Kindled (Book 3 The Kindred Series)

CHAPTER
1

 

 

   “
You going
to stand out here all night?”

   Devon lifted a
n eye
brow, sliding silently
out from
around the tree. Chris turned to him, shaking his head slightly. Though
Chris
hadn

t known
exactly
where
Devon
was, he had known that he was there. “If that’s what it takes.”

   Chris
rolled his eyes as he shoved his hands in his pockets and came
across his front yard toward Devon. “
Cassie will
be pissed if she knows you’re watching over her.”

   “She already knows.”
Chris’s dark blond
eye
brows shot up questioningly, he turned slightly back to Cassie’s house. “She may not want it
to
be true, but we are still connected.
Though it was only a few drops h
er blood is still inside
me
.
T
here
has
always
been
a bond between us,
there always will be.
How is she?

   Chris glanced at Cassie’s house, his face darken
ed
. They had buried her grandmother today, the only family Cassie had left in this world, and the only woman that had given Chris
even an ounce of love and caring. “The same,” he muttered.
“Unfortunately.”

   Devon knew exactly how Chris
felt. Since her grandmother’s murder Cassie had been withdrawn,
furious
, and
lost
. She had turned against the one’s she loved, especially him, wanting nothing more to do with him
,
or his love for her
. It was a fact that broke his non beating heart, but he could not find it in himself to blame her for it. He hated
himself for what had been done to her and her family
. He may not have killed her grandmother, but
this was
his fault.

  
He had helped turn Julian into the monster that he was, had helped to mold him into a vicious killer.
And when Devon had turned against his kind, spurning human blood, Julian had been
infuriated with his decision and determined to turn Devon back, or exact his revenge.
Julian had come to this town in search of Devon, and had
discovered
Cassie, Chris, and Melissa
;
three Hunter’
s that had managed to survive The Slaughter.
It was Julian that had discovered and destroyed Cassie’s grandmother.
Devon himself had thought The Hunter
lin
e extinct, he was glad to know that he had been wrong.
   “
Well,
are
you going to stand out here in the snow and cold all night, or do vampires not feel the cold?”
Chris asked quietly.

   “We feel it
,”
Devon
replied with a wry smile.
“The same as you.”
   “Good to know, why don’t you come in
.
Y
ou can be scary stalker guy from my porch.”
   “
Scary stalker guy?”

  
Chris grinned at him, but his smile did not reach his haunted, s
apphire
eyes.
“Yeah, you’re definitely getting there.”

   Devon
scowled at him
but
he
followed Chris as he trudged through
the snow to his porch. T
he
beat up
screen door
squeaked as Chris opened it. “Come on in,” Chris invited.

  
Devon stomped his shoes off before entering the porch area, though once he got inside he didn’t know why he had bothered
to clean them off
. T
he worn floorboards
,
and sagging wood
,
were covered with a layer of dirt
. It was obvious that Chris’s mother didn

t have the money for upkeep, or
feel like
be
ing
bothered to
clean
.
Devon’s gaze fell on
the
bags of cans and bottles piled in the corner, cases of empty beer bottles sat next to them. Quirking a
n
eye
brow, he realized that she would have a lot more money if she bothered to return the mountain, which he realized
now
was the source of the smell.
No wonder Chris had spent so much time at Cassie’s house,
Devon
wouldn’t want to spend much time here either
,
and he had only made it to the porch. Devon didn

t even want to imagine what the rest of the house looked like.

  
He turned back
to the storm glass in the screen door
, his gaze focus
ed
sharply on Cassie’s house. He didn

t want to be out of sight of
it
.
“Don’t worry; you can see her house from here.” Devon raised a
n
eye
brow as Chris strode over and pulled
the cord on a set of
curtains,
revealing a few small windows in the enclosure
. Chris grinned at him
,
grabbed an old chair and shoved it in front of the window. “Make yourself comfortable
,
I’m going to put on a pot of coffee. I don’t suppose I could interest you in any.”

 
Though he didn

t need the liquid, he wouldn’t mind the warmth. “
Coffee sounds good
.”
   Chris’s eyes widened in surprise, his mouth parted slightly. “You can drink it?” he blurted out.

   Devon couldn’t help but grin at him. “I may not need it to survive, but it’s not going to hurt me.”
   Chris grinned sheepishly
before
nodding
and ducking
through the doorway. Devon leaned forward in his seat, folding his hands before him as he stared at Cassie’s house
through the dirty windows
. The light in her room was off, but she was still awake. He could feel her presence, the anger and hurt that filled her.
He ached for her, desperately wished that he could hold her, or that he could somehow take it all back. But he could
n’t
do
either of those things, so he had to settle for making sure she didn

t do something crazy
,
like get
ting
herself killed.
T
hat was not going to be easy.

