Fear filled Collin's eyes when he saw Kylie, while pure evil seemed to surround him.
Kylie picked up Collin Warren and tossed him across the cabin. She heard his body hit the log walls with a loud, cracking thud. The air gushing out of his lungs sounded in the room, but she didn't see him land.
She heard a scuffle happening behind her. Fredericka screamed. Kylie ignored it.
On her knees beside Holiday, Kylie removed the rope from around her throat.
"Is she dead?" Kylie heard Fredericka ask. The question floated in the room-unanswered.
Kylie's gaze stayed locked on Holiday. Kylie's heart stayed locked on the fact that she'd tried to save Ellie and failed-tried to save Roberto and failed then, too.
Burnett's footsteps sounded in the cabin; she heard him let out a sound of pure anguish. He knew. He knew Holiday was dead.
Kylie still didn't look up. Everything she had-everything she wanted to believe in-stayed focused on Holiday. This couldn't be happening. Not Holiday.
"No!" Kylie screamed.
Not Holiday, who had always been there for Kylie, always listened, always cared. Memories of them together filled her mind. Memories of them laughing, sitting side by side at the falls, even eating ice cream while talking about heartaches and boys. How many times had Holiday offered Kylie a warm, comforting touch?
"You can't go," Kylie said with a half sob. Tears rolled down her cheeks and landed on Holiday's pale face. Kylie ran her hands over Holiday's swollen, bruised throat.
When Kylie didn't feel her hands heat up, she closed her eyes and prayed. Let me save her. You gave me this power, now let me use it. I'll pay whatever price it takes, even if it's my own life. Do you hear me? My life for hers!
A ball of warmth formed in her chest and then slowly spread to her hands. Her hands tingled and then turned hot and then hotter still. Holiday's body felt so cold, so lifeless under Kylie's palms, but she didn't stop. She couldn't.
"She's glowing again," Fredericka's voice sounded in the distance.
But even as Kylie's light filled the small room, Holiday didn't respond. Another somber, grieving sound came from Burnett. It was the last sound Kylie heard before her vision went black.
Darkness surrounded Kylie. Exhaustion pulled at her mind. Where was she? Why did she feel so depleted? So dead?
She tried to open her eyes, but the effort felt too much. Wake up! Wake up! a part of her brain demanded. The feeling of urgency filled her chest and she fought to push the cobwebs from her mind.
As the last few clouds of confusion and exhaustion were cleared, she came to. She was in someone's arms, someone who ran. Kylie's body jolted up and down with the footfalls. She forced her eyes open and looked up at ... Fredericka?
"Put me down," Kylie demanded.
"Burnett said to carry you," Fredericka bit out. "Believe me, I don't like it, either."
"Put me down!" Kylie demanded, and the she-wolf came to a sudden stop and dropped her none too gently on the ground. The feel of her butt hitting the hard ground brought it all back.
Collin Warren had Holiday.
Holiday ... dead.
Pain filled Kylie's chest.
Bolting to her feet, she saw Burnett, holding a lifeless Holiday in his arms.
Kylie rushed over. "Let me try again!" she begged.
"You already did," Burnett bit out.
"But maybe this time-"
"Kylie! You already saved her," Burnett said. "She's weak, but she's breathing. Now, let Fredericka carry you back to camp so we can get both of you help."
"I'm fine," Kylie insisted.
"You're still glowing, Kylie," Burnett snapped. "And I don't know what that means."
Kylie didn't know either. But she didn't care. She stared at Holiday's chest, waiting to see it shift upward, bringing in oxygen. She held her own breath.
Only when Holiday breathed did Kylie draw air into her hungry lungs.
"Let's go," Burnett muttered. "I have a doctor meeting us at the camp."
Kylie pushed herself to run, but it wasn't nearly as fast as before, and damn if she didn't feel every muscle burn. Not that she was complaining. Holiday was alive and so was she. Nothing else mattered.
Kylie sat in Holiday's living room, silent and still glowing, while the doctor checked Holiday out in the bedroom. Burnett, on his feet, kept a listening ear turned to the door.
