Home > Suck It Up, Buttercup (First Fangs Club #2)

Suck It Up, Buttercup (First Fangs Club #2)
Author: Kristen Painter

Chapter One



There was money. And then there was wealth. The penthouse apartment Belladonna Barrone had just entered was all about wealth.

She took a few steps and stared at the spectacular space before her. The Wellman Towers was prime real estate on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. Prime. If she had to guess, she’d estimate these units—at least this one, the penthouse—went for about seven or eight million. Without furnishings. This place—and this view—proved exactly why.

Through the wall of windows and beyond the river, Manhattan sprawled across the horizon like an enormous beast of steel and glass, glittering with lights that outshone the stars in the night sky. The vibrant hum of life emanating from the city was almost audible. If she stepped onto the expansive balcony, it probably would be.

“That view is unbelievable.” Donna breathed out. “This place is amazing.”

Pierce, the attorney who was also Donna’s new assistant, let out a low whistle. “Spectacular.”

Artemis, vampire queen of the United States and Donna’s grandsire, nodded. “It is. But it needs to be impressive. It’s the governor’s quarters, after all.”

“Right.” And Belladonna was now the vampire governor of New Jersey, something that had yet to fully sink in. But then, she’d earned the title barely twenty-four hours ago during a sudden and unexpected trial that had almost cost another vampire her life. That vampire, Claudette, was Donna’s sire and the previous governor. Winning the trial (thanks to Pierce’s litigation skills) meant Donna had taken Claudette’s place, but also, thankfully, she’d been able to pardon Claudette and spare her life, as losing had earned the woman a death sentence from the Immortus Concilio, the vampire ruling council.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Artemis said.

“You do?” Donna had suspected before that Artemis could read minds.

She nodded. “Claudette will have forty-eight hours to move her things out.”

“Oh. Good.” Donna hadn’t been thinking that at all, but she wasn’t going to correct Artemis. The woman was a little too scary for Donna to cross that bridge. Although it was nice to know the woman hadn’t read her mind. Really nice. Artemis was powerful enough as it was. Fortunately, Donna’s time as a mob wife had taught her a lot about when to speak up and when to stay quiet. “She can have longer if she needs—”

“No, she cannot.” Artemis frowned. “You have a week to settle in and get your staff up to speed, then you can expect visits.”


Pierce started jotting things down on his iPhone. Donna appreciated how thorough he was without her having to say anything. But then, the man was a world-class attorney. His skill set was a little wasted on being just an assistant. His choice, however. And one she greatly appreciated.

“At minimum, there will be one from the New York governor. And most likely the governors from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware as well.”

“I see.” Crap. This was actually turning into a job. She hadn’t really counted on that. She had no clue what a governor did. Impostor syndrome was setting in fast. “They’ll call ahead of time, right?”

“Maybe. Probably.” Artemis shook her head. “Fitzhugh can be a bit of a loose cannon. He pretty much does what he wants, when he wants. He may just show up.”

“And he is?” Donna asked.

Pierce kept tapping away. Donna assumed he was taking down names. She hoped so. Although she wasn’t likely to forget a name like Fitzhugh.

“Hawke Fitzhugh is the governor of New York.” Artemis’s gaze held detached amusement and the slightest hint of bitterness. History between her and Fitzhugh, perhaps? “He considers himself quite the gift to vampire society. And females in general. You’ll see.”

“Hawke? That’s really his first name?”

“It is. This century, anyway.”

“Well. Can’t wait.” She could handle a man who was full of himself. She’d spent twenty-seven years married to one.

“You may also get petitions for things others need or want done or would like you to grant. You’re under no obligation to see those vampires, or grant anything, but if you continually turn them away, you won’t be popular.” Artemis shrugged. “Ask Claudette if you don’t believe me.”

“I believe you.”

“Good. Find a balance, but make time for your constituents. That’s my best suggestion.”

“Thank you. I’ll do my best.”

Artemis looked a little bored, but Donna supposed she probably was. Giving a tour of the governor’s place was pretty menial work for the queen. “This penthouse has five bedrooms, five baths, an office, a conference room, a salon, kitchen, dining room, two lounges, and a private elevator. There’s a gym and indoor pool on the first floor of the building. If something isn’t to your taste, or you need to repurpose a room, that’s perfectly fine.”

A salon? Donna smiled. “I think it all sounds wonderful.”

“Additionally, there is access to the roof and to the apartment below, which the governorship also owns. Rest assured, both floors have been fortified with iron. The windows have all been coated with UV film too. Although that’s meant as a precaution, not a lifesaving measure. Understood?”

“Perfectly.” Donna nodded with great seriousness, but the truth was, she didn’t need protection from the sun so long as she was wearing the blessed crucifix she’d had on when she’d been turned. The crucifix, a gift from her nun sister, Cammie, had been purchased at the Vatican and blessed by the pope. Donna wasn’t sure what part of that was keeping her safe from the sun, or if it was just her belief in a higher power, but whatever the reason, the cross’s protection was her secret. It would stay that way as long as possible too.

Artemis went on. “The apartment below is where your driver and administrative assistant live. There’s more living space available, should you like to install additional staff. The driver and admin are available to you at any time.”

“Good to know.” Donna gestured to Pierce. “And my assistant?”

“You can put him up in the apartment below, but most governors have their assistant in-house.”

Donna nodded. “That’s what I thought.”

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