Of Wicked Blood (The Quatrefoil Chronicles #1) - Olivia Wildenstein Page 0,1

by four local families, the university is rich in history and culture...

Blah, blah, blah. I skim until my gaze snags on a sentence that makes my blood turn to ice.

As a descendant of one of the founding families, you are entitled to a full scholarship, room and board included. In the packet of materials I’ve given you, you’ll find your original birth certificate. Before you became Slate Ardoin, you were born a Roland.

Nothing about me is soft, not my body, not my personality, yet my knees suddenly turn to jelly as I flop down onto the couch next to Bastian.

“What?” Bastian snatches the letter from my hands, his eyes going wide behind his rectangular lenses.

I flick through the pages I’m clutching, and . . . putain de merde.

There it is.

My birth certificate.

Rémy Roland. My birthday: November 18, not October 9, like a social worker told me. My parents’ names: Eugenia and Oscar Roland.

It’s just a document, one that shouldn’t have my heart pounding so hard, but my pulse lances against my skin. I pass the certificate over to Bastian.

He whistles and shakes his head. “You think it’s real? If it is, then you’re going to have to change your ID.”

“I’m not changing anything,” I growl. “My name’s Ardoin.” Why would I associate myself with people who tossed me out like day-old trash?

“But you will take the scholarship, right? I mean, I’ve heard about that college. It’s prestigious. Like, on equal ground with the Sorbonne.”

“I don’t even have my damn baccalaureate, Bastian.”

While I dropped out after ninth grade, Bastian aced his final exams and got into college a year early. The boy could be anything. A rocket scientist. A lawyer. A neurosurgeon. Instead, he’s studying to be a social worker to help kids like us in the system. Where my heart has withered and dulled, his has stayed shiny and pure.

“This De Morel dude doesn’t seem to care about diplomas. You get in on your family name alone.”

“My family name is Ardoin.”

“Slate, come on . . . Or should I call you Rémy?”

I growl at him, and Bastian holds up his palms. I snatch the letter back and continue reading:

I’ve been waiting for the right moment to call you back to your birthplace and share some of your family’s history, since your parents are no longer here to tell you themselves. That time is now. It is vital that you come to Brume, and soon. Please do not attempt to telephone me. I will only answer questions in person.

A student dorm has been made available to you, and you can find me on campus. Classes start on the 2nd of January. In their will, your parents left you money in an account at the university bank. You will be able to use it for any extracurricular expenses you might have.

I cannot tell you how pleased I am to welcome you...

I wasn’t tossed out of the nest.

My nest was pulverized.

My parents are dead.

And this De Morel prick knew the entire time.

I stand and tear the letter.

“What the hell?” Bastian collects the pieces like they’re bits of a five hundred-euro bill.

Every inch of me boils with rage. “What do you mean, what the hell? This professor knew about me! He knew I had a history. Money. He knew my name. And he only contacted me now? Where was he and this money when I fought off pigeons to eat stale loaves out of the bakery’s dumpster? Where was he when I got my face smashed in and went two years without front teeth! Where was he when the two of us were sleeping in that abandoned factory with the damn rats just to have a roof over our heads?”

Bastian looks at the shreds of paper in his hands. “Yeah, money would’ve been nice.”

But it’s not even the money that’s making me see red. Not really. It’s this stupid feeling of relief unwinding the familiar knot in my gut. I’ve always believed no one wanted me. That maybe I can’t be loved. But my parents didn’t abandon me; they died.

My relief turns to bitterness, though. Finding out that this man knew this and never told anyone—not even social services—infuriates me even more than his keeping my money. “Where does this enfoiré get off thinking he can waltz into my life after all this time and expect me to be grateful? And how does he even know where I live?”

There’s no way I’m going to some snooty school in some cold, assbackwards town all the