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Blood on the Moon
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Format:ebook $6.99 $8.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around August 30, 2011. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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Boys, romance, classes, and annoying roommates are all within the realm of the expected for a college frosh. Trying to solve the mysterious murders of young college coeds near campus is not. Darkness seems to be creeping into every corner of Faith’s life, no matter the hour. And when she seeks the truth, danger seems to be the only thing that finds her.
Faith is well aware of the strange currents in the air, particularly when she sets off static sparks with everything she touches. Before long, she finds herself entrenched in the deep-seeded battle between werewolves and vampires. The war has reached the tipping point, and Faith has the power to determine where the scales fall. But the most important question may be with whom does her loyalty lie?
Deliciously suspenseful and immediately addictive, Blood on the Moon features a headstrong heroine and all of the thrills, chills, and otherworldly boys with deadly charm that a human could ask for.
To Brittany, for the hearts in the margin.
I am surrounded.
A dozen pairs of manic eyes glitter at me underneath the cold light of the full moon; the odor of death hangs over the bloody snow at my feet and tears trail slowly down my face.
I am begging.
Not for my own life, but for the life of a boy I've both loved and mistrusted for ten years. I hear the gurgling, retching sounds of his breath, and I look up into the mad eyes of the beast looming above me, begging for his help.
But the eyes are indifferent, not just to my pleas, but to everything. Everything but blood. Blood coats his world in a crimson film, blurring reality into madness. He can't think, can't rationalize. All he knows is blood. Blood and that orb hanging over our heads—waxing and waning—as unstoppable as time, and just as cruel.
I cover my face in my hands, knowing that nothing I do will help. The beast has already resisted the one pathetic chance I had. I know in my heart that I will die tonight. Alone. The only way I can be.
I had always imagined that college would be different than high shool. I thought that I would enter the Colorado State campus and feel this wonderful sort of enlightenment, like just being there would make me an adult. Or at least that I had some purpose in life besides using up the air that was meant for those greater than me.
But no, college seemed just as confusing and frustrating as high school. In fact, it was harder because I didn't have my mom around to take care of me. No home-cooked meals, no laundry folded on the corner of my bed. If I wanted to go someplace, I couldn't just borrow her car, I had to wait twenty minutes for the bus to come wheezing up. If I ran out of food, I had to trek out to the store. If I wanted my roommate, Ashley, to turn her music down, well, I had to suck it up because she wouldn't, no matter how nicely I asked.
I'd only been on campus for a week, but I was already beginning to feel scared and alone, and somewhat nauseous. If Derek hadn't been with me, I don't know what I would have done.
Derek had been my best friend since the third grade when he beat up Roger Miller for knocking me off the swings. We'd tried dating a couple of times, but something always screwed it up. Usually it was Derek's wandering eye or maybe it was my inability to admit having any feelings for him stronger than friendship. Eventually we decided to keep our tongues out of each other's mouths because we cherished our friendship too much to let stupid crap like that ruin it.
Derek followed me to Colorado State. Sure, he said he chose CSU because he got a football scholarship to play first string for the Rams, but Derek also got a scholarship to play running back for the Florida Gators and the University of Alabama. I knew the real reason he came with me was because the thought of going someplace new, totally on your own, was scary as hell. I guess he thought having one other person to be alone with was better than having nobody. I was definitely with him on that. Until Derek told me he was going to CSU, I had been in a constant state of hyperanxiety.
Not that I felt any steadier after having "acclimated myself " for the past week. Even after moving into my dorm room, meeting my roommate, touring the campus and the surrounding town, and attending several freshman mixers with Derek, I still felt out of place. Mostly I craved the start of the term when my coping mechanism would begin: track team.
I was a runner. It was how I dealt with stress, with disappointment, with anything really. Running was rhythmic, steady, dependable—things I usually lacked in my life. It felt good to have something I could count on, even if it was as menial as running.
I'd been jogging around campus a few times since arriving—trying to stave off the nerves—but there was something about running full-out. Sprinting. Heart pounding, sides splitting. Pushing myself as hard as I could to beat the person next to me.
I missed that.
I couldn't wait until cross-country team try-outs the following week, but now I had to get through my first day of classes. I wasn't sure how hard the work would be, if the people would be nice, if my professors would be cool. I was a bundle of nervous energy, but one thing calmed me—the only thing that ever soothed my tattered nerves besides running—Derek. I knew talking to him would calm me down.
