Blood Feud Page 59

We managed to crawl to the lilac hedge before we noticed anyone at al . The house was quiet, windows casting squares of yel ow light on the lawns. There was a carriage house behind the main building but it was dark. We were pressed in the mud, waiting for the wind to shift the leaves. Moonlight caught the metal zipper on a Host vampire’s jacket. He was leaning against a tree, bored. I reached up to snap off a branch of the lilac. It wasn’t exactly a sophisticated weapon but it was marginal y better than my bare hands.

Logan touched my wrist, jerked his head toward the backyard, where the pool wafted chlorine fumes to tickle our backyard, where the pool wafted chlorine fumes to tickle our noses. I had to press my tongue to the roof of my mouth to stifle a sneeze. Two more guards came toward us, from behind the pool shed.

We froze, hunched in the roots. They turned right, fol owing a flagstone path that curved away from us. We waited a little longer before easing out of the hedge, rol ing to a circle of birch trees. It was the last bit of cover between us and the forest. The guard yawned, shifted against the maple, startling a bird asleep near enough to notice a predator shifting.

Logan picked up a large stone, hefted it in his hand.

“Ready?” he murmured in my ear so low it was more of a tickle than an actual sound. I nodded, shifting into a crouch. He tossed the stone low but far enough so that it dropped into the bushes to the left of the guard. The leaves rustled.

The guard leaped into action, hurling himself toward the sound. We threw ourselves into a run, heading into the edge of the woods on his far right while he was momentarily distracted.

He wasn’t the problem.

A shout came from the house, closely fol owed by a bright spotlight suddenly swinging across the lawn, bright as sunlight.

Every blade of grass stood in sharp relief, the peeling bark of the birches, the blue ripple of the pool water.


“Hel ,” Logan muttered, tugging my hand. “Run!” My feet barely touched the ground. Judging by the voices, there weren’t many Host left behind, as we’d thought.

But certainly enough to kil us.

I stopped, spinning around, splintered branch held high.

Logan skidded in the dirt.

“Are you smiling? ” he asked incredulously.

“Just a little bit.”

“Okay, wel , could you run and smile at the same time?” The guards thundered out of the house, racing through the gardens, toward the forest and the fields behind the carriage house.

“I’d rather fight.”

“Yeah, I get that.” He shoved me, forcing me into a backward stumble. “Let’s run anyway.”

“There!” someone yel ed. “I see them.”

Logan kept pushing me until I had to run or trip over my own feet. We leaped a fal en trunk, blossoming mushrooms and moss. Branches slapped at us, catching in my hair. Leaves rained down on us. We darted around trees, zigzagging to make our trail harder to fol ow. We ran, splitting up at a clearing and rejoining on the other side, further muddying our trail. A rabbit darted out of our way and then we were truly in the dark secret of the forest.


I was perversely disappointed.

Logan shot me a knowing grin. “Cheer up. You can hack someone to bits soon enough.” He shook his head when I brightened, heartened.

I was even more heartened when I heard a plaintive dog howl.

I paused, the abrupt switch from al -out running to dead stop making me briefly dizzy. When Logan realized I was no longer keeping pace, he doubled back. I held up my hand before he could say anything, listening harder. The howl came again, trailing at the end.

I knew that howl.

Grinning and watery-eyed at the same time, I stuck my thumb and forefinger in my mouth and whistled. It pierced the forest, shril enough to leave Logan wincing.

“My ears are bleeding. Thanks for that,” he said. “And so much for stealthy.”

“We left the Host miles back,” I assured him, whistling again.

A series of yips answered. And then barking from across the river. A different howl from the mountainside.

It wasn’t long before Charlemagne came running at me from between the trees. He leaped on me, tongue lol ing happily. He wiped it across my cheek, tail wagging furiously. He gave Logan a swipe in greeting and then leaned so joyful y against me, I staggered under his weight.

“Good boy.” I scratched his ears, then ran a hand over his fur, searching for wounds. He was unmarked.

More dogs came at us from al directions until we were surrounded. Logan raised his eyebrows, impressed. There were six aside from Charlemagne, three of them massive, trained Rottweiler war dogs.

“Final y,” Logan remarked. “We have weapons again. Except that one looks like it wants to chew on my leg.”

“He probably does,” I said cheerful y, snapping my fingers to get the dog’s attention.

Logan led the pack to where he’d arranged to meet his Logan led the pack to where he’d arranged to meet his brothers and sister. Dogs sniffed ahead of us, ran behind us, and ran along either side.

I felt more like myself than I had in a long time.



Solange, Nicholas, Connor, and Quinn were waiting for us.

Connor was pacing; Quinn was crouched in the ferns. He rose when he spotted us, and Solange came running. The dogs mil ed around our feet.

“Logan!” She hugged me so tightly I grunted, extricating myself after tugging affectionately on her hair.

“I’m fine, brat. Oof,” I mumbled, tripping over one of the eager dogs.

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