“Excuse me, Grandmaster?”
“What is it, Agnes?” Uri snapped.
“While our mistress has led us well, she does appear to be stunned by the master’s current state. I have no doubt that your greatness will aid in strengthening her. Perhaps it is in the master’s best interest to wait until your arrival?”
“I’ll go for her.” All heads turned toward Emme.
Uri’s terse response didn’t go over well with me. “How will your presence be better than Celia’s, my dear?”
Emme clutched my hand. “Being her sister, I’m the next closest thing.”
“Emme has been a guest in our home, Grandmaster,” Hank interrupted. “It will give the impression the Wird sisters stand with the vampires.”
Nothing else Hank could have said would have pleased Uri more. The undead lived to drop names. The pleasant tone returned to Uri’s voice. “Very well, dear Emme. I shall arrange a meeting between you and the Elders. Celia, when I arrive we will attend the wolves together.”
Danny nodded, giving me the okay to run with it. “Okay, Uri. I’ll go with you when you arrive.”
The vamps prepared for Uri’s arrival while I met with Danny and Emme in Bren’s room. “Thanks for doing this, Emme.”
She hugged me tight. “It’s okay, Celia. It’ll give me an excuse to talk to Liam in person.” Her cheeks turned a pretty pink as they often did when she spoke of him.
“You’re going to ask him to get back together. Aren’t you?”
Emme played with her hands. “I love him, Celia. My life hasn’t been the same without him.”
Liam was the best thing to come Emme’s way. They’d made the perfect couple. Or so I’d thought. This time, I took her hands in mine. “Emme, your relationship ended when you came to terms that you weren’t his mate. What happens if he meets her while you’re with him?”
Emme shrugged. “I want to take the chance, he’s worth it. There’s no one else for me.”
Danny elbowed me slightly. Based on the rising bedsheet over Bren’s pants, he disagreed.
I worried about Emme facing the wolves alone and sent Michael along to accompany her. I paced the whole time she was gone, unable to remain still. She returned an hour later, crying. I rushed to the foyer, where the vampires had gathered around her. “What happened?”
“Anara told me he wouldn’t help Misha.”
I clenched my teeth while the vampires swore and hissed. “What about Martin and Makawee, were you able to gain their support?”
“I asked to meet with them. Anara refused and told me to leave. I sought Aric, hoping he could at least arrange an audience with the Elders, but the only wolf I found was Liam.” Her voice shook and her tears ran faster. “He’s engaged. You were right, he found his mate. She’s one of the weres who fought in Chaitén.”
I froze. “Oh, God, Emme…I’m so sorry.”
Edith stomped her foot. “Who gives a shit? What about our master?”
I glared at her. “Back off, Edith. Can’t you see she’s hurt?”
Liz rammed her file into a small wooden table. “You don’t get it, Celia. If our master dies, one of the others will kill you and claim us.”
My growls had her backing away. “Do you honestly think I’m not trying here? Contrary to popular belief, I want to live, too!”
Liz dropped her gaze, but angry tears welled in her eyes. For a moment, no one said anything.
Agnes inched her way toward me. Like the other schoolgirls, she’d begun to cry. “You don’t understand the peril of our situation, Celia. Most masters aren’t as kind as ours.”
Her words surprised me. Misha could be unbelievably sweet—to me. The way he ruled his vampires, though, was harsh at times. They feared him, and rightfully so.
Tim put his arm around her as she wept, a feat of compassion I’d never seen. “There are some who will kill us just for sport.”
“And others who will force us to commit unthinkable acts,” Edith added.
I blinked back at her. For Edith to consider something unthinkable was scary as hell.
Michael stepped forward. “I used to belong to Petro. Power had made him cruel, as it often does most masters. He would…” Michael shuddered and stared at the blue slate floor, unable to continue.
I sensed the vampires’ anger, but their growing fear masked their fury. Shit. What would happen to them if we couldn’t get Misha back? “Would Uri be able to take you on as his?”
The girls kept their heads down. Hank and Tim exchanged glances. “To do so he’d have to kill you,” Hank said.
I swallowed a few times. I supposed I should’ve started making a list of all my potential murderers so I could keep track.
Tim released Agnes. “Don’t worry. Out of respect for our master he won’t kill you…maybe.”
Edith bit her bottom lip. “Though he might force us to kill you.”
“Uri can force you to kill me?”
It was Michael who answered. “As the master to our master, yes.”
Liz nodded. “But we would feel terrible about it, wouldn’t we, everyone?”
The vamps all muttered in agreement.
“Gee, thanks. I feel better now.”
Emme stopped crying. Being scared out of her mind for my life sobered her right up. Danny didn’t look much better. He knew, like I did, that my only hope for survival was Misha.
“How the hell did you wind up involved in this horseshit?”
Needless to say, Taran didn’t take my latest news well when I phoned her and Shayna.
I fell back into the bed. “What can I say, I’m on a roll.”
“Dude, leave them.”
I draped an arm over my eyes. “I can’t, Shayna. Whether I live with them or not they still belong to me.”
Danny sat next to me. “Besides, where else would she go? At least with the vampires she’s protected from everything that’s after her.”
Taran huffed. “Oh, yeah, until another master challenges her or Uri makes them kill her. Celia, this is total shit!”
I sat up on my elbows. “I’m counting on Uri to take them should another master take me out.”