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
The whole area feels hushed and expectant; I keep my hand close to my waist in case I need my knife.
I can’t help reading some of the inscriptions on the stones as I pass them. Clara Boyles, 2-2-1774—8-6-1805. Frederick Reardon, 9-21-1785—12-20-1830. There aren’t any dates past 1840.
Still no sign of Rachel, so I approach what must be a mausoleum. It’s built from the same stone as the house, has the same arches although these have no windows. I walk all the way around it without finding my sister. The building really is a work of art and I can’t resist the pull of curiosity to find out who is buried here.
I brush away a growth of vines that crawls up one wall and find the inscription of family names.
From the top it reads Hubert Wellington 1811 to 1848, Rebecca Wellington 1812 to 1848, Joseph Wellington 1834 to 1848, Edward Wellington 1840 to 1848, and finally Margaret Wellington 1831. The date of death is scratched off Margaret’s name.
It’s incredibly sad. They were so young when they died, ranging from parents in their thirties to mere teenagers, and a child. Edward was eight when he died, and my mind immediately goes to Chloe.
Another name appears to have been added later: Daniel Wellington 1831 to 1850. Maggie’s brother would have been about the same age as Daniel Wellington when he died. Daniel and Daniel. The hairs on my arms stand up. What’re the chances that they are the same person?
Suddenly I remember Maggie’s cousin Alex saying Maggie had come home. I run my fingers over the grooves where the date of death for Margaret Wellington should be. Could Maggie be Margaret Wellington?
I have to know.
“Rachel Marie Campton!” I bellow. I feel sure she is in hearing distance, even though she hasn’t revealed herself. “If you aren’t done pouting and back to the house in an hour, I’m sending Maggie after you.”
I don’t care if that irritates her or not. Right now, I have to find out if my suspicions are right.
Maggie’s in the kitchen with the others when I arrive back at the castle. It doesn’t take much, just one look at my face and a quick jerk of my head and she follows me outside. I know just where I want to have this discussion. I march back to the church, grab a flashlight that’s been left out, and go into the library. I plunge through the hole in the bookshelf.
“Shane—” Maggie starts to protest, but I make a noise of disapproval and she reluctantly follows me.
When we’re inside, I set the flashlight on the pommel horse-looking thing and step back. The beam of light illuminates a rack of swords on the stone wall.
Maggie doesn’t look around, confirming my thoughts that she knew this room was here.
“You’re real name is Margaret, isn’t it? Margaret Wellington.”
“What do you want me to say?” she asks, spreading her hands in front of her. It’s hard to make out the expression on her face because she’s not standing in the light.
“Tell me the truth.”
“You seem to have all the assumptions you need.”
“I want to hear you say it.”
She shrugs. “Fine. Yes, I’m Margaret Wellington. You want a cookie for putting that together?”
“And you and your family were Chasers, is that right?”
“I knew it. The books, this room… Why didn’t you say something? Why did you let me think you were just a vamp?”
She shifts her feet. “I
a vampire. What does it matter who I
used to be
Why is she protesting? My voice jumps in volume as my frustration rises. “You’re a Chaser, Maggie. Doesn’t it bother you that you’ve disowned your heritage? Why do you hide it? You’ve even got loads of money—you could do so much!”
a Chaser.” Her voice has gone dangerously low. I can’t see her eyes at all—are they black or green? “Now I’m a benefactor. I have—had a new life in Boston before you screwed things up for me.”
“What about your family? Doesn’t it bother you—”
She’s in my face before I realize it, pushing on my chest with both fists. The light illuminates the tears standing in her eyes. Her green eyes. “Do
go there, Shane Campton.”
“Why? Because your family would be ashamed to know you’ve—”
She pushes me again, and this time I don’t brace myself against it. I lose my balance and she follows me down, pinning me to the floor. I don’t struggle. She’s not vamped out—this is all about emotions.
“My family is
, Shane! They don’t care what I do, because they’re
“My parents are gone too,” I remind her. She’s shaking, but I’m not afraid she’s going to change. Not at all.
“So? You lost your parents. I lost my whole family.”
