Julia glanced between the two brothers. I thought . . . I thought your sister disappeared about a decade ago?
And Eli’s still asleep because he’s blood-drunk on vamp blood and because Gee DiMercy put a sleepy-time spell on the house. And I’m still sitting here because I hurt too bad to get up.In an eye blink, the Kid morphed into Alex, or the Alex he had the potential of being when he finished growing up. He made another fast tour of the house, checking the windows and doors and tapping on walls, which was strange. When he came back, he was wearing Eli’s shoulder harness and two of Eli’s guns. For the last few weeks Alex had been to the gun range almost every single day. We had discovered that he had a gift for shooting. Scary good. With a lot of practice, he might be better than Eli, who was an expert military marksman with a variety of weapons.
House is secure, he said. I tapped on the shelf to Edmund’s room and he cursed me, I think, in some foreign language. Sorry I lost my temper, sorry I cussed, sorry I went out last night, and I’ll get a shower as soon as we’re secure.Tears burned my eyelids and my shoulders slumped. If you had been here you would be asleep like your brother. Thank you. I think my magic needs Aggie. Will you call her and make sure we can come to water today? Sabina sent a message via Gee, telling us to purify ourselves. I have a feeling that we shouldn’t wait.Alex picked up my cell and punched in my code. Which I didn’t know he knew. He pulled up Aggie’s number and I heard it ring. Who’s us? Alex asked oh-so-cautiously as it rang.
Eli. Me. And you. That is, if you haven’t eaten anything this morning. You have to be fasting.He turned away slightly so I couldn’t see his face. Good morning, Aggie One Feather, Alex said, speaking like an adult. Totally adulting. More tears gathered in my eyes and a single one slid down my face. Egini Agayvlge i, he added, using her Cherokee name. This is Alex Younger calling on Jane Yellowrock’s cell. The outclan priestess of the suck—vampires said we all needed to come to water. Something big’s about to happen. He listened a while and then said, Yes, ma’am. Yes, ma’am. Yes, ma’am. He put a hand over my phone and said, She said we have to come before the storm gets worse again. She said she won’t take men, but she knows an old Choctaw man who will take Eli and me. That the ceremony isn’t as good as the Cherokee one, but that it will do.
Which was essentially what she had told me. We’ll have to wake up your brother, I warned. Eli had done serious active duty. When woken unexpectedly, he came up fighting.
I can handle it. And I’ll drive. Into the cell, Alex said, Clan Yellowrock will be there in an hour. He listened and then said, Yes, ma’am. I understand, ma’am. That’s just what we call ourselves. He disconnected.When my belly was full, I put the leftovers in the fridge and took a hot shower. The house was cold, but someone had left an electric blanket on the bed I had used, along with a set of sheets and my luggage. The blanket smelled like Molly. Eli had said that she was okay too. I pulled on sweats and the wool socks that had come with the shoes and wrapped myself in the blanket. I fell on my bunk and let sleep pull me under.
I woke at dawn. Ate pig. Drank wine. I was halfway through the bottle when I saw a flash of a head flying through the air. Leo’s head. Memory. Intense as reality. Stark, electric. I blinked. Sobbed once, hard and harsh and dry. Eyes burning. Leo was in a blood box. He might not be true-dead. Or not exactly true-dead.A second image slammed into me. Titus’s head in my hand, then dropping to the sand.
I’d killed him. It was what I did. I killed people. Beings. Sentient creatures. But I should have killed Titus the moment he walked up to the house on the beach, surrounded by his people. I should have drawn the Mughal blade and taken his head right then. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.I finished the bottle. There were more. Bruiser had left me twelve, an entire case. The wine sat heavy on my stomach. Queasy. So I drank more.