Authors: Karisha Prescott
Copyright © 2014 by Karisha Prescott
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
First Edition, 2014
I’d recommend this book to any contemporary fiction fan out there
Indie Author Book Reviews, 4 of 5 stars
What a page turner!
Well written, well developed characters and a story that just won’t let you go.”
Johnny, GoodReads.com 5 of 5 stars
I really love this series. [Karisha Prescott]is fast becoming one of my favorite authors
Tina, GoodReads.com 5 of 5 stars
Loved this book! The author keeps you longing for more page after page!!!
Dani, GoodReads.com 5 of 5 stars
I love the speed of this story. I have re-read a few times already! The characters grab you from the start and you can't wait to see where the story will go. Can't wait to see more from this great autho
Brandi, Amazon.com 5 of 5 stars
Table of Contents
Within hours of Jasper’s death, Queen Victoria had sent his personal affects to the court of her sister, Queen Patricia. It was an official acceptance of Patricia’s declaration of war between the two vampire courts. I had tried my best to convince Queen Victoria to allow Prince Sebastian and I enough of a head-start to get out of the country but her concern was not as great as mine. Even Sebastian seemed to be under the impression that I worried for no reason. In my gut I had no doubt that I should be running. That twisting up of my stomach, the churning of violent butterflies in the pit of my belly, was all the indication I needed after finding myself in harms way so many times.
With no way to tell when the first attack might happen, and being continually reassured that everything would be fine, I had had enough of sitting around and waiting to see how everything would turn out. Sebastian had promised me that we would leave; he promised that he would go with me. Even though Queen Victoria, his grandmother, was about to embark on war with her own sister, I would hold him to that promise. I tried to convince Sebastian of how serious the situation was, what with Jasper’s death. His sister, Josephine, would be seeking revenge in the worst sort of way.
I left Sebastian to deal with Jasper’s remains on the balcony where I had killed him. I raced to my office, the office of the Royal high Chancellor. I hadn’t seen Tommy in a little while, but Tommy had assured me before the war began that he would be just fine. I had to trust that he would find a way to survive because, as a friend, I would never forgive myself for leaving him behind in this situation. He had, however, promised me that he would leave copies of his notes on my
in my office for me. If there was anything I needed to take with me when Sebastian and I left it would be those notes. I couldn’t risk Queen Patricia gaining control of Victoria’s court and then finding those documents. Tommy had assured me that he would destroy his original notes but I couldn’t leave without a copy. There was so much that I didn’t know about my condition and what I did know had all come from Tommy. Being immortal had benefits but it also had risks and my greatest risk was the possibility of being hunted down and fed off of for an eternity. That was my nightmare.
I raced down the grand marble staircase to the first level of the castle. There were still vampires everywhere, still milling about from the court proceedings from earlier. I fought through the crowd and made my way to the corridors of the castle leading to my office. As soon as my feet hit the plush carpeting of the corridor that led to my office I felt as if I were running on a beach, ankle deep in sand. It could have been that I was running low on adrenaline, that the panic was taking over, that my legs were giving out. Each step was a struggle as I ran down that dim hallway.
Every vampire that I passed gave me a flurry of anxious butterflies in my stomach. I worried that they could tell that something was wrong. And something was seriously wrong. War was coming and I was not prepared for it. Each face I saw was calm, serene, and at peace as though nothing in the world was wrong. Every smile made me sick to my stomach because they either didn’t know what was coming, which I could forgive, or didn’t think it would affect them. With my condition, being immortal, I was the safest in the entire castle but also the most afraid. I knew in my heart that no one could be experiencing more fear than I was experiencing. The thought of being tortured until the end of time, with no end in sight, gave me a terror that no one could ever compare with.
