Home > Gypsy's Blood (All The Pretty Monsters #1)(12)

Gypsy's Blood (All The Pretty Monsters #1)(12)
Author: Kristy Cunning

My eyes remain locked on his as he leans forward, the warmth of his breath fanning my lips. The tip of my tongue barely brushes his thumb when I wet my suddenly-dry lips and swallow, trying to remember what we were even discussing a second ago.

A soft, subtle groan is muffled in his throat before he exhales. “Your greatest weakness is your unsullied age,” he finishes, releasing me and turning abruptly as he lifts his own glass to his lips and begins to drink it.

I think he’s confused about what age most women stop being unsullied. It’s a lot younger than twenty-five in most cases. Certainly in my case.

I gulp the clear drink in my hand, coughing a little when it burns my throat. He’s going to think I’ve never had a drink before.

“This is a nice foyer,” I say while clearing my throat and glancing around at what appears to be a library.

“Smooth,” Anna deadpans, quirking an eyebrow at me.

“I’m not even sure what room we’re in. We had to park at the curbside entrance because the snow was blocking my private entrance,” he says dismissively.

“What’re you talking about? We stopped in front of your house. We came through the front door. I’ve never been beyond the threshold, so this is the first time I’m seeing this room,” I go on, rambling like most nervous people who’ve had a bizarre day like mine.

I opt to take a seat on the small, pristine, somewhat uninviting sofa.

“Why on earth would the front of this house be facing the road, when the glorious mountain views are a much better focal point?” he asks seriously, turning and looking at me like I’m an uncultured smudge on his sofa.

“You mean to tell me that’s the side entrance?” I ask incredulously.

Just how big is this house? It’s hard to tell with the massive wall that blocks sight of the property and stretches around the entirety of it. All one can see is the side entrance that looks like a front entrance.

“Unless I’m hosting a party, it’s the only entrance available to the public,” he states almost absently, turning his head so he can listen better at the window.

“Rich. Gorgeous. Brave,” Anna says on a little sigh, her eyelids almost fluttering shut like she’s simply basking in his presence. “It’s like he was made for me.”

“Just how many ghosts are occupying this town for so many things to be so crazy?” I ask him as he keeps his attention focused solely on the window. “And who-slash-what are you?”

Pushing my red cloak out of the way, I get more comfortable on the uncomfortable sofa, like I’m waiting for a scary story and need to feel something firm against my back.

“Too many ghosts,” he states quietly.


“Too many reasons to list,” he deflects.

“And what’s up with the slightly rabid wolves?”

“No wolves appreciate other predators in their territory,” he goes on.

“Why does it feel like you’re refusing to give me any specifics?”

“Because I rather like your ignorance,” he states vaguely, his attention remaining strained. “It’s simply too refreshing to take away so soon.”

I sip my drink to keep from saying something snide, since we’re too alone for me to run my mouth with confidence.

“I know he’s an ass, but I still love the way he talks. And that accent. It’s so…unique,” Anna purrs. “I think we have three kids together, though. He owes me some back child support. Those little fuckers are expensive to feed.”

“This town is one of many towns built on a solid foundation of hysterical fear,” he tells me as he moves away from the window like he’s satisfied about something, returning his attention to me.

Idly, I notice him tug up one pant leg just enough to show a holster of some sort on his ankle. He drops a small knife, and it lands perfectly in said holster, as he takes a step, releasing his pant leg. All of it happens in one smooth motion that really impresses me more than I allow to show on my face.

And he does it like it’s a common, simple task without even glancing my way.

“In the sixteen-hundreds, Shadow Hills was a small, barely settled town,” he tells me as he takes a seat. “However, it has a violent past hidden from historical records,” he continues, swirling his drink in his hand as his gaze holds mine.

“That’s actually why it’s such a touristy town—all the historical witch killings. It’s not so much a hidden fact as it is a selling feature,” I inform him. “People come hoping to see something ghostly.”

“Yet they rationalize everything they see,” Anna says on a frustrated groan. “Tell me, how do they explain the purple ogres that hang out by the watering hole in town?”

Sometimes I can’t translate Anna’s meanings. This is definitely one of those times.

“Certainly. They tell about the ten poor women who were mistaken for witches in a time where hysteria was becoming a spreading pandemic,” Vancetto states as though he’s educating me.

He’s such a condescending ass.

His gaze is on the fire as he continues. “They don’t tell you about the fifty men, women, and children who were burned in their homes when the hysteria was at its peak.”

My brow wrinkles in confusion, and I sit up. “That’s impossible. There’d be a record of that.”

