The kiss went from hot to smoldering in a vampire's heartbeat. She wasn't even aware that he'd removed his shirt until she felt the wonder of his bare chest against her breasts. She shivered with pleasure. His kisses moved down to her neck and then lower. The sensation had her arching her back and saying his name.

And then his phone rang.

His growl, deep and low, came against her bare shoulder. He raised his head. His eyes were bright, the blue irises hot with desire. "I hate ... hate modern technology."

She grinned.

He rolled over to his back and reached into his pocket for his phone. As he studied the little screen, a frown chased away the passion from his expression.

"It's Burnett." He closed his eyes, then opened them. "I should ... take it." He looked at her with an apology in his eyes.

"I know," she said, and then, suddenly aware of her lack of clothes, she crossed her arms.

His gaze lowered briefly to her covered chest. He reached for her bra and shirt beside him and handed them to her.

She clutched them to her front to cover herself. Their gazes met again. There was a sense of rightness at stopping things before they went any further. And while she accepted that letting it go this far had been risky, she knew she'd savor the memory.

"I don't regret it," she said.

"Good." He looked so darn sexy without a shirt, but wearing a kiss-me grin. "Because I don't, either."

"Thank you," she said.

"For what?" He frowned at the ringing phone.

"For going into the cemetery even when ... you hate spirits." For not hating me because I'm vampire.

A seriousness filled his eyes. "I'd go to hell to keep you safe, Kylie Galen."

She believed him, too.

He answered Burnett's call.

Kylie spent the rest of the night mostly tossing and turning, unable to sleep. The call from Burnett had just been to check if Lucas had found anything suspicious when he'd looked around after the alarm had gone off. Then Lucas and Kylie jumped over the gate holding on to each other so it would appear only one person had entered. How he'd figured it out, Kylie didn't know and hadn't asked. However, the idea that Lucas had tied, and that Perry might also have to lie for her, didn't sit well with her.

Fretting, she stared at the ceiling while mentally juggling everything she'd learned. She was a chameleon. A rare type of supernatural. But at the moment she was a vampire. And that explained why, in spite of how hard she'd tried to dreamscape to Lucas, she'd failed. Vampires couldn't dreamscape. Rolling over again, she thought about everyone seeing her new pattern.

Her great-aunt's words flowed through her head. The few who did not hide were viewed as outcasts, freaks, and not belonging to any one kind.

She could already imagine the campers whispering behind her back again. Look at Kylie. You'll never guess what she is now.

Not that whispering was going to do them any good. Her sensitive hearing was in tip-top shape. She'd not only heard Miranda and Della each time they'd rolled over in their beds, but she heard some baby birds crying for their mama to hurry up and chew up the worms and regurgitate them back into their mouths. Regurgitating worms was not a pretty sound, either.

Her mind did another U-turn and she remembered her and Lucas's time together. She grabbed her extra pillow and hugged it. A smile worked its way to her lips. Not just because of how sinfully good things had been, but because ... because now she believed he cared for her. And accepted her. That was huge. It changed things. She just didn't know how yet.

Recalling his touches, she felt her face grow warm. Probably not really warm, considering her core body temperature was extra low, vampire low, but she'd bet her cheeks were red.

Her brain did another veering off the subject and landed on words her grandfather had said. You are one of us. We share the same blood.

Her need to get to know her grandfather, to learn everything about her heritage, sat heavy on her heart. But to leave Shadow Falls...?

That wasn't an option. Even with some of the campers not completely accepting her, she belonged here.

As the night continued, she tried to decide what, if anything, she was going to tell Holiday and Burnett, and even Della and Miranda and Derek ... She couldn't lie to them all. Could she?

A chameleon alone will not survive. His warning stirred in her already heavy chest.

Pulling the pillow tighter, she sat up. She wasn't alone. She had Holiday and Burnett, and everyone here in her circle. And she'd just have to play it by ear on what, if anything, she'd tell the people close to her.

The sound of her stomach rumbling with hunger filled the silent room. She got up and went into the kitchen. Opening the fridge, she reached for the orange juice, but her hand stilled when she saw Della's blood.

