Out for Blood Page 6

“Better hurry, Dad’s got that look on his face,” Connor warned me as we ran down the stairs from the top floor of the house that we shared with our five brothers. Our sister, Solange, had a room on the second floor, which was most definitely locked—from the inside and outside—when she went to bed every single morning. She’d only turned a couple of weeks ago and our delicate, serene baby sister turned feral at the last ray of sunlight. Her best friend, Lucy, was staying in one of the guest rooms, as far away from Solange’s bedroom as physically possible. We made her promise to engage the dead bolt, and Mom set two of the farm dogs to guard her every night at dusk. Just in case.

She shouldn’t have been living in our house at all while Solange was so volatile. It was dangerous and, frankly, stupid. All of us could smell the sweet hot rush of the blood in her veins. It was like living inside a bakery, constantly surrounded by tempting pastries and cakes with chocolate frosting. Nicholas had a will of iron. I don’t know how he did it, resisting the tender flesh on her neck every time she hugged him or he smelled her hair. My fangs poked out of my gums just a little whenever she was nearby.

I was not good at resisting girls.

Still, Lucy had practically grown up here, and since she was dating my brother she was thoroughly off-limits. And she was stuck with us for at least another week since her parents were out of town, even though vampire politics, which were messy at best, had just exploded all over us.

“Mom deserves a little pomp and circumstance, don’t you think?” I asked, keeping my voice low as we passed Aunt Hyacinth’s room. I wondered if she’d finally venture out of the house for the coronation. “I mean, it’s not every day a vampire queen gets crowned.”

“You know Mom prefers it low-key. And anyway, I like to think we’re too smart to attempt a third elaborate ceremony.”

Connor was right. Mom was pronounced queen after killing the last self-proclaimed queen Lady Natasha—to stop her from killing Solange over an ancient prophecy that foretold Solange’s birth and her own rise to the throne. Now everyone was trying to kill both Mom and Solange. Not exactly an improvement. No one holds a grudge like a centuries-old vampire. You’d think they’d learn to lighten up eventually.

“Hell of a lot of fuss over a thankless job,” I said. “Controlling vampire tribes is like herding cats. Into a bathtub. Blindfolded.” I tossed my hair off my shoulder and winked at Solange, who was sitting on the bottom step, looking miserable. “Maybe we just need a king. Someone charming and handsome like me.”

She flashed me a grin. “Your head’s too fat for a crown.”

Connor snorted and continued down the hall into the living room. I sat next to Solange. “What’s up? Sitting alone in the dark is too gothic for you. Leave that sort of thing to Logan.”

“I just hate this whole stupid thing,” she muttered. “If one more person tries to kill someone I love over that damn prophecy, I swear I’ll go postal.”

I put an arm over her tense shoulders. “It’ll be fine. Montmartre’s dead. And you know we’ll protect you.”

She speared me with a glare that could have fried the hair off my head. “That right there, Quinn Drake, is exactly what I mean. Protect yourself, not me.”

I rolled my eyes. “Hello? Big brother. Occupational hazard.”

“Well, get over it,” she grumbled. “I seriously can’t take much more. I won’t have your blood on my hands. It’s bad enough Aunt Hyacinth nearly died.”

“But she didn’t die. Drakes are harder to kill than that.” She’d been seriously burned by Helios-Ra holy water, though. It ate away at her face like acid and now she refused to lift the heavy black veils she wore hanging from her little Victorian hats. “Why aren’t you in there with everyone else?”

She shrugged. “No reason.”

“Liar.”

She shrugged again.

I frowned. “Spill it, Solange.”

“I’m fine, Quinn.” She sent me an ironic grin. “I can protect you too, you know. Annoying, isn’t it?”

“Very.”

She hugged me briefly. “I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. I’m just worried.”

I noticed the dark smudges under her eyes. Her fangs were out and her gums looked a little raw, as if she’d been clenching her jaw. “And you’re hungry,” I said quietly.

She looked away. “I’m okay.”

“Solange, are you drinking enough? You’re looking kinda skinny.”

“I’m drinking plenty. I just woke up and I’m …” She swallowed, fists clenching. “How do you get used to it? It’s like this itch crawling inside me and there’s no way to scratch it. You guys made this look easy. I think it’s worse than the bloodchange. At least I was unconscious through most of that. But now the lights hurt, everyone sounds like they’re yelling. And Lucy.” She looked like she might cry.

“What about her?”

“Lucy smells like food.” She nearly gagged saying it.

I kept my smile light and didn’t let her see anything but her reckless big brother who loved a good fight and a pretty girl and not necessarily in that order.

“Sol, all that’s normal. Lucy smelled good before I turned and now she smells even better. But I haven’t tried to eat her face and neither will you.”

“She’s not safe in this house.”

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