The day I discovered vampires—excuse me, Vampyres…apparently, the spelling is important—existed, I didn’t freak out.
The undead are among us, boohoo. Christ, I’m a noughties babe. A kid reared on Twilight, Buffy, and Blade.
Hell, I was actually thrilled to learn they exist. Especially as the guy telling me he was one was my fiancé.
Yeah, get that.
Nikolai Korsov is a Vampyre.
If you don’t know who Nikolai Korsov is, then where the fuck have you been these last five years? Under a freakin’ stone?
I mean, Christ.
This is Niko Korsov we’re talking about here.
The computer coder who revolutionized the Internet. Who matched what Steve Jobs did for the industry during the latter half of the twentieth century.
Niko is infamously famous.
If you don’t know him, maybe you’ve been living in the Arctic or something. But wait. I think the polar bears know who Niko Korsov is.
My fiancé decided to come clean about the whole existence-of-Vampyres thing the night before our wedding rehearsal dinner.
I guess he mustn’t have realized how enlightened I am or known how cool his fiancée is. I mean, at first, sure, I laughed.
It was comical.
There we were, sitting in the tiny Welcome Inn where my father insisted Niko stay before we say “I do,” and out he comes with it all.
Yadda yadda yadda.
I dealt with it all. Handled it rather superbly, if I say so myself.
Until I asked the
The question that had popped into my head the instant he’d started talking about sucking blood. A question that had taken priority over every other, including the one where I wondered if there was a coffin somewhere in the basement for him to snooze in…
Whose blood was he using for dinner?
Okay, I guess it’s weird to freak out about that but not about the fact the world is far more than the “average Joe” human realizes. Nobody ever said Lyssa Jane Hamilton had her priorities in order.
Hmm, that’s probably nothing to be proud of. But fuck it. Vampyres exist. Reality as I know it has tilted, and I’m allowed to be wobbly about this new information.
As it is, Niko’s answer didn’t exactly make me feel warm and cozy inside. I think I’d have preferred to learn he’d been “drinking” from other women. Better that than learn Niko’s badass bodyguard, Dmitry Vasin, is his version of a grocery store. And that if I’m to marry Niko, then this shitty old treaty that happened two hundred years ago states I also have to marry Dmitry.
Some bullshit to do with a war that happened years ago, the blood of innocents being shed, blah, blah, blah.
Now, I pay my donation to Greenpeace and to UNICEF. Technically I was baptized Christian, but I'm not a believer. I sure as hell don't go to church every Sunday, but hey, who does? Apart from all my family, that is. This is
the Bible Belt after all. I'm as charitable as I can be, but this just takes the biscuit. Why should I have to marry two guys because of a war that happened two centuries ago?
Does that sound fair?
No. It fucking does not.
Okay, I'll admit Dmitry is hotter than hell. And yeah, the idea of Niko clamping down on Dmitry’s throat and slurping up A Negative like it’s champagne makes bits of me tingle…
But I ain’t frickin’ doing it.
That’s what I told Niko.
Yup. I did. I said no.
I left the Welcome Inn in tears, heart breaking as I stomped away toward my rented car, and felt like I was dying when I drove over my daddy’s land and headed toward the lake, where as a kid I’d spent nearly all my summer vacations. It had been my haven and bolt-hole. Adulthood hasn’t changed that.
After spending the night in the SUV, the crick in my neck hasn’t improved my mood any. The sun’s too bright, and my heart’s still aching.
I could accept the whole bloodsucking thing. But two husbands? I mean, sure, I’ve read way too many ménage romances. What chick hasn’t? And what chick doesn’t try to figure out which bits go where while being the filling in a hunk sandwich?
But the reality is, the bad girl stays locked up in the bedroom, glued to her erotic romances, and gorging on ice cream and chocolate.
The good girl is the one who decides to get married, have kids, and settle down. The good girl goes to work, earns an honest dollar. The good girl diets and wishes she had the guts to be naughtier.
If the bad girl has it better, then…? That isn’t life, is it? That isn’t how it works, right?
Or is it?
Nibbling my lip, I look out onto the lake. I’ve been staring at the goddamn thing for the last sixteen hours, hoping to get some clarity on this shitty situation. The only time I haven’t been gawking at the mirrorlike surface is when I slept and when I got out to do my “business.”
I’ve been watching the ripple-free water under the shining light of the moon and through the glimmering rays of the sun. Through it all, I’ve ignored calls from my daddy, my sister, Niko—an impressive twenty calls an hour—and the minister who’s supposed to be marrying us in three days’ time.
It makes no sense, then, that after squinting away the glare from the lake and reading Dmitry’s number on my screen when my cell buzzes, I finally pick up.
I’ll be damned if I know why.
“You do realize you have your entire family pissing themselves with worry over here, don’t you?” is Dmitry’s greeting.
“Lovely to hear from you too,” I bite out.
Fuck, the day a girl learns Vampyres exist, and that her Vampyre fiancé wants to hook her up in some kind of Big Love
scenario, she’s entitled to be selfish. Right?
“Cut the bull. Your father’s freaking out. I’ve had to stop him from calling the sheriff out. Your sister thinks you’re lying dead at the side of a highway. I’ve also had to stop her from calling in the sheriff. And Niko’s… Well, Niko is feeling as guilty as fuck for a situation he can’t change.”
“He should have told me a long time ago the way the land lies, Dmitry.”
The sound of a harsh exhalation crosses the line. “I know. He
knows. I told him to, but he wouldn’t. He didn’t want to lose you.”
“By waiting until the last minute, he has
“Look, we can both agree on the guy being a dick, but he can’t help what the treaty says. Neither can I. As much as you’re stuck with me, I’m stuck with you.”
“Whoa. If that’s your idea of charming me into going through with the wedding, you’re a long way off.”
“Screw that. I’m trying to get you to come home. That's all. Much longer and your family’s going to get the police involved, all because you’re a selfish brat. Couldn’t you have checked in once? At any time of the night? Christ, you could have left a message. But oh no, Lyssa’s got her panties in a twist and everyone has to suffer.”
The fact he’s right pisses me off more. “I’m not a selfish brat. All the time,” I amend.
He huffs. “What? Fifty percent?”
I know he doesn’t want to, but his begrudging laugh echoes down the line. “Look, we both know you’re on the rise over the lake. Stop pissing behind bushes, come home, and use the perfectly adequate bathrooms the ranch has to offer.”
“You bastard.” I hiss. “Have you been watching me, pervert?”
“You wish, babe. I checked out the lay of the land, saw your truck, and put one and one together.”
“I hate you, Dmitry.”
“Yeah, yeah. Get over it. In three days’ time, we’ll be sharing the same roof.”
“I called off the wedding.”
“Bull. You said no to the treaty’s terms. You didn’t call off the wedding, and I’ll tell you why you didn’t. Selfish brat you might be, but you love Niko. Plus, this isn’t love as you know it, it’s a mate bond. You can’t call that off. It’s a part of your soul. So, stop with the tantrum, you’re twenty years too old for it, and get your ass back to the ranch.”