Shades of Blood(Warriors of Ankh 3) - Page 1

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Prologue

This Obsession of Mine

Unrest was growing. Not just within herself but within all her brethren. Cosmina smiled, gazing across the table at the newest additions to her cause. “So, you are going to help me catch my prey, gentlemen?”

They nodded, so stoic and serious. The older of the two leaned forward. “People have a right to know that the Ankh protect one of them. It’s what we need to change how things are run. Boss wants us here to help do the damage.”

Cosmina held up a hand. “Let us be clear. I want the girl dead. Any political rebellion your Councilman wants you to rustle up later is fine. But you work for me now. You are to hunt her down first and foremost.”

“Of course-”

Her phone rang, cutting him off. Cosmina snapped it up, so eager for an update she slipped into her native Romanian. “Da? Stiri? Da?”

The familiar voice soothed her. “Ms. Arcos.”

“Yes, well? What news?”

“I’ve been contacted by someone who knows where she is.”

“Contacted by whom?”

“A Scot. Does the name-”

“Ms. Arcos!” her door flew open and her second-in-command, Wren, stood eyes blazing.

“What?” she snapped, holding the phone away from her ear.

“Juliet’s abandoned ship.”

Not another one. Cosmina tensed. It was becoming more and more difficult to find Neith who weren’t going to get a bad case of cold feet when it suddenly occurred to them they were pitting themselves against the Princeps. “Find her, take care of it.” Kill her.

Wren nodded, her psychic order tightening his features. Wren was loyal but he hated having to kill Neith. Cosmina was growing tired of having to make him.

“Ms. Arcos?” the voice on the phone queried.

Cosmina sighed as Wren walked out. She placed the phone back to her ear and flicked her wrist, using her telekinesis to shut the door.

The eyes of the two Neith in front of her widened as they realized rumors about her were true.

“You were saying?”

“Ms. Arcos, the girl… she is back in the States. At the mansion.”

Satisfaction slammed through Cosmina and she replaced the phone on the receiver without saying thank you. For weeks she had stewed in frustration as every effort to uncover Eden Winslow’s whereabouts came to a dead end. Now she felt energized. The girl was back in Weston. Cosmina didn’t have the equipment to get past Cyrus’ security (a paramilitary group didn’t have the equipment) but she had the patience. As soon as Eden stepped foot out of that estate, as soon as Cosmina had a chance to take her out, she was going to.

Even if she had to do it herself.

Eden couldn’t be allowed to exist within their world. Soul eaters were abominations. They were the enemy. How dare the Ankh protect the enemy!

The enemy that had taken everything from her…

Voluntari, Bucharest – 10 years ago

The pain of gazing into eyes that had once been warm chocolate in color, just like her own, but were now a muted silver-brown staring blankly back at her, was excruciating. In fact it was as agonizing as the throbbing, pulsing, volatile hurt that ached from the back of her mouth where her twin sister had pulled her molars out with a pair of pliers.

Her arm lay limp across her stomach. Her twin had broken that before she’d started in on the dentistry.

Cosmina’s whole body was alight with fire. An uncomfortable, twisting, screaming pain that writhed through her veins. And at the center of it was a broken heart.

She kept her gaze locked on Crina’s face, unable to look over her shoulder, knowing she would see her mother and father ripped to pieces, her little brother’s throat slit. Soul eaters shadowed the room and, for not the first time, Cosmina prayed her brethren would realize the Councilman’s home had come under attack. Her father had warned them time and again that as the Councilman of the Bucharest Neith he and his family needed to be on constant guard because there were some soul eaters who were reckless enough to target them.

Father had been right.

And now he and mama were dead, as was Traian, her beautiful brother who had barely begun his training. And Crina…

Crina… her other half…

They had taken her soul. A lot of her soul. She was no longer Crina.

She was a monster.

“Enjoying yourself, Crina?” One of the soul eaters – Cosmina knew he must be the leader as the others looked to him for guidance – smirked over at them, the blade in his hand still slick with Traian’s blood. Fury shot through Cosmina and she jerked in her chair causing another flare of pain in her arm. She made a strangled, gurgling noise, unable to speak her mouth was so swollen.

Crina just grunted.

She was a vicious animal now.

When the soul eaters had handed her the pliers and told her to torture her twin, Crina had done so without questioning what was asked of her. And she was enjoying her work. Cosmina swallowed down the nausea, reminding herself that Crina was dead and gone. This was just a husk with Crina’s face.

“I’m bored,” another of the soul eaters murmured, nudging the female soul eater beside him. She nodded, yawning as if to emphasize the point.

Cosmina whimpered from the pain as ‘Crina’ forced her mouth back open, pushing the pliers in again.

“Wait.” The leader sighed, and Cosmina cast him a quick, wide-eyed glance. He was glaring at the soul eater who had complained. Crina stilled, twitching as if impatient. “Stop with the teeth.” Her twin turned to him in time to catch the blade that had killed Traian. Her soulless sister caught the knife with her Neith reflexes and immediately dropped the pliers.

Cosmina flinched back against her mother’s dining room chair that her Uncle Goda had carefully handcrafted as a dining set twenty five years ago as a wedding gift to her mama and father. She squeezed her eyes shut as Crina eyed the knife and then Cosmina’s belly, wishing Uncle Goda to come and rescue her.

At that, an almighty crash originated from the front of the house and Cosmina’s eyes flew open in relief at the sounds of flesh hitting flesh, shouts of pain and anger. The soul eaters in the room braced themselves, the leader nodding to two of his companions to go out and help the others who had been guarding the home.

“Finish it!” the leader shouted at Crina, just as the sitting room door was blasted off its hinges, one of the soul eater’s headless remains taking it down with its heavy weight. Cosmina cried out as the leader lunged for Crina, snapping her neck in seconds.

A growl of pure hatred vibrated from Cosmina’s chest, any hope of the leader being killed and her twin’s soul re

turning to her body slashed to ribbons as the crack of her death echoed around the room.

Through blurry eyes and absolute agony Cosmina watched as her Uncle Goda and Stefan rushed into the room with their swords and daggers, a number of her brethren at their backs.

Stefan.

Her heart pounded at the sight of him as his eyes filled with horror as they landed on Crina’s body. She saw the grief stall his movements as comprehension dawned - his fiancé was dead. The leader of the soul eaters took advantage of the momentary lapse, the blade Crina had held now tight in his upraised arm.

After losing everything the thought of losing Stefan unhinged Cosmina. Yes, he had been her sister’s love, but she loved him too. A deep, obsessive, secret love.

He couldn’t die as well!


Tags: Samantha Young Warriors of Ankh Fantasy
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