Authors: Jayme Morse,Jody Morse
Burn Like Fire
urn Like Fire
© 2012 by Jayme Morse and Jody
urn Like Fire
is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents in this book are products of the author’s imaginations or have been used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons or locations is coincidental and not intended by the authors.
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The pot of herbs that Lexi Hunter was brewing on top of the stove in front of her simmered loudly, its contents rising to a bubbling boil. Lexi wrinkled her nose at the brew. Something about it wasn’t quite right, even though she couldn’t seem to put her finger on what it was.
“Sugar, spice, and catnip,” Lexi said aloud, going through the list of ingredients that she was brewing. Everything was in there, but nothing seemed to be happening for some reason. Tapping her boot against the tiled floor anxiously, she wondered what she was doing wrong.
Garth, her tabby cat, mewed loudly, brushing up against Lexi’s legs and letting out a loud purr.
Lexi leaned down and patted him on his head. “You smell the catnip, don’t you, boy?”
Garth stared back at her knowingly from behind his green, moon-shaped eyes. Lexi was positive that he understood every word she was saying, as he patiently waited for her to finish the spell.
Lexi stirred the brew and added another pinch of catnip to the pot. She watched as the brew boiled at an even more rapid pace, producing a reddish cloud of smoke that filled the air. Lexi smiled, pleased that something was finally starting to happen.
Pulling a crocheted mouse-shaped cat toy out of her pocket, Lexi threw it into the brew. She trusted her instincts, just like Belinda—the witch who had given her the powers that allowed her to practice magic—had told her to do, and recited the lines that filled her heart and mind for a second time. She couldn’t exactly explain it, but the words seemed to come to her on their own.
“A pinch of sugar, something sweet, give this toy a personality that Garth can soon meet. With a dash of spice, when you bring this toy to life, make it nice. With a bit of cat, a bit of nip, catnip, turn this toy into pure bliss.”
Lexi watched as the yarn was lifted from the pot; it began swaying back and fort
h by its tail before
it was tossed to the ground. Once it was on the floor, the toy scurried on the tile animatedly, the same way a mouse would, but with the same yarn texture.
Garth dashed over to it, digging his furry gray paws into the toy. He swatted at the toy, as he
chased it across the tiled floor.
Lexi smiled. Mission accomplished. Not only had she mastered another spell, but now she could go to class without worrying about Garth being lonely. She was still trying to convince Dan that they needed another cat so that Garth would have a friend, but this mouse toy should be able to keep him occupied for the time being.
At that moment, the door swung open.
“Lexi?” Benjamin Hunter, her father, asked. “Dan asked me to tell you that he’s waiting for you back in your dorm room. I’m supposed to remind you that the two of you have Stakeology class in about fifteen minutes. He was afraid you would get so wrapped up in your spell that you’d lose track of time.”
“Okay.” Lexi smiled at her father. “Thank you for letting me use your stove.” She’d had to borrow her father’s suite at Huntington to perform her spell because the dorm room that she shared with Dan didn’t have a kitchen or stove.
“It’s not a problem, Lexi. You know you’re welcome to use my kitchen any time you need to.” Her father glanced over at Garth, who was still happily swatting at the toy Lexi had created for him. “That’s clever.
So, I guess the spell you wanted to try out worked?”
Lexi nodded. “Yeah, it did.”
Her father hesitated. “Are you still feeling nervous about your abilities?”
Lexi shrugged. “Well, I haven’t messed up any spells so far, so I feel confident about trusting my instincts, just like Belinda said.” Should she tell her father what was bothering her lately? This would be the first time she would admit it out loud to anyone, but maybe she needed to. It had been nagging at the back of her mind lately.
“Is there anything else?” her father questioned, studying her face.
How did she think she could keep this a secret from him, when obviously she was so transparent? “I just . . . I sometimes worry that I’ll become like her one day.”
“Belinda,” Lexi replied. “I don’t want to grow into this old, wicked witch who thinks it’s okay to put curses on people or find other ways to hurt people just because they hurt her. I know now that I’m going to live for an eternity, but I don’t want to get bitter as I age.”
“Lexi,” her said softly, the hint of a smile on his lips. “Belinda acted in a moment of rage. She didn’t think about the implications her curse would have on the future. She was too hurt by what happened to Albert to consider how anyone else would be affected. Because of your own personal experience with Belinda’s curse, I don’t think you will ever abuse your power.”
