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
She bites her lip, hesitates. “Are you sure it was him?”
“He’s the only sentient being I’ve seen all day. And he was here this morning, right before the blood showed up. My own brother!”
I don’t know what to think. We’ve never seen eye to eye on the ‘eating people’ issue, but before this, I never thought Dan would hurt me.
“Did the taxis show up earlier?” I ask, changing the subject. “Shouldn’t we be gone by now?” I’m surprised Shane didn’t make it happen. Then again, maybe he took his sisters and left—Hannah’s the only person I’ve seen since I woke up. Maybe he doesn’t want to be around a true bloodsucker.
“They didn’t.” Hannah shakes her index finger at me. “And I can see what you’re thinking. Shane and Caleb called the taxi company, who said our rides should’ve been here, but they never made it. They were discussing some other options to get out of here, but
wanted to wait and make sure you were okay before trying to leave.”
“Yeah, because he didn’t want me to try and eat anyone as a travel snack.”
“Because he cares about you. You are so blind, Maggie.” She stretches and sits up, then all of a sudden laughs.
“I called it. Remember, I said you should play the damsel in distress?”
“Hannah…” I groan, but I can’t help joining her mirth. It can’t be true, can it? Shane doesn’t care for me… but I wish he would.
Someone knocks on the door. It opens and Shane peeks inside. “I heard voices.”
His eyes capture me. I’m frozen, mesmerized, I can’t move. I wait to see disgust cross his features, but he just keeps looking at me with his steady blue gaze.
“You should really get that checked, you know.” Hannah’s words break the connection between us; Shane looks over at her.
“What?” he asks.
“Voices. Hearing them. It can be a sign of schizophrenia.”
Neither of us responds. I’m not sure what to say. I have no idea why he stays silent.
“Oohkay. Sense of humors are turned off,” Hannah murmurs, getting out of the bed. “I’m just going to go…”
She grabs her shoes from beside the night stand. “And let you guys talk…”
She looks back at me. “If you want to talk…”
And then she’s gone. Shane steps into the room, closes the door and leans back on it.
“Don’t scare me like that again,” he says softly.
“Sorry,” I mutter, looking down at the bedspread in front of me. “To be fair, nothing like that has ever happened to me before. I would never knowingly hurt—”
“That’s not what I meant,” he interrupts me.
He moves further into the room and I swallow.
“You almost died.”
I raise my eyebrows. “Why would you care? Isn’t it your job to kill vampires?”
“I would care if something happened to
I want to know more. Why does he care? How much does he care? But I’m too scared to ask. When he speaks again, I’m surprised by what he asks.
“Why don’t you live here?” He swings his arm to encompass the room, and I assume, the whole castle. “This seems like a quiet place, somewhere you’d be left alone. Why Boston?”
“Boston. Charlotte. San Diego. I rotate between the three every few years. I do it for my kids.” I pick at the bedspread for something to do with my hands.
“The E.W. kids, in Boston. A lot of them come from really crappy circumstances, and need help.”
“Like that girl you rescued when Chloe and I gave you a lift.”
“Yeah, like Samantha. And Lily. Her family background really sucks, and E.W. gave her a chance to escape it. Maybe she can make something of herself.”
“That’s really… wow, Maggie.” He sits on the opposite side of the bed, so there’s most of the mattress between us. “Why do you have to go to different cities?”
“If I stay too long in one place, people start to notice the non-aging thing. But some of the teachers change, and I use a different alias every time, so between the three cities, it works.”
“That’s a lot of people you’re helping.”
“Well, it’s not totally self-sacrificing. There are too many bad memories for me to be happy here.”
“Do you know why they made you into a—turned you?” He asks the question softly, and when I can’t answer right away, he says, “You don’t have to tell me, if it’s too hard to talk about.”
The funny thing is, I want to. I blow out a deep breath. “There was one vamp… he was… particularly cruel.” I can still remember his face; he was the one who killed Edward. “He thought it would be… funny, I guess, to torment me before he turned me. I still don’t know why he picked me.
“After I was changed, he offered me the chance to join up with his gang. But something happened when he made me… watch. Even before I learned how to find my human self, I could remember what they’d done to my family.
