Bleeding Hearts Page 34

Solange swore again. “Okay, Quinn, you get to a signal spot and send out the call. I’ll go with Lucy to find Nick.”

“He was at your car, tracking for you. It’s on Cedar, on the outskirts of town where it turns into a dirt road.” Quinn was already running. He jumped over the prone guard. “What’s with him?”

“He’s fine.” Solange waved her hand. “Just go.”

“Call my parents!” I yelled after him. I was running too, but he was long gone. I leaped over an exposed tree root and got slapped in the face with a low-hanging pine bough, but I barely noticed.

Nicholas would do something monumentally stupid if he thought it would save me.

And Christabel wasn’t with regular vampires. She was with the worst of the worst.

I ran faster even though I was getting a stitch in my side and spots danced through my vision. My lungs could explode later. I didn’t have time. I did have time to be vaguely grateful for the Helios-Ra training—I wasn’t able to run half this fast before. Gandhi loped beside me and Solange was a blur in front of us, barely disturbing the vegetation. She was waiting at the car with the doors open. Gandhi scrambled into the back, panting.

“Go,” Solange yelled, shutting the door.

I fumbled, trying to jab my key into the ignition. “Where are you going?”

“I can’t ride in the car with you,” she said. “I’ll try to keep up, but don’t wait for me.”

I planned to go way the hell over the speed limit, so I doubted very much she would keep up. A vampire couldn’t sustain that kind of speed for long. She’d be okay over the rutted lane, but once I hit pavement, I’d stand on the gas pedal if I had to.

I rattled over the potholes and washed out divots in the muddy lane, rain spattering my windshield. Gandhi’s breath fogged the side window. I couldn’t even see Solange anymore. The transmission of my mom’s car protested violently as I slammed into another rock, but I just kept going. I finally turned onto a paved road and floored it. The tires slid out a little with the smell of burning rubber, but luckily there were no other cars. I jerked into my lane.

“It’ll be okay,” I told Gandhi, mostly to reassure myself. “It has to be okay.” He licked my ear. I cut across a deserted field and came out of a clump of yellow mullein stalks, perpendicular to my abandoned car. The passenger side door was still open.

Nicholas stood by the hood, looking stark and a little wild. I saw the pale gray of his eyes, like lightning, even from a distance. I went to throw myself out of the car but he was already there, yanking me out of my seat belt and crushing me up against his chest. His face was buried in my neck and his hands clutched me as if he were drowning in the rain. His lips were moving—I felt them against my wet skin but I couldn’t decipher what he was saying.

And then his mouth was on mine and I knew his words; they were poetry, they were rain, lilies, sugar, chocolate. I drank them in. I forgot for one tiny moment that everything was falling apart and we didn’t know how to put it back together again. He held me and I held him and I wasn’t sure how the rain even managed to sneak between us. We kissed so deeply, everything in me ached and burned and stretched out like a cat in the sunlight.

“I thought …” He trailed off.

I touched his cheek. “I’m fine.”

He nodded once, resting his forehead against mine so that we created a corner of the wet, angry world that was just ours. “There are traces of Hypnos powder in your car.” His jaw clenched. “I couldn’t find you.”

My fingers tangled in his hair. “I’m right here.” My throat constricted. “It’s Christabel.”

“We know that now,” he said darkly.

I pulled away slightly, looking around. “Where’s Connor?”

“He caught Christabel’s trail,” Nicholas said grimly. “He’s gone.”

“He went alone?”

“He wouldn’t wait. And I don’t know her scent, especially not with all this rain.” He looked apologetic. “You’re all I smell.”

From anyone else, that would have sounded weird.

I wiped rain off my face. “What do we do now?” I whispered. “Poor Christa.” She wouldn’t know what was going on. Or how to defend herself. I bit my lip to stop from crying. It strangled the sob in my throat but a tear still leaked out, hot on my cold cheek.

“We’ll find her,” Nicholas promised. “Somehow, we’ll find her.”

“It’s almost dawn.”

“I know,” he said grimly. “Let’s get back to the farm. I’m sure your parents will be there by now.”

Solange emerged from the field, soaked to the skin, her eyes the blue gray of polished abalone shell. Nicholas frowned at her.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“Fine.” She jerked her head. “Let’s go.”

She stepped onto the hood and then slid up to the roof, perched like a crow. Nicholas followed. I drove down the back roads of Violet Hill in the middle of the night with my best friend and my boyfriend sitting on the roof of my mom’s car.

It was the most normal part of my night so far.

Chapter 14

Christabel

“What?” I squeaked. “What? What the hell?”

When they turned and those strange eyes were focused on me alone, I suddenly remembered that being ignored by drugged-up psychopaths was a good thing. “Uh,” I stammered. “Never mind.”

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