Authors: Lacy Williams as Lacy Yager,Haley Yager
Tags: #Romance, #Paranormal, #Vampires, #Teen & Young Adult, #Literature & Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Paranormal & Urban, #Teen fiction, #YA fiction
You sure we can’t let them fortify the beverages tonight? We
above the legal age. I think Danny-boy is making his move
not old enough. And we’re supposed to be the good examples here.”
. She leaves me standing near the gymnasium’s outer doors to intercept the alcohol brigade.
My earlier bad mood is not improved by the impromptu makeover party Hannah and two of her mentees sprang on me just before this evening’s shindig. ‘To cheer me up’ Hannah said. At the time, I figured it was easier just to let them do their thing than to argue, but the dress I have on is getting a lot of male attention and it’s getting on my nerves.
That is, the white, backless, halter,
dress that Hannah insisted was perfect for me. She claims it is ‘decent’ since it reaches to my knees, but I feel exposed, showing more skin than I’m used to.
I scan the room again, looking for Rachel. She’s the only one of my ‘girls’ that didn’t show tonight. The dances aren’t mandatory, but most of the kids come because it’s a chance for a break from the monotony of E.W.’s boarding-school-type schedules. I have a bad feeling about that girl, even though she’s been better this week. No more attempted break-outs, and she even said ‘hi’ to me on Wednesday. Okay, it was more of a mumble, but I counted it.
He propositioned me. That dweeb just asked if I wanted to go up to his room. Think I should? Get a little action tonight, since you aren’t going to?
“You’re so immature,” I mutter, knowing she can hear me even across the room.
I’m seventeen, what do you expect?
“You’re one-hundred eighty-seven. Learn to act your age.”
Hey, I’m trapped in the body of an adolescent. I can’t help an occasional hormonal overload.
“This is the second time I’ve caught you talking to yourself. Is there something about you I should know?”
I whirl around, skirt flaring around my legs. Shane leans on the wall just inside the doors, one foot raised and propped behind him so his knee sticks out. I’m suddenly glad for the makeup Hannah forced on me. Maybe it will hide the baggy shadows beneath my eyes from too little sleep this week.
Then his question registers. If only he
“What are you doing here? This event isn’t open for family visits.”
He shrugs. It’s pretty shadowed where we’re standing—that’s why I chose this position so maybe the guys would lay off looking at me—and I can’t see his eyes clearly.
“Rules are made to be broken, right?” he asks. He sounds different than when I last saw him. His voice is tight.
My mind swings to Rachel, but Shane steps in my direction, and that stops all other train of thought. He’s got on non-ripped jeans—are they his version of dress slacks?—and a blue button-up shirt, untucked, with a colored t underneath. His chin falls as he looks down my length and then comes back up as his eyes meet mine. His eyes burn me—almost a physical touch.
“What are you
doing here?” I whisper.
“I wanted to see you.” His voice sounds rough now, and something passes over his face, but I can’t quite make out the expression because it’s just not bright enough in here.
“No one’s going to notice me, okay?”
All the ‘rules-are-made-to-be-followed’ bones in my body are jangling, but they’re faint compared to the butterflies flipping madly through my stomach.
“I thought I might try that fun thing you told me about last weekend. That okay with you?”
I want to say ‘no’; Shane’s not supposed to be here and if someone sees me with him and recognizes he isn’t a student, we’ll both be in trouble. But then another part of me can guess how many things Shane has done just because he wanted to in the last five years—not many.
I’m still waffling when he takes my hand in his larger, callused one. “Will you dance with me?”
“Okay,” I breathe.
He smiles, just a quick flash of white teeth, and pulls me out onto the dance floor. Hopefully we can blend in with the dancing couples, because now dancing with him is all I want. I’m vaguely aware that a slow song is playing, one I don’t know but it might become my new favorite song.
Shane clasps my right hand in his left; his other arm goes around my back and he hisses softly when his palm meets the bare skin between my shoulder blades. A thrill trembles through me from head to toe.
We are both silent as we spin slowly between and around the other couples on the dance floor. I know I should be worried about Shane’s presence here, or Rachel’s
of presence, or the other students, but I can’t muster even an iota of concern.
