Authors: Marian Tee
Tags: #Romance, #New Adult & College, #Paranormal, #Vampires, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Paranormal & Urban, #Two Hours or More (65-100 Pages), #Demons & Devils, #Ghosts, #Psychics, #Teen & Young Adult
BEHOLDEN (BOOK 1)
By Marian Tee
This is a love story between an innocent girl and a jaded man…a pet and her Master…and a soul seer who has yet to realize she’s meant to save the world…and a powerful vampire who has yet to understand his heart still beats.
18-year-old Zari Baltimore is suffering from an identity crisis. Her new school La Scala Legaturia, a training ground for strengthening bonds between Masters and pets, wants Zari to take pride in her role as human pet to Alexandru. But how can she do that when the vampire seems secretly intent on releasing her from his possession?
Maybe it’s time to start distancing herself.
Maybe it’s time to stop thinking as a pet and start practicing her skills as a soul seer.
And maybe, it’s simply time to look for a new Master. At least if Alexandru throws her away, Zari just might be able to survive it.
But then Zari has a vision of someone killing her, and losing Alexandru becomes the least of her problems.
This is the first book in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Marian Tee’s latest New Adult paranormal romance series
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BEHOLDEN (BOOK 1)
By Marian Tee
Copyright 2014 by Streak Digital Publishing
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
“The best way for a Master to show his or her pet respect is to take the time to know him or her.” Zari read the words from her draft as she paced the length of their bedroom.
“You just want the whole kingdom to know about the time I forgot our anniversary,” Alexandru drawled.
“I do not—” She stopped talking mid-sentence when she glanced at her Master. He was on his side of the bed, one leg propped up, a copy of her proposal in his hand. He was bare-chested, wearing only a pair of loose cotton pants…and glasses. Glasses?
She shook her head in confusion. “Why are you wearing glasses? You’re a vampire. You’ve got perfect eyesight.”
“You asked me to review your proposal, didn’t you?” He flashed her a devastating smile. “I thought I should look the part as your editor.” His eyes took on a knowing look. “I also thought you’d like seeing me with glasses. You do, don’t you, pet?”
Zari’s red face was his answer.
“Stop laughing, Master. It’s not that funny!”
Walking along the empty school corridors, Alexandru enjoyed the brief respite from the obsessive attention of La Scala Legaturia’s giggling students. A hundred years back, this school had been akin to hallowed grounds, a place where young ladies took their studies seriously and were intent on perfecting the art of pleasing their Masters. But now?
He shook his head, remembering the girls he had passed by at the entrance hall and the way they had simpered at him. Did they not know that vampires as old as he had no time for idiots?
Alexandru paused when he reached the back door of the last classroom. Inside, he heard the teacher, Madame Lavinia, asking for a moment of silence. “Ms. Ellen? Would you be so kind as to start today’s reporting?”
As Alexandru listened to the students report one by one, he realized that their homework was all about explaining the bond between Master and pet. His lips curved.
This should be good
, Alexandru thought.
Inside his mind, he tapped into the blood bond he shared with
own pet. As usual, she remained oblivious to his presence, her full concentration directed at her nonexistent essay.
My name is Zari Baltimore
. She was mentally reciting the words as she scribbled them, thus allowing him a glimpse of her thoughts.
I’m eighteen years old. My dad…
There was a pause in her thoughts, marked by a silence that was both grave and personal, and
knew his pet was wondering at that moment about her parents’ whereabouts. The last time she had seen them was right before the boating accident, one that resulted in her parents missing and Zari being abducted by trolls. That was over a month ago, and even now, with his men searching for them tirelessly, Alexandru still had no news to share.
My dad is a wildlife photographer and my mother is a wildlife journalist.
The use of present tense told him that she had decided to believe her parents were still alive. She had a tenacious will, his pet, and one he strongly approved of even if it also frustrated him at times.
My Master is Alexandru—
The pause that followed made Alexandru lift a brow.
What was his last name anyway? Was he orphaned? Or maybe he dropped it, sort of like Prince? Maybe his real name went something like The Vampire Formerly Known as Alexandru?
