Bleeding Hearts Page 16

Chapter 6

Connor

“What the hell was that?” I asked, flipping my laptop open. I’d rescued it from the motorcycle pack before Quinn took off with Hunter. He hadn’t even bothered to tease me about it, which just proved how much the Hel-Blar had rattled us. Hel-Blar didn’t back down, ever. And they didn’t cower. Ever.

So much for a night on the beach with Lucy’s pretty cousin.

Nicholas glanced at me, hitting the accelerator. “Are you Googling whistles?”

“I’m Googling every damn thing I can think of,” I muttered, typing quickly. “Because that was just weird.”

“I don’t think they sell magic whistles on eBay.”

I snorted. “You’d be surprised.”

“Damn it, Lucy,” Nicholas muttered suddenly. “She’s going way too fast.”

I looked at him incredulously. “Dude.” Nicholas was notorious for driving too fast. He’d crashed his tricycle when he was five years old, trying to drag-race Quinn.

“Well, she is,” he insisted. “How are we supposed to protect her?”

The fields and orchards of Violet Hill gave way to thick forests of pine and oak. The shadows blurred. One blurred differently than the others.

“On the right,” I said, rolling my window down. We were going fast enough that the sky looked full of shooting stars. It was too fast to differentiate scents; it was all pine and mountain-fresh wind. No hint of mushrooms. A howl shivered between the trees.

“Probably that wolf,” Nicholas said.

“Probably.” I went back to my laptop. The Internet connection flickered off and then came back on. While I liked the solitude of living in the middle of nowhere, the Wi-Fi sucked. “I need to boost—”

And then Nicholas hit the brake so hard, my computer flew into the dashboard.

“Hey!” I yelled, grabbing it before it bounced back and kneecapped me. “This thing’s expensive.”

Nicholas swore under his breath. I looked up. I knew he didn’t care about my computer, not enough to swear like that.

The shadow we’d seen at the edge of the trees was in the middle of the road, wearing the remains of a ragged dress, mud, and not much else. She was hunched over and snarling, trying to shield her unnatural red eyes from the glare of the headlights.

“Hit the high beams,” I said.

The light turned into spears of brightness that would have made even my eyes water. We might not be as sensitive as the Hel-Blar, but our pupils weren’t made for light either. Her blue skin was like crushed blueberries, her teeth needle-sharp. There was blood on her chin, running down her throat where the light glinted off a metal collar.

“Should I run her over?” Nicholas asked, bewildered.

I was just as confused. She wasn’t attacking. And she was too skinny to be a threat, but she was also covered in blood. She’d kill someone before the week was out, that was a certainty. The Hel-Blar weren’t just feral, they were crazy.

But we weren’t assassins.

Mostly.

And then she did something else Hel-Blar never did.

She ignored us.

She ignored two Drake brothers—the hell I was going to refer to us as princes—and stared at the tree line, cringing.

“Something is scarier to her than her hunger,” I muttered.

“That is not good,” Nicholas muttered back, hitting speed-dial on his phone. I heard Lucy on the other end.

“You all right?” Nicholas asked.

“Yes,” I heard clearly.

“Then drive, don’t look back. Just drive!” He hung up before she could reply.

A woman stood in the cedars, barefoot but wearing a leather vest covered in weapons. One of them looked like a cutlass from here. She was pale blue, like a sheen of watercolor paint, not dark-bruise blue like the Hel-Blar. Her skin was chalky but her veins were so prominent it was like she’d been painted in woad like an ancient Pict or the guys from the Braveheart movie.

But she had a lot of teeth, even from here.

The Hel-Blar woman, still cringing, clutched at her collar, her nails leaving jagged, bloody welts behind.

Nicholas turned at the clicking of my keyboard. “Are you kidding? You’re online now?”

“Well, do you know what the hell’s going on?”

“No.”

“Neither do I.” I clicked through some of my private files but I wasn’t even sure what I was searching for. His phone rang in his pocket. We both knew it was Lucy without having to look. He switched off the ringer. She’d kill him for that later.

But we had bigger problems than Lucy’s mean right hook.

The vampire in the woods lifted a wooden miniature flute-style whistle and blew it once. It was the same sound we’d heard at the beach. Nicholas and I exchanged a grim glance.

The Hel-Blar shrieked. The sound was animal in its pain and it lifted the hairs on the back of my neck. I expected electricity to arc from the collar, but it didn’t. Something else was happening to her, and whatever it was, it was painful.

Another whistle. She ran toward it, instead of away, bowing her head.

“What the f—?” The door cut Nicholas off, slamming shut behind him as he followed.

“Shit, Nick, don’t go out there alone!” I scrambled out after him.

He was in front of the lights when the first knife cut into the hood of the Jeep. He jerked back and froze. Another knife hit the passenger door by my elbow.

“Not yet.” The woman laughed, her red hair streaming behind her when she whirled and vanished into the forest. We hadn’t even reached the other side of the road when the sound of clacking jaws skittered around us like hungry insects.

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