The song changes and I expect Shane to move away, but it’s another slow song and instead he tugs me closer so my temple rasps against the stubble on his jaw. He places my right hand on his shoulder and his fingers slide down my arm from wrist to elbow to shoulder, touching skin all the way down; it joins his other hand at my lower back.
I shiver and miss a step, knocking our knees together. “Sorry,” I murmur. The boy is dangerous to my balance.
As the music changes again, this time to a fast song, he loosens his hold on me but doesn’t totally let me go. We stand there in the middle of the now-gyrating teens, both his hands on either side of my waist and mine on his shoulders.
Looking up into his face, I really want him to kiss me again. I want to know if it will feel the same a second time. He’s staring down into my face, blue gaze serious and somehow questioning.
“I’m glad you came, Shane,” I tell him, flushing a little.
Something flickers in the back of his eyes. Regret? He squeezes my middle and lets me go and now I’m the one regretting that I didn’t take the initiative and kiss
“D’you want a drink?” I’m surprised he doesn’t speak loud enough for me to hear over the music; with my extra-powerful hearing I don’t miss a word, but it’s kinda unusual.
He leads me off the dance floor and goes to get us some punch, which I hope hasn’t been spiked yet. I can’t take my eyes off him, so I don’t miss it when he lifts a cell phone to his ear and speaks to someone. He nods, tensing, and looks back to me. When he sees me, his face softens for an instant and he smiles. He says something else into the phone and snaps it shut, then turns toward the refreshments table.
What’s lover-boy doing here?
Hannah appears at my side and hands me a plastic cup.
“He said he wanted to see me.”
“Well, good for you, Mags! I’m glad to see you have a little bit of rebel in you after all.”
I’m floating so far off the floor I don’t even try to argue with her.
“Did you really think you could gallivant around with someone like
, and the rest of us wouldn’t notice?”
The voice of the guy who’s choking me starts to sound a little disembodied. Could be from blood loss or it could be because my brain can’t quiet accept the situation.
“You’ve been hanging around with a
!” The vamp shakes me this time, lodging the knife in my side a little further in.
I don’t know any Chasers.
It’s hard to think with my body fighting to change—fighting for survival.
I register Shane in a scuffle with one of the vamps and for a moment I flash back to the last man I loved as a vampire drained him of blood.
I come back to the present and watch as Shane breaks the vamp’s nose and disarms him.
Shane’s a Chaser.
13 - Shane
I see the exact moment when Maggie realizes what I am. Shock and hurt flit through her expressive green eyes before she blinks. When she opens her eyes, they’re black.
How does she still manage to look like Maggie? Not like a monster at all.
It’s not like I’ve spent hours scrutinizing faces of the vamps I’ve killed, but Maggie appears more human than most. Why?
Better question—how am I getting out of here? I’m already outnumbered seven-to-one, and if Maggie comes after me it’ll be eight bloodsuckers, but I’ve survived worse. At least I know my sisters made it out of the building before all this went down. I’ve got to hope Rach’s smart enough to get to cover.
I use the knife I just stole from the vamp pinned under my knee and shove it into his heart. I’ve learned the hard way to wait until the life fades out of his eyes before I get up, and my delay gives the second nearby vamp time to raise his aluminum baseball bat. He clips me on the shoulder as I roll away.
Maggie shrieks—a real one this time—and my head comes up, earning me a boot to the kidney. Not cool.
I kick his feet out from under him and meet him as he falls with an upward thrust of my own knife that I’ve worked out of the hidden pocket in my jeans.
I miss his heart, and he roars. A second vamp joins our tussle.
In my peripheral vision I see steam coming from where Maggie just was with the skinny-looking vamp. Did he use holy water on her? It’s the only thing other than sunlight that I’ve seen burn a vampire.
She doesn’t answer and I’m not even sure if I want her to be alive—what if she tries to kill me, now that she knows what I am? Do I have it in me to kill her, now that I’ve gotten so close to her?
