Home > Reckoning (Strange Angels #5)(16)

Reckoning (Strange Angels #5)(16)
Author: Lili St. Crow, Lilith Saintcrow

Gonna hurt someone if you’re not careful, Dru-girl. Dad’s voice, calm and clinical. Get that gun away from him. Make sure he’s down. Then get the hell out of here, and take your damn groceries with you.

The car door came off like peeling a strip of birch bark, hinges squealing, a fountain of sparks as the wiring for the windows and locks tore. I brought it up and spun, drove it through the windshield. Safety glass imploded. The cop was down—an older man with a high hard gut, his hat blown free and skipping across the parking lot in slow graceful arcs, his eyes bugging and his mouth wetly open. His left leg bent at a funny angle inside his regulation-issue pants. He was older than Dad, and the look on his face was pure terror.

He was afraid. Of me.

I bent and grabbed the shotgun, a flicker of my hand. It was so easy to bring it to my shoulder, brace it, and—

What am I DOING?

He was scrabbling away, too weak and slow to be a real threat. My head snapped up, scanning the parking lot. Not a soul to be seen. Ash lay on top of an old Buick, the hood dented and windshield cracked. I’d flung him pretty hard. He shook his head, melting back into boyform, and I pursed my lips, let out a high piercing whistle.

It was Gran’s “call the hounds” sound; it was instinct, and it worked. Ash’s chin came up, and he looked at me. His eyes glowed orange.

We need to get the hell out of here. Now. I jerked my head, the touch an invisible rope pulling at the meat inside my skull. He clambered down off the car in weird, stuttering fast-forward and bounded across the parking lot on all fours even though he was boy-shaped again. Toward the Subaru, thank God.

I hope they don’t have security cameras here. I glanced at the cop. The shotgun whirled in my grasp; he was raising his hands like he was going to plead with me not to hurt him. I socked him, once, with the shotgun’s butt, a nice clean hit gauged on the soft side. His head snapped back and he slumped, eyes fluttering closed. For a moment, standing outside myself, I was horrified.

The world jolted back up to normal speed, achingly slow. Ash skidded to a stop in front of the Subaru, looking at me. His irises were still orange, still glowing, and his gaze was utterly blank.

Waiting for the next command. My next command. Nausea rose deep and hot inside me. Had he looked at Sergej that way?

I am so not ready for this.

I snapped a glance at Piggy Eyes Lyle. He lay, head cocked at a weird angle, up against two dented, broken newspaper boxes. Bile rose in my throat. I’d hit him too hard.

Was he still alive?

Yes. I heard his pulse, faint and weak. A thin thread of blood slid down his chin, and as the wind veered, I could smell it.

It smelled good. The bloodhunger woke up, the dry spot at the back of my throat opening like a flower.

Walk across the pavement, step by step, bend down. Grab him, push his arm up to lock the joint so he can’t struggle, and tilt the head back. There will be a nice big throat, with a nice big jugular. Bury your fangs. And the moment his heart stops, you know he’ll never watch a teenage girl walk through the supermarket again. It’s yours. Your power. The blood will slide down your throat, it will be sweet and smoky, and—

I knew that tinkling, sweet, girlish voice. It was Anna. A warm place dilated behind my breastbone, and I heard her laugh. Whispering, taunting, cajoling.

I thought I’d gotten her out of my head, that I’d burned through the blood I’d taken from her.

I was wrong. And what would Graves think of this, if he could see it?

What would Dad think, if he was still alive and not just zombie dust? Or Gran?

Time snapped, stinging, like a hard elastic band against flinching skin. I had the two plastic-and-paper grocery bags in my free hand. Threw them in the backseat as Ash cowered.

Like he was afraid of me. Hunched down, his entire body the picture of submission.

“Get in!” I yelled, the shotgun held loosely. Nobody in the parking lot. The rain began to slant down in earnest, dark drops on the dusty ground merging. It didn’t cut the smell of blood. My entire body shook, jitters racing through me.

Ash scrambled into the car. I swept the parking lot again, shotgun held ready. Lightning sizzled overhead, photoflash-searing the entire scene into my head. I dropped into the driver’s seat, braced the shotgun. Sparked the car and laid rubber out of the parking lot.

Some shopping trip.


The windows were all down, rain lashing through and thunder booming. Water smacked the side of my face, a welcome coolness. I kept us on the road, trying not to bend the steering wheel. Ash had slithered over into the front passenger seat and whimpered, crouching in the bucket seat and staring at me.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him to sit down and shut up. He shook and shivered every time thunder boomed. Spring storms are like that—they sneak up on a body. Gran said they hid on the ridges, and the only way to tell one was coming was to have a war wound or an old broken bone.

Gran would have been horrified at what I’d just done. Not so much the busting up a couple of grown men, though that was plenty bad.

No, it was the bloodhunger. If she was still alive to see me sucking blood, or even just wanting to suck blood, what would she think? She’d be disgusted, just like Graves. And angry.

I didn’t do it, though. I didn’t!

My conscience wasn’t having any of it. You wanted to. You know you did. I blinked furiously, the water in my eyes was making everything blur.

Ash let out a yelp. I jerked the wheel, and we drifted out of the oncoming lane. There wasn’t another car on the road for miles, and my entire body was shaking with the hunger’s aftermath. Like little armored rabbits were running around under my skin. My veins throbbed dryly, and my eyes were smarting. A hot trickle slid down my left cheek.

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