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Unforgiven (The Forbidden Bond 2), page 1

 

Unforgiven (The Forbidden Bond 2)
 



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Unforgiven (The Forbidden Bond 2)


  UNFORGIVEN

  The Forbidden Bond Series

  BY

  CAT MILLER

  Copyright © 2012 by Cat Miller

  Cover Art Copyright and Interior Design by Indie Designz

  All rights reserved. Except for use in any reviews, the reproduced or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form is forbidden without prior written permission of this author.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are either 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.

  ISBN-10: 1478247479

  ISBN-13: 978-1478247470

  WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT THE FORBIDDEN BOND SERIES

  “Cat Miller breaks all the stereotypes of fantasy, fiction, love, lust, and vampires to bring you a story that has never been told, but MUST be read!”—Tyra Coil, Book Snobs

  “The Forbidden Bond Series is addictive from the first bite!”—Delphina Miyares , Delphina Reads Too Much

  “Cat Miller awakens intrigue and reaffirms herself as an impeccably seamless author. She effortlessly creates a world I feel right at home in. I am completely bound to her Forbidden Bond Series”—Mary Hensley, A Page Away

  “If you thought Unbound was hot just wait until you’re Unforgiven!”—K.B. Miller, Author of The Moon Coven Series.

  “Amazing, heart pounding ride that will leave you on the edge of you seat…”—Sabrina Ford, Paranormal Reads

  Acknowledgements

  My heartfelt gratitude goes out to Kathy Ambrose for her patience and never ending encouragement.

  I send many thanks to Liz and Bruce LeBrun for their creative support.

  I will never be able to sufficiently express my most humble appreciation to my dear friend K.B. Miller. Her strength and knowledge as a writer inspire me to new heights.

  As always, I send all of my love to JR, Dani, and Sam.

  ONE

  In order for there to be a rebirth, something in you must die. If part of you died, would you miss it? Would anyone else miss that part of you? Would they even notice it was gone? What if you were always the shadow in the corner of a room full of beautiful, bright beings and one day you stepped out into the light? Would anyone see you, or would the shadows follow the less brilliant beings into the light? Brandi was about to find the answers to these questions.

  She admired herself in the wall mirror in her huge walk-in closet. There were piles of clothes littering the floor around her, ready for the Salvation Army. All the clothes hanging from the racks still wore their tags and her trendy new shoes were still all in their boxes. She’d been planning this transformation for months and today would be the big reveal. Of course, at first everyone would think that she had simply dolled up for her newly found half-sister’s bonding to Chase Deidrick, Brandi’s secret childhood crush. No one knew that Brandi had always had the hots for Chase. She’d watched him in the halls at school and drooled just like the rest of the girls, but Brandi had the added benefit of seeing him regularly at vamp functions and at the Council hall.

  It had broken her heart the day she caught her twin sister, Samantha, having sex with Chase in the pool house. Brandi couldn’t possibly have looked any less like her twin, even if she had tried. Samantha was beautiful, tall, model thin and blonde. At the time, Brandi hadn’t grown into a womanly form. She was a head shorter than Samantha and she had the same dark chocolate hair that seemed to run in the Vaughn family. Most days she looked like a nerdy tomboy. Brandi enjoyed sports and took great pride in getting straight A’s in her advanced gifted and talented classes.

  Oh, Samantha was just as smart as Brandi. They both graduated from high school at sixteen years old, but Samantha preferred to derive attention from her pretty face and flawless figure. The boys had always fawned over her and competed for her attention. She did a lot of dating, but Samantha only wanted the one guy that paid her no attention. Chase Deidrick.

  Brandi figured it was the challenge that drew Samantha to Chase. She enjoyed the hunt more than the prize. Samantha wanted the prize to be hers and hers alone, at least until she became bored and tossed the guy aside like so much garbage. Who knew, if Brandi had developed early, the way Samantha had, she could have been the same way. She wouldn’t have needed to compete with Samantha for their mother’s attention in the only way she knew, with her brain. Intelligence was the only attribute Brandi exuded that her sister didn’t bother to flaunt.