Come to think of it, did vampires have any surname? Maybe they were like rockstars and popstars? Eminem, Rihanna, Pink? Maybe he even used special characters like Ke$ha?
This had Zari mentally laughing her ass off.
Maybe he wrote his name as @lexandru?
The thoughts wiped the smile off Alexandru’s lips completely. He was going to kill his human pet very slowly, that was for sure.
“…lastly, I believe the special bond I share with Master Anton is because of our love for travel.”
“…I can’t think of being a pet to anyone but Master Doru. Our family has served his family for generations, and so it shall be forever and ever.”
“…my Master kicks ass, and it’s my dream to follow in his footsteps and serve the ruling family of Sangre when I finish my training.”
She pretended not to hear it, hoping Madame Lavinia would take pity on her and move on the next student.
“Zari? It’s your turn now.” Madame Lavinia actually came to stand right next to her desk.
Drat. There went her escape plan.
“Sorry, Madame Lavinia.”
“That’s okay.” Madame Lavinia started walking back to her desk. “I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s eager to learn about what you have to say as a human pet to Master Alexandru.”
At her words, half of the girls in Zari’s class looked disgruntled while the other half looked envious. Either way, she knew that all of them would kill to swap places with her.
Grabbing her notebook from her desk, Zari reluctantly followed behind her teacher. Since she always sat at the back and classrooms in La Scala Legaturia were all vast and luxurious, she had a lot of distance to cover.
Just as she was about to reach the platform in front, someone suddenly stuck a foot in front of Zari.
“Aaaah!” Zari flailed like a fish out of water to keep herself from falling, balancing herself on her toes before pulling back. The whole class burst into laughter throughout her antics, and when the girl to her right snickered, saying, “Loser,” another round of laughter followed.
Zari was red-faced with embarrassment, but she didn’t bother saying a word despite knowing exactly who had tried to trip her.
A petite brunette with exotic features, Ellen Carne was one of the school’s most popular girls, an unclaimed pet born to a family who had served vampires for centuries. Unclaimed meant she still didn’t have a Master, and if rumors were to be believed, she was dying to steal Alexandru from Zari.
When Zari’s eyes clashed with Ellen’s, the other girl demanded, “What are you looking at?”
Zari bit back a sigh. She had been so silly to think the supernatural world of vampires, trolls, and what-have-yous would be different from the world she came from. Apparently, bullies were bullies, regardless of their form or species.
Ignoring Ellen, Zari proceeded to the front, not wanting to get into an argument. She
arguing. She wasn’t used to it at all since she had spent most of her life in the jungles, and the company she had kept then was only made up of her parents and wild animals.
Madame Lavinia beamed from her seat behind the teacher’s desk. “You can start anytime.”
How about never,
Zari thought glumly even as she answered, “Thank you, Madame Lavinia.” She remembered just in time to curtsy after the greeting and was rewarded with an approving nod.
Zari welcomed the teacher’s positive reaction. These days, Madame Lavinia appeared the only one to believe she shouldn’t be kicked out of LSL. Who knew? Maybe this week, she could finally enjoy a higher grade than C for the first time.
Turning to the class, she opened her notebook and began to read. “My name is Zari Baltimore. I’m 18 years old. My dad is a wildlife photographer, my mom a wildlife journalist. My Master’s name is Alexandru.” She waited for the class to laugh, but they didn’t.
Mm…maybe her Master really didn’t have a surname? Maybe he was like the vampire version of…Usher? She thought about it.
Nah. Usher was too good a dancer to be like Master Alexandru. Maybe…Bono? Yeah, that sounded about right, age-wise.
She flipped to the next page, coughing, buying herself time because after that little paragraph, she had nothing. Taking a deep breath, Zari decided to fake it. From scratch.
“The bond between Master Alexandru and I is, umm, kinda new.” Like, one-month-new since that was exactly how long she had known her Master. It was the exact opposite of most of the other pets in school, whose relationships with their Masters had either started or had been predestined since the day they were born.