I felt a small sense of relief when I ran past my bedroom door. I was getting closer to my office. My feet still felt heavy in the plush carpet. The hall was darker than I remembered as I ran down the hallway as if something chased me. My fear wanted me to keep going so I kept going. With a house full of happy vampires, smiling and chatting, and gossiping and mingling, I was the only person in a panic and running for what felt like my life. By the time I made it to the Queen’s chamber doors I wanted to collapse onto the floor. I hadn’t run very far but I was exhausted from the fear and the adrenaline. It wasn’t far to my office from here. And after a few more seconds I could see the door, not far in front of me. I cursed my legs and the thickness of the carpet that made it so hard to run. Just as I was reaching for the door knob I watched one of the few people I recognize in the court round the corner. Walking with an easy stride and a big smile on his face, Duke Rutlidge saw me. A look of surprise and happiness showed on his face at the sight of me. I hadn’t forgotten the Duke and I still didn’t like him.
“High Royal Chancellor, Princess Prussia,” said the Duke with a beaming smile and his arms outstretched towards me as if he wanted to embrace me, “Fancy seeing you! I thought that…well, never mind what I thought, how are you?”
Every inch of the Duke screamed politician and I couldn’t think of another politician in the court that I disliked more. I even preferred Lydia’s company to the Duke’s. As he came closer, my hand still on the doorknob to my office, I had only a second to decide what the next several moments of my life were going to entail. I looked at the Duke’s smile with disgust and his outstretched arms with disdain. I didn’t want him to touch me at all. He gave me the creeps. So I did the only thing I could think of, given the situation. I smiled, immediately went into my office, and closed the door behind me firmly.
Once in my office, I immediately locked the door and pressed my back against the heavy wood as if that would somehow keep the Duke from entering. I let out a sigh of relief at having avoided one of my least favorite people and tried to clear my head as to what I needed to do next. I glanced quickly around my office. The large overbearing bookshelf behind the monstrous oak desk made the room intimidating while the heavy drapes gave the room a Gothic feel. It felt like the most outdated and pretentious lawyers office I had ever been in and it was mine, inherited from the previous Chancellor. Stacks of books and papers cluttered every surface in my office. I had been trying to keep up with the cases and issues that demanded the Chancellor’s time but had fallen behind and eventually given up, focusing my time on escaping the madness of the castle, instead.
Now, looking around, I wished I had a full staff dedicated to just keeping my office organized. I had no idea where Tommy would have set the copies of his notes. I figured he might have started at my desk. As I rushed over to my desk, my foot caught on the edge of one of the chairs and I careened into the stack of books on the corner of my desk, sending books and papers flying everywhere. I looked up in disbelief at the mess that I had caused. I had no idea where to look before and now I was staring at a hopeless mess. I knelt on the floor next to my desk and began sifting through the papers looking for anything that might resemble Tommy’s handwriting.
My hands landed on case files, ancient looking vampire law books, depositions and exhibits, all of which needed the attention of the Royal High Chancellor. But I was too busy trying to get out of the castle, out of the city, out of the country, avoiding war, and all the things that came with war like suffering and torture. I wanted no part of it. And so I sifted through the papers but didn’t see any that looked like it had Tommy’s handwriting. I became desperate as I shoved piles of papers aside, tossed books behind me, and generally made a larger mess of things.
Not finding what I was looking for on the floor, I moved to the desk. Not bothering to sit down, and considering there was already a huge mess, I sorted by shoving whatever I looked at onto the floor. I methodically moved through the materials as I cleared the desk, but I did not find what I was looking for. Stacks upon stacks of papers and books were strewn everywhere and I collapsed onto the floor in despair. I hadn’t found what I needed. It wasn’t here and even if it was, I couldn’t find it. And I couldn’t leave without it. Just as I had settled on sobbing on the floor as a solution, I heard a knock at the door. Looking up, my premature tears dried and my sobbing fell silent. I waited to be sure there had actually been a knock.
“Prussia?” I heard a man say from the other side of the door, his voice muffled by the thick wood.
I leapt up and swung the door open in excitement and relief. Before me stood Tommy and just as my heart had hoped, in his hands were papers that I was certain would be the notes he had promised me.
