Blood Prophecy Page 90

He struggled weakly but it was halfhearted at best. He was twitching as if there was something screeching in his ear. The doctor stood over him.

This couldn’t be happening.

The smallest details seemed curiously important: the smell of wet stone, the mud on my sleeve, the snow drifting in from outside. Nicholas’s dark gray shirt, torn at the collar. The scuff of Kieran’s boot as he shifted. And then the slide of my own boots on the slippery mud when I launched forward.

A Huntsman grabbed me by the hair from behind as the doctor slowly inserted the tip of the hook into Nicholas’s neck. He dug around, widening the wound until he found a tiny metal square, the kind I imagined filled the insides of computers and machinery. Connor would have known exactly what it was called.

“It seems your failsafe worked,” Hope approved.

“Yes, I’d heard the signal satellites were blocked,” the doctor said, examining the bloody chip. “This way, when the coordinates were finally locked in and there was still no way to send the information to us, the pain led him here. It forced him to find us. If he went in the wrong direction it just got worse.”

Nicholas’s fists clenched on the dirty floor. “You bastard.”

“Secure him with the others for now,” Hope said. “And get the units mobilized,” she added to Ms. Dailey. “We’re ready.”

They snapped metal cuffs around Nicholas’s wrists, knowing he could have snapped through the ropes eventually. They shoved him hard enough that he crashed into the wall. He fell at my feet, blinking. “Lucy? I thought you were a hallucination.”

I dropped down beside him, smiling through my tears. “I thought they were going to kill you.” When I leaned against him, my hands came away bloody.

“Not yet,” he said, sitting up properly. “Dr. Frankenstein over there likes to have his fun first.” He noticed Kieran finally. “Shit, Black. Not you too.”

“Afraid so.”

“And was that really Hope?”

“Yeah,” I grumbled. “I thought we kicked her ass already too.”

“She’s ambushing the camp,” Kieran explained.

“Where all vampires, my family included, are weaponless,” Nicholas finished grimly. I tried to hold his hand but between the ropes and the cuffs, it was more of a tangle of fingertips.

“Those Blood Moon guards can protect them, can’t they?” I asked.

“Depends how outnumbered they are,” Nicholas pointed out as dozens of armed vampire hunters filed past us and out of the caves. Several Host vampires remained, stationed at the gates. They eyed Nicholas with particular distaste, seeing as his mother and baby sister had killed their leader Montmartre. With a tiara. He totally deserved it.

“How could they be working with Hope of all people?” I asked.

“Same deal she made with Lady Natasha, I expect,” Kieran said thoughtfully. “They deal only with Hope, she deals only with them, everyone else scrambles. Not to mention, if things go the way Hope wants them too, the Host might be the very few left standing. Instant power.”

“How long before someone realizes you’re missing?” I asked Nicholas.

He shook his head. “Could be hours. Depends how paranoid Mom’s feeling.”

“Hunter might catch on that I’m not there,” I added, “but only if Sarita happens to tell her I was taken away. It looked pretty official. Mind you, one of the teachers might be on to them. I think he was yelling, but it’s hard to tell.” The moments before the chloroform were fuzzy. “Chloe was cracking secret e-mails. She already found the hit list.” I slid Kieran a glance. “Which you’re on.”

“I figured,” Kieran said. “Hart knows there’s a coup in the works. Especially if Hope is using me to buy his silence.”

“Will he stay quiet?” Nicholas asked.

“I sure as hell hope not.” He crouched down beside us, keeping his back to the cave wall. “We need a plan,” he said quietly. He glanced at Nicholas. “What can you tell us about this place? How did you get out of here the first time?”

“They let me get out,” Nicholas reminded him bitterly. “So I could lead them right to the encampment like an idiot.”

“Tell me anyway,” he insisted, his inner boy scout turning military. “Access points, weapons, weaknesses. Everything.”

Nicholas rested his head against the wall behind him, his legs stretched out. He made his posture slump, made it as unthreatening as possible. I followed suit, adding the occasional shiver to make myself appear even more unthreatening. It wasn’t exactly difficult, since I was cold and still felt a little funny from the chloroform.

“I had help,” Nicholas said softly. I shifted to cover the sound of his voice, in case the other vampires were listening. “A good man died helping me get out. All for nothing.”

“Not for nothing,” I said sharply. “Not yet.”

He nodded, swallowing. “Lee created a diversion but it cost him his life. I tried to come back for the others, but I couldn’t find the caves, even with all the markings I left behind. I’ve been out every night, searching. But there was just too much snow.” He rubbed at his face with his bound hands. After a beat of stark, charged silence, he continued. “There’s a pond of holy water past the guards there. Each cell is barred and locked, a few have crevices between the two.” The muscles in his already clenched jaw tightened. “You’ve figured out by now that they’re keeping the humans to dump their bodies in town and blame vampires?” We both nodded. “And they’re taking vampires for the same reason, to frame humans.”

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