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 shakes her head. “You’re wrong. She doesn’t kill humans, I can feel it.”
Why is she being so persistent? She’s never been so stubborn before. But it can’t be true. Maybe Blondie doesn’t want to be evil, but the vampire in her sucks the humanity out. There is no way she can be a “good guy”.
“I’m serious, Shane. Maggie doesn’t hurt humans. When have you seen her do something bad? The only times you’ve seen her she’s been doing something good.”
What if Chloe is right? What if Blondie
seriously buying this?” Rachel snaps.
Hurt crosses Chloe’s face, but she doesn’t take back what she said.
I slowly nod my head. “Yeah, I think I am. Maybe we just haven’t caught Blondie at the right time in the right situation. But so far she’s done nothing wrong.”
“Except being a freaking vampire!” Rachel storms away from the table and out of the cafeteria.
I don’t try to follow. I don’t have the patience to deal with one of her tantrums right now.
“You believe me?” Chloe asks quietly.
“I don’t know. I want to, but it just seems crazy to think that she doesn’t ever kill.”
“Can you wait till you have evidence of that before you take her out?”
Not kill a vamp? That’s dangerous—it leaves her open to hurt somebody. Chloe’s face is pleading, and I have no reason not to trust her. Young and innocent as she may be, she is also honest. And feels strongly about this.
“Chloe, I promise not to kill Blondie until I have evidence that she’s hurt someone. After that the gloves come off.”
She grins. “Thank you.” She throws her arms around my neck.
I awkwardly pat her back, still unsure that this is a good plan.
Suddenly a new idea strikes. If I’m not going to kill the vamp, maybe I can use her as a way to bust Rachel out of the school. She has to have all kinds of information about the layout, schedules, and anything else I might need. But how do I convince her to trust me with that kind of information?
11 - Maggie
Hannah’s voice in my head prompts me to look up from the book I’m pretending to read. A quick scan of the park reveals students, parents, and chaperones but no Shane Campton.
She nudges my ankle with her sandal and scrunches her freckled nose at me. I can’t see her eyes behind the mirrored shades she’s got on. I bare my canines at her—inside joke—and go back to staring at my book.
Rachel doesn’t look like she’s having much fun.
I shrug, not sure I really care at this point. Rachel’s got three watchdogs this afternoon during the weekend visitation/picnic outing, thanks to her three escape attempts this week. She’s not going anywhere.
So far, she’s ignored every friendly overture I’ve made, including throwing the protein bars I bought for her in the bathroom trash where I’d be sure to see them. So far, I am not the girl’s biggest fan.
But I wouldn’t mind seeing her brother today, and I’d made the mistake of mentioning it to Hannah this morning.
The afternoon sun feels great on my shoulders, and I lift my face and lean back on my hands to fully enjoy it. Enjoying the sunshine is one of the major things that keeps me grounded. Most vamps hate the sun because they have to be human to go out in it. Not me. I prefer my human side and therefore soak up as much sun as I can.
“Hannah, I’m not falling for it,” I murmur, keeping my eyes closed. I love the way the sun turns the inside of my eyelids red.
I’m not crying wolf this time. He’s coming over here.
“Who are you talking to?”
A shadow falls over my face and my eyes fly open to see an upside-down Shane—he’s standing just behind me.
“Shane, hi!” I scramble around like a crab so I can face him. I pretend I’m panting from the effort but really it’s because of how good he looks in torn jeans and a tight white T-shirt.
“Hey, Maggie.” Why does my name rolling off his tongue sound so good? It’s not like I haven’t heard my name a million times over the years, but it just sounds different when he says it. Sweeter. And, I’m drooling.
“Hi,” I say again, and then realize how lame that sounds. “How are you?” Oh, much better.
“Good. I don’t know if we’ve officially met?” Shane holds his hand out to Hannah, and I can’t help but notice his biceps flex under his t-shirt.
Hannah shakes and then releases him.
. “I’m Hannah, Maggie’s roommate slash BFF.”
“Nice to meet you.”
“Where’s Chloe?” I ask, glancing behind him for the girl who seems to be his perpetual shadow.
