Trust No One. The wooden plaque hanging over the bed couldn’t be any more in-your-face. As if
I could ever forget one of the three Golden Rules.
After I dumped my suitcase on the crisp burgundy comforter, I picked up the envelope I
spotted lying on my pillow and sat down to check out my new room.
The room was much bigger than the one I had last year. It even had a breakfast table with two
padded chairs–one of which I was sitting on–and a sofa bed for guests. Cool. That would come
in handy for sleepovers. All the East Tower bedrooms, including mine, had been rebuilt after the
fire. They had been restored to their previous condition, as if the fire had never happened.
Whoever had been in charge of the restorations had even managed to replace the old burgundy
towels. However, as I breathed in the air, I noticed that the old familiar smell had been replaced
by a new one–the odor of newly painted walls, laced with a hint of orange from the freshly
It was hard to believe that the entire wing had gone up in flames just three months ago. The
rest of the school hadn’t escaped the fire and smoke damage either, causing Bonfire Academy to
close its doors for the first time in its history.
Bonfire Academy, hidden in the outskirts of the luxury ski-resort town of St. Moritz,
Switzerland, is an exclusive school for paranormal preparation. The small, but chic town caters
to those who enjoy a champagne lifestyle. It’s legendary for being the playground of the rich and
famous. So, naturally, the school caters to the offspring of the upper crust of paranormal society.
The thorough vetting process and annual tuition costs make sure of that. Students come here
from all over the world–and beyond.
After the fire, all of the students had to be sent home, apart from the newbie vampires, who
were sequestered in the basement during the restoration. Apparently, that had been a total
nightmare. Still, the fact that they were able to reopen in such a short time was amazing. I was
glad to be back for my third year.
There would be plenty of new rules, of course. The twins had made sure of that. But Jacques
and Mariel, the infamous twins, weren’t returning to the Academy. They had been legends long
before they decided to turn the place into a giant firecracker. So after six years at the school, they
had been crowned the first non-graduates ever.
I tore open the wax-sealed envelope embossed with the official BA insignia. Sliding out the
parchment-like sheet, I read the handwritten note. It was a short message from the student
council president asking me to come to his office. I had heard rumors that it was a guy this year,
though the identity was kept a secret until the school year started. Anyhow, a meeting? Ugh.
That couldn’t be good. A meeting with the president was so rare that most new students thought
he was a myth made up by the school to keep us in line–an imaginary creature painted in colors
of fear. I knew better, of course, but the thought still made me uncomfortable. Why would he
want to see me?
I was beginning my third year at the Academy, a purely voluntary year reserved for selfdevelopment enrichment, where we were allowed to choose our own course of development.
Many chose to mentor incoming students; others chose to spend a year further developing their
skills. I wanted to concentrate on tennis. Plus, my boyfriend was staying on for another year, and
I wanted to stay close to him.
I couldn’t for the life of me understand why the student council president had summoned me.
Suddenly feeling a bit anxious, I stood and tried to get a handle on my churning emotions. Jeez,
it was just another student, not a monster! And even if he was, he’d be no match for me, of that I
was sure. So why did I feel sick? Maybe it was just something I ate on the plane.
I decided to check out the view through the window to calm my nerves. As usual, the
snowcapped peaks of the breathtaking alpine mountains transported me to a place of peace and
calm. I felt my stomach begin to relax, and I put my nose against the window, letting my breath
form cloudy patches on the glass.
I looked down at the note again and decided I better just suck it up and get over there. The
message had asked me to come as soon as I could. I twirled around for a quick once over in the
mirror. If I was going to see the president, I better look presentable.
I didn’t look bad at all, and certainly not as though I had been traveling. Although, the trip
from Paris in my dad’s private jet hadn’t exactly been tough. My straight blond hair, which I had
highlighted with red streaks during the break, just needed a quick run-through with my fingers.
After straightening my red-and-orange striped tie, I ran out and up the stone steps toward the
student president’s room.
By the time I got there, my stomach had turned to mush again and was making the most
embarrassing gurgling sounds. What the heck was wrong with me?
I just stood outside the metal door, my knuckles refusing to make contact. The pink-tipped
nails of my right hand trembled as I willed my hand to knock. But I just couldn’t make it.
Five minutes later, I had come up with an awesome collection of reasonable excuses to ignore
the note altogether–the top one being that I hadn’t seen it in the first place. Relieved and pleased
with myself, I spun around to go back to my room.
I needn’t have bothered.
The door flew open, and my jaw dropped in shock. Goosebumps formed over my arms as a
chill enveloped me. I looked up and stared into a pair of cold, silver-gray eyes.
I held his gaze, locking into it for an uncomfortably long time. My heartbeat quickened as I
fought to maintain control, finally managing to disengage my eyes from his. I couldn’t help but
notice the shine from his freakishly white hair, which bristled like spines atop his head. He
arched his dark eyebrows and smiled, relaxing his angular features. I melted into his gorgeous
eyes, which were framed in dark lashes, and smiled back, letting my defenses drift away.
