won’t be able to touch him, and the Legacy will take her in.
“Anyway, the point is, I know their Alpha, Antar. I talked to him. They can’t take in every Amiti woman, obviously—they don’t have that kind of space—but since you’re an orphan of a high-ranking Amiti, you match the profile: you’re from a powerful background, and you’re especially vulnerable. And ... I called in a favor. So, the Legacy is ready to provide you with Sanctuary. We’ll meet them in San Francisco tomorrow night.”
“Okay. And then what happens? You’re not just going to drop me off, are you?” Goddess, she sounded pathetic.
“First of all, no, of course , I’ll stay with you as long as you want, or at least as long as they’ll let me. And here’s how it works: basically you join their family and they protect you as long as you need. There’s only one condition: you go where they go—and they’re on the move a lot—and stay on their estates. Not a ton of privacy, and if you’re a real free spirit it’s probably hard, but otherwise, not too shabby as a trade-off for protection, right?” Simone looked at Arianna, a question in her eyes, like she was a little worried that it was too shabby.
“Oh, Sim.” Arianna blew out a breath she hadn’t been aware she was holding. “It sounds great—I can’t even believe it’s true.”
“Of course it is! I’m your sister; anything bad that wants to happen to you goes through me first! I’m here. I’ll be here. For you.”
Arianna’s eyes flooded with tears. She had never in her life felt so grateful to anyone, for anything. Overwhelmed, she walked around the table to wrap her arms around Simone, feeling the warm wetness of their cheeks pressing together. “Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are the best sister in the world.”
It was a perfect moment to pop the question, so to speak, and— bonus! —she didn’t have to make eye contact while doing so. Arianna took a deep breath and then spoke, her voice half in Simone’s ear and half over her shoulder.
“You know what? I have an idea. We need to blood-bond. That way we’ll always be able to find each other, and if something happens to either of us, we can help each other.” Arianna held her position and waited for Simone’s answer.
* * *
Blood-bond. The word spun across Simone’s mind in a whirlwind.
All but the most jaded vampires longed for a true blood-bond. Simone’s memory was crowded with glorious tales of the feats of blood-bonded vampires using abilities they’d gotten from their Amiti partners. Even her own father had risen to power with the help of her mother’s gifts. And Arianna’s offer presented Simone with a unique opportunity, a one-in-ten-thousand chance to feel live Amiti blood pumping into her mouth without fearing of consequences. Legend had it that it was the most intense ecstasy imaginable, that Amiti were created to give vampires pleasure and love, and the blood-bond was the physical manifestation of that purpose.
On the other hand, since childhood she’d been reminded, repeatedly, of how elusive true blood-bonds were. For every legend of glory, it seemed, there were a dozen horror stories of blood-bonded Amiti betraying their Sekhmi partners in the worst way imaginable, or effectively holding them hostage with the threat of that betrayal. They’d burn to death from the inside out.
But surely, with her sister, there was no risk involved, only advantage. Arianna loved her. Simone couldn’t imagine anything that could possibly happen that would make Arianna want to kill her. Blood-bonding to the Amiti Queen could only be a huge victory for Simone, propelling her to the top of the Vampire Elite, and—if Arianna shared her powers with Simone—making Simone one of the strongest and most invulnerable of her kind. If anything could earn her the respect of her father, and banish forever Simone’s insecurity about being a half-blood, this would be it.
Yes. She would do it.