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Sunday Snippet #122

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Blood Fever

Author: Veronica Wolff

The Watchers #3

Publisher:NAL Trade

Released:  August 7, 2012


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 I didn’t even look at him.  I just said, “The girl who died climbing.  Acari Kate.  Why did she fall?”

“Pride goeth before a fall.”

“Please, Carden.  I need to know – in English.”  His nonanswer gave me the mental strength to angle my body to look at him, and I wished I hadn’t.  He’d wrapped his arms around his bent legs, and his shirt tugged against his body, outlining ropes of lean muscle.  I looked down the beach, back to the scene of the accident.  “She climbed to the top and saw something.  It scared her enough to make her fall.  What did she see?”

“Only Acari Kate knows what awaited her at the top.”  At my impatient look, he chuckled, but he continued.  “You’ve seen the mysteries this island hides.  What monsters lie in wait.  Not all are as brave as you in the face of danger.”

Had she seen a Draug?  A vampire?  How many creatures were hiding out there, lying in wait?

He added nonchalantly, “I believe Acari Kate must have bonded with someone.”

My eyes bugged open.  “Seriously?”

He shrugged.  “It would explain much.”

“With who?”  I ran a mental catalog of all the vampires I’d seen on the island – the possibilities were endless.

“That, I do not know.”

I remembered her mania, her recklessness.  “Was that why she was acting nuts?  Is that going to happen to me?”

“You’re strong in mind and body.  This island has made you forget, but it is time for you to remember: Your fate is not beyond your control.”

I flopped back on my hands, stretching my legs before me on the sand.  “I wouldn’t be so sure.”

“You must credit yourself.  This leg, for instance.”  He smoothed his hand along my thigh.  “You’ve worked hard to carve muscle where once there was none.”

My flesh grew hot, buzzing where he touched me.  “I… I thought we were suppose to stay away from each other.”

“Ah.”  He pulled his hand back.  “How quickly I forget.  You are still anxious to break the bond.”

“I am,” I said, sounding more sure than I felt.  “It is possible, right?  To become unbonded.”

“Aye,” he said.  “It’s possible.  Difficult, but possible.”

“And you think Acari Kate has bonded with a vampire?”

He shrugged.  “It would explain such rash behavior.  It’s the blood fever.  Some who’ve bonded feel as beyond the reach of death as their vampire mates.  Other bond, and when they cannot feed again, they grown mad with their need.”

Mad with need.  I had some experience with that.  I remember Kate’s restless, fevered eyes.  Was that how I appeared?

Clouds scudded overhead, stealing light from the sky and warmth from my skin.  “You’re saying my options are to stay bonded, be reckless, or go insane.”

He gave me a sidewise look.  “I don’t recall saying any of those things.”

“You’re giving me more nonanswers.”

“On the contrary,” he said.  “I’ve been more honest wand more forthcoming than anyone.”

Even though the wind had whipped his words from me, they reverberated in my head.  Carden was right – he had  been honest with me, from the moment I’d met him in that dungeon.

I had to ask another question and I feared the answer.  “Will I become reckless?”

“Is that a bad thing?” he asked in a musing tone.  “There are two sorts of reckless are there not?  There is impulsive and there is brave – you must decide which you will be.”

“Strong and brave,” I whispered into the wind.  He’d told me I could be these things.

Then it hit me.  I didn’t need some vampire to tell me – I knew in my heart already that I was these things.  Strength and guts – it was how I’d survived my childhood.

I became aware again of his body next to mine.  There was another sort of reckless, and the blood pounded beneath my skin to consider it.  Could I be the sort of woman who was strong enough to stay bonded with a vampire and remain sane?  To be brave enough to lean over and kiss her bonded vampire?  “So I can be whomever I want to be?”

“Are you so quick to think yourself incapable?  Do you accept Vampire superiority so willingly?”

“No,” I answered at once.

He gave me a thoughtful look.  “Then why are you quick to doubt yourself?  Perhaps you are in control.  Maybe you have only to realize this.”

How much was in my control?  The longer I stayed on this island, the more mysterious it became.  “The vampires have told us they want us here.  But why might they need us?”

Carden smiled.  “You ask a good question, pretty one.  You are strong, and the vampires recognize this strength.  Now you must recognize it, too.”  He put a fingertip beneath my chin, ensuring I wouldn’t turn away.  “You must recognize your power.”

Why was he telling me this?  “You’re a vampire.  Why help me?  Why be honest?”

“I was once a man.  As not all men are good, not all vampires are evil.”

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