LAST chapter, Peaches, before the Epilogue!

Chapter 165—Family Tree

Raine

**Three Months Later**

Cage and I were preparing to leave Armand's kingdom and begin our own. I suspected the change would feel significant. So much had happened to me here. It was my beginning with Cage, my beginning as a vampire, and a safe haven for us...if there were such a thing in the vampire world. But it was time. We needed to be on our own. Inside both of us, was a compulsion to venture out and start something new.

Kieran and Talon would be joining us, as well as our several pets. And there had been rumors several vampires from varying kingdoms were interested. Vampires we had never met, but apparently they'd heard of us. I'd been startled by the number of requests we'd already received and we weren't even on our own yet. Just as I felt compelled to begin somewhere new, apparently, several vampires felt compelled to want to join us.

We wouldn't turn them away. I wanted to begin a new kingdom, something the vampire world had not seen, one of refuge and respect. Cage was hesitant to believe a certain level of freedom was possible. He felt vampires' darker natures would always dictate the need for strict rule, but he was willing to support me in my endeavor. I loved him for understanding my dreams, and at least trying a new perspective.

"What are you looking at?" Cage interrupted my musings.

I looked up to find his beautiful silver eyes looking at me. I held open the photo album. "I was just looking through pictures before I packed them for the move."

He stepped to look over my shoulder. Reaching around me, he pointed toward one of the 4 x 6 images. "I loved that bathing suit on you...although I don't know why you felt you had to wear one."

I swiveled my head around to find a small pout on his face. I rolled my eyes. "It wouldn't have been appropriate. And you can't keep me naked all the time."

His lips curled up devilishly. That sparkling mischievous look in his eyes made me place a hand on his chest. "Oh no, no, no...that was not a personal challenge. Whatever you're thinking, stop it right now!"

He laughed, the sound deep and seductive. My toes curled, but I forced myself back to the task at hand, refocusing on the album in front of me. The picture he'd pointed to had been taken during our two-week vacation after the Reception Gala. The vacation had been wonderfully relaxing, and just what we needed, before we had to tackle such a big move and endeavor.

After our vacation, Talia and Alaric had come back for Armand and Brialle's mating ceremony. I cringed all over again, remembering. Thankfully, Armand had been respectful of Brialle. But I had kept my head nestled in Cage's shoulder. There was no way I could watch. Listening to it had been bad enough.

Cage had found the whole thing hilarious. Even Talia hadn't been affected, but she grew up in this world. The three of them had enjoyed my appalled response a little bit too much, I thought irritably.

That was another thing I wasn't sure I would continue in our own kingdom—public consummation. On this point, Cage completely disagreed with me. It was so ingrained in vampire tradition. So for now, it was still open for discussion, and we'd just wait and see how things went.

Abruptly, both my phone and Cages' sounded a notification of an incoming text. His eyes tightened. It was either an incredible coincidence that we both received a text at the same time, or whatever it was, required both of us. The latter made me nervous.

As I pulled my phone up to look at it, my concerns were justified. The message was cryptic: Council Room. Felaern is here. Your attendance is needed.

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