All the other students gathered in the dining hall. School had been canceled while everyone waited for news. Kylie wondered if Holiday knew how loved she was. That everyone, even Fredericka, cared.
Everyone except ... Collin Warren. Questions start flipping through her mind. Kylie looked at Burnett. "What happened to Collin?"
Burnett shook his head.
Kylie's gut knotted. She recalled tossing the man across the small shack, recalled hearing the sound of his lungs give up air. Had his soul given up as well?
She'd said she would kill for Holiday, and she would, but now the thought that she might have taken a life made her want to puke. "Did I...?"
Burnett shook his head. "Fredericka. She said he came at you with a knife. She attacked. They fought. He lost."
Kylie now recalled hearing the struggle, but the idea left her stunned. "Fredericka saved my life?" Oh, hell. She didn't want to be indebted to someone who hated her. Then she couldn't help but wonder why she'd done it. She could have let Collin kill her.
Burnett stared at Kylie as if reading her mind. "She comes off as a real bitch, but I don't think she's as bad as she lets people believe." He hesitated. "That happens when you have a rough upbringing. People think the worst of you and it just gets easier to let them think it than to try to prove them differently." He looked back at the bedroom door. "Holiday believed she was salvageable."
So did Lucas. Kylie sat there and chewed on her feelings. About Fredericka, then about Lucas. She missed him. Wished he was here.
Then she reheard Burnett's words and picked up on the personal reference in his tone. That happens when you have a rough upbringing. A piece of the puzzle of who Burnett was suddenly fell into place. She didn't know why it felt important but it did. She looked up at him. "You were raised in a foster home with Perry, weren't you?"
Burnett's gaze stayed fixed on the door. "She's going to be okay." A smile brightened his eyes. "The doctor, he just said she was going to be okay." He reached back with both hands and laced his fingers behind his neck. When he glanced at Kylie, he was still smiling. "Yeah. I was raised in foster care. Why? You thinking that's why I'm a mean bastard? Because of my rough upbringing?"
Hearing the humor and relief in his voice, she smiled. She knew if he weren't so relieved by the doctor's news, he'd probably be pissed that Kylie figured it out. Then the opportunity occurred to her. "No, but I'm thinking that's why it might be so hard for you to tell Holiday how you feel. To admit that you love her. And I think she really needs to hear that."
His eyebrows arched. "I'm not the one who's been pushing the other away."
"But you haven't told her how you feel, either. And you gotta trust me on this. A woman needs to hear that."
A few minutes passed in silence; she knew Burnett was thinking about what she said, and that felt good. But then the vamp looked back at her with questions in his eyes. "How did Hayden Yates know about Collin Warren?"
Kylie chose her words carefully. She hadn't told Burnett that Hayden was a chameleon and wasn't sure if she should.
"When I went to his cabin, he'd been out running. I accused him of being involved. He denied it. He said he'd seen Collin out and the man looked suspicious."
Burnett digested what she'd said. "Supposedly, Collin's always been socially flawed but no one saw the evilness in him until now." Burnett paused again. "How did you end up with Hayden's phone?"
"I'd forgotten mine when I left. So I ... confiscated his." She shrugged.
"Did you know he left a message with me, saying he had a family emergency and had to leave for a few days?"
Kylie tried not to let her disappointment show. "No, I didn't know that."
"Do you still think he's involved?" Burnett asked. "If you do, I'll bring his ass back here now."
"No," Kylie answered honestly. "I was wrong. He didn't have anything to do with Holiday. If anything ... he helped save her."
Burnett studied her. "And you don't see it as suspicious his leaving right now?"
"Maybe a little," Kylie said, so she wouldn't get caught in a lie. "But I'm sure he didn't have anything to do with Holiday's abduction."
"I'm still questioning him when he gets back," Burnett said.
Me too. Kylie shook her head. If he comes back. Her heart sank.
Then she recalled the phone again, still tucked in her pocket. Hayden Yates had to be working for her grandfather. And if so, he was probably in contact with Hayden. That meant she might have her grandfather's number in the phone.
If her grandfather hadn't changed his number again.
