This was a chance, after all.
If I could figure out how to protect Hazel from the fae, I could reinitiate our relationship.
Although I had come to like the sassy, strong-willed wizard, I’d chosen to turn her out of Drake Hall and cut off ties with her when Queen Nyte of the fae Night Court sent me a letter that threatened Hazel’s life.
Normally I would have ignored such a pathetic attempt at manipulation, but in this case there was some truth to the threat.
Hazel wasn’t a vampire. While she could sense fae magic, a bullet could take her life in an instant unlike myself or any of my underlings.
Driving her out was the best option I had at the time. I planned to renew our relationship once I finally dealt with the Night Court, but since the fight had already lasted years it occurred to me Queen Nyte might continue to drag it out, so perhaps it was in my best interest to find a way to use vampire power to protect Hazel.
Unfortunately, none of the books I’d read ever mentioned such a thing, and I wasn’t desperate enough to ask any colleagues. Doing so would bait them, and reveal my weakness for the mouthy wizard.
So I kept researching.
I skimmed the last book at roughly three in the morning—I couldn’t delay going any longer. I still had the drive back to Magiford with Josh and Rupert—who had accompanied me here—and there was work I needed to complete back at Drake Hall.
But I paused when I flipped to a section about blood donors.
That’s what we called the humans who offered their blood for a vampire to directly imbibe from them—blood donors. In return the human was often generously paid, and usually housed and fed free of charge.
There were older, less complimentary names for blood donors that we used to use—I had been alive for some of them. But while now blood donors were seen as more of luxury employees kept at an arm’s length, back then they were closer to pets, and barely made the footnotes of most records.
The chapter in this aging book and its brittle pages was mostly about the care of a blood donor and how a vampire could stay safe while drinking.
But there was a tiny subsection that caught my attention.
Extending the life of your servants…
It dusted off a few foggy memories I had of encountering blood donors who had been highly prized by their vampires.
I had even met a vampire who had declared her donor was the one.
I was pretty doubtful that the one actually existed for any vampire who wasn’t fanciful or dreamy, but vampires had a history of giving special treatment to the small percentage of humans and supernaturals who became important to us.
It wasn’t talked about much, but we vampires could grant a slight form of eternal youth to those we drank from—as long as we lived, anyway. It wasn’t easily granted. Firstly, because we didn’t want humans or other supernaturals knowing we were capable of it. Secondly, because it meant secreting chemical compounds in our spit that were only present when we drank directly from a source, and it had to be done frequently enough to keep pumping that compound into the donor’s body.
But drinking from blood donors was risky. Even the most careful vampires had to follow precautions, which was probably why the practice had fallen out of favor.
It’s not real protection…but perhaps it could be useful for her.
I’d never drink from Hazel. No matter how deeply the wizard had dug her way into my mind, that was one line I wasn’t ever going to cross.
But perhaps Celestina or one of my other underlings could.
The idea didn’t sit quite right with me, but if I didn’t get things settled with the Night Court soon I would have to start worrying about Hazel dying off of old age before I could bring her back into the fold.
Humans aged so quickly and seemed to die within the blink of an eye for a vampire. I had forgotten that in the sparkle of Hazel’s warm personality, and the equally warm and rich smell that followed her around.
My phone buzzed—a stark reminder of the times I lived in.
I quickly replaced the books I’d searched, sliding the manuscript that contained the section on blood donors in last.
I rested my hand on the books. “Extending her life is a big risk for a wizard I’ve known for barely a breath.”
I crossed the room and made it all the way to the door before I looped back, plucking out the book.
I’d borrow it for a few weeks and see if I could discern anything interesting from it. The Family wouldn’t mind, and it would give me time to think of alternatives.
Hazel was important to me. I’d fight fae for her and let other supernaturals speculate that I’d lost it for her.
But drink her blood?
The only reason my arms weren’t shaking as I carried a reusable grocery bag filled with reams of paper was because I had done some weightlifting during my time with the Drake Family. (If Gavino, my trainer, saw me now he’d be so proud. Maybe. If Killian would let him be.)
