I was just a reporter, trying to stay ahead of my student loans. I knew the rules, and I followed them. I thought I knew how the world worked—humans lived their petty little lives in the safety of the sun. We loved and fought and—when the sun sank—we scurried behind our walls and lived in fear. That is when the monsters came out to play. And even in the safety of the sun, we knew who ruled us. The Houses. And their Scions. Everyone knows the great Houses and their Scions—they are feared and loved and hated and envied. They are the gods who walk the shadows and rule all of our lives. They are salvation and death. And somehow, I am one of them.
“Farley?” I blink, and stare at my intern. She’s a tiny little thing, and it occurs to me—not for the first time—that I have no business putting her in an office like this. We aren’t doing the smart thing—we don’t toe the House line. We’re too little for them to care, but I’m well aware that it’s not exactly safe. “What is it?” “You have a lunch appointment, ma’am.” I frown. “Since when?” “Hendin set it up.” I breathe a curse. Kevin Hendin might be the best damn editor I’ve ever met, but he’s still a fucking pain in the ass. I swallow that thought down and save the draft I’m working on, rising and shrugging into my suit coat. “Where?” “Silver and Ivy.” I go still. Who the hell are we meeting that can afford S&I? It’s one of the finest restaurants in the city, completely human, and expensive as fuck. Winston took me there when I graduated from NYU. Of course, it was for a tiny glass of wine and a shared dessert—neither of us could afford more than that—but it was a sweet gesture that meant a lot, especially coming from my ridiculously practical brother. “Ma’am?” I blink out of my thoughts to focus on my intern, and snatch up my laptop and phone. Shove both with my wallet into my messenger bag and snag my glasses and notebook before I dart out. It’s ridiculous to use a notebook, these days. Everyone has gone digital—what was a gathering wave before Brakken—became a way of life in the aftermath. The Houses controlled everything after, and pushed tech hard. Some people believed it was out of kindness. It wasn’t. But I’ve never been blinded by the pretty veneer of the Houses or their Scions. Silver and Ivy is one of the last places in New York that can still maintain their human only clientele. Because they cater to the wealthy, and even in the aftermath of the plague and all the change that the Houses inflicted on us, the wealthy maintains a level of untouchability. They are protected by that comfort of security that money can buy. Even the wealthiest in our country could be bought by one of the Houses, but I think it amuses them to let the one percent cling to the illusion that they are still different from the rest of us. I step into S&I and belatedly realize that I don’t know who I’m meeting. I mutter a soft curse and the eyebrow of the host twitches in response. No, I suppose he isn’t used to young reporters with a gutter mouth spilling into his lunch hour. I grin, and run a hand through my hair. I’m about to screw up his whole day. I amble up to where he wait and he gives me a frosty stare. “I’m meeting someone,” I say. His gaze sweeps over me and his lips curls just a little, all annoyed disdain that pisses me off. “And you are?” “Farley Hart.” His eyes go wide and he pales, so much so I take a step back. Something is very wrong about all of this, and Winston always told me to listen to my gut. I take another step, and a hand clamps down on my arm, rooting me to the spot. It’s icy and burning and so damn unmovable. I know, even before I let my gaze crawl up. Shiny boots, a pristine black suit that cost more than my degree, a startlingly white shirt with a skinny black tie. Wide shoulders, thin waist, and a hand that’s fucking huge, latched onto me. A ring glints on his finger and I focus on that, on the strange sigil worked into the metal. It’s not gold, and it sure as hell isn’t silver. It’s almost dull. Iron? “Oh shit,” I mutter. A vampire is holding me, keeping me from bolting. And if that weren’t bad enough—it’s a damn Blood Prince.
Twelve Houses. Twelve vampire lines. We ruled from the shadows, and manipulated the world, and when humans came too close to destruction, we intervened. Every House has a Scion. A fragile, easily broken human that stood shoulder to shoulder with the house Princes and Princesses. Except for ours. The Ravens, House Cantelie. We've been without a Scion for almost fifteen years. But that will change...and her life will be mine to protect.
Nazarea Andrews (N to almost everyone) is an avid reader and tends to write the stories she wants to read. Which means she writes everything from zombies and dystopia to contemporary love stories. When not writing, she can most often be found driving her kids to practice and burning dinner while she reads, or binging watching TV shows on Netflix. N loves chocolate, wine, and coffee almost as much as she loves books, but not quite as much as she loves her kids. She lives in south Georgia with her husband, daughters, spoiled cat and overgrown dog. She is the author of World Without End series, Neverland Found, Edge of the Falls, and The University of Branton Series. Stop by her twitter (@NazareaAndrews) and tell her what fantastic book she should read next.