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“Yeah, there’s that, too.” He grins at me, his hands lingering on my waist for just a second as I start to climb off his lap. “You want to get the door or should I?”

“Why would I…?” Horror sweeps through me. “You don’t think my uncle is the one pounding on the door, do you?”

“Not sure who else you think it would be, considering his beloved niece was last seen in the company of the guy who just picked a fight with every wolf shifter in the school.”

“Oh my God.” I look around for a mirror so I can fix my hair just enough that it doesn’t look like I’ve spent the last hour making out with a vampire, then kind of stop in shock as I realize that there’s nothing even resembling a mirror in here. “So are the old stories true?” I demand, combing my hair with little more than my fingers and a prayer. “Vampires really can’t see themselves in mirrors?”

“We really can’t.”

“How is that possible?” I tuck my shirt in and make sure my hoodie is pulled down over my hips. “I mean, how do you know what you look like?”

He holds up his phone. “Selfie, anyone?” He moves toward the door, which is practically vibrating under the force of my uncle’s knocks. “Is this seriously what you want to talk about right now?”

A little bit, actually. Now that the whole vampire thing is out in the open, I realize I have a million questions. Things like how long do born vampires live—or are they immortal, like the stories suggest? Which leads me to wonder if born vampires age the same way, or is this a baby Yoda thing, where their maturation is much slower than non-magical humans? And if it is, exactly how old is Jaxon? Also, did Mekhi not come into my room today because he was being respectful or because he couldn’t cross the threshold without an invitation?

There are more questions buzzing in my brain—so many more—but Jaxon is right. Now isn’t exactly the time to be thinking about any of this.

“Of course not.” I nod toward the door. “Open it and let’s get this over with.”

“It’ll be fine,” he promises with a wicked little grin that makes me think it will be anything but.

Especially if Uncle Finn is anything like my father. Then again, the guy’s a witch and runs a school for the supernatural…so probably not that much in common after all.

“It will be whatever it is,” I tell him, aiming for Zen and sounding completely out of touch instead. But come on, it’s hard not to freak out when I’m pretty sure the boy I’m crazy about is going to be expelled.

Jaxon winks at me, even blows me a kiss, before rearranging his face into blankness as he throws open the door.

“Nice of you to let me in,” my uncle says dryly. “So sorry you felt the need to hurry.”

“Sorry, Foster, but Grace did have to get her clothes back on.”

“Jaxon!” I gasp, my cheeks turning I can’t even imagine what shade of red. “I was fully dressed, Uncle Finn. I swear.”

“This is what you want to lead with after that stunt you just pulled?” my uncle demands. But before Jaxon can answer, he turns on me. “I thought you were heading back to your room more than an hour ago?”

“I was. But I got…”

“Sidetracked?” my uncle finishes for me with a raised brow.

At this point, I’m pretty sure the blush has taken over my entire body. Including my eyelashes and hair. “Yeah.”

“If you’re well enough to be up here, you’re probably well enough to be in class, don’t you think?”

“Yeah. I probably am.”

“Good.” He glances at his watch. “First period should be about half done right now—we are squeezing it in before lunch due to the chandelier incident…and other things.” He glares at Jaxon. “You should head there now.”

I think about arguing, but he’s got the same look on his face my dad used to have when I pushed him to the limit. I want to stay with Jaxon, want to know what’s going to happen to him, but I’m afraid if I put up a fuss now, it will just make my uncle angrier. And that’s the last thing I want if he’s about to decide Jaxon’s fate.

So instead of demanding to stay as I want to do, I just nod and head into the bedroom to grab my purse from where Jaxon dropped it. “Yes, Uncle Finn.”

For a second, I could swear that surprise flashes in my uncle’s eyes, but it’s gone so fast that I’m not sure I didn’t imagine it. Then again, Macy doesn’t exactly strike me as the biddable type, so maybe he didn’t expect me to agree so easily. Or he was surprised my purse was in Jaxon’s bedroom, which…I am going to choose not to think about.

Either way, it’s too late to argue now, so I turn to Jaxon. “I’ll see you later?” I deliberately avoid making eye contact with my uncle as I wait for his response.

“Yeah.” His tone says obviously, even if he keeps his words simple in deference to my uncle. “I’ll text you.”

