Home > Last Blood (House of Comarré #5)(16)

Last Blood (House of Comarré #5)(16)
Author: Kristen Painter

They would see how much she was willing to sacrifice for them. And how things were going to change for the better because of it.

For one, she couldn’t keep traditional office hours and it was becoming more obvious that the city needed to be open twenty-four hours to service the needs of all its citizens. And some of those citizens of the othernatural variety were perfectly suited to nocturnal time schedules. Not only would employing a second shift of othernatural workers for city hall fulfill their needs, but it would bring more jobs to the city and show how hard they were all working to create a place where everyone could live in harmony.

Paradise City would set an example for the rest of the country. She leaned back in her chair and put her feet up on the desk. The big networks would want to interview her. Maybe she’d even write a book.

“Mayor?” Valerie, her administrative assistant, pushed the office door open.

She dropped her feet back to the floor. “Yes?”

“There’s someone here to see you.”

The way Valerie stressed the “someone,” Lola knew that person wasn’t human. She inhaled and immediately scented another vampire. Preacher? Hopefully not. After giving him that letter, she’d assumed that situation was resolved. “Give me two minutes.”

Valerie nodded and pulled the door shut.

Lola closed her eyes and focused on what she was feeling. Immediately, she realized she could detect the new presence. Luciano had told her she’d be able to but that it would take time to develop her senses. She really needed to visit with him again. He’d been so helpful. Odd that he hadn’t contacted her in the last few days.

Valerie knocked again.

“Come in.”

She entered with a handsome, well-dressed vampire behind her. Definitely not Preacher. Valerie looked a little uneasy. She had no issue with varcolai so maybe it was just that he was a vampire? She’d have to get used to the othernaturals eventually, just as the othernaturals would come to accept their human counterparts. That balance was necessary for peace to continue.

Lola stayed seated as Valerie introduced him. “This is Octavian Petrescu.”

“Mr. Petrescu, how can I help you?”

“Call me Octavian, please.” He smiled and glanced at Valerie. “May we speak privately?”

Lola nodded to her assistant. “Thank you, Valerie. That will be all.”

She seemed relieved to be dismissed.

Once the door closed, he gestured toward the chairs in front of her desk. “May I sit?”

“Of course. Now, what brings you to my office?”

He eased into the seat, small lines of tension bracketing his mouth. “I am new to your city. As you have no doubt noticed, I am also a vampire, but my understanding is that this city is not exactly… friendly to my kind.”

She nodded. “You’re referring to the curfew incident. I assure you that is well behind us and not to be repeated. I was under the influence of a very dangerous man.” She smiled, hoping to reassure him. “Perhaps you didn’t realize, but I am vampire also, having recently been sired.” She let her eyes silver. It was a skill she’d mastered almost instantly, although keeping her human face in place without a regular feeding schedule remained difficult. Fortunately, Hector, her comar, was always willing and on hand when she needed him.

“I had heard a rumor, but there is nothing about you that indicates such.” His body language relaxed and he leaned forward. “You are House of Paole, then?”

“Yes. I guess it takes another noble to understand something like that.”

“Indeed.” He splayed his fingers against his chest. “I am House of Tepes, not so long ago sired either, but I have been in the company of nobles all my life.” He dropped his hand to rest on the chair’s arm. “Perhaps this is a bold statement, but I have come here to make a new life for myself and I feel like fate has brought us together. I believe you and I could help each other.”

“Mr. Petrescu—”

“Octavian, please.”

She nodded. “Octavian. I am extraordinarily busy. I have a city to run.” And a granddaughter to find. “A city that is tenuously holding on to a modicum of peace between its othernatural and human citizens.” Some of his enthusiasm left his face. “However, what you’re suggesting appeals to me. I have no other real vampire acquaintances and as I am young, I know you could be valuable to me.” She sighed. This was an opportunity she did not want to pass up, but she could not ignore the needs of her city. “I have several pressing matters to address before I can allow myself any personal time. Until then…”

“May I ask what kinds of pressing matters?”

How much should she reveal? He was one of her own, after all, and her plans would soon be obvious. “I am trying to turn Paradise City into an example of how humans and othernaturals can live in harmony. A big part of that plan is making sure the city is open and operating around the clock so that the needs of all its citizens can be met. That means hiring a second shift of workers to keep city hall running. My administrative assistant, Valerie, is going to be difficult to duplicate. I need an othernatural who is organized, knowledgeable of both sides, and capable of getting things done. Plus, they must be compatible with me as we’ll be working very closely together since I’ll be taking that second shift and letting the city council handle matters during daylight hours.” She studied him, wondering what he thought of such ambition. “As you can see, my plate is full.”

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