I walked in my new suede boots and red jacket toward the Union where Derek had told me to meet him at nine thirty on the dot. Derek's a punctual guy, while I'm one of those people who is perpetually late—just one of the many reasons we would never work out.
The sky was gray. Nasty, cloudy, elephant skin-gray and I could tell it was going to rain, so I hurried down the walkway and dashed up the cement steps. I shrugged off the twenty-seven people who tried to thrust flyers at me and entered the Union. It was warm inside, making me instantly happier.
Shaking my hair out from under my hood, I did a quick scan for Derek.
The Union housed a coffee stand packed with groggy college kids and professors craving caffeine, a Panda Express, more people passing out flyers, an information desk with two bored employees, and a little café that sold bagels.
I found Derek sitting at Bagel Place, the ever-so-cleverly named bagel café, where the waitress was hovering over his table. She looked ready to pull her skirt up right there. Derek usually had that effect on girls. He had the perfect combo of tan skin, blond hair, and ultra-blue eyes. He was seriously good-looking and knew it—hence his obvious flirting with the waitress. Rolling my eyes, I rushed up to him.
"Hey," I said, giving Derek a smile.
Derek turned and stood when he saw me. He was wearing the green and gold jersey of the Rams and my heart started beating a little harder. I had a thing about football jerseys. I don't know why, but guys just look good in them, especially Derek. He wasn't huge and hulking like most football players, but lean with a thin waist and broad shoulders—the perfect body for a running back. His wide grin when he spotted me did nothing to slow my pulse.
"Faith, hey!" He hugged me briefly and pecked me on the cheek, our customary greeting. Derek was drenched with cold, clammy sweat.
"Ugh!" I groaned playfully. "You're soaking."
"Oh, sorry," he said, looking down at himself. "Just came from morning practice."
The waitress scowled, clearly sensing that Derek was no longer interested in flirting with her, mumbled something about getting me a drink, and left. I sat down across from Derek.
"So, what's up?" I asked. I reached over and stole a piece of his whole wheat bagel with cream cheese.
"Nothing," he said. "I just, you know, wanted to see you before you had your first class."
I gave him a skeptical look and snagged a sip of his OJ.
"Well, actually," he said. He picked at the remainder of his bagel and swallowed hard. "I did want to ask you something."
"Sure. But hey, make it fast because I have class in like ten minutes."
"Right," he said, nodding. He took a swig of his juice and looked me in the eye with his baby blues. I instantly warmed to whatever he had to ask. His innocent charm almost always got to me, no matter how hard I tried to resist. "I heard about this river not too far from here, the La Poudre, I think it's called? Anyway, it's great for kayaking and camping or whatever. A lot of people go there to chill, so I thought maybe you and me could, I don't know ... go." He gave me that shy, vulnerable smile that showed just a hint of his sparkly white teeth.
But I didn't turn to mush like usual. I was floored. Derek couldn't mean he wanted a date, could he? We had decided against that a long time ago, and I thought we were both happy about it. Maybe I had just misunderstood. I decided to play it cool.
"Sure," I said. "We could invite your roommates and my roommates and make it a get-to-know-you type of thing. It'll be fun." I smiled brightly.
Derek furrowed his brows and looked at his plate. "Ah . . . I guess we could do that. But I think Mark has lacrosse and Pete has some band thing. Might be easier if we just go together. Better even?" He looked up at me, hope in his eyes.
My heart dropped to my shoes. "I don't know, Derek. You know how I feel about . . ." I looked at his sad, sweet face and was swayed. "Okay fine, we can go, but don't—"
"Really?" Derek's eyes lit up. "You want to go, really?"
"Yeah, I want to go. It's just—"
"Awesome!" He stood and pecked me on the cheek. "We can go this weekend, it'll be great! I brought some camping stuff up so we can spend the night and everything. It's gonna be a full moon on Saturday, totally beautiful. This is gonna rock, Faith."
My mouth fell open as I groped for something that would bring him down from his high, but wouldn't crush him completely at the same time. Where was this coming from? What had I done that prompted him to try and change our relationship after a year? Did coming here together give him some signal that I wanted to be with him? Moreover, why after a week of hanging out had this suddenly come up?
He grabbed his helmet and tucked it under his arm. "I gotta go change before class. Meet me for dinner at Spoons? Six o'clock?"
"Ah . . . sure?"
"Sweet. See ya later." He kissed me on the cheek one more time and sauntered off.
