My mouth forms an ‘o’. “So she might be crazy?”

“She might,” he says. “But she might not.”


“I’m not sure what would be worse,” I mumble. “Finding out she’s dead or knowing she’s been down they’re all along, yet she’s crazy.”

He sits back on his heels as he rubs his hand across the top of my head, like I’m his pet or something. Emotions begin to surface inside my body again, the faint stab of the prickle is evident, but it’s not completely clear how I actually feel about any of this; if maybe it’s simply an illusion built on a massive abundance of stimulation I’ve been feeling.

“You’re going to have to take it easy,” he tells me, helping me to my feet. “You’ve lost a lot of blood.”

I slowly nod my head, mesmerized by the sound of his voice. “Okay.”

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He ducks his head to look me square in the eyes. “Are you sure you’re all right?”

“Yeah.” I clutch onto his arms when the world suddenly sways. “I’m just a little lightheaded and tired.”

“It’ll wear off for the most part,” he states quietly. “Most of the lightheadedness and exhaustion will anyway, but a few things will stay.”

I understand way too well what he means because the other things are lingering inside my body right now, causing me to gravitate toward him. If I weren’t so tired, I’d probably be begging him to bite me again. “Now what do we do?”

He slips his hand underneath my arm and supports my weight, leaning me against his chest. “Now we try to figure out how to get into The Underworld to save your mom.”

I grasp onto him to keep from crumpling to the ground and we begin to make our way toward Adessa’s building. “And how are we supposed to do that? Go visit another Vampire with a unique gift?” I ask.

He seals his lips together as he guides me around a parked car. “I’m not sure exactly how to find that one out, but I think I might know someone who does.”

My shoes scuff against the gravel as I fight to keep them moving “Who?”

We stop at the bottom of the building and he glances up at the window we jumped out of earlier. “Alex,” he says.

I freeze and glance up at him. “You think Alex knows how? Why? I mean, wouldn’t he have said something…” I trail off, realizing that what I’ve just said is probably one of the stupidest things to leave my mouth. “Never mind.” I pause. “So what? We just ask him and hope he tells us the truth.”

“I think you could probably get him to.” Laylen’s mouth turns downward. “If you play the situation right.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, Alex cares for you, and if you ask him in the right way, he might let it slip out if he knows anything.”

I let out a sharp laugh and it echoes around the abandoned parking lot. “I think you’re a little mistaken about how much Alex really likes me. In fact, sometimes I think he hates me, yet he feels obligated to be around me, to protect me.” Because of the electricity, but I keep that reason to myself since no one really knows about it.

Laylen looks at me disbelievingly. “Do you really believe what you just said?”

I shrug, resting my head against his shoulder as my eyelids grow heavy. I want him to wrap his arm around me and hug me so I don’t feel so distorted inside. “I don’t know what to believe when it comes to Alex. He’s confused me from day one.”

“Maybe that’s because you’re equally as confusing.” As Alex’s unemotional voice floats over my shoulder, every ounce of my oxygen dissipates.

I hyperventilate as I glance up at Laylen. He doesn’t look worried or upset or afraid. As a matter of fact, his face doesn’t register anything and it’s an eerie sight to behold.

“You know, I honestly shouldn’t be surprised,” Alex says, and I hear him walk up behind us. “I saw it in both of your eyes the moment you saw each other; you obviously have some sort of connection.” Jealousy drips into his voice.

“You shouldn’t,” Laylen calls over his shoulder. “You and I both know it’s inevitable. I will always screw you over, Alex.”

What are you doing? I mouth to Laylen.

Laylen shrugs. “Ask Alex. Ever since the day I turned, I’m nothing except an evil monster.” He starts to turn us around with his hand on my back. “Even though I’ve never actually done anything.”

“You’re a Vampire.” He’s right behind us, standing so close that I can feel the heat emitting from his body. That’s it, though. Just heat, no sparks or overwhelming electricity magnetizing me toward him. Wait. What happened? Where’s the electricity?

I plant my feet firmly to the ground to avoid turning around to face him, however Laylen has all the control at the moment and makes us turn around.

All I can do is tilt my head to the side, cover my neck with my hand, and hope that it’s dark enough that Alex can’t see the blood.

We face him below the stars and the crescent moon while Laylen has his arm around me. I feel out of touch with reality, unlike myself, as though I’m standing in a delusional world.

Alex’s attention immediately darts to my neck. “What’s the matter with your neck?”

“I have a kink in it,” I say stupidly, but I’m exhausted and can’t come up with anything better. “A really bad kink.”

From beside me, Laylen shakes his head and Alex’s expression hardens. “What the hell happened?" He reaches forward and, before I can react, he pries my fingers away from my neck.

