Home > Boundary Lines (Boundary Magic #2)(4)

Boundary Lines (Boundary Magic #2)(4)
Author: Melissa F. Olson

Then I remembered that weeks ago Simon had warned me I might be able to see . . . what had he called them? Remnants. At the time, I’d been so preoccupied with protecting my niece and learning to use my other abilities that I’d completely forgotten. And I had no idea why there were so many of them in this place.

I found myself shutting off the car, opening the door. I had no real plan, but I was unbearably curious. More than that: I was pulled to them, the same way I was pulled to Maven, the powerful cardinal vampire of Colorado. Cautiously, I walked toward the closest one, a short, round Caucasian woman with long silvery hair. She was wearing a simple violet cotton dress with a blue apron tied around it in a drooping bow. She didn’t look up as I approached, so I slowly began to circle her, intent on seeing her eyes.

Before I made it all the way around her, however, I saw the blood.

It had welled out of a grisly dark slice at her throat, then spilled forward to saturate her dress and apron. It streaked all the way down to pool in her sensible shoes, a red waterfall that still looked wet. For a moment I was tempted to touch it to see if it was wet, but I curled my fingers into a fist to restrain myself. I looked up at the woman’s face. She was around fifty, with empty eyes and wispy bangs that had started to curl away from her forehead, exactly as if she’d started to sweat and pressed them away with a damp palm. Her eyes were cast down at her gravestone, like all the others.

“What happened to you?” I said softly, without thinking. The woman’s gaze seemed to flicker for an instant, like something buried deep inside her had reacted to me, but then she continued to stare down.

“Are you okay?” I asked, and my hand automatically rose to touch her shoulder.

Stupid, stupid Lex.

A bolt of condensed emotion jolted through my arm, driving me to my knees as the wave of feelings crashed into me. Bright purple flashes of pain, peppery anguish, and oh, such horrible fear. Nononono no why do I have to die I’m still so young what about Jody no I can’t leave her why is he doing this I don’t even know him it isn’t fair please don’t please no—

As I fell, my fingers lost contact with the woman, and I let out a ragged wail, my butt hitting the dead grass hard. I looked up and saw all of the figures turn their heads sharply, like a coordinated movement. They weren’t staring at the graves anymore. They were all staring at me.

And their eyes were hungry.

Chapter 3

Not daring to breathe, I began inching backward on my hands, wanting to get enough distance from the bloody woman to stand up and run. Now that they were facing me, I could see that many of them had visible injuries: a splash of blood over a teenager’s heart, a missing piece of an old man’s head. One woman had no obvious wounds, but she appeared to be soaking wet, though nothing dripped off her. Her face was bloodless, her eyes bulging, desperate.

Except for the eyes, all of their faces were completely slack—not like a human at rest or asleep, more like a human with no muscle control at all. Dead. I had seen horrible things when I was in the army, and I’d done some pretty horrible things too. But these people, each in their isolated, timeless, bloodied space, were like grotesque action figures under bell jars. They were gruesome in a way I’d never imagined.

Their gazes were fixed hungrily in my direction, and I got the sense that they wanted something from me. Something that would consume me, use me up until I was nothing, not even a soul. A few of the closest ones even swayed a little, as if shifting their weight to come after me. I was too overwhelmed to move away. A whimper escaped my lips, and I hated myself for it. At the sound, the ghost nearest me took a slow, laborious step, like his foot had grown roots he had to snap. The next step was much swifter. I braced myself for . . . something.

Then a short, girlish figure stepped in between them and me. “Go back, go back,” she said softly. “She cannot help you. Not now.” The voice was accentless, in that very particular way of someone who has worked at not having an accent. It was low and gentle and extremely familiar. It pulled at me too, a different kind of glow.

“Maven,” I gasped.

“You shouldn’t be here, little witch,” she said over her shoulder to me. “Go back to your car, slowly.”

I rose to my feet and began to obey, forcing myself to inch backward as slowly as I could manage. I didn’t want to turn my back on those things. Maven started moving backward too, but she kept herself angled between me and the dead. When they could no longer see me, they began to lose interest, and one by one their heads swiveled slowly, unnaturally, back toward their gravestones.

When I lost sight of them around the hedge, I finally turned and rushed back to my car, knowing Maven would follow. I opened the door and climbed in—only to find her already waiting in the passenger seat next to me.

I jumped. Goddamned vampires. “Quinn does that too,” I grumbled.

Maven gave me a slightly confused look, and I realized she hadn’t been trying to startle me. She was just that fast. The cardinal vampire of all Colorado appeared to be a girl of nineteen or twenty, with a fringe of bright orange hair, chunky glasses, and lots of necklaces and rings. Tonight, like every other time I’d seen her, she was dressed in layers and layers of baggy cotton and flannel, like a homeless flower child. I had long since concluded that she was trying to disguise her beauty and immortal poise behind all that junk, but it only partially worked. If you looked past the glasses and unflattering layers and bad haircut, she was still breathtaking.

   
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