Out for Blood Page 22

“You won’t,” Hunter said with a confidence I could tell she didn’t really feel. “They have meds now, to stop the change. If they catch it early enough, it has a pretty good success rate.”

“How good?” I asked softly.

“Fifty-six percent success rate, according to the files Chloe hacked into last year,” she replied, barely above a whisper. I wouldn’t have heard her at all if it wasn’t for my excellent hearing.

“More pills,” Will babbled, delirious with pain and fear. “Those new vitamins taste like ass.”

Hunter chuckled. “That’s what Chloe says. You must be taking the same kind.”

He didn’t answer, having passed out on us. Luckily we were on the walkway to the infirmary door. A nurse met us halfway. His black eyes were curious and concerned and they didn’t change, not even when they landed on my fangs. I was impressed.

“Uh … vampire?” he asked.

Hunter nodded. “He’s a Drake.”

“Well, I’m not going to bow to His Fangness, if that’s what you’re implying.” His scrubs were the color of seaweed and he wore them like armor.

“Like I’m that stupid, Theo,” Hunter shot back, half grinning. Theo was obviously someone she liked. I decided I wasn’t jealous. I didn’t do jealous, not with girls.

“Will here needs stitches and antibiotics or whatever,” she said as they wrestled Will through the door and onto the nearest cot. The fluorescent lights made me squint.

Theo took one look at Will and forgot about me entirely. He pried Will’s eyelids open and shone a light into them, frowning at the messy wound.

“Knife?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Hunter replied.

“You guys stab yourselves a lot?” I asked.

Theo’s mouth quirked. “You’d be surprised.”

“Hel-Blar got him too,” Hunter added.

Theo didn’t stop his ministrations, not even for a moment. But I heard his heart accelerate. “Explain.”

“He got the wound before a Hel-Blar found him but she apparently lapped at the blood.”

“Shit. Not good.” He called out for another nurse. “Bite too?” He looked for teeth marks.

Hunter shrugged apologetically. “No one’s sure.”

“All right, let us do our work,” he turned away, shouting orders at his assistants even as he cut through the rest of Will’s shirt. Needles slid under skin. Hunter looked away, swallowing.

“Don’t tell me blood makes you nauseous,” I said, amused. I moved closer, ready to catch her if she fainted.

“Not blood,” she shuddered. “Needles.”

“Then why don’t we get out of here?” I suggested. “You can’t do anything else for him but Kieran could probably use you. And I’m feeling a little exposed here with all these lights.”

She nodded, following me back outside. “I wonder how the others are doing in town.”

“Montmartre and Greyhaven sure left a mess behind,” I agreed. “Bastards.”

“Who’s Greyhaven?” Hunter asked.

“One of Montmartre’s lackeys. His first lieutenant, actually. He made his own Hel-Blar on the sly, trying to create his own personal army, like Montmartre’s Host.”

“Oh, great, ’cause that’s just what we need,” she said drily.

“One of the Hounds staked him,” I assured her. “One of Isabeau’s friends.”

The Hounds were a superstitious and solitary tribe of vampires, many of them having been turned by Montmartre but rescued from the grave before he could recruit them. They had old magic the rest of the world had forgotten about centuries ago.

We walked in an easy companionable silence, even though she still held a stake in her hand and I still had my fangs out. I was the first to hear the faint hiss. I stopped suddenly, turning my head slowly.

“There,” I murmured before vaulting into the lilac bushes bordering the dirt path. Hunter caught up to me just as I was snarling over a lump in the grass on the other side of the bushes. The Hel-Blar was female, lying on her back, hissing weakly. There was blood on her mouth, and her bloodshot eyes were wild. Her skin was mottled blue, nearly gray. Her hair was in short bleached-white spikes.

“She’s the one who attacked Will!” Hunter exclaimed. She stepped closer, stake raised.

The Hel-Blar started to convulse, blood and saliva frothing at the corner of her lips. She flailed and hissed. I stepped partly in front of Hunter. We both stared at her, speechless, when she screeched and then disintegrated.

We didn’t say anything for a long moment.

“What in the hell was that?” I finally broke the silence.

“I have no idea,” she answered. “I didn’t even touch her!”

“Vampires don’t just disintegrate like that—not without a pointy stick or lots of sunlight.” And we hadn’t been close enough to hurt her. If I didn’t know better, I’d have sworn she’d been sick in some way, or poisoned.

But that was impossible.

Before we could decide what to do, flashlights sliced across us. Hunters and two professors ran at us from either direction.

“Stand down,” one of them ordered. “We’ll take it from here.”

“She’s gone.” Hunter blinked as one of them crouched to gather the ashes. “We didn’t touch her. She just … fell apart. Like she was sick or something.” She shook her head. “I know that sounds crazy.”

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