Lexi nodded. She hadn’t thought about it that way before. “That makes sense. Well, I better go before Dan starts to get impatient.”
Benjamin laughed. “Yeah, that’s probably a good idea. I’ve noticed that he’s not the most patient person in the world.”
“But you like him, though?” Lexi wasn’t sure why, but for some reason, it really mattered to her what her dad thought of Dan. Even though her father had been absent from her life for years now, he, along with her half-siblings, Erica and Connor, were the only biological family that she had left. She didn’t want to risk losing them for anything . . . not that she would ever want to lose Dan now, either.
Her dad laughed. “Yeah, of course I like Dan. I think he’s a great kid. He’s got a good head on
his shoulders. And it’s obvious to me how much he cares about you.”
Lexi turned to walk towards the door, Garth following close behind with his new toy in his mouth. She turned back to her father. “Have you talked to Gabe lately?”
Her dad shook his head. “No, I haven’t. He seems to be really wrapped up in that Rhonda girl from the looks of it.” He hesitated, as though he were afraid to say the words that would come out of his mouth next. “Lexi . . . you’re not having second thoughts about Dan are you?”
Lexi shook her head. “No, of course I’m not having second thoughts. Dan’s my soul mate. And what Gabe did was horrible. I still can’t believe he killed Justin.” She paused, trying not to allow herself to become emotional
, right before class, over the news that Gabe had murdered her ex-boyfriend. Looking down at the floor, she added, “It’s just . . . I don’t know. It’s hard to cut Gabe out of my life completely, even after what he did. I miss him, even though I know things would never be the same between us now.”
Benjamin opened his mouth and then closed it. “I’m not an expert on love. That much has to be clear to you because if I was, things probably would have turned out much differently between your mother and me.” A small smile tugged at his lips, and he met Lexi’s eyes. “But I think sometimes, it’s okay to forgive, just so long as you remember not to forget.”
“I know what you mean, but . . . I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to forgive Gabe. It scares me that we were involved for so long, and he kept such a huge secret from me. He lied to me every day we spent together.” She sighed, shaking the thoughts away. “Thank you for your advice, though. I’ll see you later.”
Once she was out the door and headed back to her room, Lexi allowed her father’s words to really sink in. As much as she knew he was right
orgiveness wasn’t always a bad thing
just couldn’t imagine herself ever forgiving Gabe. He had taken away one of the only people
in the world who truly cared about her—one of the only people who was left after her mother had been killed. And that hurt.
she swung open the door to her own dorm room, Lexi smiled.
Maybe Gabe had taken away one of the only people in the world who truly cared about her at that time. And maybe, if it weren’t for him, she wouldn’t have gone through a lot of the pain and confusion that had been her life for the past year because she would have been able to go back to New Jersey with Justin to live with his mother, like they originally planned.
But if things had turned out that way—if she had run away, like she wanted to, from the people who were trying to hurt her the most—she would never have found out what mattered most. And what mattered most was Dan, who was lying on the bed watching TV, as he waited for her to return.
No matter what happened now, Lexi knew in her heart that she would always return to him.
The sunlight streamed through the blind-covered windows and into Gabe Marshall’s dorm room at Huntington High. Gabe hugged his sheet closer to him as he stared at the shadows that covered the wall in front of him.
Feeling his stomach gurgle, he closed his eyes and tried to ignore the hunger that filled his veins, weakening his body. I
t had been weeks since he had fed from anyone and even though he knew he had nearly reached his breaking point, the truth was, he didn’t want to feed from anyone.
Well, he did want to feed from
, but there was no way that was going to happen.
Gabe knew that Lexi was never going to forgive him enough to let him drink from her again—or be with him again—now that she knew the truth. She had been giving him the cold shoulder ever since he’d told her what he’d done, and he couldn’t blame her. Killing Lexi’s ex-boyfriend, Justin, and leading her to believe, for months, that Greg Lawrence and his posse of vampires had been the ones who were responsible for it was one of the shittiest things Gabe had ever done in his entire life.
Even now, he still wasn’t sure why he’d done it. Actually, he
know why. He’d thought that killing Justin would mean that he and Lexi could be together, that it would eliminate one of the distractions from her old life in New Jersey and allow her to focus more on their relationship and staying in Briar Creek to be with him.
Despite what Gabe had done, he really did love Lexi. He wanted to be with her more than anything and at the time, sacrificing Justin’s life for love seemed worth it. He hadn’t been thinking clearly when he’d killed Justin. Gabe hadn’t considered what would happen if Lexi ever found out because he always assumed it would
always remain his own secret.
