Blood Prophecy Page 27

I ran through the woods, feeling fear in my bones despite the bravado I tended to wear like a favorite worn sweater. I knew it was monumentally stupid of me to be doing this, but I honestly had no other option. Not unless you counted letting my boyfriend be even more vulnerable than he already was—and I so didn’t.

So I’d do what needed to be done.

Which would have been a more convincing pep speech if adrenaline and nerves weren’t making me feel like I was going to throw up on the first vampire I saw.

I had no idea where the Blood Moon camp was. The only time I’d been close enough to spy on it was with Solange back when they were setting it up, and then briefly before she’d dragged me away to have Nicholas bite me. And being hard to find was the whole point, even to the survivalist hiker whack jobs who lived on the outskirts of Violet Hill.

But I could at least find my way to the Bower, where I’d last seen Nicholas. He’d activated the GPS tag he snuck under my collar and sent the coordinates to Kieran. Kieran, who we very specifically left out of this little adventure. He’d want to help, but throwing an ex-boyfriend at Solange right now seemed like a bad idea. Not that she’d been all that pleased to see me the last time, but at least I could punch her back.

I picked my way between the trees, frost crunching under my boots. Within half an hour I was closing in on the Bower. I slipped my phone into my pocket before coming out between two oak trees. It was as beautiful as I’d remembered, from the brief glimpse I’d had. Velvet couches and chairs with legs carved into lions and dragons sat around a long table that spanned a narrow creek. Lanterns dangled from the bare branches, glittering with candlelight and ice. Wine bottles I knew for a fact weren’t filled with wine, circulated from pale hand to pale hand. Two women whispered to each other, another drank from a wooden cup. Two men argued amiably and a vampire girl who looked as if she were wearing a tutu swung her bare feet from the branch she was sitting on.

“Ah, breakfast,” someone purred as I took another step closer. He was beautiful, carved from mahogany and ivory. “Who sent you, love?”

I cleared my throat as he pushed out of his chair to circle me lazily. “I’m here for Nicholas Drake,” I said as firmly as I could.

“Are you now?”

The thing about joining the Helios-Ra was that I was suddenly aware of all the horrible ways I could die at the hands of a vampire. Before, I’d known the Drakes would never hurt me and it was enough. Now everything was muddled and I had to worry about hunters and Huntsmen, Hel-Blar and vampires I’d never even heard of. I tried to remember how Penelope had acted when we’d found her half-unconscious at Solange’s feet. She’d welcomed the feeding, had acted honored. Addicted. I made my smile silly and distracted. “He sent for me,” I whispered, as if I was confiding in him. He trailed his fingertip along the line of my throat and I fought my natural instinct, which was to kick him in the shin and poke him with a pink-glitter stake. Instead, I giggled and tried to look regretful and tempted.

“He doesn’t like to share,” I said. If I’d been able to, I would have smacked myself.

“A pity.” He jerked his head to a faint trail leading west, along the creek. “That way, love.”

I walked away, shoving my hands in my pockets so no one would see they were trembling. The back of my neck felt icy. Out of the frying pan, into the fire, as my grandma used to say. She also would have said to stay the hell out of the woods when they were crawling with vampires. I didn’t even want to think of what my parents would say. Dad’s ulcer was probably exploding even now.

The leaf-strewn trail led me to a grassy field littered with motorcycles and dirt bikes. I was about to step into the clearing when the sound of a footstep startled me.

“I wouldn’t do that if I was you.”

I spun, flinging a stake. The vampire bent out of the way in a fluid movement that no human could have managed. The stake slammed into a tree, spitting bark. She raised an eyebrow. “You must be Lucy.”

I blinked at her. “Um.”

She smiled, flashing fangs. She wore paint-splattered overalls and a pink Gerbera daisy in her Afro. “Duncan showed me a photo. He seemed certain you’d show up here at some point and need help.”

I smiled back sheepishly. “Busted.” I paused. “Wait. You’re the girl he was kissing!”

“I usually go by Sky,” she returned drily. “You’d better leave all those weapons here. Not only will they be confiscated but real bloodslaves don’t arm themselves as if they’re going into battle.”

I let her take my stakes away and my bag of assorted weapons. I suddenly felt naked.

“You really shouldn’t go in there,” Sky said.

“I know,” I agreed. “But I have to. I have to give Nicholas a message.”

“Tell me and I’ll tell—damn.” She broke off as a vampire stepped into view and waved at us imperiously. “Too late.”

She lowered her voice, clamping her hand around my wrist and tugging me toward the guard at the entrance. She whispered so softly I could barely hear her. “Don’t fight.”

I did not like that advice.

“I’ll find Nicholas as fast as I can. I promise.”

She pulled me toward the guard who watched us suspiciously. She wore the royal vampire crest on her vest. “Who’s this?”

“Nicholas Drake sent for her.”

“Bloodslave.” The guard nodded at another vampire in the tree above us. “I’ll take her.”

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