“I lost a sister too,” I say softly, and the words silence her. “Cassidy. After my parents died. She was… it was my fault. I was in charge.”
She rolls away from me, landing on her back next to me, our shoulders touching. We both stare up at the ceiling. She sniffles and her arm moves, she’s wiping her face. I keep my eyes locked on what looks to be a loose stone above us—it’s slightly out of place in all the other stones.
“I’m sorry. It’s not a competition.” Her words are just a breath in the shadows. “I didn’t know about your sister.”
“I think about her every day. She’s the reason I keep fighting, because I don’t want someone else to lose their sister.”
She doesn’t say anything. I turn my head to see her profile, but she doesn’t look at me.
“How can you disregard what’s going on right in front of you?” I ask quietly. I’m not pushing her this time, I really want to know. “Even the humans are starting to notice something’s wrong because of the increase in murders. Don’t you want to do something?”
“I want to be left alone. I want to be normal.”
“How can you say that? Your family… I think they would’ve wanted their legacy to go on as long as you’re alive. And I think undead counts in this case.”
She rolls her head back and forth. “You don’t know that.”
“I do know that your family’s murders were the reason a lot of Chasers stopped fighting.”
“It’s true. At least that’s what my parents told me. Once your parents died, several of the more prominent Chaser families took it as a warning. They just stopped fighting. And a lot of the other families have suffered losses now too.
“The network is so broken down—I mean, you can probably guess that I didn’t find the help I needed in London.”
“Maggie, if Chasers knew you were alive—well, sort of alive, and fighting… You would be an inspiration. Think about it. A Wellington vampire Chaser.”
“Shane, I can’t.”
She starts to stand up, but then doubles over, clutching her stomach.
I’m on my feet instantly. “What’s wrong?”
The way her face is contorted, I think it might take too long to go fetch Hannah and bring her back here, so I scoop Maggie into my arms and start moving.
26 - Maggie
I’m screaming by the time Shane carries me into the kitchen. I can’t help it—I’ve never felt pain like this before. Like something is clawing its way through my insides. I think I’m dying.
“Maggie!” Hannah’s there, and Caleb too, but the monster senses my control is faltering because of the pain so I hiss at them. “Get away. Get away!”
Hannah must see something in my eyes because she backs away, pulling Caleb with her.
I’m writhing now, and the monster gets a whiff of Shane.
“Put me down. Now!”
He sets me down but keeps hold of my shoulders.
“What happened?” Hannah asks. I hear the worry in her tone.
“I don’t know, Hannah. We were talking and then she just doubled over like this.” Shane passes a hand over my brow, pushing hair out of the way. He’s staring at my eyes, and I have no idea if they’re black or green. That’s not a good sign. “Lily, take Chloe out of here.”
“Get away,” I whisper. “Don’t touch me. I can’t. Stop her.” I gasp out, pain making my words choppy.
The burning spreads and I try to wrap myself into a ball. Shane still holds my shoulders.
“It burns!” I screech, giving into the monster’s pleading. I can’t stop her.
For the first time in over a century the monster has the reins, and she’s ready to be unleashed. The burning lets up, but only a little.
“She’s almost acting like she’s been poisoned…” Caleb’s sentence trails off. “Are we sure her brother brought those blood bags this morning?
“Who else would’ve?” Hannah asks. She moves toward me and her scent goes down my throat. I’m about to pounce.
Will Shane be able to stop me?
The burning intensifies again and I cry out, but it momentarily keeps me where I’m at.
“Hannah—” I don’t know if I’m telling her to get away or asking her to step closer.
“How can you poison a vamp?” Shane asks. He shakes me. “Maggie. Stay with me.”
I can’t stop shaking, and now cold is creeping in from the edges of my consciousness. “M—monster,” I slur.
“It could’ve been laced with holy water.” Again, Caleb seems to be on the right track.
“Tasted weird,” I agree, then I roar. I want Hannah, now!
The small part of me that’s still human refuses.
Pain ripples through my entire torso, but I don’t bother screaming this time. It does me no good—just wastes more of my energy.
