Evangeline Duvalier moved about the dank, dreary space, her lip curling at the incessant squeaking thanks to an overabundance of rats. She should be living in the lap of luxury with the power she possessed, instead, this abandoned warehouse down by the river was her new, if temporary, home. It was barely a step up from the prison from which she’d recently escaped, the only difference here was that instead of a fellow witch bringing her meals, deaf to Evangeline’s pleas for freedom, she now had a vampire minion to do her bidding.
“I have what you wanted, mistress.”
Speaking of vampire minions… Pasting a bright smile on her face to disguise her true feelings, she turned to greet Kevin. A mid-level vampire, with average, boy-next-door looks and mediocre intelligence. Kevin. Even his name was mediocre. But beggars couldn’t be choosers, could they?
Snatching the square of blood-stained white linen from the male’s hand, she brought the cloth to her face and inhaled. “And you’re sure this is Kane’s blood?”
“Yes, mistress,” he replied, avoiding her gaze.
Evangeline narrowed her eyes. “Just Kane’s blood?”
Kevin had to clear his throat – twice – his weight shifting from foot to foot.
“Who else’s blood?” she demanded.
Another throat clear that left her with the urge to choke the male before he finally volunteered in an annoying whine, “It was used to clean the dagger after the oath was sworn, so Kane’s blood is on it.”
“But not Kane’s blood alone.”
It wasn’t a question, though Kevin felt the need to reply. “No, mistress. His father’s, his brother’s, as well as the two vampires he’s chosen as his seconds.”
Dropping the linen on the dirty floor at her feet, Evangeline sighed, wishing she could kill the simpleton, but of the original five vampires she’d recruited with promises of power, he was the only one remaining and she didn’t have time to court new ones. Too many people were looking for her now. But after… after, she would enjoy watching Kevin bleed out at her feet.
“This is useless to me. Find me a pure sample, even if you have to stab him to get it.”
“I can’t get that close. He’s hunting me.”
“Oh, for the love of…” cutting that off with a deep cleansing breath, Evangeline closed her eyes and tried to marshal some patience. “Fine. Break into his house when he’s not there and steal his brush. Do you think you could do that at least?”
Kevin bowed deeply. “Yes, mistress. Right away.”
Waiting until she no longer sensed the vampire on the premises, Evangeline dropped the glamour that cloaked her so that she could relax in her true form. For years she’d been imprisoned, stripped of her powers, watching, listening, impotent to do anything as her people allowed themselves to be subjugated under vampire rule. And then one night, word had reached her that Destin Jourdain, the current leader of the Order of Witches had risen up against the Born, decimated the vampire legion in moments with his power. She’d celebrated the victory. Finally! Finally, her people were seeing what she’d been saying for years – the witches were the true power in the supernatural world and they needed to take their proper place at the top of the hierarchy.
Her celebration had been short-lived, however. The battleground had barely been cleared of the corpses when she’d learned that a new Born had stepped in and Jourdain had simply rolled over like a dog and accepted the return to the status quo.
When the Order had chosen Destin Jourdain, they’d chosen wrong. He wasn’t hungry enough, his aspirations too small. But now Evangeline was free, she’d show her people what true leadership was, and she’d show the vampires what true power looked like. Starting with Kane Fletcher, the Born vampire foolish enough to attempt to take ownership of this territory.