Read The Longest Night: A Drake Chronicles Novella Online

Authors: Alyxandra Harvey

Tags: #Literary Criticism, #Children's Literature, #Juvenile Fiction, #General, #Love & Romance

The Longest Night: A Drake Chronicles Novella

BOOK: The Longest Night: A Drake Chronicles Novella
10.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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Contents

December 2015

A Breath of Frost

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

About the Author

Also by Alyxandra Harvey

December 2015

The Helios-Ra Academy had ruined Lucy for life. Although she had empathy for the students
running drills in their regulation cargos, now she had to listen to them call her
Ma’am
. She’d just turned twenty-three. She didn’t feel like a ma’am. She barely felt like
a grown-up. And every time it happened, she had the violent urge to run out and get
something tattooed. Again.

It had been five years since she had to worry about school exams and yet she still
felt vaguely concerned all through December. Lucy kept thinking she’d forgotten something
important. She checked her pockets for stakes, her cell phone for messages, her sleeve
for the hidden vial of Hypnos. Then she’d remember, again, that she didn’t have homework
due or exams to study for. And it had been six years since the Battle of Violet Hill,
but this many vampire hunters in the same room still made her faintly itchy.

“They can smell fear, you know,” Hunter told her, amused. Her blond hair was in a
tight ponytail and she looked terrifyingly efficient, as usual. The floor was polished
to a sword-bright shine under her combat boots.

“Shut it, Wild,” Lucy returned, just as amused. Still, she couldn’t suppress a shiver.

“Tell me again how you can relax in your farmhouse full of delinquent Helios-Ra students
and vampires and yet
this
place gives you the creeps?” Hunter asked.

“I sweated blood running laps in this evil gym,” Lucy replied. “Besides, uniforms
give me hives. You know that. Where’s the creativity?”

“It was banned after you went through all the gym lockers and decorated everyone’s
stakes and school T-shirts with rhinestones.”

“I was expressing myself. It’s healthy.” The school board had considered it vandalism.
Whatever.

“You’re getting more and more like your mom,” Hunter said.

“I know. Scary, right?” Lucy’s mother had somehow forced both the academy and the
vampires in town to send her their teens for art therapy. She maintained they all
experienced too much violence at the Blood Moon Battle of Violet Hill. She prescribed
art for healing, and lots of it. For a while, there were as many poetry, collage,
and meditation classes as there were fight drills and night patrols.

“What’s scary?” Quinn interrupted in his customary drawl. “My incredible good looks?”

“Your incredible ego, you mean,” Lucy shot back, grinning.

He just pulled her hair, grinning back. Hunter slanted him a glance when he turned
to her. “Don’t you dare kiss me in front of the class.”

“I haven’t even said hello yet.”

“I know that look on your face.”

He lifted an eyebrow. “Is that a dare?”

“I will knock you on your butt.”

“You’re going to do that anyway,” he remarked drily.

A smile broke through her stern expression. It was quick and bright, the kind she
reserved entirely for Quinn. She moved away, her cheeks slightly pink. Quinn looked
smug. Well, smugger than usual.

The gym smelled like floor cleaner, sweat, and the cedar branches Lucy had dragged
inside in an attempt to lend the space some holiday cheer. It was packed with students
in various stages of Christmas-exam stress. There was more than one pair of reddened,
sleepless eyes. But no matter how much studying there was left to do for the last
few exams, no one was willing to miss seeing Hunter Wild, agent and teacher at the
academy, wipe the floor with her vampire fiancée, Quinn Drake. Not even Lucy, and
she saw it all the time.

“Where’s Nicholas?” Quinn asked her, as Hunter stepped up to talk to the crowd. A
hush fell over her audience when they noticed Quinn standing there, pale as mistletoe
berries.

“We figured one vampire was enough for them to handle,” Lucy said. “Not to mention
one Drake brother.” She rolled her eyes. At least three of the girls in the front
row were already whispering behind their hands. When Quinn winked at them, they started
giggling.

Lucy shook her head. “The Drake brothers, making girls stupid since 2002.” The eldest
of the brothers, Sebastian, had turned sixteen in 2002, and changed into a vampire,
as all Drakes did. Even without the famous vampire pheromones, they were dangerous.

“Please. I was born pretty.”

And they knew it.

Lucy nudged him with her elbow. “Just try not to embarrass yourself.”

Hunter finished explaining the point of the exercise, which was to demonstrate just
how fast and deadly a vampire could be. And just how sneaky a Helios-Ra agent could
be. Quinn sauntered forward and bowed theatrically.

“Are you going to save my honor?” Lucy heard him whisper in Hunter’s ear. “When one
of your overly eager students tries to stake me again?”

“Depends entirely on their technique.”

He laughed. “I love you.”

“I’m still going to kick your ass.”

Quinn was stronger and faster, so fast that at times he seemed to teleport. He avoided
strikes in a lethal dance. But he was cocky, and it was in one of these smug, smirking
moments that Hunter managed to dose him with a face full of Hypnos powder. For the
purposes of the demonstration, it was simple icing sugar. The hypnotizing effects
of the drug were so powerful that they robbed the victim of the ability to defy orders
of any kind.

The thought of having her defiance taken away made Lucy distinctly queasy.

Hunter dropped low, sweeping out her leg. It hit Quinn across the back of the knees,
knocking him off his feet. The applause was thunderous, shaking the rafters. His smile
was self-deprecating as Hunter helped pull him to his feet. He didn’t need assistance,
of course. She was making a point. Lucy hoped it was strong enough to survive the
sea of violent adrenaline currently electrifying the air.