Thirty minutes later, after Burnett had visited Holiday, Kylie moved into the bedroom. Holiday, her red hair looking redder against the white sheets, looked pale, but alive. The bruise on her throat hadn't gone away.
She touched her throat and motioned for Kylie to hand her the water on her bedside table.
"You brought me back." Holiday's voice sounded raw, painfully raw.
"But I didn't heal you all the way." Kylie's throat hurt hearing Holiday talk. "Do you want me to see if I can-?"
Holiday shook her head. "I think you've done enough. You look worn out."
Kylie felt worn out, but not so much that she couldn't try. "I could-"
"No. I'll heal." Holiday looked concerned. "You haven't stopped glowing."
"I know," Kylie said. "But it'll go away, right?"
Holiday nodded but didn't look confident. Then she motioned for Kylie to sit in the chair beside the bed. "I got to see Hannah before she passed over. Right as I was dying, everything slowed down and she came to me. We talked. We made amends." Tears brightened Holiday's green eyes. "None of this would have happened if not for you. Thank you. I know the cost you have to pay, and I promise to live my life so it won't cost you even the tiniest piece of your soul."
Kylie took her hand and squeezed. "I don't think you've ever lived it any other way."
"I can be better." Holiday swallowed. "Nothing like dying to show you how to live."
Kylie smiled. "I hope in that message, you're talking about Burnett."
Holiday grinned. "The stupid vamp just asked me to marry him. Here, now? As if looking like I just died is how I wanted to be proposed to."
Joy did a lap around Kylie's heart. "And you said?"
Holiday took a sip of water. "I asked him if we couldn't just live together in sin."
Kylie frowned, but then she saw something in Holiday's eyes. "And?"
"He told me it wouldn't be a good example to our students. So ... I agreed to marry him." She pushed a hand against her forehead. "Dear God, what am I getting myself into? He's not an easy man to deal with."
"I can hear you," Burnett called out from the other room, a chuckle sounding in his voice.
Holiday rolled her eyes.
Kylie squeezed Holiday's hand tighter. "He loves you," she whispered.
"Yeah, that's what he said." She sank deeper into her pillow, looking exhausted, but she also looked happy.
A sense of rightness filled Kylie's chest. She'd done it. Or at least, she'd helped do it. Burnett and Holiday were getting together.
She couldn't help but wonder if she and Lucas would have the same luck.
Holiday stared up at the ceiling for a second. "I also saw your grandmother, Kylie."
"Nana?" Kylie asked. "What did she say?"
"No, not Nana, the other one. Heidi."
Kylie saw something almost sad in Holiday's eyes. "What did she say?"
"Just to say hello." Holiday sighed.
Something told Kylie there was more. What was it that Holiday didn't want to tell? Kylie almost asked, but when Holiday's eyes fluttered closed, Kylie realized now wasn't the time to push. Later, she thought, and reached down and touched Hayden's phone in her pocket. Later.
It was after lunch before Kylie could sneak away to her bedroom. She pulled out Hayden's phone and searched for her grandfather's number. Unfortunately, there were no names listed. Just numbers. Three had been called the most. Kylie sat down on the edge of her bed and called the first.
She held her breath while it rang.
A woman answered. "About time you called," the voice said.
"Who is this?" Kylie asked, unsure how to approach the call.
"This is ... Casey. Who are you?"
"What are you doing with Hayden's phone?"
"Damn that bastard! He said he wasn't seeing anyone else. Tell him I said to go to hell! He wasn't that good in bed anyway, as I'm sure you probably know." The line went dead.
"Uh-oh." Kylie considered calling back and trying to explain, but what would she say? I'm not his girlfriend, just someone who stole his phone after accusing him of being a serial killer. That might complicate matters even worse. Best to let him handle it on his own.
"Sorry, Hayden," Kylie muttered.
Before Kylie called the next number, the phone dinged with an incoming text. She debated over reading it, thinking it might be from his pissed-off girlfriend. Then she saw it wasn't from that number. She might be invading his privacy, but after stealing his phone, what was one more sin?
It took a second to figure out the phone's features to display the message.
But she was so damn glad she did.