Bleeding Hearts Page 8

“Sorry.” He shrugged. Now that I had time to look at him, I saw the family resemblance. He had dark hair like Nicholas, and the same lean beauty. His eyes were blue, even in the faint glow of the twinkly lights. He was wearing jeans, a black T-shirt, and some sort of leather cuff on his wrist. He was really hot. Deranged, but hot. And not my type. I usually went for the bad boy. And this guy, despite lurking in the bushes, was clearly nice.

“I’m going inside now,” I announced, daring him to contradict me.

He shoved his hands into his pockets. “Okay.”

I half turned to eye the window. Logistics were going to be a problem. If I crawled back inside, not only would it be extremely undignified, but I’d end up sticking my butt right out at him. And he so didn’t deserve a look at my ass. I edged out of reach, moving as slowly as ivy creeping up a garden wall. “I’ll go around front.”

Van Helsing trotted at my side, furry traitor that he was. Connor trailed behind us, affable and yet somehow menacing at the same time. It wasn’t that I was scared of him, not really. I remembered him now. He’d been gangly, all elbows, his nose always buried in a comic book. But I’d been lectured about curfews and prowlers and danger since I’d arrived, so the fine hairs at my nape stirred, like a cat’s hackles rising for no discernible reason.

I cleared my throat. I was being ridiculous. “What are you doing here, anyway?”

“I need to talk to my brother.”

“Oh.”

How did one make small talk that didn’t involve insults or threats with someone who’d just leaped out of the bushes and grabbed you? He was lucky I hadn’t pepper sprayed him. I’d been here only a couple of weeks and I’d already lost my edge. Not cool.

I worried about that until we reached the porch. The cedar planks were gray with age and sagged alarmingly in the middle. And near the rails. It was pretty much going to collapse any minute now. I climbed the stairs gingerly. Connor put a hand on my elbow to steady me.

It was stupid of me to think about Mr. Darcy.

I pulled free and hurried to the front door. And nearly concussed myself. The sudden stop sent a small shiver of pain through my arm and made me stumble. It was locked.

I knocked loudly, grumpily. I could practically hear Connor grinning behind me. I kept my back to him even though my neck prickled.

Chapter 3

Lucy

I flung the door open, Nicholas crowding behind me.

“Did you even check the peephole?” he grumbled.

“Yes, already.” I shook him off. “What, you think vam—uh, very bad guys—knock now?” I blinked at Christabel, confused. “What are you doing out there?” Van Helsing muscled past me. He didn’t look alarmed, so I wasn’t either. Gandhi came to snuffle at Connor before wandering off as well, bored. “And what are you doing here?” My heartbeat fluttered uncomfortably. “Is Solange okay?”

Connor nodded quickly. “She’s fine.”

“Good. ’Cause only I get to kill her.”

Nicholas’s hand was a comfort on my lower back. “She just needs some time to herself.”

“Please. That would work on anyone but me. I was grandfathered in.” I scowled. “Plus, that’s what people say when they break up with someone.”

Christabel came inside, practically plastering herself against the wall, as if Connor were contagious.

If she only knew.

I waited until she’d gone back to her room. I folded my arms, pivoting to block the exit. “So what’s going on?”

“Nicholas and I need to get home.”

I narrowed my eyes. “Fine. Just as soon as you tell me what the new undead drama is.”

Connor shifted, looking uncomfortable. “It’s supposed to be secret.”

I’d always been part of the family. I was one of their secrets, for crying out loud. But ever since my parents had gotten back from their trip, I’d been getting weird vibes. I wasn’t staying at the farmhouse anymore, so I couldn’t eavesdrop. I was getting left out of things. Even Solange was avoiding me. I swallowed hard, terrified I might cry in front of them.

Nicholas kept his hand on my back. He was the only one who wasn’t acting weird, which, I supposed, was kind of weird in itself. He was the only reason I was keeping my shit together. I was used to being part of the Drakes. I didn’t know how to be this other Lucy. She was miserable.

But when I was with Nicholas, I could forget about all of that, or at least not obsess over it. He made the hurt feelings fade a little. He might be arrogant and bossy, but he didn’t hide the important stuff from me.

“We shouldn’t be seen here,” Connor added. He was right. The front door was open. Anyone could see us and overhear our conversation.

I backed up a step, forcing Nicholas back as well since he was still behind me. “Then come inside.”

“Oh, man,” he muttered. “Lucy, don’t do this to me.”

“Don’t you do this to me!” I retorted hotly.

“Mom said we weren’t supposed to drag you into this stuff anymore.”

I scowled. “That’s not fair.”

“Neither’s being eaten by a Hel-Blar,” Nicholas pointed out. To Connor he added, “Just come in. Lucy will find out somehow anyway. At least this way she can’t take us by surprise.”

Connor shut the door behind him. “Fine, but if Mom finds out, I’m blaming you.”

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