Blood Moon Page 16

“Can I count on you? Even now?”

He paused, watched me carefully. “For what?”

“I don’t know yet,” I said, frustrated. “But Solange isn’t well.” I took a small box out of my pocket and shoved it at him. “Take this. Just in case.”

He frowned at the package. “What is it?”

“You’ll know if you need to use it,” I said quickly, glancing behind me. “Someone’s coming.” I took off before he could answer. I checked my watch. Lucy wouldn’t be able to sneak out for a while yet. I put my bike into gear and took off down the road, the cold slap of the wind in my face soothing. I figured I may as well go back to the farmhouse and get some of my stuff. Music, earphones, and my laptop for movies were the only things that would keep me sane for two weeks in the tunnels and the Drake tent. And Connor, Quinn, and I were on family lockdown after tonight for at least the next few days, because of the ghost-town thing. I was surprised Mom didn’t drive right over to the academy to lecture Lucy and Hunter as well.

I remember when my life used to be boring.

Vampire or not, I’d had a pretty normal life. Despite our liquid diet, we still had chores and homework, music to listen to, dogs to walk, parents to navigate.

And then Lucy happened.

Never mind prophecies and bounty hunters, she was the one who’d really turned my life upside down. And it was worth it to have her finally see me as me and not just as Solange’s older brother. She made everything better. But the thought of losing her to vampires or vampire hunters made everything gray, as if even the trees and stars were made of ash.

She was necessary.

And infuriating.

I was glad she’d saved Kieran, but I still couldn’t believe, after everything that had happened, that she’d been out in the woods alone. After blowing up a town.

Actually, I could totally believe it.

I was still grumbling to myself when I pulled up the driveway and left my bike by the cedar trees. Since I was home anyway, I may as well take advantage of it and stop by Solange’s shed. I didn’t know what I was looking for exactly, only that there had to be something somewhere to explain the stranger she was becoming.

Broken pottery shards skittered under my boots, like beetles under a disturbed rock. Solange was ordinarily neat about her workspace. Her tools and any broken pieces were usually piled in a large bin to be reworked, but right now they were scattered on the floor, and the wall was dented and dusty, as if she’d thrown most of her work at it. The shelves were nearly bare. Something about that made my belly go cold, even more than the way she’d compelled me.

There was a guard waiting on the front porch when I headed up to the house to search Solange’s bedroom. She’d kill me if she ever found out about this.

The guard nodded politely. “Your Highness,” she said.

I missed Bruno and the way he called me “ijit.”

I smiled awkwardly at her and closed the front door.

And nearly lost an eye to an antique ivory stake when I turned around.

A woman swathed in thick black veils stood on the bottom step of the staircase, the chandelier glittering above her head. “Nicholas, is that you, dear?”

I stared at her. “Aunt Hyacinth, the hell!”

“Language.” She clucked her tongue. “Honestly, your manners are becoming positively savage. I was only gone a few weeks.”

“Is that any reason to try and stake me?”

“It’s these veils,” she admitted. “It’s a little difficult to see properly, and everyone smells mostly the same in the house if I’m not paying attention.”

“Then take them off,” I suggested quietly, while surreptitiously tensing to leap out of the way of another projectile. You developed pretty good reflexes when you grew up around Drake women. Not to mention Lucy Hamilton.

“Well.” She tilted her head, and I could feel the glitter of her eyes even through the lace. “Perhaps I could shorten them.” They were long enough to touch her fingertips. She’d taken to wearing them after a hunter had scarred her face with holy water. Vampires generally healed quickly and completely, but sometimes holy water was just stronger. And I hadn’t thought anything could be stronger than Aunt Hyacinth, not really. It made me even more scared for Solange and my mother.

I shoved my hands in my pockets. “Is it safe to come in?”

She laughed. “Yes, it’s safe.” She shook her head before drifting away. “I’ve never known the house to be so empty. It’s rather disconcerting.”

She was right. Even the dogs were in the woods. Only guards were here patrolling with any reliability.

I stopped by my room first to get my stuff, then headed to Solange’s room. The curtains were pulled tight, the hand-embroidered coverlet was neatly tucked in, and nothing was out of place. I went through her desk first, then checked under the bed and in her closet.

I was so going to get my ass kicked for this.

And I had nothing to show for it. No diary, no weird drugs, no secret blueprints to some nefarious plot, nothing. I kicked the dresser, cursing. A bowl of the silver thimbles Aunt Hyacinth used to collect as a girl and passed on to Solange tumbled to the floor. I cursed again.

“What’s going on, miscreant?” Logan stood in the doorway, wearing his favorite frock coat as usual, but there were rips in his jeans.

I lifted my eyebrows at his pants. “Holes?” He was impeccable about his fancy goth clothes.

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