Cleo tossed Mark aside as if he were a weightless doll. He hit the opposite wall with a sickening crack and slumped to the ground.
Who was this tiny, black-clad girl? She stood with her hands on her hips and her jade green eyes burning like some sort of vigilante. It was almost cute.
“Hi there, sweetie. Did you lose your mommy?” Cleo teased.
The girl’s cheeks flushed in anger. She wasn’t as young as Cleo had thought at first, maybe fifteen or sixteen. Her hair was a mess of brown waves and there were several scars on the right side of her round face.
“Don’t call me sweetie,” the girl warned in a low voice.
The girl seemed fun to mess with, so Cleo pouted mockingly. “Are you going to throw a tantrum now?”
“Only if you’re not nice. So far, you’ve got one strike.”
Didn’t this girl know who she was talking to—what she was talking to? Mark lay clear as day on the ground with his throat torn out and his blood was smeared across her lips. Cleo didn’t know if she could possibly be more frank.
“I am sixteen!”
Something in the girl’s expression made Cleo hold her hands up in surrender. “Alright. I give.”
“Tell you what,” the girl said. “I’ll throw you a curve ball here.”
Cleo didn’t have time to wonder what she meant because in that moment she realized why the girl wasn’t surprised or afraid of her. She held up her hand and a ball of green electricity sparked there, about the size and shape of a baseball.
The tiny vigilante was a witch.
“Oh, ****,” Cleo muttered, and dove sideways.
She hit the pavement hard, skinning her palms. Sparks and debris exploded into the air as the electricity struck the spot where she’d just been standing. Cleo leapt to her feet and spun for the other exit of the alley.
Two girls stepped into her path, one another vampire and the other with ears and a tail—a shapeshifter of some kind. Cleo didn’t plan on sticking around to find out just what kind. She turned back to the vigilante witch, hoping she’d be able to slip by her without getting fried.
She’d been joined by two other girls. They looked ordinary, but so had the vigilante witch at first.
“That’s enough, Green,” said a girl with black hair cut like a boy’s. A mini crossbow of wooden arrows mounted to her wrist and a gun to her thigh. On the belt around her waist hung a sword of dark wood, looking as deadly and sharp as anything made of metal. Everything about her screamed vampire hunter.
Who the hell were these people?
“We just want to talk,” said the shapeshifter.
“Then why is little vigilante over here trying to electrocute me?”
“Self-defense,” replied the tall girl next to the shapeshifter. “She’s sensitive about her size.”
Little Vigilante’s nose twitched, and it made Cleo think of a mouse. Cleo was actually kind of glad she wasn’t human because that meant she wouldn’t have to kill her anymore. She had enough of a heart to not go out of her way to step on harmless baby animals.
“Alright,” Cleo said. “Let’s talk then.”
She flashed over to the wall and leaned against at it. At the last second, she remembered that the bricks were going to tug on her clothes. She pressed her lips together grimly and crossed her arms over her chest.
“Killing people is bad,” said the shapeshifter. Her tone was odd, as if on the verge of breaking out into hysterical laughter.
“Too be fair, he attacked me first,” Cleo told her.
“We know,” the tall girl said. “And better you than a human. But the others you’ve killed weren’t so . . . deserving of it.”
“Others?” Cleo was genuinely confused.
“Don’t play dumb. Bodies have been dumped in the woods and they’ve all been completely drained of blood.”
“Well, I didn’t put them there.”
“If not you, then who?” said a Southern girl with burgundy hair that tumbled down her back.
Cleo shrugged. “Kendall, maybe. Or one of the others.”
“What?” Little Vigilante’s voice was a choked whisper and she looked like she was about to be sick. “What did you just say?”
“It was Kendall or one of the others.”
“And Kendall, she’s a vampire?”
“No,” Cleo said, as if the concept were ridiculous. “She’s a witch.”
Little Vigilante’s petite legs collapsed beneath her. She stared at the ground unseeingly and violent tremors ran through her body. Her head shook back and forth as if she were trying to convince herself that Cleo was lying.
“Green!” the tall vampire shouted, and she started to advance forward, but the girl with short black hair waved her back.
“She’s back,” Little Vigilante gasped.
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