Full Blooded

Page 46

“Valdov was a fool to bring you here,” the Vampire Queen snapped. She was still examining me, her eyes measuring. I felt like I was under a vampire microscope.

Huh? “From what he implied to us,” I retorted, “he was only following your direct orders.”

“Fool,” she grated. Then she turned abruptly, ascending the steps of her dais toward her gilded chair. She whipped around with a flourish and sat, her gorgeous face set in a frown, her cape flowing gracefully around her.

Hmm. Instead of watching her brood, I brought my legs around and perched myself on the edge of the altar. I wiggled my bare toes and looked down at my filthy, torn clothing, still reeking heavily of sulfur and sweat.

The perfect picture of badass.

I had no idea what she wanted from me, but other than sensing her incredible power, I wasn’t feeling the threat of imminent danger. Having her irked at Valdov worked in my favor. I just didn’t know why. Someone like Valdov did what he was told. Always. I decided to venture a question. “If Valdov was disobeying you, then why am I here?” I asked.

The Queen narrowed her eyes at me like a hawk. A fleck of mercury sparked in their depths so brightly it seared like a white flame. She stood abruptly and strode forward, stopping at the edge of the steps to look down on me. I instinctively leaned back.

“Do not push me, little wolf girl. I am not something to be trifled with so easily. If you provoke me, I promise I will punish you. You are here because I wished it and nothing more.” She waved her hand in a sweeping dismissal. The vamps liked their hand gestures.

You just said Valdov was a fool for bringing me here. I said instead, “I’m not trying to trifle with you, um … Queen.” What in the hell was I supposed to call her? “I’m just trying to figure out why a newborn wolf would warrant such an interest from you. By all rights, I should be beneath your notice. If what I know of our races are true, I shouldn’t even be a blip on your radar. Our separate Sects haven’t made it a habit to be involved in each other’s business at any point in time.”

Her voice rang out in a cold laugh. “You, little wolf girl, are very much my business.” She floated down the steps. “My trusted servants have been keeping tabs on you since your very untimely birth.” The vamps had been tailing me for that long? She laughed. “What? You think your father could hide you from us? The birth of a female? Never!”

Her eyes flickered dangerously between the purest silver to black, and back again. She came to a halt a few paces in front of me, clasping her hands in front of her torso like a demure schoolgirl. She might look the part if I wasn’t hyper aware she could snap my neck between her two index fingers in the space of a sneeze.

“What exactly do you mean by ‘untimely’?” I asked. “I wasn’t aware there was a good time for a female werewolf to be born.”

She inclined her head, peering at me closely. I shifted uncomfortably, hating the feel of her weighted stare—it made my skin crawl. Then she tilted her head to the side, like a bird listening for a worm, just like Valdov had. Vamps were totally creepy. Every movement they made was unnatural. There was no way the Queen went out in public. Very little about her resembled anything human.

She abruptly straightened her neck and a wicked smile crept over her unsightly red lips. “You do not know what you are, do you, little wolf girl?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I answered. “What do you mean, ‘what I am’? I’m a lone female in an all-male race—a freak, an anomaly, something to fight about.” I was leaving out the violet eyes, the Lycan abilities, and communication via brain waves with my sibling, but she shouldn’t know any of that. She couldn’t possibly know about that.

Her canines were retracted, because when she opened her mouth in a macabre kind of glee all I saw were rows of straight, neat teeth. “I had not thought it was possible for you to be—how shall I say?—unaware of your … situation.” She put her hands together in a pseudo clap and paced away from me, toward a mural of torture painted along one huge wall. Lovely. “This is very interesting indeed. It puts us in a decidedly different position.”

I didn’t like the eerie glint coming from her voice and neither did my wolf. What’s going on? Do you know what she means by my “situation”? My wolf paced agitatedly. She raised her hackles and continued to emit a low growl, essentially telling me this wasn’t exactly the right time for a heart-to-heart. I took the hint.

That the Vampire Queen knew more about me than I did was less than optimal. It was actually sucky, and put me at a huge disadvantage. “It seems I’m at a bit of a loss here. If you could—” I started.

“They come.” Her head snapped to the doorway and the two shrouded figures simultaneously drifted toward her.

“Who’s coming?” How long had I been out anyway? I looked around, but there were no clues to what time it was.

“I have little interest in starting a war with your … kind.” She curled her lips. “But I am very certain we will meet again, little wolf girl, and that time may be very soon indeed.”

