Blood Feud Page 23

Charlemagne blocked me suddenly at the sound of the front door opening and closing. I tensed. Lucy leaned back. “Wow, you’re scary when you do that to your face.”

“Get behind me.”

“The other dogs aren’t barking,” she said quietly. “I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.” A tattooed bald man in a leather vest marched into the room, jaw set grimly. I felt her stance soften immediately. “Bruno.”

“Lassie.” He met my eyes. “I want to talk to you.”

“Bruno is the head of security,” Lucy explained.

“But you’re … human.”

“Aye. Hunters like the daytime with most of the vamps lying around waiting to be staked. It evens up the fight.” Though it was at odds with his expression, his Scottish accent put me at ease; the French and the Scots had often been al ies. And I understood his bewildered frustration. His heart was practical y pounding with aggravation. “We have the best security this side of presidents and kings, I want to know why in one bloody week a vampire faction and a Helios-Ra rogue unit have both managed to break through. It’s bloody ridiculous.”

“Montmartre doesn’t care if his Host die. It’s considered an honor, proof of loyalty,” I told him. “I gather you would take it amiss if your people died.”


“Montmartre just makes more Host. And last night they sent four with the purpose of only one making it to the front door. If they’d attacked outright, I don’t know that they could have taken you by surprise.”

He sighed. “You’re right there, lassie. I was expecting a great deal of violence, not some ijit present.” He shook his head.

“Stil , no excuses.” He unrol ed blue drawings of the farmhouse and the Drake thousand-acre compound with other assorted buildings. “Show me the weak point, would you?” I went through the drawings, matching them with what I knew of the surrounding topography. “They would have moved from treetop to treetop. It’s slower but stealthier.”

“They came from above,” he breathed out.

Bruno was smug by the time Solange and her brothers began to stir and trail downstairs.

“Are you ready?” Logan asked me. I nodded. Lucy scowled at Nicholas. He held up his hands defensively.

“Not my fault,” he insisted. “Mom and Dad think you should stay out of the courts until after the coronation.”

“That is so not fair,” Lucy said. “It’s not like I haven’t already been there.”

“Yeah, you were kidnapped by an evil vampire queen. Hel o?

Not exactly a point in your favor.”

“When my parents come home next week I’m getting my dad

“When my parents come home next week I’m getting my dad to teach me how to ride his motorcycle and then I won’t need a lift on your stinkin’ bike anymore.”

Nicholas grinned. “You think your dad’s going to let you ride through the woods to hang out with a bunch of vampires in a cave?”

“He lets me hang out with you.”

“Because I’m not the bad influence in this relationship.” She seemed to soften a little at the word “relationship.” Then she immediately straightened her spine.

“I’m stil annoyed,” Lucy grumbled at him.

“You’re cute too,” he answered, unfazed. He leaned in and kissed her until she was nearly cross-eyed. Connor coughed.

“Dude, get a room.”

Nicholas pul ed away, grinning.

“Are they always like that?” I asked Logan as we left the farmhouse.

“You should have seen them before they decided they liked each other.”

It was considerably easier to gain access to the royal courts this time around. The presence of five of the Drake brothers smoothed the way, even if it didn’t completely erase the curious glances or suspicious, disgusted glares. It didn’t bother me, but I noticed Logan was glaring back at every single vampire who dared even to blink my way. It was kind of sweet, if unnecessary.

He was close enough that his arm brushed mine.

“Isabeau!” Magda darted out from behind a cluster of bare birch trees in gold pots. She was wearing pink petticoats under an antique cream-colored skirt. She tucked her arm in mine, elbowing Logan away from me with a hiss. Magda did not share wel . Logan didn’t hiss back, he was too wel brought up for that, but he did look as if he was considering it.

“Are you al right?” Magda asked, glaring at each of the brothers. Quinn smirked at her. She glowered more ferociously.

“They didn’t dose you with Hypnos again, did they?”

“No, of course not.”

The courtiers drifted out of our way as we passed through the main hal , where they’d been hard at work. Since last night, the broken raven throne that belonged to the last queen had been carted out. There were fewer mirrors as wel so that it didn’t feel as if the crowd was twice its actual size. I felt better already.

“How was it here?” I asked her quietly.

“Fine, I guess. Finn is in his glory. He actual y said three ful sentences back to back.”

I had to smile at that. Finn’s long silences were legendary.

“That’s practical y a monologue.”

“I know.” She scowled at a staring young vampire who didn’t get out of her way fast enough. “I feel like we’re some kind of circus show. Some guy asked to see my fangs. Can you believe that? And he asked me if we painted ourselves in mud.” Quinn chuckled from behind us. “That’s cal ed flirting.” She ignored him, even though it was bad form to ignore your host’s children when on a diplomatic visit. It was worse form to host’s children when on a diplomatic visit. It was worse form to attack their daughter’s boyfriend, so I was in no position to criticize. I wondered yet again why Kala had sent me.

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