I sat there at the café, stabbing Derek's uneaten bagel with a fork. This was not what I needed right now. I was stressed enough without having to worry about Derek's feelings as well. He had already been hurt by me more times than I cared to count. Granted, he'd hurt me, too. But I didn't want to be responsible for causing him any more pain because while Derek loved me, I could never love him back. And he knew that.
The redheaded waitress came back and cleared the table.
"Excuse me," she said. "If you're not going to order anything, we need the table for actual customers."
I grabbed my bag and left without a word.
As I made my way outside, I huddled into my jacket, trying to ignore the fifty-three people who threw flyers at me, and made it to my first class—Intro to Psychology—just as the first icy drops of rain hit the cement. I rushed down the abandoned hall and snuck through the door three minutes late.
The class hadn't started yet, which was a relief. The room was a huge auditorium with a massive screen up front; it was dark and packed with students. I made my way into the center of the room and took a seat at the edge of the row.
I had barely settled into my chair when I heard, "Faith! Faithy, down here!"
I looked in the direction of the voice and there was my suitemate Courtney. She waved me down so I got up and made my way over, cursing life. I didn't like Courtney. She had a trashy, nasty vibe about her. I'd only known her for a week and already she'd had three different boys in our dorm. Luckily, I didn't share a room with her, but we did share a wall, and I heard everything.
So more nights than not, I would call Derek at two a.m. and we would go for a walk around campus, freezing our butts off and thinking up clever ways to murder Courtney.
"Hi, Faithy," Courtney said when I sat next to her. Another reason I didn't like her: she called me Faithy. Her deep blue eyes crinkled into an excited smile. "I didn't know you were taking this class, too."
"Yep." Her bright pink lip gloss was burning my retinas so I busied myself with getting out my notebook and a pen.
"Oh, this is so great!" she cooed. "Now we can walk to class together every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday."
"Awesome," I said, unenthused.
"So what's up with this guy, huh?" She gestured to the front of the class, so I assumed she meant the absent professor. "I bet he'd be all over us if we were ten minutes late."
Suddenly Courtney gasped loudly and a few people around us turned. She leaned in and said, "Oh my gosh, Faith! What if this guy's the killer?"
"What are you talking about?" I asked, frowning.
Courtney lowered her baby voice to a whisper. "Didn't you hear? Oh my gosh, there was a murder in Denver last night. I bet you anything that's why he's late."
I wasn't so sure. Courtney came from a small town in southern Colorado, so maybe she didn't see many murders, but in my hometown of San Diego it happened all the time.
"Courtney, the odds that Professor Lamb is a murderer are so minute, it's not even funny. I'm sure he's just caught in the rain."
Courtney mulled this over for a second and then said, "Oh, yeah. You're probably right. But wouldn't that be cool? We could go home and say our professor murdered someone!" Her eyes lit up like sapphire fireworks and I smiled despite myself.
"So what's your major anyway?" Courtney asked. "Mine is psychology, so this is a prerequisite course."
"Ah . . . cool," I said, deciding to avoid her question. I had no clue what I wanted to major in and I didn't exactly feel like discussing it with her. "So you want to be a shrink?"
"Oh, totally. I've wanted to do it ever since my dog died when I was five. . . ." That was all it took to get her going. She was like a line of especially chatty dominos; you flick over one and an endless chain of talking ensues. Luckily, the professor arrived two minutes later and Courtney dissolved into silence along with the rest of the room.
Class wasn't as difficult as I had anticipated. Professor Lamb seemed enthusiastic, which was a definite plus—I had been picturing the whole Ferris Bueller scenario complete with him droning in monotone for two hours and me drooling on the desk. He went through a PowerPoint presentation introducing the course and then launched into away too in-depth explanation of the syllabus. It would have been tolerable if Courtney hadn't been bugging me throughout the whole thing. Asking me about this book, that author, did I understand this or that? I wanted to stab her with my pen.
But I refrained.
After class, I walked with Courtney to the manicured front lawn where a huge evergreen tree stood with a bench underneath. It was freezing without the warmth of the sun, and the sky was still slate gray. I was just thankful that the rain had stopped.
CSU was more like a minicity than a college—there were a ton of people around. Students rode by on bikes and buzzed past me on skateboards. Some loafed near the front door smoking, which I hurried to get away from with Courtney hot on my heels. She was blabbing about the reading list for class when all of a sudden she started waving frantically.
