"You left without telling me." Burnett's mouth thinned with his reprimand.
"I did not." Kylie saw Della and Miranda behind Burnett, wearing concerned expressions. No doubt, it wasn't wise to disagree with Burnett.
"You were in the office and then you were gone," Burnett barked. "I was supposed to be shadowing you."
"That was almost an hour ago," she said. Had he just now realized she was gone?
The ringing of her phone drew her attention and she pulled it up to see who was calling. Holiday's name appeared on the tiny screen. Then the camp leader, phone pressed to her ear, stormed into the cabin.
"You found her." Relief filled Holiday's eyes and she folded her arms over her stomach and breathed as if she'd run all the way here.
"You shouldn't have left without telling me," Burnett said to Kylie.
Holiday shut her phone off and silenced Kylie's cell. Kylie stared at the camp leader, recalling the ghost issues that she needed to talk to her about. How could someone alive appear as a ghost?
"I was in charge of you." Burnett continued his tirade.
Kylie glanced at Burnett as she set her phone down on the end table. She should probably keep her mouth shut, but her bad mood prevailed. "You can't blame me. I told you I was leaving. Not once, but twice. You two were too busy being pissy with each other to hear me." When her own hostile words rang in her ears, she worried maybe Della and Miranda were on to something about her being werewolf.
Holiday stepped closer. "We weren't arguing."
Really, Kylie thought, noticing that Holiday's shirt was on inside out. Not arguing, huh? So what had they been doing that led to Holiday wearing her shirt inside out? All Kylie's frustration lessened and she almost smiled. Almost.
"Yes, we were arguing," Burnett confessed, as if suddenly remembering.
"We were just discussing things." Holiday sent Burnett a look that said, Don't disagree with me on this.
"We were discussing it heatedly." Burnett received another hard stare from the redheaded camp leader.
"I'll say," Della mouthed off. "I heard you all the way in the dining room. And I'm not so sure it was my vampire hearing that caught it."
"Yes, it was," Miranda piped up. "Because I didn't get to hear a thing. Then again, I was probably talking with Perry." She got a faraway look in her eyes. "I love talking with Perry."
"That said," Miranda continued, "nothing is as fun as a good argument. So if someone would like to fill me in, I'd appreciate it." She rubbed her hands together. "Just the good parts."
Burnett exhaled in frustration. "We were just-"
"What we were doing isn't important," Holiday blurted out, blushing.
"So you weren't arguing?" Miranda looked intrigued.
Kylie almost smiled again. Holiday was right. What they were doing wasn't important. The thing that mattered was that they'd made up. The thing that really mattered was if Holiday had managed to talk Burnett out of resigning his position. Shadow Falls needed him.
Holiday needed him.
Everything inside Kylie told her that the two of them were meant to be together. Unfortunately, Holiday resisted the idea of her and Burnett becoming an item. And while she hadn't completely admitted it, Kylie suspected it had everything to do with Holiday's vampire fiance who'd broken her heart when he left her at the altar. Kylie also sensed there was more to that story than Holiday let on. Not that being left at the altar wasn't bad, but something told Kylie it had been something even more emotionally damaging. Why else would Holiday reject Burnett's love?
God knew it wasn't easy for a vampire to take rejection. Kylie had told him he needed to be patient. Holiday couldn't continue to hold out. Not when Burnett was practically perfect. Tall, dark, moody enough to be fascinating, and with a good heart. Sure, being vampire, he didn't go around passing out good cheer like Holiday did. But he cared.
Did Holiday finally come to her senses?
"Are you staying on at Shadow Falls?" Kylie asked Burnett, breath held in hope.
Burnett glanced at Holiday and damn if he didn't almost smile. "I'm staying."
"Yes!" Miranda and Della high-fived each other and did a little victory dance.
A sense of rightness filled Kylie's chest. Maybe today wouldn't go down in history as the worst day in her life, after all.
Burnett, being his slightly brooding self, didn't seem to share her roommates' joy, but Kylie spotted relief in his eyes. "Next time you are under my charge, don't walk away without my permission."
Kylie nodded, too happy to care if she wasn't at fault.