“Needless to say, I didn’t stay with that group.”
“And Daniel? I saw on the mausoleum… he wasn’t changed the same day as you?”
“No. He was away at university when the massacre happened. He found our cousin Alex, who had also been turned, and convinced him to do it.”
I fidget on the edge of the bed. “Why do you want to know all this?”
“Because I want to know you.”
He must read the skepticism in my face, because he reaches across and clasps my hand where it rests on the bedspread. “Because I care about you, Maggie.”
It’s what I’ve wanted to hear since that day in the park, but I have a hard time buying his sincerity.
“You don’t believe me, do you?” he asks.
Oh, great. Here goes his temper again.
“I don’t know what to believe,” I say honestly, disengaging our hands. “You’re a Chaser, you’ve wanted to kill me, now you care about me?”
“I haven’t wanted to kill you for awhile, remember? From the very first, you’ve gotten under my skin.”
He goes silent for a long time. Then, “So where do we go from here?”
“I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about…” Lots of things, things I can’t say. “…Boston.”
“I left a lot of things undone. I won’t go back as Maggie Wells, but there are some kids I have to check on.”
“Do you have a death wish?” He stands up from the bed, and his face is growing alarmingly red. “Don’t go back there. Those vamps will be waiting for you.”
“Maybe. But I can take care of myself.” And Shane doesn’t know
about me yet. There’s a place I can stay and be safe.
“Maggie—” His voice sounds strangled.
“What? Why does it matter to you if I get killed or not?” Exasperation makes my words a shout.
“Because I love you, Maggie!” he yells back.
What? That’s not possible. I know I’m wearing a blank look—I feel blank on the inside, totally blown away by his confession.
“You are so hardheaded,” he says, his voice rough.
He covers the space between us in a split second, taking my face in his hands and tilting my chin up. He presses his lips to mine and there’s pure desperation in his touch.
“You keep asking me what I want for myself,” he says between kisses. “I’m finished lying to myself.”
I can’t seem to get a coherent thought in edgewise; I hum into his mouth.
He pulls back so I can see into his very serious eyes. “I want
Then he kisses me again, slanting his mouth over mine. “I want you to stay with me.” Another deep, moving kiss. “I want you to Chase with me.”
“Wait—” I push on his chest and he releases me. I stare at him; we’re both panting. His hair is mussed—did I do that? I didn’t realize.
“So what do you say?”
I still can’t stop my brain from swirling in a beautiful haze. “I can’t—I can’t think!”
“Good,” he says, and reaches for me again.
A throat being cleared from the doorway makes us jump back from each other. Lily stands there with rosy cheeks, but she’s biting back a grin. “Umm, the rental van is pulling up. Should we wait?”
“No,” I say at the same time Shane mumbles, “Yes.”
But he follows when I nearly run from the room.
28 - Shane
I can’t wipe the smile off my face as I follow Maggie and Lily down the stairs to rejoin the rest of our group.
Despite Maggie’s mediocre response to the avowal of my feelings—well, the kissing wasn’t mediocre—I am strangely optimistic. I
Maggie has feelings for me. She’ll make her own declarations when she’s ready. I’m planning to make that be before she gets any more stupid ideas about going to Boston in her head.
Optimism is a weird feeling for me. I’m not used to the euphoric-like sensation of floating. I can’t even dredge up my usual unease that we’re planning to drive through some very scary territory at night. Everything is going to be roses.
And by the time we reach the bottom of the stairs, the feeling is gone.
Hannah’s got Chloe in her arms, Rachel’s nowhere to be seen, and Caleb’s peering through a front window.
“The rental van arrived all right,” Caleb breaks in before Maggie even speaks her question. “It’s full of vamps.”
I’ve already got my knife in hand by the time he finishes speaking.
“Where’s Rachel?” I demand.
“Here,” comes her voice. She comes through an archway that leads back to the church and she tosses something at me. I catch it by reflex. It’s a crossbow, already loaded.
“Maggie.” I pass it on.
Rachel’s got a sword strapped to her back and something else tucked in her waist—I can’t tell what. She’s brandishing a set of nunchucks—I must’ve missed those before in the Wellington’s training room.
