Sneak Peek At...
Pain shot through my gums as my fangs started to extend further. Heat burned behind my eyes and all I could do was jerk my head in a nod before fleeing the room. Amused snorts and chuckles followed in my wake as I clenched my fists until my nails bit into flesh and blood dripped from my knuckles. I used the sharp pain to help ground me though as my feet carried me through the halls and stairwells until I found myself in the main garden located in the center of the fortress that was House Laurent. I sucked in a breath as I wiped the blood from my hands onto my dress. The crescents cut across my palms stung from where my nails had dug in. At least they hadn’t shifted into claws and done more damage.
After a few moments of steady breathing, my fangs receded to their normal length of being only slightly longer than the rest of my teeth. It’d been a while since I’d drunk from Demetri, I was overdue for some blood. He tended to treat our feeding sessions like a duty that needed to be done, so I only did it when I had to, which usually led to me putting it off for longer than I should. Despite that, my bloodlust had come dangerously close to rising in that room, and Marvina likely would have had me chained in the dungeon if that had happened, even though I wouldn’t have actually attacked anyone.
Probably not… unless one of them tried to run. I hissed as my fangs once again lengthened at the thought of chasing down prey. Screw it. They could stay out for a bit. They would naturally recede once I calmed down.
Since I was a Harker, it was unlikely I’d completely lose control of my bloodlust and be unable to come back from it. When that happened to a Moroi, we referred to them as Strigoi. To my knowledge, no one had ever come back after earning that title. All Moroi had to contend with bloodlust, but some were more likely than others to completely lose their grasp on humanity and devolve into beasts driven by nothing but hunger and survival. Our bloodlust gave us an edge in a world full of monsters. Not only did we grow fangs and claws but our instincts also went into overdrive. Truthfully, I found it a little intoxicating, but mostly because I never feared losing myself to it. My bloodline was strong, even our ancestors who originally turned Moroi retained some of her humanity.
Most of the Houses, including Laurent, could boast the same. The strength of our bloodlines was the foundation for the ruling Moroi Houses. We had yet to discover why certain bloodlines were so resilient against turning into Strigoi. There were many reasons I was thankful to be born a Harker, but not having to fear losing my humanity every time I got throughly and completely pissed off was definitely at the top of the list.
But even without the risk of turning Strigoi, it was still not a good look to lose control of your bloodlust. It was bound to happen, and Carmilla was forgiving about it, but Marvina would no doubt view it as unbecoming. She was bothered enough by my appearance and bold demeanor.
I wanted nothing more than to scream at the top of my lungs and kick something. Repeatedly. While that would feel fucking glorious, it would also no doubt get back to Marvina, and I refused to give her the satisfaction of knowing just how much she had hurt me. A few courtesans walked through the garden, glancing at me sideways while whispering furiously amongst themselves.
Great. Marvina and her lackeys were likely already telling everyone about what happened in her study. Now I was a spectacle for all of House Laurent. It wasn’t even lunchtime yet and this was already shaping up to be a spectacularly bad day. On the plus side, it was unlikely things could get worse from being laughed out of Marvina’s study.
When yet another group of whispering courtesans passed me, I gritted my teeth and headed for the structure on the other side of the garden. The three-story building continued the House Laurent trend of being ridiculously opulent. Gold and silver accents bordered the windows and shone brightly in the late morning sunshine. Those materials would have been better served on weapons in the hands of Velesians than on a fucking building. This was exactly why so many Velesians hated the Moroi. I’d hoped to start mending that rift with the trade agreement I’d put together, but it was clear that wouldn’t be happening.
“Your only job here is to make my son happy, and you can’t even do that right.” Marvina’s insult rang through my mind and I had to shove the bloodlust down again. Demetri and I might lack passion, but I desperately needed to blow off some steam and get my blood fix. When he was home, Demetri tended to have a wide-open schedule because he was content to let his mother rule over everything. It was one of the many things he had never understood about me, my desire to want more in life.
But right now, I just wanted to bury my fangs in his neck while he buried himself inside me. I entered the guesthouse and made a left down the long hallway that led to the main set of guest suites. Demetri had mentioned that some courtesans he was friends with were currently in residence and that he’d be visiting with them today. I was pretty sure Demetri spent most of his time in the guesthouse when he wasn’t traveling to other Houses. Despite being the Heir to House Laurent, he lived his life more like that of a courtesan, spending all of his time socializing and none of it ruling.
A low, throaty moan carried down the hallway followed by a deep, masculine laugh and my pace slowed. I knew that laugh. A peculiar, numb feeling crept over me as I slipped forward, quiet as a ghost.
The door at the last suite was left ajar and there were pieces of clothing strewn about as if someone had pulled them off in a haste. I froze in the doorway with Demetri’s back to me, all of his lovely flesh on display as he pounded into the woman stretched out on the bed. She moaned as he thrusted harder and faster. Her legs were over his shoulders and I watched as his fingers dug into her thighs, pulling her closer. Either she was a hell of an actress or Demetri had some skills that he’d just never bothered using on me.
I should be angry about this, I thought as I watched with an odd sort of detachment about his betrayal. I’d been loyal to him, and him alone since we’d signed the marriage contract. I should be fucking pissed, and I definitely was. Nestled between the shock and the disjointed numbness was definitely rage, but not just because he was cheating on me. That was almost secondary to the other reason my blood felt like it was boiling.
No. I was pissed because she was enjoying the hell out of getting screwed by my husband and I’d never once found pleasure in it.
Are you happy?
I was goddamn brilliant, my mind was sharp as hell, and I was a fucking asset to any House. I spoke two dead languages, was well-versed in the political machinations of all the Moon Blessed, knew the strengths and weakness of every single Moroi House. The elders I studied under for the years I was at Drudonia had said they’d never had a student with such a sharp mind for political negotiations. Marvina and everyone here treated me like I was fucking beneath them when I was made to rule a House.
Are. You. Happy?
When I walked into a room, every being looked my way because I was hot as fucking sin. The same people who looked down on me couldn’t keep their eyes off of every flash of skin I showed and every rise and dip of my body. Demetri should have been on his knees crawling to me, begging for the privilege of touching me, because I was made to be worshipped.
ARE. YOU. HAPPY?
“No,” I spat out. The woman yelped as Demetri whirled in surprise, grabbing a pillow off the floor to cover himself as he stepped towards me. I laughed. Modesty? Really? “Fuck. This.” I spun on my heel and stalked back down the hall.
“Samara!” Demetri called frantically after me. “Wait!”
I stopped halfway to the exit and spun to face him. His steps faltered as he quickly buttoned the pants he’d pulled on and brushed his dark auburn hair away from his face. My eyes ran over his body, taking in his well-muscled chest that was slicked with sweat and the flustered color in his lightly tanned face. He really had put in more effort into fucking whoever the hell that was than he ever had me.
My lips curled putting my fangs fully on display. Demetri’s gaze widened at the sight.
“Let’s discuss this,” he started, holding out his hands in a placating manner as if he were trying to calm down an unruly horse.
A humorless laugh poured out of me and whatever he saw in my face made him flinch and take a step back, still holding his hands up but now it felt more defensive on his part. “There is nothing to discuss,” I said coldly. “My life here is a joke. I should have realized it sooner, but the events of today have made it very clear. I’m fucking done.”
“What does that mean?” His eyes widened, and he reached for me, but I stepped back.
I needed to get the hell away from him. From Marvina. From this House. There was only one place I could go to regroup and figure all of this out.
“I’m going home.”