Home > A Trial by Blood

A Trial by Blood
Author: Sherilee Gray

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

Ronan

 

 

Sir’s hands were too hot against my cool flesh, but starved, I ignored his grasping and clawing, his nails digging into my biceps and chest, and drank deeply, even as his blood burned a path to my stomach.

Dhampir had been trading their bodies for sustenance for as long as our kind had walked this Earth. Sir had told me repeatedly that this was the price that must be paid to feed—the vampire half of our DNA was diluted with human blood, making us lesser in every way, tainted, unworthy—I was lucky to have someone willing to feed me at all.

Sir fell back on the bed, but I kept my fangs buried in his wrist, my hunger nowhere near abated.

He ran his hand down my side. “That’s it, Ronan. Very good. Take your reward. You did the right thing bringing Luna back. She was confused for a while, but you’re her brother, we’re a family, she belongs with us. We’ll find a new home, and you’ll make sure that knight won’t find her again. Things can go back to the way they were.”

Luna had escaped Sir, with the help of one of the knights of Hell, and I’d used my powers to get my sister back from the demon hunter.

But the confusing things Luna had been saying the last few days kept echoing through my mind. For some reason, one I didn’t understand, I had kept her here for days without telling Sir she was back. My sister said a lot of things that puzzled me, and I found for the first time since we became Azel’s wards, I doubted him.

He’d kept Luna and me apart for years, since we were children. She said she believed me dead. Could she be lying? But why would she? Maybe so I would return her to her mate? She seemed determined to return to him.

But she’d also reminded me of things I’d long forgotten, and those memories were confusing me even more.

“Ronan?”

I ignored him and took another pull on his vein, my hunger still fierce, even as I fought not to throw his blood back up.

A memory of Luna, still small, running through our childhood home, smiling, pushed forward. She’d smiled. Which meant, she’d felt. It was a logical conclusion. I remembered she’d taken my toy and broken it. I’d then taken her doll and hidden it. Why would I do that? She said we’d both had the ability to feel then, to experience and express emotion, that it was because of Azel that I’d lost that ability.

An image flashed through my mind.

Blood.

Luna screaming.

My mother falling to the ground.

“Ronan?” Azel shoved me away. “Did you hear me?”

“Yes.” I quickly licked his wrist, sealing my bite.

He stood, walked naked to his clothes draped over the chair, and dressed. I did the same. I wanted to shower first, but Sir was impatient to see Luna.

I followed him down the hall, and he motioned me ahead, grinning as I unlocked the door to Luna’s room. We walked in, and Luna stumbled back, throwing up her hands, trying to use her powers to lift her block, but my own powers were too strong, and I easily suppressed hers, especially now that I’d fed.

Spencer, one of Sir’s servants, ran to her, putting himself between us and my sister. Was he attempting to protect her? Why would he do that? Did he think I was going to harm her?

Luna recoiled, tugging Spencer back as Azel stepped forward. “I’ll die before I go anywhere with you,” she said.

Azel moved in close to me and gripped the back of my neck. A strange feeling coiled in my stomach and every one of my muscles tensed. The urge to shove him away came to me unbidden.

“Don’t be like that. I’ve missed you,” Sir said to her.

“You’ve missed my power. You missed the power I gave you, Azel,” she fired at him.

He huffed a low laugh even as his eyes narrowed. “You call me Sir, and I don’t need you, little girl.” He squeezed the back of my neck. “You are lucky I showed an interest in you and your brother at all.”

Luna laughed. “You’re delusional.”

Sir went still, his gaze moving over her. “You’ve changed.”

“You have no idea, asshole.”

“You dare speak to me like that?”

“I’m sure you’re more powerful than me, a lot more, but not as powerful as you pretend to be. How much did the angels take from you when they threw you from Heaven?”

Sir’s eyes flared.

I frowned, looking between Luna and Sir. “Is it true? Are you an angel fallen?”

“No,” he bit out. “The knights have done something to her mind. She’s confused.”

“You’ve seen the scars, Ronan, just like I have. He had wings once, but they tore them from his back,” Luna said.

The small cross necklace Luna wore glinted under the light. It had been our mother’s. A memory flashed through my mind. The last time I’d seen our mother wear it, it had been covered in blood. Luna had opened the floodgates with everything she’d been telling me, and the memories kept coming, like they’d been locked in a strong box, and all this time, my sister had held the key.

The sound of Luna screaming for her assaulted me once more. A vision of Azel carrying her away, gripping my hand, and pulling me after him. I’d turned back before we walked through the door.

Our mother lay on the floor. He’d removed her head. Her body in a pool of her own blood.

I’d called for her, crying and fighting. I remembered that now.

Luna said when a dhampir was taken from their human mother too early, their bond was broken, and they lost the ability to feel. Luna’s emotions had returned. She’d said it was because she’d found her mate.

I didn’t know for sure if that was true, but I’d felt emotions too once, before Azel had taken us; I knew that now to be true.

I turned to Azel. His face was red, the expression one I recognized as anger. He was about to hurt my sister.

Sir threw up a hand, firing his power at her.

Luna braced for the hit—

I threw up a block in front of her. Sir’s power didn’t reach her, didn’t even brush past her.

He spun to me. “What the fuck are you doing?”

I stepped away from him. He’d controlled me since I was a child, and I hadn’t considered there might be another way because he made sure I believed the things he’d said. But he’d lied about so many things. “You’re a fallen angel.”

Sir said nothing, his anger growing. I could tell by the look in his eyes.

“You lied,” I said. “Our mother. You killed her.”

Sir’s jaw worked. “It was necessary.”

Power vibrated through me, my protective block thickening and growing until it was so dense Sir had no hope of breaking through.

Hurting Luna was wrong. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want him to hurt her. “Go. Take Spencer and the other demi with you,” I said to her. We were holding another of the knight’s people here. He’d been loyal to my sister. He should be released as well.

“No,” Sir roared, again trying to use his powers and failing.

I shook as I fought against his power. I was stronger, but I hadn’t fed for long enough. Sir always left me hungry, never fully satisfied. I couldn’t hold him off indefinitely.

“Go,” I said to Luna again.

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