Eternal kiss, p.32
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       Eternal Kiss, p.32
 

         Part #2 of Mark of the Vampire series by Laura Wright
Chapter 32

 

  Unlike New York, Vermont hadn't embraced the early cal of spring yet, and as night fel around Kate in wicked blues and haunting lavenders, she felt the familiar chil of a familiar land invade her bones.

  Getting inside the credenti had been difficult as her blood was no longer welcome at the gates. She'd had to go through a narrow slit in the hedgerow, one she'd heard about from a student several months ago. The branches and vines had cut her up something fierce, but it mattered not. Her wounds would heal quickly, just as she hoped her actions now would heal the boy's.

  There was no one about, no sounds but the wind. Picking up her pace, Kate hurried toward the school, then stopped once she hit the steps. Fresh white snow now covered the spot where Mirabelle's body had lain.

  Where her blood had run.

  She closed her eyes.

  I'm here.

  She waited, her lungs having trouble taking in the freezing air. Five minutes went by, then ten.

  "I'm here!" she shouted. "Take me, dammit!"

  Why didn't they hear her? Sense her?

  Frustrated, she left the school grounds and went walking toward the graveyard. Would she be here? Kate wondered, stepping over drifts and tree roots. She hoped so. For stepping over drifts and tree roots. She hoped so. For Ladd's sake. Someday he would want to come back, see her . . .

  Snow blanketed every inch of the cemetery, uniform headstones popping up out of the white covering like stone dominoes. Kate walked up one side and down another, looking for a new burial, a simply carved stone.

  There. She spotted it, far back and to the right, a newly dug grave, snow only an inch or two instead of a foot.

  Mirabelle Letts.

  It was carved by hand and quite lovely.

  Her throat felt tight, and she remembered that day, that moment, wishing again she could've done something to stop it. She reached out to brush the dusting of snow from the top of the stone, but before her fingers made contact, she was flashed.

  "Welcome back, Prisoner 626. "

  Out of the tundra and into the desert, the ancient ten were seated, per usual, at their long table-ready for judgment.

  The first to speak had been a paven with light blue eyes and a pointed black beard, and without fear this time around, Kate walked toward him.

  "My name is Kate Everborne, and I want to see the balas. "

  He attempted to look confused. "What balas is that?"

  "Mirabelle Letts's child, Ladd. "

  "He is not here. You took him from us, remember?"

  "Let him go, and you can have me. "

  There was a smattering of laughter up and down the table.

  "What a bargain that is, 626," the blue-eyed paven remarked. "An escaped prisoner who stole-then lost-a balas. " He leaned over the table and smiled, his brick-red fangs stretched down past his lower lip. "Here is my deal: Do not fight the guards as they return you to Mondrar and I wil think about sparing your life. "

  "You're lying," she said, though the few smal taps of panic that had been inside of her a moment ago turned into blips of acid rain.

  "There is no reason for us to lie, 626," said a white-haired veana, her voice lacking the amusement of the paven beside her. "We have no one but you, and I ask that you go quietly. "

  Oh God. He wasn't there.

  Ladd wasn't there.

  She had just given herself up, her freedom, everything for nothing at all. And Ladd was stil missing . . .

  Her head squeezed with pain and her bel y contracted.

  She would be sick.

  Guards were flashed to the empty spaces on either side of her, and as they sank their meaty hands into her arms, the paven laughed. "Take her. "

  Screaming for Ladd, for Nicholas, for justice, Kate kicked at the pavens holding her, smashed her head into one's shoulder, even ripped a hole in the back of another with her fangs. But it was no use. She was flashed away before she even had a chance to see the blood flow.

  Cambridge skulked around the exterior of the building, trying to decide the best way in. He'd fol owed Kate to this wrecked warehouse space after their meeting in the park earlier. At the time, he hadn't real y given a shit as to why she was lying low in such a dump, especial y when she knew the Roman brothers-who were pretty much on par with the Rockefel ers in the city-but maybe he should have. Maybe he should've checked her and her situation out a little more carefully before agreeing to hook her up with a few very important vampires because the bitch hadn't shown up for her ride to Mondalagua.

  Rounding the side of the building, he saw a window open just enough to slither through. Cambridge had shel ed out a few hundred just to get her the meet, figuring he'd recoup the loss when she showed up with the three grand. Now he was skint and she was going to hear about it, pay him back double-or else.

  Using a thick hedge as a step up, Cambridge lifted himself toward the window, but he barely touched the apron when a knife was pressed to his throat.

  "What are the Eyes doing here?" came the deep growling query of a morphed paven.

  Cambridge stepped down very slowly. "Nothing. "

  "Looking for a balas or here to return the one you stole?"

  "What?"

  The paven came close to his ear. "Where's the boy, you piece of shit?"

  "You have me confused with someone else, paven. I don't know what-" Cambridge couldn't say another word because he was being twisted around and slammed back into the side of the building, the steel blade once again pressed against his windpipe.

  "Shit," he uttered on a weak gasp, then froze as he realized who was in his face, fangs extended and face contorted with rage.

  Nicholas Roman snarled at him, his eyes so black, so narrowed, they seemed almost dead-like a shark's.

  "I'm going to ask you one more time," he said with a terrifying calm, "then you wil be dead. Where is the boy?"

  Cambridge felt the knife cut into his skin, just a hair, but it scared the shit out of him and he rattled off the truth. "I don't know about the balas. I came to find Kate. "

  The paven's face changed so abruptly it was almost as though he had been wearing a mask-from deadly to demonic in under five seconds. "Why would you be looking for Kate?"

  Cambridge swal owed against the knife, tasting his own blood. "I need to talk to her. "

  "What about?"

  Cambridge said nothing.

  Nicholas inched the blade deeper.

  Fuck me. He gritted his teeth. "She booked passage tonight on a ship going to Mondalagua , to the underground credenti, but she never showed up. "

  The Roman brother's brows slammed together. "Why was she going to Mondalagua?"

  "She said she wanted freedom. "

  Cambridge saw a quick flash of pain cross the paven's vicious mug, and wondered if he could use that to his advantage.

  But he didn't have to. Nicholas cursed and released him, let him fal to the hard ground.

  "Get out of here," he muttered. "I need to find her, bring her back home. "

  "She said she wanted a new life," Cambridge said, holding his throat. "Was wil ing to pay for a new life. "

  "If she's gone to where I think she's gone, she's just ended her life," Nicholas said in a fierce whisper before flashing out of the side yard.
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