The vamp standing near me aims his forty-four in my direction and I barely have time to shift out of the way. His shot hits the bat-vamp in the lower abdomen but he’s still moving, trying to knee me, hit me, whatever he can. There’s a reason we Chasers have a rule called Head or Heart.
“Shane!” Maggie might look like herself, but her shout is more growl than voice.
Well, that answers my question of whether or not she’s still around. Doesn’t answer the one about if she wants to eat me or not.
A grunt is the only response I have time for. I flip my knife around and hurl it at the standing vamp’s head. He goes down.
Bat-vamp gets in another vicious blow to my torso; it feels like I’ve taken a sledgehammer to the gut.
Suddenly, he’s forcibly lifted off me and Maggie’s there. I cringe, waiting for her to rip into my jugular, but she doesn’t. She sticks an already-bloody knife—from one of the other vamps I’ve killed—in his eye socket and he slumps to the ground, motionless.
That’s three down, by my count. Four to go. I start to stand up, so I can get a look at where the other vamps are in relation to our position.
“Get down,” Maggie growls.
I army-crawl toward the gymnasium wall while shots explode around the room. A hiss from behind me lets me know Maggie’s still there and probably hit. I don’t stop until I’m behind a narrow corner where there’s an entrance to the kitchen area. It takes every iota of courage—or stupidity—I possess to reach back and drag Maggie around the cinderblock barrier with me.
We put our backs to the wall. When she sits up and flips her tousled blonde hair out of her face, I see she is remarkably unscathed. Her green eyes are accusing. She’s shaking, obviously in pain from the half-healed blistering burn covering her right arm. Why did she turn back human?
did she turn back so quickly?
“You hit, Blondie?” I can’t believe I’m asking about a vampire’s welfare, but she hasn’t killed me yet, so why not?
“Yeah, but I’m fine,” Maggie answers in her normal voice.
Oh, to have a vampire’s ability to regenerate.
I take off my left boot and slide out the backup knife I carry inside it. I offer it to Maggie but she shakes her head.
“Where’s your sister?”
She looks up sharply, eyes narrowed and focused on my face. “You sure?”
“Yeah. She called me earlier.”
She tries to suppress a scowl but doesn’t hide it all.
Another volley of shots unleashes and mortar from above our heads crumbles and falls on us. She peeks around the corner and holds up two fingers. Two shooters.
“How long have you known about me?” she demands.
“Since the first day,” I admit. I don’t like the guilt that’s burning in my gut.
“So it was all a lie.” Her words aren’t a question and they’re spoken so softly I’m not sure she’s even talking to me.
I don’t refute her statement. I can’t.
“You take the one on the right,” she says, and darts out into the open.
“Hey!” I call out, but I follow her, sprinting toward the vamp that’s only a few yards away. I dive as he pulls the trigger and manage to roll up under his feet and bring him to the ground.
“Why didn’t you—huh!—kill me when—you had the chance?” It’s back to growly-Maggie and I can’t believe she’s talking while she’s wrestling the other vamp.
I finally force my knife between the vamp and myself and my aim is true—he’s dead in the next second. I look up and Maggie’s vamp is still and silent too.
I scan the room for the other two vampires, but—
I look over at Maggie’s words to find her hunched over her knees, a little ball on the floor next to a dead vampire. She’s so tiny. And covered in blood, some dried, some fresh.
I take a step toward her before I stop myself. What am I going to do, hug her? Not likely, not unless I want my head ripped off.
From behind, I can see that the entire side of her back and shoulder have been burned by the holy water. She must be in human form if it isn’t healing, but I can’t see her eyes to verify.
I have to bite back the urge to ask if she’s okay. “Are you sure they’re gone?”
“Yeah. Someone saw them leave the building.” Maggie lifts her head, but doesn’t look in my direction.
Maggie’s friend Hannah storms in through one of the side doors to the gym. She rushes up to Maggie and kneels beside her, pointedly ignoring the vampire’s bodies.
“I’m fine,” Maggie says, but her friend just ignores her and places her hand on Maggie’s injured shoulder. I wince in sympathy, but instead of pain, Maggie’s face shows relief. I look closer and it looks like—is Hannah