I nearly yelled as my head broke the surface. The pool room was filled with dozens of vampires, all waiting patiently. I treaded water and tried to think about where I'd get some clothes. And about what they must have seen.

Tina must have read the look on my face; she knelt by the pool and held up a robe she'd grabbed from somewhere. I swam to her and got out, let her help me into the robe, and got it belted in about half a nanosecond. Sinclair, that shameless hussy, had no problems with modesty; he simply lifted himself from the pool and stood before our audience, splendidly naked. While I stared, the teethmarks on his throat and shoulders healed.


"Behold," Tina said loudly, "your Queen and her consort!"

"Uh..." I raised a finger.

"Nostro is no more," Sinclair said sternly (and nudely). "The Fiends are under my Queen's command. As are all of you."


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"Any who do not wish to swear allegiance may leave now, tonight. We will not force your hand. But any who remain, and swear loyalty to her Majesty the Queen, will be under Our protection so long as We live."


"Consort?" I asked. I was having a hard time catching Tina's eye, all of a sudden, and why should that be? "Tina? Consort? What?"

Vampires all over the room were kneeling, were brushing their foreheads against the tile, but I had no eyes for them. "What's going on?"

She coughed, while Sinclair turned to give me a thoughtful look. He smiled at me. Why should his smile be scary now, of all times?

Tina coughed again. "We-ah-didn't get a chance to finish explaining the prophesies from the book of the dead. Because Donald-and we just didn't. But you were foretold, and Nostro's downfall was foretold, and Eric being-uh-being your King was also-"

"What?" I could actually feel my eyes bulge.

"And the first who shall noe the Queen as a husband noes his Wyfe after the fall of the usurper shall be the Queen's Consort and shall rule at her side for a thousand yeares. At least," she added, "that's as close as I can recall."

"What?" I actually swayed on my feet. Sinclair steadied me. "I'm the queen and Sink Lair is the king? Why didn't either of you tell me? Why didn't you warn me? For a thousand years? What?"

"Well," he-who-was-a-dead-man said reasonably, "if I said, 'Elizabeth, I want to make love to you, but just so you know, I'll come to the crown right after I come in you', then I wouldn't have gotten to see you naked."

Tina accurately read the look on my face, because she quickly stepped in front of Sinclair. "That's not why, Majesty. You've touched him deeply, which is why he's being flip. It was foretold, that's all. Just like your ascension to the throne. There's nothing any of us can do about it."

"Want to bet?"

Sinclair spread his arms wide. "Sweetest, you sound so cross. We have a coronation to plan, so put on a smile. Also, as soon as I rebuild my home, you'll move in, of course."

"Want to bet?"

"Well, perhaps later, then. After the...happy surprise has worn off."

"You said!" I jabbed a finger toward Tina's chest. She flinched, but held her ground. "You said if I became queen I could get rid of Sinclair!"

"You wanted to get rid of me?" The asshole had the audacity to sound hurt.

"I didn't think Sinclair would end up being your consort," she said weakly, but I knew she was lying. She might consider me her queen, but Erik was her sun and moon, closer than any brother. What he wanted, she would get for him. She revered me, but she loved him.

"I'm going home!" I said loudly. I tightened the robe's belt. "Both of you stay the hell away from me-I mean it!"

Tina bit her lip and stared at the floor, but Finklair smiled at me. "Impossible, my Queen. You and I have a kingdom to run."

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