Out for Blood Page 8

Mom and Dad would be here soon. Hart wasn’t far either; I could hear the growl of his motorcycle on the other side of the grove. It was unprecedented for the leader of the Helios-Ra to be invited to a vampire coronation. We were making history in more ways than one tonight. The best part was that Aunt Hyacinth had joined us. She came out of the pine trees, still swathed in black lace veils, but at least she was here.

Lucy leaned into Nicholas, holding his hand. Logan and Isabeau were quiet but standing very close.

My brothers had the right idea.

We had time to kill, might as well have a little fun.

I caught the eye of a vampire girl from the Joiik entourage. She had long red hair and she smiled at me, flashing a provocative peek of fang. And a lot of cleavage. I grinned.

“Call me when it’s about to start,” I told Connor, following her into the woods.

Chapter 4

Hunter

Tuesday night

Kieran was waiting for me behind the oak tree by the lane.

“What’s going on?” I asked, yawning. I’d pulled my hair back in a messy ponytail and threw my cargo pants back on with the tank top I slept in.

“We’re going on a field trip,” he said smugly.

I blinked. “What, now?”

“Yeah, so hurry up.” The teachers’ main house was dark except for one of the upper bedrooms. The dining hall was deserted. Headmistress Bellwood’s house was farther down the driveway and dark as well. “It’s a long walk.”

“Why can’t we take one of the bikes? There’s dozens of them in the garage.” The forest was so thick and there were so many fields that motorbikes were the easiest mode of transportation most of the time. On our own two feet, we’d never outrun a vampire in a million years. Bikes gave us a fighting chance.

“Kinda hard with this,” he lifted his arm, wrapped in a soft cast. He’d hurt it last week helping to take down the old vampire queen, Lady Natasha. He had all the fun. “And you know they monitor the fuel gauges in those things.”

I raised my eyebrows. “So the teachers don’t know about this little side trip.”

“No.”

“Kieran, I’m already in trouble.”

He snorted. “You’re never in trouble.”

“York.”

He winced. “Bummer. Well, forget him. Hart himself gave permission to have you there.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah, so let’s go already,” he said impatiently. “It’s at least an hour’s walk from here.”

“Where the hell are we going?” I muttered as we cut through the field and into the woods. The mosquitoes swarmed almost instantly. I slapped them away. This had better be worth it.

“Vampire coronation,” he answered.

Totally worth it.

“What? Really? How did you get me clearance?”

“Hart asked for you. You shouldn’t sound so shocked; you were at the meeting last week. You did good, kid.”

“Kid? You’re barely a year older than me.”

“But I’m wise, little sister.”

“Just get us there, Obi-Wan.”

The moon poured out enough light to make the grass silver. The mosquitoes got worse the farther in we hiked and I didn’t care one bit. We were going to a vampire coronation.

Grandpa would have been horrified.

I was thrilled.

There hadn’t been one for over a hundred years. The last “queen,” Lady Natasha, had been tolerated, not officially crowned. When her lover, Montmartre, discarded her and set his sights on Solange Drake, Lady Natasha had gone crazy and tried to kill Solange. Everyone knew she was the first girl born to the Drake family in eight hundred years and prophesied to be the next queen. Only, she didn’t want to be queen—though that was hardly enough to stop Montmartre. He’d tried to abduct and marry her to take her power, but he’d been foiled by the Drakes and Isabeau St. Croix, the Hound princess I’d met at the treaty talks. And Kieran, of course, who was Solange’s boyfriend now and wore his broken arm proudly. With Montmartre finally dead, the Host, minions who had acted as his personal army, had scattered. It gave the Helios-Ra an advantage.

The hundreds of Hel-Blar that Greyhaven, Montmartre’s lieutenant, had created and left to run savage took that advantage away again.

There were so many of them that they were starting to close in on Violet Hill and other small towns in the area. The school now required twelfth-grade students to help on patrols until the problem was dealt with.

We walked for almost an hour until we reached a clearing with several parked motorcycles, all black. Helios-Ra agents. Hart and his group must have arrived already.

“Are we late?” I wished I was wearing proper clothes. I looked completely rumpled. I wasn’t sure what one wore to a vampire coronation, but I had a feeling cargos and a tank top weren’t it. I didn’t even have my jacket with the vials of Hypnos set in the sleeves. Hypnos was a fairly new drug we carried in powdered form in little pen-shaped devices. Anyone who inhaled it, vampires included, were hypnotized for a short time into doing whatever they were told. It helped balance the odds since humans were susceptible to vampire glamour. Chloe’s mom was a biochemist and had helped develop the newest version of Hypnos.

Of which I had none tonight.

“I’m not prepared.” I showed him my bare wrists. No Hypnos, no daggers, nothing.

“You won’t need anything,” he assured me. “Besides, I know for a fact that you have no less than three stakes on you right now, and those boots have blades in the soles.”

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