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Eternal

Page 34

   


She hadn’t had a chance … the moment she’d walked into the office where Burnett and Chase were, Burnett had started talking. During the camp leader’s litany, she’d felt Chase studying her. She’d swallowed hard and tried to keep her face passive, hiding any remnants of pain.
She could still feel his gaze. He started the car. The engine came to life. She heard another soft vibrating noise and the car’s top started pulling back. A cool breeze tossed a few strands of hair in her face.
She cut her eyes to the driver’s side and reached deep for a subject as far removed from the pain pulsating just under her chest bone as she could find.
“Nice camera bag. Probably a nice camera inside,” she said, glancing to the floorboard. “Nice ride.” She looked up at the blue sky, filled with a few puffy white clouds. “Nice cabin earlier, too. Does the Vampire Council pay this well, or are you just independently wealthy?”
It appeared as if he wasn’t going to answer, but then he slid his hand down the steering wheel with male pride. “I paid for this car myself. The cabin, I’m just renting, but I’m considering buying it. The council doesn’t pay all that well.”
“So, independently wealthy, huh?”
He shrugged. “Not independently. My parents. Since, to the human world, I was dead, too, Jimmy, who found me, was able to finagle my father’s will. All his money and life insurance funds went to a clinical study my father was helping with. But when I turned eighteen, Jimmy handed it over to me.”
“Is Jimmy the one who took you in and raised you?” she asked. “The supernatural who isn’t registered with FRU?”
He nodded and she could swear he flinched as if he regretted having told her about Jimmy. And that just made her want to know more. What all was Chase hiding? And why?
“Did this Jimmy know your father?” she asked, determined to unearth all Chase’s secrets.
He drove out of the parking lot. His shoulders tightened. Was he not going to answer? Was he trying to come up with a lie?
“Yeah. They knew each other,” he finally said, his voice mingled with the sound of the engine.
The car picked up speed. Della’s hair whipped around her face. So she could see, and study his expression, she pulled it over her shoulder and held it bunched in her hand. If he lied, she might be able to detect it.
He looked at the road, but continued talking. She kept her eyes on his face and twisted her legs so she wouldn’t step on his camera.
“They knew each other for almost a year.” He didn’t blink and appeared not to flinch.
Did she believe him? Yes, for some reason, she did. “Did your dad know Jimmy was a vampire?” she asked, sensing if he answered one question, he might be inclined to answer more.
She saw his Adam’s apple shift as he swallowed. Was answering hard? If so, why?
“Jimmy worked part-time with my dad at a free clinic. He’d figured out that my dad was a carrier of the virus. He’d come clean to my dad.”
“And your dad believed him? I mean, Jimmy just says, ‘Hey, I’m a vampire and you’re a carrier of a virus that can turn you into a vampire.’ That’s doesn’t sound realistic.” How many times had she considered how she might tell her parents about herself?
Chase glanced at her and he almost smiled, before looking back to the road. “Jimmy said he could prove it. He had my dad drive them out on some dirt road. He took off flying, and when that didn’t work, he picked up my dad’s Porsche. That got my dad’s attention. Nobody messed with my dad’s car.”
The chuckle in Chase’s voice spoke of his admiration for his dad, and Della couldn’t help but wonder if that was why Chase had bought this car—because his dad would have liked it.
Chase focused on the street, making the turns and changing gears with ease. The engine purred. Della wasn’t into cars, but she had to admit she liked how this one moved. The power. How Chase looked driving it. His hair in the wind, his confidence in the way he sat in the driver’s seat and shifted gears.
“I’d love to have seen my dad’s expression,” Chase said, apparently still with his dad in his head. “It still took months before my dad agreed to have us tested.”
“Who got tested?” Della asked.
“My sister and I.” He stared at the road and his hands tightened on the wheel. “That’s where we had been coming from when the plane crashed.”
He’d never talked this much about himself, and she almost felt thirsty for the information, wanting more. “Is Jimmy a Reborn?”
Chase rolled his shoulders as if he was suddenly uncomfortable with the conversation. “Yeah.” He cut his eyes to her. “In the glove compartment there’s some hair-band thingies for your hair.”
So you’ve had other girls in this car? She pushed that thought aside and went back to their conversation.
“Is he, the one who … are you bonded with Jimmy?”
“Yeah,” he said.
She let that thought run through her head. “How does that feel?”
“What?” he asked.
“Being bonded to two…” She glanced at the glove compartment and thought about one of those hair-band thingies. “How many people are you bonded to?”
He glanced at her, his smile different this time, almost as if he had read her mind. “Careful, you almost sound jealous.”
It wasn’t jealousy, she wanted to insist, but couldn’t think of how to explain what it was. Hell. She couldn’t explain because she didn’t understand it.