Kylie slipped into bed early that night. Having hardly slept the night before, she'd hoped she'd sleep like the dead. Well, not like the dead, but sleep like a hungry vampire, slightly turned off by the idea of drinking blood, who was mentally frazzled.
No such luck. She lay staring at the ceiling, petting the purring Socks, and worrying about Holiday and wishing Lucas would call. Right then, Socks crawled up on her chest and started giving her kitty kisses on her chin.
Kylie stared at the kitten. "If and when I turn into a werewolf, are you still going to love me? Remember I loved you when you were a skunk."
The kitten meowed with what Kylie hoped was a yes.
"Do you think Holiday knows we love her?" Kylie asked.
Talking to Socks did little to ease the worry from her heart. Giving in, she reached for the phone. She wasn't even sure who she was going to call, Lucas or Holiday.
Holiday answered on the third ring. "Hey, is everything okay?"
"Yeah, I'm ... worried about you, thought maybe I could come over for a while."
The line went silent. "I ... appreciate it, but I think I need to be alone."
"That's fine," she assured Holiday, although she'd ached to hug Holiday and offer her some comfort.
"Has she come to see you again?" Holiday asked.
"No." Kylie ran her finger under Socks's chin.
"If she does ... tell her to come see me? Tell her I'm not mad anymore, I just ... need to see her." There was so much grief in Holiday's voice that tears stung Kylie's eyes.
"I'll do that." Silence, painful silence, filled the line. The only thing Kylie could hear was Holiday's grief. "Holiday..."
"Yes?" Holiday's voice shook just a little.
"I love you. I know that sounds sappy, but you and Shadow Falls mean so much to me. I don't know if you understand how much good you do for everyone who comes here."
You are one of us. We share the same blood. A chameleon alone will not survive. Her grandfather's words echoed in her heart again.
"I belong at Shadow Falls," Kylie said, and then flinched when she realized she'd spoken her thought aloud.
"Of course you do." Holiday sounded confused. "Are ... you okay?"
"Fine," she lied. "Just worried about you."
"Don't worry," Holiday said. "And Kylie, I love you, too. We'll talk tomorrow, okay?"
Holiday hung up. Five minutes later, melancholy still had her in its grips when Burnett called and asked if she'd spoken with Holiday. "I did," Kylie said. "I asked if I could come over, but she said she wanted to be alone."
"She told me the same thing," he muttered.
"Then we should respect her wishes," Kylie said.
Burnett exhaled. "Do you think she still loves him?"
While the question was a complete conversational U-turn, Kylie followed it perfectly. The fact that Burnett trusted her enough to show his vulnerability surprised her. The realization made her feel slightly guilty for keeping things from him. But she didn't have a choice, did she?
"No," she said, certain that Holiday loved Burnett. But it wasn't Kylie's place to say it.
"I'm going to have to bring him in to interview him," Burnett said.
"I know," Kylie said. "But you can't mistreat him or assume he's guilty just because he used to be with Holiday."
"You think I'd do that?" Burnett asked.
"Yeah," she said honestly. "I saw the way you looked at him this morning."
He remained quiet for a second. "Have you spoken with Hannah again?"
"It would be helpful if she could tell us more," he bit out.
As if Kylie didn't realize it. "It's a shame they don't always cooperate."
"If she shows up, ask her to ... come talk to me."
"Are you sure?" Kylie recalled how he'd reacted to the whole ghost issue.
"Hell, no, but I'll do it if it will help Holiday." The line went silent again. "Before I forget, Derek's going to come to your cabin and walk you to the office at six in the morning. We'll go to the cafe ... to see if we can find anything out on Cara M. I've checked and there isn't a Cara M. listed as missing. Do you think maybe you read it wrong?"
"No, I've seen it several times."
"Okay," he said. "We'll go and see what we can find first thing in the morning. Then we'll have to rush back here before the parents start showing up."
Oh, joy, Kylie thought. She had almost forgotten that was tomorrow.
As soon as Kylie hung up with Burnett, she heard a tap at her bedroom window. She expected the blue jay, but was wonderfully surprised when she saw Lucas pushing open her window.
"Why can't you people use a door?" Della called out from the living room.
"'Cause I didn't come to see you," Lucas called out, and smiled at Kylie.
His smile did all kinds of wonderful things to her mood. He moved in, sat on the edge of the bed, and then leaned down and kissed her. It was warm, soft, and, she sensed, purposely short.
