Afterlife Page 90

Then I bent low and bit into Lucas’s throat.

Blood. Cold, but still his blood, still him. Vampire’s blood carried knowledge, and so I felt everything that he had felt, knew everything that he had known. I felt his love for me, and his fear, as he had stood in the tower trying to rescue me. I saw the fight through his eyes, a whirl of blades, blows, and driving snow. I swallowed more deeply, drinking as much of his blood as I possibly could, more than I ever had as a vampire before. Around me, I could dimly hear some of the others protesting, but they were too distant to heed. And then I knew him — Lucas, his spirit, his soul, here at the center of his being.

Bianca. Where are we?

Together.

What’s happening?

I’m drinking your blood. Making it mine. Lucas — drink from me.

I pushed my hand against his mouth, so that the tender flesh between thumb and forefinger followed the curve of his lips.

Trust me. Drink.

He was paralyzed beyond the ability to bite down, so I pressed the soft skin against the sharpness of his teeth until they broke the skin. I felt the pain as sharply as I ever had any mortal injury, but I never flinched.

Blood flowed down his throat. What would have burned him before didn’t now, because I had mingled his blood and my own. Now the corrosive power of wraith’s blood couldn’t touch him any longer. He was free to drink it in. Free to take in life.

I felt myself growing dizzy as the link between us deepened. We were one system now, one being, each of us flowing into the other. As I gave in to it, I felt the outlines of his body as much as I did my own; the cuts on the forehead and chest burned, and the snow was cold underneath. And I knew his dawning wonder as he felt what it was like to be me — the angle of my limbs, the taste of his blood, the nearness of my spirit.

The blood I drank began to warm.

Is this what it means to die? Lucas thought. Because I’m not scared of it anymore. Not if it means I finally get this close to you.

I concentrated all my energy on him, directing myself into the very core of him, into the redness of his heart. This isn’t death. This is life.

Lucas gasped in a breath, and I sat up. His blood was sticky on my mouth, and he looked gorier than before, but his eyes were wide open. He took 234 another breath, and another.

“What did you do?” Balthazar said.

Raquel, leaning around Dana, said, “Yeah, was that vampire CPR or something?”

I never looked away from Lucas. The cuts on his face were knitting together, faster than vampire healing, part of his ultimate restoration. He stared up at me, obviously weak from his injuries, but with an incredulous smile spreading across his face. “It’s impossible.”

“It isn ‘t.” I started to laugh from pure joy. “It’s real.”

“You’re healing up, like, crazy fast, but you’re still bleeding, man.” Vic held out a scrap of cloth.

“Bleeding,” Balthazar said, his voice sharp and urgent. He’d seen it now, even if nobody else had. “Bianca, you did it.”

“Did what?” Dana said.

I hugged Lucas tightly. This time, when he embraced me in return. he was warm. “I’m alive,” Lucas whispered. “Bianca brought me back to life.”

Everyone around us started talking at once — in wonder or confusion or glee. Dana actually jumped into the air with her hands above her head, a victory leap.

I didn’t pay any attention. Time for explanations and celebrations later. All I wanted to do at tl1at moment was lie tilere in Lucas’s arms, my head against his chest, listening to the beating of his heart.

Within an hour, tile emergency vehicles began showing up — police cars, ambulances, and a couple of fire trucks, altilough there was nothing left of Mrs. Betilany’s carriage house but glowing cinders. My parents had found a landline inside that remained operational after the big freeze — and — thaw, and they made the 911 call.

“The school is dead now,” my mother had explained earlier, as Ranulf dragged a couple of vampire corpses into the fire to minimize tile awkwardness when tile law arrived. “Without Mrs. Bethany, there is no Evernight Academy. These students need to go home to their families.”

“What will this place become?” I said, looking at the massive stone towers silhouetted against tile snow — cloud sky.

“Some millionaire’s mansion, maybe. Or tile state might turn it into sometl1ing — a home for people in trouble. Another school.” Mom smiled 235 gently at Dad. “Good thing we never sold the Arrowwood place, huh?”

“We can’t go back there,” he corrected. “The people who remember us will know we look too young.”

“I know, dear. I’ve been doing this a while, too, remember?” She nudged him, fondly teasing. “But we can sell the house now, and use the money to go somewhere else.”

He put an arm around her shoulders. “Homesick for England?”

Mom brightened, and I suspected their new home would be somewhere near her beloved London. But she remained focused on me. “What about you, Bianca?”

“I’m staying with Lucas,” I said, “but it doesn’t matter now where I stay. I can be with you as quickly as blinking an eye. So we’ll visit as much as we want. There’s no such thing as being far away from you, not anymore.”

She drooped a little. “It’s so unfair. That you can give life to someone else, but you’re a wraith forever.”

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