Chapter Thirty-One

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A commotion at the front door made me choke on my last bite of pasta. A tall, dark-haired woman strode into the kitchen, supporting a bloodied Anna. 

"What happened?" Elena cried, leaping up to help them. 

"There was a hunter," Anna whispered, sagging against the dark-haired woman. 

The food in my stomach turned to ice. 

"Here, Madeleine, get her into this chair," Elena instructed, pulling it out so Madeleine could guide Anna into it. Anna was trembling, her face greyish-white. There was a bright flower of blood at the corner of her mouth and a darker trickle coming from her nose. 

"What happened?" Samuel echoed his wife's question. He stood just behind Elena, his presence filling the room. 

"I...just wanted to be out of the house," Anna said. 

Her eyes flicked to me and I realised with a sharp stab of guilt that Anna had left the house because she couldn't stand being around me. 

"She wasn't comfortable having a human around," Madeleine confirmed my fears. She shot me a glare. "I went out with her so she didn't have to be alone." 

"And?" Samuel's voice was clipped.  

Madeleine shook her head as if she couldn't quite believe it. "We were attacked." 

"By who?" 

"A hunter." Madeleine practically spat the word. "He ambushed us." 

Samuel glanced back at me and Luke. Tension forced my body ramrod straight. My hands gripped the edge of the table. 

Elena rushed past me to the fridge and pulled out a bag of blood. She snatched some scissors from a drawer, sliced the top of the bag off, and rejoined Madeleine and Anna. Anna slumped in the chair, her head hanging on her chest. I couldn't tell if she was seriously injured or just in shock.  

Between them Madeleine and Elena coaxed Anna's head up, and guided the bag of blood towards her mouth. Her hands shook too much to hold it herself. Madeleine held Anna's head steady while Elena trickled blood into her mouth. 

"What did the hunter look like?" Samuel asked. 

"He was an older guy, white-haired, crazy-eyed," Madeleine said. She took her eyes off Anna for a split-second, glancing up at Samuel. Her face was set with tension. 

"Caleb," Luke and I said in unison.  

Samuel nodded. "You did warn us he was a fanatic." 

"He wasn't alone," Anna gasped, pushing the bag away from her mouth. Little spots of red dotted her lips. "There were other hunters with him. One of them said we'd taken his daughter." 

Every eye in the room turned on me. 

Time seemed to stutter around me, panic clawing at my chest.  

"You," Madeleine said, understanding dawning in her eyes. "They were talking about you. You're a hunter." 

She lunged at me, hands curled into claws, lips peeled back from her fangs. In a flash Luke was in front of me. "Stay away from her," he snarled.  

"Are you insane?" Madeleine shouted. "She's a hunter." 

She tried to dodge Luke but he grabbed her shoulders and shoved her back. The next second Samuel was between them. "Enough." His voice was like thunder.  

With a visible effort Madeleine subdued her rage. Her eyes still flashed with loathing and it was all directed at me. I didn't blame her. Madeleine might not drink human blood but I was still the enemy. And I was in her home. 

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