Stargazer Page 19

“He’s with me. We just wanted to find you.”

“To kill me.”

I shook my head. “We’re here to make sure you’re safe.”

“Safe?” She cocked her head in confusion, as if I’d started speaking in another language. “You’re in danger.”

“Lucas would never hurt me.”

“In more danger than you know,” she insisted. “More than you know either, boy.”

“You ate here at the blood bank,” I said, more for Lucas’s benefit. “I can tell you’ve eaten. It changes our coloring, and makes us stronger.”

“I’m stronger now,” the vampire girl agreed. She kept glaring at Lucas, her eyes shining with hatred. I had to defuse the situation, and fast.

“Lucas is a friend. He’s not here to hurt you.”

“I can tell,” she said, looking at Lucas’s knife.

His motions awkward and unwilling, Lucas tucked his knife back into his belt. When he spoke, his words were clipped. “The family back in Albion—you didn’t actually have anything to do with that? We thought you did.”

“People make such foolish mistakes.” The vampire’s voice sounded strangely dreamy. Slowly she kicked the body bag away from her feet, looking for all the world like a little kid wriggling out of a sleeping bag.

“I need to know who did that,” he said. “Something deadly is out there, doing a lot of harm. If you know who’s been on the prowl in Albion, if you’re connected with that gang at all, just tell me. I can get it taken care of, and you can—well, you can go do what you do.”

Instead of answering Lucas, she turned her wide, dark eyes on me. “Does he know what you are?”

“He knows everything. Tell us what we need to know, and we can make sure you’re safe.”

Her fingers slowly relaxed as she let my hand go. The light fixture hanging from the ceiling was almost directly behind her, turning her corn silk hair into a kind of halo. I thought how young she must have been when she died, maybe only fourteen.

Just as she opened her mouth to speak, the morgue door slammed open. We all jumped, and my heart plunged as I saw Dana and Kate standing in the doorway. Dana had her crossbow ready, and Kate held a stake. “Y’all get back!” Dana yelled. “Reinforcements have arrived.”

The vampire shrieked, an unearthly sound like a hawk diving for a kill. She leaped past us into the corner behind the autopsy table. “A trap,” she whispered. “Always a trap.”

I wanted to say that we hadn’t meant to do this, but Lucas clutched both my arms as a warning to be silent. He started backing away, pulling me out of range.

Neither Kate nor Dana spoke to the vampire. Kate remained in the doorway as Dana edged forward, her face no longer sweet. I sensed Dana was a good person, but she was about to do a horrible thing, and I had to stop her.

Blindingly fast, the vampire flung one hand forward, and I saw a whirling glitter of metal in the split second before Dana cried out and slumped against the wall. Even as Dana fell, the vampire sprang forward with superhuman strength, tackling Kate and knocking them both sprawling into the corridor.

“Mom!” Lucas yelled, running toward them. But the vampire didn’t intend to kill or even fight. She ran off, her shabby shoes thumping against the tiles.

Lucas and Kate took off after her instantly as Lucas yelled, “Stay here! Take care of Dana!”

I knew he’d try to help the vampire get away. But what was I supposed to do for Dana? I didn’t know anything about medicine. Yet when I saw the stricken look on Dana’s face, I instantly went to her side. “Is it bad?”

“Bad enough.” Her face contorted in a grimace. “Must’ve been an autopsy knife. Don’t think—the arm’s broken—but—how much blood?”

“A lot, but she didn’t hit the artery.” I knew enough to realize that if the artery had been cut, blood would be spurting from the wound; instead, a thick red flow oozed downward, coating her shirt to the elbow. “I’m not going to take out the knife. This is more than we can deal with using the first aid kit. We should go to the ER.”

“And explain this to the hospital staff how, exactly?” Dana groaned and leaned her head against the wall. I realized she felt faint. “No, we need to get out of here.”

“You need medical attention!”

“There are more supplies back at the first aid room. We—we can handle it. Just help me up. Okay?”

“Okay.” I slung her good arm around my shoulder and walked her into the hallway. The lights were brighter there, and I saw the vivid red of the bloodstain for the first time. The color seemed almost indescribably beautiful.

Then I felt the hunger.

It wasn’t the same as it had been when I bit Lucas—this was different, more basic and yet equally strong. Dana’s blood smelled like steak, like the seashore, like any hundred wonderful things I wanted and hadn’t enjoyed for too long. When I breathed in through my mouth, I could almost taste the coppery tang of it, and the hand I held against her shoulder registered every beat of her pulse. My jaw ached as though my fangs were about to emerge. I couldn’t think, couldn’t speak, couldn’t do anything but want to drink.

Stop it.

I turned my head away from Dana and shut my eyes tightly. Dana murmured, “Hang in there. I know it looks bad.”

“You don’t have to comfort me.” I felt so ashamed. “You’re the one who’s hurt.”

“But I know—this kind of thing is scary, especially if you’re—not used to it.” She swallowed between every gasp for breath. “You never saw—anything—like this before.”

I remembered how Lucas had looked after I bit him for the first time, and the boneless way he had fallen at my feet. “I guess I have to learn to deal with it.”

We met up with Mr. Watanabe in the parking lot, and he took us back immediately. Dana turned out only to have a flesh wound, but she still needed me to hold her hand while Mr. Watanabe stitched her up. Within a couple of hours, Lucas and the rest returned; I didn’t have to ask how the hunt had gone, because Kate looked discouraged. Everybody was completely exhausted, and the sun had only just come up.

When Lucas hugged me, I whispered in his ear, “Did she get away?”

Prev Next