“She’s back.” Shay somehow found the air to force the words out of her mouth.
She felt as if someone had punched her in the chest and knocked the wind out of her. She couldn’t control the shudders that shook her entire body. Bile rose in the back of her throat, but she forced herself to swallow. She would not be weak.
She pushed herself to her feet, ignoring the other hands that reached out to help her. She faced the vampire girl. “Tell me what you know.”
“I don’t know anything, alright? All I remember is waking up one day with my gums aching and my senses sharpened, and Kendall forcing me to drink some sort of tea.”
“From what I’ve heard, memory erasing potions are really hard to master,” Phoenix said. “She must be pretty powerful.”
“What about the others?” Shay demanded. “Tell me about them.”
“There are seven of us. We’re not even supposed to leave the apartment. If Kendall finds out that I left, she won’t let me feed for a day. That’s what happened to the last kid who snuck out.”
Vivienne touched a pitying hand to her throat. “An entire day? ”
“But I was so bored. And the others are like puppies. They don’t know what to do with themselves when Kendall’s not around.”
“Why were you made? There has to be something you’re not telling us.”
“Look, what you guys are doing is pretty noble. With the whole killing-people-is-bad thing going on. But I really don’t care. If I have to risk my neck and a week’s worth of feeding to tell you this stuff . . . Well, then I’m not going to.”
Shay’s hand clenched into fists at her side. “You don’t know—”
“Green, let me handle this,” Ace said, and then to the vampire girl, “Noble is for the law, and we’re not with them. We don’t need a piece of paper or a shiny badge to take you in. And if we want to make you talk, trust me, you will talk.”
The girl glanced at Vivienne and Lacey, and back at Ace. Something flashed in her eyes, and she straightened. “Why don’t we all just . . .”
She didn’t finish because in the middle of her sentence her hand shot out and grabbed the metal lid of one of the trash cans beside her. It spiraled through the air towards Shay, and then several things happened at once.
The vampire girl crouched like a large cat and sprang up to the fire escape above her. She climbed the ladder rungs faster than a monkey and disappeared onto the roof of the building.
Ace shouted for Vee and Spots to go after her, and they both pounced up to the fire escape. Vivienne was faster and Spots followed, laughing in her sudden burst of adrenaline.
The metal lid struck Shay in the shoulder and sent her to the ground in a spinning, tumbling mess. She screamed, more out of surprise than anything else. It had hurt, but a small bruise was nothing to complain about when she’d had worse before.
“I’m fine,” she said though no one had asked, and clambered to her feet.
Phoenix knelt by the unconscious man and inspected his throat. With a humph, she rose back to her feet and declared, “So is he. I reckon he won’t remember a thing though. He’s got a bump on his head the size of a watermelon.”
“Leave him,” Ace commanded. “Get back to the car.”
Shay stumbled as Ace pushed her along ahead of her. She got to the car and yanked the door open. Ace’s urgent tone as she started the car made Shay dive into the middle seats instead of trying to make it into the back. A moment later, Phoenix landed on top of her.
Shay made a noise that sounded like an “Oof!” and squirmed to get out from under Phoenix as they were jerked around by the sharp turns Ace was making around corners.
“Get off! Your boobs are squishing me!”
Shay pushed at Phoenix with her legs. Ace hit a pothole and they both bounced, Phoenix’s elbow clipping Shay’s forehead when they crashed back down onto the seat.
“Ace!” Phoenix snapped.
“I’m a little busy right now!” And she was, demanding instructions on where to go from Vivienne and trying to concentrate on the road.
Phoenix latched onto the passenger seat and lifted herself off Shay. Shay quickly swung her legs around so she could sit upright and jerk her seatbelt across her. She clicked it in place just as they swung around another corner. It caught her she pitched forward, and then jerked her back.
“Are you trying to kill me?” Phoenix shouted.
“Where the hell is Rustic Pine?” Ace asked.
Phoenix lunged over the shoulder of the passenger seat to point through the front windshield. “Right there!”
“Vee, where are you now?”
There was a silence on the other end of Shay’s earpiece, and then Lacey’s voice came on. “We lost her.”
Shay shrunk back into her seat and bit her bottom lip. She was afraid to make any noise.
The tires screeched as they came to an abrupt stop on the side of the road. Ace pounded on the steering wheel several times, and then she just stopped and raked her fingers through her short hair.
“We’re waiting for you on Rustic Pine,” she said into the earpiece. Her voice was steady, but her hand on the steering wheel was tight. “Don’t take too long.”
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