Right before Kylie lit out of her room, she glanced at the clock on her nightstand. Five AM. Holiday would be at the office already.
Kylie stormed into Della's room, but the girl wasn't there. Probably at an early vampire ceremony. Kylie didn't wait a second longer; she bolted out of the cabin and flew like the wind to the office. The only thing that felt heavy about her was her heart. As if her heart knew Holiday's situation was bad. Really, really bad.
When Kylie got to the office, she found the door ajar. Not a good sign. Even worse, there was glass shattered all over the wet floor of the entrance. The broken handle of the coffee pot lay in the corner, another sign that a struggle had taken place.
"Where are you, Holiday?" Kylie's voice trembled. Tears filled her eyes and she tried to think.
Burnett. She needed to contact Burnett.
She reached into her pocket for her phone, only to realize she hadn't brought it. She ran into Holiday's office. The room looked undisturbed. Whoever had gotten Holiday had done it in the entrance area. He'd probably been waiting for her when she came in this morning, or maybe walked in when she'd been making coffee.
Hands shaking, Kylie grabbed Holiday's office phone. She couldn't remember Burnett's cell number. But damn, she could get to his cabin quicker than find his number.
She tore out, her feet barely touching the ground. She didn't know if she'd morphed into a vampire or if in protective mode she simply had more power. She didn't really care. Only one thing mattered, one thought echoed in her mind. Save Holiday. She had to save Holiday.
She made it to Burnett's cabin, and didn't even knock. She screamed his name when she entered, but no one answered. No one.
She went into his bedroom. The bed stood empty.
Recalling the vampire ritual, she tore out again. Della had told her once where they held it. She shot through the woods, not caring about her promise to not enter. If she ran into trouble, being in protective mode, she could kick ass and ask questions later.
She exited through the line of trees into a clearing. The wind whizzed past as she moved. Coming to a jolting stop, she found herself circled by a half-dozen angry vamps, their eyes glowing at the idea of an intruder disturbing their ceremony.
Lucky for her, the Shadow Falls vamps weren't likely to attack. A good thing, because even in protective mode, she didn't know if she could take on all six of them.
"Where's Burnett?" Kylie snapped. "Or Della?"
"What is it?" Burnett came to a stop beside her.
Kylie never answered. She didn't have to. He saw it in her eyes.
"Holiday?" The sound in his voice had Kylie's chest aching. Her blood pumped faster.
Kylie's breath caught. "He's got her."
"Who?" he demanded as Della stopped at his side.
"I still don't know," Kylie answered, and her eyes spiked with more tears. But they had better find out, and soon, before it was too late.
Three minutes later, after Kylie had explained everything, Burnett had spouted out orders for all the vamps and her to go search the Shadow Falls property. If Holiday was still here, they'd find her. Burnett headed back to the office to see if he could find clues and to check to see if the alarm was functioning.
Kylie headed to the west side of the property. But when she passed the trail that led to the cabin where Hayden Yates lived, she did a complete U-turn.
She slammed down on his porch. Heard him moving around inside. Heard him talking to someone.
She stormed in without knocking and oops, forgot to open the door. It landed with a loud crack on the floor. Hayden stood by the sofa, his hooded sweater in one hand as if he'd just removed it, and his phone in the other. His dark hair appeared darker, wet with sweat. His skin looked flushed, as if he'd been running. But from what?
Or better yet, from where?
"Where is she?" Her tone came out deep, filled with fury and warning.
He cut off the phone. "Where is who?" he asked in innocence.
"Don't play games with me." Her blood now fizzed in her veins. Her patience, if she'd had any at all, was now gone.
He tossed the hoodie and his phone on the sofa. Beside those two items was a watch. A black-banded watch.
"You're vampire now. Try listening to my heart for the truth."
Kylie had already listened to his heart, but it didn't matter. Didn't matter that he had a different watch from the one she'd seen in the vision. He could have two watches. "That only works with people who have a conscience."
"And you're assuming I don't."
"You've been hiding something ever since you got here." She took a step closer. Her intent was to get answers, and she didn't care how.
He apparently read her mood, because he held out his hands, palms up. "Perhaps, but it isn't what you think. I haven't hurt your precious camp leader."
"I didn't tell you who it was! So how the hell-"
"I'm no fool. Burnett stakes out at her house most nights."
"If you've hurt her, I'll kill you." She didn't flinch at hearing the words. They were true. For Holiday, Kylie would kill.
