His Silver Hand (Book Two of The Kings Series)

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Food is Life

Anna Marie
Present Day

The ladies smothered her with hugs and kisses, her body jolted with their excited cheers and hollers.

People at the school auditorium glanced their way -- some censorious and irritated, some genuinely happy -- none dared reprimand their boisterous celebration.

Breathing became a huge issue from their loving embrace, despite that, a huge smile graced her lips.

Goddess, she had made it. After eighteen months of nonstop lectures, demos, and apprenticeship, she finally graduated from ICE, NY. Top of her class. Who would have thought?

Her family couldn’t be more proud of what she had achieved.

Alexander, her sister’s incredibly handsome mate gave her two thumbs up. It was so rare to see a brooding man like him smile. But she guessed the two pups in his arms has mellowed him a bit.

Mikhail and Annalisa, her twin nephew and niece. Adorable. She bet they could get away with any crime with just a bat of their luscious eyelashes and cherubic chubby cheeks.

Then there’s Lucian, Michael and Alexie’s, little boy. He was one gorgeous pup and he likes warm hugs.

More often than not, she found herself part of a puppy pile every morning in her huge four-poster bed. And Mish, her introverted sister, the biggest pup in the group, grappled all the blankets in the middle of the night. It frustrated her to no end.

“Ok. This calls for a celebration. I have made dinner reservations at The Mark.” Her brother-in-law announced. The Mark was one of his hotels and one of the most expensive in NYC.

She frowned at him playfully. This man loved to spoil them rotten. He was the reason she was admitted to a very exclusive and elusive culinary school in the world.

You know what he did? He bought major shares to own the business.

“I have just graduated from culinary arts and we are eating out?” She tried to look stern but the pups giggled. It was no use.

“Yup. It’s a treat from us. Mia anima, please tell your sister.” He pulled her sister, pups, and all and kissed her lips gently. Once, twice. Her sister responded immediately to his loving. Urgh!

“Hey, guys. Keep it PG.” Rie rolled her eyes and took one of the twins before they were squished, the cutie Annalisa grasped her face, making her smile. Mish took Mikhail.

Their parents love to make out all the time. They were used to the scene. The twins gurgled happily, cooing.

“Rie, come on. Besides, Xander will announce something special. You will love it.” Anna, her lycan sister, full lips stretched on a smug smile, coaxed.

“You’re pregnant again?” She answered. Faking a surprised gasp.

Alexander, the lycan king chuckled.

“Goddess, no. Though that wouldn’t be a bad idea.” Yeah, right. Anna could say that to hundreds of women out there who struggled to get back to their slender version after giving birth. Her sister and Alexie never lost theirs. They look even more stunning. Curves in all the right places.

While Rie remained plain as a brown mouse. And she doesn’t even have a boyfriend to maul her body. Damn!

“Okay. Let’s go. I’m starving.” She relented. Alexie and Anna whooped. Made her wonder how they run a kingdom.

Rie wished Sofia and Oliver were here. They went to Russia in an emergency. She guessed it had something to do with...

Her amber eyes found Mish. She was busy playing with Mikhail and she seemed happy. For now. At times, she saw her staring blankly into space. Like she was waiting for someone. Those moments, she readily questioned Xavier’s decision.

Mish was brokenhearted and she doesn’t even know why. How she wished she could tell her. She couldn’t. Anna and Xander and the rest of the family made her promise. Her youngest sister will be eighteen in a few months while she turned twenty in a couple more.

Mish will know how lucky she was in due time.

Rie’s dream was to experience that kind of love.

It’s one of the reasons why she shunned human suitors.

It may sound biased and prejudice but she wanted what her sisters have and Alexie and Sofia. And all that she had witnessed inside the pack.

Loyalty.

Faithfulness.

Undying and eternal love.

Arg! All sappy bullshit. Her sister Anna was mated to a lycan. Mish to a vampire. What other supernatural man was out there for her? Nada!

She had to concentrate on her glorious career instead. Where there’s no heartache and no complications. And plain old recipes to keep her warm.