What Gabe did was unlike anything he had ever done before. Well . . . sort of.
There was one other thing that he’d done—the one other dark secret from his past, which no one else knew about. But it wasn’t really relevant to what he’d done to Lexi because it was different from killing Justin. If Lexi found out about this other thing, she would probably have been disappointed in his decision, but it was unlikely that she would have hated him for it if he could make her understand why he’d done it.
Gabe knew that, if Lexi had been willing to listen, if she had been willing to look him in the face again, he would have been able to make her see everything for what it really was. But none of that mattered now because Lexi would probably never want to speak to him again . . . all because he had made
the mistake of killing Justin.
And it all seemed like nothing more than a waste of a mortal life now. Justin was gone, just like Gabe wanted, and Lexi
didn’t want to be with Gabe. It killed him to see Lexi walking the halls at Huntington—laughing, smiling, holding hands, and being happy—with Dan Nichols. Knowing that Lexi had chosen Dan over him hurt more than any pain he’d felt in a long time, even though, deep down, he knew that it wasn’t Dan’s fault that Gabe didn’t deserve her. It was no one’s fault except for
he damage was already done; Gabe couldn’t change the fact that he’d killed Justin. He just wished he could go back to that night in the hallway outside Lexi’s dorm room when he’d told her the truth. He still couldn’t figure out why he had felt so compelled to bang on her dorm room door in the middle of the night like a lunatic and tell her the truth when he had been trying so hard to prevent her from finding out on her own. It didn’t make any sense.
Sighing, Gabe turned over onto his side and closed his eyes. Losing Lexi for good wasn’t the only thing that had been bothering him for the past few weeks. There was another void that had been left in his heart—a place that had previously been filled by someone Gabe had never thought mattered to him; Veronica Hart, the vampire who had created him, was gone.
The way Gabe felt over Veronica’s death confused him, though. When Veronica had been alive, he had known that he didn’t want to be with her. Veronica was conniving and manipulative, and at times, her actions and motivations bordered on evil. Gabe had always figured that if Veronica were to get out of his life forever, he would be happy . . . but now that Veronica was dead, it felt like something had died within
Gabe heard the sound of shoes clacking against the tiled floor in his dorm room. It was followed by Rhonda’s voice, as she asked, “Gabe? Are you coming to class with me, or are you going to skip again today?”
Gabe held in the groan he wanted to let out. It was difficult for him to grieve the loss of Lexi and Veronica when Rhonda was always up his ass, questioning him about where he was going and what he was doing. She was constantly sitting in his room, trying to make conversation with him, when what he wanted more than anything was to be alone to wallow in his sorrow.
“Gabe?” Rhonda asked, kneeling down in front of him. There was a genuine look of concern in her light eyes. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” he grumbled, running a hand over his hair. Gabe rolled over onto his side, turning his body away from Rhonda. She needed to get the hint that he didn’t want to spend his time talking to her.
And at that moment, he felt something change within him, but he didn’t know why—something th
at made him want Rhonda with every ounce of his body. It was an intense feeling, a hunger, even . . . but a hunger that was different from any type of hunger he was used to. It’s not like he could satisfy this craving with food or blood; the only thing that made it go away was Rhonda.
Gabe turned back to face her. He grabbed her hand, but he wasn’t sure if he was the one who pulled her closer to him or if she made the move on her own.
Rhonda leaned into him and pressed her lips against his mouth lightly, but it wasn’t enough. He had to have more of her.
He balled his fist in her hair, catching some of it between his fingers, and pulled her closer to him.
“Ouch!” Rhonda yanked away from him defensively, and he quickly released her hair. “You hurt me, Gabe.”
“I’m sorry,” he mumbled, unsure of what had gotten into him.
Rhonda stared at him quizzically, studying his face. “Are you sure everything’s okay?”
Gabe shrugged. “Yeah, I’m fine.” He glanced down at the floor, even though he could s
till feel Rhonda’s eyes on him.
This wasn’t like him, but he had no explanation for it . . . and it wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. A few days ago, he’d been making out with Rhonda and, out of nowhere, he bit into her skin, prepared to drink from her. Later, he couldn’t explain why; he didn’t want to drink from Rhonda, but something had compelled him to try—even though he knew that if he had actually gone through with it, he would have developed Wilkins’ Syndrome.