  Brandi had gotten home from a trigonometry study session on a particularly hot day at the end of her senior year of high school and decided to jump in the pool for the first time that season. She entered the pool house and was surprised to hear water running and voices coming from one of the shower stalls. She recognized her sister’s hushed moans and went to investigate. Brandi thought it would be hysterical to catch her sister with the pool boy she’d been ogling, or a gardener. Who else would be around for her to dally with? Brandi would never let Samantha live it down.

  He wasn’t the pool boy. The shower curtain was open about an inch and Brandi could clearly see the side of Chase’s beautiful face; his muscular, water slicked body sliding against Samantha’s Barbie perfection. They were getting it on and Brandi wanted to die. She could never compete with her sister. It was the end of her childish fantasies of a future with Chase Deidrick. Brandi quietly backed out of the pool house, leaving behind a small piece of her heart, and much of the closeness she shared with her twin. Things had never been the same between them after that day.

  Their already shaky relationship had taken a nose dive when Brandi had done a little underhanded maneuvering nine months ago to prevent her sister from trapping Chase into a blood bond he didn’t want and she didn’t deserve. Their parents and Chase’s parents were determined to fulfill a prophecy and bring about peace between their families. The prophecy also promised the end of the hellish reign of a rogue vampire who continued to slaughter the youth of the vampire nation in his sickening bid for power. In order to achieve this feat Chase had to take one of them for his mate. The choice was his but Samantha had done everything in her power to ensure he choose her, even going to the lengths of turning Chase’s best friend, Cayden, against him and lying to Brandi about her relationship with Chase.

  Brandi didn’t want Chase. Not really. Seeing him have sex with Samantha had shattered all of her childish longings for him. And to be honest she didn’t believe the plot to force a prophecy into fruition was going to work. Things happen when they were supposed to and it was arrogant of the Elders to believe they had the power to make it happen otherwise. When Brandi realized her sister was about to close the noose around Chase, she acted swiftly and without thinking. She exposed Samantha’s scheme to everyone who needed to know without a thought for how it would affect her. Brandi had been a bit hysterical when her father proclaimed that she would be mated to Chase instead of Samantha. In her effort to free Chase, she had neatly entrapped herself. Who would want to be mated to a man who had lain with her sister. Not to mention that he was madly in love with another girl, a girl she later learned was also her sister. What a mess she had made. But that was all over now and things had worked out as fate intended.

  Looking at herself in the mirror now, several years after that awkward day in the pool house, that shy tomboy was nowhere to be found. Brandi hardly recognized herself now that she wasn’t hiding behind her frumpy yet comfy track suits and oversized jerseys. She could see the woman she’d grown into staring back at her.

  Brandi was lush and curvy in a way that reminded her of her half-sister Danielle, instead of a tall, willowy crea
ture like Samantha. She would never again envy Samantha’s looks and popularity. Brandi would do whatever it took to find a sense of self-worth and stand out in a crowd, even if it meant part of her had to die. The quiet bookish girl of her past had to step aside to make room for the woman she was now determined to be.

  She checked her hair and make-up one last time, loving her new haircut. Her mother was going to have a shit fit when she saw the shorn locks that curled and wrapped around Brandi’s jawbone. The stylist had given her the perfect hair cut for a woman that wanted to look good but didn’t have time for a lot of primping. The new cut used her natural waves to advantage in a style that reached midway down her neck with long layers that tickled her face. She looked greatstraight from the shower with nothing more than a little product and a pick. It dried to a wavy and stylish perfection. Today she wore several sparkly pins in her hair that peeked out of the curls to accent the shiny beads on her lavender dress that caught the light and made her appear to shimmer. The Brandi of old was gone; looking to the future was exciting and terrifying at the same time.

