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Authors: Reeyce Smythe Wilder

Tags: #romance, #vampire, #love, #paranormal, #historical, #werewolf, #forbidden, #shifter, #coven, #horde

The Sanction

BOOK: The Sanction
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The Sanction

By Reeyce Smythe Wilder

Copyright 2015 Mellissa
Lopez-St.Louis

Smashwords Edition

 

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The Sanction

By

Reeyce Smythe Wilder

 

Chapter One

Northumbria, Autumn - 1071

Amarinda Cronus shifted impatiently as
her father waited to pay his respects to the Elder. The night air
was chilled and she did not enjoy having to brave the cold for the
sake of telling the old man good bye. Dozens of the Coven families
were gathered on the green, their voices blending into a drone hum
as they said their farewells. Behind them, against the backdrop of
the undulating hills and a fierce full moon, the Cronus Coven
stood. Built three hundred years before her birth, the Elder had
told her of the battles won and lost within those walls, and of the
heartache the very stone had witness as testament to their struggle
for survival.

Amarinda considered the many Hunters
that mingled with distant relations. For them, tonight marked the
third annual meeting held at the manse to discuss the various
threats and strategies they would employ to ensure their safety.
Everyone had heard of the attack upon Boris Vyacheslav and his
family one month prior to this meeting. One of his sons, a young
Hunter who had been initiated only seven moons ago, had been
careless, and had taken for himself an even younger girl as his
lover. The Covens enforced strict rules against fraternizing with
humans, especially since the girl in question had not yet seen her
seventeenth birthday. The young Vyacheslav believed himself in love
she had heard it said, and was foolish enough to entrust himself to
her. In doing so, he had betrayed not only his Coven, but his kind.
It was quite by accident their liaisons were discovered, that too
by a Hunter. Vyacheslav earned himself the whip – thirty lashes as
ordered by the Council. And the girl?

Amarinda shuddered at the thought, for
it was rumored that the family of three was dealt with swiftly and
quietly as not to arouse further suspicion. As it stood now, there
was vast concern amongst the Covens, for the Hunters no longer
looked for the rare vampire female as a potential mate, but to the
over-abundant supply of humans. Amarinda would have scoffed at the
idea the way the Elder was wont to if her very own mother did not
walk into the Coven a human herself. Amalea Cronus was the only
known female to survive the ritual that transformed her into a
vampire. It was unheard of, the union of a vampire and a human.
Such a thing could not be accomplished. But her mother and father
had proved the naysayers wrong. To add insult to injury, Amarinda
was born – the first female offspring of the Cronus Coven. There
was much joy, for a female born child was a very rare thing among
the vampire race. Amarinda was proud to be the only granddaughter
of the Elder. She was doted upon and spoilt, and became a sore in
his side only when the unmated Hunters sought his permission to
branch out on their own and seek mates the way her father
did.

She considered her parents beside her
as they whispered words and thought that, amongst all the Hunters
present on this night, it was unfortunate she had yet to find a
mate. Or maybe, just maybe her fate was entwined with a human as
well.

She frowned at the idea and tore her
eyes away from her parents to individually scrutinize the Hunters
close by. Her mother’s voice interrupted her musings.


The Elder should be here
any minute now. Why don’t you head back to the carriage and rest?
Your father and I will be with you shortly.”

She turned and hurried off, her arms
hugged about her body against the frost of the night. Their family
crest was easily distinguished amongst the rest of the carriages.
She made quick work of the distance between the gathering and the
parked carriages. With each hasty step, she felt the loose stones
penetrate in the soft soles of the slippers she had taken to
wearing. During the ball, the pinch of her heeled shoes had been
too much.

Wincing, she continued relentlessly
toward the dark carriage. As soon as she jerked the door open, she
sensed a presence in the shadows. A tiny gasp was torn from her
throat before she recognized the bemused smile on her brothers’
face.


Vilirus!” She pressed a
hand to the flutter in her chest and exhaled heavily.


Do not die of apoplexy on
my account wee one,” he joked, his voice yet to hold a note of
humor. “Why are you here, away from the crowd?” She glanced over
her shoulder, suddenly recalling the reason for her haste. The
Elder’s eye was as sharp as the swords the Hunters brandished. She
did not want her escape to be observed. Vilirus sighed gently.
“Grandfather inquired about you at the meeting. Maybe you should
see him before you go into hiding.”

She stepped into the warmth of the
vehicle. “He is the reason I am hiding. Besides, he shall see me at
the Midsummer’s ball.”

Vilirus smirked at the agitation he
read in her flashing eyes. “What’s the matter? Still upset no one
signed your dance card?”

She pulled her brows into a tight
frown. “Don’t be absurd.”


Then why the long
face?”


I am tired, cold and
hungry. Do I need another reason?”

In a flash he slipped the cloak from
his back and presented it to her. She snuggled in its warmth and
glanced toward the gathering once more. “How long could it possibly
take to wish the old fart goodbye?”

Vilirus’s eyes hardened faintly, though
the smile he presented stayed. “Father has warned you about your
impertinence. If anyone were to hear you disrespect the Elder, you
would not be spared.”

She considered him standing there in
the dark and sighed. Vilirus was a Hunter. A little over a century,
he had taken an oath, like so many of the other unmated males, to
protect the Coven at the cost of his very life if need be. His
loyalty was to his family and his kind.


