Blood Feud Page 21

“Are you sure you know what to do?” Connor asked doubtful y. “Maybe we should ask around, do some more research? I could go online.”

“I know what to do. This is what it means to be a Cwn Mamau handmaiden.”

“I thought it was al about kicking Host ass.”

“That too.” I half smiled. “We are magic as much as we are aberration and genetic mutation.” I dumped salt into both plastic freezer bags. “Surely, you’ve noticed as much?”

“I … guess.”

I felt bad for them, to have so much knowledge and so little instinct. Magda had told me enough times that magic and prayer weren’t relied upon in this century. It seemed a waste of tools to me. Anyone who had seen Kala work her magic would never think otherwise. I had nowhere near her experience but I knew I could handle a charm, even one bought by Montmartre.

And there was no question he’d bought it off some witch—no one else would be able to make these bits of string and apple sing this way.

“Now what?” Logan asked.

The strand of Solange’s hair was long, wrapped, and knotted in red thread. I worked it out careful y, tugging gently, patiently unwrapping even when Quinn came to stand behind me and scowl. Logan nudged him back a step.

I freed the hair and placed it between two ice cubes. I tied them into place with the white thread. “This wil protect you,” I murmured at Solange, concentrating on scenting the magic, as I’d been taught. I imagined the thread to be as impenetrable as I’d been taught. I imagined the thread to be as impenetrable as a shield, as strong and sharp as a sword, as implacable as midwinter. “White represents protection and purification.” Solange nodded. “Okay. Use the whole spool, would you?” Quinn growled. “Hurry.”

I dropped the ice cubes in one of the bags and sealed it. I buried the apple seeds and the unraveled red thread and hummingbird heart in the salt of the second bag and added a layer of ice cubes to the top. I sealed that one as wel .

“These need to be frozen.”

Several hands stretched toward me. Solange was faster, though pale and tight around the mouth. “I’l do it,” she said, her tone hard, brooking no argument.

She left and we could hear muttering and the slamming of the refrigerator door. Hard.

“In three days put them both in a jar of salt and sour wine and bury it at a crossroads,” I advised her when she returned. “And don’t let anyone see you do it.”

“Can I spit on it?”

“By al means.”

“Thank you, Isabeau. This is the second time you’ve stood between me and that horse’s ass.”

“De rien.” I yawned.

We hadn’t noticed the dawn in our concentration. I’d been exhausted before working the charm; now I was beyond fatigue, though stil pleased to have redeemed myself from my earlier mistake in the woods.

The others weren’t faring any better, young enough not to be able to fight the lethargy that came with the sunrise. I felt weak as water, crumpling to lie on the carpet. Charlemagne curled at my head to protect my sleep. I saw Logan yawn as wel and stretch out on the rug beside me. Nicholas was propped up on the couch, Connor slumped uncomfortably in a nearby chair.

Only Marcus managed to crawl upstairs, but I had no idea if he’d made it to his bedroom. I was conscious just long enough to hear Lucy mutter.

“Vampires. Sure are the life of the party.”



I didn’t know if other vampires had nightmares, but mine always came in that hazy place between dead sleep and sudden wakefulness.

It was the same dream every time.

It had been a ful week since I’d last had it, the longest I’d gone yet. I’d never told anyone though I was pretty sure Kala suspected. She found me once, stuck in the loop of fear, wide-eyed and clammy, a crowd of dogs licking my face and trying to get me to move. Now it was strong enough to pul me out of sleep, even before twilight did.

Even though I didn’t remember al that time trapped underground, the dream was always the same. I was inside the white satin-lined coffin, the fabric dirty and crawling with insects.

Dirt crumbled through the cracks in the wood, and roots dangled like pale hair. I was wearing the silk gown I’d worn to my uncle’s Christmas party but not the choker I’d made from the length of my mother’s dress. That was as upsetting as being buried alive; I carried that indigo fleur-de-lys scrap with me everywhere, even in the al eys of Paris.

I scratched at the coffin and kicked my feet until my heels were bruised but I couldn’t find my way out. I didn’t even know if I was lying in a London cemetery or if I was in France. I couldn’t smel anything but mud and rain, and the darkness that should have been complete seemed less than it was. I couldn’t see clearly, of course, but I could catch the odd root, the pale white of parsnips, and the scuttle of blue-tinged beetles.

I screamed until I tasted blood in the back of my throat and stil no one heard me.

And I wasn’t hungry, not once.

The thirst, however, was maddening. It clawed at me like a burning desperate beast, raked across my throat, scorching al the way down into my bel y. My veins felt withered in my arms. I was beyond weak, beyond alive, beyond dead. In a moment of clarity, I felt the wound of sharp teeth on my neck, felt a mouth suckling there until I was limp as a rag dol . And then the merest taste of blood smeared on my lips, which made me gag, or would have, if I’d had the strength. And it tasted like the wine Greyhaven had given me.

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