Blood Moon Page 68

It was a faint glint in the flattened grass and old leaves. I knelt down and grabbed it, easing back behind a tree. No one saw me. Well, no one but Jenna. She frowned at me, using her body to shield us from prying eyes.

“What did you find?”

I held up the medallion. It had the royal vampire crest on one side—a sword and bleeding crown—and the Drake insignia of a dragon with ivy in its mouth on the other side. “This is Solange’s,” I said bleakly.

“How do you know? Hunter’s got one too. I heard everyone who was at the coronation got one.”

“Yeah, me included. But this one has her name on it,” I explained grimly, flicking it so it twirled. “The brothers got personalized ones too.”

Jenna’s eyes went so round she had to blink when they dried out.

I didn’t for one second believe that Solange had snuck into a party for a snack. For one thing, if she had, she wouldn’t have been stupid enough to leave behind such a damning piece of evidence. Even if she was going through a dark patch, she was still a Drake. She instinctively knew better than that, thanks to years of training.

But no one else would believe that. Not a Huntsman out for a kill or a Helios-Ra hunter claiming justice for the drained humans in town. They might just act first and look for proof later. We didn’t know who was killing humans, who had attacked Libby or who was behind the vampire disappearances I’d heard about.

But I knew one thing, and I knew it for a fact.

Solange was being framed.

You’d think I’d have learned by now that field parties never end well.

I went crashing through the trees, across the fields and into the wide dark mouth of the forest that clamped its jaw around the mountain.

“Lucy!” Jenna called out. “What the hell?” She caught up to me, running easily. She spent enough time at the track that I wasn’t surprised when she was just there at my side, keeping pace. Her red ponytail swung judgmentally. “Just what the hell are you doing?”

“I have to get to Solange,” I answered, looping the silver chain of the medallion around my wrist. “She’s being framed. She didn’t attack that girl.”

“And going off alone into a forest full of vampires will prove that?” she asked. “Did you take stupid pills this morning?”

“Just go with Tyson,” I panted. “I’ll meet you back at the dorms.”

“You really did take stupid pills if you think I’m going to let you do this suicidal idiotic thing alone.” She flipped her phone open and told Tyson to get Libby to the infirmary and we’d meet him there. “He was already on his way,” she added to me after she’d hung up.

“Jenna, seriously, you don’t have to do this. Kinda goes against training to help a vampire, right?”

“It goes against training even more to let a fellow hunter go off into a trap all by herself.”

A fellow hunter. So not a compliment to me, even if she meant it as one. “It might not be safe. And you’ll probably get suspended.”

“Just run. You sound like a lame goose,” she added conversationally.

“We’re not all born with the workout disease like you and Hunter.”

She just shrugged. “Do we even know where we’re going?” she asked as we split paths around a huge tree and met up again on the other side.

“I have to find Solange. Or at least one of the Drakes, but they’re all out of range. Worse comes to worst I can text Connor. He’s the one most likely to sneak off to find a signal.”

“We’re not going to help anyone by getting lost and being eaten by a vampire. Or a bear.”

“I’m not lost,” I assured her, ducking under a low branch before I ran right into it. “I grew up in these woods. We’ll be on Drake property in about fifteen minutes, if my heart doesn’t explode, and after that someone’s bound to find us even if we can’t find them.”

“Not terribly comforting actually.”

After another ten minutes, my running turned into more of a jog. A stitch seared my side every time I tried to take a deep breath. I was wearing fuzzy boots with purple pom-poms. I made fun of Megan’s footwear but mine were giving me blisters.

And then blisters and burning lungs were the least of my worries.

The first vampire dropped in front of me so abruptly I ran right into him. I didn’t recognize him beyond knowing he wasn’t a Blood Moon Guard. He wasn’t wearing insignia of any kind. I knew this intimately since my nose had bounced off his jacket. I tripped on a root and fell back into the dirt, hard enough that it felt as if electrical shocks were shooting from my tailbone. My palms scraped down a boulder half-hidden under the mulch, breaking open the skin. Scrapes flared on my elbows.

The second vampire grabbed Jenna’s ponytail. She yelped, jerking backward. I fumbled for a stake with my bloody hands. I threw it, but it went wide when the first vampire kicked my arm. The second backhanded Jenna hard enough that she flew into a tree and slumped to the ground, blood on her temple. She didn’t move.

I opened my mouth to scream, but the vampire yanked me to my feet, fingers digging into the painful bruise already throbbing from his boot.

“Humans, not Moon Guard,” he said to his companion.

“Constantine will still want to know. Bring them.”

“Constantine?” I said. “I’m looking for Solange Drake.”

“Sure you are, duckie. That’s the problem.”

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