Cleo sat huddled beneath a worn desk in the corner of a room she’d found down the hall.
She felt as if she were drowning. She couldn’t find enough air to breathe, and there was an aching empty feeling in her chest. Her legs were pulled against her with her arms tightly wound around them, and her eyes had become dry and red-rimmed.
She remembered everything, but she would have given anything at that moment to forget again. To be placed back in the dark.
She kept seeing Avery’s blue eyes as they stared vacantly out from underneath her newly-cut bangs.
Her memories kept playing like a movie through her mind, and there were Jessica and Avery, the two best friends of the protagonist. And just like any good movie, as soon as the viewer began to love them—BAM. They were killed off.
But they hadn’t just been a lovable movie character. They had been her friends. Her friends. And Kendall had killed them, and then lied to her.
She wished she had more glass to smash. Or, even better, Kendall’s skull.
Now that she knew . . . She had no reason to stay.
Or rather, she didn’t think she could stay without weighing the pros and cons of tearing Kendall’s throat out every time she looked at her.
Avery had a little brother, Collin. He’d just turned four a month before the accident.
Jessica had already had several college offers because of her grades and athletic abilities in softball.
They’d had lives. Cleo had had a life. Kendall had taken that all away.
Cleo knew she owed it to Jessica and Avery to make sure Kendall didn’t hurt anyone else, but she just . . . She was a vampire. She craved blood and pain and death. She caused it, not prevented it.
Cleo had told Shay that she wasn’t programmed to put others ahead of herself, and at one point, that had been true. Kendall had wiped out all of the software she found useless in Cleo, and had plugged in her own. But when Shay had connected with Cleo’s mind and pulled up those lost memories, it was like a switch had been flipped in her. She’d been reprogrammed.
It was her decision. Her choice.
“Leave her alone!” The scream cut through the abandoned building like a hot knife through butter. The protective ferocity in Shay’s voice was startling.
Cleo’s head shot up, her eyes flitting toward the door and going hard and cold as ice. A low hiss escaped from her bared teeth.
“If you were in my position, what would you do?”
“I’d do the right thing.”
Cleo chose the right thing.
The wood of the desk splintered as she pushed herself out from under it, leaving indents of her hands as if it were made of clay. She raced down the hallway toward the main room of the basement. The sound of Kendall’s malicious threats reached her ears. She could smell blood.
“You. Are. Going. To. Die!”
Cleo skidded to a stop and peered around the doorway. She couldn’t see Elijah or Anna, but she could hear Anna laughing from behind the closed door where Shay was being kept.
Doll Face sat on a mildewed couch that was leaking stuffing, listening to an iPod she’d stolen. The blonde-haired boy, the creamed-coffee skinned girl, and a boy with brown curls sat on the floor playing a three-way card game.
Cleo grabbed a jagged piece of glass that lay behind a broken window. It was long—almost as long as the tip of her middle finger to her wrist.
“I’ve never burned a voodoo doll before. This ought to be an interesting experiment.”
Cleo drew her arm back.
“Just close your eyes. Everything’s going to be okay.”
The glass sparkled like crystal as it left her fingertips.
It struck the creamed-coffee skinned girl in the shoulder, and Cleo dove back around the other side of the wall. She heard the girl’s snarl, and then a shattering.
“What the hell was that for?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Doll Face snapped. “I’ve been sitting here the whole time—”
There was another snarl and a crash.
Cleo peeked around the corner to see the couch had been flipped. The creamed-coffee skinned girl and Doll Face wrestled on the floor. They tumbled over and over, clawing and striking at each other in blurs of motion.
The door to Shay’s room opened, and Cleo dashed back out of sight.
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