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Awake at dawn, p.5

Awake at Dawn, page 5

 part  #2 of  Shadow Falls Series


Awake at Dawn

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Chapter Five

  Della raised her nose in the air. "Not vampire. It's a wolf. It's been following us for a few minutes. I got a whiff of it a few minutes ago, and I thought it was just passing by. But it's not. " She pointed toward the woods.

  "What's a wolf doing this close to the camp?" Miranda asked.

  Just like that, Kylie remembered the wolf from tonight. Derek hadn't made a big deal of it, so neither had Kylie.

  "You wanna see me kick some wolf butt?" Della's eyes lit up as if the thought thrilled her.

  Kylie remembered the wolf and its submissive posture. It hadn't been threatening. "No, I don't want to see you kick wolf butt. " She grabbed Della's elbow.

  "Why not?" Della asked. "It's not a werewolf. It's just an animal. "

  "Yeah, a real live animal. It's not hurting us," Kylie said. "So why would you hurt it?"

  "It's following us. And that's creepy," Della answered.

  Miranda leaned in. "I hate to say this but I agree with Della. It's creepy. "

  Kylie stared into the woods, and between the collage of trees she spotted the golden eyes staring back at her. A shiver ran up her spine. Creepy? Maybe, but it still hadn't hurt anyone. Then Kylie couldn't help but wonder if the wolf's presence wasn't some sort of message, or a piece of a puzzle. Or was it like Derek had said, just a hybrid animal wanting company?

  "Oh man. Is that its eyes?" Miranda pointed into the woods.

  "Yeah," Della snapped. "And I don't like it. I'm really in the mood to kick wolf butt. "

  Realizing Della was serious, Kylie snatched up a small rock and slung it in the direction of the wolf. "Go away," she yelled.

  The rustle of underbrush filled the silence as the animal shot off. Then she looked up at Miranda and Della. "There, it's gone. Happy now?"

  The sound of the insects started chiming again.

  "Not really," Della said. "It would have been more fun if I'd done it my way. I could have used a snack. "

  "Tell me you wouldn't have killed it," Kylie insisted.

  "Just a little bit. " Della grinned.

  Kylie rolled her eyes and hoped like heck Della was joking.

  "Is it really gone?" Miranda looked down the line of the woods.

  "Yeah," Della said, and they started walking again. But Kylie couldn't help but look back and question just exactly why the wolf was here.

  Then a thought hit and it felt as if Kylie's heart bounced around her ribs for a second. Could Lucas be trying to send her a message?

  "Back to my problem," Miranda said as they approached their cabin.

  "What am I going to do about Kevin?"

  "That's simple. " Della jumped up onto the cabin porch. She turned around and looked back at Miranda. "You have to make up your mind. "

  She held out her right palm. "Do you want Kevin?" She held out her left palm. "Or do you want Perry? It's not really that hard. Kevin?" She lifted her right hand. "Or Perry. " She moved her left hand up higher.

  "What if I choose Perry, but he never chooses me? Never makes a move. Never even kisses me. What if I end up being the oldest witch virgin alive?"

  "Then you'll know you screwed up. " Della shrugged.

  "You're not a lot of help. " Miranda looked at Kylie. "What do you think?"

  "I think. . . " Kylie remembered kissing Derek tonight, wanting things to be different, but feeling as if something was always stopping her from taking that leap. Then she remembered feeling torn between Derek and Lucas.

  "I think you shouldn't come to me for relationship advice. I suck at it. "

  Kylie shot up the steps and went into the cabin.

  Thirty minutes later, Kylie snuggled in her bed with her kitten, the kitten Lucas had given her. Outside her door, she heard Miranda and Della talking to Holiday. When the camp leader had knocked on the cabin door, Kylie pulled the blanket over her face and closed her eyes. She felt her kitten climb on top and paw at the blanket. It wasn't that she no longer wanted to talk to Holiday. It was more like she doubted this chat would help.

  How many times did she have to hear Holiday say "I don't know, Kylie, this is something you'll have to figure out for yourself"? Why did Kylie think this talk would be any different? Wasn't that the definition of insanity? To do the same thing over and over again and expect different results?

  "Kylie?" Holiday's voice penetrated the blanket as she tapped on the door.

  Leaving the blanket over her head, Kylie called out, "Come in. "

  Kylie heard the door open into her tiny room, she heard it shut, and she heard Holiday come to a stop. "That wasn't a very enthusiastic welcome," the camp leader said.

  "You want me to fake it?" Kylie moved the blanket off her head and sat up. Socks moved to snuggle in beside her.

  Holiday smiled and sat down at the foot of Kylie's bed. "I know it's tough. "

  "You don't know the half of it. " Kylie pulled her knees to her chest and watched Socks move over to the camp leader and rub his face against her arm. "I had a plan to figure it all out. All I needed to do was get Daniel to hang around long enough to tell me what he was, so I'd know what I am.

  He finally shows up tonight, but he doesn't have any answers. " Kylie's throat tightened.

