Sun Kissed (Guardian Angel #2) - Page 13

My feet hit the floor hard, but my soft joggers made no noise against the tiles. As I made my way back to my dorm, I wondered how she would have reacted if I told her the higher power was a vampire. She wouldn’t have believed me, of course, but that would make proving it that much sweeter.

I skipped breakfast and lunch; I didn’t have the stomach to eat anything. The day was going way too fast. I was running out of time and I still needed to say my goodbyes.

The door opened and a vanilla scent wafted in. Mila had come to see me off.

“I have some spare time between classes, and so I thought I’d come and see you just in case you aren’t here later.” Glistening tears formed in her eyes, hovering a moment before they fell upon her cheek

Mila had become my best friend here at SS. I pulled her into an embrace, her soft blonde hair felt like silk against my arms.

“I’ll be back.” I sniffled, unaware that my nose had become runny and my eyes watery.

It was a lie, of course.

“I’ll miss you!” she cried. “You’re my best friend.”

“And you’re mine.”

We didn’t let go of each other. How could we? Neither of us was sure when we’d see each other again. Her goodbye was different than mine. When she held me it was a ‘so-sad you’re leaving I can’t wait to see you again I’m counting down the days’ kind of hug. My hug was more of a ‘thank you for everything have a good life’ kind of hug. Both were emotional but on two completely different levels.

Mila went to class and the dorm room became bare as I boxed the things Mila had given me when I first came to Sage and since we’d been sharing a room. Mila was generous, always giving and never taking. She claimed she had too much and that she was happy to give them away. In the beginning, I was so reluctant to take anything from her, but over time, I realized that it truly made her happy. She loved doing things for others.

I pulled the drawer out from my bedside table and dumped its contents into a box. A picture floated down and landed on the top of the junk. Two faces smiled up at me. They seemed so carefree, so innocent. One of the faces I didn’t recognize as my own. I was smiling and was actually happy. People used to tell me my mother and I looked alike. I didn’t believe them until now. This photo felt like it had been taken so long ago. I’ve been through so much since then. The image felt precious in my hand and I handled it carefully— afraid to bend or crease it. It was taken months before her death. I wish I could go back in time and warn them about Hank and what he would become. What about Eli and Mila? my subconscious asked. If Hank never became a vampire, my mum would still be alive, but Eli and I would have never been bonded. Would we have even spoken? And Mila, would we have become friends or would I have made friends with the likes of Raina? Maybe, just maybe, this was how things were supposed to go. Maybe my purpose was to protect the people who have helped me.

I placed the photo of my mother and me into a book, Dracula, by Bram Stoker. How ironic. I’m relying on a book about vampires to keep something safe. I placed the book neatly on top of my clothes and taped the lid shut.

I had floated so far away into my daydreaming that the sudden hollow echo of knuckles tapping on the door made me jump. I stacked my three boxes on top of each other so Mila could still make her way around the room.

“Hunter, hi,” I greeted. “I haven’t seen you since Tuesday. I thought you were mad at me.”

“I’m not mad at you … I spent the last few days avoiding you, hoping that maybe I would care less about you and not care that you’re leaving tonight, but it only made me miss you more.”

I smiled shyly. This was going to be hard. I had to let him down.

“Look, you’re a nice guy but I —”

“Let me come with you.”

“What? Are you insane?”

“No. I’m in love.”

For the third time today my mouth was left open, but this time it was so wide I could have caught flies with it. Oh no.

“Hunter — I … can’t — I —” I struggled to get the words out. Why couldn’t I just say I didn’t have feelings for him? My stomach twisted and groaned. I couldn’t say I didn’t care for him, because I did. I liked him more than a friend.

“Come inside,” I uttered.

I had to tell him my feelings for Eli. I couldn’t lie to him. I couldn’t tell him I didn’t have feelings for him, because I did, but not like I did for Eli. I love Eli. Hunter’s blue eyes glanced nervously up and down the corridor.

“Don’t worry about that. I’m leaving today, anyway.”

I stepped aside, letting Hunter into my room. His alluring scent filled space. I paced across the room to crack the window slightly before I swooned. Hunter sat on my bare mattress and glanced sadly around the room.

