Home > Bane (Vampire Apocalypse, #1)(15)

Bane (Vampire Apocalypse, #1)(15)
Author: H.M. Ward

Cassie squeaked, “Owh!” and pulled away from her friend. Grinning she said, “Fine. I’ll tease you later. Will doesn’t care anyway.” Will glanced at Kahli and back at Cassie, his head tilted like he did care and wanted to know what she was talking about. Kahli felt a nervous flutter up her throat and into her mouth. Good little Cassie wasn’t paying attention. She was acting like a Labradoodle on Pixie Stix, practically bounding through the glass at the window. Pulling open the drapes dramatically, she said, “It snowed! Get dressed! Come out!”

Kahli looked at her like she was crazy, “It always snows. It never melts. It’s freezing 365 days a year. I don’t get why you’re…” Kahli’s words died in her mouth. When she walked to the window, she began to see why Cassie was excited. There was usually a slow dusting of flakes that fell from the sky slowly, gently covering the ground in thin layers. But this…

Cassie squealed, “Get dressed!” and ran from the room, skipping on her way out. The door slammed behind her.

Staring out the window, Kahli pressed her fingers to the cold glass, “There was a storm last night?” There had been and it dropped over four feet of fluffy white snow. She stared at the stretch of white lawn. Damn, she’d been out of it. It was like she was drugged. Her eyes cut to Will, who was standing over her shoulder, looking out the window. “Did you…” She hesitated. It didn’t seem like he drugged her, but her mind didn’t feel like her own.

Turning her toward him, he looked down at Kahli. Will lifted a strand of her hair and pushed it away from her face. It was an act that made her knees weak. She couldn’t think. Kahli stepped away, her back pressing up against the window. Will stepped forward, “Did I what?”

“Did you do anything to me last night? Give me anything that would have made me,” she tried to find the right word without spilling her guts, but there was no word. There was nothing that could have made her act that way.

“Made you want me?” his warm breath slid across her lips. Kahli shivered. Will’s eyes bored into her, making her feel exposed. “No,” he breathed. He bit back the rest of the words he wanted to say. She was so close, he could feel the heat radiating off of her. It took all his resolve to remain where he was and not press her into the window and kiss her, taste her, right there.

She swallowed hard, “Then what was that?” Her voice was barely audible. Will took a breath and his chest brushed against her. Kahli shivered. Pressing her eyes closed, she shook her head. This can’t be. It’s not possible. He had to have done something, but when she opened her eyes and looked at him—she couldn’t fathom it. She found herself trapped in his gaze, leaning closer and closer to his lips. One taste. One kiss. She blinked slowly as if this moment were never-ending.

Will was frozen, watching Kahli’s expression soften. Her chest gently brushed against his as she breathed. The pace of her heart increased as those green eyes locked on his lips. She moved toward him slowly, like she was bewitched. He felt her warm breaths as she neared him, those perfectly pink lips close enough to taste. Will was torn. Last night was miserable. He’d never had this reaction to a tasting before, never been so overtly drawn to the human that he was draining. But Kahli, it was like she was an aphrodisiac. He couldn’t brush her away from his mind. A kiss was forbidden. A kiss was death for them both, and standing in front of the window was not the place to kiss her. If that day ever came, it would be somewhere that no one would find them. Just as Kahli’s lips were about to press to his, Will pulled back. “Kahli,” he breathed, “we can’t.”

She stopped and stared at him. It was something she wanted and something she dreaded. A kiss. He continued speaking, taking her shoulders and moving them away from the window and prying eyes, “Get dressed, then come find me. I need to tell you something.” When he released her shoulders, it felt like a rush of coldness crashed into him. It was so unexpected that it made him gasp.

Kahli saw him suck in air like he’d been punched. “Can’t you tell me know?”

He shook his head, “It’s the kind of thing that you need to see to believe.”

She glanced up at Will, nodding, “Where?”

He smirked, his lips pulling into a crooked grin, “I’ll find you.”


Kahli pulled on a black tank top and layered her clothing like she used to do when she was on her own. The cold had a way of seeping through her clothes, making it impossible to keep warm. Why Cassie wanted to go play in the snow was beyond her, but she obliged the girl. After getting dressed, she found Cassie in the front rooms waiting for her. The girl looked like a poodle, complete with curly fur. The white jacket she wore was the strangest thing she’d ever seen. It was more of a stylistic statement than a coat.

Walking towards Cassie, Kahli reached for the coat, stroking her arm, “This has got to be the weirdest coat I’ve ever seen. And it’s thin!” As her fingers pressed over the silky curly coat, she couldn’t feel much padding. “You’re going to freeze in that.”

“You’re so old fashioned. Let me guess. You’re wearing two pairs of everything right down to your panties, right?” Cassie folded her arms over her slender coat, grinning ear to ear.

Kahli’s face turned beat red, “At least I won’t be cold.”

