Kahli blinked once, hard, her hand pressing against the side of her neck. She stared at the King as he fell to his side, crumpling into a ball. Silver no longer had an effect of this kind. Vampires wore it around their necks, mocking their ancestors who died with the metal’s touch. They’d grown careless, leaving silver around, no longer thinking it was a threat. But new blood meant that the old ways would return. Kahli was lucky. Someone had been enjoying her blood with the Queen, and now she knew who it was.
The King’s wound hissed as his hands frantically tried to extract the piece of silver before it killed him. The comb wasn’t solid and had gold and silver mingled together. Kahli knew if she didn’t flee now, she’d never escape.
Ignoring the King, she ran to the door. The vampire who brought her there was waiting. He ignored the screams, and when she opened the door he bowed low. She used the movement against him. Her knee came up and slammed into his face. A sickening crack rang in her ears and he fell to the floor. Kahli ran, pressing her fingers to the wound on her neck, knowing that running was only making it worse. She needed stitches. Or Will. Her head was throbbing as the halls spun, tipping high and low. She felt like a metal ball in a maze, tipping and rolling, hoping to find a way out. Somehow she managed to navigate the hallways, and emerged below the palace in an underground garage. Tools lined workbenches and every sort of vehicle imaginable surrounded her. She staggered forward to the bench, leaning hard, trying to remain upright. Sleek black cars, motorized sleds, motorcycles with strange wheels meant to grab the ice, skis, and then something else—something smaller, painted in shades of white and blue. Breathing hard, she smiled staring at her freedom.
“Hey!” a man called from behind her. “You can’t be in here.”
Kahli moved quickly. Her fist tightened around a screwdriver and she rounded on the man, stabbing him in the throat. When he fell away, the make-shift weapon was jerked out of her hand. Another vampire smiled at her, but his skin was that horrible pale yellow. She could see through his flesh like a window. Traces of muscle fiber and veins lined his cheeks.
Kahli glanced around. The only thing within her reach was a ski pole. She plucked it from the lot of outdoor equipment and arched her arm back. When she swung it forward, she aimed for his throat, crushing it. The man fell to the floor, dead.
She had to leave. Stealing winter jackets and ski pants from the hooks on the walls, Kahli pulled them on over her gown. Taking a scarf, she ripped it and tied it tightly around her throat, using the extra length as padding to help slow the flow of blood. Leaving a blood trail would have wolves and vamps on her in a heartbeat. Tying the scarf around her neck, she yanked the knot tight.
Kahli dressed like a servant, and took keys to a ski mobile. Before fleeing, she looked around. One person out alone would match her description. Within seconds they would know she was here, but… her gaze fell on the dead vampires. Moving quickly, she strapped the first one to the back of another snow mobile. She started the ignition and used the man’s glove and rope to gas the engine while still holding the break. Kahli aimed the dead vampire at the door. She pressed a button on the vehicle, and the garage door slid open. Waning sunlight poured in, painting the snow an eerie orange. Kahli released the break and the first vamp went flying. She watched him bound away, across the palace grounds until he was out of sight. His ski mobile would keep going until he crashed. Kahli didn’t have much time.
Will heard the panicked screams erupt from the King’s chamber. When he walked in, the king was laying on the floor in a pool of blood, very much alive. A silver comb laid next to him, clutched in his fist. Bright red blood lined his lips, “You! You said she was docile! You lying bag of…”
Will didn’t stop. He ran through the halls looking for Kahli and didn’t stop until he saw the white snow mobile skidder across the landscape. Bounding through the halls, he ran faster than he ever had in his entire life. The king with bright red lips, laying in a pool of bright red blood—not black blood—red blood. It could mean only one thing. He drank from Kahli. The King must have been taking her blood. The rest of the vamps had weak blood, it blackened like charred wood. It was devoid of the nutrients they needed to survive. That resulted in drinking often, but there were fewer and fewer places to drink. He knew. Although Will didn’t require as much blood, he did need some to live.
Following the girl sealed his demise in every way possible. If he remained in the palace, the king, Reggie, and the Queen would kill him. If he followed Kahli into the frosty air, and couldn’t find her, he’d die as well. A vamp alone in the wild with no source of blood was a damn fool, but there was no time. He had to find her. As soon as that blood metabolized and became part of the King, nothing would keep the monarch from finding Kahli. He would destroy her in every way possible before ending her life. Will couldn’t let that happen. Guilt and anger collided in his chest. There was no tomorrow. And from the amount of blood on the king’s lips, Will knew Kahli wouldn’t survive tonight if he didn’t find her.
