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Blood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy #1)
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Paradise, blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor, is ready to break free from the restrictive life of an aristocratic female. Her strategy? Join the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training center program and learn to fight for herself, think for herself… be herself. It’s a good plan, until everything goes wrong. The schooling is unfathomably difficult, the other recruits feel more like enemies than allies, and it’s very clear that the Brother in charge, Butch O’Neal, a.k.a. the Dhestroyer, is having serious problems in his own life.
And that’s before she falls in love with a fellow classmate. Craeg, a common civilian, is nothing her father would ever want for her, but everything she could ask for in a male. As an act of violence threatens to tear apart the entire program, and the erotic pull between them grows irresistible, Paradise is tested in ways she never anticipated–and left wondering whether she’s strong enough to claim her own power…on the field, and off.
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The King’s Audience House, Caldwell, NY
Some graduations happened in private.
Some of these important markers of the next stage of life had no caps and gowns, no orchestras playing the humans’ “Pomp and Circumstance.” There was no stage to walk across or diploma to hang on your wall. No witnesses, either.
Some graduations were marked by the simple and the everyday, the nothing-special—like a person reaching out to a Dell monitor and hitting the little blue button on the lower right corner of the computer screen. Such a mundane action, done many times in a week, a month, a year—but nonetheless, for one particular instance, a great division between before and after occurred.
As Paradise, blooded daughter of Abalone, First Adviser to Wrath, son of Wrath, sire of Wrath, King of all vampires, sat back in her office chair, she stared at the now-black screen in front of her. Amazing. The night she had been waiting for was almost here.
For most of the last eight weeks, time had been going at a crawl, but in these final couple of evenings it had switched things up and flipped into catapult mode. Suddenly, after having suffered through seven-thousand-hour waits for the moon to rise, she felt like she wanted to slow it all down again.
Her first job was now a thing of the past.
Looking across the desk, she moved the office phone over an inch—then switched the AT&T whatever it was back to where it had been. She straightened the stained-glass dragonfly shade on the Tiffany lamp. Made sure the blue pens were in one holder and the red ones in another. Smoothed her palm over the dust-free blotter and the top of the monitor.
The waiting room was empty, the silk chairs unoccupied, the magazines put in order on the side tables, the drinks that had been served by doggen to those who had come all cleaned up.
The last civilian had left about thirty minutes ago. Dawn was about two hours off. All in all, it was the normal end to a night of hard work, the time when she and her father would head back to the family estate to enjoy a meal full of talk and plans and mutual respect.
Paradise leaned forward and looked around the archway of the parlor. Across the foyer, the double doors that led into what had previously been the mansion’s formal dining room were closed.
Yup, just a normal night except for the very un-normal meeting that was taking place in there: Right after the final appointment had left, her father had been called into the audience chamber and those doors had shut tight.
He was in there with the King, and two members of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.
“Don’t you do this to me,” she said. “Don’t you take this away from me.”
Paradise got up and walked around, re-straightening magazines, re-plumping throw pillows, stopping in front of the oil painting of a French king.
Heading back to the archway, she stared at the closed panels of the dining room and listened to the pounding of her heart.
Lifting her hands, she prodded the calluses on her palms. They hadn’t come from working here for her father and the Brotherhood for the last couple of months, organizing the schedule and tracking issues, resolutions and follow-ups. No, for the first time in her life she had been hitting the gym. Pumping iron. Running on treadmills. Working the StairMaster. Pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups. Erg machine.
Before now, she hadn’t even known what an erg machine was.
And it was all in preparation for tomorrow night.
Assuming that group of males in the King’s audience room wasn’t taking it all away from her.
Tomorrow, at midnight, she was supposed to join the Scribe Virgin only knew how many males and females at a secret location—where she was going to try to make the cut for the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training program for soldiers.
It was a good plan—something she had decided to pursue, a chance to be independent and kick some ass and prove to herself she was more than her pedigree. The problem? Fully blooded daughters from the glymera, from one of the Founding Families no less, did not train to become soldiers. They didn’t handle guns or knives. They didn’t learn to fight or defend themselves. They didn’t even know what a lesser was.
They didn’t even associate with soldiers.
Daughters like her were trained in needlepoint, classical music and singing, manners, and running vast households filled with doggen. They were expected to know the complicated social calendar and the festival cycles, keep up with the wardrobe requirements of all of that, and know the difference between Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron and Cartier. They were cloistered, protected, and cherished as all jewels were.
The only dangerous thing they were permitted to do? Breed. With a hellren chosen by their family to ensure the sanctity of their bloodlines.