Authors: Erica Stevens
to stand out here all night?”
Devon lifted a
brow, sliding silently
around the tree. Chris turned to him, shaking his head slightly. Though
was, he had known that he was there. “If that’s what it takes.”
rolled his eyes as he shoved his hands in his pockets and came
across his front yard toward Devon. “
be pissed if she knows you’re watching over her.”
“She already knows.”
Chris’s dark blond
brows shot up questioningly, he turned slightly back to Cassie’s house. “She may not want it
be true, but we are still connected.
Though it was only a few drops h
er blood is still inside
a bond between us,
there always will be.
How is she?
Chris glanced at Cassie’s house, his face darken
. They had buried her grandmother today, the only family Cassie had left in this world, and the only woman that had given Chris
even an ounce of love and caring. “The same,” he muttered.
Devon knew exactly how Chris
felt. Since her grandmother’s murder Cassie had been withdrawn,
. She had turned against the one’s she loved, especially him, wanting nothing more to do with him
or his love for her
. It was a fact that broke his non beating heart, but he could not find it in himself to blame her for it. He hated
himself for what had been done to her and her family
. He may not have killed her grandmother, but
He had helped turn Julian into the monster that he was, had helped to mold him into a vicious killer.
And when Devon had turned against his kind, spurning human blood, Julian had been
infuriated with his decision and determined to turn Devon back, or exact his revenge.
Julian had come to this town in search of Devon, and had
Cassie, Chris, and Melissa
s that had managed to survive The Slaughter.
It was Julian that had discovered and destroyed Cassie’s grandmother.
Devon himself had thought The Hunter
e extinct, he was glad to know that he had been wrong.
you going to stand out here in the snow and cold all night, or do vampires not feel the cold?”
Chris asked quietly.
“We feel it
replied with a wry smile.
“The same as you.”
“Good to know, why don’t you come in
ou can be scary stalker guy from my porch.”
Scary stalker guy?”
Chris grinned at him, but his smile did not reach his haunted, s
“Yeah, you’re definitely getting there.”
scowled at him
followed Chris as he trudged through
the snow to his porch. T
squeaked as Chris opened it. “Come on in,” Chris invited.
Devon stomped his shoes off before entering the porch area, though once he got inside he didn’t know why he had bothered
to clean them off
he worn floorboards
and sagging wood
were covered with a layer of dirt
. It was obvious that Chris’s mother didn
t have the money for upkeep, or
Devon’s gaze fell on
bags of cans and bottles piled in the corner, cases of empty beer bottles sat next to them. Quirking a
brow, he realized that she would have a lot more money if she bothered to return the mountain, which he realized
was the source of the smell.
No wonder Chris had spent so much time at Cassie’s house,
wouldn’t want to spend much time here either
and he had only made it to the porch. Devon didn
t even want to imagine what the rest of the house looked like.
He turned back
to the storm glass in the screen door
, his gaze focus
sharply on Cassie’s house. He didn
t want to be out of sight of
“Don’t worry; you can see her house from here.” Devon raised a
brow as Chris strode over and pulled
the cord on a set of
revealing a few small windows in the enclosure
. Chris grinned at him
grabbed an old chair and shoved it in front of the window. “Make yourself comfortable
I’m going to put on a pot of coffee. I don’t suppose I could interest you in any.”
Though he didn
t need the liquid, he wouldn’t mind the warmth. “
Coffee sounds good
Chris’s eyes widened in surprise, his mouth parted slightly. “You can drink it?” he blurted out.
Devon couldn’t help but grin at him. “I may not need it to survive, but it’s not going to hurt me.”
Chris grinned sheepishly
through the doorway. Devon leaned forward in his seat, folding his hands before him as he stared at Cassie’s house
through the dirty windows
. The light in her room was off, but she was still awake. He could feel her presence, the anger and hurt that filled her.
