his face.

‘But? I’m practically his stepdaughter. Whatever it is, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind you telling me.’ Stepdaughter? Had she really claimed that?

The fae sighed. ‘He keeps a penthouse on Venetian Island.’

‘I didn’t know that.’ But of course Mortalis would. He was Dominic’s personal bodyguard.

‘No one does, which is why I’m still here – to create the illusion that Dominic is as well.’ Mortalis glanced at her. ‘I trust you’ll keep that information to yourself. I’d hate to have to kill you.’

‘And I you.’

Mortalis grinned and a rush of crowd noise greeted them as they started down a flight of stairs. Dominic’s office overlooked the Pits. They must be close. She never wanted to see that place again if she could help it. She’d killed her first fringe there in self-defense, and the act had happened with an ease that had both startled and amazed her. ‘Busy night?’

He rolled his stormy sea eyes. ‘Some special secret fight Katsumi arranged. Invite only, high rollers. She’s got Ronan tied up in it, too.’

‘Good. I don’t really want to see him again. What’s he doing for her?’

He held his hands up, fingers splayed. ‘I don’t know and I don’t care. Dominic put her in charge while he’s away, so any mess she makes is hers to clean up.’

‘You don’t like her much.’

He snorted. ‘She’s too ambitious. Among other things.’

‘I know all about that.’ She rolled her eyes. Another Tatiana in the making. Chrysabelle trailed her fingers along the concrete. Special luminescent paint gave the walls a soft glow. ‘What does Dominic see in her?’

‘Not as much as she thinks.’ Mortalis shrugged, his hidden weapons giving off a sound like a pocketful of change being rattled. ‘But she does get things done.’

He stopped before a door, little more than an outline in the concrete. It swung inward at the push of his hand. Down another short hall, then through a second door that Mortalis unlocked with a key he tucked back into his leathers, and they were inside Dominic’s office.

Mortalis turned on a few lights. Electric, of course. Dominic could afford just about anything he wanted.

The fae turned to go, then stopped. ‘You need anything? Nyssa says I should work on my hospitality skills.’

‘No, I’m fine.’ Chrysabelle adjusted her sacres before settling into one of the burgundy silk armchairs across from Dominic’s massive antique Renaissance-style desk. His office was a tribute to all things excessive. Marble, gilding, silk, antiques. Any human seeing this room would immediately believe every vampire myth Hollywood had ever perpetuated.

‘I’ll be back as soon as I find him. If he’s here. If not … I’ll be back sooner.’

He left, and she lolled her head back against the chair, closed her eyes, and listened to the braying crowds down in the Pits. Something had them wild. Behind her, a set of gilded French doors led to a balcony that overlooked the arena. Not that she had any desire to see what was going on down there. A mix of anger and sympathy washed through her just remembering what Mal had told her about having to fight there to earn the means to survive. As if he hadn’t survived enough in his life already.

And because of her, he had to survive a little longer.

She was a terrible person for not talking to him. She’d promised to help him, then gone silent. He’d had enough betrayal and false promises from Tatiana, he didn’t need them from her, too. She would go to him, explain, make him listen by force if need be. She had to let him know that she had every intention of helping him – especially now that she thought she’d figured out how to get to the Aurelian. There were parts of Mal she really liked. She wanted to at least be able to call him a friend. She almost laughed. A vampire for a friend. That was a step in putting her comarré life behind her.

The noise level surged. Someone was winning. Which meant someone was dying.

‘What are you doing in here?’

Chrysabelle’s eyes snapped open as her head came up and her hands went to her wrist blades. She’d been so consumed in thought she hadn’t heard the door open. Katsumi stood on the other side of the office near a second entrance.

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