Afterlife Page 7

“Do it.” Vic folded his arms. “You don’t know what kind of badass ghost mojo she’s capable of. Trust me, I’ve seen her in action. You don’t want to be around.”

“Ghost?” Raquel whispered. Her face went pale. “Bianca — You’re dead?”

“We’re leaving.” Dana dragged Raquel toward one of the trucks. Raquel’s eyes met mine for one tortured moment before she turned to follow.

“Um, Bianca?” Vic tried to tap my shoulder, but his hand went through. “Whoa. Okay, some of that badass ghost mojo wouldn’t be a bad idea right now.”

A couple of hunters ran toward us, but Balthazar tackled them, taking them both down with his outstretched arms. Ranulf held his own, but I wasn’t sure how much longer he could go. And two hunters already lay dazed on the ground near Lucas, who continued battling his mother in blind rage.

I did have ghostly powers that were useful in combat, but I’d only ever tried them on vampires. Would that kill a human? I wasn’t ready to do that, even if the humans in question seemed very ready to kill me. “We don’t need powers,” Isaid quickly. “We need the police.”

“Police?”

“Vic, call 911! Tell them there’s a — like, a home invasion or an attempted robbery in progress, something!” Black Cross tried to steer clear of the law, because they wanted to stay off their radar. “When they hear the sirens, they’ll go.”

Vic took off for the house and his cell phone. I ran toward Lucas, not sure what I was going to do but desperate to keep him from either being killed or killing his mother.

Lucas’s wild — eyed gaze told me he was beyond reasoning with. So I cried, “Kate, don’t! You don’t want to do this!”

“Let me give my son some peace!” She never stopped circling her son; one of her eyes was already blackening from his fist. Lucas would never have done that to her, never, if anything of his spirit was in control.

I slipped between them — not like she could do anything to me, what with me being dead and everything. “You can’t kill him. You know you don’t want to.”

Her gaze went right through me, focusing only on the cloudy figure of her son behind my transparent form. “I can and I will.”

My desperation peaked. I looked at Kate, pleading with every part of my soul for her to stop and try to see that her son was still with her — to see him through my eyes — until it felt almost like my desperation had become a blade that could cut through her — Then this bizarre tidal pull seized me, dragging me toward Kate in the blink of an eye. Before I could ask myself what was happening, I felt myself being drawn into her, absorbed by her. Everything went dark for an instant, and then when I could see again, I knew I was looking through Kate’s eyes. I could feel her body all around me, like a suit of armor, but one with warmth, breath, and a heartbeat.

Kate’s hand dropped the stake as her feet stumbled backward. The only thing I could think was, I’m possessing someone. I’ve possessed Kate.

How did I do that?

The sheer power of my desperation had acted almost like a battering ram, opening a portal into her very self. Could all wraiths do this? I had no idea. All that mattered was my ability to stop this fight.

Lucas charged at me, and I dodged him, but clumsily, because controlling Kate’s body was weird and unfamiliar, sort of like my first driving lesson. I shouted, “Everyone, let’s go!” Talking in Kate’s voice sounded odd, but I kept giving orders. “We’re getting out of here now!”

Then I felt an even stranger sensation — Kate’s spirit, struggling against me, trying to push me out. Could she do it? I decided to let her, if it was possible.

Instantly, I felt myself scattered and invisible, floating upward in a dreamlike haze. My reverie was broken when I heard Kate say, voice shaking with fear, “We have to leave.”

The hunters ran for their trucks and vans, responding either to her first order or her last. Lucas sprang after her, but Balthazar shoved him aside and took him down, keeping him back.

As their taillights vanished down the road, Vic jogged out of his house, both hands in his sandy hair, like he was trying to hold his head together. “What, I just called the cops for nothing?”

“First be glad that Black Cross is gone,” Ranulf pointed out, brushing himself off and calm as ever.

“Well, the police are coming. So maybe get the car out of the yard.” Vic looked at the deep tire tracks in the grass and groaned. “There are not even words for how grounded I’m going to be. They’re gonna have to invent words for it. New words.”

I coalesced amid the guys. “Ranulf’s right, though. This could have been a lot worse.”

Lucas turned toward Vic. His eyes remained flat and blind, his fangs still extended. With horror I realized that Lucas hadn’t yet drunk blood and the killing rage from the fight held him in its grasp.

He lunged at Vic. Ranulf managed to knock Vic out of the way, but Lucas tore at him with his whole strength, willing to shred Ranulf if that got him closer to the human, to the source of fresh blood.

Vic’s jaw dropped. “Oh, my God,” he said, standing in place out of shock instead of running for his life. “This isn’t happening.”

“Vic, run!” Balthazar said, pulling Lucas off Ranulf. Vic took a couple of shuffiing steps, then finally accepted what was going on and ran like crazy toward his front door. Lucas elbowed Balthazar sharply, but Balthazar was able, with difficulty, to maintain his grip. He said to Ranulf, “Get him into the wine cellar. Keep him there until we can get him some blood. After I move the car, I’ll come help you.”

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