"I know I shouldn't have hidden it." Kylie's chest tightened. "And I know Burnett was really disappointed in me and you're probably mad at me, too. And I get why. I really, really do. But..." She took a deep breath as the scolding look in Holiday's eyes remained strong.
Hugging the teddy tighter, she continued, "Can't you understand that I promised my grandfather not to expose Hayden? I wouldn't have kept that promise if I thought he was bad or trying to cause any harm.
He's not a bad person. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have found you that night Collin Warren kidnapped you. And if I hadn't found you when I did, I probably wouldn't have ... been able to save you. He helped save your life."
Holiday frowned. "I'm not saying he's a bad person, Kylie. And it's not that I don't understand why you would feel compelled to keep your promise, but Burnett is right to protect you. We need to know what's going on."
"Well, now you know everything. I mean, if Burnett told you."
"He did," Holiday said.
Kylie bit down on her lip and then pushed the teddy bear aside. "Have Burnett and Hayden spoken again? Did he tell you that they were at each other's throats last night? Burnett said he was going to consider whether he was going to let him stay on. Consider! And then Hayden said he would then consider if he wanted to stay on." She let go of a deep gulp of air. "Burnett acted like a jerk."
Holiday frowned. "When it comes to protecting people he cares about, Burnett always comes off a little strong."
"A little? Really?" Kylie rolled her eyes. "You can say that with a straight face?"
A slight smiled pulled at the camp leader's lips. "Okay, maybe a lot, but most of the time, he's right."
She pulled her red hair around to one side and started twisting it.
"But he's not right about this. And here's the thing. I'd kind of like it if Burnett didn't run Hayden off. I know he lied to get hired, but it would mean so much to have ... to have someone around who understands what it means to be a chameleon. I mean, you're great. You've been there for me from the beginning, and so has Burnett, but it's like you've told me many times, you don't know anything about chameleons."
Holiday nodded. "I know it would be good to have Hayden here, and I told that to Burnett, too. And I promise you, he's taking that into consideration."
"You're going to let him decide?" Kylie asked, not liking that. "What happened to you being the head honcho around here?"
"Now that we're really together, we've decided that Burnett gets the final say on anything that impacts the security of Shadow Falls."
"Oh, hell! You know he can be so damn unreasonable at times. You just admitted that yourself," Kylie said. Had loving Burnett messed with Holiday's head? Kylie had heard that love turned you stupid; nowshe knew it for sure.
"True, he can be unreasonable. Yet I can be too easy," Holiday admitted. "And on the security and safety of our students, I'd rather err on the side of caution. But don't worry. I really think Burnett feels that having Hayden around would be good. Not just for you, but to help us figure out precautions against ...
Kylie pulled her knees up and hugged them. She knew by "future attacks," Holiday meant Mario. While Helen still couldn't recall anything of her attack, Kylie knew in her heart it had been Mario. A wave of doom and gloom bit down on her gut and some of last night's events flashed in her head. She looked up.
"I don't think I can handle Mario hurting someone else." She gripped her hands. "First Helen, and then I nearly got Derek killed last night. And Mario almost had me doing the killing where Lucas was concerned."
"I know," Holiday interrupted, as if she knew just repeating it would be hard for Kylie. "That has to be hard to take. But it just emphasizes what Burnett says about you being careful. He's done tons of work to the security system since you've been gone and he really thinks it's infallible."
That should have made Kylie feel safe, and it did, but ... "So I'm a prisoner here," she said, thinking if things didn't change it would get as bad as living on her grandfather's compound.
"No, not by a long shot," Holiday insisted. "I knew you would feel that way, and Burnett and I have already discussed it. You are not prohibited from leaving, but until things calm down, Burnett wants to be with you when you go anywhere. I don't know if he told you, but Mario was spotted in Fallen. So Burnett's adamant about being with you if you leave. Do you think you can handle that? He just wants to make sure you're safe, Kylie. You're special to him."
Kylie nodded. "I know, and I love him, too." She recalled her conversation with her mom. "But what about parents' weekend in a few weeks? My mom is already making plans. She wants John and me to ...
bond." Kylie's mind created an image of being forced to be polite to her mom's boyfriend for a whole freaking weekend. Good lord, the last time she saw the man, she'd completely lost it and was slinging insults at him left and right. It was like she couldn't stop herself. He brought out the bitch in her big time.
Holiday dropped on the edge of the bed. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it." But Kylie saw the concern flicker in her eyes.