He nods. “I’m positive everyone on earth knows every blemish in history to the fullest extent,” he says in that condescending way of his again, his eyes flicking back to mine as his eyebrow quirks in silent challenge, daring me to argue that.

“People talk,” I start, preparing a different argument. “You can’t erase the whispers, and eventually the whispers get louder and distort the actual events to have been worse…not gentler.”

“Unless all the ones who were left to whisper had blood on their hands and guilt eating them alive,” he counters like he knows for a fact what happened.

With a dark, somewhat sinister smile, he adds, “Guilt always has the guilty downplaying their actions. Fear is a powerful, unstoppable motivator, Ms. Portocale. But when the fear starts to fade, we’re left to face the consequences of our actions in an unforgiving world.”

“Fear isn’t a good excuse to the wronged ones, Mr. Valhe—”

“Just call me Vance,” he interrupts, smiling tightly. “Most people do.”

I pause, forgetting what I was saying, and then pick back up where I think I left off.

“I can see how the world can be considered unforgiving in such instances.”

“True,” he says with a tight smile and a distant look in his eyes. “But judging situations from the outside is a much simpler task when you’re not the one living it in a time when you think you have all the relevant facts. You don’t truly know fear until it consumes your every thought and drenches you with undiluted paranoia every second of every day. The people who did this were common folk. Possibly decent human beings. It’s fear that unleashes evil.”

Anna shoots me a confused look when Vance seems to get lost inside his own head.

“You’ve never relied on whispers to be truth so you could make a well-informed decision about survival,” he continues. “You’ve never spent full months with your heart in your throat, just waiting on the shoe to drop and name you a fool for trusting someone else with your life. Someone you didn’t share blood with.”

“What does that have to do with this town?” I ask him.

He clears his throat when he looks away from the fire.

“All-consuming fear turns into widespread panic and paranoia eventually, Ms. Portocale. When it’s your life or someone else’s, you learn just how selfish you really are. It’s the very core of each individual, whether they admit it or not.”

I’m…still confused.

“Are you trying to tell me the many spirits haunting this town are angry because they were wiped out by paranoid fanatics?” I ask, trying to follow his train of conversation and how it relates to anything we’ve been discussing.

“No. I’m merely having a moment of transference,” he states in a bored tone as he stands. “I’m telling you, that like many towns across the world, this town is a place of great power because of all the innocent blood-sacrifices staining its lands, and to a magically gifted gypsy bloodline, it can be very safe or very dangerous. Until you learn to be very safe, you need a little guidance. I can—”

Before he can finish that confusing sentence, the window across from him explodes, and shattered glass sprays across the room.

I drop to my stomach as a man crashes into the room, rolling up to his feet in time to grab Vance by the throat. I watch in horror as Vance is thrown through a wall, pieces of it crumbling as Vance disappears from sight. Emit Morrigan, fully naked and out of his motherfucking mind, stalks toward the new opening.

“Oh, you really fucked up now, mutt,” I hear Vance growl as I tuck myself under the sofa, trying to figure out what in the actual hell is going on right now.

“I fucked up?” Emit asks in a really unnaturally gruff tone, almost sounding animalistic. “You came onto my land and attacked my wolves, you stupid son of a bitch!”

Oh shit.

What happens when he finds out I was the catalyst to that problem?

I don’t get to think about it very much, because Vance is suddenly leaping through the hole, and his foot connects with Emit’s chest, sending him flipping back and crashing through the broken window.

Half of the wall is practically ripped out with it when Emit’s massive body tears it down on the way out. My eyes widen impossibly more when I peer around to see Emit leap to his feet and shake off the debris. He doesn’t even flinch in the snow, despite the fact he is super naked.

“Wow, that’s a big, beautiful, blessed man,” Anna states as she sways.

She’s already at the window as Vance pushes his sleeves up, winks over at me like this is any other day, and hops out the giant hole.

“You’re lucky I didn’t kill them. They attacked me first,” Vance assures Emit.

I hear a hard crunching sound, and then something crashes against the door that is too damn close.

“I guess we’re really bloody doing this, then?” I hear Vance gripe.

“You came onto my land, blacksmith. Yes, we’re really fucking doing this.”

I have no idea what the hell is going on, but I slide out from under the sofa. No longer is Vance and his home the lesser threat.

No two people get thrown around so hard when they’re human. They can’t see Anna, so they’re not gypsies. And one of them is fighting naked while the other is psychotically winking on his way out to get punched some more.

Something crashes against the door again, and I bolt for the other door that takes me into a massive hallway…that seems never-ending on either side because of all the damn mirrors.

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