Chapter Twenty-Four

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It was another couple of days before Caleb showed his face again. In my naiveté, I dared hope that somehow everything had sorted itself out. Maybe my knocking Caleb out had scrambled his brains and now he didn't remember ever hating vampires. Better yet, he didn't remember them at all. I didn't believe that I'd killed him and if it turned out I had - well, I wouldn't lose too much sleep over it. 

It was early when he called, not even seven in the morning. I was in the garage, stretching out my bruised muscles after a sparring session with Noah. He never went easy on me but today he'd been especially brutal. It genuinely felt like he was trying to hurt me. Part of me wondered if he'd somehow found out I'd spent another night away from home. Sophie had told me she wasn't going to tell anyone about my absence but she'd also warned me to be careful. My secret was putting us both at risk. I'd almost laughed aloud when she said that; she had no idea how dangerous my secret was. 

Noah growled in exasperation as his phone started ringing. "Who the hell's calling at this time in the morning?" 

It was ironic that he recognised this was a godforsaken hour yet he insisted that the whole house was up and about at this time everyday. 

"Caleb?" 

My heart plunged into my trainers. I'd known this moment was coming but that didn't stop goose-bumps from breaking out across my skin.  

"What?" The sharpness of Noah's tone made me flinch. His eyebrows were drawn together in a dark V across his nose. 

"Right. I'm on my way." Noah ended the call. 

I tried to make myself look busy stretching when Noah looked over at me. "We're going out," he said, abruptly. 

"What's going on?" I asked as we left the house. The cool morning air gelled the sweat on my skin and I shivered.  

The street around us was quiet and still but I caught the occasional glimpse of shapes moving behind curtained windows. We weren't the only people who got up early though everyone else was probably still shuffling around in their pyjamas, clutching their morning coffee. 

"There's been another murder," Noah said. 

"A hunter?" 

Noah nodded. "Stuart Melman. Caleb's waiting for us at his house." 

"What are we doing?" I practically had to run to keep with Noah's longer stride. He saw I was struggling but he didn't slow down.  

"Investigating the body." 

That brought me up short. "Wait, what?" 

Noah shot me a dark look. Obviously this wasn't something I was meant to be surprised about. "You heard me." 

"So this Melman guy is dead in his house?" 

"Yes, Kiara," Noah snapped. "What is so hard to understand about that?" 

"Um...won't his house be swarming with police?" 

"Caleb hasn't called them yet." 

Then I understood. Caleb had found Stuart Melman's body inside his house and had called us instead of calling the police. Trepidation formed a cold ball in my stomach. If Melman had been murdered we were trespassing on a crime scene. I didn't dare point this out to Noah. 

Stuart Melman lived - had lived - ten minutes brisk walk away, in a modern little cul-de-sac. His house looked like every other in the cluster, double-glazed, whitewashed, diamond-paned glass in the front door. His patch of front lawn was trimmed, his flowerbeds shaped into perfect rectangles. 

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