Authors: Ariel Tachna
Partnership in Blood
“I absolutely love this series.”
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the premise for these books and the characters, and recommend them to any reader who enjoys paranormal fantasy; especially those involving vampires, wizards and magic.”
— Literary Nymphs Reviews
“…an amazingly well written series that I know that paranormal romantics will enjoy.”
—Night Owl Reviews
“[Reparation in Blood] is action packed and full of fascinating and amazing characters. A worthwhile read and fitting end to the series.”
—Bitten by Books
“This series is definitely for anyone looking for a new twist on Vampires, and who likes a bit of angst and a bit of adventure mixed into their romance.”
—Dark Diva Reviews
“Ariel Tachna has created a truly original version of the vampire archetype…”
—Steve Williams, Suite 101
The Inventor’s Companion
Once in a Lifetime
Out of the Fire
A Summer Place
Alliance in Blood
Covenant in Blood
Conflict in Blood
Reparation in Blood
All For One
Her Two Dads
Healing in His Wings
Rose Among the Ruins
Why Nileas Loved the Sea
Something About Harry
Tying the Knot
Book 1: Exploring Limits
Book 2: Stretching Limits
Book 3: Refining Limits
Book 4: Breaking Limits
Book 5: Transcending Limits
Book 6: No Limits
382 NE 191st Street #88329
Miami, FL 33179-3899, USA
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2011 by Ariel Tachna
Cover Art by Catt Ford
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law. To request permission and all other inquiries, contact Dreamspinner Press, 382 NE 191st Street #88329, Miami, FL 33179-3899, USA
Printed in the United States of America
eBook edition available
eBook ISBN: 978-1-61372-165-0
To She Who Must Be Obeyed,
who commands my muses far better
than I have ever done.
rubbed at her eyes. She had enjoyed her visit with Stéphanie and Rémy. Dinner had been wonderful as always, and they had been as in love with each other as ever. Sometimes Pascale thought it would be easier to stop torturing herself instead of going to see them, so happy and snug in their little house when she was all alone, but she would never do that to Stéphanie. They had been friends for too long.
With a sigh, she pulled into her garage, dreading the empty bed that waited for her. Maybe tomorrow she would meet someone. Maybe the woman of her dreams was out there right now, as miserable as she was.
She snorted at the maudlin turn her thoughts had taken. All the wishful thinking in the world would not make those dreams a reality. She grabbed her purse out of the passenger seat and headed inside.
As she reached for the doorknob, hard hands grabbed her from behind, one covering her mouth, the other around her throat, constricting her breathing. She tried to scream, to fight, to flee, but her attacker was too strong. Panic roiled through her as he dragged her toward the other door, the one that led outside to her yard. She forced herself to go limp, hoping he would take what he wanted and leave her alone.
She shuddered when she felt lips on her neck and prayed he did not intend to rape her. Then his mouth opened, biting down hard, breaking skin and drawing blood. She struggled again despite her best intentions, but her feeble thrashing did no good against his strength. It became harder and harder to breathe, to keep her eyes open, to think, like a shroud being drawn across her senses.
Dear God, don’t let me die
took a deep breath and steeled herself for the evening to come before getting out of her car at l’Institut Marcel Chavinier.
“Adèle, I see you made it, if a little bit late.”
Adèle summoned a smile for Thierry Dumont, an old friend and one of the faculty at l’Institut. “What are you doing out here?” she asked as she kissed both his cheeks in greeting. “I would’ve expected you to be inside with Raymond and the others.”
“I was finishing up some repairs on the grange,” Thierry explained. “I needed a shower.”
“How’s that coming?” Adèle asked. Even in the fading September light, Adèle could see the difference in the grange. She had watched Thierry, his partner Sebastien, and a dedicated group of craftsmen transform the old monastery in Dommartin from near ruins a year ago, with only part of the abbey itself and the abbot’s lodge in any usable condition, to a thriving research institute dedicated to exploring the partnerships between wizard and vampire, as well as other issues related to the magical community.
“We’re making progress,” Thierry said, starting toward the abbey. Adèle fell in step beside him. “We’ve patched the roof completely. Bertrand started laying pipe so we can get water there as well. I’m not sure what Raymond plans to use it for, but he wants it solid, with heat and running water.”
“You really like it here, don’t you?” Adèle asked, struggling as she always did to reconcile the image of Thierry here at l’Institut, acting as primary caretaker and guardian of the buildings, with the shrewd, calculating captain he had been during l’émeutte des Sorciers.
“I do,” Thierry said, ushering her into the scriptorium, where twenty-five people sat around a large table.
“You’ve done fabulous work. Your affinity to stone really shines through.” Adèle had seen the condition of the property before Thierry had begun making repairs, his magic fusing stone to stone once more. It made the beauty of the buildings around her all the more impressive.
“We all have our own strengths,” Thierry replied with typical modesty. “Your affinity to fire gives you an edge when it comes to the excitement of your detective work. We all did what we had to during the war, but the pace of life here at l’Institut suits me in a way your job never would.”
“How did this week’s seminar go?” Adèle asked softly, hanging back by the door. If she went farther inside, Raymond Payet, director of l’Institut, would see her and ask her again if she wanted to try to find a new partner, the central purpose of the educational seminars and indeed of l’Institut itself. With everything they had learned about the partnerships they had created so swiftly and naively at the height of the war, Adèle agreed with the logic of explaining the commitment to people before they created such a bond. She even understood Raymond’s insistence that she join them for dinner at least once a week, preferably on Sunday at the end of that week’s seminar, so he could make sure she was not suffering any ill effects from the separation from her own late partner, Jude Leighton. Jude had been destroyed during an attack on l’Institut six months before.
If she went inside, Raymond would certainly try once again to convince her to form a new partnership. She had yet to convince him that her partnership had not been the deep, life-changing relationship most of the partnerships had become.
From just outside the door, Adèle watched as one of the wizards cast a cleansing spell on the hands of the ten vampires sitting on one side of the table. The ink marks on all ten hands disappeared, to some sighs of disappointment and perhaps one or two expressions of relief. None of the vampires was the partner of that wizard, nor of any of the others who might have tested their magic that night. If they had been, the ink would have stayed on their hands, untouched by the wizard’s magic.
“Adèle, you’ve arrived just in time.”
Adèle cursed under her breath. “Bonsoir, Raymond.”
“Come see if any of the vampires is your partner,” Raymond urged.
“Not tonight,” she demurred.
Raymond looked like he was about to argue, but Jean Bellaiche, his partner and co-director of l’Institut, intervened. “Dinner will be ready in the réfectoire if everyone would care to adjourn. We’ll join you there in a moment.”
The wizards and vampires who had come to l’Institut for the educational seminar filed out, leaving Adèle alone with Raymond, Jean, and Thierry. “Leighton is gone,” Raymond began. “There’s no reason you couldn’t form a new partnership.”
Adèle sighed. “Besides the fact that I don’t want another one?” she asked. “I had enough of that with Jude.”
She knew Raymond did not believe her, but she felt only relief at not wondering when her bastard former partner would show up on her doorstep and grab her, demanding blood and sex and submission. Raymond was too in love with his partner to understand that her own partnership had been the opposite. Even seeing how Jude had treated her at times, Raymond could not truly comprehend the depths of Leighton’s cruel, crude, callous disregard for Adèle.