Quinn left soon after. For all of Lucy’s continued attempts to foster—and flat-out
force—vampire-hunter relations, it still wasn’t particularly wise for him to linger
on campus, even with official permission. The last time he’d come for a drill, one
of the students had attacked him. She was now living at Lucy’s farmhouse. With several
other adolescents, both human and vampires, all with anger-management issues.

“I’ll give you a lift home,” Hunter offered a few hours later, her breath fogging
in the cold air. It was dinnertime and already winter-dark. Lucy’s car was sputtering
in the guest parking lot again, deathly allergic to the cold.

“I’m going to have to call Duncan again,” she said mournfully. The yellow car was
her favorite, and Nicholas’s brother had already made it last several years past possible
and straight into miracle status. She glanced at the thick night pressing in. “And
thanks,” she added, climbing into Hunter’s shiny, perfectly capable SUV. “I can’t
leave them alone too long after dark.”

Hunter knew exactly what she meant. “How’s the halfway house going now? After the
Mary Walker incident?”

Keeping violent paranormal teens in the same house was a delicate balancing act, at
best. Sometimes it was like juggling half a dozen rare, antique plates. Sometimes
the plates fell.

Mary Walker hadn’t just fallen, she’d shattered spectacularly to sharp, deadly pieces,
slicing into everyone as she fell.

Lucy still wasn’t entirely sure how it had happened. Mary was getting better, listening
more, instead of just railing about vampires all the time. She’d stopped wiping the
doorknob to her room with holy water. But then one night she booby-trapped the entire
farmhouse, killed two young vampires, and
set the kitchen on fire. A few hours later, Isabeau arrived with some kind of complicated
magic spell to shield the entire farmhouse. A few days later, Mary’s car was eventually
fished out of the lake, with her body still in it.

“We’ll get there,” Lucy said, refusing to give up. “I just wish they’d stop calling
it Last Chance farm. Even though they’re not wrong. After Mary, who knows how long
this will last? I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. I mean, a degree in Social Work
can only go so far.”

“If anyone can make it work, you can. Just watch your back.”

Lucy snorted. “Helena comes by about once a week to put the fear into everyone. She
made Kali sweat last week, and you know how hard it is to make a vampire sweat.” Nicholas
and Quinn’s mother was notorious.

Hunter pulled out onto the snowy street. “Heard from Solange yet?”

“Not yet. She should be here already. It’s nearly Solstice.” Lucy, Nicholas, Solange,
and Kieran had a tradition to meet every year in in Violet Hill for the winter solstice,
no matter where else they happened to be living. Solange had been traveling the world
for years, but she always made it back. She was cutting it close this time though.
“How are the wedding plans?”

“If I hear the word ‘tulle’ one more time, I’m getting married in my pink cargos,”
Hunter said.

Lucy grinned. “I can add rhinestones to your stake for you. You know, make it fancy.”

“Don’t tempt me.” She wrinkled her nose. “I think we might elope.”

“Do it.”

“You wouldn’t be mad? Not to be there?” The headlights made the falling snow look
like shooting stars. “More to the point, you don’t think Helena would pull my spleen
out through my nose?”

“Nah, she likes you. And she hates parties. Liam might pout though. He loves weddings.”

Hunter smiled brightly. “Still—” She stopped suddenly, hitting the brakes.

Lucy grabbed onto the dash. “What are you— Oh.” There were mangled bushes and the
glint of metal in one of the birch trees on the side of the road. Something swung
between the high branches. Footprints muddled the soft snow underneath.

Hunter calmly checked the stakes, Hypnos, and daggers on a weapons belt she pulled
from the backseat, before handing it to Lucy. Lucy caught the stench of a
Hel-Blar
the moment she opened the door. “Yeah, that’s not good.”

She couldn’t tell if it was still in the area. It might have left already, or it might
be lurking behind the pine-and-cedar shadows.
Hel-Blar
were feral vampires, with mottled blue skin like old bruises, and every tooth a fang.
Their saliva was enough to turn anyone into a
Hel-Blar
, human or vampire.

Lucy and Hunter fanned out with an ease borne of practice. This wasn’t the first time
they’d taken on a
Hel-Blar
, nor would it be the last. Though if there were more than one, running away would
be the smarter option. And it was one they never even considered. You didn’t survive
the Drake brothers by being mild-mannered. There was a wildness in them equal to any
monster that lurked in the mountains of Violet Hill.

Lucy lifted her crossbow, which was always in her backpack. Something snapped in the
snow. A steel claw trap had snapped its jagged jaws together an inch away from her
foot. She caught Hunter’s eye and nodded to the trap. She nodded back grimly, stepping
more gingerly through the bushes. A cold creaking sounded above them.

“God, it’s like a horror movie,” Lucy muttered. Adrenaline flooded through her, as
familiar as old flannel. She looked up. “Noah!”

She knew the young vampire currently swinging in loops of paracord above their heads,
blood dripping steadily from the raw gashes on his arms and neck. He was one of her
boarders. His fangs glistened in the frigid beam of Hunter’s flashlight. Noah moaned,
struggling weakly.

“I’ll cover you,” Hunter said to Lucy, assessing the shadows.

“I’m getting you down,” Lucy told Noah. “Try not to fall on your face.”

She had to take off her mittens to work the carabiners locking the paracords together.
The metal froze her fingers and made them clumsy. “Who did this to you?” she asked,
pulling as hard as she could, until she was using her entire body weight to unscrew
the twist lock. She swung, feeling more like a monkey than a storybook ninja to the
rescue. “
Hel-Blar
aren’t this sophisticated.”

BOOK: The Longest Night: A Drake Chronicles Novella
10.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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