Della would kill her, but ...

"Where's my blood?" Della's voice vibrated through the entire cabin.

Kylie cringed, stepped out of the shower, and debated between the red or the white towel. She chose the white, for purity. If Della killed her, she'd at least be wearing white.

"Did you spill it again?" Della bellowed, no doubt screaming at Miranda.

"I didn't do anything with your blood," came Miranda's offended reply. "I wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole."

Kylie tightened the towel around herself.

"Fess up, witch!" Della snapped.

"I told the truth," Miranda shot back. "Clean the stinky vamp wax out of your ears and listen to my heartbeat."

Okay, now their insults were getting to the ugly stage.

Hurrying, Kylie stepped out of the misty warm bathroom right into the middle of the warpath.

"My ears aren't dirty," Della said, snarling. "I'm not the one letting some shape-shifter suck on my earlobe."

"That's enough." Kylie held up her hands

"I'm never telling you anything else." Miranda sounded so hurt.

"Thank Gawd!" Della spewed. "You think I want to hear about you having your earlobes sucked?"

"Bitch!" Miranda seethed.

"Stop!" Kylie yelled.

"I never said he sucked them," Miranda spit out. "I said he nibbled on them." She started walking toward Della, her pinky held out like a weapon.

Della bared her canines and started forward. "Same thing. Equally gross!"

"Cut it out!" Kylie shot between her two best friends.

"She poured out my blood!" Della accused.

"Did not!" Miranda mouthed back.

"She's telling the truth." Kylie looked at Della. "I ... I did it."

"You poured out my blood?" Della asked.

"No. I ... drank it. And I'm sorry." Kylie held out her wrist, exposing her vein. "Here, have some of mine."

Della stared at her, her brows creased, and then her mouth dropped open. "Holy shit! You're a vampire!"

"She's a witch," Miranda said proudly, standing at Kylie's back.

"Not anymore," Della said. "Use your eyes, Miss Smarty Pants, and see for yourself. Or did Perry lick them, too?"

Not wanting to draw this out, Kylie faced Miranda. It wasn't as if she could hide it.

"Crap!" Miranda gasped. "What happened? Did having sex with Lucas turn you into a vampire?"

"No," Kylie said.

Della slapped a hand on her hip. "Why would having sex with a werewolf turn someone into a vampire?"

"I don't know," Miranda said. "Maybe it was really bad sex."

Della shot Miranda a bird and then focused on Kylie. "Did you have sex with Lucas?"

"No." Kylie tugged on her drooping towel. "We just ... made out."

"How far did you get?" Della wiggled her brows.

"Thought you didn't like hearing about it," Miranda said in an angry voice.

"Not about earlobe sucking. That's gross."

"Bitch!" Miranda charged at Della; Della charged back at Miranda.

Kylie caught Miranda by the shirt with one hand and Della by the arm with her other hand. Right then, her towel fell to the floor. Naked as a jaybird, and suddenly furious, she stomped her foot. "I said stop!"

Della and Miranda both giggled. No doubt she looked funny naked and furious.

Kylie released them, and then snatched up her towel. "Look, I have some things to share, but if you don't stop arguing, I'm going to walk away and just let you kill each other."

"You tried that line once before," Della said. "We let you down. We didn't kill each other." She snarled at Miranda. "Of course, it could change this time."

Kylie rolled her eyes. "Are you going to stop arguing or not?"

"Maybe," Miranda said. "Especially if you can explain how the freaking hell you can change your pattern. Oh, and if you give us details about last night with Lucas."

Kylie looked at Della. "Truce?"

"Yeah," Della said. "Besides, it's you I'm pissed at now for drinking my blood. You thieving vamp." She showed her canines, but a smile came with it. "And Miranda's right. We want details on both counts."

An hour later, after Kylie had given all the details-or at least all the details she planned on giving-the three of them walked toward the office. Kylie had confessed about going to the cemetery. She'd known Della would be pissed that she'd been tricked, and Kylie had been right. But telling them seemed important, and not just to clear her conscience. If she needed to meet her grandfather in the future, she'd need allies. Della and Miranda were her best allies.

