Regent's Blood - Aristocracy (Book 1) COMPLETED

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It was a cold day in January three years ago.

The old, single-glazed windows of my small apartment, which always broke the light so strangely and distorted the outside world, were covered with ice flowers. My old heater was working at its limit, doing its best to keep at least parts of the apartment in a halfway tolerable warmth. Which in this case meant that the living room was still cozy, while the ice crystals in my bedroom were already spreading on the inside of my window pane.

On the really cold days, I slept wrapped under several blankets on my sofa in the living room, because it was simply warmer and quieter there, than in my bedroom. It faced the north side of the building, with a view of the small backyard of the aging mid-terrace house. For some unknown reason, the cold wind seemed to catch in the backyard, which was leveled with concrete, causing the metal lids of the old trash cans to rattle.

Some might have called this place a shabby hole, but to me it was my home. A place where I had my privacy and could retreat, which was a real luxury when you had grown up in an orphanage.

After I had held my bachelor’s degree in business administration in my hands, I looked for a job and found one in Atonia’s downtown. Since then, I worked as the right hand of an architect not far from the train station. The pay was okay and I could have afforded a better apartment, but I was happy the way it was. I had everything I needed. My neighbors were quiet, hard-working people who left me alone, and more importantly, I had a small sum set aside each month for a rainy day.

That evening, I also set myself up to spend the night on my sofa. Wearing sweatpants and thick wooly socks on my feet, I sat on my comfy sofa with a thick fantasy book and was completely lost in another world. While fabulous creatures ran through a fairytale forest, wintry scents from a scented candle surrounded me, exuding its aromas from my living room table throughout the room.

My thoughts were rudely interrupted by the creaking of the old wooden staircase in the hallway, closely followed by a harsh knock on my apartment door.

Slowly, I closed my book and took my feet off the coffee table to place the book on top of it. Apparently, I was too slow for my visitor’s taste, because there was a loud knock on the door to my apartment, again.

“Hold on, I’m coming!“, I called out loudly as I ran through my living room towards the small hallway. Even as I opened the door, I wondered who the visitor could be. I didn’t usually get many visitors, which was just fine with me.

When I opened the door, I looked into ice-cold, steel-gray eyes that belonged to a distinguishedly dressed man. In his cashmere coat and suit, which looked more like a uniform than business attire, and with his thinning, yet perfectly fitting, short hair, he looked out of place. He belonged more in Atonia’s west, where the expensive designer stores lined up close together and the rich and beautiful went for a stroll. What was this man doing here in a working neighborhood north of Atonia’s downtown?

Slightly intimidated by the demanding presence of the stranger, I took a step back and hesitantly asked, “How can I help you?”

“Are you Margarete Eriks?” the man asked in a deep, thunderous voice.

Automatically, following the command tone, I straightened up a little and answered his question in the affirmative.

Without waiting for any further reaction from me, he spoke briskly on.

“My name is Niklas Romirnov. I have been looking for you for a very long time, Miss Eriks. There are some important things I need to discuss with you. May I come in?”

At that moment, the apartment door next door opened and my elderly neighbor curiously poked her head through her door slot. “Is everything all right, Maggie?” she asked with a curious look.

I gave her a reassuring nod, “Everything’s fine.” Then I took another step backward and opened my door fully to make room for the stranger.

“Come in, please.”

I walked ahead into my small living room, flipped back the blanket on my couch that I had just been wrapped in, and asked him to sit down.

“Can I offer you some tea, Mr. Romirnov?” Even as I spoke his name, I hoped I had remembered it correctly. This man didn’t look like he had a high tolerance for mistakes.

“A glass of water will do for me.” No thanks, just a prompting look. Whoever this man was, he was used to giving orders.

After getting him a glass of water, I sat down on the opposite side of my sofa, which didn’t necessarily put much physical distance between us.

Niklas Romirnov had used the time I was serving him to look curiously and with a petrified expression at every corner of my living room and what else he could see of my apartment.

Now his cold, steel-gray gaze was on me.

“Margarete. To make a long story short: I’m here to take you home. I am your father,” he announced as if this topic was everyday small talk for him.

Since I was about to take my glass from the table and this information completely threw me off my game, I knocked the glass over. The water poured over my small coffee table and dripped onto my thin carpet.

I quickly jumped up and grabbed a dish towel to clean up my mishap.

As I knelt on the floor next to the stranger and rubbed my rug dry with the dish towel, I asked with my eyebrows drawn together in confusion, “Sorry, I must have misunderstood you. Who were you again?”

My complete ignorance of his previous words elicited a response from him after all: he rolled his eyes and repeated, “Margaret, I’m your father.”

“Okay,” was the only thing I could bring myself to say that night.

Shortly after he made his presence known, he placed his business card on my coffee table and wrote down a date and time on the back.

“You know the Estate Hotel on the west side of Atonia?” He asked with a slightly annoyed undertone.

I just nodded. I was incapable of anything further.

“Good, then I’ll expect you there for lunch in two days. Please put on something neat. If something comes up, you can reach me at this number.” He gestured with his head in the direction of the business card.

Then he was gone as quickly as he had come. Only his business card still reminded me of his visit, otherwise I would have assumed that I had only dreamed this experience.

The next morning, I sat at my desk in the anteroom of the executive’s office and still couldn’t believe what had happened yesterday. Besides, there was another problem. The Estate Hotel where the luncheon was to be held tomorrow, was several blocks away from my office. I would never be able to get to the Estate Hotel and back here on my lunch break, let alone have a substantial meal there. I didn’t want to arrive at the posh place completely rushed either.

With an anxious heart, I went to my boss’s door and knocked softly.

After a moment’s hesitation, I heard a “Come in.” As soon as my boss recognized me, he put on his bright smile. “Maggie, what can I do for you?”

I asked him to let me take tomorrow off, explaining my impromptu vacation request with an unexpected situation in my family. Understandingly, my boss nodded at me and granted my request.

Problem one was solved, which led me directly to problem number two. What exactly did this Niklas Romirnov understand by neat clothing? The Estate Hotel was THE place in Atonia where the stars and starlets and those, who wanted to be stars, went in and out. I really didn’t have anything in my closet to match this place, and I wasn’t going to panic and buy new clothes now. My hard saved money was for emergencies and this obviously rich and important Mr. Romirnov did not fall into that category. I resolved to let everything come to me and not to let myself go crazy about it.

The next morning, my bedroom looked as if a bomb had hit it: clothes were scattered all over the room. So much for not letting myself go crazy....

Eventually and after a few times of changing, where I had stopped counting at the seventh outfit, I decided on a pair of black jeans with a beige turtleneck sweater. I had thrown the black pantsuit in the corner, because I didn’t want my outfit to look like I was at a job interview. Black leather boots, an eggplant trench coat and a brown leather shoulder bag completed my outfit.

As I stood on the sidewalk across the street from the Estate Hotel, watching who was coming in and out, I realized that it wouldn’t have mattered what I chose from my closet. It all wouldn’t have been appropriate for the place. Here, only expensive brands and the display of these counted.


What do you think of Niklas Romirnov and the new beginning of the book in general? I’m definitely happier with it than with the original version. I look forward to your feedback, so please don’t be shy. Also, I think comments help raising book’s ranking. Maybe just leave a heart, or a smiley, if you liked it.

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