Her only love was cooking and it loved her back unconditionally.

***

“Xander, your chef’s souffle has not risen properly.” The comment slipped unheeded, out of habit.

“You think? Let’s fire him then.” He answered seriously. His mate smacked his hand with a silver spoon. “Ouch! What did I do, baby girl?”

“You can’t fire people on a whim, darling.” She reprimanded. Rie nodded in agreement. Sometimes, Anna’s Xander was too much.

“Oh, ok. As you wish, mia anima.” He went back to feeding the twins soft meat and vegetables, cooing at them.
Anna has him wrapped in her pinky finger one hundred million times.

“I will never make a comment again,” she mumbled. Alexie heard, she snorted to cover her laughter. She glared in her direction.

Mish was so quiet and her steak moved in circles on her plate. Rie elbowed the ladies at her side. They noticed her mood at once.

“Mish, are you ok? Do you want anything else?” Anna asked. Worried she might be sick.

“No. The food is great.” Mish glanced around the table. “I had a dream.”

Everyone held their breaths. Waiting.

“What was your dream, Mish?” Alexie tried to sound nonchalant. Her face open but guarded.

“A man with curly blond hair and ice-blue eyes. He...called me...um...beloved.” Her little sister answered in her small sweet voice. Her emotions confused her. She had noticed the mark on her neck as soon as she woke up from a deep sleep after she was attacked almost two years ago. A crown in the middle of two red puncture scars. Luminous and ethereal in the moonlight.

To hide the truth from her, Anna had a tattoo of crown done near her mark, Alexie, and Sofia on their wrists, and Rie on her chest where the heart was. They told her it was a symbol of their sisterhood. Which was partially true.

They had sworn to smack Xavier on the head as payment for their sacrifice under the needle.

“Well, maybe he is your prince charming, Mish?” She grinned at her to cheer her up, trying to lighten the mood.

“He seemed familiar. Like I have seen him before.” Her frown marred her delicate beauty.

Alexie and she exchanged glances.

“Never mind,” Mish whispered. Withdrawn once again and went back to picking her food.

“Oh, Alexander, and I have a surprise for you Rie!” An excited voice to her right announced. Thank Goddess for Anna’s quick thinking to dispel the sudden gloomy atmosphere.

“And what would that be, huh?” Game to anything that will distract Mish. And in all honesty, she was looking forward to the surprise. If it came from them, it must be grand.

“Well, before that, this beauty is from us girls.” Alexie glanced around the table in excitement before she placed a velvet box before her. “Open it.”

With trembling fingers, as if what was inside will jump out and bite, Rie opened the lid of the expensive rectangular box.

Her jaw dropped. “Oh, goddess!” This magnificent piece must have cost a million. It was longer than a normal choker. At the center attach to it was a big yellow stone about the size of her thumb, holding the whole jewelry in place were flawless diamonds in a perfect single row.

“Do you like it?” Mish’s eyes glowed with happiness. “I have chosen it for you.”

“I love it so much!” The girls all grinned. Eyes misty.

Michael cough, uncomfortable with the mushy stuff. They all giggled. These powerful men hate it when they cry.

Alexander rose to his feet, bubbly champagne glasses were distributed around the table. His beta stood by his side.

The pups were crawling and wobbling around the private room, supervised by at least five nannies.

Her brother-in-law cleared his throat. “Rie, you make us all proud to be your family. You excelled academically. And did it with medals around your neck. It’s time to put that to the test. As a gift to you, I give you the family’s flagship 3 Michelin star restaurant, The Elementals, to do with as you please!”

Oh shit! That can’t be right. She heard it wrong. Or did she hear it correctly? She doesn’t know!

She was crying and laughing at the same time. To have a restaurant to manage? At barely twenty?

Rie shook her head yes. Totally at a loss for words.

“Okay. Group hugs everyone!” Someone shouted. It was her sister Anna. I think.

A loving and supportive family. More than she could ever ask for.

Anna Marie couldn’t ask for more.

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