Kylie hugged her knees tighter. "To be honest, I wouldn't mind not being able to make that weekend. So if you can find a way to call that off, I won't fight you on it. You've got my word."
Holiday sighed with sympathy. "Now ... what's this about a spirit carrying around a head?"
Kylie rolled her eyes. "You mean your ghosts don't do that?" she asked with sarcasm.
Holiday chuckled, even though Kylie hadn't really meant it to be funny. "I had one toting around his own arm and leg for a while. He'd lost it in an accident and wouldn't put it down. It was pretty gross."
"Lucky us," Kylie said, but then she thought about the spirits at the graveyard, and felt bad for being so cynical. Most of them were simply lost souls looking for a little help.
Holiday reached over and pressed a hand on her arm. "Lucky them to have us," she said as if she'd read Kylie's mind, or at least her emotions. "But not all of them deserve our help. I've told you this before, you can send them away. You have every right to say no to some of them."
"I know, and I tried, but I guess I didn't do it right. Or maybe I didn't try hard enough."
"From what Burnett told me, I think sending this spirit away is a wise thing. What's this about herwanting you to kill someone? Has she told you who it is?"
"No. She's short on facts like all ghosts. I'm not even sure if she knows the answers."
"Does she feel evil?"
Kylie thought about it a minute. "Yes and no. I mean, she's not an angel. She admitted she's killed a lot of people. Most of the times when I see her she has blood on her hands, but it almost seems like she feels guilt for it. Or at least sometimes she does," Kylie said, remembering how callously she'd carried around the severed head. "But I don't think she's out to hurt me. I even asked her if she was trying to take me to hell."
Holiday raised a brow. "And you think she'd admit it if she was?"
"No, but she didn't out and out deny it as if it was a lie. She matter-of-factly told me that she wanted me to send someone else to hell. And I think the whole head thing was because I started ignoring her. She just wanted to get my attention."
"And I bet it worked," Holiday said.
"Pretty much," Kylie said. "Kinda hard not to pay attention to that." She shivered, remembering the image of the head.
"I still think sending this one packing might be a good thing."
"I know, and last night I was even thinking it was a good thing to do, but there's one thing that makes me question doing that."
"What?" Holiday asked, and brought one of her legs up on the bed.
Kylie sighed. She hadn't really been too concerned about this earlier, but right now it seemed like something she should consider. "She says that if I don't do it, if I don't kill this person, that I'm the one who's going to die."
Holiday's brow tightened. "Okay, that does kind of put a new slant on things. Do you get the feeling she's trying to protect you, or just cause harm to someone else?"
Kylie considered the question. "I think she's doing both. I don't know why she would want to protect me. But then again, last night when Derek and I were leaving the compound, she's the one who told me to go to the graveyard. I think she was helping me."
Holiday frowned. "Okay, keep her around for now. But for God sakes, be careful. You've already got someone from this world trying to hurt you, you don't need someone from the afterlife trying to do you harm, too. You are too special for anyone to want to hurt you."
Holiday's words repeated in Kylie's head and she had a flash of someone else saying words so similar. Someone with green eyes and golden flecks, and warm ... lips. Suddenly, she recalled part of the dreamscape, an important part of it. The part where Derek kissed her.
"Oh, crap!" she muttered, and dropped her head into her hands. "What have I done?"
"What?" Holiday asked.
Kylie looked up at her. "In the dreamscapes, the person who initiates the dream is in control, but the person who is brought into it, she can stop things from happening, right?"
"Right. As long as she feels strongly about it not happening."
"Shit," she muttered again, because she recalled feeling confused about what she did and didn't want.
Confused about what was right and what was wrong. And if she was confused in the dream, then she might have let things happen that shouldn't have happened.
"Oh, damn," she said, and tried to remember the rest of the dream. Then she looked back up at Holiday."Shouldn't I be able to remember everything?"
"Yes, except..." She made a face as if she didn't think Kylie would want to hear the rest. "Except when you're really exhausted."
"Which I was. Just freaking great," Kylie mumbled.
"Calm down. After you have something to eat and relax you'll probably recall everything."
"I don't know if I want to remember," she muttered. "Oh, hell, yes I do."
Holiday frowned. "Do you want me to talk to Derek about this?"
Kylie's brow wrinkled. "I didn't say it was Derek."
Holiday gave her a don't-be-silly look. "You two and I are the only ones who can initiate a dreamscape here. It had to be him."
Kylie bit down on her lip again. "Okay, it was him, but no, I don't want you to talk to him. I should handle this myself." She let go of a deep puff of air. "He thinks I'm still in love with him."
