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
“What an awful thing to say,” I growl in my human voice, sitting up straight now. “These are my friends, okay? Just because I don’t want to eat them like you do—”
“Maggie,” he cuts in, tone serious. “I’m not joking. You need to stay away from that Chaser and his kid witch. I don’t care if you’re in love—”
I’m not in love with anybody
!” I shout, just before I realize there are two figures standing behind Hannah. Shane and Chloe.
23 - Shane
Maggie in the sunlight is like a punch in the gut. Her eyes match the grass underneath her and it’s all I can do to say a strangled, “Chloe needs the bathroom.”
She smiles at me, completely guileless. “Go through there,” she points a slim, toned arm and delicate finger toward a door in the stone castle. “Second door on the right.”
“Thanks,” I say, and my voice squeaks like it did when I was fourteen.
I usher Chloe in the direction Maggie indicated, but I can’t help seeing a pointed look pass from Hannah—who looks much better—to Maggie. Of course it was too much to hope no one would notice how flustered I am.
Chloe’s needs met, I lean my arm on the wall and put my forehead in the crease of my elbow. What am I going to do now?
I was doing just fine keeping my distance from Maggie until last night and Chloe’s little crying jag. Seeing her hold and comfort my sister, and then
Maggie… Part of me wishes I could go back in time and undo it all, because it made me realize that Maggie is so much more than the vampire.
Part of me begs for a repeat performance.
And seeing her soak up the sun like that…amazing. Most vamps avoid the sunlight at all costs, but not Maggie. Just another way she’s exceptional.
“Do you like Maggie?” Chloe’s voice comes through the door between us.
“Just go to the bathroom,” is the answer I give her, moving my arm so I can knock my head against the wall. Stupid Shane. Stupid to befriend a vampire.
“It’s complicated.” Extremely.
There’s a short pause. Then, “Hannah says that that’s a copout answer. So do you like Maggie or not?”
“Are you talking to Hannah right now?” Okay, this new telepathy that Chloe has learned could have benefits, but so far I’m seeing a distinct downside.
“Well, stop it, okay. Just go to the bathroom. We have to figure out a way to get to town.”
I hear her sigh deeply, but thankfully she doesn’t ask me anything else.
When she’s done, I take a brief turn in the bathroom and then take Chloe back through to the yard where Maggie is now sprawled out in the grass, face turned up to the sun and arms outstretched. Hannah is nowhere to be seen.
“Chloe, go find Rachel and get some breakfast.”
“Okay.” She goes back into the church.
Maggie watches me with those green green eyes as I move toward her; I stop behind the bench where Hannah sat before, afraid if I go any closer I won’t be able to resist touching her.
“I think we should talk.”
“I called a cab for you,” she offers without moving from her spot. “Should be here before lunch.”
The reminder of our impending separation is a jolt of reality.
“That’s one of the things I’d like to talk about. Chloe’s gotten really… attached to you. She’s used to change, but I’m not sure how she’ll take the separation on top of everything else that’s been happening lately. And…” I clear my throat. “Maybe you were right about being able to help with her abilities. Especially if Hannah and Caleb are going to be sticking around.”
She sits up, her blond curls falling over her shoulders. Surprise shows in her expression. “I can’t speak for Caleb, but Hannah and I have no plans to separate. I’d love to help Chloe, if we can.”
“I’m not comfortable staying in this location—”
She shakes her head, interrupting me. “I called a cab for Hannah, Lily and I to arrive later this afternoon. There are a few things I need to do here before I leave, but I’m not willing to stay here with unknown vampires compromising the location either. If you want, I’ll change the cab reservation and we can all stay together, at least for the time being.”
“Well, great. There’s something else I want to talk about, though.”
She hums noncommittally, then sits back so she’s leaning on her palms, head tilted to one side.
Something tells me this topic isn’t going to go over well. “Is it true about your family?”
Her eyes darken to forest moss. “What, that they were killed? Yeah. I think I already told you and Chloe about it.”
“Did you really see everything?”
She sits forward, starts playing with a blade of grass, twirling it in her fingers. “Yeah.”