   Cassie
appeared
su
ddenly
at her window
, her hands f
umbl
ed
hastily with the latch as she shoved and pushed angrily at the glass.
Devon rose swiftly, prep
ared to go and stop her. P
repared to drag her kick
ing and screaming back into the house if that was what it took. She hated him
already;
he didn’t care if she hated him even more as long as it kept her safe.
Hell, if it came down to it he would handcuff her to her bed in order to keep her safe.

  
Cassie finally
flung the window open, leaning swiftly out she inhaled deep, gasping breaths of the chilly night air.
H
er hands clung to the sill, her hair spill
ed
in
long golden waves
before
her. She
was
sh
ivering
fiercely, but he was certain that it was not from the cold. Shuddering again, she hung low over the window, gasping fiercely
as she slipped to h
er knees, clinging to the
window
.

   Devon’s hands
fisted as he fought the urge to go to her, to hold her and console her.

   “She’s not crying.”
   Devon turned, surprised to find Chris standing beside him. He had been so focused on Cassie that he hadn

t noticed Chris’s return. “How can you be sure?” Devon demanded gruffly.

   Chris turned to him, his gaze
bearing that haunted look
that
seemed to
shimmer permanently in
his
sapphire
eyes
now
. Devon was beginning to hate that look, mainly because it seemed as if Chris w
as
losing hope with
Cassie
. And if Chris lost hope
then he didn’t know what he was going to do. For so
long Chris had been
Cassie’s
shoulder to lean on. For so long, they had been all that the other had. No, Chris could not lose hope for her, because if he did
,
then Devon
might
have to admit that all hope was lost
.

   “She doesn’t cry, or at least she hasn’t yet. She’s too angry for that. The hurt’s not getting through.” Chris handed him a cup of coffee, steam spiraled slowly up from it. “I figured you would be a black kind of guy.”
   “I am. If she’s not crying, then what is she doing?”

  
“Trying to breathe.”
At Devon’s questioning glance
, Chris waved briefly to the window. “It’s too much anger, too much
hatred;
she doesn’
t know how to handle it.
She can’t breathe through it.

   “I see.”
   “I don’t.” Chris pulled up another chair, sitting down he blew lightly on his coffee as he
propped
his feet up. “She thinks that she can push us all away, but she’s wrong. I don’t get how she doesn’t understand that. You do know that she has a death
wish
right
?”

   A chill swept down Devon’s spine, anger spurted through him.
He knew
that
what Chris said was
true
, but it was not a thought that sat well with him. He would do everything in his power to keep that from happening. She would survive this, even if she didn’t want to.  “Yes,” he managed to grate through clenched teeth.

   Chris sipped his coffee, staring out at the night. Devon slowly returned to his seat, ready to take off again if Cassie tried to escape. She didn

t though. Eventually she retreated back to her room, sliding and locking the window behind her. Devon sigh
ed
in
relief, relaxing slightly.

   “That’s not Cassie you know.”
  
Devon glanced sharply at
Chris
, worry bubbl
ed
swiftly up. Had Chris sensed something inside of her, something off? And if so, what exactly had he sensed?
Did Chris know something about what he and Luther had been searching for?
“What do you mean?”

   Chris shook his head, taking another sip of coffee.
“She’s just not the same Cassie I
’ve always
know
n
.
That
Cassie
,” he said, nodding toward Cassie’s vacated window.
“I
s so full of anger
and hatred
.”
He shook his head again,
seemingly trying
to shake off the lingering feelings that clung to him. “I’ve known her
my entire life, but
I’ve never known her like this
.
I never
thought
that she
c
ould
even
be
capable
of it. But I guess we never know what people are capable of, do we?”

   Devon leaned forward, his gaze still focused on Cassie’s window, his mind on Chris’s words. “No
,
we don’t.”

   “She’ll come around you know. She’ll realize that this isn’t your fault.”

   Devon
turned toward Chris. He was silent for a moment as he thought over Chris’s words and his
own
role in everything that had happened.
“Isn’t it though?”

   “No.” Chris set his coffee mug down. “It’s no one’s fault, unfortunat
ely things just happen and we can’t always stop them. You didn’t kill Lily.”
   “I
helped to
create the monster that did,
and I
did
create Isla,
” Devon said softly. Julian had once
been his
best friend and greatest companion, but
was now
his greatest enemy.
Devon
had
enjoyed
help
ing
to make Julian
a
murderous psychopath.
Isla, well Isla he had simply enjoyed. He shrank away from the reminder of what he once been,
what he had once enjoyed,
and
that
relationship. Isla was exactly the twisted individual that he had once
desired
immensely.

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