She had to look beatable. She had to play into Heaven’s need to feel superior. She had to give Heaven a way to show off.
She materialized briefly, long enough to glance down to make sure it all looked right. Satisfied, she went back to her ghost form, calculated the spot on the wall above her, then floated up and in.
When she left the VIP ladies’ room, those who stared didn’t look away except to comment to the person next to them. She needed to find Heaven fast before security came after her.
“Heaven,” she shouted. More VIPs stopped to stare.
Then the soon-to-be-ex–Mrs. Maddoc Mays walked out from a secluded alcove, a few girlfriends trailing behind her. Green-gold shimmered in her irises.
Good, Fi thought. Let her get angry. I can work with that. “Hello, Heaven.”
“Look at the filthy little girl who thinks she deserves my husband.” Heaven sneered while her friends laughed. “You are a joke. He cannot love you.” She walked close enough that Fi could smell her perfume. “Why have you come here?”
“To tell you Doc’s going to leave you for me and that you should prepare yourself. As in, start packing to go home.”
Heaven smiled and glanced back at her friends. “You hear this?” She shook her head at Fi. “You are sick in the head, ghost girl. Too bad you didn’t stay dead. Maybe you could join your vampire now that he’s dead, too, eh?”
Something inside Fi came close to snapping. “You know what’s too bad? That you’re too scared of me to settle this once and for all.” She balled her fists. “See which one of us really is the better woman. Which one is his rightful mate.”
Heaven’s eyes went full-on green-gold and her pupils thinned to vertical slits. She leaned in and smiled, showing a set of fangs that would leave pinkie-sized holes in whatever they pierced, but her words held zero trace of humor. “I could never be scared of you.”
“Prove it. You win, I’ll walk away from him forever. You’ll never see me again.”
Seconds ticked by. The crowd that had gathered around them stood listening, waiting right along with Fi. She could practically smell the smoke coming out of Heaven’s brain.
Then Heaven straightened and a slow, calculated grin lifted the corners of her mouth. Her eyes went back to human and she tipped her head slightly to one side. “This is going to be easier than finding the right shoes for my latest couture gown.” She raised one hand like she needed to get the attention of those around her. “Tomorrow night, here in the arena, I will fight this”—she waggled her fingers at Fi—“ human to see which one of us is the rightful mate to our pride leader, Maddoc Mays.”
The crowd gasped. Numb nuts. Like they hadn’t been listening.
Heaven held up her hand to silence them. “We fight to death or surrender.” She laughed like she’d just told an inside joke. “Whichever the ghost girl chooses first.”
“We’re packed, my lady, if you’d like to do a final inspection.” Kosmina stood, hands clasped, before Tatiana.
This trip to achtice was becoming a monumental undertaking, one Tatiana wished she could throw off in favor of hunting the comarré in New Florida. But that would have to wait. The ball was being held in her honor. Not attending would cause more of a scandal than even she was willing to face. “Everything from the list packed?” she asked. “All of Lilith’s things? Her toys? Extra changes of clothes? Her gown for the ball?”
“Yes, ma’am. I did her packing myself.”
“Very good. You’re dismissed. I’ll expect my suite prepared when I arrive.”
Kosmina bowed. “It will be my first priority, my lady.” With that, she left.
Octavian sat near the cold fireplace, bouncing a giggling Lilith on his knee. Tatiana joined them. “What of the comar?”
Octavian kept his eyes on Lilith. “He’s healed enough to travel. I don’t anticipate him giving us any more trouble, and you won’t have to worry about a blood source for yourself or Lilith while we’re away from home.”
“Keep him away from your comarré. I don’t want him attempting another escape with her.”
Octavian laughed. “That girl wouldn’t leave if you paid her, I assure you.”
“I wish mine was as docile.” Damian had become the one scar on her otherwise perfect life. If the opportunity came to replace him, she would take it, no matter how it might erode her funds. She smiled. What was she thinking? Her funds were unlimited now that she was Dominus. She nodded to herself. Maybe she would visit the Primoris Domus in achtice and see what that house had to offer. Surely for the right amount, they would keep quiet about her difficulties with Damian? With a contemplative sigh, she sat across from Octavian and rested her elbow on the sofa’s arm, then tipped her head into her hand.
He arched his brows. “Nervous about the ball?”
She smirked. “I don’t get nervous.”
Lilith reached for the floor, so he set her down to crawl. “Maybe nervous wasn’t the right word. It’s just that it’s the first time the nobility will meet Lilith. There will be such a crowd there. I can see that it might be… daunting.”
“Daunting? You think anything daunts me? You seem to have forgotten who I am.” She peered at him curiously for a moment.
“I didn’t mean to imply…” He shifted nervously. “Forgive me and my poor choice of words.”