“Is that why you don’t eat the same way as your brother?”
There’s a long moment and I think she’s not going to answer, but then she says, “Part of it, I guess.”
“Well, what’s the rest?”
“Geez, do you really want to hear all this? I don’t want to kill people, okay? I don’t want to be like that, no matter what the monster wants. I mean, don’t you ever want something different than the life you were born into?”
“No, not really.”
She scrunches her face. “Seriously? Are you telling me that in the last five years there hasn’t been one time that you’ve wished you didn’t have to take care of your sisters? Didn’t have to keep on fighting against an enemy that just keeps multiplying?”
I can’t answer, because there have been a few times when I wanted to give up.
“Don’t you ever want something for yourself?”
Yes. A world free of vampires, so that I could have a family in peace. But I don’t want to do what my parents did and leave behind people that needed them. I won’t have a family unless there are no more vampires.
“Sure. But I can’t have it unless vampires don’t exist anymore.”
She turns her face away so that I have a profile view. My answer has upset her. I try to explain. “I’m a Chaser, Maggie. I can’t change who I am, even if I wanted to.”
She nods like this is the answer she expected. Maybe she did; she’s terribly intuitive when it comes to me and my sisters. Why is that?
want to talk to
about,” she says, and stands up, putting us at the same level.
I figure since I’ve just pushed her buttons she deserves a chance to do the same. Within reason. “Okay,” I say cautiously.
“Back in Boston, that day in the park—why did you kiss me?” she blurts out the last part, her cheeks turning pink.
“I didn’t kiss you,” I hedge. “I fell into you and our lips touched.”
She steps closer to me and I resist the urge to move backward. I’m not scared of her, except maybe of having a repeat performance of the exact thing she’s talking about.
“That’s a lie. You kissed me.”
“No, you kissed me.” There, distract by placing blame.
“You kissed me
. I just kissed you
I can’t deny it. And now that we’re talking about it, I can’t look away from her lips. I watch avidly as they form the word, “Why?”
“Because I couldn’t help it.” Whoops, didn’t mean to admit that.
Her face goes pink again. I can’t help wanting to be close to her—she’s so
“Why couldn’t you help it?”
Ah, crap. I might as well open the bank vault now, because I’ve given her the keys to the front door. “I tried to keep my distance from you. At first, the only reason I didn’t kill you was because there were witnesses around. But then I kept finding more reasons not to kill you—because you helped someone, because Chloe thought you were a good person, because you saved my hide.
“And now, I don’t want to kill you at all.”
She grimaces. “You’re just a romantic at heart, aren’t you?”
I shrug. “Did you want me to kiss you? Why?”
She doesn’t answer.
“If I had been a ‘normal’ human, where did you see a relationship between us going?”
Now she throws up her hands. “I don’t know, okay? I still can’t get past the part where you’re aging and I’m stuck at seventeen. Mortal. Immortal. But I
She lets her words trail off when voices behind me alert us that we’re no longer alone.
“Maggie?” Lily precedes the rest of the group out of the church. “Do you think it’s safe to go in the house? We want to cook something hot for breakfast.”
24 - Maggie
I wanted to be with someone who loved me.
I still can’t believe I almost said that to Shane. Who doesn’t, in fact, love me. But who doesn’t want to kill me. Maybe if I stick around for another… oh… hundred years or so, I’ll grow on him. Like moss on an old tree.
Except he won’t be around in another hundred years, because he’s mortal.
I focus on digging through the kitchen cabinets, finally locating an electric griddle, which I hold up over my head.
“Yay!” Chloe bounces happily where she and Lily are mixing ingredients for the pancakes she wanted. Hannah, Rachel and Shane are ‘overseeing’ from the small butcher-block table across the room.
“Delivery!” Caleb is way too cheerful for the mood I’m in, but I fake a smile at him anyway. He sets a small cooler on the kitchen island. “Found this just inside the front door. Know who might have left it?”
He opens the top and tilts it in my direction; inside are three pouches of blood like you might find at a blood bank. Relief flits through me. At least that’s one problem solved.