As well as her best friends.

And a big part of the reason Kylie couldn't do what her grandfather wanted: to go live with him. A detail Kylie had omitted from the conversation.

"Are you going to tell Burnett and Holiday?" Miranda asked as they neared the office.

"I don't know." Kylie looked up at the porch and listened to someone breathing inside. What if they went berserk and forbid her to see her grandfather and aunt again?

Would Holiday do that?

Probably not. But she could see Burnett doing it. Or trying to do it.

Kylie's heart grew heavy when she remembered she wasn't here to just talk about her grandfather. It was time. Time to tell Holiday about her sister. But first, she hoped to talk to Burnett about what all she'd learned about Hannah. He needed to know so he could look into this Blake character.

But damn, Kylie wasn't looking forward to having either of those chats.

"Shit!" Della caught Kylie's arm. "If you tell Burnett about meeting your grandfather, then I'll get my ass in a sling because I let you go. He won't care that I thought you were going to go get lucky with Lucas."

"He'll blame me, too." Miranda frowned.

"He won't blame you two," Kylie said. "It's all on me."

"Right, like Burnett's reasonable," Della said.

"Well, what do you expect? He's vampire," Miranda smarted off.

Kylie ignored their squabbling this time to stare at the window in Holiday's office. She tuned her ears to see if she could hear Burnett inside.

All Kylie heard was someone punching buttons on Holiday's keyboard.

Kylie moved up on the porch. She hadn't yet gotten to the door when suddenly she recognized the scent and the cadence of breathing coming from Holiday's office. It wasn't Holiday.

Or Burnett.

What was he doing in Holiday's office?

She waved at her two friends and moved in to stand by Holiday's door. Derek, completely immersed in whatever it was on the computer screen, hadn't heard her. She studied him and remembered calling him from the cemetery, feeling as if he was the only one she could count on.

Sighing, she also recalled him telling her he loved her. She even remembered when it was with him that she would have shared those hot wonderful kisses. Not anymore.

"Hey." Kylie pushed back her crazy feelings.

He literally jumped out of the chair.

"Damn." He ran a hand over his face. "You ... startled me." Guilt filled his eyes.

"What were you doing?"

"Something I shouldn't be." A groan spilled from his lips. "Holiday asked me to man the office. When I sat down, her computer woke up. It was on her personal e-mail account, and..."

Kylie arched an eyebrow in accusation. "You were reading her personal e-mails?"

"Only because it involved Hannah." He motioned for her to shut the door.

She did and stepped into the room. Suddenly, she felt a little guilty, too, but if the information could help them ... "What did you find out?"

"The e-mail was from a private investigator. Holiday hired him to find her sister."

"Did he find out anything?" Kylie dropped into the chair facing the desk.

"No. But I didn't know that until I opened it." He pushed a hand over his face again. "Which I shouldn't have done. I saw it and I thought it might answer everything."

"I'd probably have done the same the thing," she said, not sure if it was the truth, but saying it for his benefit. "Where is Holiday?"

"She said something about seeing Burnett."

Kylie heard heavy footsteps, and then the door swung open. "It's not me she's seeing." Burnett's gaze zeroed in on Kylie. "Who's Blake?"

Kylie recalled Hannah saying that it could have been Blake who killed her. Kylie got a bad feeling. "Why?"

"Because that's who Holiday's with."

"That's not good." Kylie popped out of the chair. "Where's she at?"

"Who the hell is Blake?" Burnett asked, blocking Kylie's path.

"He's her ex-fiance."

Jealously flashed in Burnett's eyes.

"And, he might also be the person who killed her sister and the other girls."

Protectiveness replaced the jealousy in his eyes. His fangs dropped down a quarter of an inch from his top lip. He swung around and in a flash was gone.

It took a fraction of a second before she remembered she could flash just like Burnett. She glanced at Derek, and only when his eyes widened did she realize her own canines were elongated. No time to explain, she lit out of the room and the fizzle that she always felt in her veins when she went into protective mode started to buzz.

Kylie just prayed that the buzz was premature and Holiday wasn't in danger. Copyright 2016 - 2023