“She’s with Rach.” He motions with his chin over to the side and I see both girls sitting under a shade tree. “Said she needed ‘girl bonding time.’ I swear, she’s such a little adult sometimes.”
I can’t help but smile, even if it is a little wistful. Edward had been that way, too. Always so serious.
“So, Maggie… would you like to go for a walk? You don’t mind if I steal her away, Hannah?” Shane turns the full force of his blue eyes on me, and I know there’s no way I can say no.
“She’d love to, and no I don’t,” Hannah says with a laugh. She bumps me with her elbow, shaking me out of my stupor.
Shane holds his hand out to me and I take it. He pulls me to my feet, but doesn’t let go of my hand like I expect. His palm is callused and I suddenly realize how little I actually know about him. Like, what does he do for a living? How does he support the girls?
He drops my hand and nods to a nearby walking path. Part of me wishes he would’ve held onto the connection, but then I remind myself that he’s a human and must be uncomfortable around me.
We stroll away from the group of students, and I’m grateful for the privacy. It’s been so long since I’ve been in a situation like this… over a century. At least if I embarrass myself it’ll be in front of just him instead of an entire group.
“Rescue anybody lately?” he asks, bumping my shoulder with his arm. He smiles slyly at me and I can’t help responding with a silly grin.
“Just a Freshie who got caught up in some malicious gossip. Nothing too dangerous. What about you? Stalk any more damsels in distress?”
“Nope, unfortunately.” He winks. “Chloe and I had a near disaster with a toaster oven, but thankfully we own a fire extinguisher. Owned. I need to get a new one.”
I laugh, because he sounds so chagrined. He changes the subject.
“So how’d you end up at E.W. House? What’d you do to land yourself there, I mean?”
“Nothing really. I was too old for a foster home, too young to be on my own. So I came to EW House.”
“Did you just call it ‘eww’ House?”
“Yeah, I guess so. Some of the students call it that.”
He chuckles. “I guess that fits. Do you like it there?”
“I don’t dislike it or anything. Ideally, it’s not where I would be, but I’m grateful that I have it.”
Ideally, I’d be six feet under for the past hundred or so years.
“Is that where you met Hannah?”
“No, we knew each other before. We’ve known each other since we were kids.”
“It’s a little ironic that you both ended up at the same place then.”
I hear the silent question in his statement. “I think once she knew I was going to EW she would’ve figured out a way to get sent there no matter what.”
“What happened to her parents?”
I shrug. “I’m not sure. She doesn’t like to talk about it. I’ve learned to leave that subject alone.”
He nods, stays silent this time. We’ve wandered so far away from the group that I can’t hear their distant chatter. There’s a field up ahead with people playing Frisbee and football. We mosey that direction, following the path as it turns parallel to the field.
“So why the façade about Chloe being your cousin?” I ask, because I can’t help my curiosity.
Shane’s shoulders go rigid, and I can almost hear his teeth grind. “What do you mean?”
“I’m not as naïve as I look. She looks too much like you and Rachel to be your cousin.”
“Why didn’t you say anything? Why go along with it?” His voice is now as stiff as his posture, and he’s looking out at the field, not at me.
“I guess I figured there must be a good reason to lie about it.”
“There is. Chloe has some special medical problems and I can’t risk her being removed like Rach was. I have to make sure she gets taken care of.”
“How long have you been their guardian?”
He fidgets with his sleeve. “About five years, since my parents died.”
“So you were thirteen? And you’ve been in charge all this time?”
“They’re my responsibility. Besides, what else was I going to do? I wanted us to stay together.”
“I can’t imagine how you did that.”
He shrugs like it’s no big deal. How on earth did they stay under the radar for five years? Nobody noticed that a thirteen-year-old was taking care of his baby sisters? They didn’t have a family friend to take care of them? He is still just a kid himself. I can’t believe how fast he’s had to grow up.
“What do you do for fun?” I ask.
I laugh, because I think he’s joking, but his demeanor remains serious.
“Yeah, you know… some guys like sports. Soccer? Lacrosse? Hockey? I’ve also heard some people go to these things called movies. The beach? Walking their dog? Sound familiar?”
