Blood Rites

By: Amity Cross

“Then why is he inviting you to a party?”

“I bumped into him on the street the other day,” I replied, exasperated. “Quite literally. I smashed his phone because I wasn’t looking where I was going.” Bex’s face began to change and I knew she was about to go all matchmaker on me. “Don’t you dare, Rebecca Hemsworth.”

“Rich, handsome, ruthless… That guy has a bad reputation,” she said. “Your mum is going to have a coronary.”

“Nonsense,” I said, snatching the invitation from her. “I’m twenty-five years old.”

“Yeah, and still single. It’s a wonder she hasn’t arranged an alliance with some uptight Lord already.”

I groaned, crossing my arms over my chest. “Don’t remind me.”

“You’ve been lucky so far, Lorrie. My parents have me on constant rotation with all the eligible bachelors in this town. It’s suffocating.” She shook her arms, making a face. “Enjoy your freedom while it lasts.”

The gallery phone began ringing in the office and Bex rolled her eyes. “Saved by the bell,” she declared. “We're going to continue this when I get back.”

The moment Bex disappeared to answer the phone, I picked up the laptop from the front desk, cracked it open and fired up a web browser. I typed in 'Sebastian Vaughn’, then clicked to the images. A whole bunch appeared on the screen, mostly black tie events, red carpets and some business oriented shots. He was a big shot Financial Investor in the City. He’d get along well with my father. I rolled my eyes and kept looking…or rather, ogling.

I scrolled through the photos, occasionally stopping to enlarge one. He really was handsome…and those women he was photographed with… I couldn’t help it when I felt a stab of jealousy. They were all beautiful and impeccably dressed. Flawless, even. I wasn’t anything like that and he wanted me to come to his party? Maybe it was just because of my father and his business dealings. Maybe this was about money.

You’re such an incurable romantic, Lorelei.

That's it, I couldn’t go. I had to decline. This was obviously about business alliances, not romance. I wanted romance. No, I was staying away from this, no matter how much my body wanted Sebastian Vaughn to ravish it.


I jerked upright, slamming the laptop closed with a snap. Bex was standing in front of me, her hands on her hips.

“You were Googling that hot Sebastian guy, weren’t you?”

I flushed. Shit.

“Lorrie, seriously?” She rounded the table and opened the laptop. “Give us a look then.”

“Who was on the phone?” I asked, trying to distract her.

“Oh, no,” she declared, wigging her index finger at me. “You’re not getting out of this so easily.”

“What’s there to get out of?” I asked, coyly.

“You are going to that party, Lorelei Lansford, and that is final!” She rubbed her hands together in glee and my stomach churned.

“Oh, god,” I said with a groan.

“I’m making you over!”

I felt sick.

The next evening, I stood in the middle of Bex’s bedroom in her Notting Hill apartment, a pile of dresses on her bed.

The shrew, I mean my best friend, had come good on her promise. She meant well, but I wasn’t sure this was a good idea.

She’d preened and primped me, doing my hair in a fancy curled up-do, making my face up with all kinds of scary looking pencils, lipstick and powder, and finally dressing me in some Vera Wang dress that probably cost in excess of five thousand pounds. Top it off with a simple diamond necklace on a fine gold chain, matching earrings and red Manolo Blahnik heels, I felt like I was an overdone chicken.

I did like the dress, though. It was a sleek, blood red, silk that hung on my willowy frame just right, its low neckline simple, just skimming the top of my cleavage. Demure, yet elegant.

Bex looked me over. “You look hot.” She turned me around so I could look at myself in the full-length mirror. “I’m so jealous!”

I stared at my reflection and could hardly recognize the woman staring back at me. I ran my fingers over my face, which was usually devoid of most makeup, and pouted my lips. I never wore lipstick and the red that Bex had put on matched my skin tone perfectly.

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