His jaw jerked, and his smile faded so quickly that I wondered if I had imagined it. I stood
paralyzed, mesmerized by the most spellbinding guy I had ever met in my life, my face plastered
with the world’s goofiest grin, while he looked at me like I was totally nuts.
“Cordelia. May I call you that?”
I nodded, desperately trying to transform my moronic expression into a more neutral,
acknowledging one, but probably failing miserably.
“You seem surprised. Can’t imagine why. I decided to help you with the door, since you’ve
been lurking outside my room for over five minutes.” He shrugged. “Come on in. I’m Jagger, by
I followed him in and sat down when he waved me toward a French Renaissance chair. He
walked around the metal desk and sat down in an overstuffed black leather chair. I glanced
around the room while he shuffled some papers. The office space was large and airy, a corner
room, with two walls replaced by floor-to-ceiling windows offering a breathtaking view of the
snow-capped peaks. The windows were ajar, the icy wind stabbing its way into the room. The
other two walls were covered in ski and boarding photos and posters. Trophies and medals filled
a corner display cabinet. I could peek into the adjoining room–a bedroom–through a crack in the
door. Finally recognizing him as the captain of the school ski team, I glanced over at Jagger
So, this year’s mystery student council president was the ski team captain! Well, that ought to
make him more approachable, though considering his intimidating stare… maybe not. I
wondered whom he had replaced.
I shuddered. The cold from the open window was freezing me into an icicle. Jagger looked
up, his eyes following mine as I cast a brief glimpse at the open window, but he made no move
to get up and close it. I fumed as he sat looking smug in his long black leather trench coat.
“Well, Cordelia, are you glad to be back?”
“Yes. Why did you ask for me?”
“Ah, straight to the point.” His eyes narrowed into slits. “Very plucky. Most would have the
sense to be more fearful and not ask questions,” he growled softly.
I held my breath, controlling my instincts. A snarl was always a signal for me to transform.
But, I held back, on full alert.
“I was told that about you. And that’s one of the reasons you’re here. You’ve been appointed
as a mentor.”
It was my turn to smirk. I got to my feet. “I can’t be appointed anything. Thanks for thinking
of me, though. I guess it’s some kind of honor. But, no thanks.” I made my way to the door.
And crashed right into Jagger’s chest. I should have anticipated his move; lightning-fast
location transfer was something covered in the first semester. I clumsily stepped back, then met
his darkened gaze.
He lowered his head, brushing his nose along my neckline, breathing me in. I stood dead still,
letting my fingers fuse. I shivered as his lips found my right ear, his every breath forming icicles
against my skin. Then, he touched my fused fingers.
“Easy, demon princess. Relax.”
I boiled over with anger. Who the fuck did he think I was? Some silly human girl who’d melt
under his pathetic attempt at intimidation? Not so.
“Step back, and I will.” My words were supposed to come out in a firm demonic growl, but
instead, they slithered out in an unfortunate raspy whisper.
He chuckled under his breath and took a half step back. He needed to be taught not to mess
with demons. Slapping the smirk off his face would be too much of a cliché. My mischievous
demon instincts took over.
As the corners of his lips curled into a leer, I jerked up my arm and swiftly wrapped my
fingers around the back of his neck, pulling his face down to mine. His eyes widened in surprise,
but he made no move to resist as I stood on tiptoes and roughly parted his lips with mine. I kept
my eyes wide open, gazing into his, as I explored his mouth, drinking him in. He yielded under
my touch. The kiss became more and more fervent, until a surge of hot and cold, of terror and
excitement, zapped through me–and him, by the surprise on his face–leaving us shocked and
unable to move. Our eyes remained locked together as we stood suspended in time.
Jagger looked as dazed as I felt. His eyes searched mine, but I had nothing to offer, no
explanation. Then, it hit me. Dad had mentioned the extremely rare phenomenon. I raked through
my mind, trying to remember what he had said.
Listen for his heartbeat, synch with it.
I closed my eyes, tuning out all other distractions, including Jagger himself. I listened and
picked up the drum of his pounding heart. I imagined myself conducting the rhythm, my own
beat taking the lead. I forced his tempo in line with mine, which thudded loudly and erratically. I
managed to slow it by breathing in and out, controlling myself, concentrating on keeping us until we both beat to a steady pulse. I put my
hand on his chest, slowing us even further, until my heart stopped. So did his.
He put his hand on top of mine, compelling our hearts to beat again. I felt his heart begin to
pick up speed, and mine followed. He managed to bring us back to a comfortable rhythm.
The phone buzzed, causing both of us to jerk upright. Our beats disengaged.
Jagger’s face was tight and severe as he squeezed past me to get to his desk. He picked up his
cell phone. “Yes?” His voice didn’t betray the confusion on his face. His eyes never left mine,
not even for a second, during the entire one-sided conversation. I should have turned and left, but
I couldn’t break away from his gaze.
