All Hallows Night (Night #2) by Marie Hall
“You’ve changed,” Luc murmured. His back was toward me as he sat on the edge of my bed, his nude body flexing, the sheen of sweat making his skin gleam as he shifted around.
I sat up and clutched the sheet to my chest. I looked at my hands and I didn’t see long fingers or red, painted nails. I saw the hands that had ended the life of a friend. Probably my only friend.
I shuddered, balling them up and turning my face to the side, because if I let myself think too long on it, I’d drown in the memory.
I doubt Luc had meant for me to hear him. He didn’t even seem to be aware he’d said it; he just kept staring out of my bedroom window with a haunted look in his glacial blue eyes.
Beams of sunlight caressed his shoulder-length blond hair. He looked like a golden Adonis sitting that way, awash in a liquid yellow wreath of midday sun. I wanted to touch him, run my fingers through his hair once more, and lose the hated memories in the heated press of his body.
But I couldn’t.
I threw the sheets off the bed and walked toward the pile of clothes on my floor and snatched up my jeans. I yanked them on, not even bothering to do up the button before I was yanking my shirt over my head.
He flicked a glance at my legs as I finally buttoned up my pants. “Where are you going?” he asked almost accusingly.
“If you haven’t noticed, we’re in Mexico. I’m going exploring.”
He made as if to stand. “Let me go with—”
I held up my hand. In the week since—my heart stuttered—the incident, Luc and I had gone through a role reversal of sorts. I wasn’t trying to be nasty to him. Honestly. But I could hardly stand to look at him. Aside from sex, I wanted nothing to do with him.
None of what I’d done was his fault, and deep in my soul I knew that, but that didn’t make the pain easier, the anger and hatred any less sharp or severe, nor did it change the fact that, right or wrong, I blamed him for what’d happened.
At least parts of it anyway. He hadn’t told me the whole truth when I’d woken up. He’d said most of the children had survived—at least in that I thought I’d done one redeemable thing, that I’d gotten there in time to avert the slaying of innocents. The pain of losing Kemen had been buffered by the knowledge that he’d have been proud his death hadn’t been in vain.
But it’d all been a lie. The wholesale slaughter that’d gone down that night was being called legendary within monster circles.
The Order had sent their emissaries to spin whatever story they were going to spin to the humans. So far it seemed to be working; authorities were barking up the wrong tree, looking for a very ordinary, very human teenage cult of five or six boys who might or might not believe themselves to be vampires. It all sounded ridiculous to me. How could a small band of boys, mortal boys at that, bag and tag that many children and not get caught at some point, somewhere? The logic didn’t pan out. But if there was one thing I understood about human nature, it was that there always had to be a scapegoat. Something or someone for them to direct their hate at. And those kids the Order had dreamed up were now wearing the scarlet letter.
Humans were dumb creatures if they were willing to buy that shit, but then again, I’d fallen prey to pretty lies too, so who was I to cast stones, right?
Because Luc hadn’t just lied to me about what really went down that night, he’d helped put down most of those children. I’ve not been able to ask him why, mostly because I’m afraid he might give me a legitimate reason to make me hate him less. And right now, hating him is the only thing keeping me semi-sane.
“No, you stay.”
His brows dipped and his jaw clenched.
“I’m gonna study the town, hear what the locals have to say about the killings, and then go see Grace.” With each sentence I spoke, the room grew more and more tense. “Alone.”
He narrowed his eyes. I could feel his anger; it was almost like a shock of electrical current traveling my flesh, raising the fine hairs on my arms.
“Do you honestly think it’s wise for you to see Grace alone? Have you forgotten that you nearly killed her the last time you saw her?”
I curled my fingers into fists and turned my face aside, wishing like hell I hadn’t told him about that little incident.
“Damn you, Pandora,” he snarled. “Why are you shutting me out? Do you blame me? Do you think it’s my fault?” He poked his chest. “Don’t forget who fucking pulled the wool over our eyes.” He stressed the word. “I won’t take the blame and I won’t”—he stood up, shoving his face into mine—“take your shit either. If you don’t want me around, fine.”
It was on the tip of my tongue to ask him why he killed those kids. I wished to God that Vyxen had never told me, but that bitch loved making me squirm. It was what got her off; for whatever reason, she hated my guts. I couldn’t say the feeling wasn’t intensely mutual, but whatever... The damage was done. She’d told me and now I couldn’t forget it or pretend it away.
He stalked to the bathroom, pulled on his boxer briefs, then traced out of my room, leaving a faint scent of sulfur behind.
I couldn’t be upset at him for his flash of temper. Demon or no, Luc was partly right.
I closed my eyes and clutched my head.
But he was wrong too. I didn’t just blame him. I blamed myself as well. If I’d been smart enough, if I’d read the clues... everything would have been different.
A slithering, like the sensuous coiling of a snake’s body, moved down my spine. I knew what it was. The foreign intruder inside me, it was my third soul. Pestilence, demon bastard that he was, fed off my misery. I wasn’t used to him. Wasn’t sure I ever would be.
He was yet another memento I carried with me from that fateful night. As if the guilt and pain weren’t enough, I now had to walk around with a tangible presence inside me constantly reminding me of what I’d done wrong.
You see, I was born with two souls. One demonic, one human. I am Nephilim, the creation of a mating between a fallen angel and the daughter of man.
You could never call my life easy. But I’d grown used to my demonic soul, Lust. We’d created a kind of sick, symbiotic relationship. Lust was as vital to me as breathing. But this new thing, this new soul... it was a twisted perversion that haunted my dreams, my waking hours, with visions of death and violence, sickness and pain. I hated it but didn’t know how to rid myself of it.
Once, it was a problem I would have gone to my human liaison, Grace, for. But Grace had proven herself to be a coldhearted bitch who cared nothing for bonds of friendship or love. She’d deceived me, deceived my family. All along, we’d trusted her, felt she was working alongside us Nephilim to better humanity, when in truth she was more a devil than I’d ever be.
I opened my eyes and stalked to the door. I needed to get away. I wanted to leave, disappear, and never come back. A hard lump wedged tight in my throat. Grabbing my worn, black felt Stetson from the hook on the wall, I smashed it on my head.
I could never leave. And I couldn’t pretend that night hadn’t happened.
Luc was right, I had changed.