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  • Home > Samantha Young > Warriors of Ankh > Blood Past (Page 4)     
  • Blood Past(Warriors of Ankh #2)(4) by Samantha Young
  • “Yeah, getting that. What about all the stuff in front of it?” Her guardian snorted, she was guessing at her use of the word ‘stuff'. “Other monuments. What is left of the old Calton Jail…” He drifted off as buildings obscured their view. The traffic lights turned to red giving Eden some time to look around. She wasn't familiar with most of the store names. She gazed at people in line at a bank, others in an Italian restaurant on the corner, others coming out of a hotel, and some brave folks dashing across a cobbled street, trying to beat the bus coming straight for them.

    “It smells different here.”

    “What does it smell like?”

    “Warm?” She shrugged. “Exciting. It's old… but new. There's something kind of comforting in that. And I know those technically aren't scents but… I don't know…”

    “I think I understand.” Cyrus smiled again and moved the car forward as the lights changed. “That road is The Royal Mile. I will take you down here once we are settled.” Eden craned to have a look but the traffic was moving too fast. The buildings in Edinburgh were all old: Georgian, Victorian, pre-War. Some retailers she recognised, others not so much. Some were like market stalls made into stores, creating a kind of hodgepodge of classic elegance and quirky tourism. There seemed to be a ton of college types hanging around, and as Cyrus manoeuvred them through streets that seemed to blur together, he pointed out the University of Edinburgh.

    “Student central,” he explained.

    Eden barely got a chance to take in the courtyard that shared the same paradox as the rest of the city. With two beautiful old buildings overlooking it and then a kind of dingy late 20th century-looking building on the far left it was certainly different that was for sure. They swept around it, and as they followed the road she could see the back of the main campus. There was a huge building of modern architecture and further up buildings of mid-to-late twentieth century design, including a towering building that Eden, if she were human, would have hated to have classes in. She'd be dead by the time she reached the top. She drank in as much of the city in as possible, listening to Cyrus'

    soothing voice. But the closer they drew to their destination - some place called Morningside - the more nervous Eden grew, and the more the city began to lose its lustre.

    “No need to be anxious, Eden.”

    “Yeah. I just… this is it… you know.”

    “I know.”

    They seemed to be driving out of the somewhat frantic buzz of the city centre and into a quieter area of Edinburgh. It looked mostly the same; there just weren't as many pedestrians, although the traffic flow never stopped. Finally they turned down a side street off the main street, passed an old art deco theatre that caught Eden's eye, and came to a stop in a marked parking space outside a row of houses. Beautiful houses. Not huge, but they definitely had a sense of grandeur about them. A large black door with a gothic brass knocker drew Eden's attention to a house on their right. It swung open and a tall guy in jeans and a plain t-shirt stepped out, his shoulders straight, his eyes casting around the street before settling on Valeria's Volvo as she pulled in, in front of Cyrus.

    “Who's that?” Eden asked softly.

    “That is Neil McLeish. The Scottish Neith Councilman.”

    “I didn't know we were meeting him.”

    “The family of Merrit's bloodline live on the same street. It would have been unavoidable and not to mention rude of me not to make my presence known to Neil. This is his territory.” Cyrus unclipped his seat belt and Eden followed suit, trying to still the trembling in her fingers.

    “Technically, I thought this was your territory?”

    He threw her an arrogant smile. “Technically.”

    Laughing, she got out of the car only to come face to face with Noah. Her smile dropped abruptly, and in response he glowered. She found it hard to believe Noah was seventy years old. He was such a child sometimes. No wonder he was so good at his high school assignment. Manipulative creep.

    Noah strolled by her to fall into step with Cyrus. At the top of the stone steps they greeted McLeish. Valeria smiled reassuringly at her and nudged her forward. “This is just a formality,” she murmured.

    “Is… are my mother's bloodline in there?”

    “I assume so.”

    She drew in a couple of calming breaths, glad that she had just administered a dose of the drug. It was helping. She just hoped to god her eyes didn't bleed white. Her mother's family would want nothing to do with her if that happened.

    “Eden,” Cyrus called to her and she picked up her pace, reminding herself she wasn't a coward and that this was her only shot. As soon as she reached the top of the stairs Eden's eyes met McLeish's. She knew instantly that this wasn't going to be easy. His blue eyes were dark with scepticism and wariness, and the clench of his jaw gave away his unhappiness with the ‘situation'

    presented before him.

    “Neil, this is my daughter, Eden,” Cyrus introduced her. Eden nearly fell off the steps but, knowing Cyrus approved of poise, she quickly schooled her features, trying to master her surprise over his announcement. Cyrus was introducing her as his daughter??

    His daughter?

    That little girl inside of her who had dreamed of a father who read bedtime stories, and sheltered her from the evil deeds of the world, wanted to reach out and grab hold of the connection he had declared and never, ever let go. But the little girl who had grown up with a father who murdered people in their basement shuddered with fear and shooed the hope away with a scowl.