He ached for her, desperately wished that he could hold her, or that he could somehow take it all back. But he could
either of those things, so he had to settle for making sure she didn
t do something crazy
hat was not going to be easy.
at her window
, her hands f
hastily with the latch as she shoved and pushed angrily at the glass.
Devon rose swiftly, prep
ared to go and stop her. P
repared to drag her kick
ing and screaming back into the house if that was what it took. She hated him
he didn’t care if she hated him even more as long as it kept her safe.
Hell, if it came down to it he would handcuff her to her bed in order to keep her safe.
flung the window open, leaning swiftly out she inhaled deep, gasping breaths of the chilly night air.
er hands clung to the sill, her hair spill
long golden waves
fiercely, but he was certain that it was not from the cold. Shuddering again, she hung low over the window, gasping fiercely
as she slipped to h
er knees, clinging to the
fisted as he fought the urge to go to her, to hold her and console her.
“She’s not crying.”
Devon turned, surprised to find Chris standing beside him. He had been so focused on Cassie that he hadn
t noticed Chris’s return. “How can you be sure?” Devon demanded gruffly.
Chris turned to him, his gaze
bearing that haunted look
shimmer permanently in
. Devon was beginning to hate that look, mainly because it seemed as if Chris w
losing hope with
. And if Chris lost hope
then he didn’t know what he was going to do. For so
long Chris had been
shoulder to lean on. For so long, they had been all that the other had. No, Chris could not lose hope for her, because if he did
have to admit that all hope was lost
“She doesn’t cry, or at least she hasn’t yet. She’s too angry for that. The hurt’s not getting through.” Chris handed him a cup of coffee, steam spiraled slowly up from it. “I figured you would be a black kind of guy.”
“I am. If she’s not crying, then what is she doing?”
“Trying to breathe.”
At Devon’s questioning glance
, Chris waved briefly to the window. “It’s too much anger, too much
t know how to handle it.
She can’t breathe through it.
“I don’t.” Chris pulled up another chair, sitting down he blew lightly on his coffee as he
his feet up. “She thinks that she can push us all away, but she’s wrong. I don’t get how she doesn’t understand that. You do know that she has a death
A chill swept down Devon’s spine, anger spurted through him.
what Chris said was
, but it was not a thought that sat well with him. He would do everything in his power to keep that from happening. She would survive this, even if she didn’t want to. “Yes,” he managed to grate through clenched teeth.
Chris sipped his coffee, staring out at the night. Devon slowly returned to his seat, ready to take off again if Cassie tried to escape. She didn
t though. Eventually she retreated back to her room, sliding and locking the window behind her. Devon sigh
relief, relaxing slightly.
“That’s not Cassie you know.”
Devon glanced sharply at
, worry bubbl
swiftly up. Had Chris sensed something inside of her, something off? And if so, what exactly had he sensed?
Did Chris know something about what he and Luther had been searching for?
“What do you mean?”
Chris shook his head, taking another sip of coffee.
“She’s just not the same Cassie I
,” he said, nodding toward Cassie’s vacated window.
s so full of anger
He shook his head again,
to shake off the lingering feelings that clung to him. “I’ve known her
my entire life, but
I’ve never known her like this
of it. But I guess we never know what people are capable of, do we?”
Devon leaned forward, his gaze still focused on Cassie’s window, his mind on Chris’s words. “No
“She’ll come around you know. She’ll realize that this isn’t your fault.”
turned toward Chris. He was silent for a moment as he thought over Chris’s words and his
role in everything that had happened.
“Isn’t it though?”
“No.” Chris set his coffee mug down. “It’s no one’s fault, unfortunat
ely things just happen and we can’t always stop them. You didn’t kill Lily.”
create the monster that did,
” Devon said softly. Julian had once
best friend and greatest companion, but
his greatest enemy.
to make Julian
Isla, well Isla he had simply enjoyed. He shrank away from the reminder of what he once been,
what he had once enjoyed,
relationship. Isla was exactly the twisted individual that he had once