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

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

‘A woman at a Coral Gables Publix reported the man behind her in the checkout line had horns.’ The woman’s face filled the inset screen hovering beside the anchorman’s head. ‘He had gray skin and a lot of silver earrings and horns. Horns!’ The woman made looping motions at the sides of her head. ‘And it’s not even Halloween yet!’

A shadeux fae picking up eggs and milk was the least of that woman’s worries. What would the public do when Halloween had come and gone but the monsters still remained? The Samhain holiday was less than two weeks away.

The camera switched its focus back to the anchorman. ‘More and more reports have been coming in from all over New Florida about strange sightings just like this one. If you’ve seen something unusual in your area, give our tip hotline a call at—’

She changed the channel to another local news station. ‘In a press release today, Mayor Diaz-White announced she will be forming a task force to investigate what can only be described as the paranormal happenings taking place in the city, although the mayor claims every incident can be explained.’

‘Screen off.’ The holographic image vanished. Chrysabelle had seen enough. Paradise City was only beginning to wake up to the new reality the whole world now faced with the covenant gone. As the days ticked by, the inevitable clash between light and dark forces came nearer, escalating until there would be no denying what was happening. No matter what the mayor told the people.

Which brought her thoughts back to Tatiana. Did a more evil, conniving, ambitious vampire exist? Chrysabelle doubted it. Tatiana had killed Maris as part of the ritual that tore the covenant away, but Chrysabelle had prevented Tatiana from keeping the ring of sorrows. How long before Tatiana made another attempt to claim the ring? It was safely tucked away, but Chrysabelle had considered destroying it several times in the past weeks. If only she could be sure enough of its power to determine that destroying it wouldn’t cause further damage to the world around them.

The swirls of gold tattooed on her skin glittered softly as her thumb rubbed the band on her ring finger. One click released a tiny blade, sharp enough to pierce a vein and drain away the excess blood in her system. Those born into the comarré life, raised to fulfill the needs of the vampires who purchased their blood rights and heavily tattooed with the special gold signum that purified their blood, produced the substance in rich, pure, powerful abundance. Without a patron, the excess blood would sicken her, poisoning her system until she went mad. She’d been on the verge once and that was enough.

She held her wrist up to the light. The veins pulsed thick and blue. The time to drain the excess was upon her. Maybe that was why Mal had been on her mind so much these last few days.

Maris had told her that eventually her system would adjust, but Chrysabelle had twice drained her blood to feed Mal and twice he’d kissed her in return, giving her the infusion of vampire power that was her due. Those kisses had kept her body producing. Kept her thinking of him.

She should drain the blood into the sink, wash it and her thoughts of Mal away. She sighed softly and wished he were that easy to forget. He wasn’t. Not even close. She stood and headed for the kitchen. What was one more container in the refrigerator among the others? Her blood was valuable. Whether Mal wanted it or not.

*

Corvinestri, Romania, 2067

‘This is going to hurt, my sweet. Are you sure you can withstand the pain?’

‘You’ve already told me it will hurt. And I’ve already told you I can withstand more pain than you can dream of.’ Tatiana glared at Zafir. ‘Do you think it was pleasant when that comarré whore sliced my hand off in the first place?’ If he knew what she’d endured while in the clutches of the Castus Sanguis, but of course, he had no idea.

‘Laa, my darling, of course not.’ His lush, black lashes fluttered over his olive cheeks. ‘I only wished to prepare you.’

‘Just do it. I will be fine.’ She lay back on Zafir’s lab table, her head propped on his folded coat, her remaining hand flat on her chest covering her locket where it lay beneath her blouse. Zafir and his brother, Nasir, were both exceptionally beautiful in a dark, Arabian kind of way, but according to Lord Ivan, who’d sent her here, Zafir was the most circumspect of the talented pair. And in this matter, discretion was of the utmost importance. Few knew her hand had been severed, and she intended to keep it that way. The servants who found out had been dispatched, save Octavian, the head of her household staff. She would not, under any circumstance, be made to appear incapable or disadvantaged. She intended to have Lord Ivan’s position of Dominus one day, and nothing, nothing would prevent that. Soon she would renew her standing in the eyes of the Castus. Show them she was worthy once again. Reclaim the ring of sorrows – and the power it held – that was rightfully hers.

This new hand was the first step toward that goal.

‘Na’am, you will do very well, won’t you?’ Zafir laughed softly.

She wanted to slap his face until that patronizing tone became a cry for mercy. He was no Mikkel, that much was certain. Mikkel’s talents in the black arts had been exceptional. Of course, those talents hadn’t kept her late paramour alive either. And if Zafir’s talents in alchemy were as powerful as he claimed, he might be better than Mikkel. If he failed to do as he’d promised, then perhaps she’d give the brother a chance. At the very least, Zafir was Mikkel’s equal in bed.

Life had very quickly taught her that pleasure and power were the only real rewards for pain. Her sweet Sofia’s face flashed before her eyes, something that had been happening more and more since her confrontation with Malkolm. Seeing him had stirred up the past. She tightened her grip on the locket, the silk of her blouse cool against her fingers. ‘Get on with it.’

   
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