Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 108)

“Permanent? How do you manage that?” There was honest curiosity in her voice.

“Why don’t you come back to our home with us and we can talk comfortably?” Carine invited. “It’s a rather long story.”

Victor and Joss exchanged a surprised look at the mention of the word home, but Lauren controlled her expression better.

“That sounds very interesting, and welcome.” She smiled. “We’ve been on the hunt all the way down from Ontario, and we haven’t had the chance to clean up in a while.” Her eyes moved appreciatively over Carine’s clothes.

“Please don’t take offense, but we’d appreciate it if you’d refrain from hunting in this immediate area. We have to stay inconspicuous, you understand,” Carine explained.

“Of course.” Lauren nodded. “We certainly won’t encroach on your territory. We just ate outside of Seattle, anyway.” She laughed. A shiver ran up my spine.

“We’ll show you the way if you’d like to run with us—Eleanor and Archie, you can go with Edythe and Beau to get the Jeep,” Carine casually added.

Three things seemed to happen at the same time when Carine finished. A light breeze ruffled my hair, Edythe stiffened, and the second woman, Joss, suddenly whipped her head around, scrutinizing me, her nostrils flaring.

Everyone went rigid as Joss lurched one step forward into a crouch. Edythe bared her teeth, coiling in front of me, a feral snarl ripping from her throat. It was nothing at all like the playful growls I’d heard her make before; it was the most menacing sound I’d ever heard. Chills ran from the crown of my head to the back of my heels.

“What’s this?” Lauren asked, shocked. Neither Edythe nor Joss relaxed their aggressive stance. Joss feinted slightly to the side, but Edythe had already shifted to answer her move.

“He’s with us,” Carine said directly to Joss, her voice cold.

Lauren seemed to catch my scent then, though less powerfully than Joss, and understanding lit her face. “You brought a snack?” She took a step forward.

Edythe snarled even more harshly, her lip curled back high above her bared teeth. Lauren stepped back again.

“I said he’s with us,” Carine snapped.

“But he’s human,” Lauren protested. She didn’t say it with any aggression, she just sounded surprised.

Eleanor leaned forward, suddenly very there at Carine’s side. “Yes.” Her eyes were locked on Joss.

Joss slowly straightened out of her crouch, but her eyes never left me, her nostrils still wide. Edythe stayed tensed in front of me. I wanted to pull her back—this Joss vampire wasn’t messing around—but I could guess exactly how well that would go over. She’d told me to stay still, so I would… unless someone tried to hurt her.

When Lauren spoke, her tone was soothing—trying to defuse the sudden hostility. “It appears we have a lot to learn about each other.”

“Indeed.” Carine’s voice was still cool.

“But we’d like to accept your invitation.” Her eyes flicked toward me and back to Carine. “And, of course, we will not harm the human boy. We won’t hunt in your range, as I said.”

Joss glanced at Lauren in disbelief and exchanged a brief look with Victor, whose eyes still flickered edgily from face to face.

Carine measured Lauren’s sincere expression for a second before she spoke. “We’ll show you the way. Jess, Royal, Earnest?” she called. They gathered together, blocking me from view as they converged. Archie was instantly at my side, while Eleanor moved more slowly, her eyes locked on Joss as she backed toward us.

“Let’s move, Beau,” Edythe said, low and bleak. She gripped my elbow and pulled me forward. Archie and Eleanor stayed close behind us, hiding me from whoever might still be watching. I stumbled alongside Edythe, trying to keep up with the pace she set. I couldn’t hear if the main group had left yet. Edythe’s impatience was almost tangible as we moved at human speed to the edge of the forest.

“I’m faster,” she snapped, answering someone’s thought.

Then we were in the trees and Edythe pulled my arm around her neck while we were still half-jogging forward. I realized what she wanted and, too shocked still to feel self-conscious, climbed into place. We were running before I was set.

I couldn’t make my eyes close, but the forest was pretty much black now anyway. I couldn’t see or hear Eleanor and Archie running alongside us. Like Edythe, they moved through the forest as if they were ghosts.

We were at the Jeep in seconds. Edythe barely slowed, she just spun and whipped me into the backseat.

“Strap him in,” she hissed at Eleanor, who climbed in next to me.

Archie was already in the front seat, and Edythe revved the engine. She swerved backward, spinning around to face the winding road.

Edythe was growling something so fast I couldn’t tell what she was saying, but it kind of sounded like a string of profanities. The jolting ride was much worse this time, in the dark. Eleanor and Archie glared out the side windows.

We hit the main road. The Jeep raced faster. It was dark, but I recognized the direction we were headed. South, away from Forks.

“Where are we going?” I asked.

No one answered. No one even looked at me.

“Is anyone going to tell me what’s happening?”

Edythe kept her eyes on the road as she spoke. The speedometer read one-oh-five. “We have to get you away from here—far away—now.”

“What? But I have to go home.”