    McLeish didn't seem surprised by Cyrus' claim which made Eden wonder if Cyrus had already proclaimed her his kin prior to their arrival. “Miss Winslow.” He nodded.

    “MacDouglas.”

    “Sorry?” McLeish frowned at Cyrus' interruption.

    “Miss MacDouglas. I have had her name changed to Merrit's surname.” Well that was the first she had heard about it. To hell with poise! Eden threw him a disbelieving look, ignoring Noah's huff of disguised laughter behind her. He knew her too well, knew she was not amused at having been manhandled out of her surname. It wasn't like she had any great attachment to it or anything but still… he could have told her before he told this guy! She crossed her arms over her chest defensively. “Thanks for the heads up.”

    Clearly well into his post-ironic phase, Cyrus ignored her sarcasm. “You are welcome.” When Noah coughed to cover another laugh, Eden threw her elbow out, catching him in the gut and winding him. At his ‘oof', McLeish frowned at the byplay.

    Cyrus sighed. “Children.”

    “Hmm.”

    “Well, Neil, are you going to leave the Princeps standing on your doorstep all day?” Valeria snapped, and that wicked part of Eden enjoyed the flush across the crest of McLeish's cheeks at Val's admonishment. So far she didn't like this guy, mostly because he clearly had a problem with her.

    McLeish stepped aside and held his hand out for them to enter. “I beg your pardon.” OK. So maybe she liked his cool accent.

    There was a strong floral scent in the open hallway of the house and as her eyes took in the coats on the coat rack, the jumble of shoes below, the blue bicycle in the corner, a dirty soccer ball, she surmised that McLeish had a family. Hushed whispering from her left drew her attention, as well as Cyrus', and she followed her guardian into the room, Noah, Valeria and McLeish at their backs.

    The sitting room was a good size, but all the people in it made it seem tiny. Their souls filled the space, their essence beguiling and warm, causing saliva to build up under Eden's tongue. Thankfully, Cyrus distracted her by spinning around to glare at McLeish. The Neith straightened his shoulders at the look, trying to appear un-intimidated. Eden waited, holding her breath, wondering what on earth had set Cyrus off.

    “I believe I told you that Eden's existence and presence in Scotland was to be kept quiet.”

    “You told me to tell only those I trust. This is my family, Princeps, and Eden's. I trust everyone in this room.” His eyes flicked to Eden and she read in them the words he hadn't said out loud, ‘Except this one'.

    Cyrus caught the look and bristled, turning to face the group of fifteen, sixteen people staring at them. The strength and power that emanated from Cyrus pulsed more vibrantly and she knew he was doing it deliberately. The faces before them grew awed. “I greatly dislike beginning introductions with a warning, but unfortunately for the safety of my daughter and the warriors protecting her, I must. If any of you breathe word of Eden's true presence here, indeed of her true existence, I will hunt you down and you will pay the ultimate price for your treachery. Do you understand me?” The rumbled warning was received with hurried ‘Yes, Princeps,' while their eyes sought Eden, desperate to determine what all the fuss was about. She felt her cheeks flush and tried not to squirm.

    She suddenly wished she'd had time to change into a clean shirt or something.

    “Good.” Cyrus nodded, satisfied he had put the fear of the gods into them. “Now on to the pleasantries. I am pleased to meet all of you and I thank you for graciously opening your homes to us, and for giving us your time. This,” he turned now to Eden, “is my daughter, Eden MacDouglas. As you are aware, Eden is here to become Ankh, and to seek aid from her mother's mortal family. We thank you in advance for that aid.” He looked beyond Eden now. “With me is Valeria of Corsica-Well that's a new one, Eden gave her a bemused questioning smile that Valeria returned with a wink. Suddenly Eden wondered what Cyrus was? Cyrus of…

    “Who, I'm sure you know, is of The Circle, and Noah Valois, Alain Valois' son and Eden's escort.”

    What?? Noah was her what?  She scowled at him and he winked at her too. I'm gonna punch you, Valois. She tried to telepath the threat, and he seemed to get it because his mouth widened into a mischievous grin.

    McLeish strode past them to stand before the group. “Princeps, I'd like to introduce you to my wife, Carol, and my two sons, James and Ryan.” Eden tried not to flinch at the name. Instead she watched as Cyrus graciously shook the hands of McLeish's short but strong-looking wife and their two teenage sons. As Eden's eyes wandered, she felt the potent strength of this collective. They were all athletic-looking, capable, their eyes intelligent, from young to old. “This is my sister, Mary.” McLeish pulled an attractive looking woman forward from the group, as well as a young man perhaps a little older than Eden. “And my nephew, Cameron.” Mary smiled brightly at Cyrus, blushing a little as she took his hand. Eden smirked. Since she saw him as a father figure she tended to see Cyrus' attractiveness as a fact rather than an affect. The Neith woman did not. To Eden's surprise, Mary also reached for Eden's hand. “Pleased to meet you, Eden,” she greeted her, all friendly and smiles. Bemused, Eden shook her hand.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire