“How did things go?” he finally asked after leading her back into his office and motioning for her to sit down. As she followed his instructions, he dropped into the chair behind his huge mahogany desk. Somehow he still managed to make the desk look small.

She started spilling the details of the night, and he held up his hand. “I know what happened. I had another agent there and they’ve already reported back.”

She frowned. “You didn’t trust—”

Burnett dropped his palms on his desk with a thump. “Don’t even go there. This isn’t about trust. Generally speaking there is always a backup agent working any case with younger unpolished agents.”

She resented the “unpolished” remark, but kept her mouth shut.

“What I need to know is how things went between you and Chase. Do you still mistrust him?”

“I…” She remembered Chase giving the guy hell for calling her a whore. She met Burnett’s gaze. “Why?”

“Just answer me, please.”

She had to stop for another second to know the answer. “Yes. I’m still leery. But probably not as much as before.”

“And you still won’t tell me why you have misgivings for this guy?”

Della chewed on that question for another second. She couldn’t tell Burnett what Jenny had seen, but … “I recognized his scent when I first met him. I don’t know from where. But it almost feels as if it has a negative vibe attached to it.”


“And you chose not to tell me this earlier?” Burnett’s brows pinched.

“I wanted to make sure I was right.” She stood a little squarer, prepared for him to get miffed.

“And have you?”

She hesitated, something Burnett didn’t like.

“Della, do you trust him or not?”

“Not completely, but I can’t actually recall meeting him.”

“Have you confronted him?”

“I have, and he tells me I’m wrong.”

“But you still don’t believe him.” Burnett leaned against his desk, concern continuing to tighten his expression. “Did you not listen—?”

“The heart lies sometimes. Wasn’t it you who told me that?” It suddenly occurred to her that Burnett had to suspect that Chase could lie, or he’d have him in here interrogating him instead of Della. Frankly, she wanted to find out how one went about training to do that, too. It could be quite useful while working for the FRU.

Burnett folded his hands together on the desk. “At any point during this operation did you fear for your safety? Or think Chase would hurt you? Or betray you?”

Della considered it, and all she could recall was how angry he’d gotten when the creep had taken liberties and touched her. “No.”

“But you still don’t trust him.”

“Not wholeheartedly.” She told the truth and then countered. “And neither do you. What’s changed?”

“I didn’t—”

“You trusted him this morning and now … not so much.”

Burnett unfolded his hands. “Right before you called, some of the information he gave me came back … iffy.”

So she and Burnett shared the same concern. “He told me his parents were killed in a plane wreck. He was turned then, at fourteen years old, when a vampire found him.”

“I’ve confirmed his parents died in a plane crash,” Burnett said.

Della couldn’t help but imagine how hard it must have been on a young Chase, losing his family and being turned in the same day. Not that this actually meant she could trust him. Bad things happened to people and sometimes that was what twisted them into being bad.

“Then what’s iffy?” she asked Burnett.

“Where he lived. Basic stuff.”

“He said California,” Della said, and then asked, “What other basic stuff?” She recalled Chase telling her the man who rescued her wasn’t registered. If that was what he was hiding, she sure as hell couldn’t blame him.

“I’m looking into it,” Burnett said, and that was the camp leader’s way of saying back off. Della hesitated to say anything more, but then … “You know there could be reasons he’s keeping things from you. Reasons that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s bad.”

God knew she kept some things to herself. Most of them painful things.

Burnett’s brow pinched tighter. “True, but I need to make sure those secrets aren’t anything that would cause the school or the FRU harm. And unfortunately I’ve also learned that when people hide things, it’s usually not good.” He leaned in. “Do you trust him or not? Why am I getting mixed feelings from you?”

You like me. You just don’t realize it yet. Chase’s words played in her head and she even saw his sexy smile. “I … don’t know. I mean, I don’t trust him like I would someone else from here, Lucas or Derek, or … Steve, but I … don’t think he’s all bad either.” The truth tasted funny on her tongue.

“Fine.” Burnett slapped his hands on the desk. “Meanwhile, let me know if you learn anything new?”

Feeling the meeting was over, she stood up.

“Any news on Chan’s autopsy?”

“Not yet. Sorry.”

She nodded, feeling the frustration of that issue still heavy on her heart, and then she walked away. Only a few feet out the door, she heard the stoic vampire say, “Good job tonight, Della. Between Craig Anthony’s arrest and now this, I’m proud of you.”

She didn’t look back, but whispered, “Thanks.” A sense of pride swelled up inside her, and she latched on to the feeling with a hungry heart. She would need any good emotion to counter the negative crap on her plate right now.

As she walked out, her phone dinged with a text. For some reason she suspected it was Steve. The negative crap had arrived.

Della’s walk back to her cabin seemed too quiet, and thoughts of Steve became second to the eeriness of the night. She pulled out her phone and checked the text. She’d been wrong. The last ding hadn’t been a text from Steve. It was from Kevin, Chan’s friend.

Call me.

She hit a few buttons to return his call. It went to voicemail. “What’s up? It’s Della.” She hung up, and right then a cold chill sent goose bumps chasing more goose bumps up her spine.

A few clouds kept passing over the moon and ridding the path of any silver glow. She didn’t know which was creepier, the silver glow, the smothering blackness, or the cold silence.

All of a sudden, she didn’t feel alone. She lifted her face to catch a scent, only to remember her nose wasn’t working properly. She cut her eyes left and right. A pair of yellow possum eyes stared back. It wasn’t a possum she felt.

She remembered Chan’s ghost. Her heart grew instantly heavy. Was he here? She thought he’d passed on, but maybe she’d thought wrong.