“Yeah,” she nodded, still smiling, “We’ll see who stays warm longer.” Cassie heard four other girls approaching from one of the halls that spilled into the living room. The massive windows showcased the sprawling lawn, glittering with deep snow. “Hey, Jess!” she called, and a girl with a curtain of black hair and pale skin stopped and looked up at her. Cassie pulled Kahli’s arm and walked over to the group. “This is Kahli. She’s had a rough start, but she’s catching up.”

The girl extended a mittened hand, “Jess. This is Taylor, Livia, and Katie.” The other three girls nodded, but seemed leery of Kahli. Jess released her grip on Kahli’s hand. It wasn’t the gentle shake of a demure person. It felt more like a challenge. Jess may have had snow white skin, but her sleek black hair and ruby red lips made her stunning. The Queen didn’t bother with girls who weren’t striking. Kahli didn’t really see how she fit in. Her hair was pumpkin orange. There was nothing dark and pale about her.

Cassie was practically jumping up and down, “Let’s go! The other team will have the jump on us. They’re already gone.”

Jess asked, “When?”

“I don’t know. When I woke up this morning, they were both gone. And after coming in so late, I was surprised. I didn’t see why until I looked through the drapes.”

“Damn,” Jess muttered and turned toward the door. The four girls trailed behind her like a string of pearls. Each was wearing thin pants and a jacket. Cassie was the only one who looked like poodle. They grabbed white caps and tossed Kahli one. “Tuck your hair under. It’ll help.”

“Kahli,” Will called out to her. The girls turned in unison and stared at him. He took a step toward her, “I need to talk to you before you go out.”

Cassie lowered her gaze, asking, “Will, can’t we tell her? I mean, it’s not like she’s frail. We all know what happens at the end of today, and Kahli isn’t the one who has to worry.”

Silence passed between. Cassie finally glanced up at Will. He nodded slightly, his arms folding over his chest. “Tell her before things get going.” His eyes shifted to Kahli’s worried face. “It’s not a game.”

Cassie tugged Kahli’s arm, pulling her away from Will before he could say more. She didn’t want to hear it. Out of all people, she knew exactly what today meant and she wasn’t going to spend it weeping over the inevitable. She was enjoying her day in the sun.

Kahli snatched the cap out of the air and tugged it on her head. They were all dressed in solid whites and grays. It made them more difficult to see in the snow. But why? She wasn’t sure that she wanted to know. Kahli followed the five girls outside, glancing back at Will, but he was already gone. She wondered what was going on.

A team of guards trailed behind them, keeping their distance. Kahli’s throat tightened. She hadn’t been outside since the altercation with Will. The thought of him made her touch her lower lip. It was like the memory wouldn’t fade. It was a tattoo that was freshly painted in her mind. Nothing would scrub it away. Kahli’s stomach twisted.

Cassie looked back at her, “You okay?”

She nodded, “Yeah, I’m fine. What are we doing?”

Jess spoke this time, “It’s a cross between hide and seek and capture the flag, but a little more intense. We’re broken into two teams—losing team from last time always gets the new girl. That might work out better for us, though. Anyway, when there are several feet of snow outside, we play. It usually only happens once a year. There has to be enough freshly fallen snow and no ice. You’ll see why when we start. It’s one of the only occasions that the Regent let us run around like wild animals.” She glanced at Kahli.

Kahli looked at them like they were nuts. The vamps treated them like they were glass dolls. Everything they did was carefully, calmly—but this was rowdy in comparison. “Aren’t they afraid you’ll get hurt and bleed out?”

Kahli knew the anemia this group had was beyond bad. They bled, if you looked at them funny. Dying from a scrape seemed like a horrible waste of life, but it was reality for these girls. That was why the handlers drew their blood and quickly sealed them up. Her roommates had returned on more than one occasion and were taken to the infirmary to be reworked. Their necks wouldn’t stop bleeding. The puncture wounds wouldn’t heal. A scrape could end this girl’s life and yet, they were walking into the frosty morning air like it wasn’t a big deal.

Jess sneered at her, “Listen, wild girl. We may not rip the skin off wolves barehanded like you, but we can manage a snowball fight without dying. God, you sound like the Queen.”

“She doesn’t want you to do this?”

“No,” Cassie replied, quickening her stride to walk between Kahli and Jess. “The Queen would keep us locked up in her curio cabinet. The King is the one who allows this, uh, requires it. He’s also the one that rewards the winning team.” She clapped her mittens as she yelled for us to hurry up. Kahli quickened her pace to keep up with the others. She would have had no problem blowing past them, but she saw something that made her stop in her tracks.

A group of men, slender with dark hair—each so similar looking that you’d think they were brothers—stood at the foot of the hill. A frozen forest glistened behind them. One turned his head and looked up. Kahli froze.

Cassie clapped her mittens in front of Kahli’s face and she flinched. “What’s with you? Haven’t you ever seen a guy before?” When Kahli didn’t reply, Cassie realized with excitement that she hadn’t. “Oh my god. You’ve never met a human guy before, have you?” Kahli’s green eyes glanced quickly at Cassie. She shook her head slowly, her heart racing slightly faster than before. She was marked for marriage—promised since childhood to a man she didn’t know—a man who was no doubt dead.

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