Home > The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2)(6)

The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2)(6)
Julie Kagawa

Under normal circumstances, I would, as well.

But these weren't normal circumstances. And I wasn't your average vampire. Kanin had taught me better than that.

To keep up the appearance of being human, I'd trained myself to stay awake when the sun rose. Even though it was very, very difficult and something that went against all my vampire instincts, I could remain awake and active if I had to. For a little while, at least. But the rabids were slaves to instinct and wouldn't even try to resist. They would vanish into the earth, and with the threat of rabids gone, the power that ran through the fence would probably be shut off. There'd be no need to keep it running in the daytime, especially with fuel or whatever powered the fence in short supply. If I could stay awake long enough, the rabids would disappear and the fence would be shut off. And I'd have a clear shot to the house and whoever was inside it. I just had to deal with the sun.

It might not be wise, continuing my quest in the daylight. I would be slow, my reactions muted. But if Sarren was in that house, he would be slow, too. He might even be asleep, not expecting Kanin's vengeful daughter to come looking for him here. I could get the jump on him...if I could stay awake.

I scanned the grounds, marking where the shadows were thickest, where the trees grew close together. Smartly, the area surrounding the fence was clear of brush and trees. Indirect sunlight wouldn't harm us, but it was still unpleasant, even in the shade, knowing that if the light shifted or a gust of wind tossed the branches, you'd be in a great deal of pain.

As the sky lightened and the sun grew close to breaking the horizon, the horde began to disappear. Breaking away from the fence, they skulked off to bury themselves in the soft mud, their pale bodies vanishing beneath water and earth. The grounds surrounding the fence emptied swiftly, until there wasn't a rabid to be seen.

I leaned against the trunk of a thick oak, fighting the urge to follow the vicious creatures beneath the earth. It was still madly difficult to remain conscious as the sun rose into the sky. My thoughts felt sluggish, my body heavy and tired. But my training to remain above ground, even when our greatest enemy poked its head above the trees, paid off, and I was still standing when the last stubborn rabid disappeared beneath the earth. Still I waited until the sun had nearly risen above the trees, to allow time for the fence to be shut off. It would be hilariously tragic if I avoided the rabids, avoided the sun, only to be fried to a crisp on a damn electric fence because I was too impatient. About twenty or so minutes after the horde disappeared, the faint hum coming from the metal barrier finally clicked off. The fence was down.

Now came the most dangerous part.

I pulled my coat over my head and tugged down the sleeves so they covered my hands. Direct sunlight on my skin would cause it to blacken, rupture and eventually burst into flame, but I could buy myself time if it was covered.

Still, I was not looking forward to this.

All my vampire instincts were screaming at me to stop when I stepped out from under the branches, feeling the weak rays of dawn beating down on me. Not daring to look up, I hurried across the grounds, moving from tree to tree and darting into shade whenever I could. The stretch closest to the fence was the most dangerous, with no trees, no cover, nothing but short grass and the sun heating the back of my coat. I clenched my teeth, hunched my shoulders and kept moving.

As I approached the black iron barrier, I scooped up a scrap of metal and hurled it out in front of me. It arced through the air and struck the bars with a faint clatter before dropping to the ground. No sparks, no flash of light, no smoke. I didn't know much about electric fences, but I took that as a good sign.

Let's hope that fence really is off.

I leaped toward the top, feeling a brief stab of fear as my fingers curled around the bars. Thankfully, they remained cold and dead beneath my hands, and I scrambled over the fence in half a second and landed on the other side in a crouch.

In the brief moment it took me to leap over the iron barrier, my coat slipped off my head. My relief at being inside the fence without cooking myself was short-lived as blinding pain seared my face and hands. I gasped, frantically tugging my coat back up while scrambling under the nearest tree. Crouching down, I examined my hands and winced. They were red and aching from just a few seconds in the sunlight.

I've got to get inside.

Keeping close to the ground, I hurried across the tangled, snowy lawn, feeling horribly exposed as I drew closer to the building. If someone pushed aside those heavy curtains in front of the huge windows, they would most definitely spot me. But the windows and grounds remained dark and empty as I reached the curving wall and darted beneath an archway, relieved to be out of the light.

Okay. Now what?

The faint tug, that subtle hint of knowing, was stronger than ever as I crept up the stairs and peeked through a curtained window. The strange, circular room beyond was surprisingly intact. A table stood in the center with several chairs around it, all thankfully deserted. Beyond that room was an empty hallway, and even more rooms beyond that.

I stifled a groan. Finding one comatose vampire in such a huge house was going to be a challenge. But I couldn't give up.

The glass on the windows was shockingly unbroken, and the window itself was unlocked. I slid through the frame and dropped silently onto the hardwood floor, glancing warily about. Humans lived here, I realized, a lot of them. I could smell them on the air, the lingering scent of warm bodies and blood. I wondered why the scent didn't knock me down the second I came into the room. If Sarren was here, he'd likely paint the walls in their blood.

But I didn't run into any humans, alive or dead, as I made my way through the gigantic house, and that worried me. Especially since it was obvious this place was well taken care of. Nothing appeared broken. The walls and floor were clean and uncluttered, the furniture, though old, was sturdy and carefully arranged. The Prince who lived here either had a lot of servants to keep this place up and running, or he was incredibly dedicated to cleaning.

I continued to scan the shadows and the dozens of empty rooms, wary and alert, searching for movement. But the house remained dark and lifeless as I crept up a long flight of steps, down an equally long corridor, and stopped outside the thick wooden door at the end.

This is it.

Carefully, I grasped my sword and eased it out, being sure the metal didn't scrape against the sheath. Getting here had been way too easy. Whoever was on the other side of that door knew I was coming. If Sarren was expecting me, I'd be ready, too. If Kanin was in there, I wasn't leaving until I got him out safe.

Firmly grasping the door handle, I wrenched it to the side and flung the door open.

A figure stood at the back wall, waiting, as I'd feared. He wore a black leather duster, and his arms, crossed lazily over his chest, were empty of weapons. Thick, dark hair tumbled to his shoulders, and a pale, handsome face met mine over the room, lips curled into an evil smile.

"Hello, sister," Jackal greeted, his gold eyes shining in the dim light. "It's about time you showed up."

Chapter 3

"Jackal," I whispered, as the tall, lean vampire sauntered toward me. I remembered when I'd seen him last, the selfdeclared Prince of a flooded raider city, its residents as dangerous and ruthless as himself. He had gone through a lot of trouble to capture the humans I'd traveled with, three years of searching the roads, of having his men comb the countryside. And once Jackal had found them, he hadn't been above sacrificing them, one by one, to get what he wanted. Zeke and I had managed to rescue our group from Jackal's demented clutches, but several had died in the process, and the pain of that failure to save them still haunted me.

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