“Chan, is that you?” The cold wind seemed to suck the question into the night’s darkness.

The clouds shifted again, offering her enough glow to see the path. She heard the slightest rustle in the air and looked up, half expecting to see feathers. But only an orange leaf rained down. A dead leaf.

Had Chan shifted from feathers to leaves? Or was she simply overreacting? “If you’re here, I want you to know that I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to ignore you.”

The moon slipped away again. Out of the blackness came a sound. Footsteps trailing behind her. Chan?

Did a ghost’s steps make sound? A current of fear ran through her. She fought the need to run. But she reminded herself it was Chan. Even dead, he was her cousin. A cousin she’d let down.

She turned. Her heart jolted when she saw the figure behind her. Because she was unable to smell who it could be, panic had her fangs extending.

“It’s just me,” a soft voice said. A soft, recognizable voice.

“Damn it, Jenny. Never sneak up on a vampire. I could have attacked.”

“I’m sorry,” Jenny said, not coming any closer. “I didn’t mean to…” She glanced around nervously. “… intrude. Is there a ghost here?”

“Do you feel one?” Della asked, her voice almost resonating the same shaky tremble as Jenny’s.

“No, I don’t feel ghosts.” Jenny stayed where she was. “But you were talking to … your cousin. The one that died. Do you feel ghosts?”

“No … not really.” She wasn’t even sure that was a lie. She’d seen Chan, but she wasn’t so sure she’d felt him. At least not in the way Kylie felt ghosts.

“So, no one’s here? You’re sure?” Jenny asked.

“No one is here.” And Della wanted to believe it.

“Good.” Jenny caught up with her. “Has Derek called you?”

“Was he supposed to?” Della continued walking, and while she hated admitting it, she felt better not being alone.

“He got the yearbook with your uncle in it. He found both of your aunts, your uncle, and your dad in there.”

Something akin to hope filled Della’s chest. She might find herself with a real family after all. She pulled out her phone to call Derek.

“He’s at your cabin now. With Kylie. Just Kylie,” Jenny muttered. “I saw Miranda leaving with Perry.” Her tone sounded accusing.

Della, eager to see the book, tucked her phone back in her pocket and started moving a little faster. She got several feet before she realized that Jenny had stayed behind.

Della glanced over her shoulder. “Come on.”

“Nah,” Jenny said, and scuffed her tennis shoe in the dirt.

Della knew what was going on in Jenny’s mind, and sighed. Della pushed aside her own urgency. “Look, Jenny. Nothing’s happening between Kylie and Derek.”

“You don’t know that for sure.”

“The hell I don’t. Kylie’s so in love with Lucas, she wouldn’t touch Derek with a ten-foot pole. And as for Derek, Kylie is last year’s news. Look, a vampire can smell pheromones, and he’s not stinking up any air when he’s around her.” At least he hadn’t been when her nose had been working. “On the other hand, when he’s around you, I can hardly breathe, he pollutes the air so much.”

“But he admires Kylie.”

“So? She’s a protector. I admire her, and I’m not fooling around with her.”

Jenny made a face. “How can I compete with Kylie? She’s so great.”

“That’s my whole damn point. You aren’t competing.” Della got an idea. “You aren’t going to believe it until you see it, are you?”

“See what?”

“See them. See them not doing anything. Let me prove it to you. Turn both of us invisible and let’s go to the cabin.”

“I … I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Why not? You’d finally know the truth. Maybe then you’d get past this thing.”

Jenny frowned. “But … but I don’t know if I can turn you invisible. I’m not nearly as advanced as Kylie. And … Burnett told me that I wasn’t to ever eavesdrop.”

“Yeah, but you’re not eavesdropping, your proving something. There’s a difference.”

“Burnett made the rule very clear.”

“Sometimes the rules have to be broken. Besides, aren’t you breaking the rules running around invisible?”

“Yeah, but—”

“And how do you know you can’t turn me invisible if you don’t try?” Della saw temptation in the chameleon’s eyes. The girl did have gumption. Maybe that’s why Della liked her. “Come on. Give it a shot.” She caught ahold of Jenny’s hand. “Do it.”

“This is cool, yet so fracking weird,” Della said. She could feel herself but not see herself. She couldn’t see Jenny either. They stood on her porch looking into the window and listening to Kylie and Derek talk about his mom.

“Shh,” Jenny said, holding her hand extra tight.

Kylie offered Derek a drink and they sat down at the table. “Do you want me to call Burnett and find out how late Della will be?”

“Nah, I’ll wait a few more minutes and then I’ll leave the book. We can talk tomorrow. I know she’ll want to see this, but unfortunately it really doesn’t tell us much right now. But hopefully it will give us more leads.”

Kylie nodded. “So how are things with you and Jenny?”

Jenny’s grip tightened.

Della worried this whole thing might backfire on her. Not that Kylie and Derek still had a thing for each other, but if he said something about Jenny she shouldn’t hear … Oh, shit. Maybe Burnett’s rule was right.

“Slow.” Derek sounded disappointed.

“Have you talked to her?” Kylie asked. “Told her how you feel?”

Della relaxed a bit.

“Sort of,” Derek said. “I kissed her.”

“Kissing her isn’t talking to her. If you really like her, speak up.”

“And if she says she’s not interested, she’ll pull back. I don’t want to scare her off.”

“I think the only one scared is you,” Kylie said. “To quote Della on this one, ‘For God’s sake, grow a pair.’”

“She quotes me.” Della giggled.

“Shh,” Jenny said.

“What am I supposed to say to her?” Derek asked.

“I don’t know. Why don’t you start by telling her how you feel?” Kylie paused. “How do you feel about her?”

Most Popular