Saturday, 16 July 2016

Snippet 2 from Into The Fire (Night Prince #4) by Jeaniene Frost

We landed in Cheshire, which thankfully was only a short trip from London. A chauffeur was already waiting for us, and the unfamiliar driver whisked us away to a manor that looked as if it belonged on the show Downton Abbey. The driver dropped us off at the front of the grand structure and then sped away.
The manor’s double doors opened before Mencheres could knock, revealing a startlingly handsome vampire with vivid turquoise eyes and shoulder-length, auburn hair. I had time to notice these particulars about his face because after my first glance, I kept my gaze firmly directed on that. Vlad muttered a curse. The auburn-haired vampire let out an aggravated huff.
“You said it was urgent, Mencheres, so do come in.”
“Ian,” Mencheres said in a chiding tone. “You should have at least gotten dressed.”
Ian glanced down, as if just now realizing that the only thing he wore was a very intimately placed silver piercing. “Do you see a seven foot tall woman on my face?” he asked in a conversational tone. “No, because I stopped everything I was doing and emptied out my house when you said you had urgent, secret business, so the least you could do is not scold me for failing to put on a tux, too.”
I didn’t know how to respond to that. Hello seemed too trivial. Sorry to interrupt your cunnilingus! was probably more appropriate, yet I wasn’t about to say that, either.
“Ah, but who’s this?” Ian went on, angling his head to get a better look at me. “Mmmm, isn’t she stunning? If she’s my consolation prize for sending everyone else away, I accept-”
“She’s my wife,” Vlad growled before I could correct the misassumption. “And if your cock twitches one more time while you look at her, I’ll burn it off.”
“Vlad, you swore,” Mencheres said low.
“Castration won’t kill him,” Vlad responded at once. “His life was all I promised, and his extremities will grow back.”
Instead of being concerned, Ian laughed and gestured for us to come inside. “Here I thought today was going to be boring. Now, I simply must know what’s brought the infamous Impaler to my door, especially if it’s so important, my sire made you swear an oath not to kill me.”
His sire. I cast a surprised look at Mencheres. Ian didn’t seem like the type that the reserved, formal vampire would choose for a member of his line. Exhibit A: what had Ian been thinking, putting a silver loop there? He might not even notice if Vlad burned his cock off. It had to be burning like hell right now.
“Are you quite sure you don’t know anyone else, Mencheres?” Vlad said, ignoring the invitation to enter.
“Few vampires are foolish enough to risk the Law Guardians’ wrath by practicing magic, and fewer still are alive after such recklessness,” Mencheres replied. Ian shrugged, not disputing either charge. “Out of those, Ian is the only one I trust with our task – that is, after I secure his word,” he finished.
“My word? Mencheres, you wound me,” Ian said, sounding hurt.
“Do not trifle with me.” Mencheres’s harsh change in tone startled me. I had never heard him raise his voice before. “I know you, Ian. You would endanger Vlad merely for your own amusement, let alone if someone offered you financial incentive. That is why you will now promise to show him and his wife the same loyalty you would show to me, and you will swear it on the love you have for me.”
Ian’s mouth curled in what could only be called a pout. “That’s not fair.”
“Swear it,” Mencheres insisted. “And before you argue, when was the last time I asked you for a favor? Would you truly deny me now?”
“No,” Ian said, sounding as if the word soured in his mouth. “You are one of only four people in the world that I would never deny. Very well, I swear on my love for you that I will show Tepesh and his wife the same loyalty I’d give to you during the duration of whatever task you’re about to talk me into.”
A vow with conditions, but then Vlad had had conditions, too. Mencheres turned to Vlad. “See?” he said in his usual serene manner. “Now that that’s been settled, we can proceed.”
Vlad eyed Ian in a way that made me wonder if he was about to take my arm, turn around, and leave. Finally, he shrugged as if to say, so be it.
“My vow is void if you betray me or Leila,” Vlad said, flashing Ian his most charming smile. “And in that case, death will be a kindness compared to what I’ll do to you.”
Ian rolled his eyes. “Save your threats. Thanks to the promise Mencheres forced from me, you don’t need them. Now, what sort of magical trouble are you intending to get into? It must be more than casting a simple spell or Mencheres could’ve helped you himself.”
“It does involve a spell, but we don’t want to cast one,” Vlad said. “We need to break one. To do that, we’ll need access to the most skilled practitioners in the world. No posers or dabblers. Master sorcerers and their ilk only.”
Ian cast an annoyed look at Mencheres. “If you wanted to get me killed, you could’ve picked a nicer way to do it.”
“This is important, Ian,” Mencheres said quietly.
“Why?” Ian asked, turning to Vlad now. “Getting tired of offing your enemies the fiery way?”
I answered before Vlad could. “[censored for spoilers].”
Ian looked at me with utter coldness, as if he could care less whether I dropped dead at his feet that second. Then, he looked at Mencheres. In quick succession, affection, resignation, and irritation skipped over his features. I didn’t know what to make of that mishmash or of Ian’s admitted tendency to back-stab, but Mencheres must trust that he would hold to his word or we wouldn’t be here.
Finally, Ian’s expression settled into cheerful cockiness. When he flashed a smile at me that turned up the volume on his already-dazzling looks, I actually felt an instinctive feminine flutter that I immediately squashed.
“Who wants to live forever?” Ian said. “Right, then, we’ll start with a magic speakeasy in the heart of London, and I do hope you’re as tough as Tepesh, my lovely, raven-haired poppet, because this will get dicey.”