Bleeding Hearts Page 26

“Yeah, that.” She didn’t sound nearly as upset as I’d thought she would. “I mean, that’s really far. For, like, two years.”

Not that I wanted her to cry or anything, but some kind of reaction would have been nice.

She lifted her chin. Her eyes glinted like an animal’s, like a wolf’s. “I could make him stay.”

Not that reaction.

I went cold in a way I’d never felt before. “Sol?”

She shrugged one shoulder and slipped her sunglasses on. “I’m just saying.”

“Yeah, and it’s kind of creepy.”

“I can’t help my pheromones. And I’m kind of tired of trying.”

“Dude, if you start wearing a tiara and make everyone call you Your Highness, I will mock you.”

She snorted out a surprised and entirely unprincesslike chuckle.

“Thank God,” I said fervently. “You’re back.”

“Oh, Luce.” Her shoulders slumped. “It’s all so messed up.”

“I know.” I poked her, hard. “And you’re not making it any better by being all secretive and emo. It’s pissing me off.”

“You know, there are some people who are afraid of me,” she pointed out loftily, but she was smiling.

“Yeah, well, they never saw you laugh so hard spaghetti came out of your nose.” I grinned back. “I own you, Drake.”

We leaned against the trunk, watching a couple of bats weave and drop as they caught mosquitoes. The rain felt far away.

Solange made a face. “I hate those things.”

“What, bats?”

“They’re everywhere. It’s like they’re following me.”

“Ew.”

“Yeah.” She was as pale as an opal, with thin, translucent veins like blue fire inside her wrists. She rubbed at them. “I don’t want to turn blue,” she said. “And I don’t want Uncle Geoffrey taking more blood from me or running experiments and frowning the way he does when he’s puzzled. I don’t want to be a puzzle,” she said hotly. “And I really don’t want to smell like mushrooms.”

I sniffed. “You smell like wood smoke and roses,” I assured her. “Same as always.”

“Promise you’ll tell me if that changes.”

“I will if you stop avoiding me. And I think the gagging would probably give me away.”

“You’re such a comfort to me, yakbreath.”

“Right back at you, snotface.”

We grinned at each other the way we had since we were four years old. Another bat dipped into view, a little closer than I liked. I leaned farther into the tree.

“Okay, one’s cute. But that’s my limit.” The sound of leathery wings surrounded us. I pulled the collar of my shirt up. Even Gandhi looked disconcerted.

“Um, Solange?”

“Yeah?”

“Let’s get the hell out of here!” I ran, ducking my head down. The tall grass feathered around my knees and the rain rattled in the dry oak leaves. The bats were like a dark thundercloud, about to release teeth and rabies and God only knew what else.

“If one of those things gets in my hair, I’m going to freak right the hell out.” Gandhi was at my heels. Solange was a blur behind me, trying to keep pace, slowing down and speeding back up. She would have been waiting for me at the car already if she let herself go. And her lungs weren’t burning like mine.

She stopped so fast, the grass flattened around her. I was on the other side of the car, my hand on the door. Solange turned so that she was facing the approaching bats, the way she’d have faced an opponent with a rapier. She was slender and standing sideways, to make a smaller target. I paused.

“What are you doing?” I asked frantically. “Get in the car!” I opened the back door for Gandhi. He at least, was smart enough to jump in.

“Wait,” she murmured softly. The moon was a pearl behind the clouds, the light faintly blue and glinting off the embroidery on Solange’s black tank top. The rain was cold in my hair.

And the bats were still coming straight for us.

I had no idea if bats attacked and I really, really didn’t want to wait around and find out.

“I kind of hate you right now,” I muttered at her. I couldn’t just get in the car and leave her to fend for herself. I had to stand there and wait for my face to be gnawed on by tiny bats. Standard BFF rules.

Solange lifted her hand, palm out. She looked like a ballerina directing traffic.

The bats paused, hovered. The sound of so many wings made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The bats were still aloft but they didn’t come any closer.

“How are you doing that?”

“I have no idea,” she answered between her teeth.

She flicked her wrist and the bats whirled as one and flew away in the direction she’d pointed, toward the mountain. When she finally turned around to look at me, her eyes were huge. “Okay, that was weird.”

I stared. “We could totally hire you to do special effects on Halloween.” I shuddered. “Can we get in the car now?”

I didn’t wait for an answer and launched myself into the front seat. I ducked down to look at her through the window. “Are you getting in or what?”

She looked uncertain. She bit her lower lip, the way she used to when she was nervous, forgetting she had fangs now. One of them nicked through her skin. Blood smeared like ghoulish lipstick. She licked it away.

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