  Holiday looked genuinely puzzled. "How could he not have the answers?"

  "Because he was adopted. He didn't realize he wasn't human until he was eighteen. And I don't even know where to start to find the answers now. "

  "You'll figure it out," Holiday said, stroking Socks from his head to his tail. "I believe that with all my heart. "

  Kylie's eyes started to sting, which basically meant that the tears were on their way. "Does liking the taste of blood make me a vampire?"

  Holiday hesitated.

  "Wait. Let me guess. You don't know, do you? And then you're going to tell me that this is probably something I just need to find out for myself. "

  Kylie wiped the first of the tears from her eyes.

  Holiday let go of a deep sigh, then reached over and took Kylie's hand.

  "You're only partially right. Right in the fact that I don't know if you are vampire. But I think I can honestly say that liking the taste of blood doesn't make you one. I know of humans who enjoy drinking blood and that doesn't make them vampire. Even if some of them are freaks and they think it does. "

  "So this whole thing could be insignificant. " Kylie pulled her hand away from Holiday.

  "Yeah, it could be insignificant. " Holiday's tone left a lot of doubt.

  "But you don't believe that. "

  "I think it probably means something. I just don't know if it means you're vampire. "

  "But what else could it mean?"

  Holiday gazed at Kylie with a ton of sympathy shimmering in her green eyes. "I don't know. But . . . I do believe that if you keep searching, all the answers you really need will be answered. "

  "Really need?" Kylie repeated Holiday's words. "As if I don't need all of the answers?"

  Holiday raised her right eyebrow. "We never figure it all out, Kylie.

  Some things are meant to be a mystery. "

  "Maybe some things," Kylie said. "But not this. Not about what I am. I feel as if everything in my life is on hold until I have this answer. " "Then keep searching," Holiday said.

  Kylie dropped her head on her knees and moaned. "See, I knew you would say that. " Socks came running over as if to check on her.

  Holiday put her hand on top of Kylie's head. "When one door closes, find another. "

  Kylie gazed back up. "And what if there isn't another door?"

  "Then you try the window. "

  "And if there's not a window?" Kylie asked.

  "Then you find a sledgehammer and make a window. Life isn't supposed to be easy. Ge
nerally speaking, the harder something is the more rewarding the results will be. "

  "But what if I fail?" Kylie asked. "What if someone is stabbed to death because I wasn't smart enough to find the right answers? I've done what you said and asked specific questions and all the ghost ever does is repeat the warning. She just keeps saying, 'This will happen to someone else,' if I don't stop it. She won't tell me who, when, or where. How the heck am I supposed to find those answers?"

  "How do you know someone will be stabbed?" Holiday asked.

  "Because she's bleeding profusely and it looks like her gown has been sliced and diced. Bullet holes are round. "

  "You've seen a bullet hole?" Holiday asked.

  "On television. "

  Holiday bit back a grin. "Okay, I see where you might think it's about a stabbing, and she could be trying to tell you that, but remember when Daniel first came to you, you thought he'd been wrongly accused of a war crime. "

  Kylie slumped back on her pillow. "I suck at this. "

  "At what?" Holiday asked. "Communicating with ghosts? I told you, they're the ones who need a refresher course in getting their messages across. "

  "Not just the ghosts," Kylie said. "Everything. I suck at not being human. "

  "Not true. " Holiday bumped Kylie with her shoulder. "You've done better than I ever thought you would. "

  Kylie cut her eyes up to the camp leader. "Is that supposed to be a compliment?"

  Holiday chuckled. "Yeah, it is. " She paused. "Hey, if it makes you feel any better, sometimes I'm pretty sure I suck at everything, too. "

  Kylie stared at Holiday and saw a touch of regret flickering in the depth of her eyes. "Do any of those things involve Burnett?"

  "That is a subject I think I'll pass on right now. " Holiday let go of a deep breath that hinted at frustration and Kylie felt certain it was all about Burnett.

  Kylie remembered telling Miranda she shouldn't ask her about relationships, but for some reason Kylie couldn't stop herself from speaking up now. "Della was right tonight when she said you seemed to care about him. "

  Holiday twisted her ponytail in a tight knot. "I care about world peace.

  I care about the mangled moral compasses of today's politicians. I care about all the innocent creatures pancaked on that stretch of road two miles past our camp. Point is, I care about a lot of things, and my caring isn't going to change a thing-especially not a relationship between myself and that stubborn, egotistical, macho vampire. "

  "You're attracted to him," Kylie said. "And don't try to deny it. You've even admitted that much to me. "

  "Okay, I won't deny that. He's got that whole hard body, vampire

  magnetism going for him. But when I was young, I had a crush on Big Bird.