Will bounded down the stairs into the garage to find it empty. Two smears of black blood lined the concrete floor, but the bodies were gone. A ski pole had blood on the tip, and was tossed across the room. Snow mobiles were missing. Two. Shit. Will ran his hands through his hair. There were two sets of trails leaving the garage. One seemed lighter, like it was a single rider. The other left deeper tracks, like a heavier rider or they’d doubled up and chased her. There were no more snow mobiles. The car was too noticeable. He needed something that he could disappear with that could get them far. The bike was the only option.
Will straddled the motorcycle and revved the engine. Skidding, he put his boot down and the wide spiked tires bit into the snow. He climbed out of the garage and followed the second set of tracks. Kahli was smart. And the first set of tracks lead to the front gates. He didn’t know what she did, but he doubted she’d make a bee line for the front door.
The wind burned his eyes as his hair flew out of his face and iced over. Will rode dangerously fast, leaning harder than he should have, turning around objects in this path. The bike he was on had the capability to travel faster than the ski mobile. He gunned it, following the path, until the vehicle came in view. His heart sank. They were riding two-up. Someone was with her. Will leaned lower, gassing the engine harder. It felt like hours passed by the time he caught up to them, although he knew it was only a matter of minutes. His heart hammered in his chest. He threw logic to the wind and went with his gut, following the least logical vehicle. And it paid off. The front riders mask was white, like the snow, but a long strand of fiery red hair fluttered behind her. The second person on was large and not moving.
Will tried to get her attention, but Kahli wouldn’t turn. Reeving the engine, pushing harder, faster, he tried to get up alongside of her. “Kahli!” he screamed, but she couldn’t hear him. The noise from the wind and the purr of the engines was too loud. She didn’t turn to look at him either. The scarf around her neck was white, but as he pulled closer he could see red seeping through, spidering into the weave of the fabric. Blood.
He rode along side of her for a moment, and dread pooled in his stomach. She was wounded. That had to be a much larger wound if it bled through already. And yet, she was still sitting up. Will glanced at the guy behind Kahli, trying to get his attention. For a moment, he thought it was Cole, then realized the guy wasn’t sitting up on his own. His back was tied to the backrest. When Kahli hit a bump, his head moved like he was asleep. Or dead.
“Kahli!” he screamed again, but it was no use.
Kahli saw the vampire next to her approaching. Her neck tingled the way it always did when a vamp was close by. She leaned lower to the vehicle, practically resting her cheek on the metal. Her body protested every bump, every whip of icy wind. The throbbing in her head didn’t help either. The bike next to her would overtake her any second, but when he came along side, he slowed. Her eyes were growing heavy. She couldn’t turn to look at him. It would make her so dizzy that she’d vomit. The rider hung there for a moment and then started to pull ahead, like he planned to cut her off.
The mind is a funny thing. It fights for survival even when the odds are abysmal. She wasn’t ready to surrender yet, but she knew her means of escape were limited. There was only one option—only one thing that would keep her from going back. She’d flip the vehicle. It’d roll and crush her. There was no other choice. There was nothing but endless white in front of them. No trees to crash into. No cliffs to race off of. No way to lose the vamp that was about to overtake her.
Will saw Kahli’s back straighten before she did it. Her elbow lifted slightly and he could tell what she meant to do. Panic raced through him as he screamed. His hands and feet controlled the bike, slowing to Kahli’s speed. Will leaned the bike close, and grabbed her arm just as she yanked the handlebars on her ski mobile. The vehicle was ripped out from under her, rolling on top of the ice. The other passenger smashed head first into the ground and was thrown from the vehicle on its second rotation. Will’s strong arms yanked Kahli away in time, but he leaned too far. The bike went down before he could slow. His boot was caught on the pegs. The bike skidded along the ice, dragging Will behind. Kahli was cushioned from the blow of the fall by Will. He released her and she rolled to her side where she stopped. Breathing hard, Kahli opened her eyes.
Horror filled her stomach as she watched Will dragging across the ice, trapped under the motorcycle. The spikes on the wheels spun, glistening, as the last rays of sun fell below the horizon. When the bike stopped the tire continued to spin slowly, like an unseen child was spinning the wheel. Will laid motionless on his back, his face touching the frozen ground. There was a trail of blood across the snow, which stopped under the bike.
For a moment, all Kahli could do for a moment was stare. Dread pooled inside her heart. Will. It was Will. He tried to save her. Horror overcame the dread, and she pushed herself up. Kahli tried to run, but when she stood up, the earth felt like it was tipped on its side. Her fingers pressed against her neck. It felt wet. Damn. Kahli staggered across the ice toward Will and feel to her knees.