"I can't stay long." His gaze lingered on her lips. "No matter how much I want to."
"What's going on?" she asked.
"My dad summoned me again."
She frowned. "I don't like your dad," she said, and then felt bad for having said it. "Sorry, I didn't-"
He put a finger over her lips. "I don't like him very much, either." Then he smiled. "I have to go, but ... maybe later, you can dream of me." A sexy twinkle filled his eyes.
She frowned. "I tried last night and couldn't. I think it's because I'm vampire."
He frowned. "I knew being a vamp would be the pits."
Kylie rolled her eyes.
"I heard that," Della shouted.
"Can you hear this?" Lucas shot a bird toward the door.
Kylie jerked his hand down. "Don't get her started," she muttered to Lucas, and then called out, "Go to bed, Della."
Lucas exhaled. "I need to go." He leaned down and kissed her again.
The kiss was the last thing Kylie thought about when she drifted off to sleep. She tried again to dreamscape, but nothing happened. So instead, she just dreamed. Dreamed how it could be when she understood everything about who and what she was. Dreamed of when Lucas was free of trying to appease his pack.
Kylie woke up the next morning around 4 AM. The room was cold, so she knew someone else was here, but they never manifested, which was just rude-like playing Peeping Tom. Sitting up, she whispered, "Hannah, is that you?"
No one answered, but the cold somehow felt different.
A shiver ran down Kylie's spine. She pulled the blanket up around her shoulders and sat there, breathing in the cold air. Was this one of the girls buried with Hannah, or was this someone new? It felt new-unfamiliar. Had someone from the graveyard followed her back? As always, when a new spirit appeared, Kylie pretty much went back to feeling anti-ghost.
Kylie listened to her clock mark off two minutes before the cold faded. Socks moved from under the bed and leapt up onto the mattress and curled up into a tight little knot on her lap. "You're a little anti-ghost, too, aren't you?"
The kitten let out a muffled meow that seemed to say, Hell, yes.
Kylie pulled Socks closer and then settled back into the pillows, half hoping to fall back asleep, half trying to dreamscape again. No such luck.
Her mind ran from seeing her mom, stepdad, and mom's new boyfriend to Hannah and the trip to the cafe she'd be making in a few hours. Would they learn who Cara M. was? Would that help them figure out who killed them?
Sitting there, Kylie recalled how Hannah had gone all weird on her when the new teachers had walked into the dining hall yesterday. Did that mean anything? "Hannah, if you can come for a chat, I'd appreciate it. And your sister wants to talk to you and so does Burnett. You're a very popular ghost."
The room remained silent and warm. Realizing if she stayed in bed she'd just let herself get caught up in angst, she tossed back the covers and got up.
Maybe Holiday was already at the office. And hopefully, Della wouldn't bite her head off for wanting to head out early. She'd have to call Derek and let him know she was already at the office.
It was still pitch-dark when Kylie and Della stepped out of the cabin. The temperature was down and there was a fall-like feeling in the black morning air. Della hadn't bitten her head off when she told her she wanted to go see if Holiday was at the office, not literally anyway. But Kylie could tell she wanted to.
No doubt, playing shadow was finally getting to Della. Kylie didn't blame the vamp. Maybe it was time Kylie talked with Burnett about putting a stop to it. Mario hadn't been around in a while. She sensed Mario had backed off and even Miranda said she didn't feel a thing. Kylie could only hope he'd gone forever.
"Too damn early," Della muttered.
"If you don't want to go, I'll be fine."
Della kept walking, but not bitching. "I guess it proves it," Della hissed.
"Proves what?" Kylie asked.
"That you're really not a vampire. I mean, we sleep the best during the AM."
"I told you I wasn't all vampire. I..." Kylie went silent when she heard the footfalls coming down the path. Della's eyes widened at the same time, then motioned for them to move into the edge of the woods. They hid behind a bush, waited, and watched-watched as a dark figure moved down the trail.
He wore a dark sweater, one with a hood that partially concealed his face. Kylie didn't recognize his shape or his gait. If it was one of the regular campers, she would have, wouldn't she?
Della sniffed the air. "I don't recognize his scent," she whispered.
"What's the plan?" Kylie asked.
"This?" Della leapt out of the woods, canines showing, eyes a bright green, and landed with a thud in front of the stranger.