“Do you want to talk to me about whatever’s bothering you?” Rhonda pressed, a concerned tone in her voice.
Gabe shook his head, still not meeting her eyes.
Rhonda hesitated for a long time before finally saying, “Okay, then. I guess I’m going to go to class. I’ll see you later.”
Gabe listened to the sound of her shoes clacking against the tiled floor again; it was followed by the sound of the door clicking open. When it closed, he breathed a sigh of relief and pulled his sheet over his head, blocking out everything except for the mental image of Lexi’s smiling face.
As Rhonda Kerrigan walked to her Stakeology class, she thought about everything that had just happened with Gabe. He had been acting different lately, and she couldn’t put her finger on why. Out of nowhere, he started to act mean towards her, even though she was constantly reminding him, through her mental commands, to be nice. It wasn’t working, though.
For first time since Rhonda had become a vampire, she felt completely powerless.
“Ah, Mademoiselle, it is kind of you to join us today after all of your recent absences,” Professor Fleur, Huntington High’s Stakeology instructor, said in his French accent. He stared at her expectantly, waiting to hear her explanation for not attending the last few classes.
Rhonda put on her sweetest smile, hoping that it didn’t look too fake. “I’m sorry, Professor Fleur. You see, my boyfriend, Gabe, is having a hard time adapting to Veronica Hart’s death. She was the vampire who created him, you know.”
Professor Fleur nodded at her understandingly, the long ponytail that he wore bobbing with his head. “I do feel his pain. You see, my life partner, Ricardo . . . He created me, too. He died a few years ago, and I was simply devastated.” He paused. “It is a very special thing—a certain bond—we have with our creators. But I’m sure that you are wise enough to understand that by now.”
Rhonda nodded. “I do. And because of that connection, I feel his pain, so I want to be there for him. That’s why I haven’t been around much lately.”
“I understand that,” Professor Fleur replied. More hesitantly, he added, “But, Rhonda, dare I say that I hope you are able to attend class more in the future because I believe you can do great things?”
“What do you mean?” Rhonda questioned. Did Professor Fleur know about the mind-control she had over other vampires and, even more so, over humans? She hadn’t been around the man more than a few times and as far as she could remember, she hadn’t used mind-control around him at all. It seemed unlikely that he knew her secret. Unless he had the ability to read minds . . .
“I mean, it is not very often that I see a student here at Huntington who I believe is capable of doing remarkable things. We’ve had a few vampire hunters who have gone on to kill vampires in large numbers, but none of them have killed the most powerful ones. You are one of the two vampire hunters in training who I’ve had the opportunity to teach in recent times who I feel is capable of extraordinary things.”
“Who’s the other hunter in training?” Rhonda questioned, mostly out of curiosity, but also because part of her wondered if the other vampire hunter he was talking about was Gabe. She liked to believe that her creator was a powerful vampire and that, together, they would be able to take on the world.
“The other hunter is on her way over here right now,” Professor Fleur said, pointing his chin in the other direction.
Glancing over her shoulder, Rhonda turned to see two blonde-haired people strolling into the gymnasium, hand-in-hand, smiles on their faces. Two people who she saw often because the dorm room that they sh
ared was right next to her own.
Rhonda turned back to Professor Fleur. “Lexi Hunter?”
He nodded. “Oui. She is a Hunter, so it is only natural that she should be very powerful.”
Rhonda stared back at Lexi, who didn’t seem to notice that she was there because she was so deeply involved in a conversation that she was having with Dan Nichols, the guy who Rhonda had tried, but failed, to seduce.
Even though Gabe no longer had a chance with Lexi, Rhonda knew that, deep down, he still wanted one. There had been a few times when Rhonda and Gabe had walked past Lexi in the hallway, and he had frozen in place, enchanted by just the sight of her.
It made Rhonda wonder if, in Gabe’s eyes, she would ever live up to being as good as Lexi had been for him. As of right now, it didn’t seem like it. Rhonda might be able to trick his mind into believing that she was the right one for him, but somewhere, deep inside his heart, he was always going to have feelings for Lexi. That was probably why he had been acting so mopey lately.
Rhonda wondered what she could do to change that. And then it hit her. She knew what she had to do to make Gabe stop worrying so much about Lexi and start focusing on what really mattered: his relationship with Rhonda.
She had to get him as far away from Lexi as she possibly could, at least long enough for him to realize that he had feelings for Rhonda instead.