  Griffin, Brandi’s father, was the first to see her transformation. When she reached the bottom of the stairs, she found him in his tuxedo, looking as much like a movie star as any she’d ever seen on a red carpet. He stared at Brandi and made a slow circle around her to take in the changes. He said nothing at first and her self-esteem began to plummet. Her father would tell her the truth no matter what, and if he disapproved, he wouldn’t hold his tongue. He looked at her with the grave expression of a man about to break some very bad news. It was the serious face he used in the Council chamber when deliberating with the other Councilmen. Finally a smile split his face and softened his expression into that of her daddy.

  “Now what am I going to do with you?” He folded her up in his arms and kissed the crown of her head.

  “I would assign armed warriors to guard you, but they would likely fall in love. Then I’d have to have good men executed.” He shook his head, “The one precious child I never had to worry about had the nerve to become a beautiful woman and break her daddy’s heart.”

  He held her there against his chest, swaying back and forth for several moments before pulling away with suspiciously shining eyes.

  “I love you, too, Daddy,” she beamed up at him. The relief of his acceptance and pride in her was overwhelming to Brandi. “Shouldn’t we be leaving now? Where are Sam and Mom?”

  “It seems your mother is having trouble resigning herself to attend the bonding and Samantha feels she shouldn’t have to attend, given her past with Chase. Not to mention her unreasonable distaste for Danielle. I gave them both fifteen minutes to get down here about thirty minutes ago.”

  Griffin looked aimlessly around the room and ran his fingers through his perfectly groomed hair in frustration. The white highlights he was born with were believed, by their people, to be a sign of great power and they stood out starkly against the dark coffee color of the rest of his hair.

  “I’m going to go ahead without you in my car. I can’t be late. Will you hurry them along and follow in the limousine?”

  Her father looked so forlorn it made her heart ache for him. The past six months had been a balancing act and an exercise in patience for Griffin. After discovering hissupposedly dead first mate and daughter had been alive and well for nineteen years, he had to deal with her mother and sister, who wanted nothing to do with the girl or her human mother. Brandi’s mother, Sarah, had decided that “the trashy human” was nothing more than a fling in his misspent youth and should have been exterminated when he had mistakenly gotten her pregnant. It didn’t matter how many times he explained that he had loved Tessa and they planned to have a baby after their bonding, Sarah wouldn’t hear it. She believed it was a phase, like when human girls go off to college and test out girl on girl relations. It was his “human phase” and a mistake. Sarah was making life around the house hell for him because he refused to disown his “mutt of a low born child and her filthy mother.”

  Having Danielle come to visit their home was impossible and when Griffin went to Danielle, Sarah made a point of making him suffer. Brandi herself had been scorned for attending the bridal shower and other pre-bonding festivities. Brandi believed the drama was all due to the obvious electricity between her father and Tessa whenever they came into close contact. The tension between them was almost tangible. Her father still loved Tessa. He had only bonded with Sarah to lessen his pain at losing her. Something about Tessa being a human had kept their bond from being strong enough for him to know she was still alive, but it had been plenty strong enough to prevent his bond with Sarah from being the all-consuming experience it was supposed to be. It hadn’t stopped his pain and longing for Tessa. It only dulled it enough to make him believe the faint echoes of her voice in his head and the vague sensing of her emotions were just his heart’s wishful aching for a lost love. Their relationship had been a mix of a deep, true love, and the vampire bond that was unheard of with a human. The fact that Danielle’s mother was human was still a shock to their people. No one had believed it was possible for a human to carry a vampire child and survive. Most everyone ignored Tessa at the bridal parties and Brandi believed they would shun Dani as well if it weren’t for her transformation into a full-blooded vampire.

  Brandi knew this all to be true after overhearing a conversation between her father and his best friend, Mason. Brandi had a knack for being in the right place at the right time to overhear private conversations. He’d told Mason he loved Tessa still, but he was a man of his word and he intended to honor the bond he made with Sarah. For that, Brandi greatly respected her father and was saddened at the same time. She wanted her father’s happiness, but she also worried for her mother’s future welfare and that of their family. Of course, Griffin hadn’t admitted to Sarah that he still longed for Tessa, but it was impossible not to see it when they looked at each other.