My kind? There was some faint commotion coming from outside the room now. My heart sped up. It took me a second, but the final puzzle pieces of my kidnapping snapped clearly into place. Valdov hadn’t mistaken his Queen’s request. His plan had simply been foiled by a rather large and furious Alpha werewolf. If my father hadn’t arrived on the scene, I’d probably be cuffed in a dungeon right now being snacked on like a canapé.

I was tired and pissed off. So far my Pack had gone to war, I’d been hunted down and taken by the vampires, a splinter werewolf group was highly organized with a detailed plot to kill me, Selene the Evil had struck down my new mate, whom my body ached for right this minute, and to top it off, it all pointed to me being exactly what everyone had always feared I’d be: The End of Things as We Knew It.

I wanted no part of it anymore.

Shouts echoed along the corridor, coming closer every second. I glanced at the Queen, who seemed to be entranced by the commotion, apparently gearing up for the werewolves to bang her door down. She’d forgotten me, or I was beneath her notice, either one worked.

My voice came out in a snarl, surprising us both. “Hey, Queen.” Her head shot to me in a snap. “I take it when my father arrived in the woods it put quite a crimp in your plans to blame my unfortunate ‘disappearance’ on the New Order wolves—or whatever the traitors are calling themselves?”

Her eyes narrowed to slits.

“Isn’t that how all this was supposed to shake out? I bet it took some patience on your part to incite fear over the years to a few well-placed wolves to form your precious ‘alliance.’ But it’s not an alliance at all, is it? You’ve been running the show the whole time, orchestrating your puppets along the way.”

“The witch has taken your lover,” she hissed, completely surprising me once again. Then I watched in horror as her features changed ever so slightly as they began to slide down her face, and then, without warning, her power hit me fully in the chest like a bolt. I doubled over instantly, gasping for breath, clutching my front.

Holy shit she’s powerful.

“You pathetic little girl,” she spat. “You tarry where you do not belong. You do not question me. I only allow you to sit here—a weakling of a shifter— with the air still in your lungs because I deem it to be so. You should be prostrate on your knees in homage to my kindness. I will not tolerate your insolence, and I certainly do not answer to you for my actions.”

I had no time to do anything other than hold my chest and try to breathe again when the doors burst open and my father bounded into the room, followed by, to my relief, James and Tyler, and about fifteen other wolves who were unfamiliar to me. All of them in their human form.

“Eudoxia,” my father snarled as he strode forward. His wolves fanned behind him, all of them growling.

Crowding into the room just behind the wolves were a large number of vamps, many of whom wore corset-style gowns and tailored jackets with big, shiny buttons. But others were decked out in skinny jeans and hipster shirts. As a group, the vamps ran a serious gamut of style. If Marcy were here, she’d have a field day with the bevy of fashion choices in the room. My best guess was each style choice denoted a rough age of the vamp, because putting an eighteenth-century vamp into a pair of jeggings would take a leap of faith most vampires were likely uninterested in taking. If these vamps were as arrogant as their beloved Queen, each thought their style choice was the right one.

But this wasn’t a happy day at court. The vamps bared their fangs, their faces twisted at the intrusion into their lair.

There was also no Rourke. My heart clenched. Our bond had already manifested into something beyond me, beyond my wolf. The physical distance from him was taking a toll already. I craved him in a way I hadn’t known could exist in this world.

Eudoxia raised one finger and the mass stilled instantly.

I slid off the altar so I could stand in front of my Pack, my back resting against the rough stone as I fought to shake off the last of the Queen’s blast. My wolf had been feeding me power and was still snapping continually at the cloud of residual white mist lingering in my system, which I guessed was the manifestation of the Queen’s magic. When my wolf bit down on the cloud, it evaporated into nothing. As the power disappeared, I began to get my strength back. The same thing had happened with Selene’s freaky red lines. I had no idea how my wolf was doing it, but I was glad she knew how, because being beholden to magic made me vulnerable.

The Queen, flanked by her guards, marched confidently toward my father, stopping right in front him. “Callummmm,” she purred. “What a wonderful surprise to see you here. Welcome to my home.” She gestured grandly at her room of decorated macabre, the walls and ceiling were accompanied by ornate vases on priceless lacquered sideboards, all of the furnishings ominous in their stark harshness. “Are you not impressed by what you see before you? It’s only taken me a few short centuries to get it to my exact liking. Though I’m lately rethinking the color of the velvet drapes. Blood red would go so much better with the furnishings than gold. Don’t you agree?”

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