He shrugs. “I don’t have time for stuff like that. No hobbies or anything.”
“Really? You don’t have anything—not one thing that you do for yourself?”
He considers this for a long moment, gaze on the ground in front of us. “No. I can’t think of anything.” Then he turns and graces me with a look I can’t interpret. “So I have to ask…” He angles his body so that he’s facing me, walking backwards. His sudden mood change lights up his face. “Did you really give Chloe your phone number or did you want me to have it?”
Heat crawls up my neck and into my face. “Does it matter?” I ask, looking over his shoulder. The football players have shifted closer to where we are, but we should be okay to stay out of their way.
“It might.” The sudden depth in his voice brings my eyes back to him. His blue gaze is assessing, makes me want to squirm. “Do you have a boyfriend, Maggie?”
The heat in my face intensifies. Nobody has ever asked me that before. Nobody has ever had a conversation with me long enough to ask something like that.
I slowly shake my head. “No, I don’t.”
“Why not? You’re attractive and you seem sweet.”
Did he just call me attractive? Mr. I’m-gorgeous-without-trying thinks I’m attractive? No way.
“I guess nobody’s ever been interested like that. I have no idea.” And this conversation is flustering me. I turn my face into my shoulder.
He sounds amused and I have to see if he’s laughing. He’s not. “Maybe they’re just intimidated.”
You could say that. Intimidating and immortal—bad combination. But I have to ask. “Are you intimidated?”
“Not at all.” He reaches to brush away a strand of hair the wind has blown into my eyes.
Where did this come from? Just a week ago he was completely rude and now he’s trying to sweep me off my feet? It is definitely working.
I open my mouth to say that we should go back to the picnic, but at that same instant a flying football goes rogue and hits Shane in the back. He pitches forward and stumbles into me. I don’t have time to react before his lips connect with mine.
At first it’s obvious that he didn’t mean to kiss me—it was just a matter of momentum—but then he rests his hand against my face, stroking my cheek with his fingers. I don’t know how to react. People don’t kiss vampires, and I haven’t had this kind of contact in over a century. I have no idea what to do.
Finally I move my lips, giving in to his touch. I’ve imagined kissing him at least a dozen times, but I never dreamed it would be like this.
All at once, the kiss ends. Shane seems to snap back to reality and he pulls away. I take a step back for good measure. What am I
? I can’t kiss humans, not even hot ones!
Shane’s eyes are wide, like he’s not sure what just happened. Of course he didn’t mean to kiss me; he was in the moment. If he knew what I really was, he’d be running the other direction.
“We should go back,” I sputter, to cover the jumble that is my emotions.
If he notices I’m not walking straight, he doesn’t say anything. We walk back in uncomfortable silence. I’m still processing. Even after he stumbled into me, why did he kiss me? He could’ve just said “sorry” and that would’ve been the end of it.
We reach the group of students and I find Hannah’s eyes on me. I can tell by her face that she sees something’s wrong. I shake my head slightly, signaling not to ask right now.
“Chloe and I have to go. We have some errands to run while the sun’s still up. Thanks for the walk.”
I nod, unable to form words. My thoughts are too jumbled to say anything. It doesn’t matter anyway. After this mess I will probably never see him again.
12 - Maggie
I still can’t believe you kissed him.
“Shut up, Hannah. I still can’t believe you’re talking about this a week later.”
Can’t help it—I’m still in shock.
I shoot a glare at the kid loitering near the punch bowl. He’s got a suspicious lump in his jacket pocket and steals looks over his shoulder to where the chaperones are. There’s always
who wants to spike the drinks.
I hate these bi-monthly dance nights Director Phillips comes up with. The profusion of cheap streamers and mini-skirts always threatens to make me sick. The Director insists all the mentors slash teen chaperones attend in rotation, and tonight is my turn. Hannah is gracious enough to keep me company.
To be honest, I can’t believe the kiss really happened either. I usually keep my vamp-to-human contact to a minimum, to avoid temptation, but somehow Shane snuck under the radar. He’s all I can think about. Especially since we’ve had zero contact after The Event. Apparently he was joking about using my number, because it hasn’t happened. Does he regret kissing me?