Blood Prophecy Page 64

She just laughed and hugged me again. Her crystal beads dug into me and her hair tickled my nose. I was finally, truly home.

“I missed you,” we said at the same time, then grinned at each other like lunatics.

“It’s about time,” she added.

“I’ll go check on Christabel,” Uncle Geoffrey said, easing out of the crowded room.

“Say hi for me,” Lucy called after him, since it was still too near sunset for her to visit.

“Good to have you back, kid,” Sebastian said, following him.

“What about your pheromones?” Marcus asked thoughtfully, as he gathered the last of the blood transfusion supplies into a bag. “Were they partly Viola’s as well?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “I can’t tell.”

“We should try an experiment.”

“Make Duncan bark like a dog,” Quinn suggested, jerking his head toward Duncan.

“Or you could try something more difficult, like making Quinn shut up,” Duncan returned.

“Something simple would be best,” Dad suggested drily. “And less likely to start a century-long feud.”

I swung my feet over the side of the bed. The collar felt itchy around my neck. I shifted, trying to get comfortable. I looked at Quinn.

“Quinn, sit down.”

Cursing, he slid down the wall until he was sitting.

His swearing was nothing to mine. The annoying itch of the collar against my skin had turned into a searing burn, as if I was wearing fire. I clawed at it, screaming. Dad grabbed me before I kicked Lucy clear across the room. Mom plucked her off the bed.

“What’s happening?” Dad yelled, fumbling to unlock the collar. The more he pulled at the clasp, the worse it became. I whimpered, trying to crawl away.

“Stop.” Isabeau pushed through my brothers. “It’s the magic of the collar,” she said. “Don’t touch it. Only magic can open it now that the lock has been activated.”

She kneeled on the bed behind me, trying to hold me still, her hands on my shoulders and nowhere near my throat. Charlemagne crawled up beside us. I dug my fingers into his fur, still whimpering. I’d already scratched myself bloody, and my veins felt as if they were full of lightning. Pain made me grind my teeth. Sweat trickled into the raw skin over my collarbone.

I tried to concentrate on pulling my pheromones back, drawing them in as if I was pulling a shawl tightly around myself. It helped a little.

Isabeau murmured something, and the heat increased. I flinched. She sat back. “Saga had this made, yes?”

Connor nodded. “Her and Aidan.”

“And Aidan changed Christabel?” She pursed her lips. “I need a little of Christabel’s blood.” Connor eased out of the room and came back with a test tube Uncle Geoffrey must have given him. He handed it to Isabeau, who opened it and put a drop on the lock. Cold seeped from Isabeau’s palm, went through the blood and turned to ice. The collar popped off.

I rubbed my raw, scratched neck gratefully. “Thank you,” I croaked. I’d hurt my throat screaming. “Let me try one thing,” I panted, looking at Quinn.

He nodded jerkily. “Make it fast.”

“Fight me this time.” I swallowed, still imagining the pheromones as a shawl pulled close. “Quinn, sit down,” I said again, since he’d leaped to his feet when I’d started screaming.

His jaw clenched as he struggled to stay standing. I pulled my pheromones in tighter. He finally staggered back, eyes wide.

“What did you do different?” Dad asked.

“I tried to leash in the pheromones,” I explained, wiping sweat off my face. “I need more practice.”

“It’s a good start.” He kissed my temple. “Don’t push too hard tonight, Sol. We already have to go to the camp soon,” he said. “I know you must be tired but the tribes are restless and the peace is fragile.”

“I have cleanup to do,” I replied quietly. The thought of what Viola might have done but attributed to me made me sick to my stomach. “I know.”

“We’ll leave you a few minutes to catch up,” he said before he and Mom went to make preparations.

Lucy pulled a jar of ointment out of my dresser. Her mom had made it for me last year when we both got poison ivy. “Here,” she said, scooping the thick white cream into her hand. “This’ll help.” It was cold and soothing on my scratches. She eyed me carefully. “You’re not going to go all emo now, are you?”

“Maybe later. I don’t have time right now.”

“Finally!” She grinned. “You’re really back! We should have an unbirthday party to celebrate.”

“You can be the Mad Hatter,” I told her. She nudged me and I forced the nervous, morose look off my face.

“What’s wrong with your brothers?” she whispered loudly, recapping the jar.

“The usual,” I returned, sliding back into our comforting routine. “Drake white-knight complex.”

“Quit standing around being creepy,” she told them, as she’d been telling them for months before my birthday. “Go away now.”

They filed out and Nicholas was the last to leave, pushing off from the wall where he’d been leaning the whole time, his ankles crossed. Lucy winked at him before he shut the door behind him. She wriggled into the bed with me, sharing my pillow. “Okay, so seriously, are you all right?”

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