I sat up, and pain ricocheted through my body. It took my breath away for a second. “God that fucking hurts,” I said when I could breathe again. “Anyone know what a broken rib feels like? Because I may have several. On top of the vampire bite—which by the way—is burning something fierce. It’s gray around the edges, too. Should I be worried about flesh rot? Because getting a rocking case of necrotizing fasciitis would round out my day in really fantastic way.”

Somewhere along my rant, everyone that wasn’t already frozen turned to look at me.


“Anyone have a name of a good dermatologist? Anyone?” I paused. “Anyone?” Still got nothing. “Bueller?” I sighed. Wolves really had no sense of humor.

Dastien turned to look at me while still pinning Imogene to the ground. “Are you feeling okay?”

Meredith, Chris, Adrian and Shannon came down the stairs, taking the focus off of me.

“Holy shit,” Chris said. “She totally nailed you.”

“Shut it,” I said. “Where’s Mr. Hoel?”

“Mr. D and Sebastian have him,” Adrian said. “They’re escorting him back to campus in one of the SUVs.”

“Perfect. So, cuz, how long does the freeze last?” I said.

Claudia leaned heavily against her twin. “Thirty seconds longer at best. I wish I could do more, but it’d be best if we left. Like now.”

Raphael muttered something to his sister, and she shook her head. They took two steps, but she lost her footing. He swept her up.

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“Is she okay?” I said.

“Sí. She’ll be fine. Doing a spell this big takes a toll.”

Interesting. They turned to go, but I shouted out to them. “Hey. Thanks for those packs. They saved our lives.”

“De nada,” Raphael said. “Once you’re feeling better, come visit us. There are things you should know. Things you could learn.”

“You know. I might take you up on that.” I needed to learn to fight, and if I could get some of their awesome powers to help me, then maybe I’d stand a chance.

Claudia grinned. “We’ll leave you to it.” She glanced at Mr. Dawson. “If you need help from La Alquelarre, let us know.”

“Gracias. Vaya con Dios.”

“Y tú también.”

Once my cousins were out of sight, the wolves went into action.

The humans started slowly moving. It was past time to get out of here.

“Dastien,” Mr. Dawson said. “Take Tessa back with the pups. We’ll deal with Imogene and her father.”

Dastien rose from where he had Imogene pinned, pulling her up with him.

“Imogene,” Mr. Dawson said.

“Yes,” she said. Her gaze was on the ground and her shoulders hunched over.

“You will stay here with me. We need to have a long chat about your future in this pack.”

“Yes, sir.”

I kind of hoped she got kicked out.

Okay, I totally hoped she got kicked out. The girl was a menace. I didn’t want to know what else was going to happen. All I wanted was a shower.

And something for my arm. And my back. And my ribs. Just generally something for my entire body would be good.

“You guys,” I said to my new friends as we exited the mall. My vision was starting to blur and my skin was clammy. “I wasn’t joking about the whole vampire bite thing. It’s really burning. Do you have, I dunno, some kind of balm or something for that?”

Dastien stiffened next to me. “I thought you were joking about the bite.” He grabbed me. “Please tell me that vamp who had your arm didn’t sink his teeth. Please tell me I killed him in time.”

“Can’t tell you that.” I stuck out my left arm. It was swollen around two large punctures and a ring of smaller ones. “The red and puffy wouldn’t bother me so much if it wasn’t also turning a blackish-gray around the actual puncture marks. Is that a bad sign?”

Meredith said something but I couldn’t make it out. I couldn’t make anything out.

“You guys. I’m not feeling so hot.” I managed the words before my body turned to Jell-o and the world went black.

Chapter Forty

I blinked my eyes open. I threw my hand over them as the sun threatened to make my head explode. My body didn’t hurt, except for one spot.

I’d been in here for the past three days, in and out of consciousness. Today I’d been more in than out. I touched the gauze and tape that covered the bite. A shudder ran through me at the memory of that nasty vampire’s teeth ripping through my flesh.

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