Authors: Jennifer Loiske
By Jennifer Loiske
PART TWO OF THE IMMORTAL BLOOD SERIES
ALSO BY JENNIFER LOISKE
MCLEAN TWINS SERIES FOR TEENS/YOUNG ADULTS
SHAPE SHIFTER SERIES FOR YOUNG ADULTS
IMMORTAL BLOOD SERIES FOR MATURE YOUNG ADULTS
Club Number Five
Tales of an Old Wizard; Charity book for 9+ readers
Copyright © Jennifer
All rights reserved
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without written permission from the author.
All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are either purely fictitious or used fictitiously and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
design by Eveliina Tommola 2013
Eveliina Tommola, Viima Graphics
Cover photo by Iida
Iida Loiske 2013
Published by Rogue House
All rights reserved
To my soul sisters, Karita and Johanna
I stared at the small group next to the altar and gritted my teeth. My eyes were narrowed and I knew there would be a hint of red in them. My lips were a thin line and my fangs were burning from the urge to sink them into something. Or, better yet, someone. Hate welled inside of me like a deadly sea threatening to throw me over the edge and blinding my mind with its ugly tentacles. I barely managed to keep myself under control, and that shook me more than I was ready to admit. I should know better. Strike only to kill. My master’s words echoed in my mind - if you’re not ready to finish the job you’d better wait. Yeah, right. Easier said than done.
The quiet murmurs from the front of the church blurred in my mind while I forced myself to stay still. My fingers dug into my thighs, my breath slowed. Easy now. If I didn’t want to go all crazy I should seriously calm down. Slowly, I relaxed my fingers, easing my grip from my black jeans, took a deep breath, and rolled my shoulders back
a couple of times. The tight wrinkles around my eyes smoothened and my gaze brightened, losing the dangerous red and focusing on the four people that pretended to be grieving. Well, truth to be told, one of them probably was, but that didn’t matter. My brother was lying in that dark oak coffin and I was sure one of them had murdered him.
My eyes drifted to the blonde girl whose head was lowered. She looked fragile and broken. Silent sobs shook her narrow body and her hands were squeezing the wooden edge like her life depended on it. Something warm tried to stir in my chest, but my anger stomped it down before it got a chance to change into something more. Something that could’ve distracted me and made me feel like a human again. I closed my eyes for a moment. Maybe I should just take off. Maybe it had been a mistake to come, as clearly being this close to my brother’s murderer rocked my emotional boat. This was a situation where I was supposed to be at my best. Stalking prey and then taking it down, and yet I couldn’t shake the odd feeling inside. “I will take care of it,” my master had said, looking deep into my eyes and holding his hands on my shoulders, making it absolutely clear that if I wanted, justice would be served and whoever did this to my brother would not live to see another day. But had I listened? Nope. There were no short cuts in this. This was something I needed to do myself. Besides, I was curious. There were so many questions whirling in my mind that needed to be answered, and yes, I guess I also needed to get some kind of closure before getting peace of mind. A clean kill would’ve been way too easy, and I did not do easy.
When I opened my eyes the girl still hadn’t moved. I took a deep breath. I didn’t need anyone to tell me she was my niece. Her blonde hair was exactly the same as her mother’s and I was sure her eyes were the same color as my brother’s. Her delicate nose made her look innocent and somehow pure, but her lips spoiled the illusion. Her deep red lips curved up, as if hiding an amusing secret or as if she were always prepared for a kiss. And even now, when she was crying her heart out, she looked like she was smiling slightly. My fingers found my own lips and I sneered. My lips matched hers. Just as red and rich, but there was nothing funny about them. Lips of a lover, they said, or in my case the lips of a killer.
She let out a long sigh that was spiced up with a desperate whimpering. Two guys standing next to her looked bored, and the anger inside me reared its head again. Obviously, I could drop that girl from my killer-list, but those guys were very much on it. I took a step closer, laughing quietly. This would be so easy. Leap closer, grab them by their necks, leap back, one quick snap and the bored look would be wiped off their faces for good.
An older woman glanced at me disapprovingly, but as her eyes met mine she quickly turned her head away and made the sign of the cross on her chest. My laughter died into a dry grin and I stepped further back into the shadows. Perhaps I could honor my brother for this short moment, although I knew he wouldn’t have cared less what I did or didn’t do, because even when he’d been alive I’d been as good as dead to him.
People started to move restlessly, but no one dared to force the girl to move, so they settled for waiting and huffing. A man with his fingers hovering above the organ keyboards eyed the girl sullenly. He coughed, trying to get her attention, but she didn’t move an inch. A lonely tress of hair had escaped from her messy coiffure, and I felt the warmth inside me again. It pissed me off. I was trained not to feel anything, but this was a sign my training had failed somehow. Shit. She moved a bit and the tress fell over her eyes. She tried to replace it with trembling hands, but it wouldn’t stay put. My eyes were locked on her and I swallowed. The urge to go to her burned my heart so badly that a cold sweat oozed onto my forehead and I was breathing rapidly. I wanted to go to her and put my hand on her back. Put the wayward strand back in its place and tell her that everything would be all right. Tell her that I would take care of her and she didn’t have to cry anymore. As if.
But before I could move, a girl with long brown hair stepped next to her and took her in her arms. I sighed with relief. She had saved me. One look at my face and all hell would have broken loose. I pressed my back to the wall again and regarded my savior.
