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“I’m just curious how this works,” she spit out. The wind snatched a few strands of hair loose and slapped them against her cheek. She should be used to the hair in her face—but obviously, sitting still in the wind and flying in wind felt different.
Leaning forward, she opened the glove compartment. A brand new pack of three elastic hair bands sat at her fingertips.
“I picked them up on the way here when Burnett said we had to use the car. My sister hated it when my dad put his top down. And the day was too pretty to drive with it up.”
So, no girl? “Thanks,” she said, and then for some reason, wished she hadn’t. Being grateful to him felt wrong when she was hurting over … Not now! She needed to be thinking about Natasha.
Snatching one hair band from the pack, she shut the others back up and pulled back her hair. A new spray of fall sun peeked out from behind a white cloud and warmed Della’s face.
He glanced at her, his smile gone. “I’m only bonded to Jimmy and you.”
So many questions sat on the tip of her tongue. And not just to understand Chase, to unearth his secrets, but to understand what was happening to her. “How many can a vampire bond with? How many Reborns can we save?”
“It hasn’t really been proven,” he said, focusing solely on the road again.
“How many has this Jimmy bonded with?”
His hands tightened on the steering wheel, her question no doubt making him uneasy. She realized he was more comfortable talking about himself than Jimmy. Was he afraid she’d pass the info of an unregistered vampire to Burnett?
For a second, she wanted to tell him about her uncle, and how she hadn’t told Burnett because she, too, feared he might be unregistered, but she wasn’t ready to open up that much.
Face it, trust was earned. And Chase had yet to earn hers. But he was getting close, a voice inside her said. He was answering her questions.
“I wouldn’t … I don’t care if Jimmy is registered or not. I need to know all of this for me,” she assured him.
You need to figure out exactly what this bond thing is, and what it isn’t. Steve’s words echoed inside her.
“I need to know,” she repeated, again pushing back the pain.
He didn’t look at her, but his shoulders loosened. “Jimmy has bonded with three, but the last time he almost died. And…”
“And what?” she asked when Chase paused.
He inhaled. “Each time a Reborn bonds, you give away some of your power. Jimmy is almost back to being a regular vampire now. He can’t afford to do it again.”
Della digested that. “Did you … lose power when you bonded with me?”
“Some.” He leaned forward to see the freeway sign in the distance, then sped up and zipped past a car to enter the ramp.
So Chase had not only suffered, he’d given up power? And seeing him drive this car, she had a feeling power meant a lot to him.
He’d barely known her. Why had he done it?
“You shouldn’t have…” She dropped back in her seat. “I still think I might have made it on my own.”
“We all want to think that.” He cut his gaze to her again and she spotted emotion in his gaze. “I don’t regret it,” he said in a tender voice.
She didn’t want tender.
He shifted gears and she watched as he did it with ease.
“You know how to drive?” he asked, probably having seen her watching him.
“Of course.”
“Stick shift?”
“I’ll teach you.”
“That’s okay,” she said, but she couldn’t deny it looked more fun that driving an automatic. “I wouldn’t want to wreck your car.”
“If you wrecked it, I’d just buy another one.”
“Stop,” she said.
“Stop what?”
“Being nice.”
He laughed.
She lowered her attention away from Chase and his niceness to the files tucked tightly between the seats—the files with the addresses of both Natashas.
At least they’d have a last name soon. Would that help find her? For some reason the ghost seemed to think so. And Della could only hope.
Find Natasha.
Della flinched at the sound of the voice. This time she didn’t question if she’d really heard it or just conjured up the memory of the voice.
She’d heard it. Goose bumps tickled the back of her neck, as if the words brought on a chill.
The ghost was here.
Della cut her eyes to the tiny backseat. Empty. Maybe the ghost wasn’t actually in the car, just buried in her head.
The car’s engine roared louder. She glanced again at Chase. His hands gripped the wheel so tightly his knuckles were white.
“You heard it, too, didn’t you?”
“Shit, yeah,” he said, completely understanding what she meant. Then the car shot forward.
As if trying to outrun the ghost.
But if what Holiday and Kylie said about ghosts and their perseverance was true, Chase’s Camaro didn’t stand a chance.
Chapter Sixteen
“That’s it.” Less than an hour later, Chase inched his car in front of a one-story, redbrick house with lots of windows. Located in a small town outside of Houston, it was off a dirt road, not in a subdivision. Larger than the house Della grew up in, it had a wraparound porch with a wicker swing that swayed ever so slightly in the afternoon breeze. A big live oak tree, twice as tall as the house, stood to the right of the property, and a tire swing dangled from a rope. It looked aged, as if it had been someone’s play toy and they’d outgrown it.