Blood Will Tell

Page 4


Well… not quite.
“The child is almost seventeen years old. We’ve waited too long. We need to know for sure if she really is one of them,” Cyrus’ voice faded quietly and Noah felt a pang of sorrow for their Princeps. Cyrus was a good man and a great warrior. How had this happened to him?
Noah straightened to his full six feet, his own expression carefully grave. “What do you need me to do?”
“Investigate her,” Valeria commanded. Not only was she one of Cyrus’ oldest friends, she had a personal interest in the unfolding of this drama. “You’re the youngest of us but you have proven yourself as fierce a warrior as your father. Most importantly you’re the youngest in appearance. We’re quite sure you can pass for a senior at least.”
It was true that when he hit around eighteen he’d stopped ageing. Gradually he’d start to look a little older, but he’d always have the appearance of a young man. “Why do I need to look seventeen, eighteen?”
“You’re going to befriend her,” his father informed him in his lilting French accent. His words were laced with concern. Uh oh. His father was one of the warriors not too keen on this assignment. Great. “As far as we are aware she has not been told about our or the brethren’s existence for fear she may come to her own conclusions. Although she is not heavily guarded at all times, she is watched. It will be easier for you to get to know her within school grounds.”
Noah frowned. “You want me to find out… what kind of ‘person’ she is?”
Cyrus stood up quite abruptly, his eyes as old as the sands of Persia. “Yes. Also…I’m afraid, Noah, that you are going to be bait.”
Oh great. Bait. Again.
“Eden should be nearing the hunger and you know that soul eaters are always drawn to our souls. If she does not know who we are, we are hoping she will be drawn to you. Befriend her, see if she resists your soul… try to uncover whether Merrit’s daughter has her mother’s humanity.”
“And if she does?”
Cassandra and Leonidas, in particular, stiffened at his question. Cyrus looked at them, his lips tightened at their obvious contention. After a moment his eyes flickered up to Noah, blazing with determination.
“Then you bring her to me.”
… He’d worked undercover before. He’d been bait before. But he’d never had to develop a relationship with one of them before. Arriving at the school at the beginning of the school year, Noah had known that he couldn’t be obvious about it. Cyrus had already told him Eden was a loner. So he’d spent the first couple of weeks developing his own reputation for lonerhood. He’d even turned down a pretty hot cheerleader or two. Not that he would have done anything if the circumstances had been different. He’d been around for seventy years; he’d already been there. Done that.
Finally, sure that his reputation was cultivated enough to have even reached Eden’s ears, he had approached her in her favorite coffee place. He had to admit he liked it there too. Having watched Eden for the past few weeks, he’d already begun to suspect Cyrus was right about her. Sometimes he’d see her yelling at someone for pasting a poster to her locker door and the next she was defending someone even lower down the school social hierarchy than her. Then there were the moments at the coffee place. He’d watch her reading those manga magazines, or sometimes a paranormal romance with some buff guy on the front, and he found himself transfixed. Eden’s face was an open book. She’d snort at something, her lips tilting up into this childish, mischievous smirk that made him smile. She’d frown and clench her jaw when she was annoyed at something she was reading. And if she found something sad, he knew, because she’d shimmy her butt in her seat uncomfortably and blink really fast, pretending she had something stuck in her eye. And those romances… he smiled thinking about it. Eden was a blusher, that was for sure.
That was all it took. A few weeks of watching Eden read, and he knew he had to give this a chance. He had to prove Eden for Cyrus.
In the beginning, Eden was on the defensive, but amazingly she seemed to like the fact that Noah was unruffled by her biting personality; the biting personality that disappeared surprisingly quickly once she grew to like you.
Noah’s reports back to Cyrus had been mostly positive so far… but still inconclusive. Eden had complained to him that her parents were pushing her into having this family party, like a debut, for her and she didn’t want to do it. With having so recently and effectively awoken Eden’s hunger, Noah knew what she was actually talking about was the Awakening Ceremony.
She was fighting her parents on it.
That was brave of her. And Cyrus was pleased.
Noah felt a ‘but’ float across his eyes as Eden once more growled low under her breath as she glared over at Maria Roth. Eden was on the fence. One wrong move and Noah was sure she’d give into her nature.
Eden curled her lip up and he watched her hands tighten into fists. A few seconds later they relaxed and she turned back to him, her pretty features smoothing.
