Kylie caught Burnett's scent and in no time she flew beside him. They didn't stop until they came to a small restaurant on Main Street in downtown Fallen, Texas. Holiday's car was parked in front.

As soon as Burnett had his footing, he twitched his brows to check Kylie's pattern. He didn't say anything, but she saw the shock in his eyes before he turned back to the restaurant.

They rushed to the large front window. "In the back corner," Kylie said, her panic lessening at the sight of Holiday, alive, but not looking happy. Then again, she didn't appear in danger either. The man sitting across from her wore jeans and a light blue shirt. He was tall, dark, and ...

Kylie almost thought handsome, but stopped herself from going there.

"How did you know she was here?" she asked.

"When I saw she was gone, I called her. She said she was at the cafe, and when someone walked up, I heard her say his name."

Kylie looked back at the window and tuned her ears to hear Holiday's conversation.

"I just came here to ask you if you've seen her," Holiday said.

"And I came here to try to explain what happened," Blake countered. "I made a mistake. It's been over two years, and I haven't stopped loving you."

Burnett growled and moved for the door. Kylie caught his elbow. Dressed in all black today, he looked fierce.

"Wait," Kylie said.

"For what?" Burnett's nostrils flared.

"We need a plan."

"I've got one." His eyes grew brighter when Blake touched Holiday's arm.

"One that doesn't include murder," Kylie muttered, and then added, "You can't just storm in like a jealous boyfriend."

"I'm not jealous," he said.

Kylie heard his heart skip beats. Oh, that was so cool.

"Really?" Kylie arched a knowing brow at him.

"He killed her sister," Burnett defended himself.

"I said he might be the one who killed her."

"That's good enough for me." He reached for the door again. Kylie stopped him again.

"Do you really want this to be the way Holiday finds out her sister is dead? In public?"

He stepped back, his eyes telling her he'd seen reason. "Okay, what's your plan?"

She didn't have one, but said, "We hang back and watch."

He frowned. "He could pull a knife and kill her before I could save her."

"In public?" Kylie asked.

"It's not the smartest move, but this guy screwed up and lost Holiday. That tells me he's an idiot." Burnett never looked away from the window as he spoke. His eyes turned a brighter green. A low growl came from his lips. "He's touching her again."

"That's not why I called you, Blake." Holiday pulled her hand back. Her red hair hung loose and stood out against the pale yellow sundress that she wore. "I just want to find Hannah."

"But she's not letting him touch her," Kylie said. "Let's move before she spots us."

Too late.

Holiday looked up, and her eyes widened at the sight of them standing outside the glass door.

"You got a new plan?" Burnett asked. "Because I'm fresh out of ideas, and she looks pissed."

Kylie almost smiled at the fear she heard in the big, bad vampire's voice. "Don't tell her anything until we get her back to camp," Kylie said quickly.

The door swung open as Holiday stepped out. She looked at Burnett, then Kylie. "What's wrong?"

"I needed to talk to you," Kylie said, improvising.

"About what?" When no one answered, Holiday spoke up again. "What happened?"

Burnett started to answer. Afraid he might tell Holiday the truth, Kylie blurted out, "I happened." She pointed to her forehead.

Holiday tightened her brows and her eyes widened. "Oh, my."

The bell from the restaurant doors chimed behind them and Blake walked out. He stopped beside Holiday. "Is everything okay?" He cut his gaze to Burnett.

Burnett, eyes ablaze, pulled Holiday to his side.

"That depends," said Burnett, "on how quickly you get your ass away from here."

Thankfully, Blake had simply offered Holiday a good-bye nod and left without incident.

Kylie couldn't help but wonder if it was because he was suspicious that they knew the truth. Burnett seemed to share the same thought when he watched Blake walk away. The low growl coming from his chest left no question that Burnett planned on seeing the man again. And probably sooner than later.

Burnett and Kylie rode back with Holiday. Holiday peppered Kylie with questions as she drove. "When did you turn into a vampire? Have you experienced any pain? Have your powers changed?" Then Burnett started in with his line-up of questions about Kylie's newly acquired pattern.

Kylie answered as vaguely as she could, not wanting to talk about her grandfather. She accepted she'd have to come clean, eventually, but considering what other news she had to give Holiday, Kylie didn't want to add anything else for the camp leader to worry about just yet.

Back in the office, Holiday tossed her purse on the sofa and looked at both Burnett and Kylie with her "tell the truth or die" stare. Kylie wondered if her mom hadn't taught it to Holiday, because it sure did look familiar.

"Now, explain to me what's really going on," Holiday snapped. "I can sense there's more."

Kylie bit down on her lip. Burnett took a step forward. He squared his shoulders, empathy filling his eyes. He took a deep, apparently heartfelt breath and looked at Kylie. She nodded at him as if giving him the lead. He looked back at Holiday and, in a deep voice, said, "Kylie has something to tell you."