"Even if you have to knock me over my head twice to get my attention," he continued, taking most of the blame on himself. Kylie's smile widened. As stern as Burnett could be, he wasn't unfair.
She watched Burnett start for the door, and Holiday turned to go with him. Again, Kylie couldn't help but wonder how far things had gone in their time together. Had their clothes been half off when they suddenly realized she was gone?
Holiday looked back at Kylie. Their gazes met and held.
Just from the quick glance, Kylie knew that Holiday, an empath like Derek, had read the swarm of emotions playing hide and seek in her mind. And not the happy ones.
Kylie seldom got anything past the fae. Not that Kylie attempted to hide a whole heck of a lot from Holiday. The bond they shared had moved past friendship. Holiday was family-not the kind you were born with, but the kind you were lucky enough to choose.
"I need to speak to Kylie." The warmth in Holiday's tone had Kylie's chest tightening and she wondered what she'd ever do without the woman in her life. She hoped she never had to find out. The thought sent a shiver down Kylie's spine.
Burnett acknowledged all of them with a farewell glance, and then left.
As soon as he walked out, Della turned to Holiday. "Maybe you can talk some sense into Kylie. She thinks she's a lizard."
Five minutes later, Holiday and Kylie sat on the edge of the porch, their bare legs dangling over the edge. The camp leader had changed from the dark dress she'd worn at Ellie's funeral to a pair of cutoff jeans and the yellow shirt that she wore inside out.
Kylie's black dress flared across her thighs, landing right above her knees. If she stretched out her feet, her toes would brush against the grass. She usually liked how the light tickle felt, but for some reason it now reminded her of sitting with Derek earlier out beside the tree.
Pushing that thought aside, Kylie stared down at their feet. Holiday had on a pair of sandals, and her toenails were painted a soft pink.
"What happened?" Holiday asked, concern deepening her tone.
"I don't know where to start," Kylie said.
"How about with the whole lizard thing? What's Della talking about?"
Kylie bit down on her lip. "Before I get into all that, what happened between you and Burnett?"
Holiday glanced away. "He's staying on."
"I know that." Smiling, Kylie bumped her shoulder with Holiday's. "Did anything good happen?"
Color brightened Holiday's cheeks. "I don't feel comfortable talking about this."
"Wow. It must have been good, then," Kylie teased.
Holiday frowned, which meant whatever happened hadn't changed much. Some clothes might have come off, but Holiday's reservations hadn't.
"We didn't..." Holiday dropped her face into her hands. "I'm confused, okay? I need Burnett at Shadow Falls. He's strong in all the areas that I'm lacking. And where he's lacking, I'm strong. But..."
"But you're scared to admit you care about him," Kylie said, even when her gut told her she needed to back off.
"You don't understand," Holiday said.
"That's because you haven't told me everything," Kylie accused, and she got that sensation again that there were things, emotional things, Holiday kept bottled up inside her.
Holiday sighed. "This is something I need to work out myself. I know we're close and I love that you care." She put her hand on top of Kylie's. "I feel that you're only trying to help, but I need to go solo on this one. And I'm asking you to accept that."
Kylie nodded, knowing she had to respect Holiday's wishes, but not liking it.
"Now, let's get back to you." She bumped Kylie's shoulder with hers. "Talk to me."
Taking a deep breath, she told Holiday about her dad's visit-both the chameleon stuff and the part about them figuring it out together ... soon.
Concern and confusion filled the camp leader's eyes. "Okay, about your dad saying you will work it out together-I don't think it means what you think. Time doesn't mean the same thing in the spirit world."
Kylie considered what Holiday said. "It's not that I don't believe you, it's just ... there was something about the way he kept saying 'soon.' And he was happy about it."
Holiday shook her head. "Your dad loves you. And I think if he knew you were going to die too soon, he'd be panicking. And the last thing he would do is share that news with you."
It hurt to say it aloud, but she did it anyway. "If I'm going to die, I should know."
"It doesn't work like that. I mean, there are a few people who are able to know of their death and use the time wisely. But when you start planning for the end, most people instinctually stop living for tomorrow. Living for the day is beautiful-too many of us don't do it enough-but to live fully, we must live for today and tomorrow. Think about it, if you knew you were going to die in six months, would you start a project that you knew you couldn't finish? Would you go to school to learn to be a doctor? Would you have a child, knowing you would leave it alone too soon? People miss out on so much if they stop living for tomorrow."
