Evie Byrne: Fantastik Romance
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Damned by Blood
Book Three of the Faustin Brothers Trilogy
Releasing September 22nd, 2009 from Samhain Publishing.

ISBN: 978-1-60504-757-7-4 $4.50

damned by blood

When Mikhail walked through the door the curtains stirred and the air temperature dropped. In a glance he took in every detail of the room, just as she would, memorizing the layout, cataloging the feeders, Dominick, and hanging Frank, and tucking that information away for future use.

Alya stood to greet him. She sampled his power, letting it brush over her skin before shaking it off like a cat that's been stroked backward.

Their eyes locked and held without the camera as intermediary. She'd not been challenged so directly for a long time.

For the briefest moment, she glimpsed him as the angelic boy he'd been, kissing her with a smile. Was that really him? Had that girl been her? Some version of them, maybe. An incarnation on another plane. Butterflies filled her stomach, a visceral memory of how he'd once thrilled her. She hardened herself against the unsettling feeling. Sentimentality was a dangerous luxury.

"Knyaz," she said, inclining her head without lowering her eyes. She used the title he'd be known by among his own people.

"Knyaginya," he said, his gaze level, his hands folded in front of him, his expression that of a church saint. His use of the feminine honorific made her smile. It was quite an ugly mouthful. And properly, she should be knyaz too. She was no one's princess.

"To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?"

Mikhail gestured to his lawyer. Alya had forgotten the man even existed, but he'd been standing there at Mikhail's left shoulder all along, grey and unobtrusive. He stepped forward with a letter sealed with black wax and dropped it on the table.

"Ms. Adad, I've come to testify that this sworn affidavit from Natalia Faustin is certified as genuine prophecy by the Council of Mothers."

What in the hell did that mean? Now she'd have to call in her lawyers to find out. She didn't touch the letter.

Mikhail pulled back his coat sleeve, revealing a strange bracelet--no, rather a slender black rope coiling up his arm. She hissed as she recognized the magic crawling over it. How had security let that by?

Shit. Hoping against hope, she pushed her panic button with her toe. Dominick raised a brow at her. She made a subtle "wait" signal with one finger.

"Alya Adad, I declare you mine by right of dream, bound to me by fate and blood."

And then she understood. He hadn't come to kill her, he'd come to marry her.

"You are fucking kidding me."

Mikhail didn't falter. He continued reciting the proposal. There was probably some rule that he had to say the whole thing, and Mikhail was never one to break a rule. And it wasn't a proposal, she realized, it was a declaration of intent.

"This rope, woven of both craft and magic, symbolizes the unbreakable bonds of marriage."

The rope came alive, uncoiling itself from his arm, slithering into a loop between his outstretched hands. From the corner of her eye, she saw Dominick tense, ready to leap at her slightest gesture. She also knew that Mikhail could kill him with a single blow. And security was not coming.

She had to get out of there. Lead Mikhail away from her people, and get some distance between herself and that rope. Then she could take him on.

"It will ensure your submission to me as a bride--"

Saying this, he stepped into range...