Hearts At Stake - By Alyxandra Harvey Page 0,1

for a round of oms, which was my mother’s favorite way of cleansing karmic baggage. Most babies were sung lullabies; I got “Om Namah Shivaya” when I was really fussy.

“Cops?” I suggested, mostly because they seemed like the better alternative. “They always break up these parties.”

She shook her head. She looked delicate and ethereal, as if she were made of lily petals. Few people knew the marble all that softness concealed.

“They’re close,” she murmured. “Watching.”

“Run?” I suggested. “Like, right now?”

She shook her head again, but we did at least start walking.

“If we act like prey, they’ll act like predators.”

I tried not to hyperventilate, tried to walk quickly but confidently, as if we weren’t being stalked. Sometimes I really hated Solange’s life. It was totally unfair.

“You’re getting angry,” she said softly.

“Damn right I am. Those undead bastards think they can do this to you just because—”

“When you’re angry, your heart beats faster. It’s like the cherry on a hot fudge sundae.”

“Oh. Right.” I always forgot that little detail. Maybe my mom was right. I needed to take up meditating.

“Lucy, I want you to run.”

“Shut up,” I said, disbelief making my voice squeaky.

“They’ll follow me if I run in the opposite direction.”

“That’s the worst plan I’ve ever heard,” I grumbled, fighting the urge to look over my shoulder. Stupid creepy cornfields. Stupid creepy stalkers. A cricket sang suddenly from the tall corn and my heart nearly shot straight out of my chest. I actually pressed my hand against my rib cage, half-worried. The cricket went quiet and was replaced by the rumble of car tires on the ground. Cornstalks snapped. A familiar jeep skidded to a dusty halt in front of us.

“Nicholas,” Solange breathed, relieved.

“Get in,” he snapped.

I was slightly less enamored with her older brother, but I had to admit he had good timing. In his black shirt and dark hair, he blended into the night. Only his eyes gave him away, silver and fierce. He was gorgeous, there was no use in denying it, but he always knew just how to make me want to poke him in the eye with a fork.

Like right now.

“Drive,” he said to their brother Logan, who was behind the steering wheel. He didn’t even wait for me to get in. Logan lifted his foot off the brake. The car rolled forward.

“Hey!” I shouted.

“Nicholas Drake, you let her in the car right now.” Solange leaned forward between the front seats.

“She’s fine. We have to get you out of here.”

I grabbed on to the half- opened window. Logan slowed down.

“Sorry, Lucy, I thought you were in already,” he said.

“Don’t you read?” I asked Nicholas, disgusted. “If you leave me here now that you’ve got Solange all safe, they’ll grab me to get to her.”

Solange opened the back door and I leaped in. The car sped off. Shadows flitted beside us, menacing, hungry. I shivered. Then I smacked the back of Nicholas’s head.

“Idiot.”

CHAPTER 1

Solange

“I can’t believe you were actually going to just leave her there,” I grumbled again as Logan pulled into our lane, which was overgrown with hedges. The unnatural glint of unnatural eyes had faded, and there was nothing but ripe blackberries and crickets in the bushes. Not only was our farm well protected, but it was also surrounded by other family farms, with forest surrounding all of them. Drakes have lived in this area since it was considered wild and dangerous, best left to gunslingers and outlaws. Now it was just home.

But dangerous all the same.

“She was fine,” Nicholas said testily. “She was safe as soon as we got you away from her.” He only ever called her “she,” except to her face, when he called her Lucky because it annoyed her so much. They’d been getting on each other’s nerves since we were kids. There was a family joke that Lucy’s first words were, “Nicholas is bugging me.” I couldn’t remember ever not knowing her. She’d drawn me out of my shell, even when we were little, though it wasn’t until my fifth birthday that I’d started calling her my best friend, after she threw a mud ball at Nicholas’s head for stealing my chocolate cupcake. We’d learned to ride bikes together and liked the same movies and talked all night whenever we had slumber parties.

“She was fine,” Nicholas insisted, catching my glare. “Despite being reckless.”

“She was just trying to help me.”

“She’s human,” he said, as if it were a debilitating disease, as if he wasn’t human as well, despite the blood change.

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