Release date: April 25, 2017Cadogan House was old, stately, and luxurious, a three-story stone house on a rolling bit of lawn in Chicago’s Hyde Park. It was surrounded by an imposing fence meant to keep our enemies at bay, guarded by men and women who risked their lives to keep the House safe from attack. Tonight, as summer gave way to fall and a cool breeze spilled across the quiet dark, there was peace.
Katana at my side, I finished my patrol of the expansive grounds, nodded at the guard at the gate, and jogged up the stairs to the glowing portico. One final look, one last glance to ensure quiet in the realm, and then I opened the door … and walked back into chaos.
Cadogan House’s pretty foyer—hardwood floors, pedestal table of richly-scented flowers, gleaming chandelier—was crowded with people and noise. A vampire manned the front desk, and three others—Supplicants seeking time with Ethan Sullivan, Master of the House—waited in a bench along one side. Vampires carried boxes toward the basement stairs for the waiting truck, watched with an eagle eye by Helen, the House’s den mother.
A vampire with dark skin and shaved head rounded the corner into the foyer. This was Malik, Ethan’s Second in command. He wore a slim-cut dark suit—the official Cadogan House uniform—his skin contrasting vividly against the crisp white shirt and pale green of his eyes. He tracked the room, found me, and walked my way.
“Busy night,” he said.
A hush fell over the room, all talk and activity coming to a stop as Cadogan House’s Master stepped into the room. Every eye in the place turned to him, including mine.
That we’d known each other for a year didn’t make the sight of him any less thrilling. To the contrary—that he was mine, and I was most assuredly his, made the impact even more forceful.
He was tall and lean, the body of a man who’d once been a soldier. Even now, as a leader of vampires, he’d kept the same chiseled physique. His hair was golden-blond and shoulder length, his eyes the green of new emeralds. His jaw was square, his nose straight, his lips usually either quirked in a wicked grin, or pulled into a serious line—the expression of a Master with weight on his shoulders.
He also wore the Cadogan House uniform—a trim black suit that fitted him like the expensive, bespoke garment it probably was. He wore a white buttondown beneath, the top button unclasped to show the gleaming silver teardrop of the Cadogan medal that hung at his throat. It was a mark of solidarity, of unity, among the vampires of Cadogan House. And he wore it as well as everything else.
Beside him was a small woman with tan skin and dark hair. She was vampire, at least based on the invisible buzz of magic around her. And given the tightness around her eyes, she was a vampire with worries.
“We’ll be in touch,” Ethan promised, and she knotted her fingers together, inclined her head at him.
“Thank you so much.”
“You’re very welcome,” he said, and we all watched her head for the door.
But when I looked back at Ethan, his gaze was fixed on me.
Sentinel, he said through our telepathic connection, taking in the leather and steel of my ensemble. I like the look of you.
Mallory gestured to the green drink on the coffeetable. “And in the meantime, he’s making me drink glass clippings.”
Catcher rolled his eyes. “It’s kale, and it’s good for you.”
“I don’t see how it could be,” she said, and I grimaced on her behalf.
"I wouldn’t claim knowledge of every mote of Ethan’s four hundred years, but I knew the truth of him. I knew the dark and light, understood his secret symphony.”
"The spread of food was nearly embarrassing in both breading and quantity."
"I’d barely gotten the words out of my mouth when he pounced, covering my body with his and pressing me back into the bed."
"You’ve found your mate, Ballerina. That is both a tremendous gift—and a responsibility."
"When I looked back at Ethan, his gaze was fixed on me, eyes full of love and pride and wicked promise."
“You’ll be good,” Ethan said, nipping at my ear. “Or I’ll be bad.” I’m pretty sure that was a win-win.