My Love Lies Bleeding Page 40

“Am I a sniper, a warrior, or an idiot?”

“Don’t know yet.”

“Well, thanks very much for that.” He frowned, glancing around. “If the Helios-Ra find the opening, we’ll be trapped in here.”

“They won’t find it— it’s really well camouflaged. And there are ways around the alarm if we really need them. But we don’t yet.” I tried to call my parents but my cell phone wouldn’t work. “Low battery,” I muttered. “Figures.” I looked at him. “What about your phone?”

“If I turn it on now, Helios will activate the GPS chip.” His voice softened. “So I guess we just wait.”

My eyelids were so heavy. I had to assume I could trust him not to stake me if I fell asleep, because I wasn’t going to be able not to fall asleep for much longer. And he’d proven himself trustworthy enough for a nap. I heard him rummaging in the chest and then the scratch and hiss of a match being lit and the wick of a fat candle catching. The artificial blue glow faded to candlelight. The smell of melting wax crowded out the damp.

“Are you scared, Solange?”

My eyes popped open briefly. He was watching me carefully, seated on a folded blanket on top of the chest. The flickering light glinted off the edge of the goggles loose around his neck and the snaps on his cargo pants and the metal under the scraped leather of his combat boots.

“Scared of what?”

“Being a vampire.”

I glanced away, glanced back. He was still looking at me, as if there was nothing else worth contemplating in the world.

“Sometimes,” I whispered truthfully. “Not so much about being a vampire—that’s all I’ve ever known. More about the change.” I shivered. “The last of my brothers to go through it nearly didn’t come out the other side.”

“I didn’t think it was that dangerous.”

“It’s why they confused it with consumption in the nineteenth century.”

“Consumption?”

“Tuberculosis.”

“Oh.” He paused. “Really?”

“They don’t teach you this at the academy?” I couldn’t help a very small sneer.

He didn’t sneer back. “No.”

Now I felt bad for being petty. He had saved my life, after all.

“We have the same symptoms as tuberculosis, especially in the eyes of the Romantic Poets. Pale, tired, coughing up blood.”

“That’s romantic?”

I had to smile. “Romantic with a capital ‘R.’ You know, like Byron and Coleridge.” He gave a mock shudder. “Please, stop. I barely passed English Lit.” I snorted. “I didn’t have that option. One of my aunts took Byron as a lover.”

“Get out.”

“Seriously. It makes Lucy insanely jealous.”

“That girl is . . .”

“My best friend,” I filled in sternly.

“I was only going to say she’s unique.”

“Okay, then.” The room was spinning slowly, the edges blurry. I wouldn’t be able to fight the lethargy much longer. “Just so we’re clear.”

“She’s just as protective of you as you are of her, you know.” I could hear the smile in his voice.

“I know. I’m worried about her. I think this is going to get really ugly.”

“I think you’re right.”

“Is it true Helios called off the bounty?”

“Yes.”

I turned over onto my side so I could see him without having to hold up my head, which now weighed approximately as much as a car. “Then why are they after me?” His posture changed, as if something that had been holding him up wasn’t there any longer. “One of the units has gone rogue. I got a call before, just as they found you and your brothers.”

I rested my cheek on my hands. “That really happens? Units going rogue, I mean?”

“It hasn’t in nearly two hundred years, but yes, it happens. It’s been a bad year for the league. My uncle’s in charge, and he’s great, he really is, but since his partner was replaced, it hasn’t been the same.”

“Why not? Who was his partner?”

“My father.”

I had to ask. I didn’t know what to say. I remembered him saying his father was killed by a vampire. Which made me want to apologize. Which was ridiculous. I hadn’t killed him and neither had anyone I knew, so why would I apologize? Would he apologize to me for the Helios-Ra agent who’d killed one of my cousin’s girlfriends?

Still. He’d lost his father.

“I’m sorry your father died.”

His jaw clenched. “Thank you.” His voice was very husky.

“We didn’t do it.”

Something bloomed right then and there in the small dark space between us. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew enough to know it was rare and delicate. And it felt so real I might have been able to reach out and touch it if I tried.

“You can go to sleep,” he told me softly. “I’ll look after you.” CHAPTER 18

Lucy

Sunday afternoon

I woke up late the next day, smothered by my very own vampire blanket. I shifted experimentally but Nicholas didn’t budge. His arms were wrapped around me, pinning me ruthlessly to his chest. That might sound passionate in romance novels, but in real life, it was uncomfortable. My arm was asleep, my nose was mashed against his chest, and I really had to pee.

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