TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS — and distrust anyone who makes
you the slightest bit wary, even among your closest “friends.”
Vladescus are strong willed—but a Dragomir princess never
I will always be a part of you, Antanasia.
I closed the black leather-bound notebook and sank down
onto my bed, not sure how I’d gotten back across the room.
I’d been so absorbed in reading my birth mother’s cramped
but careful script. It was as though she’d tried to fill every inch
of the tiny booklet with all of her collected wisdom. Everything
that she’d thought I would need to know to be the ruler of
not one but two clans. And to be the wife of a “rival” prince.
I stroked the cover with my fingertips, overwhelmed by
how much she must have loved me to leave me such a legacy.
Lucius may have given me the manual for becoming a
vampire, but Mihaela Dragomir had provided me with the
guide to surviving as one.
I closed my eyes for a moment, bowing my head in
gratitude and respect for her, too.
Thank you, Mihaela, for protecting me, even when you
clearly saw your own destruction looming.
Although I’d only skimmed passages, knowing that I’d
read more carefully in the months and years to follow, I’d
noticed how her messages had become clipped and her
handwriting jagged as the pages ran out, as though she’d
known that the time for recording her thoughts was running
Shivering, suddenly realizing that the room had gotten
colder while I’d stood reading, I slipped between my blankets
and tucked the little volume under my pillow, as if I could
absorb her wisdom in my sleep. I also wanted to keep the
notebook right with me. Even my nightstand seemed too far
away for something so valuable—at least to me.
Resting my head on my pillow, I closed my eyes, already
feeling warmer, not just from the blankets but because it felt
like I had a new ally, one who had already experienced the
things that I faced, and who could help me.
I understood then why my adoptive mom had felt like she
was handing me back to my birth mother when she’d given
me the present.
Although the gift, and the evening, were bittersweet, I
started to smile, remembering a specific passage that I’d noted
as I’d paged quickly along.
. . . hope that you come to love him . . .
I knew that Mihaela referred to Lucius, whom I had come
to love, more than I could’ve dreamed when I’d struck his
foot with a pitchfork less than a year before.
Smiling in the dark, I started trying to picture our
wedding, but maybe because I still wasn’t sure where it would
be held, I had trouble imagining it, and, as often happened
since the evening Lucius had proposed to me, I found myself
remembering that. And even though I’d been sure I’d never
fall asleep that night, before long I was drifting into my
favorite dream, which always started with Lucius taking my
hand and leading me down a secret path that only a handful
of vampires—and two very special humans—even knew
“Come with me, Antanasia,” he invites, fingers strong and
cool around my hand. “It’s time that I show you a place that is
not just special, but sacred . . .”
Continue to Chapter 10...