Home > Out for Blood (House of Comarré #4)

Out for Blood (House of Comarré #4)
Author: Kristen Painter

Chapter One

Paradise City, New Florida, 2067

Deep in sleep, Chrysabelle curled against a cold, steely form that paralleled her own. The oddness of that burrowed through her consciousness and tugged her toward the surface. She reached behind her. Her fingertips collided with a hard midsection.

A body. In her bed.

Years of comarré training kicked in. Coming awake, she twisted and looked directly into dark, familiar eyes. She stared, a thousand responses firing across her synapses, the foremost being relief. She blinked twice and shed the remnants of sleep enough to find words. “You’re in my bed.”

Mal nodded, irises sparking silver. “I do have to sleep occasionally, you know.” A lilting smile curved his mouth. “I’m glad you finally woke. How are you feeling?”

She ignored the question, not sure enough of an answer to give him one, and pushed to a sitting position, gathering the coverlet around her. In doing so, she exposed him. He wore only pajama bottoms she didn’t recognize. The names scrawled over his skin glared back from his chest and arms. Somehow she managed to look away, scooting to the edge of the bed until her toes touched plush ivory carpeting. “How long have I been out?”

“Not long. About a day and a half.”

She rubbed her forehead, then pushed the hair out of her eyes. “That’s long enough. What happened? I don’t remember much beyond going to see Atticus, then…” She squinted, trying to think. She’d gone to Dominic’s signumist to replace the signum Rennata had stripped off her back. Before that, they’d been in New Orleans, retrieving the ring of sorrows. She’d needed the ring’s sacred gold for her new signum. But her memory faded not long after she’d lain down on Atticus’s table. After the first puncture of his needle. She shook her head. “There’s nothing after that.”

“Nothing?” The bed moved as he shifted. “You’re sure?”

“Positive.” She kicked her foot out, rubbing her toe through the carpet fibers. The signum arching over her foot glinted back. “Everything fades to black after Atticus started stitching the signum into me.” She rolled her shoulders, examining the way her body felt. There was an eerie lack of pain. She turned to look at him. “I take it you brought me back here when he was done?”

Mal nodded. “After Atticus said it was okay to move you. Velimai helped me get you settled.”

“Did anything else happen? I should be in pain.” A lot of it. “It takes longer than a day and a half to recover from new signum.”

“Yes, something else happened.” Mal growled his displeasure. “Not long after we got you into bed, you decided you were well enough to visit the Aurelian. I only found out because I smelled blood. Velimai and I had to break the door down. That’s when we discovered you’d opened the portal on the bathroom floor.” He shook his head, eyes flaring silver. “Of all the foolish things. You should thank that wysper. She made me go after you—”

“What?” Chrysabelle cringed. Why didn’t she remember any of this? “You went through the portal again? You know what happened the last time—”

“Chrysabelle, the Aurelian killed you. I found her cleaning blood off her sword and you on the floor, bleeding from a gut wound. No pulse. No breath. You were dead.” He peered at her more intently. “Or at least I thought you were.”

“Obviously, I wasn’t.” Or was she? That might explain why she couldn’t remember anything. But how was she alive now? “Besides, you knew I was going to go see her to find out as much about my brother as I could. That was the whole point of getting the signum.” But how had she found the strength for a trip to the Aurelian so soon after getting them? There was no way she would have been healed enough for that. She hugged the coverlet a little tighter and turned to see him better. “Do you know if she told me anything?”

He looked down at the bed for a second, then shook his head slowly. “You told me she knew your brother’s name but wouldn’t say it so you could hear it, or something like that. I wish things had gone differently for you. I really do.” A black determination shone in his gaze. “If I ever see the Aurelian again, I will kill her for what she did to you.”

Fortunately, Mal would never get that chance, so his threat didn’t worry her. “Not telling me my brother’s name isn’t really a crime punishable by death.”

“She killed you. How is that not upsetting to you?”

Chrysabelle spread one arm out wide. “Do I look dead? You must have misunderstood what happened.”

Tension tightened his jaw. “I misunderstood nothing. I carried your lifeless body back here.”

“Maybe I just passed out.”

“And had no heartbeat and no breath?” He rolled his eyes. “Is cheating death a comarré power you never told me about?”

“No, of course not.” She pulled her arm against her side and hunched her back, her skin suddenly too tight. The need to stretch was overwhelming. “There has to be an explanation for what happened.”

“There is. You were dead.” With a shake of his head, he lay down again and stared at the ceiling. “Stop ignoring what happened.”

But she wasn’t ready for that truth. It implied things had gone wrong with the gold. That melting the ring of sorrows hadn’t removed its power like it should have. If she didn’t concede something to Mal, he’d never let this conversation end. “I’ll admit everything’s not a hundred percent right.”

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