I led Great Aunt Marraine through the maze-like hallways of the Curia Cloisters—which was a bit like a safe haven, meeting place, and town hall for the supernatural community rolled into one building. It was beautiful—the vampires and fae were pretty loaded with cash, so there was no way they were going to let a building they had to spend a significant portion of time in be anything less than gorgeous. But it was almost domineering in its austere beauty with cold tiled floors, white stone columns veined with what looked like gold, wood paneled walls, and statues and paintings of significant heroes to our society from ages past.
We made our way to the least ornamented section of the building—the home to us little guys in the savage pecking order that was our society—the wizard offices.
Since my arms were full I kicked the door open with zero regrets, even after the door hit the plaster office wall with a crack.
Three secretaries—two women and a man who was just a bit older than me—peered over the top of their horseshoe-shaped desk, paling when they saw me.
“Oh, no.” The secretary who looked perfectly dressed in a black pencil skirt with an appropriately placid green blouse threw off her glasses and pressed her palms into her eyes. “I forgot it was Wednesday!”
“It’s not me,” said the rosy-cheeked secretary who somewhat resembled Mrs. Claus. “I took care of her last time. Bobby, you’re up.” Spry despite her elderly appearance, Mrs. Claus kicked “Bobby’s” chair, making him wobble.
The young man looked like he was being sent to prison as he sank deeper in his chair. “Good morning, Adept Medeis.”
I flashed all three secretaries my biggest smile. “Good morning! How are you three today?”
“Quite well, until now,” the perfect secretary grumbled.
I set my grocery bag down and rested my hands on the edge of their desk. “Understandably. Can you tell me, has the council agreed to consider creating a law to punish other wizards for meddling in House inheritance?” I asked.
When Mason went after me, he had the backing of several Houses that were supposedly House Medeis allies. His friends did their best to track me down and stop me, but thankfully I found safety before they caught up. But once it became obvious they couldn’t pick me off or force me to hand the House over to Mason, the conniving wizards resolved to get Medeis through sheer social pressure, and banded more Houses together to formally approve Mason as the Adept of House Medeis.
It shouldn’t have been possible. House inheritance was a private matter—if the wrong person inherited the House, the building would flip out, and there would be some pretty severe repercussions.
And yet! Strictly speaking, while the other Houses—namely the Telliers and Rothchilds—had broken laws in their attempts to kill me, there weren’t any laws against backing someone besides the Heir and attempting a coup of another House. (Mostly because no one had previously been STUPID enough to try it!)
The Telliers and Rothchilds had gotten spanked for their involvement with Mason. They were banned from the Wizard Council—the subcommittee that listened to all wizard issues, complaints, and requests—and they had lost a lot of ranks and been fined pretty heftily.
But while I would have preferred to make them miserable, what I really wanted was to get a law passed to make sure something like this couldn’t happen again. And based on how uncooperative the Wizard Council was acting with putting such a law together, I was afraid they had plans for other Houses.
Magic was dying. Slowly, our society was being drained of our magic and dying out. It was why we came out to humans—because if we didn’t do something fast, we were going to disappear altogether. (Not that regular humans knew that. It would give them a dangerous upper hand.)
But since magic was dying, our society was starting to show cracks in it. Mason was allowed to keep pushing because when he first tried to kill me, I had almost no magic—a dangerous thing for an Adept of a House.
There was no telling what else they’d allow if they felt it might expand our power as wizards or give us a bit more time before magic left our bloodlines entirely.
I, however, didn’t care about any of that.
What Mason did was wrong. What the Wizard Subcommittee and my so-called allies had helped him do was wrong. And I was going to make sure it couldn’t happen again.
Besides, what was the point of grasping for power and maybe surviving an extra generation if we had to ruin lives and harm people in the process?
Bobby cleared his throat. “You are referring to your request that other Houses be banned from involving themselves in House inheritance, yes?”
“Yes,” I said with the patience and smile of a thousand angels.
He gulped. “I regret to say…you see, the Wizard Council has been very busy…what I mean is…” Bobby stared helplessly at me.
“They still won’t agree to even look into such a law, will they?” I asked.
Bobby mutely shook his head.
Great Aunt Marraine patted my shoulder. “You’ll win them over, Adept. Or they’ll eventually give up when they realize resistance is futile.”