Bleeding Hearts Page 48

“Oh. Ew.”

“Yeah. Gabrielle’s cute though,” I admitted. “And Callisto.”

“Wasn’t Callisto psychotic?”

“I have a thing for blondes.” I didn’t quite look at her but I knew she was running a hand through her tangled, dusty red-blond hair.

“You must have loved Buffy then.”

“Not really. She’s hot, don’t get me wrong, but we’re not exactly portrayed well. And what, the only good vampires are Angel and then Spike? I heard Lucy go on about Spike until we all threatened to gag her. Believe me, I know I can’t compare.”

“You’d be surprised.”

That would have been my moment to kiss her properly, without being all fangy and tortured. But we were kinda still kidnapped. Another reason to hate Aidan and Saga.

Saga was waiting for us in a field near the last house on the road. She was perched on the new wooden farm fencing stretched out behind her. The wind toyed gently with the ragged hem of her dress, lifting it to reveal her bare feet. The sword strapped to her side was curved, the kind of cutlass a pirate would have been proud to carry.

“So we’ve gained ourselves a prince in the bargain.” She shook her head. “Can’t say that’s a help.” She sighed at me as if it were my fault. She slid off the fence. “Now we’ll have your parents putting the Black Spot on us, marking us for vengeance. There’s a reason we went for a human.” She shrugged one shoulder prosaically. “Ah well.”

“I’m sure my parents have agreed to your demands,” I said steadily. Christabel shot me a look, as if surprised at how calm I was. She really didn’t take me for a tough guy. I might be annoyed at that later. “So are you going to keep your word and let us go?”

Saga lifted an eyebrow. “Take after your father, don’t you, boy? All that talk of honor and treaties.” It was easy to picture her balanced on the prow of a ship. She had the rolling gait to her walk, even after centuries, and that gleam in her eye told you she’d rather fight than talk any day. “First we have something to show you.” She climbed up a pile of rocks, casting an impatient look over her shoulder. “Tally-ho, children.”

I blinked and looked at Christabel, who just blinked back.

Saga sighed. “Honestly, what do they teach you in school?”

“Not pirate vocab if that’s what you’re asking,” Christabel muttered. “The weirdest kidnapping ever.”

We climbed the rocks, Aidan behind us. “High ground’s best,” he murmured.

Something my mother had drilled into us.

Which meant this was going nowhere good.

“Stay close.” I kept a grip on Christabel’s hand.

“Losing feeling in my fingers,” she said.

“Sorry.” I loosened my hold. I hadn’t held a lot of hands since I turned into a vampire.

Snarling and the clacking of jaws skittered out of the darkness. Saga and Aidan were proof there were Hel-Blar who could speak well enough, but these weren’t them.

Then the smell hit, thick and recognizable.

Christabel wrinkled her nose. “What’s with all the rotten mushrooms?”

I swore, tensing. I didn’t have any stakes or weapons inside my coat anymore. Aidan must have cleaned me out yesterday when the sunrise dropped me. But he didn’t know about the dagger in my left boot and the stake in my right one. I was reaching for one when Saga blew her whistle.

The cacophony of feral vampires turned off as if she’d flipped a switch. She stood by more fencing, metal and lined with wire, both barbed and electric. Behind her, Hel-Blar clawed and snapped, copper collars gleaming around their throats.

“Get behind me,” I told Christabel, stepping in front of her when she didn’t move fast enough.

Saga flicked a hand. “If I meant to feed her to the Hel-Blar, boy, I’d have done it by now.”

I bristled.

“We only want to show you what we’ve done, and what we can do,” Aidan said. He was holding a video camera now.

Saga grinned. “So pay attention.”

The Hel-Blar scrabbled to get away from her when she stepped closer to the gate. One of them howled. Christabel winced. I swallowed thickly, keeping my mouth closed. The proximity to so much anger and adrenaline made my fangs poke out of my gums, and I didn’t want to scare her.

There was enough of that going on.

“She doesn’t need to be here,” I said tightly. “Let Christabel go and I’ll be your witness.”

Saga laughed and shook her head. “She’s stronger than you think. And I like her.”

“I’m fine,” Christabel said to me. “And I’m not leaving you alone, either. I broke Peter’s balls at school. I can break vampire balls if I have to.” I didn’t point out that neither Aidan nor Saga were as easy to take down as a high school jock. She knew it already. She lifted her chin.

Aidan smiled gently, which was incongruous behind the creepy camera. “Good girl,” he approved. Christabel clenched her back teeth together. He probably didn’t mean to sound condescending; he was nearly five hundred years old after all.

Saga took a wineskin off her belt and popped the top off. The smell of blood tingled through my nostrils. The Hel-Blar pressed frantically at the fence, drooling and snarling.

“Don’t get any of their saliva on you,” I told Christabel.

“Aidan already licked the cuts on my hand!” She paused, wild-eyed.

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