Wicked Circle

Wicked Circle by Linda Robertson

Book: Wicked Circle by Linda Robertson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Linda Robertson
willing to be marked by the Excelsior.”
    It did say
Wearing naught but her mark
. . . “If it saves our asses . . .” I started, but I really meant,
If it means you don’t leave.
    “No, Persephone! The three of us are bound in a way that our respective groups dare not hope to accomplish. That we have achieved a workable union both frightens and fascinates them. Our binding to each other strengthens us, but none of us can afford a binding to anyone of higher rank, or to others not of our own kind. It would break us.”
    But your leaving wouldn’t?
I held my tongue.
    “Persephone, I believe the Excelsior has only the best interests of his people at heart, but if he had control over you, it would be only for whatever benefit he could achieve for VEIN. The Witch Elder Council would not abide their Lustrata being controlled by the Excelsior.”
    I let my head rest against the glass, appreciating the way the coldness of it balanced my frozen stomach.
    “Your current solitary statusmeans you lack affiliation to a coven. That forces WEC to pigeonhole you into a role that reflects the disaffected segment of their kind. That already has given the Elders much to worry about—and they’re so old they sleep little as it is, meaning they have vast amounts of time to plot and plan. Their designs would only worsen if they thought you were marked by the Excelsior.”
    I crossed my arms and moped.
    “When the news of dear John’s confirmation as the Domn Lup breaks, your lover will be included on, as you delightfully put it, the shit-list.”
    “Have we hit the worst-case scenario yet?” I was being sarcastic. Sadly, Menessos had an answer.
    “The worst-case scenario,” he said, “is if WEC, VEIN, or the Zvonul discover the
spell that binds the three of us. We did it to keep you from being Bindspoken by the witches, but it strengthens us all. If detected, it will appear that we’re preparing a coup d’état.”
    “Are we?”
    Menessos was silent.
    “If they think we’re prepping for a power grab, they’ll just kill us all outright. Won’t they?”
    “They will have to assume the three of us are sharing what confidential information we know about our respective groups. Further, they will assume that we will use the growth of our individual powers to our mutual benefit. We could all be targeted for execution, as you suggest. Or . . .” He made a visual sweep of the perimeter before answering. “They might act with more cunning. Each group has the potential to send operatives to test our loyalties to each other. Just one could pit us against each other. Dividing us would not only end the union but it wouldalso offer that group an advantage via the information they learn in doing so.”
    Could Menessos or Johnny be played by outside forces?
    Could I?
His adherence to the Machiavellian vampire stereotype was making my head hurt. I rubbed my forehead as if that might deflect the spinning-out-of-control sensation.
    “What is it?” he asked.
    “Congratulations. You’ve just made me paranoid of everyone.”
    He leaned forward. “I am sorry, Persephone. I truly am. That paranoia is the only thing that will keep us united and safe.”
    When he said my name a wave of warmth poured over me like a magical embrace. It emboldened me enough to ask, “How can we be united and safe if you flee?”
    The vampire studied the world beyond the car window. “I do not want VEIN to know I am the original progenitor of the vampires. If that information is exhumed, it cannot be reburied.”
    He’d told me this before. A little more than two weeks ago.
Goddess, it seems like so long ago.
I’d wanted him to tell VEIN the truth so they would rally to his aid against the fairies, but he’d refused. He had been willing to die to keep that secret. And he had.
    I was not insensitive to the fact that he had given the most precious thing he’d had—his very life—to maintain his anonymity, or that losing it now would

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