“Sorry I didn’t get it to you sooner…” he said, his voice trailing off as he looked behind me.
I followed his gaze and felt my cheeks fill with color as we both stood silently viewing the destruction all over my office.
“Were you ransacked?” asked Tommy?
I shook my head, looked out in the hall for any witnesses, and then pulled Tommy into my office and closed the door behind him.
“No,” I said in a whisper, even though the door was closed, “I was looking for your notes,”
“What is going on? Are you okay?” asked Tommy, his eyes wide with disbelief as he continued to look over the mess.
“Yes,” I said, “I mean, no. It’s complicated,”
“I believe it,” Tommy muttered.
I placed my hands together, fingertips lining up with one another as I held my breath, waiting with great anticipation for Tommy to give me the copy of his notes as he had promised.
“What’s going on, Prussia?” he asked.
“I killed Jasper,” I said.
“Jasper…” Tommy repeated.
I watched the wheels turn as he got caught up. I had told Tommy about the night Robert had betrayed me and how close I had been to becoming a forever-pet for Queen Patricia. And I know I had mentioned Jasper and Josephine more than once.
“Oh my goodness, how?” asked Tommy, as he put the name and my history together.
“It was an accident,” I said, shrugging.
The same panic that had driven me to run frantic down the corridors of the castle roared its ugly head.
“What did Queen Victoria say?” asked Tommy, his eyes showing a great deal of fear on my behalf.
“Well…” I said, uncomfortably shifting where I stood as I tried to think of the best way to explain the entire situation, “She’s using Jasper’s death as an opportunity to accept Queen Patricia’s declaration of war. But now I’m freaking out because she’s sending Jasper’s personal things back and as soon as Josephine finds out…what do you think she’s going to do?,” I looked at Tommy, his eyes reflecting my same fears back at me.
“What the hell are you still doing here?” asked Tommy as though I had lost my mind.
I looked down at the papers Tommy still held and looked as pathetic as I could. Realization spread across Tommy’s face as he shoved the papers into my hands and pulled me into a great big hug.
“I will burn whatever I have left,” whispered Tommy.
“What if the Queen…” I started to say, but Tommy didn’t let me finish. He shook his head back and forth.
“The Queen won’t notice,” said Tommy, complete certainty drawn across his face, “Not with war on the horizon,”
I looked down at the papers, only a dozen of them, and found myself holding them with great care, as if they were made of silk or gold.
“I’m sorry for my handwriting,” said Tommy, looking down at the copies of his handwritten notes, “I never thought they would be read by anyone else,”
“Hopefully, no one else besides us will ever read them,” I murmured, looking at the difference between the elegant scrawls of the body of his text compared to the incomprehensible scribbles that covered the margins of the pages.
Tommy opened the door to my office and surprised me as he began to push me out into the hallway.
“Go,” he urged, gently pushing me out of the door, “I’ll find someone to clean all this up,”
Tommy waved his hand at the giant mess of papers and books that would have alarmed an unsuspecting visitor. I gave Tommy a smile, a warm smile, a smile I hoped he would interpret how I had meant it - as being a wonderful and appreciated friend. But I couldn’t bring myself to say a goodbye though we both knew that was what it would be, at least for a little while. I couldn’t bring myself to say anything at all. I opened my mouth to speak and felt a rawness in my throat that threatened tears, tears that hadn’t had a chance to escape earlier as I had sat in the middle of my messy office floor.
I pressed my lips together, doing my best not to get emotional, but I couldn’t leave just as things were. I took the few steps between us and hugged Tommy with all of my heart. I could never thank him enough. He had been the closest thing to a friend I had had in the castle and he had kept me sane, kept me alive, given me answers when no one else had. Now I was about to strike out into the world full of dangers, a target on my back, and war on my heels. He was still helping even if it meant he might die for doing something the Queen might disapprove of, like destroying important research notes about me, what I am, and what I could do. I hugged him firmly, squeezing him. I gave him one last look before I turned and ran towards my room to get my things, answers clutched tightly in my hands.