“I think there’s too many—” Caleb starts to say, but Rachel tosses him something, too. How was she carrying all this without cutting herself?
Caleb looks down to the item he’d caught. It looks like a machete. “I don’t—”
“Rach, get Chloe out of here—”
The words aren’t even completely out of my mouth when a deep voice growls, “I don’t think so.”
I whirl, and Maggie’s bulky red-headed vampire cousin has come in the room behind us and got Hannah in one massive paw and Chloe around her middle, feet dangling in midair.
“Alex!” Maggie cries.
The front door crashes open and several vamps enter; more come into the room behind Maggie’s cousin, including her brother, who looks grim.
“Put the weapons down or the girl bites it.” Alex chuckles at his own humor, but there’s no sign of a smile on his face.
I see Rach twitch from the corner of my eye and warn her, “Don’t.”
“Yes, Maggie, dear, do tell your friends to stand down,” a new voice commands.
A vamp wearing an expensive suit and tie steps in the foyer behind the other vamps. He’s tall, with pale blond hair that’s pulled back in a tail behind his head.
“You know this guy?” I ask beneath my breath, suspicions flying.
The sleezy guy laughs.
I think he’s the one who murdered her family
, comes a voice in my head—Hannah’s, I realize.
I want to kill him for that alone. Unfortunately, we’re seriously outnumbered, and Chloe’s in danger.
“What do you want?” Maggie demands. She’s already dropped the crossbow.
I follow suit, putting down the knife in my hand. I have another in my boot, but hopefully they won’t search me.
Two vamps take Chloe from Alex, he moves toward Rachel. “Put down your weapons,” he orders.
She drops the nunchucks but crosses her arms, as if daring him to take her other weapons.
“Fine,” he grunts. “We’ll do this the hard way.” He removes the sword from her back, then starts patting her down, starting at her shoulders. Two knives clank against the sword when they join it on the floor; a small, dangerous-looking handgun goes too. Finally, a set of three throwing stars are palmed by the big guy.
“Dang,” he breathes. Is it me, or did that sound impressed by the amount of weapons she’d carried?
In the meantime, Chloe’s now being held captive next to the guy in the suit, although she hasn’t been hurt yet.
“What do you want?” Maggie repeats.
“This.” He motions to Chloe. “I’m afraid the rest of you are simply in the way.”
He moves to leave the house, the two vamps holding the now-struggling Chloe following.
“No!” I roar.
29 - Maggie
I hear Shane’s yell and time freezes. Why didn’t I tell him I loved him when I had the chance? So what if there are obstacles between us—if there’s anything I’ve learned in my too-long life, it’s to make the most of each moment.
Then everything speeds up, seems to happen at the same time.
I let the change take over me and leap into a roll for the crossbow I’d been divested of; while I’m spinning in the air I see Rachel drop to a crouch, reaching for her weapons. Shane’s still shouting, but I also hear him engaging one of the vamps—I hear the blows they’re giving each other. Caleb wields the machete that he apparently kept hold of; had he used magic to keep the vamps from taking it?
It’s Hannah and Lily I’m most worried about. They have no training, no fighting skills whatsoever, and will be easy targets.
When I have the crossbow in hand, I discharge it at the nearest vamp, hitting his heart. I throw the body of the bow at another one, and leap at a third, my fangs bared.
A pain in my shoulder stops me—those teeth hurt! Suddenly the pain is gone. I turn, expecting to face another attack, but the vamp is on the floor, dead, blood pouring from a knife stuck in his back. Daniel stands on the other side of the body.
I can’t spare even a moment to try to determine what that look on his face was. I whirl and engage another vamp and then notice that Dan has come closer and we are fighting back to back.
“I thought you poisoned me,” I hiss, breaking a vamp’s arm.
“Nope,” Daniel growls. “Told ya to stay away from the girl.” He grunts; it sounds like he is hit but I don’t turn around.
“Then why are you helping me now?”
I duck beneath the arms of the vamp coming after me and break his neck as he passes me by; he doesn’t die but this buys me time and I stab him with the knife I’ve ended up taking from someone else.