Blood Moon Page 20

“I’m still mad at you,” he informed me in lieu of a hello.

“I know,” I said. “If it makes you feel any better, there are way more mean kids here.”

I could practically hear him frowning. “I thought art school kids were supposed to be cooler than the rest of us.”

“So did I.” I’d lied to him about my new school. Nathan was strictly a civilian and knew nothing about vampires or vampire hunters. The only thing he knew about Nicholas was that he was hot. And it had seemed the most believable excuse to have my parents send me off to some artsy alternative school in the mountains. “I miss you guys.”

“You wouldn’t miss us if you came back,” he grumbled. “Tell your mom that school’s bad for your chi or whatever.”

“Can’t. Nonrefundable deposit.”

“That bites.”

I snorted a laugh. “You have no idea.”

“There’s a party in Megan’s backfield Saturday night. Last one before the snow hits. You’re coming.”

“It’s cold.”

“So what, Grandma? Too busy hanging out with guys in black turtlenecks talking about Picasso?”


“Isn’t that what art students do? And I’ve seen you draw, Hamilton. I can’t believe they even let you through the front door.”

He wasn’t wrong. “I’m on the music track.”

“That makes more sense. Anyway, the party. If you bail on me I will never forgive you. And Linnet will cry. You want that on your conscience?”

“Oh, please. Linnet won’t cry. But I won’t bail,” I promised.

“You better not. So, any cute boys at that school?”

I thought about Hunter’s friend Jason. I’d have to ask around if he had a boyfriend. “Some.”

“Good. Bring them.” Nathan hung up.

I switched on my flashlight as I tramped deeper into the woods. Most of the moonlight was blocked by thick spruce and pine. Since I didn’t have vampiric eyesight, I’d walk into a tree if I wasn’t careful. The trail was barely a suggestion, but there were white ribbons tied around branches to mark the way. The path ended abruptly in a small clearing thick with late-blooming goldenrod. I thought I might still be technically on school property. No wonder Hunter had commandeered this spot for her secret tryst. The wind was frigid and nibbled hungrily at my fingers and the tip of my nose. I slipped on the stripy mittens my mom made for me. Like everything else she touched, it still smelled faintly of Nag Champa incense. I felt vaguely homesick.

And then Nicholas came toward me through the field, the tall yellow flowers bending around him, and the stone of worry lodged in my throat loosened. He was sleek and dark and beautiful, the way thunderstorms are beautiful. I never got tired of the way he smiled at me, both solemn and wicked. Even if he wasn’t exactly smiling right now.

The goldenrod brushed my shoulders and I slapped it out of the way. Nicholas didn’t speak, just pulled me up against him, holding me pressed to his chest, his face buried in my wind-tangled hair. I stroked his back, the muscles cool and hard even through his shirt.

“What is it?” I whispered. “What’s wrong?”

“Everything but you,” he said hoarsely. Even though I’d known him most of my life, had seen him fall out of trees and trip over his own feet when we were growing up, even though we’d played countless pranks and honed our sarcasm on each other, he could still make me melt. And that still took me by surprise sometimes.

When he finally looked at me, his features were calm but fierce in their stillness. He was suddenly all predator, that beauty sharpened and deadly. I shivered, not afraid of him but afraid for him. There was something stark in his gray eyes, glinting in the moonlight.

“Let me guess,” I said. “Apocalypse, disaster, blah blah blah. I feel like we’re constantly living out a season ender of Buffy.”

“With any luck this won’t be that bad.”

“Notice your luck lately?” I asked. “A hundred rabbit’s-foot charms wouldn’t help you.” Not that I’d ever do that. I happen to like bunnies and cutting off their feet is barbaric.

“True. You know, you could’ve been attacked by the same vampire that got Kieran last night,” he said, and I knew that wasn’t what he was really upset about. “What if it was an ambush?”

“It was,” I snorted. “But I handled it. Solange didn’t tell you?”

“Tell me what? Wait, she was there?”

I stepped back. It was hard to think when he was standing that close to me. Embarrassing but true. “Hell yeah, she was there. I Tasered her.”

He blinked. “You used a stun gun on my baby sister?”

“Right after she tried to eat Kieran and then have me for dessert.”

Nicholas just blinked at me again. It was rare that I could surprise him into speechlessness. He lowered himself slowly down to the ground as if he were suddenly an old man too weak to stand. The weeds and grass swallowed him up. “She could have killed you.”

I sat too. “But she didn’t. And she didn’t want to, that much was obvious.”


“Yeah. Still.”

“I can’t believe she didn’t say anything,” he added tightly. “And I just went with her to see Kieran.”

“He’s okay?”

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