Blood Kiss by J.R. Ward Read Online (FREE)
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The King’s Audience House, Caldwell, NY
Some graduations happened in private.
Some of these important markers of the next stage of life had no caps and gowns, no orchestras playing the humans’ “Pomp and Circumstance.” There was no stage to walk across or diploma to hang on your wall. No witnesses, either.
Some graduations were marked by the simple and the everyday, the nothing-special—like a person reaching out to a Dell monitor and hitting the little blue button on the lower right corner of the computer screen. Such a mundane action, done many times in a week, a month, a year—but nonetheless, for one particular instance, a great division between before and after occurred.
As Paradise, blooded daughter of Abalone, First Adviser to Wrath, son of Wrath, sire of Wrath, King of all vampires, sat back in her office chair, she stared at the now-black screen in front of her. Amazing. The night she had been waiting for was almost here.
For most of the last eight weeks, time had been going at a crawl, but in these final couple of evenings it had switched things up and flipped into catapult mode. Suddenly, after having suffered through seven-thousand-hour waits for the moon to rise, she felt like she wanted to slow it all down again.
Her first job was now a thing of the past.
Looking across the desk, she moved the office phone over an inch—then switched the AT&T whatever it was back to where it had been. She straightened the stained-glass dragonfly shade on the Tiffany lamp. Made sure the blue pens were in one holder and the red ones in another. Smoothed her palm over the dust-free blotter and the top of the monitor.
The waiting room was empty, the silk chairs unoccupied, the magazines put in order on the side tables, the drinks that had been served by doggen to those who had come all cleaned up.
The last civilian had left about thirty minutes ago. Dawn was about two hours off. All in all, it was the normal end to a night of hard work, the time when she and her father would head back to the family estate to enjoy a meal full of talk and plans and mutual respect.
Paradise leaned forward and looked around the archway of the parlor. Across the foyer, the double doors that led into what had previously been the mansion’s formal dining room were closed.
Yup, just a normal night except for the very un-normal meeting that was taking place in there: Right after the final appointment had left, her father had been called into the audience chamber and those doors had shut tight.
He was in there with the King, and two members of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.
“Don’t you do this to me,” she said. “Don’t you take this away from me.”
Paradise got up and walked around, re-straightening magazines, re-plumping throw pillows, stopping in front of the oil painting of a French king.