Bleeding Hearts Page 25

I did not love Lucy’s car.

At a stop sign just outside town, it stalled. It didn’t even have the decency to stop under a streetlight or by a restaurant where I could drink cappuccinos and wait for a tow truck. I got out of the car, turning up the collar of my jacket as a light rain began to fall.

“Perfect,” I muttered. I popped the hood and peered inside. I had no idea what I was looking at. If the engine had been a haiku, I’d have been perfectly able to fix it. I slammed the hood shut again as the wind picked up. It smelled worse out here, like mud and rotting vegetation. Deserted roads and crumbling, abandoned farmhouses were creepy, way creepier than biker bars and that homeless guy downtown who threw soda cans at you when you walked by.

“I hate this town,” I grumbled to myself, slipping back into the warm car. I reached for my bag to get my cell phone.

Just as someone reached for me.

“Lucky,” a gravelly voice said.

I jerked back, my heart leaping into my throat and taking up all available space so that it was impossible to open my mouth and scream. I swallowed. “I’m not—”

“Sleep now.” A puff of white powder wafted toward me. I coughed frantically. Was it anthrax? Some kind of drug? Who the hell did that? I struggled to let anger and fear burn through the fog settling like sticky spiderwebs over my eyes and my legs and my mouth.

And I could have sworn that the man was blue.

Chapter 10

Lucy

I left a little early just to avoid more of my mom’s well-meaning lectures and fretting. She knew I’d be safe on the Drake compound; it was nearly a thousand acres of protected lands and I’d been going there since I was a kid. I’d driven by two guards already. But everything was different now.

No one knew that better than me.

I assumed I’d be there first and would have to wait for Solange. She sometimes needed an hour or two after sunset to fill up on blood so the thirst didn’t hurt so much. I had my iPod, homework I had no intention of doing, and Gandhi in the passenger seat—smearing the window with his big wet nose. I’d climb into the old oak tree and enjoy a rare, safe moment to myself at night, able to count the stars and make up my own constellations.

The main trunk of the tree was gnarled and thick enough to support three main branches. It looked as if the oak had split in three. One of those branches dipped all the way down to the ground, like a swing made of bark and green leaves and littering acorns all around. If you painted it with glitter, it wouldn’t look out of place in a Tim Burton movie.

Solange was already perched in it like an exhausted cheetah. She was on a higher branch we’d never yet managed to climb, lying on her stomach, her long hair drifting down like a crow’s broken wing. She was pale enough to look like starlight. And she was wearing sunglasses.

“What, are you a rock star now?” I teased, trying to keep the conversation light. “Wearing sunglasses at night?” I felt a new tension between us and I didn’t like it. It was unrecognizable and hung oddly, like a dress that didn’t fit.

She didn’t move and didn’t take them off. “My eyes hurt.”

I knew she was lying. I hated that most of all. I dropped my bag and leaned back against the branch, looking up at her. I didn’t smile. “Wow, you’re a really bad liar.”

She sighed, looking faintly pained and more like herself, before the cool mask settled back onto her features. “I’m fine.”

“I didn’t ask,” I shot back drily.

She half smiled. “You’re the only one not to ask me that every five minutes.”

I folded my arms, feeling slightly vindicated. “Remember that.”

“I’m sorry, Luce,” she whispered, so softly I almost didn’t hear her over the dry rattle of leaves and the tall grass as a light rain pattered around us. We stayed dry in our oak throne.

“I just don’t get why you’re shutting me out.” I sounded hurt even to my own ears.

“Because I don’t want to hurt you.”

“Hello? You already have,” I snapped. “So get over it and tell me what’s going on.”

She looked at me for a long, weird moment before rolling off the branch, dangling from her fingertips, and landing gracefully next to me. The branch barely swayed. She’d always been graceful, but since she’d turned into a vampire, it was like she was made of porcelain, hard and perfect. She’d have hated that comparison, but it was apt.

At least until she slipped off her glasses.

Even Nicholas didn’t look that bad after we’d made out a little too long.

Her eyes were the same pale blue, but the whites were traced with red, like the veins of a leaf before it falls off the tree in autumn. It was strangely beautiful, in a menacing way. Christabel would have turned it into poetry. I just winced. “Oh, Sol. Does it hurt?”

“Not really. Not anymore.”

“Do your teeth hurt?”

“A little.”

She had three sets of fangs now, more than when I’d last seen her. Only the Hel-Blar were feral enough to have multiple sets of fangs; even most of the Hounds had only two pairs. Certainly none of the Drakes I knew of had any more than the usual single pair—including Solange’s cousin London, and she was really beastly.

“Oh!” I exclaimed suddenly. “Did Kieran talk to you?” Because that was way more important than extra teeth.

“The Scotland thing, right?”

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