Chapter Six

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I walked home in a daze. My head felt swollen with confusion, my lungs stretched so tight with the struggle to clamp down my emotions, it was like I was underwater. I had gone to Greylark to bag my first solo kill, and instead my world had been turned upside down. No, more than that. It was like something had thrown my world off axis, picked it up, violently shaken it and dropped it back down.  

My house was in front of me before I knew it. The twenty odd minute walk from Greylark had felt like a second. I hesitated outside the front door. There was no way I could tell Noah or Ava what had happened tonight. If they knew about Luke they'd go straight to Greylark to kill him. Luke was a vampire and I had been trained to hate his kind, but the thought of anything happening to him made me feel physically sick.  

I sucked several deep breaths into my lungs, willing my breathing into a regular pattern. If I didn't want anyone to know what had happened tonight, I couldn't let them see how shaken I was. 

Ethan wasn't fooled, despite my best efforts. He took one look at my face when I went into the kitchen, and said, "What's wrong?" 

I shook my head, trying to force a smile to my lips. "Nothing." 

The way he narrowed his eyes said he didn't believe me. I had to feed him a plausible story or he would start poking around. 

"I met up with Riley after I finished my run, and there were a couple of guys with her. One of them was a little keen on me, that's all." 

Ethan's face darkened. "I hope you told him you weren't interested." 

"I made it very clear." 

"Good." 

I felt guilty about using Riley as my scapegoat, but it was the only lie I could think of on the spot that I knew Ethan would buy.  

Sophie limped into the kitchen. Her blonde curls were scrunched into a messy bun on top of her head, something she only did when she at home. She always wore her hair down when she left the house so people couldn't see the mass of scar tissue on the right side of her throat, creeping up around her jaw-line. My own scars briefly throbbed with empathy. Sophie used to be a hunter until a vicious vamp attack left her crippled. Now the best way for her to contribute to the team was as our nurse. 

I noticed she was carrying a red-stained cloth and my throat closed up again. 

"Don't worry, sweetie, it's not anything serious," Sophie said, reading my gaze. "Your father got a bit scraped up on the hunt, that's all." 

I was heading towards the living room almost before the words were out of her mouth. I might resent Noah for his domineering ways and his lack of affection for me, but he was still my father. 

He was sitting on a wooden-backed chair in the living room, a fresh cloth held to his left arm. Ava was slumped on the sofa. Her eyes were ringed with dark shadows, like bruises. Marc, Noah's best friend and the hunter that had been with us the longest, was using the mirror on the far wall to check out the sizeable bruise on his forehead.  

None of them looked up as I came in. I might as well not even have existed. Hurt flashed through me. I told myself I should be used to it by now - they'd always been this way - but there was no getting used to being ignored by the people that were supposed to love you unconditionally.  

"How did the hunt go?" I wasn't sure I actually wanted to know, but it was what I would normally say when they got back and I didn't want them knowing that anything had changed in my world.  

"We got the vamp," Marc said, turning to face me. "And her friends. 

"Friends?" 

"Apparently she'd spotted us the first time we went hunting for her, so tonight she made sure she had backup. It wasn't enough though." Marc grinned and I smiled weakly back.  

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