Out for Blood Page 69

He also had Solange sitting on a bench, looking shell-shocked.

Her eyes were red but it was the kind of red you get from too much crying. When I burst through the door of the barn Uncle Geoffrey used for his scientific experiments, she looked away, lower lip wobbling.

Solange’s lower lip never wobbled.

Marcus looked like he was about to start running. Crying girls made him nervous, even when it was his little sister. Or maybe especially when it was his little sister.

“Hey, Sol,” I said quietly, crouching down in front of her. There were acres of Bunsen burners and glass beakers on the counter behind her. Light sparkled on scrupulously clean equipment that looked like it belonged in a science-fiction movie. If Uncle Geoffrey ever wanted a gig as a mad scientist, he was well on his way.

“Quinn, go away,” she said miserably, picking at the dried clay on her pants. She’d probably made a hundred pots on her pottery wheel in the short couple of weeks since she’d turned.

“Not a chance,” I said gently. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing. I just came to talk to Uncle Geoffrey.”

“Okay, so what’s the problem?”

She shrugged, keeping her head down and refusing to look at me. I glanced at Marcus. He shrugged too, then patted her shoulder.

“Solange, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about,” he said. I got the impression he’d said that a few hundred times in the last hour. “It’s biological. Like acne.”

She made a weird sound in the back of her throat. I closed my eyes briefly. “Nice,” I said. “Tell a sixteen-year-old girl everything’s fine because it’s like pimples. And by the way? What the hell’s going on?” I stared at her. “Where’s Uncle Geoffrey?”

“He’s gone to talk to Mom and Dad.”

“Why? Are you sick?” Dread was heavy and metallic in my stomach, like iron.

“Yes!” she exclaimed at the same time Marcus muttered, “No.”

Solange pursed her lips. “It’s …” She finally huffed a sigh and then squared her shoulders. She tilted her chin up. “It’s this.” She lifted her lips off her teeth. Her fangs were out.

All six of them.

I blinked and counted again. Her regular canine teeth fangs were out, with two more on either side. The second pair were like the original and the third were very small, barely noticeable. Her gums were inflamed and raw.

Drakes didn’t grow more than one set of fangs. It was a mark of our ancient blood, of our more civilized form of vampirism. There was some snobbery in the courts—the more fangs you had, the more feral you were. Isabeau had two sets and she flashed them proudly, but she was unique, even among vampires. The Hel-Blar had nothing but fangs. No wonder Solange was freaked out.

She thought she was turning into a monster.

She swallowed hard, trying not to cry. Marcus patted her shoulder harder.

“Don’t cry.” He was begging.

“What did Uncle Geoffrey say?” I asked softly.

“That I was special,” she snorted, a flash of her regular self. “Special,” she repeated. “God.”

“Ouch.” I winced sympathetically.

She hugged herself, as if she were cold. “Quinn, what if this means I’m not finished with the bloodchange? What … what if I turn into a Hel-Blar or something?”

I stood up, glowering. “You are not turning into a Hel-Blar.”

“You don’t know that.”

“I do too. For one thing, you’re not blue. And you don’t smell like moldy dirt.”

“I’m serious.”

“So am I.”

“Uncle Geoffrey said you’d be fine,” Marcus reminded her.

“He said he thought I’d be fine. He also said he’s never heard of this happening in our family. In any of the old families.”

“It’s just because you’re a girl. You know, the first in hundreds of years and all that. Your change is a little different. That’s all.”

She poked at her new fangs. “The royal courts are going to have a field day with this, especially at the Blood Moon. The feral princess.” She groaned. “Someone’s going to write a song.”

“Probably. But think of how much harder you can bite them when they do.”

Her laugh was watery, but it was a laugh. “True.” She stood up. “I’m tired. I’m going home.”

“Wait for me,” Marcus and I both said together.

Marcus pulled folded computer printouts from his pocket. “Your sample analysis.”

I grabbed it, skimming the charts and graphs. I’d skipped the majority of Uncle Geoffrey’s science lectures. That was the summer most of the girls my age in town miraculously grew boobs. I had fond memories of that summer. None of them involved anything that might help me decipher the blood analysis. I looked up, disgusted. “What the hell does this say? I don’t speak geek.”

Marcus snorted. “Careful, little brother, or I won’t translate.”

“Just tell me what it says.”

“That your girlfriend was right.” He paused, clearly waiting for me to react to the term “girlfriend.” I didn’t. I’d take Hunter any way I could get her. If I had to start using words like “girlfriend” and turning down other dates, I’d do it. “It’s not vitamins in the blood,” Marcus continued. “Those pills are a steroid.”

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