Holiday's little speech sent Kylie right into the lap of another problem. Her ghost problem. She tried to think about the best way to approach it.
"Now, about the whole lizard thing," Holiday said, taking Kylie's thoughts in another direction. "I've never heard of a chameleon supernatural. And while I'm inclined to tell you that he got it wrong, I wonder..."
"Wonder what?" Kylie asked.
"I don't know for sure, I'm just-"
"I know," Kylie said. "You're just speculating, guessing, but since I'm feeling pretty clueless, I'd like to hear it."
"I was going to tell you." Holiday's expression told Kylie she needed to be patient.
She'd grown tired of being patient. And yes, she knew that on Thursday, her grandfather Malcolm Summers was coming, and hopefully he'd make sense of all this for her. But that meant a couple more days of not knowing.
"So just tell me. Please." Kylie softened her tone because being impatient might be understandable, but blaming others for it wasn't.
Holiday inhaled. "Maybe he referred to you as a chameleon because your pattern hasn't matured to what it really should be. It's still changing, like a chameleon changes colors."
"But he said I was a chameleon like he was telling me that I was a vampire or witch. Is it possible that there's another type of supernatural race that no one knows about?"
Holiday paused. "My gut says no. The history of supernaturals is documented in books as old as the Bible. But ... I admit I'm baffled. It seems that whatever is causing this is probably hereditary because of your real grandfather and great-aunt's ability to change their patterns to human. But even that is completely off the chart weird. I'm still thinking it was Wiccan related but..."
"Or..." Kylie considered Holiday's words. "Maybe that's what it means, the whole chameleon thing. I was talking about this with Derek earlier. Maybe chameleons can change our species. Like a chameleon can change its colors."
Holiday paused as if thinking. "But DNA doesn't work that way. You can't have more than one string of DNA. It isn't possible, because supernaturals only have the DNA of the dominant parent."
Kylie bit down on her lip. "Then maybe it's not the species that really changes, but just the pattern. And in a way it makes sense because a chameleon doesn't turn into a rock, it just changes its colors so it looks like a rock."
Holiday's brow wrinkled. "But..." She shook her head.
"But what?" Kylie wanted to know everything Holiday considered.
"It just doesn't feel right. If this ability to hide your pattern actually exists, why haven't other supernaturals heard about it?"
"Maybe we have heard about it," Kylie said. "Maybe this is exactly why they tested my grandmother. You mentioned once that you'd heard about those tests. Did anyone say what the tests were for?"
"Not specifically," Holiday said. "Something about understanding genetics in some supernaturals. But that they went wrong."
"That's an understatement," Kylie muttered. "They killed people." Killed my grandmother. Kylie couldn't understand how someone could do that-take a life. For that matter, how could Mario kill his own grandson? Or kill Ellie, who never did a thing to harm him? Or anyone else for that matter?
"I know." Holiday sighed as if sensing Kylie's grief. "Which is why I refuse to let them test you. I don't think the FRU is evil, Kylie. I just don't trust them to not take too many risks with you to find answers. Whatever is going on, we'll figure it out sooner or later."
Kylie sure as hell hoped so. Because right now, it didn't make a lick of sense to her. She gazed back at Holiday. "Is that why you can't trust Burnett? Because he's part of the FRU?"
Holiday looked perplexed. "I trust Burnett."
Kylie arched a brow in disbelief.
"I trust him with Shadow Falls," Holiday confessed.
Just not with your heart. And how sad was that? Kylie thought.
"I wouldn't have him working here if I thought there was a chance he would betray you or any of my students."
"I know," Kylie said. "And I trust him, too. I mean, the whole FRU thing with my grandmother scares me, but I trust Burnett."
Holiday met Kylie's eyes again. "I know that waiting for answers is hard on you. But hold on to the hope that your grandfather will come on Thursday and-"
"What do you mean 'hold on to the hope'? He told Burnett he was coming, right?" Seeing disappointment flash in Holiday's eyes, Kylie's heart sank. "What happened?"
