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Excerpt: No Stakes Allowed (Grimalkin Academy: Stakes #1)

Lily and Bryce's first meeting was such a fun one to write - and I loved how their romance progressed after that and how they both helped each other come to terms with their pasts. The Grimalkin Academy: Stakes series is complete! Read on for an excerpt!

Copyright 2020 Laura Greenwood

The lock clicks and the door swings open and Ashryn steps in with a tall, dark-haired vampire behind her. At least, I assume he's a vampire. Despite what the guild tried to tell us our entire lives, it isn't easy to tell vampires apart from humans, so long as they're not sucking blood or something like that.
I stand against the back wall, not moving or saying anything. I'm not usually the tongue-tied type, but this is a special circumstance.
"This mouse killed how many of our kind?" the male vampire sneers.
I glare at him. "More than you can count," I respond smoothly.
Ashryn smothers a smile. She may be a vampire now, but she started out as a hunter and I'm sure she hasn't forgotten that.
He steps forward and studies me up and down. "You don't look like you could hurt a fly."
I move without even thinking about it, spinning my leg around and kicking him back into the wall. I hold my forearm across his throat, pressing too hard for his comfort, I'm certain.
"Don't underestimate me," I growl.
"Lily, enough," Ashryn commands, though I can hear the amusement in her tone. She's not as annoyed at my actions as she should be. Perhaps she should examine why that is.
I pull away from the unknown man and dust off my hands. "Just because I'm small and blonde, it doesn't mean I can be taken advantage of."
"She's right, Bryce. Don't underestimate her."
Ah, that must be his name. Perhaps a proper introduction may have been a better idea. I'm not sure why no one thought of that.
"Your request has been granted," Ashryn says to me. "You can attend Grimalkin Academy."
"I can?" I'm sure my eyes light up, but I don't care if the two of them find out how excited by this I am. I'm finally going to be able to get out of this room, and that's the main thing.
"There are rules," she says, eyeing me carefully. "You won't be allowed to wander around the academy while vampires are asleep. They're enchanting a small flat for you. The door won't open during daylight hours, providing protection."
"Protection for me, or from me?" I quip.
Bryce snorts. At least he has a sense of humour. That's something.
"Both," Ashryn replies flatly. "People there aren't going to like you."
"I guessed as much. But that's the same as being in vampire society full stop for me anyway." I shrug, letting the implications of that roll off me. What do I care if people like me? I've got this far in life without that being the case. Unless I count Ravi, though like is the wrong word. He just chose to coerce me into doing his bidding. That's not exactly the best way to form a friendship.
"Bryce will be accompanying you. He'll live in the same flat, go to your lessons..."
"What?" I stare at her, my mouth hanging open.
"It's for your own safety," Ashryn assures me.
Bryce huffs. "I don't like it any more than you do."
"Then why are you doing it?" I meet his eyes, challenging him to answer me. I'm not sure what it is about this man.
"My reasons aren't important." He crosses his arms in a move I'm reasonably certain is meant to be confrontational.
It fails. I've known far worse men than this one, and I've survived them. He isn't going to intimidate me that easily.
"If we're going to spend all this time together, then it certainly is important." I echo his stance. Two can play at this game. Neither of us are going to win it, but that doesn't mean it isn't fun.
"Your car leaves at dusk," Ashryn says. "I'll leave the two of you to get acquainted." She ducks out of the room. The key scrapes in the lock, trapping me inside with Bryce.
He flashes a longing look at the door.
"You're going to have to get used to being locked in if you're babysitting me," I point out.
"I know."
"If you don't like it, then why did you agree to do this?" I let my guard down for a moment, genuinely interested in hearing his answer. He clearly doesn't want to be here with me.
Maybe he's done something wrong and this is his punishment. That's cruel and twisted enough to have been an idea straight out of the vampire hunting guild. If anyone's going to be hated more than me, it's him. The vampire protecting the vampire hunter.
"I had no choice," he says.
Definitely a punishment then. The question is, what for? He isn't going to tell me now, but I will get it out of him.
"Are you looking forward to being at the academy?" I ask instead.
He startles for a moment. Ah-ha, I got him. That's not the line of questioning he's expecting from me.
"I've never been," he says gruffly.
"Me neither." I put as many bubbles into my words as possible, faking a girlish excitement I don't really feel. That's going to annoy him even more, and right now, that should be my primary aim. Hopefully, if I get under his skin too much, he'll leave me alone once we're at the academy and I can do some exploring.
"I know what you're doing," he warns me.
"I doubt it," I mutter under my breath. I flop down on the bed, at a loss for what else to do. It's clear Bryce doesn't want to get to know me, and I'm not convinced I want to get to know him either. All in all, it's better if we ignore one another. But that doesn't leave me with a lot of entertainment.
Bryce begins to pace around the room. I wish I had a magazine or something to flick through. At least at the academy I'll have coursework of varying kinds to keep me occupied while he broods.
"Don't you have anything to pack?" he asks after a long silence.
I shrug. "I doubt they allow stakes."
I stifle a laugh at his shock. He's probably trying to decide whether or not I'm serious. As if I could have stakes here. I don't have any weapons. Not that I need them. I can take down a fully grown man without any. I've been training since I was seven years old, it's hard to undo that kind of learning.
"What about clothes?" Ah, so he's decided I'm joking about weapons. Such a shame.
"Does it look like I have mountains of them here?" I ask, shifting on the bed so I can wave around the room. "I'm given a set of clothes each time I shower." I hope Ashryn has thought of that and supplied me with a decent wardrobe for going to lessons. I'm done with leggings and baggy t-shirts.
A knock sounds on the door. That's new. I wonder if it's because Bryce is in here with me? Maybe they think they'll catch us in a compromising position. I chuckle to myself. That isn't going to happen.
It opens seconds later to reveal a scarred vampire I've only ever seen with Ashryn before. I don't think I've ever heard him speak.
"It's time to go," he announces.
I jump off the bed, eager for the new chapter of my life to begin. I hope it lives up to my imagination.

Grimalkin Academy: Stakes 

Urban Fantasy Academy, Complete Series

A paranormal academy (non-bully) series following hunter, Lily, as she finds herself at Grimalkin Academy alongside her vampire bodyguard. Part of the Obscure World. 

Series Overview: 
Heat Level: Low - Relationship Type: m/f - Build: Slow - Point of View Character: Single first person POV, same throughout the books - Cliffhangers: Yes (complete series) - Tense: Present

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