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That’s all.


Fate is supposed to choose the perfect person for you, and when you meet them, the whole world will fade away. You’ll only feed on each other and become stronger and more powerful . . . but I know firsthand how fate can be a bitch.

After all, on my mother’s death bed, she predicted that I would die young.

Yay me.

“She was delirious, Thea,” Simon says, no doubt reading my expression. He tugs me against him, and I curl into his side. I used to fit perfectly, and now he towers over me, squishing me.

I hate how he can always read my mind.

“I know, but what if she was right? What if I die at the changing ceremony?”

“Then I’ll drag you back,” he teases, resting his head on mine—no doubt his neck hurts from having to bend so much, but I don’t complain because his warmth comforts me. “I’ll be there the entire time, you and me until the end. Then we’ll have an amazing two years of honing our powers and becoming badasses, and at eighteen, we will both find amazing guys to spend the rest of our long lives together with.”

“And they will look like Wesley Snipes.” I grin, making him throw his head back and laugh.

“Nox, we can hope.” He winks, and as I cuddle with my best friend, I let my mind fill with hope.

Hope that I will survive the change and hope that one day I will find the person destined for me, and that I will finally be loved again.



Two years and two months later . . .

Tugging nervously at my dress, I bite my lip, my fangs almost piercing my painted red mouth before I release it. I don’t want to draw blood because the scent would draw attention to me, and I don’t want that.

Not yet.

I can hear murmuring beyond the closed double doors from those waiting for us to be presented. Turning away, I begin to pace, my heels clacking against the marble floor outside of the Vermilion Court’s ballroom. It’s my first presentation. I have four more to go in the other courts, but this one is the most intimidating since it’s the oldest standing court and led by the meanest, oldest ruling family of our people.

Even now, I feel unprepared and giddy at the same time.

I suppose that’s how every new sangui feels.

I never thought I’d make it to this day, though, since I was sure I would die at my changing ceremony, but I didn’t. I survived, even if the agony I felt while I died and was reborn was the worst I’ve ever felt . . . not to mention what I saw in the darkness.

It’s something I have not told anyone and never will. Not even Simon knows.

I pretended to be shaken from becoming the undead, which I think anyone could believe, but luckily, the court my mother was born into, the Specter Court, was nothing but welcoming. Simon helped me massively, showing me the ropes, and the first time I fed, he was the one who helped me learn how to stop and control the hunger. He’s been with me every step of the way.

I’ve had two years to prepare and learn, and I did as best as I could.

I learned to harness my strength, speed, and power, even if I never received a gift like others hoped since my mother had one—visions.

No, concentrate, Althea, I tell myself.

Simon watches me pace. Since he is only a few months older than me, he is being presented at the same time, as are the others from our court who changed in the same year.

There are ten of us, all eager to see the legendary court and be thrust into the spotlight of our race, and yes, also to hopefully find our mate, our destined, amongst the courts we are to be presented to.

“Okay, you need to stop or you are going to fall on your ass.” He smirks.

I flip my fang at him, making him laugh as I continue to pace nervously. My long, black silk dress trails after me. Unlike the other girls here, who are in elaborate ball gowns, I went for a simplistic style. The slip dress is almost see-through, showing my red lace bra and thong underneath. Before the change, I was barely five feet without any tits to speak of, and my hair was at best considered thick.

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