  This was all ground breaking stuff. Up to this point, as far as she knew, once a couple was bonded they happily kept only to one another until one of them died. Then the surviving mate would either bond themselves to another in order to end the suffering, as Griffin had done, or they wasted away in loneliness, longing for their lost mate. Griffin had been too young to live out his days alone. Now the sadness in his eyes warred with the longing to be with his daughter on the day of her bonding to a man she loved as much as he had loved Tessa when they were bound together. The knowledge of his pain tore at Brandi’s heart.

  “I’ll do my best, Daddy. If I can’t get them moving I’ll be along without them,” she embraced her father again. “Everything is going to work out. Mom will come to terms with this addition to our family as soon as she realizes they aren’t going away.”

  With a disbelieving smile that didn’t reach his eyes Griffin replied, “I hope so, baby. I really hope so.” He kissed her on the cheek and headed out the door.

  Brandi had been waiting in the foyer for an hour. She had made several trips to her mother and sister’s rooms in an attempt to get them out the door. It seemed odd the way her mother kept checking her watch as if she was waiting for something. Maybe her intention was to miss the ceremony and show up fashionably late to the reception. The last time Brandi climbed the stairs had been the last straw.

  “Mother, I’m leaving without you. I’ll see you later tonight.”

  Brandi informed Sarah’s back, because she refused to turn around to acknowledge her. This brought Sarah’s head whipping around to scowl at her.

  “You will not leave this house without me, Brandi! Your sister and I will be down shortly, and you will stop making a nuisance of yourself. Go wait quietly in the foyer. It’s bad enough you cut off all your lovely hair. Must you be a pest, too?” Sarah turned back to the mirror, dismissing Brandi entirely.

  On the way down the stairs familiar warmth started to spread in her core with the growing aggravation she felt with her mother and sister. What the hell did her hair have to do with anythi
ng? Taking calming breaths and forcing down the heat licking at her belly, she sat and practiced the calming meditative breathing techniques Doc Stevens had been teaching her during her recent secret weekly visits.

  Finally, Sarah swept down the stairs, her head held high, looking lovely in a black dress, the one she wore to funerals. Griffin was not going to think that was funny. Samantha looked dour in a matching shade meant to let the world know she was in mourning. The ride to the vampire owned Country Club, where many such ceremonies and events are held, was almost too quiet. Samantha continued to look as if she was going to vomit, and Sarah had the look of a cat that had swallowed a bird. She appeared smug and satisfied. They were most surely going to be late. They would have to wait in the hall so they didn’t interrupt the bonding. Maybe Sarah’s intention was to barge in and cause a disruption.

  The limo pulled up to the building and Brandi realized the lights were out inside. She knew it was to be a candle light reception with additional pale lighting used so as to not ruin the view of the stars in the clear night sky, but she hadn’t heard any mention of the bonding being held in such darkness. Then she noticed a van parked up on the curb at an odd angle and a chill skittered down her spine. Something was wrong here. She could feel the tension in the air. Brandi leapt from the limo as soon as it came to a stop and ran for the stairs leading to the chapel.

  “Brandi get back here, now!” her mother exclaimed, but Brandi was almost to the doors by the time Sarah and Samantha had exited the vehicle. Sarah called her back again in vain. She wanted to rip open the doors and go storming in but that instinct that told her when to shut up and listen kicked in, so she slowly slid through the door, and crept over to a coat closet off to the right. It would give her a place to observe her surroundings for a moment. She needed to be sure her creepy feeling wasn’t just her imagination working overtime. Busting into Danielle’s bonding ceremony like gangbusters to find she was wrong would not be the ideal way to smooth things over between the Vaughns and the Deidricks. Not to mention, it would be embarrassing.

 
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