School Spirits - By Rachel Hawkins Page 0,1

you doing?”

“It’s better than getting staked,” I told him, but as the smell of burning cloth filled the air, I wasn’t so sure.

“You’re a Brannick!” he shrieked. “Brannicks don’t do magic! What the hell is this?”

I kept up a steady stream of Latin, but What the hell is this was a totally valid question. The Brannicks had spent millennia staking vamps and shooting werewolves with silver-tipped arrows (and later, with solid silver bullets). We’d burned witches and enslaved Fae, and basically became what monsters told scary stories about.

But things were different now. For starters, there were no more Brannicks besides me and my mom. Rather than hunt the Creatures of the Night, we worked for the Council that governed them. And they didn’t call themselves monsters; they went by the much more civilized term “Prodigium.” So the Brannicks were now more or less Prodigium cops. If one of their kind got out of hand, we tracked them, captured them, and did a ritual that sent them directly to the Council, who would then decide their punishment.

Yeah, it was a lot harder than just staking a vampire or shooting a werewolf, but the truce between Brannicks and Prodigium was a good thing. Besides, our cousin, Sophie, was a Prodigium, and set to be Head of the Council someday. It was either make peace or suffer some majorly awkward family holidays.

The ritual was nearly finished, the air around Pascal starting to shimmer slightly, when he suddenly shouted, “The boy in the mirror!”

Surprised, I sat back a little. “What did you just say?”

Pascal’s chest was heaving up and down, and his skin had gone from ivory to gray. “That’s what you’re afraid of,” he panted. “That he had something to do with Finley’s vanishing.”

My mouth had gone dry, and, blinking at him, I shook my head. “No—” I started to say, only to realize too late that my hand had slipped off his chest.

Taking advantage of my distraction, Pascal gave another twist, this one stronger than the others, and managed to free one of his arms from beneath my knees. I was already ducking the blow, but the back of his hand caught me across the temple, sending me sprawling.

My head cracked against an end table, and stars spun in my vision. There was a blur of motion—vampires may not be that strong, but they can be fast—and Pascal was up the stairs and gone.

Sitting up, I winced as I touched my temple. Luckily, there was no blood, but a lump was already forming, and I glared at the staircase. My stake had rolled under the table, and I picked it up, curling my fingers around the wood. The Council may prefer for us to send monsters to them, but staking a vamp in self-defense? They’d be okay with that.

Probably.

I carefully made my way up the stairs, stake raised at shoulder level. The wall was lined with those tacky globe lamps—seriously, vampires are the worst—and a twinkling caught my eye.

Glancing down, I saw that I was covered in a fine layer of shimmery silver. Oh, gross. He was one of those body-glitter-wearing jerks. Now I was even more embarrassed that I’d let Pascal get inside my head, that I’d dropped my guard long enough for him to get away from me. If he got out of the house…

My fingernails dug into the stake. No. I was not letting that happen.

The landing was covered in burgundy carpet that muffled my footsteps. Directly across from me was a large mirror in a heavy gilt frame, and in it, I looked a lot less like a bad-ass vampire slayer and a lot more like a scared teenage girl.

My skin was nearly as papery white as Pascal’s, a sharp contrast against the bright red of my braid.

Swallowing hard, I did my best to calm my hammering heart and racing mind. There was one thing vampires and Brannicks had in common: a few of us had special powers. Pascal’s was reading minds, and mine—in addition to the strength and quick healing that came with being a Brannick—was sensing Prodigium. And right now, my Spidey senses were telling me Pascal had gone to the right.

I took one step in that direction.

On the one hand, my detection skills were dead on. On the other, I’d expected Pascal to be cowering behind a door or trying to open a window and get out. What I hadn’t expected was for him to suddenly come barreling out of the darkness and slam into

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