Hourglass Page 9

“Hoarding money,” he said. “How is that for the good of the group?”

Oh, no, I thought. Lucas’s savings. The money he was going to use to get us out of here.

“How is going through my private stuff for the good of the group?” Lucas’s eyes blazed as he stalked up to Eduardo. As his voice got louder, it echoed off the concrete walls. “What, were you going to steal from me?”

Eduardo shook his head. “It’s not stealing if it’s not rightfully yours to begin with. And it isn’t. Money like this should be used for Black Cross purposes. Not to—take your girlfriend out on Saturday nights.”

“Since when do I ever get to take Bianca out? Since when do you guys let us spend more than ten minutes alone together?”

“Free time is something you don’t have. You’re a soldier, Lucas. Have you forgotten that?”

“Hey!” Kate came hurrying toward them, her hair wet from the shower and her blouse buttoned up wrong. Apparently somebody had come to fetch her to break it up. A small crowd had gathered—obviously interested but not taking sides. “What’s going on?”

Lucas’s fists were clenched at his sides. “Eduardo’s stealing from me.”

“Lucas is hoarding cash.”

“You went through his stuff? Jesus, Eduardo.” Kate snatched the coffee can of cash from him, and for the first time I saw Eduardo looking really embarrassed. “I don’t expect you to be a father to Lucas, but I also don’t expect you to act like his jealous kid brother.”

“I’m not the one being immature here!”

“Yes, you are,” Kate snapped back. “You know why? You’re both acting like adolescent jackasses, but at least Lucas actually is an adolescent. Is it too much to ask for you to be the adult?”

“Thanks, Mom.” Flushed with vindication, Lucas held out his hand to reclaim what was his.

Kate simply closed the lid. “We can’t allow people to hoard money, Lucas. You know that.”

“It’s mine! We don’t have to give up everything—we never have before—”

“I didn’t say it wasn’t yours.” More quietly, Kate added, “If and when you need it, you come to me. If Black Cross can spare it at that time, I promise, I’ll give it back to you. And I know you wouldn’t want to spend it if Black Cross doesn’t have cash to spare. Right?”

Lucas and I exchanged one despairing glance. There wasn’t anything else we could do or say. Already I knew that Black Cross wasn’t like a job you could quit. It was more like a cult you had to flee.

And the money we needed to escape had just been stolen, which meant we were trapped.

Chapter Six

MAYBE IT WAS THE CRUSHING BLOW OF LOSING our saved money. Maybe it was the exhilaration of having been so close to Lucas after we’d been kept apart so long. Or maybe it was the rush of blood and the sweet relief of being full after weeks of hunger.

Whatever it was that distracted me so much that night kept me from remembering that drinking blood had consequences.


Raquel flipped on the small flashlight she kept beside her bed. The beam seemed almost unbearably brilliant, and I rolled away from her. “Turn that thing off, would you?”

“Were you having a bad dream or something? You kept groaning.”

“It wasn’t a nightmare exactly—just kind of overwhelming, you know?” Luckily, Raquel didn’t pry further, and I had a moment to myself to think.

The real reason I’d been groaning was because I was in complete sensory overload. I could hear every footstep or cough along the belt of old subway cars the Black Cross hunters slept in. I could hear water dripping farther down the tunnel and the light, quick scurrying of mice.

I’ll have to remember where to find them later, if I need them—


“I wasn’t having a bad dream,” I mumbled, bringing my forearm over my eyes to block out the light. In the long run, drinking blood made me more able to deal with bright light or sunshine. But just after, it seemed almost blindingly bright.

“These bunks are really uncomfortable, you know?” I could feel the plastic ridges of the old seats against my back, even through the pallet I lay on.

Any criticism of Black Cross was usually Raquel’s cue to insist that everything was totally great. This time, she simply sighed. “It would be nice to have a real bed again. Dana and I were saying, maybe, we could save up and get a hotel room sometime—oh. That’s what you and Lucas were trying to do, wasn’t it?”

“Basically.” That was close enough to the truth.

“I’m sorry Eduardo got up in Lucas’s stuff. That was really unfair.”

“Lucas worked so hard for that money.”

“It sucks.” Raquel sighed.

I was grateful for proof that Raquel hadn’t chugged the Black Cross Kool-Aid, but mostly I longed for darkness and quiet. “I just want to go back to sleep and forget about it for a while.”

“No point now.” The flashlight stayed on; I could tell, just by the faint glow around the edges of my vision, even through my closed eyelids and the forearm across my face. “They’ll turn the lights on soon. It’s morning.”

I groaned again.

If drinking blood again had affected me powerfully, that was nothing compared to what it had done to Lucas.

“Stop sulking,” Kate said to him as we loaded the transport bus for our afternoon patrol later that day. “Or do you want to argue some more about hoarding cash?”

“I’m not sulking.” Lucas winced as he spoke. The light in the parking garage was dim, but it hurt my eyes—and, I could tell, his, too. “I just don’t feel so hot.”

