Blood Moon Page 32

That was when the shadowy corner moved and a woman leaned forward slightly, the warm glow from the fire touching her unnaturally pale face, the gold embroidery on her wimple, the long brown braids wrapped in matching gold cords, and the eyes like frozen water.

Madame Veronique.

I was so surprised to see her there that I jolted, tripped over my own foot, and fell backward.

Through the floor. I fell through dried lavender and dirt and landed on the rocky ground of the cave.

The small fire was turning to ashes in the circle of white stones; Kala and her rattle were gone. I lurched to my feet to squeeze through the narrow tunnels even though I was dizzy and disoriented and felt strange inside my own body. Madame Veronique knew about the prophecy all along, had known the exact words, had watched it being spoken, all while she pretended she had no interest in such things.

I had no idea what that meant.

My head spun, and when I finally stumbled outside, the thirst hit me. My throat felt as if it were full of broken glass, my veins shriveled and on fire. Whatever I’d just experienced—hallucination, drugs, time travel—it left me feeling maddeningly weak. I was so thirsty that the edges of the trees and the rocks and the mountains turned red, like a wash of paint over a photograph. I licked my painfully dry lips and scrambled down the mountainside toward the camp, the prophecy repeating in my head: only dragon by dragon defeated.

I was in the meadow on the outskirts when a woman smiled at me from the birch trees, her neck bare and crisscrossed with scars.

“Princess, you look peaked. Do you need to feed?” She tilted her head, baring her throat politely, as if offering me a cup of tea. It was Penelope. I’d fed from her before, when Kieran, Nicholas, and Lucy found me drunk on her blood.

I swallowed. “My family doesn’t … um …”

She stepped closer. “I don’t mind. It’s why I’m here.”

She was offering willingly. And after Kala’s magic I felt like a corn-husk doll, papery and lifeless. I needed blood. She was offering. Constantine was right. It was simple. So why complicate it by resisting?

She pushed up the loose sleeve of her sweater and extended her arm, pebbled with goose bumps. I lowered my mouth to the crease of her elbow where her pulse beat, eschewing her neck, silvery with faded scars. It was like sharing a cup that had already been drunk from too many times. My fangs bit down slowly but firmly. I didn’t want to hurt her, only wanted the warmth of her blood in my mouth, the flowering of my veins like a cactus taken suddenly out of the desert and planted into a rain forest. It was primal, beautiful. Survival instinct.

I forgot that I should only take a little, just enough to get me back to the tent and the bottled blood, easier to digest. I just wanted more.

Penelope stood still, like a painted marionette whose strings I held. Her eyes were adoring. She barely even winced, only waited patiently.

That more than anything made me stop. There was something faintly creepy about her passive eagerness. I pulled away, wiping my mouth clean. She was still smiling glassily.

“Wouldn’t you like more, princess?”

I shook my head mutely. I pushed past her to the camp, my body thrilled, the rest of me utterly conflicted.

“Wait!” She held up her wrists, her veins fierce and vulnerable. “Princess!” She started to beg as I left her behind. “Please. Please, princess.”

Chapter 12


We waited for Solange in the family tent.

Sebastian sat next to Dad; Marcus and Uncle Geoffrey stood behind Aunt Hyacinth’s chair. Quinn and Connor shared a bench, and London lay on one of the sofas, eyes closed. Duncan sprawled in a chair with his arms crossed. Isabeau and Mom stood as severe and beautiful as spears in front of Logan. Even Madame Veronique was here, perched on a bench, pale and still as a bone statue with a handmaiden on either side. She never came to family meetings, preferring to keep her distance and refusing to meet us at all until we’d survived our bloodchange. And we still didn’t know what she’d do. She could either take Solange away to indoctrinate her or kill her on the spot. Or buy her a pony, actually. You really just couldn’t know for sure.

She’d scared the crap out of me when I was sixteen, demanding I compose a sonnet in iambic pentameter on the spot. In French. Archaic French. I didn’t even speak modern French.

She still terrified me. And I could admit it freely, because she scared the crap out of everyone. She was just so … other. You couldn’t predict what she might do in the name of family honor. And now here she sat, coldly patient.

Just another Drake family reunion.

But at least we were all here and no one seemed to be missing any vital organs.

When Solange came in she smiled at us vaguely, a single drop of blood freshly bloomed on her shirt. “I’m really tired.” Then she sighed softly and languidly, as if she was ready to curl up for a nap. But she didn’t look tired, she looked painfully energized. “Good night.”

Mom moved to stand on top of the trapdoor to the underground bunker. “Solange, we’d like to talk to you.”

She paused. “I didn’t miss curfew.” She saw Madame Veronique and something very close to fear flickered in her face. Madame Veronique tilted her head slightly, like a bird. “Can we do this tomorrow?” Solange whispered.

“No,” Mom said sharply.

“I’m afraid not,” Dad added, softening his tone. Good cop, bad cop. They did it all the time.

Solange made a complete turn on her heel to eye us suspiciously. “What’s going on? What’s everyone doing here?”

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