At first he simply stands there, holding onto my hand, staring blankly at the wounds on my neck, two holes covered with dry blood. Blood is also smeared all over my chest area along with the scratches from where Laylen dragged his teeth. I can feel his pulse hammering through his fingers or maybe it’s my own. Usually I can feel us together, always in tune, but I feel detached. Numb. Connected to another and so very damn perplexed.

Alex’s eyes lift to Laylen. “What the hell did you do to her?” He steps forward, his grip constricting on my hand and cutting off the circulation.

“What you always thought I was going to do,” Laylen says evenly and, if I didn’t know any better, I’d guess he was doing it on purpose. “It’s what you’ve been waiting around for.” He inches closer to Alex while still holding onto my back and forcing me to move forward with him.

“Damn straight I was,” Alex growls and I slouch back. “I always knew what you really were. A killer.”

Laylen stiffens and his fingers press into my back, digging into my skin as if he’s centering all his anger to that one spot. They stand tall, breathing profusely, glaring at each other. I’m stuck in the middle and I know this is going to end badly if I don’t do something to stop it. I decide to take charge, even though I’m not sure who I’m saving.

Slipping out from underneath Laylen’s arm, I shuffle forward and position myself between them. I place a hand on each of their chests, the touch not fazing either of them, and then I shove them back. They barely budge, but it’s enough to divert their attention to me.

“First of all, I made Laylen bite me,” I tell Alex, steadily holding his gaze even though it’s terrifying to do so. Not just because of his anger, but because, without the electricity, I feel strangely out of my element, like I’m stuck in a temporary state of vertigo.

“You didn’t make me,” Laylen intervenes, putting weight on my hand as he leans in.

I shoot a glare at him. “But I told you to.”

He rolls his eyes, yet keeps his lips fastened. I return my focus to Alex who looks utterly confused.

“If you’ll just go inside with me,” I say to him. “We can sit down and I’ll explain everything.”

I expect him to argue, let his rage rain down over me, however rather than do so, he shakes his head, steps back, and says, “Okay.”

Confused, I nod, lowering my hands from their chests. “Okay then.” Maybe Laylen was right. Maybe I do have more influence over him than I thought.

We head inside, Laylen on my right side and Alex on my left, with thoughts of both of them floating around in my head and, honestly, at the moment I couldn’t say who I have feelings for anymore.

Chapter 6

I should never assume things. This is the lesson I learn the moment we step foot into Adessa’s living room. It’s a beautiful room that has shelves built into the walls with the black and white tile on the floor that goes well with the velvet couches. There are little knickknacks sporadically placed all over the shelves, the apothecary table is decorated with candles, and the chandelier above my head glistens. I’m taking it all in when Alex turns to me and takes me all in; the blood drenching my torn shirt, the open bite marks on my neck, and the scratches on my chest. Jesus. They go all the way from the hollow of my neck to the curves of my breast. It looked less severe in the darkness, however, in the light, I look like a train wreck.

His eyes widen, his chest puffing in and out as he shakes his head. “I don’t…” A million different emotions flash across his expression, and for a second, I feel the tingle of the sparks reemerge. Yet, as quickly as they appear, they vanish as Alex rushes forward.

I skitter to the side as he dives into Laylen. Laylen stumbles back as Alex slams his head into his chest and both fly across the room and ram into the wall. The sheetrock cracks against the force and splits from the floor to the ceiling.

Laylen quickly regains his footing, standing up straight, and he shoves Alex. Alex recovers swiftly, his boots squeaking against the tile as he stomps toward Laylen, whose appearance I’m sure is making the situation even worse. His hair is damp with sweat and a little bit of blood, his shirt soaked in it. His skin is stunningly more smooth and healthy looking than before, his lips an even deeper red, probably from my blood. His eyes are blue again, but a deeper blue, like the ocean instead of the sky.

“I can’t believe you fucking bit her!” Alex shouts as he heads for Laylen who refuses to back away. “Of all people, her.”

“I told you that I told him to do it!” I cry, moving forward, but I gasp and step back as Laylen rams his head into Alex’s chest, wrapping his arms around him, and making them fly backward onto the apothecary table. It instantly buckles beneath their weight and they roll around on the floor; a violent ball of punches, kicks, curses and bruises as they crash into the shelves and the sofas.

“Stop!” I demand, leaping out of the way as they roll to my feet. “This is ridiculous! You guys are acting like lunatics.”

Suddenly, Aislin and Adessa appear in the doorway, looking sleepy-eyed and kind of annoyed. Adessa has on a long, navy blue robe and Aislin is wearing a pink plaid pajama set.

“What in the world is going on?” Aislin cries, her bright green eyes extensive as she takes in the broken furniture, shattered figurines and cracked walls. Then she glances up at me and the color drains from her face. “What on earth?”

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