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She glanced up at Burnett. He leaned forward. “I’m serious, you need to go and…”
“Enjoy being a teenager,” Della finished for him. “I heard you the first time.” How the hell could she enjoy anything with so many damn issues weighing on her mind, filling up her heart, and pressing on her conscience?
As she got up to leave, one of those issues surfaced. She stopped at the door and looked back. “Any news on when we’ll get to bury Chan?”
Burnett’s expression spoke of frustration. “I checked on that this morning. Still waiting to hear back.”
Waiting. It seemed everything in her life was on hold.
*   *   *
After fretting for a few hours in her room, Della decided to give Burnett’s advice a shot. Obviously, sitting in her room waiting for a dead person to drop in wasn’t easy. Both Miranda and Kylie were out—probably with their boyfriends—so Della took off in search of her own “almost boyfriend.” After abandoning him early last night, she wanted to spend a little time with him before he went off to work with the doctor and the doctor’s daughter.
The thought of him working with Jessie, who had a crush on him, still rubbed her raw. But, considering she was probably going to be working with Chase again, she supposed she should shut her trap.
As she left the somber shade of the woods and spotted Steve’s cabin, she saw Perry stepping off the porch. She got a few feet closer. Before he noticed her, she caught his expression: sad and troubled. “What’s wrong?” she blurted out, and he jumped at the sound of her voice.
“Nothing,” he said quickly. Too quickly, and Della heard his heart tango with the lie.
And there was only one reason for him to lie to her. She crossed her arms over her chest and studied him. “You know I like you, right?”
“Yeah,” Perry said, as if unsure what she meant.
“Good, so you won’t take it personal if the ‘nothing’ you’ve got going on hurts Miranda and I have to kick your ass.”
He made a face.
“I’m just saying, I like you, but I like her better. And if you hurt her…”
He made a low growling sound. “Okay, let me change my answer to: It’s none of your damn business. And if you think I’d hurt Miranda on purpose, you’re an idiot.”
Della watched the blond shape-shifter storm off, realizing how weird that was. Anger wasn’t Perry’s go-to emotion. He usually made some wisecrack comment, using humor to either cover up the real issue or to defuse the situation.
Which meant whatever was wrong must be bad enough to take a bite out of his sense of humor.
When she turned around she saw Steve standing at the door, waiting with a half-smile. Steve’s half-smiles always looked sexy. It was the way his eyes tightened, and his lashes lowered over those warm brown eyes. His dark hair looked a little like he’d been sleeping. She always liked it a little messy. He wore jeans that hugged him in all the right places and a navy T-shirt that looked so soft she wanted to touch it. Oh, and he was barefoot. Even that got to her.
Her concerns for Perry and Miranda took a backseat to wanting to lean her head on his chest and feel his arms around her. To let the magic that was all Steve make her own issues feel less than. And if that made her less than, too, so be it. She’d pull up her big-girl panties later.
Besides, she was just following Burnett’s orders. Enjoy being a teen.
When she stepped up on his porch, his half-smile faded. All her soft feelings vanished and she remembered seeing Chase and the craziness that had happened at the falls.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
Was her expression as sour as Perry’s?
She opened her mouth, but didn’t have a clue where to start. Or what all to tell him. Did she tell him everything?
That Chase had come to see her?
That the Vampire Council wanted her to work with them?
That she had a ghost hanging around again?
Did she tell him she thought there were a couple of vampires buried alive and it might be up to her to find them?
She had a feeling Steve wasn’t going to like hearing any of her issues.
She frowned. “Can I just say ‘everything’ and leave it at that?”
“Hell, no.” He reached for her and pulled her against him. Her head found the special spot she loved. After a two-second embrace, he turned and started inside his cabin.
“What’s going on?” he asked after settling her on the sofa and sitting beside her. His warmth pressed close to her side, his arm shifted around her shoulders.
When she didn’t just spit it out, he lifted her chin and made her look at him. “Why do I think it has something to do with Chase?”
Oh, hell. See, she was right, Steve wasn’t going to like this.
“I went to the falls,” she said.
“Why?” he asked, sounding like Miranda.
“Because I kept hearing it. Holiday says the falls call you. Anyway…” She swallowed and just said it, “Chase was there.”
She felt Steve’s muscles tighten and could swear his temperature actually inched up a few degrees. “Trespassing? Did Burnett grab him and teach him a lesson?”
“No, because he … he’d actually been here to see Burnett.”
“The Vampire Council wants me and Chase to work on finding the missing fresh turns that the creep Craig Anthony sold into slavery.”