She looked notably harder and I could see a steely gleam in her eyes even from afar. I covered my face with my black hood a bit better. As if sensing my stare, she turned and eyed the back of the church. I smiled dryly. There was no way she could see me and yet she was staring right at me.
She whispered something to the crying girl, who lifted her teary face. She narrowed her eyes and puc
kered her lips as if she couldn’t believe what she had just heard. The tough-looking girl placed her hands on her shoulders. I sharpened my hearing.
“Kate,” she sighed. “
I know this is hard, but we can’t stay here.”
“Sam, please,” Kate begged and the girl, Sam, sighed again.
She stroked Kate’s blonde hair and glanced at the mourners. “No, Katie. You know it’s not safe. All it takes is one wrong move and the hunters will break the truce. You’ve said your goodbyes. Now let’s go.”
ate nodded reluctantly but didn’t take one step. Sam lifted her face, sending up a silent prayer before acting. She put her hand in her pocket and took something out. Kate inhaled sharply but Sam ignored her.
The guys glanced at Sam and I could swear one of them was smiling. I squeezed my fists tight.
Sam smashed her hand on the coffin and a small amount of dirt spread lightly over it. Then she looked around and broke a rose from a nearby flower arrangement. Kate’s eyes widened and even I wondered if Sam would really dare. She did. She put the rose inside the coffin without a second look at the body. With her eyes gleaming dangerously she held out her hand. “There. Are you coming?”
Kate looked shocked. Sam gave her a face, rolling her eyes. Kate sniffed.
Kate nodded slowly, offering her shaking hand. Sam grabbed it quickly and practically dragged her away. Before I could move they were all gone.
I smiled cruelly. That had been a weird spectacle and I hadn’t expected to see anything like it inside the church. The other people didn’t seem to notice what had just happened in front of their eyes, and even I found it hard to believe. However, Kate and her little group didn’t know how much I had learned about them during those short minutes, and when a plot started to form in my mind my grin widened. I didn’t bother to stay. I had seen enough and without a sound I walked out of the church.
t have to walk far. Kate was sitting stiffly like a stick on a bench at the far side of the old cemetery. Sam was talking to one of the guys and they both looked quite pissed. I scanned the area and saw some other youngsters patrolling the churchyard. I wondered what they’d do if I just walked up to them and said hi, but before I could move, the church doors flew open. A bunch of stone-faced men ran out and looked around as if searching for someone. Hunters. No wonder Sam had wanted to get Kate out of there. One wrong move and this funeral would have turned into a bloodbath.
A woman ran out and shouted at the men. She was in her forties and her blonde curls fra
med her tired face. Yet I would’ve recognized her anywhere. Emilie Weaver, the prettiest girl in our school and my current sister-in-law.
One of the men snapped at her and she slapped him. Hard. He had the decency to look embarrassed and the other men laughed rudely. She glanced sharply at them and their laughter died on their lips. I revealed my canines, snorting. Was this how things were now? Had Emilie taken her husband’s place or was she just being bossy? And where would it leave my little vampire niece?
I watched as she shepherded the men back inside without once looking at her daughter. I, however, looked at Kate very closely. She was staring at her mother’s back, her mouth slightly open and her face pale as chalk. Tears were running freely down her face and her body seemed paralyzed. A rough, rugby player-looking boy knelt in front of her and wiped away her tears. He pulled her into his arms and she let him. But she didn’t turn her eyes from her mom. Not even when Emilie shut the door and went inside.
Interesting. I added the rugby-boy to my may-be-a-murderer list.
The small group before me looked close and the urge to join them grew stronger minute by minute, but I decided to stay where I was. Vampires usually formed groups that were a weird combination of friendship and loyalty. There was safety in numbers and eternity was a long time to spend alone, so there was no reason why I couldn’t walk up to them. But something in this group didn’t feel right. Kate was obviously still a newbie and I couldn’t sense any deep feeling between her and the boy holding her. Sam looked tough, but when she laid eyes on the boy in front of her there was a crack in her hard shell and everything in her screamed pink hearts and love arrows, and I didn’t even have to look at the boy to know he felt the same way about her. So why were they fighting so hard? And why was there a boy a bit further away looking at Sam with puppy eyes? The three other vampires patrolling the graveyard didn’t fit into the group in any way, so my bet was their only mission was to make sure no one interrupted the little gathering. More questions popped into my mind and I crept closer.
I sharpened my senses. My eyes narrowed. A sensation of guilt was floating around them but I couldn’t quite put my finger on which one of them was the biggest source of it. But one thing was sure: my brother’s murderer was standing right there within my reach. I considered killing them all, as I had no doubt I could do it, but my creator wouldn’t like it. And besides, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to kill my own niece. Yet. So I just stared at the eight vampires and imagined the most horrible ways to kill them. Well, at least one of them, or only seven, as I guess I could count Kate out of the group
, since I was ninety-nine per cent sure she hadn’t done it.
I glanced at Sam again. She was laughing and glancing sideways at the boy next to her. His hands were buried deep inside his jacket pockets and before he could react she punched him playfully. He flashed a grin and started to chase her. I snorted. Gee. Could they be any less obvious? I turned my back on them, shaking my head slowly. One day, I promised myself. One day, and I’d start dragging the truth out of them
, and when I did - a cruel smile crept onto my lips - God help them.