Blood Moon Page 39

He didn’t see the crossbow bolt, also red, whistling toward his back.

Chandramaa justice was blind. He’d taught me that.

I had just enough time and presence of mind to kick his kneecap with my boot. He dropped painfully out of his graceful descent, the look of surprise on his face nearly comical. I threw myself across him, covering him before he’d even landed. The jolt of hitting the ground snapped my jaws together. I lay there with my eyes scrunched tight, wondering if I was about to feel the bite of a crossbow bolt in the back.

Nothing happened.

I opened one eye, then the other. Constantine lay very still under me.

“I’m not dead?” I asked.

His mouth curved in a half smile but his eyes were fierce. “Too many bats.”

I blinked, turned my head slowly. He was right. There were just enough bats dipping and somersaulting over us to block any arrows or stakes from the trees. The Moon Guard couldn’t see us to kill us. The Furies were still hissing, but they were too frightened to cross the line of red-tipped arrows.

I told you I’d protect you. We are stronger together.

I stayed where I was, sprawled on top of a very handsome vampire. “Now what?”

“I have no idea, princess.”

For someone who’d just saved my life and had nearly gotten staked for his trouble, he sounded pretty calm.

But that was only because he’d never met my mother.

“Solange Drake!” Mom’s black braid snaked behind her like a whip as she and the rest of my family shoved through the crowd. She paused, seething when an arrow nearly stabbed into her toe. Sebastian put his back to her, guarding her and glaring calmly at the trees. “I can’t even begin to express how much trouble you’re in,” Mom said between her teeth.

“It’s not my fault!” I tried to glare at her, but I couldn’t quite contort my neck that way. “They tried to stake me.”

“What?” Mom’s voice dropped until it was such a cold, dark whisper several of the bystanders backed away. Dad’s fangs gleamed. The crowd chattered so loudly among themselves that when they stopped abruptly it made me flinch.

A woman marched toward us. She was young, with short black hair. “I represent the Chandramaa,” she announced, as if the red moon stitched on her black leather jacket didn’t give away her or her vaguely menacing stance. She was too young to be full Chandramaa and she’d let us see her face, so she was clearly not a full initiate. “Release him to us,” she said to me.

I knew what that meant. Constantine would be executed for saving me.

I was not going to let that happen.


The guard blinked, nonplussed. “Perhaps you didn’t understand me. I was sent by the Chandramaa.”

“Solange,” Dad said tightly. “What are you doing?”

“Constantine saved my life,” I answered as the bats grew agitated overhead. “Don’t let them kill him.” They don’t understand. They never will.

“He interfered with Chandramaa justice,” the girl said sharply. “There are no exceptions.”

“Kill her!” the Furies chanted, softly, viciously. “Kill her now! Blood traitor!”

Constantine moved so that his hands were on my hips. His eyes were like amethysts. “What do you want to do, princess?” he asked quietly, so only I could hear him. His lips tickled my cheek.

What did I want to do?

The fact that he’d asked me, the fact that he was waiting for me to decide my own fate made me all the more determined to save him from his.

“We run,” I whispered back.

“Kill her!”

I wasn’t sure yet how I seemed to control bats, but I thought about them now, as hard as I could. I imagined them swarming through the trees toward us, floating like a fanged black cloud, swallowing the stars and the arrows of the Moon Guard. I was visualizing them so intently that it took a moment for me to realize the sounds of hundreds of leathery wings weren’t in my imagination. Bats darted and dive-bombed around us, cutting off anyone who tried to get too close, even my parents.

“Solange, wait!” Dad shouted, ducking as a bat flew past his head. “You don’t know what you’re doing!”

Let go. Let me protect you.

“If you cross the Chandramaa, you’re exiled from this place,” the guard added, looking angry and confused. A bat went for her eyes and she shrieked. “An instant death to you and yours should you return to this place.”

“Solange, don’t!” Mom pleaded. I’d never seen her sound so scared or look so torn.

But I couldn’t just stay here and let Constantine be killed. That wasn’t justice; it was murder.

“Are you sure?” he asked as I tensed to jump to my feet. “There’s no turning back.”

I met his violet eyes. “I’m sure.”

He launched off the ground in one fluid movement, one arm pinning me to his chest. Bats crowded around us. Everyone was shouting. Chandramaa bolts snaked between the bats, but they just landed in the frostbitten dirt. Only snow hung in the cold air, not ashes.

Constantine and I broke into a run, dodging helpful hands and harmful ones. We plunged into the dark forest, still trailing bats. Someone gave a strangled yelp from the top of a pine tree. A crossbow fell to the ground. Bats winged between the trees, as if they’d been released by an invisible slingshot. I ran as fast as I could, convinced I was going to be impaled on an arrow or a stake flung from above. Constantine held my hand tightly, dragging me over roots and under moss-draped branches. Ferns flattened at our passing.

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