“You haven’t said anything about what I said,” Hunter prompted.

“I know, uh, look, there is something I need to tell you.”

“I don’t care if you don’t love me back, Ruby.”

“No, it’s not that.” I grasped his hand and it shocked even me. My body was acting as if I wasn’t in control. His eyes looked hopeful and I cringed in sympathy.

“I like you, I do. I like you more than a friend, but I’m in love with someone else, and —”

“Eli,” he said matter-of-factly.

I let his hand drop back to his knee and I collapsed onto Mila’s bed.

“I’m sorry, I can’t help it.”

“It’s okay. I kinda knew anyway.”

The long silence was deafening and I bit my lip waiting for the speech about how it’s wrong to love a guardian angel.

“Does he know you’re leaving?”

“You don’t —” I cut my words off with a large exhale. This conversation was getting more awkward by the minute. I’ve never been a ‘tell everyone everything’ kind of girl. In fact, I kept most things to myself and let everyone else figure out what they want, but I felt bad for Hunter. I dropped my gaze to the floor.

“He’s coming with me.”

I didn’t want to look at his face when I said it. He shifted uncomfortably on the bed. His lips formed a straight, impassive line and his mood shifted. His once colorful blue eyes turned bleak as he stood up and slumped into himself.

“I should go,” he whispered under his breath.

“Hunter, wait!”

Without a glance in my direction, he was gone.

Not-So-Empty Threats

The late sun’s rays had long since disappeared and been replaced by a myriad of stars dotting the inky canopy. Now that the dull weather of today had blown over, a low moon hovered effortlessly in the twilight sky, bestowing a very dim light upon the land. A light breeze rustled the leaves as the enveloping darkness blotted out all but the faintest light. I couldn’t appreciate the night’s beauty. I was too tense, too aware of my surroundings. In my world, darkness didn’t bring safety, it brought fear and uncertainty. It brought death.

“Are you ready?” A voice as smooth as velvet cut through the harsh air.

In the dim light I found a friendly face … Eli’s.

I nodded, my finger tracing the smooth texture of my whistle.

“Did you say goodbye to everyone?”

“Yes.”

“Then let’s go.”

I followed behind Eli as he led me over the school oval and into the thick bush behind it. The wind speed had picked up and the air grew colder. I resisted the urge to hug myself, worrying that it might make me look weak. If I was going to do this then I needed to look as fierce and unbothered as Eli. He glanced back at me with a reassuring smile, making me wonder if he heard my thoughts.

The wind pushed and pulled the trees surrounding us. I kept my hands out in front of me, careful not to trip or get whipped in the face by a branch. If it wasn’t for the gap in the tree canopy that allowed the moon to shed light on the ground, I wouldn’t have noticed when we had come to the school’s border.

“This isn’t the way we came last time.”

“Your right, it isn’t. It leads to the same place; it’s just a different gate.”

The cast iron gate squealed as Eli pushed it open. The noise sent tingles rolling down my spine — being in a spooky forest with a screaming gate is enough to put anyone on edge.

We pushed further into the thick forest. The wet ground sploshed and bubbled with every step we took. The inky sky had turn pitch black. The light of the moon was fading as clouds passed in front of it, creating new shadows and dark patches around me. The wind wailed between distorted trunks, carrying the scent of rotting wood. I moved faster, ignoring the wilderness that grabbed at my jeans. The bush seemed so daunting, I couldn’t help but feel claustrophobic. Then we stepped out into the clearing. Cool air chilled my lungs and my vision swayed with my dizziness for a few seconds before normalizing.

“Just in time.”

I searched the darkness for Eli, but he blended too well. His voice was colder than the wind. A lavender scented gust of air blew past my face. I glanced sideways at Eli, who was staring into the darkness of the clearing, his jaw clenched. Wrapped around his arm was Ludiia, smiling up at him.

“I missed you,” she purred.

“We’re ready to go,” I stated.

One by one, pale faces began appearing out of the forest, surrounding us. I reached out and grabbed Eli’s arm for support I was so scared. Why weren’t we leaving? Why were we being trapped in a circle of vampires? I didn’t understand.

“Uh-uh-ahh. You can look but you can’t touch,” Ludiia hissed, pushing my hand off Eli.

