Home > Fashionably Dead and Loving It (Hot Damned #14)

Fashionably Dead and Loving It (Hot Damned #14)
Author: Robyn Peterman

Chapter One



If I had a heartbeat, it would be hammering out of my chest.

I didn’t have a heartbeat.

I was dead—or rather, undead.

And I was terrified.

Why? No clue.

I was stronger and more powerful than everyone gathered. I was the Chosen One. I didn’t ask for the job. I was unwillingly saddled with it. Hell, I didn’t even ask to get turned into a Vampyre. My attempt to quit smoking hadn’t gone quite as planned. It had killed me. Literally. It wasn’t all that bad—I hadn’t smoked since the day I died—it was just a bit unusual as far as methods went. For the most part, being deceased was fabulous. I was mated to Ethan, the love of my undead life, and had an extended family that included Satan, God and Mother Nature.

The biggest gift was my son Samuel. He was the light of my and Ethan’s world.

But the Chosen One title… that came with some hairy fucking baggage.

According to the sacred Vampyre Scrolls, the Chosen One would eventually come along and be a leader amongst the undead. They’d been waiting a long while, considering Vampyres had existed since the dawn of time. The Chosen One would embody impossibility becoming reality. As the story went, she would give birth to a child, which was inconceivable for the undead, and she would be beloved by Angels and Fairies. She could also control Demons. The Chosen One was the light who lived in the dark. The darkness was her Vampyre and Demon heritage, and the light was her blood compatibility with Angels and Fairies.

For better or worse, I checked all the boxes. I was a killing machine with compassion, and I’d blown out a beautiful baby with immeasurable powers. It made me a target for most of the creatures that nightmares were made of.

That part royally sucked.

But right now, reality sucked.

“Do I look okay?” I asked, standing in the wings of the enormous auditorium awaiting my turn.

“You look gorgeous,” Nana assured me with a smile that made me a tiny bit calmer. “As always, my darling.”

I was so freaking relieved Nana was here. She’d been far more of a mother to me than my own mother, and I adored my grandmother with every fiber of my being. Nana was beautiful inside and out.

Peeking out at the assembled crowd, I wrinkled my nose in confusion. Color me surprised that I didn’t recognize a single pompous asshole at the Royal Court Consortium, but there were a lot of uppity Vamps in the world. It did seem a little odd, but I was about to walk out onto the stage, and I didn’t have time to pick apart the particulars.

“Oh dear,” Nana said, wringing her hands. “You’ve forgotten your crown.”

My stomach cramped. “I have a crown?” I asked. “I didn’t even know I had a fucking crown.”

Nana patted my back and sighed. “Astrid, all princesses have crowns. Ethan is the Vampyre Prince of the North American Dominion, and you are his Princess. You should wear your crown at all times.”

“Even when I sleep?” I asked, beginning to sweat. How in the hell was I sweating? I didn’t own bodily functions anymore. It had to be the stress of the bullshit about to unfold.

Nana nodded. “Yes, darling, even when you sleep. Your crown will protect you from the dark evil headed your way.”

“Umm… could you be a little more specific?” I asked, wanting to poof out of the arena and back home.

Poofing posed a problem. I wasn’t sure exactly where I was at the moment. Maybe I was home. However, there was no stage at the Cressida House. There was a Grand Ballroom, but I would’ve recognized that. Of course, a stage could have been built, but I would think I would have heard the construction going on. As a Vampyre, I could hear a damn pin drop a mile away. I definitely would have known if we’d built a massive extension onto our already enormous compound.

“Don’t worry,” Nana said. “You’ll be fine. Just make lots of friends, don’t swear too much and remember to get your homework in on time. You don’t want to fail. It would look dreadful on your transcript.”

“I’m sorry, what?” I asked, wondering if Nana had tossed back a few glasses of wine. She was making no sense. I wasn’t in school. I was about to address a buttload of Vampyres who didn’t like me much.

A few years back, I’d insisted the undead start paying taxes. Most of them had amassed ridiculously large fortunes over the centuries and hadn’t paid one cent toward the human world we lived in. I called bullshit. It hadn’t made me very popular, but it was the right thing to do. I had Ethan’s backing and his father the King’s support as well. Plus, if any undead idiot wanted to take me on, I’d hand them their ass on a silver platter.

Even though all magical species were unknown to humans, it didn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make the freaking world a better place. We lived forever. It was the ethical and honorable way to go. Of course, the law was despised by many of the undead, but I wasn’t running for Miss Congeniality.

“Did you memorize your song?” Nana asked, gently tucking my wild dark hair behind my ears and pinching my cheeks to give me a bit of color.

“Are you shitting me?” I choked out. “I have to sing? No one told me I have to sing. I can’t sing a fucking note.”

“Everyone can sing,” Nana promised.

“They can?” I asked, doubting her wisdom. She’d clearly forgotten that I’d been asked to silently move my lips at the second grade Spring Jubilee because my warbling made the entire class cry.

Nana nodded and handed me a large feathered fan. It was about four feet wide and just as tall. It was embedded with fist-sized, blood-red rubies that matched the streaks in my hair. The fan was surprisingly light for its size.

“Use this, Astrid,” Nana insisted, pushing me out onto the stage. “It will cover your nudity.”

“My WHAT?” I screeched as I tripped out onto the very well-lit stage to gasps and laughter from the thousands in attendance.

Why I had chosen fifteen-inch Prada heels was beyond me. I didn’t even realize Prada made fifteen-inch-high stilettos. They should really stop doing that. The shoes were almost impossible to walk in. While I was a sucker for fashion, I’d apparently chosen my footwear very poorly today.

Not to mention, I’d forgotten about the rest of my outfit.

“Who did I fuck over in a former life for this to be happening?” I hissed as I quickly adjusted the fan to cover my bits that should not be on display.

Glancing around wildly for Ethan, I spotted him in the front row giving me a thumbs up. Why was he in the front row and not up on the stage with me? And why was he wearing sweatpants? It was a formal affair, and my man always wore Armani. I had little room to talk, being naked and all, but Ethan was the dang Prince. Even stranger, Satan was sitting on his lap eating popcorn. They didn’t like each other. Satan was forever pilfering Ethan’s office supplies. They only tolerated each other because of me.

But the most alarming visual was Martha and Jane. The two profane, mostly bald, undead idiots were seated to the left of Ethan wearing the latest Prada haute couture. Considering they usually wore boob tubes and booty shorts, I didn’t know what the hell to think.

“You can do it, Astrid,” Mother Nature shouted, hanging from a giant crystal chandelier about three hundred feet off the ground. “I believe in you, and I baked you a cake!”

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