Forgive me,” she muttered,
as insincere as he knew she would be. “I am cranky and long to get
going.”

He nodded at her apology and jerked his
head up when his father called out his name. As he strode away,
Amarinda exhaled with a huff, and pulled the cloak closer to her
body. It smelled of wine and cigars, and she felt protected,
wrapped in his scent. Apart from her father and brother, Amarinda
had never been left alone in the presence of another male. Even now
as she considered the Hunters, she wondered if any amongst them was
her mate. The thrill at finding the one that would belong to her
was the only reason she had agreed to come to the quarterly meeting
at the manse. It was customary that all the covens report any
matter of urgency to the Elder at that time. Amarinda was never
bothered with the details of such affairs, for it was the men who
undertook them. Tonight had been for her.

Unfortunately, the hope of finding her
mate amongst the dozens of vampires, young and old alike was
shattered. She was yet young, her mother had told her in a vain
attempt to placate her ruffled feathers. Her initial disappointment
did not last long, for the Hunters were all attractive and eyed her
with longing. She determined that she would dance and enjoy their
company, flirt outrageously and earn herself a hearty rebuke from
her parents before returning home to her mundane life. Or that was
her plan, until the Elder directed his murderous stare toward
everyone who dared approached her. After the first offer at a dance
that was rudely cut short by her father, they had all kept to
themselves. It was a heavy burden to bear, being the only
grand-daughter of the Elder himself.

Restless, she leaned forward and looked
at the group once more, thankful that her parents drew near. The
coachman hobbled quickly toward the vehicle, and yanked the door
open with little finesse. His dimming eyes met hers and he gaped in
surprise, not expecting to find her within.


Forgive me Miss Cronus, but
had I known you were coming back to the carriage so soon, I would
have been here to receive you.”

She smiled at his wrinkled face. “I can
open a door myself, Alastair. There is no need to
worry.”

He doffed his hat and grinned a
toothless grin. By the time her parents joined her, she was more
than ready to leave. One by one the closed carriages that were
parked ahead were occupied with the members of the different coven
families. A few moments later the definite sound of whips cracking
the air could be heard.

Amarinda identified each Coven’s crest
as the carriages made their way down the drive and onto the lighted
roadway. The large, cast iron gates opened onto the gently sloping
plains. At the intersection, each vehicle took predestined routes.
She craned her neck to see the lights of the manse fade until they
were naught but specks in the distance. For two miles the grassland
stretched, then forest rose up against the starlit sky. She caught
a glimpse of her brother on horseback as he galloped beside the
vehicle. Her mother touched her arm gently.


The Elder seemed
disappointed that you did not wish to accept his invitation to stay
through the fall,” Amalea informed.

Amarinda grimaced visibly. “There is
nothing to do here. I would be confined to the manse with only
grandmother for company. I’d die of boredom.”


You were very fond of him
as a child,” she continued, amused.


That was before I grew
breasts and discovered that there are more interesting things to do
than listen to the histories of the Covens.”

Her mother’s scandalized gasped did not
deter her, for she shared a secret smile with her amused father who
had yet to speak. “I don’t know where I went wrong with you. Your
tongue is -”


Now sweetheart,” Macer, her
father, rescued tenderly. “As I recall, your tongue was just as
unruly – one of the many reasons I fell in love with
you.”

She clamped her mouth shut and fought
the blush that stained her cheek. Amarinda smiled and turned to
look outside once again. That was the kind of love she hoped to one
day have. Her father had been three hundred and nine when he found
her mother. Tall and lightly muscled, he boasted the thick obsidian
hair and ethereal sky blue eyes that was the trade mark of the
Cronus Coven. Lines had begun to show around his smiling lips, a
testament to his five hundred years. The cane he held was gripped
lightly with long, strong fingers. Within it, a rapier was
concealed.

She stole a glance at her mother who
resigned herself to relax against the plush cushions. Her husky
voice spoke softly of the events at the gathering. Amalea was an
exquisite beauty. Thick red hair was pulled tightly upon the top of
her head in a neat chignon away from her slender neck and face.
Wide bottle green eyes, bright and expressive, twinkled when she
laughed or flashed when angry. Whatever her mood, she always
managed to maintain the decorum that classed her as not only the
mate of a vampire, but a countess of the Coven. Maybe it was the
way she cocked her head to consider an idea during a conversation,
or the way her eyes fell in submission when submission was needed,
but the Elder had taken a small liking to her when she was
presented to him after she had been mated to her father.

Her beauty notwithstanding, she was not
accepted with arms wide open. And even when the Council agreed to
the option of having her changed, it was not without a price. The
tattoo of shame on the flesh of her husband haunted her. Amarinda
noticed it throughout the years, the agony in her eyes when she
thought no one was aware. But her father always seemed to know what
nightmares plagued her. Their troubles only brought them closer
together, their bond strengthening with each passing
year.

As their voices droned on, she thought
about her own future. Amarinda had just turned forty seven - a babe
by vampire standards. She was constantly reminded that it had taken
many more than a hundred years to find a mate, like her father for
instance, and thought if she had to exercise such inexhaustible
patience, she would no doubt die.

BOOK: The Sanction
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