At first Kate looked skeptical, but then she held her palm to his forehead. The heavy men’s sport watch she wore made her wrist look almost fragile. She frowned. “You feel a little clammy. Is your stomach bothering you?”


I sought Lucas’s eyes; when our gazes met, he gave me a small, awkward smile. Obviously we were both thinking the same thing: We should have expected this.

Human bodies simply weren’t meant to endure the demands of vampire power.

Kate paused for a few long seconds, and I wondered if she’d tell him to go on patrol regardless. Most of the time, she acted more like his commander than his mother. But then she shrugged. “Head back to the bunks. Get some rest. Bianca, you go out with Milos’s team. You and Raquel can partner up.”

“Okay,” Lucas said. Although I knew he would hate being stuck at headquarters for an entire day, I thought he sounded sort of happy. Maybe he didn’t get much evidence that Kate really wanted to take care of him, and he liked what little he got.

We went out on patrol in one of the fancier neighborhoods in the city, where the lowest buildings were twenty stories high, and all the facades were cool steel or white stone. Doormen in uniforms stood every thirty feet or so along streets lined with the kind of expensive cars I’d seen Lucas admire in magazines. At first I thought this area seemed too secure to be a big vampire hangout—but then I realized that the elegant surroundings reminded me of the vampires of Evernight. This was the kind of existence those vampires tried to claim; maybe this was the kind of place they’d stake their turf.

“We used to have a base down here,” Milos said as he strolled along the sidewalk with me and Raquel. He sounded almost friendly, which was more weird than encouraging.

“Those were the days, man. We had a deal with a couple of the fancy restaurants in the area—they’d give us some of what they had left over at the end of the night. I almost got sick of shrimp bisque. I’d about kill my grandmother for rich food like that now.”

“What happened?” Raquel said, squinting against the summer sunshine.

“Vampires blew our hideout.” Milos’s hand stole toward the place on his belt where he’d tucked his stake. “Normally they don’t come after our main cells—they don’t have the troops. Tons of vampires out there, but they haven’t got enough sense to work together.”

That was offensive, and stupid, too. How had vampires managed to keep Evernight Academy going for more than two hundred years if we didn’t have “enough sense” to cooperate toward longtime goals? The truth, I figured, probably had more to do with fighting among vampire groups. There was no one established vampire society, and that gave a tightly organized force like Black Cross an edge.

Raquel asked Milos, “What was different that time?”

“There was this one vampire—Stigand, he called himself—who got them riled up. Made them band together. That one was dangerous.” A cold smile stole across Milos’s face. He had a different attitude toward danger than most people. “He brought ’em in after us. Killed a lot of good fighters that day and totally ruined our old HQ. Eliza took him out, though—hit him with a spray of gasoline and the flamethrower.” Chuckling, he added, “You should’ve heard him scream.”

Nauseated, I turned my head away from Milos and Raquel. I didn’t know whether I was hiding my disgust or keeping myself from seeing their pleasure in a vampire’s death. At first I wasn’t even looking at what was before my eyes, but then Black Cross training took over, forcing me to evaluate the scene and every person we passed.

Then quickly, I realized that I knew the man across the street. I knew him from my dream the night before.

It came back to me now in more detail: I’d been with Lucas in a movie theater, the kind of dream that’s half a memory—in this case, of our first date. But the theater wasn’t rich and plush any longer. It was run-down and littered, the seat upholstery ripped and the screen empty of any image. I had been looking around wildly for Lucas, and instead I had seen this man, the one with the reddish-brown dreadlocks.

The wraith, floating next to me, had whispered, The two of you have mutual friends.

In the dream I hadn’t known him. But I recognized him now.

“There,” I whispered. “Is that—is he—?”

“You mean, a vampire?” Raquel peered at him with interest, as did Milos.

My heart sank. Had I just identified a vampire to the hunters? A vampire who was passing by without their notice? Had I just gotten him killed?

The dreadlocked vampire was in his element, though. He strolled beneath one building’s dark-green canopy, nodded at the doorman, and went on in—safe at home.

I breathed out in relief, too loudly. Milos shot me a look. “You don’t want to fight? You’re with the wrong group.”

“Give her a break,” Raquel said. “It’s still scary for us, okay? We’ll get tough in time.”

“Maybe you will at that.” Milos kept staring at the apartment door. “We’ll have to do a stakeout here sometime—no pun intended. For now we check the back alleys. See who else is roaming around here and not nearly ready to go home.”

We continued searching the neighborhood, and to my immense relief, Raquel and I were able to split off from Milos. Raquel kept gushing on and on about how smart I was to spot a vampire like that, when he wasn’t up to anything and didn’t have any of the signs. It just made me feel like more of a traitor.

I cast around for something else to talk about and, almost at random, said, “Hey, where were you guys when we came back last night? You didn’t respond to Eliza’s call.”

“Oh. Dana and I were…”

“Were what?”

Raquel paused. It wasn’t like her to avoid a simple question. Ducking around a lady on the sidewalk who carried three big shopping bags in each hand, I repeated, “Were what?”

“We were off together on our own. Alone. So we’d have some—you know—some space.”

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