"Oh! Oh, hi!" she squeaked. Then she turned to me. "Faithy, that's my boyfriend over there, you see him?" I didn't look. "Oh, he's waving me over. Will you wait for me for a second?"
"Actually, I have class—"
"I'll just be a sec. Thanks, you're a doll!"
Courtney skipped off in the direction of a tall boy standing near the parking lot. I didn't bother to take a good look at him, knowing that whoever it was wouldn't last more than two days. Instead, I shuffled over to the towering evergreen to wait on the bench. I pulled my phone out of my bag, cursing under my breath as the stupid thing shocked me. Ever since coming to CSU, I'd been a magnet for static electricity. People's skin, door handles, and anything metallic would shock me. Every. Single. Time. Grumbling to myself, I texted Derek:
Hey. How's ur class?
Fine. Boring as hell. U?
Same. Guess who was there.
I laughed to myself.
No, idiot. Courtney.
Lame!! That chick is hot tho.
You'll get a disease if you go out with her.
I'm not going out w/her.
I'm going out w/u remember?
Oh, jeez. I had to set this straight before Derek got the wrong idea—not that he hadn't already. But I couldn't do it over the phone, so I told a little white lie:
Gotta go. Class starting in a sec.
He didn't text back so I looked up, my eyes scoping the lawn for Courtney. I found her in the parking lot wrapped around a boy.
A frightening boy.
He was well over six feet tall with serious muscles, standing near a blood-red foreign car that could have fit in his pocket. He looked so out of place beside it that I almost laughed.
But then my eyes hit his and all thoughts of hilarity flooded out through my open mouth. His eyes were dark, black even, and they burned into mine with an intensity I didn't know was possible. There was something about him that spooked me, although I couldn't begin to guess what. I was too caught up in his stare.
His skin was tanned and his black hair was styled in this oh-I-didn't-know-I-was-sexy sort of way. He was handsome, but too brooding to be cute. And he was staring at me while he kissed my suitemate. His lips were encircling Courtney 's glossy pink mouth and his hands were plastered to her backside, but he was staring at me.
What a psycho.
Disgusted, I tore my eyes away, but I could only resist the temptation to look back up for so long. Was he still staring at me? I risked a look at Courtney and saw that her kiss-fest was over. I watched as the gigantic boy lifted a book from the roof of his car and strode away down the walkway. Afraid that he'd lock eyes with me again, I tried not to gawk at him as he disappeared behind the cover of the bright yellow elm trees sprawling across campus. But he never looked back at me, leaving me thinking that the whole encounter had been in my head. Who stares at other people while they're making out? It was absurd.
Courtney danced up to me, beaming.
"New guy?" I asked. I was mad at myself for caring, but I had to know who he was after that unnerving incident.
"Yeah," she said, sitting down next to me. "Isn't he just the hottest thing you ever saw?" She leaned in like she was telling me a secret and said, "You know, I hear he's like, loaded. Richer than the Queen of England or something. He's got this castle off in Scotland or Ireland or someplace, filled to the ceiling with jewels. How cool is that?"
"Cool," I said, though I didn't believe her. I was pretty sure either Courtney or her freakjob boyfriend was lying about that. "What's his name?"
"Lucas something or other." She waved her hand flippantly. "Who cares, you should see his abs!"
I laughed a little and said, "No, thanks. I'll leave that to you."
She grinned devilishly, eyes alight. "Wish I could, but he won't even spend the night! So weird."
"Weird," I agreed. Staring at other girls while he was kissing his girlfriend and not wanting to have sex? There was definitely something strange going on with that guy.
As I watched Courtney cake on some blush, I suddenly had a wonderful, terrible idea. Maybe if Courtney came with Derek and me on Saturday, I could keep him at bay without totally crushing his soul. Before I could talk myself out of it, I asked, "Hey, do you have anything planned this weekend?"
"Nope. I was just going to go out to a club or something. Why?"
"Well, on Saturday me and my friend Derek are going to the river. La . . . La . . . I forget the name, but it's supposed to be fun. Maybe you and our roommates can come and we'll make it a thing."
"Oh, that sounds like a dream! I'll ask Lukie if he wants to go."
I almost snorted with laughter. That guy was so not a Lukie. I only held it together because I so loathed the idea of Lucas coming along. After what I just witnessed, I was convinced that he was some sort of psychopath and I didn't exactly relish being out in the woods with him. But I couldn't think of a reason to deny Courtney. "Yeah," I said reluctantly. "Ask Lukie and I'll ask Ashley."
