Anna Dressed in Blood / Page 24

Page 24

The thought makes me shiver a little, but I choose to blame the blood loss.

“What are you going to do now?” Morfran asks.

I look down at the melting bag of ice, tinged pink with my rehydrated blood. Item number one is to go home and shower, and try to keep my mom from freaking out and slathering me with more rosemary oil.

Then it’s back to school, to do some damage control with Carmel and the Trojan Army. They probably didn’t see Thomas pull me out; they probably think I’m dead and are having a very dramatic cliff-side meeting to decide what to do about Mike and me, how to explain it. No doubt Will has some great suggestions.

And after that, it’s back to the house. Because I have seen Anna kill. And I have to stop her.

* * *

I luck out with my mom. She isn’t home when I get there, and there’s a note on the kitchen counter telling me that my lunch is in a bag in the refrigerator. She doesn’t sign it with a heart or anything, so I know she’s annoyed that I stayed out all night and didn’t call. Later I’ll think of something to tell her that doesn’t involve me being bloody and unconscious.

I don’t luck out with Thomas, who drove me home and then followed me up the porch steps. When I come downstairs from my shower, my head still throbbing like my heart has taken up a new residence behind my eyeballs, he’s sitting at my kitchen table, having a stare-down with Tybalt.

“This is no ordinary cat,” Thomas says through his teeth. He is staring unblinking into Tybalt’s green eyes—green eyes that flicker to me and seem to say, This kid is a knob. His tail twitches at the tip like a fishing lure.

“Of course he isn’t.” I rifle through the cabinet to chew some aspirin, a habit I picked up after reading Stephen King’s The Shining. “He’s a witch’s cat.”

Thomas breaks eye contact and glares at me. He knows when he’s being made fun of. I smile at him and toss him a can of soda. He cracks it very close to Tybalt and the cat hisses and jumps off of the table, growling irritably as he passes me. I reach down to scratch his back and he whacks me with his tail to tell me he wants this scruffy character out of his house.

“What’re you going to do about Mike?” Thomas’s eyes are wide and round over the rim of his Coke can.

“Damage control,” I say, because there’s nothing else I can do. I’d have more options if I hadn’t been unconscious all last night, but that’s spilled milk. I need to find Carmel. I need to talk to Will. I need to shut them both up. “So you should probably take us to school now.”

He raises his eyebrows like he’s surprised that I’ve ceased attempting to ditch him.

“What did you expect?” I ask. “You’re in it. You wanted in on whatever this is, well, congratulations. No time for second thoughts.”

Thomas swallows. To his credit, he doesn’t say anything.

* * *

When we walk into school, the hallways are empty. For a second I think that we’re busted, screwed, that there is some kind of candlelight vigil for Mike going on inside every closed door.

Then I realize that I’m an idiot. The halls are empty because we’re in the middle of third period.

We make stops off at our respective lockers and evade the questions of roaming faculty. I’m not going to class. We’re just going to wait around until lunch, hovering near Carmel’s locker in the hopes that she’s here and not pale and sick and lying in bed at home. But even if she is, Thomas says he knows where she lives. We can make a stop there later. If I have any luck left, she won’t have talked to her parents yet.

When the bell rings it just about jolts me out of my skin. It does nothing for my headache. But I blink hard and peer through the crowd, an endless flow of similarly dressed bodies striding into the hallways. I sigh with relief when I see Carmel. She looks a little pale, like she might have been crying or throwing up, but she’s still dressed well and carrying books. Not terribly worse for wear.

One of the brunettes from last night—I don’t know which one, but I’ll call her Natalie—bounces up to her elbow and starts prattling away about something. Carmel’s reaction is Oscar-worthy: the c**k of her head and attentive gaze, the roll of her eyes and laughter, all so easy and genuine. Then she says something, some diverting something, and Natalie turns and bounces away. Carmel’s mask slides off again.

She’s less than ten feet from her locker when she finally raises her eyes high enough to notice I’m standing in front of it. Her eyes go wide. She says my name loudly before glancing around and walking closer, like she doesn’t want to be heard.

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