Afterlife Page 5

“It’s okay,” I said to Balthazar. “She brought some friends and came here to help Lucas, not to hunt. See?” Pointing, I showed him where another Black Cross hunter was at the front door, apparently asking Vic a lot of questions while Vic did a bad job of looking casual.

“These ‘friends’ are some of the hunters who captured me and discovered you, Bianca,” Balthazar said. “They might have come here to help, but once they see us, all bets are off.”

“I need to talk to her,” Lucas said. “If you guys want to go, go.”

I wasn’t afraid for myself; these hunters knew little about the wraith and would be unable to hurt me. That didn’t mean I Wasn’t afraid. “Do you think Kate can protect you from them? And Balthazar?”

“She’ll hold off if I tell her to,” Lucas insisted.

“And what about you?” Balthazar said. His hands only clutched the steering wheel harder. “Who’s going to hold you off?”

Lucas glared at him. “I won’t attack my own mother.”

“You think that now. Wait until you get out there and smell fresh blood. You’ll be able to feel her pulse, almost — like a magnet, drawing you in.” Balthazar knew too well what he was talking about; his first act after being turned into a vampire had been to murder his own sister. Also, the hunters had begun paying attention to our car, moving closer. Balthazar continued, “If we’re going, we need to go now.”

“We’re not going.” Lucas’s jaw was set, his stare resolute. “I can handle it. I’ve got to. And — come on, it’s my mom.”

As he slid out of the back seat, Balthazar glanced at me in the rearview mirror, like I was suddenly going to take his side versus Lucas’s and run away. If Lucas trusted himself, then I would trust Lucas. I simply stepped out behind him. Balthazar could get out of the car to back us up or not; I didn’t care.

“Lucas?” Kate said. She jogged toward him, a smile lighting her face for the brief moment before she saw me. In the distance, I could see the hunters walking toward us and away from Vic’s house, and Vic slumping against his doorjamb in relief.

“Mom.” Lucas remained still, as if frozen to the spot. His features tightened, and I could tell that he was staring at her throat. What Balthazar had said was true. He could feel her pulse — sense her blood.

Kate’s eyes narrowed as she came closer to us and saw at me. “Thought you were supposed to be sick,” she said. Distrust and contempt laced her every word. “So sick you couldn’t move.”

“I was,” I said. “But — not now.” I couldn’t exactly claim to have gotten better.

“No more reason for Lucas to stick around, then.” Kate held out her hand to her son. “You can come back. It’s okay. The people who would hold it against you — we don’t need them. All you have to do is realize you made a mistake.”

Lucas didn’t take her hand. “I didn’t make a mistake.” His voice was thin, his words forced. His eyes glittered brightly in the dim light, and I could sense the waves of killing madness washing over him. Yet he stood his ground. “I love Bianca. I made my choice. But . . . I’m glad you came.”

Movement in the farther distance caught my attention. My eyes widened when I recognized two of the hunters in this small group, standing at the far side of Vic’s lawn — a heavyset, dark — skinned woman with her hair in thick braids, and another with golden skin and hair sheared crazily short against her scalp: Dana and Raquel. Dana had been Lucas’s best friend since they were little kids, and when my true nature had been revealed, she was the one who had helped us escape. Raquel had been my best friend and junior — year roommate at Evernight Academy, and the victim of a terrible wraith haunting ever since childhood. She had run away with Lucas and me, joining us when we’d become part of Black Cross.

Raquel was also the one who had turned me in to Black Cross when she’d realized I was the child of vampires.

They loved each other. Would Raquel have come around to Dana’s way of thinking and stand with us now? Or would Dana side with Raquel instead of the old friend who had abandoned her?

I turned away from them, focusing entirely on Lucas. Kate stood only a couple of feet away from him. Although she radiated disapproval, I could tell that it was only me she loathed; for her son, she had an uncertain smile. “Lucas, think about this,” she said. “We’re not only your cell. We’re your family. Because family’s not just about blood — it’s about what you share, what you believe.”

Lucas winced when she said blood, but Kate didn’t seem to notice. She was too angry at me, and too worried about him.

“Bianca can’t have told you what she was at first,” Kate said. “She lied to you.”

Although Lucas and I had gotten past the fact that we’d kept so many secrets from each other at the start, the memory of our old mistakes stung. Kate continued, “Are you going to forget your duty, forget everything else you learned, and throw away your whole life chasing after some girl who lied to you? I think you’re smarter than that.”

He had thrown his life away, literally dying in an attempt to avenge me. The reminder of what he’d lost to be by my side scalded me with shame. Lucas didn’t notice — he shook with the need to restrain himself. His need for blood had become so overpowering that I could tell he might break.

Prev Next
Free Novels Read Online | Read Wuxia Novel | Read Xianxia Novel