“Cordelia.” His voice was soft and cold, sending a new kind of chill through me. “Frau
Schmelder asks that you go to her office. Your ward has arrived.”
I wanted to protest, but if Frau Schmelder wanted to see me, I had no choice but to go. Frau
Schmelder, the headmistress of Bonfire Academy, was commonly referred to as Frau Smelt, or
“Let me brief you first. Come and sit down.”
I did, feeling a bit embarrassed. What had just happened?
He smiled, his face softening. “Cordelia, going back to what we were discussing before, I am
completely aware of your status and that you can’t be appointed to any task. I know you’re here
to concentrate on tennis this year. But that shouldn’t take up all your time, so I am asking you as
a favor. I’m in charge of the mentoring program, and I can’t think of anyone else who’d be
appropriate. I really need you.”
I barely heard him, imagining the feel of his taut muscles instead. “Um. Jagger, what are
you?” His taste and smell were unmistakable, yet unfathomable. I clearly detected faery in him,
but also something else. He had to be a hybrid of some sort.
He looked surprised by my question. Asking it had been forward of me. The school rules were
clear. We weren’t allowed to pry, and asking him such a thing, directly as I had, was strictly
forbidden, but I couldn’t help myself. I had always been nosy.
“Fey.” He sounded resolute and didn’t offer anything further.
I could have guessed that just by his appearance, but there was more. However, it wasn’t the
time to delve into it. Frau Smelt didn’t like to be kept waiting. Or so I had heard. “Why do you
His eyes narrowed. “You ask, after what just happened?”
Awkward. I didn’t want to talk about that. “I mean, why do you need me as a mentor?”
I almost snickered when I detected a red hue forming on his snow-white skin. An embarrassed
winter fey. Cute.
“Oh. The student in question is Faustine Spencer, the half-breed daughter of the demon king
“Indeed.” He smiled knowingly. “Have you met her? I hear your fathers are good friends, in a
demon sort of way.”
“Nope, never heard of her. Half what?”
“Indeed. Though, hopefully she won’t be as much trouble as the last set of his spawn.”
One could only hope. The last set had been the infamous twins, Mariel and Jacques. They had
been sent back to Paris, under my father’s dominion. They were hybrids as well–half demon, half
werewolf. King Sebastian seemed to favor mating with non-demons. What kind of selfrespecting demon mated with dogs? I was glad my father had more self-control.
“The main issue is her safety. Her human blood is going to be a prime commodity around
here, especially among the vampires.”
“No kidding. Though not as enticing as fey blood.” I wondered how he kept them at bay.
“Perhaps, but she is, in addition, young, just twelve, and completely green.”
“Um, a human twelve-year-old? How human is she?”
“I don’t know. Does it matter?”
“It’s not that.” I sighed. “Well, you know all the stupid rules humans bind themselves with.
We don’t do that here. I mean, why would we? Her world is so much more restricted by moral
dilemmas and concerns. How is she going to cope with our lack of inhibitions? If she was older,
I don’t think she’d have a problem. Hell, even human teens get busy, but mostly in private.
However, she will be exposed to stuff here that a normal twelve-year-old wouldn’t be back
home; that’s all I’m really trying to say.”
“She’s here to learn about her demon nature, and about paranormals in general. That’s why
we think you will be a particularly suitable mentor. You’ve lived in human society, even
attended a human school. She wouldn’t have been sent here if she wasn’t ready.”
“Why exactly is she here?”
“She’s transforming, more dramatically than one would expect from a half-human. Her father
wants her trained. She’s his heir.”
“Heir? As in the next Queen of London? A half human? That’s insane!”
Jagger shrugged. “I don’t know much about all that, but I’ve been told that she doesn’t know
that she’ll be taking over his reign, and we’re to keep it that way. Anyhow, you’ll report to me
daily. I need you to keep her safe. There’s more, and I’ll brief you further, later. Right now,
please get her settled in. I’ve arranged for her to have the room next to yours. She won’t have a
roommate, even though she’s new. We couldn’t find anyone suitable. Ready to meet her?”
“She’s waiting for you in Frau Schmelder’s office. I won’t come with you, but could you
report in later tonight?”
He walked me to the door and stepped aside so I could pass. I inadvertently rubbed against
him on my way out. I felt every beat of his heart as we made contact, and I struggled to keep my
own at even a remotely normal level.
I stopped and cocked my head. “Jagger, how much does she know?”
“She doesn’t know anything, yet. She’s a nice kid, apparently.”
“What about her schedule?”
“I’ll give that to you this evening. It’ll be finalized this afternoon.”
“Okay, I guess I’ll see you later.”
“And about that other matter.” He scrutinized me with unabashed hunger.
“What about it?”
“Get rid of Quinn. You belong to me now."