Ambrose was shocked. He didn't know what to say to his bride. What didn't he understand? Why did she hate him when it was obvious that she felt his pull as strongly and he felt hers? He shook his head unable to understand the puzzle of a woman that stood before him. "Cassandra," He started, "Tell me what it is I do not understand."
She shook her head, giving him a hard stare. "Leave, Ambrose. I can no' accept someone like you for my mate. No' ever." She said and turned her back on him, leaving him standing in the kitchen.
Ambrose walked out the door and traced away as he reached the porch. He slammed his fist against the wall when he arrived in the dark confines of his home. Cass was so damned confusing. One moment she'd be in his arms and the next cursing the very day they'd met. He sighed and crawled onto the mattress in the far corner of his room.
He could smell the blood, but he could also smell undeath. Vampires. He walked a battlefield, but it was not one he had ever seen. Then he caught a glimpse of his reflection in a piece of armor on one of the bodies. Cassandra. This was not a dream, but a memory. And it wasn't his. Her small frame shook as she approached the body. Father. He didn't resemble the proud Lykae she had known. The man with laugh lines marking his tan skin. Happy. Her father had always seemed happy. But that was long gone now. Bodies littered the ground, Lykae and Vampire alike. Her father had died here. His body was drained and his head sat at an odd angle, no longer connected to his broad shoulders. She was young. Ambrose noted feeling her sadness sharp and painful in his chest. Too young to have been frozen in immortality. No wonder her father's death had struck her so hard. This is why she hated them. Hated him. As her gaze flicked over the battlefield he didn't blame her.
Cassandra woke as the sun streamed through the pale lace curtains on her window. Ambrose came to mind immediately. She shook herself and rose from bed. She should leave home for a while. She needed time to clear her head and get away from the vampire. After getting dressed she went down stairs for breakfast and that's where she found it. A note. It was a small card with delicate handwriting. I understand now. She picked up the card from it's place on the table and studied it. It had to be from Ambrose. He understood? How? Then it hit her. There were rumors of vampires receiving memories of the people they had bitten. Had he seen her memories. Just what had he learned about her? She skipped breakfast and packed a few bags. She didn't like Ambrose having access to her private memories and she wouldn't be here if he intended to question her about them. Had he seen her with other men? She flushed at the thought, taking her bags out to the car and heading to the airport.
After a nearly nine hour flight, through which she mostly pretended to sleep while listening to the various conversations of the humans on the aircraft, Cass arrived in New Orleans. She would stay at the Lykae compound. New Orleans had attracted many factions of Lore and the Lykae had recently made their own settlement in the city. Cass settled into a room at the compound, greeting some old friends. Bowen passed her in the hallway as she followed her nose to find something to eat in the compound. "Bowe, did no' expect to find you here, thought you'd be home with your witch."
He paused to look at her. "Mariketa's coven is located here. And my mate is distressed over the disappearance of a friend in these parts."
"Disappearance of a friend?" Cass asked, curious.
"Aye, a dark haired witch called Carrow, she's Mari's best friend." He said. "And not the only creature to have gone missing as of late. Uilleam is missing as well."
Uilleam was missing as well? "Can she no' scry for this lost friend? Or for Uilleam?" Cassandra asked, confounded. Mariketa the Awaited was the most powerful witch in her time and scrying was a simple magic.
"She has not been able to find her or any of the others that have disappeared." Bowen brows drew together. "Some magic is keeping them well hidden. I have heard that even Lothaire the Enemy of Old has vanished."
Cass gaped. Lothaire had been captured? Impossible. The Enemy of Old was the strongest vampire known to her. What matter of being could be responsible for his disappearance?
"Well, Cass I've got to get back to Mari. The poor lass is struck with worry." Bowe said, turning to leave before stopping to add, "What became of you and your mate?"
Cass froze then spoke nonchalantly, "I ditched him."
Bowen nodded then said, "Lachlain seems content with his vampire, perhaps there is hope for you and yours." He walked away.
"There is no hope!" Cass yelled at his back.
He gave a soft chuckle, "You'll see."
Cassandra glared angrily at his back then continued on her mission to find food. In a wide cafeteria-like setting she found Lykae eating dinner. She indulged in the delicious food and surrounded herself with friends of many centuries. She asked around to try and gather more information on the missing people, but no one seemed to have much information. She was told that Munro spent much time searching for his brother, but had yet to return with any leads. This was a curious matter indeed.
Ambrose discovered his bride was gone that night. He had hoped to talk to her about the memories, but it appeared that she had left early that day. His sat phone rang and he answered on the second ring. Grigoriy informed him that he was to return to the castle. He did. Kristoff had arranged a meeting and generals of his army clustered around the long table at which Kristoff sat at the head. Murdoch Wroth gave him a chilling glare when he arrived. Nikolai was the only one of the Wroth brothers to put aside his hatred of Russian soldiers to form a friendship with Ambrose. The other Estonian brothers hated him. He returned the cold look with one of his own and turned his attention to Kristoff who began speaking. He learned that people from all factions of the Lore had been disappearing, but there was no information on what had become of them. He warned his men to be careful of whatever evil was behind these disappearances and to report any information they gained back to him.