"Super. He's on his way to class now, so I'll catch him after." Her phone rang and she slapped it to her ear. She began to laugh loudly, which made people turn to glare at us like we were the rudest people on campus.
"I have to go," I said urgently. "Humanities is next and it's halfway across campus."
Courtney nodded and waved, still laughing like a nut job.
I was late again, and this time the professor had already started class. I tried to sneak in through the back, which at first I thought might work since this class was in another darkened auditorium, but then I got the death stare from the professor. I dropped into the first seat I could find and pulled out my things, readying myself for another dull hour.
But the next hour was far from dull, because sitting right next to me was none other than Courtney's new boyfriend, Lucas.
I was stunned. And in a grand show of coordination and feminine grace, I promptly knocked my books onto the floor with a loud smack. I picked them up quickly and tried to act like it had never happened, but I felt my face redden as several people glanced back at me, snickering. Lucas wasn't looking at me, which was the only thing that saved me from total humiliation.
We were at the back of the classroom, high above the professor. The lights were out to make the screen more visible, so all I could see of Lucas was his profile. I tried not to look at him, but it was hard. There was this peculiar vibe coming off of him.
I'd always been good at reading people. Kind people. Bad people. Boring, angry, loving people ... there are a thousand types out there and they all give off a distinct vibe. Maybe it was nothing more than just acute observation skills, but I could usually tell what a person was like as soon as I met them.
Lucas had a vibe rolling off of him like nothing I'd felt before. It was like every inch of his skin was trembling with pure unveiled anger. But he just sat back in his chair looking bored.
I stole a glance at him, and I was surprised to see that his eyes were closed. I tried to be discreet as I leaned forward in my desk to get a better look at him. His face was like polished stone—smooth and utterly emotionless—except for his slanted black brows, which were knitted together just slightly. It was such a stark contrast to what I was sensing that I was instantly fascinated. How could someone so agitated look so calm?
I continued to stare at him until his eyes snapped open. The lights flicked on at the exact same time and I jumped back as though I'd been burned. He looked dead at me.
His eyes were wild—like an animal's. Intense and angular, they were so light they were almost silver. It freaked me out for a second, but then he blinked and they returned to the black I had seen while he was kissing Courtney.
Then I was really freaked. No way had that just happened! His eyes could not have just changed color.... It must have been the lighting. I tried to be calm and rationalize. Don't pupils dilate in the dark? Yes . . . that must be it.
Lucas's eyes left mine and fell to the front of the room. I, too, returned my gaze to the professor and struggled to pay attention.
"So," said Professor Polk, "Next thing on the agenda is the group project, which is explained in detail on page three of your syllabus. You'll all need to pick a partner. Go ahead and take a minute to choose someone."
I was still reeling from Lucas's eyes so I looked around halfheartedly. Unfortunately, I was sitting at the end of the last row and the girl in front of me had already chosen her partner. Oh great . . . I knew what that meant: Lucas. I stared at my papers, avoiding looking up at him. Maybe he'd gotten someone else and I'd be able to find a partner next class.
"Hey," I heard a voice say. I turned and realized Lucas was speaking to me. Or, at least I thought he was. He was as motionless as a statue. Part of me wondered if I had imagined him speaking. But he was looking at me, his eyes, not black as I'd first thought, but dark brown, like molasses. "You want to partner?" He had a deep grating voice that was oddly pleasant. It suited him.
I searched for an excuse. My bird died and I'm dropping out of school? I'm planning on taking a trip around the world? I'm going to go back to my room to turn into one of those crazy old ladies with twenty-five cats?
Lucas's eyes collapsed into a frown. "Hello?" He sounded irritated beyond belief.
I glanced around one last time searching for some way out of this, but seeing none I said, "Sure, I guess so."
"Good." He turned away from me and reclosed his eyes.
"So . . ." I tried to make my brain work normally. "What's the project on?"
"It's on the syllabus," he said. His eyes remained closed.
"I—I didn't get one." I looked around for a stack of them, which should have been somewhere at the front of the room, but wasn't.
"That's because you were late." He opened his eyes and picked up his syllabus. He handed it to me. "Keep it."
"Thanks." I frowned and looked away.
- On Sale
- Aug 30, 2011
- Page Count
- 416 pages
- Running Press Kids