It’s not quite the response I was hoping for, but again, I’m not in a position to argue. So I just give him a little smile as I head for the door.

And try not to panic when the last thing I hear before Uncle Finn slams it closed is, “Give me one reason not to ship your ass to Prague, Vega. And make sure it’s a good one.”


Trial by

Dragon Fire

I pull out my phone on the way down the stairs to Brit Lit and find about twenty text messages waiting for me. Five from Heather, complaining about how boring school is without me, along with several photos of her in her costume for the fall play.

I fire off a text telling her how great she looks dressed as the Cheshire Cat and another one sympathizing with the boredom. I want to tell her about Jaxon—not the vampire stuff, just the cute boy stuff—but that’s a subject I know I shouldn’t open until I decide exactly what I can or can’t tell my bestie about him. Because when Heather is on the trail for new information, she’s utterly relentless.

Plus, I’ve never lied to her, and I don’t really want to start now. I mean, logic says that if I’m going to be with Jaxon, I’m going to have to lie sometimes—I can’t walk around announcing to the world that he’s a vampire without us having to dodge a lot of wooden stakes and garlic. But I need to think about what I’m going to say. I’m a terrible liar at the best of times. When talking to Heather? I’ll crack in ten seconds flat, and that can’t happen.

Which is why I don’t say anything more than I absolutely have to, even though a part of me is dying for her opinion about…oh, I don’t know, everything hot-guy related.

Most of the other texts are from Macy—there are seven of them talking about what happened in the study room. She wasn’t there, but the news of what Jaxon did to the wolf alpha has obviously spread. Not that I expected any different; he did it publicly for a reason. Plus Uncle Finn showing up at the tower shows just how far and fast the news traveled.

And Uncle Finn sent several texts to me as well, all of them demanding to know where I was. I don’t bother to answer, considering he already found me—much to my chagrin.

The last two texts are from Flint, and I’m so shocked—and annoyed—I nearly miss a step and fall on my face. But then I remember the asshole dragon doesn’t know what I know. He doesn’t have a clue that I know he’s been trying to kill me instead of help me.

It still pisses me off, though—the whole thing does—so I don’t bother answering him. I swear to myself that I’ll never answer him again, no matter what explanation he comes up with and no matter how many excuses he tries

Part of me wants to find him right now and have it out. But I’ve finally made it to Brit Lit, only to realize that I've totally forgotten to change into my school uniform. So I shove my phone back into the front pocket of my hoodie and head up to my room to do a super-quick change. Ten minutes later, I walk into class only to have the whole room go eerily silent the moment everyone spots me. You’d think I’d be used to that after the last week, but today, with everything that’s happened, it feels a million times more awkward than usual.

But honestly, it’s not like I can blame them. If I wasn’t me, I’d be staring, too. I mean, come on, supernatural or not, they’re still high school kids and I am still the girl who just caused a fight between the alpha wolf and the most powerful vampire in existence.

It’d be stranger if they didn’t stare.

That knowledge doesn’t make the walk across the room to my desk any easier, though. Even with Mekhi giving me a supportive smile.

“We just started act 4, scene 5,” he tells me in a soft undertone as I slide into my desk. “You can share my book.”

“Thanks,” I answer, pulling a pen and a small notebook out of my purse. I have no idea why I didn’t grab my backpack before heading down here, but I didn’t, so this is going to have to do.

“Everyone’s taking a turn reading today, Grace,” the instructor informs me from her spot at the front of the classroom. “Why don’t you read Ophelia in this scene?”

“Okay,” I answer, wondering why I have to play the damsel in distress. Because I’ve already read the play, I know this is the scene where Ophelia goes mad—or at least, where the audience gets to see her insanity for the first time. I try not to take it personally that she seems to think I’m the right one for the job…

Mekhi is playing Laertes, my brother, which makes it a little easier to read the lines of an insane girl who has just lost her father and feels all alone in the world. But I still struggle to get through them, especially the lines toward the end.

“‘There’s a daisy: I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died: they say he made a good end—For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy.’”

Mekhi reads Laertes’s line—obviously concerned about the state of my mental health. And by my, I mean Ophelia’s, I remind myself as I move into softly singing my last lines in the scene—and the play. “‘And will he not come again? And will he not come again? No, no, he is dead; Go to thy death-bed: He never will come again—’”