"And you're not?" Holiday asked.
"No," Kylie said. And she meant it. She did. Yes, she really did. So why did she sound like she was trying to convince herself of that? "I don't want to talk about Derek."
Holiday studied her. "Do you want to talk about Lucas?"
"No," Kylie said.
"Okay, but if you need to talk about him or anything, I'm here for you."
"I know." Then, just to make a liar out of herself, the words slipped from her lips. "I realized I loved him right before all that happened." Her heart felt like it folded over on itself. "I was going to tell him the next time I saw him. Then, the next time I saw him he was promising his soul to Monique."
Holiday pursed her lips as if hesitant to say what was on her mind. "I don't think he meant it."
"I don't care if he meant it; he shouldn't have done it."
"That's true. And I won't tell you what to do, but I do believe he's telling the truth about his intentions.
And I'm just saying that if you still care about him, I don't think he's a bad guy."
Kylie drew in a deep breath. "I asked my mom once if she still loved my dad. She told me she didn't know. That maybe once she got over being mad at him, she'd have to see how she felt. Maybe that's what will happen with me and Lucas. But for right now, it's royally pissing me off that everyone is telling me what a good guy he is. It makes me feel like I'm the one who did something wrong." Tears tightened her throat, but she swallowed them and stiffened her spine.
"I'm sorry." Holiday held up one hand. "And you know you didn't do anything wrong. And I'll not say another word."
Her gut suddenly let out a loud growl letting her know it was as unhappy as she was ... and empty. She gazed back up at Holiday. "I need to eat something. I think my stomach is gnawing on my backbone right now."
"Here." Holiday reached over to the nightstand and handed her a paper bag. "I brought it to you earlier, thinking you'd need some food."
Kylie pulled out the plastic baggie and saw half a sandwich with a bite out of it.
"Sorry, I got hungry while I was waiting on you to wake up."
When Kylie unwrapped the sandwich and took a bite, Holiday reached back into the bag and pulled outa bag of opened chips. "I'm still hungry." She smiled apologetically and popped a chip into her mouth.
As Kylie ate the sandwich and watched Holiday eat the chips, the weight of the world sitting on her chest felt as if it lifted. Not all the way, but enough to give her a reprieve. She still had tons of issues to work through. But being back at Shadow Falls-this was right. And being here with Holiday helped make it so.
Kylie finished off the last bite of sandwich and reached into the chip bag Holiday held. Her fingers found the bottom of the bag.
Holiday made a funny face. "Sorry, I don't know what's up with me. My appetite has gone haywire."
"It's probably love," Kylie said. "You're just shining with it. Every time you say Burnett's name, your eyes start glowing."
"Actually, love does just the opposite on the appetite. You think you can live off love. No food needed."
Kylie arched a brow. "Then ... maybe you're pregnant."
Holiday licked the potato chip grease and crumbs from her fingers. "Not possible."
"Oh, please. Miranda told me she was at your place and Burnett's things were scattered all over. You two are planning a wedding. Miranda told me that, too. The fact that you two are sleeping together is ... is normal. And if you pretend otherwise, you're going to look stupid."
Holiday tilted her head to the side, offering Kylie a half-serious look. "I'm not pretending. And while I shouldn't have to explain this-" She paused. "I didn't say he wasn't staying at my place, or that we weren't ... sleeping together. I said it wasn't possible. We're being careful. Using protection. Which is the best advice I can give any teenager out there." She pointed to the paper sack on the bed. "There's a few cookies in the bag. Sorry, I ... ate some of those, too."
Kylie snagged the paper bag and pulled out another plastic bag in the bottom that had three Oreos. She grabbed one for herself, and out of politeness, offered one to Holiday-who took it with enthusiasm.
"I love Oreos," Holiday said, as if reading Kylie's surprise. Then the fae pushed the entire cookie into her mouth in one big bite.
"You know condoms aren't foolproof," Kylie said, opening her cookie and licking at the white icing between the chocolate wafers. "Some statistics state they are only eighty-five to ninety percent effective in preventing pregnancy. Some claim that as much as ten percent of that error is human error, or in your case, vampire error, and not condom error. Like a guy pulling out too quick"-she made a face-"causing leakage, or not putting the thing on right in the first place. And if a woman has long nails..." The look on Holiday's face gave Kylie a moment of pause. "Not that you have long nails or that Burnett wouldn't know how to put one on himself." Kylie felt her face heat.
