Stargazer Page 13

“Lucas, it’s okay. She’s harmless.”

“The hell she is.”

The vampire cried, “I told you, I told you, he’s after me, he’s after us both!”

This was who she’d been afraid of. She’d been running from Lucas.

Lucas’s hand closed around mine—the first touch in so long. He was trying to tug me toward the door. “Bianca, you gotta get out of here.”

“Wait, stop. Both of you.” I looked from one to the other, but they weren’t listening to me. They were both shifting into battle mode, ready to fight.

I didn’t know what to do or what to think, not for that first split second—and that was one second too long. The vampire launched herself at us, pouncing like a tiger, and Lucas shoved me out of the way so hard that I stumbled and fell on my hands and knees, smacking into the concrete floor. Behind me I heard the sound of shattering wood.

Scrambling back to my feet, hands stinging, I saw to my horror that the vampire had knocked Lucas through the door of the train station. Despite her girlish behavior and appearance, she was obviously a powerful vampire—more powerful than I’d realized. She and Lucas grappled in the doorway for a second, their desperate struggle silhouetted by the glare of the nearby streetlight. Then the vampire threw Lucas into the railing of the station porch. He fell onto the railroad tracks.

“Lucas!” I shouted. He didn’t rise to his feet, and he blinked like he couldn’t make sense of what he saw. Clearly, being tossed through the door had stunned him.

“You shouldn’t be allowed to scare young girls.” The vampire tugged at the curls of her hair that had escaped from her bun, just like a nervous child. “You should be stopped. I should stop you.”

She’s scared enough to kill him, I realized. I had to help Lucas, but how? I was stronger than any human being, but not nearly as strong as a full vampire, no matter how childlike she might appear. Then I realized that when the door had splintered, pieces of wood had been scattered all over the train station’s floor. One next to me was the perfect size and shape to be used as a stake.

Staking doesn’t kill vampires, not permanently anyway. If the stake goes through the heart, the vampire falls down as if dead—but if the stake is pulled out, then it’s just like it never happened. So I should’ve slammed the stake into the vampire’s back without hesitation.

But staking that poor girl—I couldn’t do it.

I grabbed a much larger piece of wood from the floor, something almost like a two-by-four, and inched forward, one foot, then the other.

“You shouldn’t have followed me.” She leaned over Lucas, every muscle in her skinny body tense and her hands curved so that her fingernails seemed like claws. “You’ll be sorry.”

With all my strength, I swung the board into her head. The vampire went flying a few feet from us—I’d gotten stronger than I realized—and rolled along the ground, over and over. Before she stopped, I dropped the board and grabbed Lucas’s hand. “Can you run?”

“Gonna find out.” He panted, struggling to his feet.

I pulled him in the direction of the town square, thinking that we’d stand a better chance of losing her in a crowd. But Lucas tugged back to steer us in the opposite direction, so that we were running into the quiet residential section nearby. “Nobody’s around, Lucas. We’ll be all alone!”

“That means nobody else gets hurt!”


“I’ve got you, Bianca. Trust me.”

We ran onto a small street lined with large, classic New England houses. Comfortable family cars and SUVs were parked in every driveway, and front windows glowed and flickered with the lights from television screens. With every step, I longed to scream for help, but I knew doing that would only put the people inside at risk. If they came outside to investigate, there was every chance they would get caught up in a dangerous fight that now seemed inevitable. Lucas and I were on our own.

“He’s not who you think!” a thin, quivering voice called, not nearly far enough behind us. “He’s Black Cross! You’ve got to get away!”

Oh, crap. I realized, She’s chasing us to try and save me.

“Lucas, we don’t have to do this!” I could hardly breathe. We could both run almost supernaturally fast, and farther than most humans could, but the vampire was faster. “Just let me talk to her!”

“She’s not going to stop at talking!”

Lucas still assumed all vampires were dangerous—but in this case, he might be right. This vampire was powerful; worse, she was scared. People could do terrible things when they were scared. If she hurt Lucas on my behalf, I knew I’d never forgive myself.

We veered around a corner as Lucas pulled me to the right, and I figured he was trying to lose the vampire. It didn’t work; her footsteps pounded behind us on the pavement, closer and closer. Sweat rolled down my back.

“I’m going to draw her off.” Lucas squeezed my hand tighter. “Count of three, you’re going to dive behind the nearest car. Got it?”

“Lucas, I’m not leaving you!”

“I can get help. You have to be safe. One, two—”

No time to argue. He swung his arm around, flinging me toward the side of the road; I dived for cover. Skidding to the ground scraped my palms and knees, but I was able to roll behind a large truck and curl beside one of the tires.

For a few seconds, there was only silence. Get help, I remembered Lucas saying. Black Cross was here on a hunt. That meant he had plenty of support nearby. Without me, he stood a chance. I began to calm down and take comfort in the knowledge that he was safe—until the vampire dived behind the truck, too.

Maybe I should’ve screamed for Lucas, but I didn’t want to give her away.

She didn’t attack; I’d known she wouldn’t. Instead she held out her hand with its jagged, dirty nails. “We have to go,” she said. “You don’t know what he is.”

“I know he’s Black Cross. He won’t hurt me, but he’s coming back with others. Get out of here!”

She shook her head at me in horror. “You’re mad. He’s the enemy.”

“I’m fine!” I insisted. “You’re the one in danger!”

She let her hand drop and stared at me, head tilted to one side. In that pose, she looked like a broken toy, and I had the weird but undeniable sense that I’d hurt her feelings. After one long, strange second, she leaped up and ran, vanishing so quickly that I didn’t hear even a footstep.

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