That morning he returned to his home to sleep. He welcomed the darkness of his home, but knew his bed was missing something very important. His bride. He could just imagine wrapping himself around her warm body. His thoughts of her faded into dreams and again he received a memory of hers. She covered her ears as the screeching grew louder. Her mother had become wild after the death of her father. Years had passed, but the woman had only been lucid a handful of times. She clawed and bit herself and anyone who approached her. Cassandra took the stairs the basement where her mother was caged. She offered her food and a glass of water. Her mother greedily ate then glared up at Cassandra with bright blue eyes, snapping at her. Her mother was gone and only the beast remained. The beast could not handle the grief of losing her mate and she remained crazed, the Lykae form swallowing her mother's thin frame. She would die soon. It was mercy, the other Lykae thought, to kill her. Cassandra knew the bond between mates was great, but she had not known that when she had lost her father she would lose her mother as well. It was all those leeches fault. They took her father from her. Drove her mother to madness. Hot tears stung her cheeks and she turned her back on her mother. The screeching resumed as she climbed the steps and she was almost glad to know her mother would be dead tomorrow. That monster would be dead and her mother free.
Cassandra had spent the night at a bar for Loreans and was now returning to the compound as drunk as her Lykae nature allowed. She'd flirted with demons, but in the end she couldn't forget Ambrose and that drove her to drink more. She had even gulped down some demon brew at the urging of her demon companions. She was tipsy and she liked it. Entering her room, however, she was almost sad. It was empty. She was tired of being alone. Centuries of loneliness searching for her mate and pining over Lachlain had made her into a weak woman. A woman who wanted to be held and made love to. Ambrose could do those things, but she had to resist him. How embarrassing it would be to be called his bride. What would her fellow Lykae think? They wouldn't say a word after their King married a leech. She sighed. But how could she forget the pain vampires had caused her in the past? The people they took from her. If Lachlain could get over that after losing both of his parents could she? Ambrose had been nothing but good to her and gods knew she needed a man in her life. Especially one as delectable as him. He was not only a man made as sexy as they come, but he was an excellent lover. That had been the best night of her life. Or would have been had he not bit her. The thought of those fangs piercing her neck made her shiver and she wasn't sure whether it was disgust or arousal. Damn him. He was a Forebearer, he did not drink people dry as the Horde vampires did. But was she comfortable with being his midnight snack? Confused Cassandra flopped on her bed, kicking angrily at the sheets. Was Ambrose really beginning to sound like a good idea or was it the demon brew playing tricks with her head? Cassandra couldn't decide and decided to sleep it off and figure it out in the morning. The morning brought no new revelations regarding the vampire, but it did bring eggs benedict and a variety of tasty smelling meats and that was good enough for Cass at the moment.
Ambrose had found little information on the disappearances, but had heard that the most recent Lorean to go missing was Regin the Radiant, a Valkyrie from New Orleans. His bride had not been back to her home and he decided to do some snooping. Tracing into her house, he found nothing out of the ordinary. He then noticed her computer and took a peek at what his female had been up to. Information for boarding a plane to Louisiana greeted him. Why would she be going there? He wondered, tapping his fingers on the shiny wood of her computer desk. Then he remember the Valkyrie. He could not have his woman go missing. Even if she hated him. He immediately traced to New Orleans which was a bad idea. He yelped as the sun burned him and traced back. Damn time zones. He had forgotten that it was still afternoon on that part of the globe. He rummaged through his brides stuff as he passed the time, making sure to put everything back as he had found it. He found her artwork beautiful and smiled as he came across multiple sketches of himself. His bride could not hate him all that much if she continued to draw his image. He tore out one of the sketches and pocketed it before returning to his home to wait out the rest of the daylight.
Cassandra found herself at the Lorean bar for the second night in a row and was now guzzling her second demon brew. "You won't feel it at first, female. Go easy." One of the demons cautioned. She patted his horn and he groaned, forgetting his words of caution and calling the bartender over to refill her cup. She laughed and drummed on the bar with her hands. Who needed Ambrose? That thought died off when she sensed him, felt that he was near. He had found her? Was he planning to follow her wherever she went? Well she thought, I'll give him a piece of my mind. She rose from her barstool and waved goodbye to the demon. He growled in disappointment, but quickly gave his attentions to an attractive witch as she left. Cass followed her instinct until she was able to scent him. She tracked him until she could smell him coming her way. He knew she was coming.
They met in the middle of the sidewalk. "Vampire." She said, feeling the effects of the demon brew beginning to kick in.
"You smell like a brewery," He noted, "But you are beautiful as ever, Cassandra."
"I got your note, vampire. Do you really think you understand?" She said, looking into his stormy gray eyes.
"I've dreamt of your father," He said quietly, "and of your mother." He added.
Cass sucked in a breath. He knew? She only stared at him.
"And know, Lykae, that I am not like the vampires of the Horde that have done that to you and your family." He put his hand on her shoulder. "Our enemy is the same, Cassandra, let us face them together. I would never hurt you."
Cassandra was speechless. She couldn't think of any reasons not to let this vampire in. Maybe it was the loneliness or maybe the demon brew, but she agreed to give the vampire a chance.