Sisters of Blood and Spirit Page 15

“If you’re not back in an hour we’re going to come looking for you,” Ben said. He’d been pretty quiet up until now. Then again, he and Wren could have chatted up a storm and braided each other’s hair while I was out of it, for all I knew.

I shot him a grim smile. “If we’re not back in an hour we’re dead.”

That brought the mood down.

“Why would you say that?” Sarah demanded. She turned to Mace. “Why would she say something like that?”

“Because it’s true,” I retorted.

My sister looked embarrassed. “Lark...”

I held up my hand. “We’ll be fine. I’ll have your friend back in one piece, I promise.”

“You’re our friend, too,” Roxi said softly.

I snorted.

“If you want to be,” Ben added.

There was something in his gaze that freaked me out. He freaked me out—almost as much as Mace, but for different reasons. “Morbid curiosity?” Why else would he seem to be so interested in me? He was probably one of those guys who secretly crushed on goth girls. “Let’s go.”

I pivoted on my heel, toward what I hoped was the back door. Outside I stomped toward Nan’s car.

“We’re taking my car,” came Mace’s voice from behind me.

I swerved toward the Jaguar. It was old and black—cool without screaming, “I have a huge wang!” Good thing he was driving, because I had no idea where the keys to the Beetle were. Whoever drove it here must have still had them.

I tried the passenger door. It was locked. Great. The thing predated auto lock, so I had to wait for him to come around and unlock it for me. I stood there feeling like a loser.

When Mace reached me he didn’t immediately unlock the door. He stood there watching me. Finally, I lifted my chin and met his gaze with a belligerent one of my own. “What?” I wished I’d worn heels so I could be more at his eye level. I found him...intimidating.

“Just so we’re clear, my interest in being your friend isn’t morbid curiosity.” His tone smarted with indignation. “This is morbid curiosity.” He grabbed my right arm and yanked my sleeve up.

“Hey!” I cried, pulling against his grip. He was way stronger than me and held my arm tight, turning it so that the scar there was fully visible—a long, smooth ridge against my pale skin. He touched it with his other hand—a gentle stroke. It was a violation.

“Don’t,” I choked out. I was tempted to hit him with the can of salt.

His gaze lifted and locked with mine. “That was the scariest day of my life, finding you like that.”

“Oh.” A genius with words was I. Being the center of my own little world, I’d thought only of my own shame, my own feelings. It never occurred to me how finding me must have affected him beyond his opinion of me.

He continued, still staring into my eyes, still holding my arm. He didn’t touch my scar again, though. “Nobody has ever scared me more than you have—that day, and then tonight when you passed out.”

My throat was tight—probably because my heart had jumped into it. A smart-ass retort came to mind, but I couldn’t bring myself to say it. “What do you want from me, Mace? An apology? Fine, I’m sorry.”

The muscle in his jaw twitched. “What I want is for you not to treat me like I’m one of those assholes who doesn’t understand you or treats you like you’re crazy.”

I yanked on my arm again, but he held tight. I knew that if I pretended it hurt he’d let me go. Here was the twisted part—I didn’t want him to let me go. It had been so long since someone, especially a guy, had touched me. “What are you, then?” Did he really expect me to believe that he, of all people, didn’t think I was nuts?

His nostrils flared slightly. “I’m the guy who kicked in a window to get to you. The guy who found you in a pool of your own blood and wrapped your arms in pillowcases to try to stop the bleeding. I’m the guy who prayed for you to live while you begged me to let you die. I don’t want your apology.”

“What the hell do you want? Gratitude? A freaking medal?” I wasn’t yelling, but I was close.

“What do I want?” His fingers tightened on my arm. “Jesus, Lark. I want you to forgive me!”


I stared at him. “What?”

Mace stared back. There was maybe three inches between us—just enough that I could look at him without going cross-eyed. He took a step backward. I was glad he did, even though my arm felt cold when he let go. “I want you to tell me that I did the right thing.”

“Oh, Mace.” I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. He looked haunted, and I knew all about that. “Yeah, you did. You did the right thing.”

He looked away, raking a hand through his thick hair. He stood with his back to me, hands on his hips. I thought I heard him sniff. What was I supposed to do? I couldn’t hug him, I wasn’t very good at it. Should I say something? What?

Then he turned. He didn’t look at me. “Let’s get going.” He unlocked the Jag and opened the passenger door.

“Thanks,” I murmured as I slid inside.

Mace closed the door, then crossed in front of the car to climb in the driver’s side. We buckled our seat belts and he started the engine. Neither of us spoke during the drive to the graveyard. It was secluded and we could park there while poking around close to the asylum grounds without getting too close. Mace would be a magnet for the thing that had marked the group of them. With any luck I’d be able to get a feel for it, or at least get an idea of what we were up against. If our luck went bad, the thing would come for Mace, and maybe kill both of us.

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