“Daniel must have brought it earlier.” I set it on a side counter, out of the way. I don’t want to eat in front of everyone this time. It was awkward enough on the plane when I didn’t have a choice.
I move back to the island, but it seems the girls have it under control, so I lean on my elbows. I don’t really want to go sit at the same table with Shane right now while my emotions are all confused.
“You look like death, Mags,” Caleb comments, ruffling my hair. “Didn’t you sleep at all last night?”
dead. And no, I didn’t.” I swat his hand away. “Leave me alone.”
He reaches to tickle my side and I arch away. “Caleb!”
“Aaah, hungry and tired. No wonder you’re cranky.”
I notice Lily’s attention on us even though her eyes are glued to the mixing bowl in front of her.
“Hannah! Can’t you control your brother?” I whine.
“Nope. Remember, Caleb-the-Amazing can’t be restrained.”
“Dear sister, you wound me by bringing up that particular circumstance. It’s not my fault they were
handcuffs; I’d bought them at a magicians store—they were mislabeled.”
Hannah laughs. Caleb is good for her. I wish he could stick around, but he and Hannah have their reasons for staying apart.
“As much as I’m enjoying this lively pre-breakfast discussion, I’ve got to get on the road.” He moves around the island. “Chloe, it was lovely to meet you. Thank you for your help last night with my sister.”
She shakes his hand, her little face grave.
“And Miss Lily,” he leans over her. “Is that supposed to be that color?”
“Don’t know,” she says matter-of-factly. “Never done this before.”
“Really? Hmm… Well, good luck. The rest of you might want to purchase some antacids before the morning is over.”
“Kidding,” he says, reaching for her hand. “Thanks for the conversation last night. It was quite refreshing.”
She flushes and mutters a soft goodbye.
Caleb takes his leave with a little more fuss.
We’re about the pour the first batter onto the griddle when Caleb re-enters the room, face grim—an unusual expression for him. “Problem. Someone doesn’t want me to go.”
“What do you mean?”
“There’s a lake of oil under my car from a lovely hole in the oil pan, probably punched by a screwdriver.” His jaw is as tight at his words. Caleb takes his cars very seriously; to him this is a punishable offense.
“Want me to take a look?” Shane asks, standing up from the table. As usual, he is ready for action.
“There’s no need. I’ve seen something like this before, and nothing but a repair shop is going to cut it. Unfortunately, that’s going to cost a boatload in towing fees.”
“Want me to call you a cab?” I offer. “I already have to make a call to the taxi company—Shane and the girls have decided to hang with us for awhile.”
“What?” Rachel jumps up from the table, instantly angry. “I’m not staying with a
Ouch. And here I am trying to be hospitable.
“Rachel, it’s not up for discussion. There’s a reason—”
She jumps down his throat, interrupting him. “Oh,
there’s a reason. When are you going to wake up and realize
she’s the enemy
With that, she runs out of the room; the back door slams.
Shane curses under his breath. “Sorry about that. I guess I’m skipping breakfast.” He follows her out.
25 - Shane
Rachel’s out of sight by the time I get outdoors. Briefly, I consider options. She won’t stay close because she won’t want to be found. The beautiful lawn extending away from the house won’t offer any good hiding places, so that’s out. I’m left with the dappled woods behind the church.
Maybe I didn’t need to consider where she went; I should’ve just looked for the most dangerous place and ignored the rest. The woods offer some protection from the sun, so I can only pray there aren’t any vamps out today, Maggie’s relatives or not.
I jog through the trees, eyes scanning in front for a glimpse of my wayward sister. I probably should have talked to her about the decision to stay with Maggie, but I stand by my decision. We need to understand what’s going on with Chloe and Maggie can help us.
The woods quickly give way to an open area. I’m surprised, because they appeared to go on further. Upon closer inspection, I realize I’m looking at a cemetery filled with moss-covered headstones. A couple of larger statues decorate graves further into the graveyard, and a low building on the other side might provide cover for Rachel too. I crunch through the mostly-dead grass, still feeling like I’m on the right track to find her.