“No!” Shane shouts, right in my face. “Maggie—you listen to me. No one’s staking you. You’re going to be fine.”
“She needs good blood in her to be able to fight the poison,” Hannah says, oh so helpfully.
I growl at her.
“If she drinks from me, and Caleb works some magic at the same time…” Hannah’s words fade away. I’m seeing red.
The monster loves the idea and tries to rip free from Shane’s hold. He wraps both arms around me in a bear hug, pinning my arms to my sides. His face rests against mine, cheek to cheek.
“I’m not taking my knife out, Maggie. Maggie—do you hear that?” Then to Hannah, “I’ll do it. You’re still weak.”
I black out for a moment, then come back to Hannah’s voice. “…need you in case she gets out of control.”
They’re still talking about giving me blood from a living source. I can barely form words but can’t let them do this. “N—no. C—can’t stop.”
“Yes, you can,” Hannah says at the same time that Shane goes, “Your control is legendary.”
“N—not killing you.”
“That’s right,” Hannah says, not understanding that my words were a protest. She moves next to Shane, kneels next to us.
With the little control I have left, I set my jaw, unwilling to give my fangs the chance. I don’t know if it’s possible to bite a human and stop before you drain them; Hannah’s already weak.
Maggie, do it.
She holds out her wrist in front of my face. I hold my breath. The burning intensifies and I know that I’ll die if I don’t bite her.
“Shane, where’s your knife?”
Hope erupts in me—maybe she’ll kill me. A silver glint flashes in front of my face, then blood explodes from her wrist and the scent fills my nostrils.
I attack, my vision going black, senses on overload so I don’t even hear if she screams. The monster revels in fresh blood, something it’s never experienced. This is so much better than bagged blood.
The pain recedes and some of my senses return. I smell fear. I can hear voices, but can’t make out the words.
The blood tastes so good, flowing hot down my throat. The burning in my gut disappears, but I can’t stop drinking.
Now words are getting through my subconscious, but I don’t want to stop.
I have to stop.
But I don’t remember why.
All I know is this tastes like heaven.
Something else tasted like heaven recently.
What was it?
I scream, pushing Hannah away and jerking from Shane’s hold. I throw myself across the stone floor, not caring when I crash through the cabinets. Abrasions on my skin heal instantly, I’m so alive from drinking Hannah’s blood. All I know is I have to get away.
Have I killed her?
Shane. Oh crap, is he going to stake me now, because I’ve killed my best friend?
“She’s fine,” Caleb says. “Go tell her Hannah’s fine.”
“No, she’s not,” I argue, using the counter to pull myself up on shaky legs. I have to leave. Now.
Shane approaches warily, but doesn’t try to touch me. He holds up an object from the counter. A silver toaster. What is he doing?
“Maggie, look. In the reflection. Maggie. Your eyes are green.”
27 - Maggie
I wake with a start, my heart racing. My head feels fuzzy, like I’ve slept for too long.
I sit up, rubbing my face. A quick look at the window tells me that night is falling. Why didn’t anybody wake me up?
Then I remember the scene in the kitchen. Everyone was probably too scared to come upstairs with the vampire.
“How’re you feeling?”
Hannah’s voice next to me has me scrambling across the wide bed until I fall on the floor. I peek my head above the edge of the mattress.
Her pixie-cut black hair is rumpled like she just woke up too.
“What are you doing in here?”
She yawns, covering her mouth with a hand. “Well, I was sleeping, but then apparently an elephant jumped on the bed with me and started moving around. Kinda hard to sleep through an earthquake like that.”
How can she act like everything is normal?
“Are you okay?” I whisper.
“I’m fine. You took less than the other vampire back in Boston.”
The other vampire that nearly
her. Guilt consumes me.
“Knock it off,” she orders. “We made a choice in the heat of a situation and you did the best you could. If you want to make it up to me, you can take me on a shopping spree in London.”
She knows I hate shopping. “Okay. I’m sorry.”
“I know. Let this be a lesson to you about not drinking blood you haven’t procured yourself.”
Her reminder isn’t pleasant. “I just can’t believe Daniel would do that!”