“You know, I’ve never understood Twinkies,” she said as she pulled one out of her brown bag.
Noah shook his head.
And then she’d go and say something kooky and utterly human like that, and he was back at square one.
Chapter Three
Family Values
“What the hell are you doing in my room?” Eden snarled as she stormed into her bedroom. Detention had been mind-numbing and bad-mood inducing, despite the fact she’d managed to get caught up on her history homework. The sun was just starting to peek through the clouds when she’d been inside, and then as soon as detention was over the rain started lashing down. To make matters worse, the check engine light on her car had come on ten minutes from the house. She’d gotten home OK but if she told Ryan she knew he’d want to put the car in the garage to be looked at. The Winslow mansion, a grand home built in the style of the southern antebellum plantation house, was outside of town; a good twenty-minute drive into wilderness. That would mean Celine would have to give her a ride back and forth to school… and wasn’t that an uncomfortable addition to the day she’d like to avoid. So Eden had decided not to say anything but just thinking about keeping something from her father had given her a headache. And now this. Her cousin Teagan, lounging on her bed like he belonged there. Creepy s.o.b.
Teagan grinned at her and sat up, tossing the only teddy bear she owned between his hands. It was a panda bear. She’d had a little of obsession for them when she was eight and Stellan had surprised her one day with the bear. Her parents had not been amused, but Stellan hadn’t cared about their opinion and that had meant a lot to her. She’d kept the bear in pristine condition ever since. Seeing it in Teagan’s hands made her want to rip his throat out. But then… everything he did made her want to rip his throat out.
“Hello to you too, Babe.” He winked at her.
“Ugh. Don’t call me babe. And get out.” She crossed her arms over her chest and willed him to leave with the power of her glare.
Teagan stood up and instinctively Eden wanted to step back. He was about Noah’s height, a little shorter than Stellan, but just as broad. His pale eyes ran the length of her body, slowly, measuring, trying to own her somehow just with that look. She shivered and he smirked. “Ryan sent me to talk to you about the Awakening Ceremony.”
Eden scoffed, “He actually thought you’d be the one to convince me to do it?”
“Eden, Babe, you gotta do it sometime.” He bit his lower lip and narrowed his eyes. It was a practiced expression that Eden knew worked on all those girls he destroyed. Sure Teagan was good looking, but Eden reckoned you only needed a little bit of intuition to know there was something off about the guy. Seriously off. “I mean what’s the hold up? Are you worrying about killing someone, because I can assure you that you’ll feel better once it’s over?”
“Oh yeah, like you ever felt bad about killing someone.”
This time when he stepped towards her, Eden did take a step back. She knew Teagan had been using the basement for his own perversions for the last few years. He was as sick in the head as Ryan. Eden thanked God Stellan denied that repulsive side of his nature.
“No. I haven’t.” Teagan smiled. “But then that doesn’t make me the freak here, Eden. No that would be you. Look… your daddy is getting a little impatient.” He stopped now, inches from her, her eyes level with his throat. “You know Ryan listens to me,” he reminded her of her father’s favoritism as he brushed a hand down her cheek. Eden flinched back and Teagan snarled, gripping tight to her chin and jerking her head back, forcing her to meet his eyes. “You play nice and I might buy you a little time.”
She felt the bile rise in the back of her throat. The disgust must have read on her face because his grip tightened. “Play nice?”
His eyes flashed, the way they did during a feeding, and he slid the pad of his thumb down her cheek and to her mouth. It felt like little bugs crawling all over her flesh. “A little appetizer before the main course perhaps…?”
Teagan was referring to the insane fact that her father had promised Eden to Teagan when she turned eighteen. Never mind the fact that they were first cousins or that it was you know… the twenty first frickin’ century! She had no say in the matter apparently.
Well, she had some say…
Eden bit down on his thumb, piercing through flesh. She tasted the coppery bitterness of his blood as he cried out and pulled back. “Over my dead body,” she hissed, wiping at her mouth.
There was no surprise when Teagan reached for her, viciously tearing the collar of her shirt as he tried to haul her towards him. The surprise came when Eden exploded in impotent rage. She kicked up between his legs, inciting a loud bellow of pain from him, and then she shoved him with all her might. Teagan shouldn’t have budged, let alone careen across her huge bedroom and collide with the wall with enough impact to crack the plasterwork.