  That wouldn't have worked out either. "

  "Big Bird. Really?" Kylie asked. "It was the Cookie Monster for me. "

  They both laughed, and then Kylie added in a serious tone, "It could work if you wanted it bad enough. "

  "I haven't got that much patience. "

  "Hmm," Kylie said. "Some very smart person just told me that the harder something is the more rewarding the results will be. "

  Holiday studied Kylie. "Do you really not have enough worries of your own to chew on that you want to take on my issues, too?"

  "Everyone else's seems easier than mine. " Kylie smiled.

  "Ever heard that saying about the grass always looks greener on the other side? Well, it's the same way with problems. We all have our hurdles to overcome. So why don't you solve yours and let me take care of mine?" Holiday brushed a lock of Kylie's hair behind her ear. "But thank you for caring. "

  Holiday smiled and Kylie once again felt the bond between them inch closer. Kylie had long wondered what it would be like to have an older sister. She couldn't help but think this was as close as she'd ever get to that type of relationship.

  Holiday studied Kylie and her eyebrows twitched. Kylie knew Holiday was testing to see if Kylie had opened up the doors of her mind. The first day at camp, Kylie had learned that supernaturals had the ability to read brain patterns. Supernaturals also allowed other supernaturals to read deeper, to get a glimpse of who and what they were.

  Not Kylie, of course. The only brain pattern she'd been able to see had been that of the ghost of her real dad. And while other supernaturals could see Kylie's brain pattern, she had yet to learn to open up to let anyone get a deeper glimpse.

  "Are you doing the mental exercises I told you to do?" Holiday asked. "Yes," Kylie said, and watched the camp leader's brow crease. At least twenty minutes a day, Kylie was supposed to meditate. But so far it hadn't helped, or at least if it had, no one had told her.

  "Anything?" Kylie asked, not wanting to be the odd duck anymore.

  "No. You're still tight as a drum. Any luck reading anyone?"

  "No. Maybe I'm a supernatural retard. "

  Holiday rolled her eyes. "If anything I think it's just the opposite. I think your brain is holding off giving you your powers until it thinks you're capable and mature enough to deal with them. "

  "Are you calling me immature?" Kylie made her point and stuck out her tongue.

  "Not immature. " Holiday chuckled. "I think you're wiser than a lot of girls your age. " Her expression went serious again. "But that doesn't mean that you haven't got a lot to learn. " Holiday stood up. "Do you think you can sleep now?"

  "Maybe," Kylie said, but deep down, she doubted it.

  Holiday got to the door, then turned back. "Oh, about the ghost problems.

  If she doesn't give you anything to work with the next time she shows up, tell her you're going to shut her out until she offers something more concrete. Then do it. If she doesn't give you something different, change channels on her. Nothing ticks off a ghost more than being ignored.

  That usually makes them figure out a better approach. "

  "How do I change channels?" Kylie asked.

  "Concentrate on something else. It has to be something you want to think about. " Holiday's brow rose as if she'd just remembered something.

  "Like making out with Derek. "

  Kylie saw something in the camp leader's eyes and she knew. "Burnett told you. "

  Holiday nodded. "And I'm not going to get involved with that, but just promise me you're not doing anything you'll regret. "

  "Nothing happened," Kylie said.

  "This time. " Holiday let go of another of her deep sighs.

  Kylie sat up a little straighter. "Derek would never try to pressure me into . . . anything. "

  Holiday's chin lowered and her gaze zeroed in on Kylie with startling effect. "It's not Derek I'm worried about, Kylie. "

  Kylie looked down at her hands, feeling exposed. How did Holiday know how close Kylie was to giving in? Then Kylie remembered Holiday was just like Derek-she could read people's emotions. Obviously, just being around Derek had Kylie putting out turned-on vibrations. Good grief, she might as well just put a sign around her neck that said I'M HORNY. And wasn't that just lovely?

  "Kylie . . . it's nothing to be embarrassed about. And I'm not asking you not to . . . What I'm asking is that when you do make that decision, it's a decision you make rationally and not one you just let happen. You understand the difference?"

  Kylie nodded.

  "Good. " Holiday walked out.

  Even after the door closed, Kylie's chest filled with even more emotion-

  embarrassment, uncertainty, and a touch of resentment. She didn't want Holiday or anyone knowing her deepest emotions or desires.

  Then she recalled the sister-like bond she'd found with Holiday, the one Kylie totally valued. She supposed there was a downside to every good bond. She supposed a real older sister, even an all-human one, would have felt co
mpelled to talk to her about sex.

  As Kylie dropped her head back on the pillow, she remembered how it had felt to kiss Derek and wondered if she could ever make a rational decision where he was concerned. Especially when he had the ability to control her emotions.

  Socks leapt up on the mattress, and Kylie was totally caught off guard when her thoughts went from kissing Derek to kissing Lucas.

  Great. Just freaking great. She grabbed her pillow so tight that if it had a life, she'd killed it. Socks let out a pathetic meow and scurried back to the foot of the bed. Kylie moaned into the foam stuffing beneath the pillow case. She was already going to have a hard enough time sleeping and now she had the whole Derek versus Lucas thing to mull over.
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