Kylie's mouth fell open and right then she knew it was official: Men sucked at verbal communication, especially where anything emotional was concerned.

Holiday's gaze shot back to Kylie, and her chest swelled with grief. Grief she knew Holiday was going to feel. An emotion Kylie had personally visited and revisited too often lately. Losing Nana, losing her stepfather-even if it wasn't in death, it still felt that way-losing her real father, Daniel, because his visits had been cut off. Then there was Ellie. Kylie had even found herself grieving over Red, aka Roberto.

Inhaling, Kylie motioned for Holiday to sit down. The camp leader studied Kylie's face and probably read every one of her emotions. Stepping to her desk, she sank in the chair. The cushions sighed from her weight. It seemed to be the only noise in the room.

"What is it?" Holiday asked again.

Emotion lumped in Kylie's throat. "I didn't tell you because you told me that ... you wouldn't want to know. The whole live for today and tomorrow speech. Because at first I thought it was you."

Holiday leaned forward, gripping the side of her desk. "I don't understand."

"The face of the spirit that I told you I recognized. I thought it was you. But it wasn't ... you."

Holiday's green eyes filled with tears and Kylie knew that Holiday had already put the pieces together. Burnett, much to his credit, moved behind her and tenderly pressed a hand on her shoulder.

"She's dead?" Holiday's next breath shuddered as she pulled it into her lungs. Tears slipped from her lashes and leaked onto her cheeks. "Why ... didn't she come to me?"

Kylie wiped her own wet cheeks. "I think because she was ashamed of what happened."

"She told you about ... that?"

"Yeah." Kylie's voice barely came out as a whisper. Burnett looked at her as if wondering what all she hadn't told him.

Grief filled the room. "What happened?" Holiday finally asked. "Was she mountain climbing? I told her it was dangerous to go alone."

Kylie shook her head. "It wasn't an accident."

Anger tightened Holiday's expression. "She was killed? By whom?"

"We don't know for sure." Burnett sat down on the edge of Holiday's desk. The way he looked at the camp leader warmed Kylie's heart. He cared. She just hoped this whole Blake issue didn't push them farther apart.

"But Blake is the prime suspect," Burnett said.

"Blake?" Holiday breathed in. "No, I don't believe..." She stopped as if having second thoughts. She swiped at her face again to clear the tears, and then she looked at Kylie. "Okay, tell me everything you know. And don't leave anything out."

That afternoon, at her cabin, Kylie sat at her kitchen table.

Lunch had been so much fun that day-not-that Kylie had decided to skip dinner. There hadn't been one person who hadn't stared, mouth agape, at her or made some wisecrack about Kylie's new vampire pattern.

Okay, that was a lie. Her close friends hadn't stared-or at least they tried not to. Jonathon and Helen had been taken off guard and before they could stop themselves, they'd done their share of ogling. Of course, then Jonathon had come over and welcomed her to vampire society and suggested she join them at their table.

She had declined. She could tell from a few of the vamps' expressions that she wouldn't be welcomed by all.

When Perry walked into the dining room, he'd checked her out, and then sent her a thumbs-up. Obviously, he'd decided not to be mad at her about the whole net thing. Then Kylie noticed all three of the new teachers eyeballing her. For some reason, she just assumed they'd have better manners, but nope, they found her just as entertaining as the others.

However, there had been one thing that made the whole meal ordeal worthwhile. When a smirking Fredericka pointed her out to Lucas, he'd just shrugged and said, "Yeah, I heard." Then he'd glanced at Kylie, not to stare, but to smile.

That smile, with a devilish twinkle in his eyes, had all sorts of meaning, too. Kylie found herself blushing and caring a little less that she was the freak show while everyone downed their burgers and fries. Of course, that lasted for only a few minutes. Then someone else made some smart-mouthed comment about Kylie's mind being off-the-chart weird.

For all the times she wished her sensitive hearing would stay turned on, she now wished she could cut it off-permanently. One only assumed you wanted to hear what was being whispered behind your back.

Staring at her hands resting on the table, she knew part of her bad mood was due to her hurting for Holiday. Kylie wanted to help her, but Holiday insisted on being alone.

The computer dinged with an incoming e-mail. Kylie rushed over, praying it would be from her grandfather or great-aunt. She'd been checking obsessively, especially since her earlier e-mail had bounced back ... meaning the address she had for them was no longer active.

She dropped into the desk chair, her breath held, as she opened the screen.

Not from her grandfather or aunt.

She stared at her stepdad's e-mail address and accidentally clicked it open. Then she accidentally read it.

Hey, princess, I'm looking forward to seeing you Saturday. Miss you. Miss your mom.

