Chapter Nineteen

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The hulking shape of the asylum was oddly comforting to me. It was the sturdiness of it, like some solid stone sentry watching over the surrounding countryside. I could barely remember being afraid of it.  

Luke held the door open for me. We jogged up the stairs until we reached the third floor, the place where we met and where we'd spent most of our time since.  

The adrenaline of the fight had worn off and every ache and pain was making itself known. You'd think I'd be used to it, what with all my training, but the truth is you never get used to having your butt kicked. 

Luke propelled me into the nearest room, standing by the window so he could get a good look at me. "It's not my blood," I said, aware of how much was on me.  

He didn't say anything, just took my sticky hands and squeezed them tight in his. A searing pain shot through my hand and I gasped. I remembered the vampire's fangs slicing open the skin on my knuckles but it shouldn't hurt that much. Frowning, Luke lifted my hand to the light. His breath hissed out through clenched teeth. 

There was a broken fang embedded in my hand, right between two knucklebones. No wonder my hand hurt to move. Luke grasped the splintered tooth between thumb and forefinger and pulled it out of my skin. Fresh blood welled up, dribbling onto the floor. 

"Is this when you do something dashing like shred your t-shirt so you can patch up my wounds?" I said. 

"Hmmm, it could be. Then I think you're supposed to swoon gracefully in my arms." 

I snorted with laughter. It felt good to laugh. The horror of what had just happened receded a little. "Good luck with that. I'm not the swooning sort and even if I was, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't do it gracefully. I'd probably just face-plant the floor before you could catch me." 

Luke shook his head. "Not possible. I already told you, Kiara, I'll always be there to catch you when you fall." 

A knot of emotion lodged in my throat. I felt irrationally angry at the world, or at fate, or whatever it was that was throwing obstacles in the way of our happiness. It was almost as if some higher power just didn't want us to be together. "We have a problem," I said. 

"Yes, I did notice," Luke said wryly. 

"I'm not talking about those vampires." I sank onto the floor, my back against the wall. "I'm talking about a vampire hunter." 

The smile on Luke's face faded and he crouched beside me. "What's going on?" 

I told him about Caleb, and the murdered ex-hunter, and how Noah and my team were getting involved. Luke was silent the whole time, his profile rigid and emotionless.  

"So my family might get the blame for something other vampires did." 

"I don't know. Caleb and Noah don't know your family lives here so you need to keep it that way. If the vampires in the woods are responsible for killing that ex-hunter then there might be more of them. We need to keep the team's focus on them and not on your family." 

"And how are we supposed to do that?" 

"I...I don't know," I faltered. 

"We don't even know there are more rogue vampires out there. Those might only have been those two." 

"But that's not common, is it? I mean, vampires tend to live either in clans or in isolation." 

Luke inclined his head in confirmation. "But there are always exceptions," he said. 

"You need to tell Samuel and Elena what's happened." 

"I can't." 

"Why not? You have to." 

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