Holiday blushed right along with Kylie. Then, still having a mouth full of cookie, the fae held up her hand as if to say she needed a minute before speaking.
Kylie, oddly over the embarrassment, felt proud of the knowledge she had, and kept talking between licks of icing. "And if a guy carries one around in his wallet too long, it can tear. Then there're product failures. For whatever reason the condom breaks, or has a tiny hole in it. And you would be surprised how little sperm it takes to get a girl preggo."
Having tasted away all the icing, Kylie took a bite of the chocolate cookie and spoke around the mouthful of Oreo. "To be on the safe side, you can buy the condoms with spermicide on them. That's supposed to help kill any of those little escaping sperms. But using spermicidal condoms all the time cancause vaginal problems. So it's not recommended for long-term use."
Holiday took a deep swallow. "You..."-she swallowed again, licking her teeth clean-"sure do know a lot about condoms."
"I told you, my mom left pamphlets on my bed about twice a week. You wouldn't believe what information I have in my head. I could tell you about all the different kinds of STDs, but it isn't pretty. I don't want to think about those."
Holiday laughed. "I think when I have a kid I might ask your mom about where she gets the pamphlets."
"Oh, don't do that. It messes with a person's mind. I think that's why I'm still a virgin."
Holiday chuckled. "Which is exactly why I'll be getting my kid those pamphlets." Her smile faded.
"Seriously, a teen should not take having sex lightly."
"True," Kylie said, and grabbed the last cookie and broke it half. "But too much information isn't a good thing, either." She offered one half to Holiday, who didn't hesitate to take it.
"Are you sure you're not pregnant?" Kylie asked, watching Holiday pop half the cookie into her mouth as if she was starving. Or as if eating for two.
"Positive." Holiday talked around the Oreo. "Faes, or at least Brandon faes, always know when they're pregnant."
Kylie grinned. "Don't tell me, one of the signs is they get ravenous and eat their friend's food while they're waiting on them to wake up."
"No." She paused and her brow wrinkled. "Well, being hungry is a symptom, but the most common one is hiccups and burping. I had a cousin who was pregnant and she hiccuped nonstop for eight months. It was sad."
Holiday looked at the lunch sack as if wishing it weren't empty. "Why don't you get your shoes on and we'll go to the cafeteria and snag some more cookies. Then we'll find Burnett and go to the falls.
Something tells me you could use some soothing ambience."
The thought of going to the falls sent a warm feeling through Kylie. "Yeah, that sounds really good."
Maybe when she was there she could remember the rest of the dream. God, she really hoped she hadn't done anything stupid with Derek.
Not that she feared she'd ... gone too far-as in all the way, too far. Face it, like she'd told Holiday, those pamphlets did a number on her. Too much information really could be a bad thing. Or in this particular case, a good thing.
Then she realized that if she hadn't been so cautious where sex was concerned, she might have already slept with Lucas. She was glad she hadn't. That achy pain tugged at her chest again, and she couldn't help but wonder how much truth there was to what she'd told Holiday. When she was over being mad at Lucas, could she forgive him?
Did he deserve a second chance?
Pushing Lucas from her mind, Derek stood in waiting and popped right into the forefront of her thoughts. She recalled the kiss in the dream. Had she stopped the kiss? Or had she let herself be pulled into it? Damn! Damn! Offering Derek hope was a bad thing.
And if she had offered him hope, she needed to nip it in the bud, before it led to some irreparable damage. The kind of damage where people got their feelings hurt. And the fact that she did care so muchabout hurting Derek's feelings might have given her pause, but she wasn't going to let her mind go there.
Kylie snagged her shoes, slipped them on, and walked out with Holiday. Remembering Hayden's phone, she stuck it in her pocket. Last night she'd considered calling her grandfather, but not knowing what to say, or how to say it, she hadn't. And if she called him, would Burnett see it as another betrayal?
She glanced up at Holiday. "Can we run by Hayden's cabin? I need to give him his phone back." When Holiday looked confused, Kylie explained. "I left mine at my grandfather's. And I wanted to call my mom."
"Sure," Holiday said.
They weren't out of Kylie's bedroom door when Holiday let out a light jumpy kind of noise. Then another escaped from her lips.
Kylie gazed at her. Holiday slapped her hand over her lips and panic filled her green eyes.
"Is that what I think it is?" Kylie asked. "Was that a hiccup?"
"Oh, shit!" Holiday said, and hiccuped again.
Kylie yelped with excitement. "I wonder if the baby will look like you or Burnett."