All the emotions over her mom and dad's divorce came hurtling back. She jumped up so fast the chair slammed against the floor and broke into four different pieces. "Screw it!" she bellowed. Throat tightening with emotion, she stomped over and yanked open the fridge. She waited to feel the cool air hit her face.

It didn't feel cold, because she was too cold. She was a freaking vampire!

She swatted a tear from her cheek and looked back to the computer. What if her stepdad started asking questions about her mom again? Kylie sure as heck didn't want to be the one to drop the bomb that her mom was dating.

Then again, he was probably going to find out Saturday anyway. She'd already gotten an e-mail from Mom asking Kylie if she minded if Creepy Guy-the one who wanted to take her mom to England and bang her senseless-came to parent day.

Kylie had been a breath away from e-mailing her mom back and saying, Hell yes, I mind.

But was it fair to rain on her mom's parade? Shouldn't Kylie be content that her mom was happy? Kylie just wished her mom could be happy back with her stepdad. Wished life could go back to the way things were before.

For a second, she remembered how things had been. Her thinking she was nothing but human, her not knowing things such as vampires and werewolves existed.

Her having never known Derek. Her never reconnecting with Lucas.

Her, without Della or Miranda.

Suddenly, Kylie Galen's world before Shadow Falls didn't seem so desirable. Well, except having her mom and stepdad together.

Kylie heard Della's mattress shift and her footsteps pad against the floor. Kylie did another swipe of her face, hoping to hide the watery evidence. Vampires didn't cry.

"There's some B-positive blood that I brought you behind the milk," Della said.


"How are you feeling?" Della asked.

"Fine. Why?"

Della moved in some more. "Because usually when someone starts ripping apart furniture, they don't feel so well."

Kylie stared at the broken chair and didn't reply.

"Actually, I'm just surprised that you didn't have any symptoms during the turning stage. I'm glad you didn't, because believe me, it's not fun."

Kylie reached for the blood. "You know, this probably won't last."

"The blood?" Della asked. "I can get more."

"No, me being vampire. I'm not really vampire. I mean, I'm only part vampire."

"You look full-blooded," Della said, and then, "How do you change it?" She moved to the kitchen table.

Kylie opened the bottle and suddenly the idea of drinking the blood turned her stomach. Had she already changed into something else? Oh, great! If so, she couldn't wait until breakfast when everyone would have another field day making fun of her.

Closing the cap, attempting to hide her nausea from Della, she said, "I don't understand how it works. How to make it happen, how to make it not happen."

She faced Della. "Am I still vampire?"

Della nodded, and Kylie saw from the girl's expression that she could tell Kylie had been crying.

"Go ahead and say it," Kylie said. "I'm supposed to be a badass now that I'm a vamp."

"I don't care if you're badass," Della said with sincerity.

Frustration welled up inside Kylie because she was being a bitch, because Della was being nice, but mostly because she couldn't go running to Holiday for answers this time.

Holiday didn't have the answers. And the people who did, her grandfather and aunt, didn't want anything to do with Shadow Falls and were now "undeliverable."

A chameleon alone will not survive.

And right now, Kylie felt very alone.

More tears flowed and Kylie swiped at her cheeks. "I hate feeling like a freak," Kylie bellowed out. "I hate feeling as if I have no control over my own body."

Her thoughts went to Hannah. And to Hannah's concern that someone was out to hurt Holiday. And I'm tired of people dying.

"Your grandfather didn't tell you how to ... handle it?"

Kylie let go of a deep sigh. "He said it would take years for me to learn."

"So you're going to go around changing from thing to thing without being able to control it?"

"That's the way he made it sound. I don't know." Kylie dropped into a chair.

After a pregnant pause, Della asked, "What did you think of your grandfather?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, did you like him, not like him? Was he some old fart with one foot in the grave?"

"No, he wasn't ... that old. And he seemed nice. He looked like my dad. But reminded me a little of Burnett, serious and stern."

"But?" Della said, making it sound like a question.

"I didn't say 'but.'"

"Yeah, but you looked like you were thinking it."

Kylie exhaled. "If I tell you something, will you not say anything ... to anyone?"

"Cross my cold heart," Della said. "And promise not to cry. Especially if I look half as bad as you do when I do it," she said, as if attempting to coax a smile out of Kylie.

Kylie didn't smile. She couldn't. "He wants me to go live with them."

Della's eyes widened and the humor quickly faded. "You're not going to do it, are you?"

"No," Kylie said. "I don't think so."

Right then, she heard her grandfather's voice again. Come with us. We'll help you understand everything. You need to learn who and what you are, Kylie.

"Don't think so?" Della repeated Kylie's words. "That sounds like you're considering it."

"No," Kylie said.

And she wasn't, she told herself. She really wasn't.

Although she might not have much of a choice ... Copyright 2016 - 2024