"Burnett tried to contact him again and ... your grandfather's phone has been disconnected. But it could mean nothing."
"Or it could mean that he's decided not to communicate with me." A knot rose in Kylie's throat.
"Don't get worked up over it until we know."
Kylie pulled her knees up and dropped her head on them, trying not to cry. Was her hope of discovering the truth now slipping away?
Holiday rested her hand on Kylie's shoulder. A sweet calm came with the touch, and while it soothed Kylie's panic, it didn't change anything. They sat there for several minutes, not talking, Kylie trying not to cry and Holiday doing what she did best-offering emotional comfort.
The soft breeze whispered past and somehow Kylie's mind shifted from one problem to another. "Derek told me he talked to you about ... things."
Holiday brushed a strand of hair off Kylie's cheek. "I'm sorry. I imagine that came completely out of left field."
Kylie nodded. "What am I supposed to do with that information?"
"I don't think you have to do anything."
Kylie exhaled. "It makes me feel crazy and sad, and I start questioning things. And Lucas is jealous of him and I don't blame him for being jealous because I feel the same way about Fredericka. But..."
"But you care about Derek," Holiday finished for her.
"I do. I'm just not sure if what I feel for him is what I feel for Lucas. Does that make sense?"
"Perfect sense," Holiday assured her. "You'll figure it out."
"Will I?" Angst rose inside Kylie again. "Everything in my life is a huge effing question mark. I'm tired of not being sure of anything. And then the ghost..." Kylie let the words fade.
"You have a problem with a ghost?" Holiday asked. "Is it your grandmother? Have you asked her about what your dad said?"
"No, it's not her." How much should Kylie tell Holiday? "At first, the spirit showed up looking like a zombie, hardly even had a face. I insisted she fix that. But ... then the face she got was ... someone who wasn't dead."
Holiday bit down on her lip. "Are you sure she isn't dead?"
"I'm sure." Extra sure.
"Well," Holiday continued, "it could be one of two things. The most likely answer is that you have a ghost with an identity crisis."
"Seriously? Ghosts can have an identity crisis?" Kylie asked.
"Afraid so. They may not even know what they looked like. Or they may not have liked how they looked, so they plaster the face of someone else on their ghost bodies. Most of the time, they use the face of the ghost whisperer. And seeing your face on a ghost..." Holiday shivered. "Not good."
"I can imagine," Kylie said, but she didn't want to imagine it. She already had too much on her plate. "What's the other thing it could be?"
"It's rare," Holiday said. "But did you see A Christmas Carol?"
"Yes." Kylie recalled the plot. "The Scrooge thing, right?"
"And the ghost from the future," Holiday said.
Kylie's breath hitched. "This person could be about to die?" Sure, the thought had crossed her mind, as it had Derek's, but not until Holiday said it did it feel real. No, Kylie refused to accept it. She'd seen too much death already.
"Is this one of the things I can change?" Kylie asked, panic building in her chest.
"Probably not." Holiday frowned. "Is it someone you know well?"
Kylie didn't answer. She couldn't. She just kept reminding herself that Holiday had said it was rare.
"Is it someone from Shadow Falls?" Miranda's voice piped up from behind them.
Kylie turned to see Miranda standing in the doorway behind them.
"Sorry," Miranda said. "I didn't mean to eavesdrop ... but is it someone from here?"
"No," Kylie lied.
"Oh, good." Miranda did a dramatic swipe of her brow. "Your phone's chirping." She held out the phone. "It's your mom. This is like the third time she's called in the last five minutes."
"You should call her," Holiday said. Then the camp leader's phone rang. She glanced down at the number. "It's Burnett."
Holiday and Kylie stood at the same time. Kylie reached for her phone from Miranda as Holiday answered hers.
"Hello." Holiday paused. The worry wrinkle between her eyes appeared. "About what?" Her tone had Kylie hesitating to make her own call. "Let's talk before you go. I'm on my way." Holiday hung up.
"What's wrong?" Kylie asked.
"I-I'll talk with you when I know something." Holiday took off, but her answer had Kylie suspicious that the call had something to do with her.
"That didn't sound good," Miranda said.
Just great, Kylie thought. How much more could she take?