Eli shot me a sympathetic glance. Even Eli wasn’t dumb enough to cause a scene right now.

The moon slid out from behind a cloud, making the pale faces glow. Each vampire had their own freaky look. Some were tall, some had scars, and some had no hair, but none of them were as scary as Lucian. I inhaled sharply as he stepped into view. Even in my nightmares he wasn’t this frightening. Although he looked normal, his presence and power made his features seem scarier.

“You’re late.”

“By one minute,” Eli replied curtly.

“Two minutes,” he corrected sternly. “But who’s counting?”

Only Lucian could sound so sarcastically upbeat and threatening at the same time. Most vampires were angry and serious, but Lucian was enthusiastic. It made me more cautious. At least with an angry vamp, you already know what’s going to happen. Lucian lured you in on a false sense of security before pulling the rug out from under your feet.

“You were going to attack the school because we were two minutes late?” I asked in disbelief.

The empty space in front of me was filled with a body, Lucian’s body. The vampires move so quickly I can barely track them.

“Am I that predictable?” He didn’t go out of his way to hide his hideous fangs as a wide, greasy smile spread over his face, but then again, why would he? He enjoyed making me uncomfortable. He knew what Hank did to me.

“You do need to pay for wasting my time, though.”

My spine shook with every shiver that spiralled down it. I pondered what he could do to me. He wouldn’t kill me, he needed me, but he didn’t need Eli, and the best way to get at me would be to hurt Eli.

“We should go, Lucian,” said a vampire with a long scar from his furrowed brow to the top of his lip — immediately he was stored in my brain as Scar-face. “We’ve had nothing but possums and the occasional hiker to feed on. We’re getting restless.”

The vampires that circled us mumbled and moaned in agreement. Lucian watched his feet as he took slow steps over to the mouthy vampire.

“Oh, you’re hungry are you?”

Scar-face nodded slowly, regretfully.

“Go on, take a bite.”

Some vampires spat in jealousy, other vampires inhaled sharply in shock and my stomach dropped as Lucian flicked his head in my direction. I felt Eli tense next to me. If this vampire came anywhere near me, Eli would tear his head off. Scar-face eyed Lucian and me suspiciously, unsure of what he should do. His charcoal eyes searched Lucian’s for any hint of a joke, and when he couldn’t find one, he slowly put one boot-clad foot in front of the other, eyeing me hungrily. A low growl rumbled through Eli’s chest and Ludiia chuckled under her breath, but my attention was elsewhere. I remained riveted solely on Scar-face, who was approaching me with increasing speed. Soon he was within inches of me.

“Unh,” Scar-face groaned as Eli jumped in front of me, slamming into the vampire.

The collision caused a loud crack to crepitate through the air and Scar-face stumbled backwards before regaining his balance. Ludiia purred beside me, somehow aroused by the situation. The vampire’s fangs were bared as he hissed angrily at Eli. The ground squished and gurgled as the vampires slowly began moving in on us.

“Stop,” Lucian ordered.

The surrounding vampires came to a halt, but I still couldn’t release the big gulp of air I had swallowed. This wasn’t over yet.

“Liam, Yasmine, and Oryx — restrain Mr De Luca.”

The three vampires dashed in a blur over to Eli. Long, pale arms wrapped around his arms, neck, and waist. Eli thrashed and tried to break free, but he couldn’t.

“Well, Cage? You said you were hungry.”

Scar-face has a name — Cage. I still think the nickname I gave him suited him better. Cage was wasting no time. He zipped over to me and I saw his face up close. I felt like a small fish in the deep blue sea and Cage was a Great White shark about to eat me. ‘Take a bite’ was what Lucian said, but if Cage was as hungry as he looked, then there was no way he would stop. He could drain me completely before anyone realized what was happening. His cold, hard hand grasped my shoulder and I winced under the pressure. His other hand grasped my neck. I saw his face in great detail now, his scar was a lot thicker than I thought. His damp clothes came into contact with my skin and an unpleasant earthy scent floated into my nose. I pushed against him, trying to distance myself from his fangs, but here was no point. He had a powerful grip, so I wasn’t going anywhere. Close by I heard Eli grunt and swear as he tried to pull away from the three vampires restraining him.

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