Andromeda was barefoot and still stood at least a head taller than Sofie. She wore a simple, white gown that seemed to glow against her ebony skin. Thick braids gathered at the top of her head and spilled down her back. There was a golden ribbon threaded into each braid.
Sofie, with her own dark curls cropped above her ears, couldn’t imagine tolerating much less grooming that much hair. Maybe that was the sort of thing that lay at the root of her deep attraction to the ancient one. Everything about Andromeda Five was so different. Every aspect of her being seemed to embody the mystery and magic of the stars.
Once feared by humans, vampires had also originated on the First World. It was often said that when humanity took to the stars, so had the stuff of their nightmares. Still, all relationships evolve over time. While the instinctive fear that they instilled in the hearts of mortals had never been completely eradicated, there were many cultures that willingly associated with the ancient breed of predators.
Blood contracts had come about centuries earlier. There were historians who believed that Sofie’s home world was one among a handful of fringe colonies established by the vampiric nobility, as convenient feeding grounds.
As a child, Sofie Tenna had spent many sleepless nights staring up at the stars. She’d always wanted more than life on Capella offered. She wanted what the stars promised. She wanted to touch and taste all of the secrets that she was certain were waiting out there. By her sixteenth year, Sofie had already begun preparing herself to accept the blood contract. Her efforts had finally borne fruit when she earned a place in the service of one of the eight legendary immortals, the empress known as Andromeda Five.
Andromeda wasn’t a regent, not in the strictest sense. The “empress” nomenclature was something tongue-in-cheek that Sofie had secretly assigned to her and for the sake of self-preservation, kept to herself.
Andromeda was a vampire and though you couldn’t tell by looking at her, Sofie had discovered that she was one of the oldest of her kind. She wasn’t so far off the mark with the title, anyway. The ancients were generally considered nobility by their own kind and the human denizens of their domains.