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Cian shrugged. “You'll figure it out. ”

“We could call in Summerfield,” Roberto suggested.

“He died of cancer a few months ago, remember? His son is taking over the hunt. I d

on't trust the son to keep my deal intact past his father's death. ”

“Have you met him?”

“No, not yet. ” Cian shook his head once more with disbelief. “I don't care for him to know my face. His father swore my file was destroyed and I believe him. It is best to keep quiet especially to keep Samantha safe. ” The thought of his mortal fiancée made him sigh deeply. He had to keep her lovely innocence safe. It was tragic enough she was willing to take him on, despite knowing his true nature. But she drew out the good in him and he loved her for it.

“Find a necromancer if you can,” Cian said after a long beat. “The Summoner's power is all based in death. ”

“Agreed. ” Roberto rose to his feet, hearing the clear order in his master's voice.

“And keep an eye on the news statewide. If the fledgling is out there, I want to know where it is. ”

Roberto nodded and elegantly walked away.

Cian, meanwhile, sprawled in his chair and let out a long, exaggerated sigh. “Great, just freaking great. ”

Chapter Nine

Amaliya felt relieved when Dallas finally faded away into the horizon. The bus felt warm despite the cold air from the air conditioning vent that brushed over her arm. She sat close to the window watching the terrain slide into the pitch blackness of the night.

Sweeping her hair back with one hand, she looked over at the young man snoring loudly on the seats across from her. There were not that many passengers on their way to Abilene, so the bus was relatively empty. Her feet tucked up on the armrest, she was nestled down in her chair, her back against the window, gazing off over her shoulder at the darkened landscape.

After leaving the motel the night before, she had found her way to another one and settled in for the day. She had picked up a roll of duct tape at a convenience store and used it to tape the curtains shut. Like before, she barricaded the door. She had slept soundly for most of the day.

Only when her dreams turned dark and disturbing had Amaliya forced herself awake. Sliding off the bed, she had curled up in the corner covered with the comforter, terrified of the sunlight pressing under the crack of the door. She had felt vulnerable and lost. She did not feel safe again until the sunlight slowly faded away and night had come.

Sliding her fingers through her hair, Amaliya tried not to think of the nightmares. They were more memory than nightmare, and she knew it. In the dream, she had been pressed up against the outside wall of the dorm building. The professor savagely bit and pulled at her throat as she struggled. She had fought him valiantly, but he had kept her pinned easily as her blood flowed in a warm gush over her chest. The pain she had endured and her terror still lingered in her consciousness.

Rubbing her eyes, she pressed her lips tightly together. Tonight she felt more. . . human. Tonight her head felt clearer and she felt more connected to the world around her. Maybe it was being in the bus surrounded by other people trying to get home, but she felt more like herself. And she felt more vulnerable.

The blood lust from the previous night seemed like a dim memory. In fact the whole night seemed like a surreal blur. But it had happened. She remembered every moment with a hazy sort of recollection. And she remembered how much she had enjoyed her last kill of the night. Hell, she remember how much she enjoyed the killings in the dorm back at the college.

I could kill them all, she thought, looking around at the other passengers. If I wanted to, they would die at my hands and not be able to stop me.

Finding no solace in that thought, she looked away from the moonlight-drenched trees to the tips of her scuffed boots. Rubbing the side of her nose, she sighed, then started to fiddle with the stud tucked into her nostril.

Amaliya seriously hated what she had done at the frat house, but she was having trouble feeling guilt. It did bother her that she could be causing the same pain that Professor Sumner had caused her. Yet, she liked the feeling that she could take down someone as huge as Rob and not feel an ounce of remorse.

“Seriously fucked up,” she muttered.

The newspaper was tucked under her legs. It had nothing about Rob's death, but a lot about the slaughter at the campus out East. The rumors of Satanists were getting even wilder. She noted that Professor Sumner was listed as one of the six missing people. She was also classified as missing. The media had printed her driver's license picture where she was twenty pounds heavier with her natural blond hair. It looked nothing like her. For once her aversion of getting her picture taken seemed to have worked for her.

As far as she could tell, she wasn't being searched for as a living person. They thought she was dead. Even her father had said he felt she was dead and gone. Obviously, he was lying through his teeth. She supposed after she tossed him and her brother around, he had figured out she wasn't alive. The final leap from the house had probably confirmed it.

The newspaper had a description of her open grave and described her dorm room as being riddled with mud and blood. The police finally had come out and said they believed she had been murdered and that her body had been taken with the killers. They couldn't explain her empty grave, but they were convinced the Satanists had carted off her dead body.

What her Grandmama and cousin thought of this, she had no clue. But she had a feeling Sergio was convinced she was running from the Satanists. He had probably reassured her grandmother that she was fine and on her way to see her. Of course, what was really happening was even more absurd. She was a vampire running from her killer and creator.

Closing her eyes, she listened to the symphony of the wind rushing over the bus, the passengers breathing heavily or snoring as they slept, and the rumble of the bus' engine. In the old days, before she had been killed, she would have been munching on chips and drinking a diet soda. But she hadn't had food in days now and drink had little or no appeal to her. She was starting to miss food. The texture, the taste, the satisfaction from consuming something delicious. But food was too easily supplanted by blood now. It was warm, thick liquid that tasted divine as it filled her and renewed her. The memory of the taste of food was beginning to fade from her. It made her sad.

The sound of the air brakes stirred her from her reverie. She looked up to see the station coming into view as the bus slowed down. With remarkable ease and talent, the bus driver maneuvered the lumbering vehicle up into the station in Eastland. As the lights came on and the brakes whooshed, people stirred awake and began to move.

Amaliya grabbed up her bag and headed down the narrow aisle as fast as she could before she ended up at the end of the line. She easily beat out everyone disembarking. The bus driver sat silently in his chair rubbing his eyes as the passengers departed. She wondered briefly what it felt like to be tired. She didn't feel physically tired anymore.