Bleeding Hearts Page 15

Nicholas’s older brother Logan and his girlfriend, Isabeau, grinned at each other.

“Heads up,” Hunter said suddenly. We followed her gaze. At the top of the cliff was another Hel-Blar and Isabeau’s giant gray wolfhound, Charlemagne. They were both snarling.

“Merde,” Isabeau said when the Hel-Blar approached her beloved dog. “I will kill him.”

She was running toward the hillside when a strange sound ululated from the woods. It was a cross between one of those old-fashioned hunting horns and a broken flute. It was haunting but sharp enough that I wondered if there was blood coming out of my ears. We all winced, especially the vampires, with their sensitive hearing. Quinn swore, in extreme detail.

The Hel-Blar screeched, clutching his ears. Then he looked around, as if he was frightened.

I’d never seen a Hel-Blar frightened like that before.

It didn’t bode well.

He snapped his teeth before running away from us, from the dog, and from the unprotected students laughing on the beach.

That was something else Hel-Blar never did: run away from food. And that’s what we were to them.

“What the damn hell was that?” Quinn demanded.

We looked at one another, bewildered.

“I’ve never seen that before,” Hunter said. “I thought Hel-Blar were all about the mindless feeding.”

“So did I,” Nicholas muttered. “I hate it when they change the rules. And why are they all wearing those collars?”

“Attend-moi,” Isabeau called up to Charlemagne. He waited patiently at the top of the cliff.

“Isabeau!” I exclaimed. “You’re back.”

She wiped her stake clean in the sand and smiled her rare, reserved smile. “Oui.” Her French accent was just as thick and she still wore the same kind of tunic dress, with the chain mail work over her heart. Bone beads dangled in her hair. “I have been here for a week now.”

“A week?”

“Solange asked for me to come.”

“Oh.” I was not going to be one of those jealous best friends too insecure and stupid to share. I was evolved and I did yoga and I was better than that, damn it.

Nope.

Hurt pinpricked through me. A hard lump of dread was forming in my belly, as if I’d swallowed a peach pit. In a certain kind of story, I’d grow a tree from my belly and peaches would fall out of my mouth when I spoke.

Instead, I just felt like I was going to be sick.

I tried to keep my smile firmly in place. “Oh,” I said again.

Nicholas stepped toward me but I took a step back. I didn’t want sympathy. It was mortifying. Logan just looked at me for a long moment before slinging his arm over my shoulders. “Come on, Lucy, tell me whose nose you broke this week.”

“No one’s. Maybe yours right now,” I grumbled. “I didn’t know you were back, either.” I’d missed him too, with his frock coats and wicked smiles. He wore a bone bead like Isabeau wore in her hair, but on a leather thong around his wrist. He’d been staying with Isabeau’s people, the Cwn Mamau, getting to know their ways since he’d been initiated into their tribe. Isabeau was a Shamanka’s handmaiden and knew all about the magical aspects of being a vampire, the stuff the Drakes had never really believed in until Solange turned sixteen. I liked her. It’s not that I didn’t want Solange hanging out with her. I just didn’t want to be left out. And this was just further proof that I wasn’t an honorary Drake anymore.

Thinking about that made me kind of nauseous.

I texted Solange.

You’re meeting me tomorrow night. 9 pm. Oak tree.

We met at the oak tree only when we wanted to be certain of privacy. That tree had heard more stories about cute boys, mean boys, and parental interference than anything else on the planet. It was on Drake property, so it would be safe enough, and I’d take Gandhi to protect me on the car ride over to appease my parents.

“We tracked those three from the woods,” Isabeau was telling the others. “And one who tried to eat a dog.”

I could just imagine what Isabeau had done. Dogs were sacred to her tribe. Cwn Mamau meant “Hounds of the Mother.” There probably weren’t even ashes left.

“They must be getting desperate,” Hunter remarked grimly. “I’ll put an anonymous call in to get the cops to bust up the party. It’s obviously not safe here.”

“I’ll wait with you,” Quinn said.

“Take my motorcycle.” Connor tossed him the keys. “I’ll catch a ride with Nicholas.”

I nodded. “I’ll get Christabel.”

I ran to the edge of the water by the farthest bonfire. I knew she’d be there, away from the crowds and as close to the lake as she could be without actually being in it.

“We have to go,” I said.

She turned. “Oh. Okay.” She frowned at me. “You look weird. Did you and Nicholas have a fight or something?”

“No, but someone called the cops on the party and I’d rather be out of here before they show up.”

“Good plan.” She grabbed her knapsack and followed me. I stopped to warn Nathan about the cops. He scrambled for his stuff and by the time we’d climbed the steps to the parking lot, we could see the frantic whispering travel from fire to fire. Nicholas and Connor were waiting for us in the Jeep. Nicholas was on his cell phone. I hopped into the car and pulled out before Christabel’s door properly closed.

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