But what if she'd failed Holiday and it was too late? Anger, fear, and love burned in Kylie's chest. Her hands shook.
"I don't doubt you could kill me," Hayden said, holding his submissive pose. "Your strength right now appears ... palpable." He inhaled and she could swear he looked sincere, even respectful. "It isn't my place to"-he hesitated again-"speak up." He ran a hand through his hair. "It would probably be beneficial for me to just keep my mouth shut. But unfortunately, unlike you believe, I do have a conscience."
He closed his eyes again and when he opened them, she saw complete honesty. And she saw something else, but she wasn't sure what it was. Something about him that looked ... familiar in a weird way. "I saw Collin Warren out and about this morning. Something told me he was up to no good."
Kylie listened to Hayden's heart speak the truth. She continued to study his eyes, which held no dishonesty. "Who are you?" she asked.
He brought both hands up and brushed his hair from his brow. "See for yourself."
Kylie did see. His pattern was the same as her father's. Hayden was ... a chameleon.
Her breath caught. He had all sorts of information she needed, but not now. Because more important than even the answers he held was Holiday's life. Then her gaze shifted back to his sofa, and she realized he did have one thing she needed.
She snagged his phone and lit out as she heard him protest.
Kylie flew off his porch. The sunrise had painted the horizon a bright color, not that she took the time to enjoy the view. She held the phone up and realized the problem. She still couldn't remember Burnett's number. So she dialed Della.
Della didn't answer, damn it.
Kylie left a message. She told her what she suspected-that Collin Warren had Holiday and that she was looking for him now. She didn't slow down, didn't stop until she stood in front of Collin's cabin. She listened. Not a sound echoed from inside. She had to see for herself. She started up the porch steps when she heard quiet footfalls sound behind her.
Heart stopping, Kylie swung around, expecting Collin, but found Fredericka instead.
"What are you doing sneaking around?" the were asked.
Kylie didn't have time to chat, so she turned around and went to check out Collin's cabin. The door was locked, so she simply crashed it in. She'd done it at Hayden's cabin, what was one more?
Fredericka's gasp sounded behind her. Kylie ignored it.
She went into Collin's bedroom, looking for anything that might help her find Holiday.
"What's going on?" Fredericka asked, following her into the room.
"Just leave. I don't have time for pettiness." She opened the drawer and yanked everything out.
"What's going on?" Fredericka asked again.
Kylie sighed. "Holiday's missing and I think this creep took her."
"Shit!" Fredericka said. "I knew he was weird."
Kylie went to leave.
"Wait," Fredericka said. "I followed him a couple of days ago. He went to some old cabin in that park next door."
"Where?" Kylie roared; every instinct in her seemed to be turned on.
"I'll ... show you." She held up her hands as if half frightened.
They ran into the woods. Kylie's patience was pushed when she had to slow down for Fredericka, but Kylie held her tongue. Normally, she wouldn't have trusted the were to spit on her if she was on fire, but her gut said the girl wasn't pulling any tricks now. No doubt Fredericka knew Holiday had gone to extra lengths to get her to Shadow Falls, and to keep her here.
They came upon the property gate. Kylie jumped without even trying. Fredericka barely made it and landed hard on the other side.
Kylie hesitated and looked back.
"I'm fine," the were growled, and bounced onto her feet.
I didn't ask. Kylie bit her tongue. They started to bolt again when Hayden's phone rang. Kylie pulled it out of her pocket and saw Burnett's name. Obviously, Della had given him this number.
"Where the hell are you?" Burnett barked. "And why do you have Hayden Yates's phone?"
Kylie and Fredericka arrived at the cabin before Burnett. But he'd said he was on his way, which meant he would be there soon. Weeds and young trees grew around the structure as if someone had forgotten it existed. The sounds of the night suddenly went silent. Burnett must be close by.
He'd ordered them to wait before moving into the cabin. But Kylie heard someone inside. She listened; God help her, she only heard one person breathing. Fear stole her next breath. Her blood fizzed so strong, it almost burned.
Protect Holiday. Protect Holiday. The words echoed in her head like a litany.
She motioned for Fredericka to stand back. The girl's eyes filled with rebellion. Kylie didn't have time to argue. She stormed into the building; the door splintered, the walls wobbled.
Collin Warren jumped up from the floor. At his feet lay Holiday.
A very still, very dead Holiday.