The Beautiful Ashes Page 62

’’Ivy?’’ he asked, as though confused.

Tears streamed from my eyes as I whacked him in the head again. This time, Adrian fell to the floor, and the thump his body made seemed to reverberate all through me. I dropped the rock, sickened at how it was now stained with blood.

’’I\m sorry,’’ I choked out.

He didn\ reply. In fact, Adrian was so still, I wasn\ even sure if he was breathing. I knelt, my whole body rigid from fear as I checked his pulse.

It throbbed beneath my fingers, sending an instant wave of relief through me. He was alive! Even if he\d always meant to betray me, I never would have forgiven myself if I\d killed him. I didn\ think I\d be able to forgive myself for doing this, and I wasn\ done yet.

I grabbed the slingshot from his bag, tying his hands and feet together with it. Then I put duct tape over his mouth, deciding to add a few more layers to his wrists and ankles, too. When he woke up, he\d be pissed, and that was only if he were innocent. If he had intended to deliver me to Demetrius after I found the weapon... Well, maybe I should use all the tape.

When Adrian\s wrists, arms, ankles and mouth were covered by the thick gray tape, I paused. There was one more thing I had to do, and I dreaded it even more than I\d dreaded knocking him out.

With shaking hands, I went back to his duffel bag and pulled out his knife.

Chapter thirty-two

I tried to ignore the screech of brakes from the car next to me, but I couldn\ ignore it suddenly swerving into my lane. I veered left, avoiding that crash, yet swiping the front of the Challenger against another vehicle in the process.

Forget everything else I\d done. Adrian was going to kill me for damaging his precious ride.

The driver I\d sideswiped blasted his horn and slowed down, but when he drew even with me, his expression changed from anger to pure terror. I hunched down and drew the bedspread over my head until I could barely see. Too late. Another screech of brakes and he was driving off the road, coming to a stop in the grassy shoulder along the highway.

It was dark out, and I used the hotel bedspread like a veil, but one look at my face destroyed the notion that I was just your average commuter. Seeing a hulking demon lizard behind the wheel was too much for my fellow drivers. At least it was well past rush hour, so while I\d caused a few individual spinouts, I hadn\ been responsible for a real accident yet.

If I wanted to keep it that way, I had to get off the road. Sooner or later, some cop would finish a hysterical motorist\s sobriety test and decide to check out their story of a monster driving a vintage Challenger. Add in the fact that some of the Bennington cops were minions and I\d really be screwed.

Still, I had to get as close to Bennington as I could. Ditching the car to run around in the open raised my chances of being seen. Not driving also meant it would take longer to get where I needed to be. I\d left Adrian back at the motel over two hours ago, so at any minute, Costa would return to the room and find him.

Adrian. I forced back the guilt that made me feel like I\d swallowed a bellyful of acid. He\d told me he\d betray me if we continued to spend time together! Demetrius and Zach had thought so, too, and with Adrian\s admittedly bloody history, many people would agree he deserved what I\d done.

So why was I the one who felt like a betrayer?

To keep myself from brooding over that, I turned off at the next exit. According to the map on Adrian\s phone yes, I\d swiped that, too the Green Mountain National Forest bordered the part of Bennington where the B and B was located. I vaguely remembered the woods from my visit to the B and B, so if I kept to the trees, I\d be able to stay hidden until I reached it. The realm gateway was in there, Adrian had said. Too bad he hadn\ specified where in the B and B, but I had a plan for that, too.

I ditched the Challenger in the woods behind a gas station, but only after I wrapped some supplies in my blanket. Then I hoisted it over my shoulder like a sack, held Adrian\s phone out in front of me so I could see the map, and started running.

Once, I would have found the dark expanse of woods creepy, but not now. Maybe it was because no animal in its right mind would attack me with my Hound disguise. Same went for people, and though the air was distinctly chilly, the cold didn\ affect me like it once would have. Must be my growing abilities. After all, it couldn\ be coincidence that I barely needed the light from Adrian\s cell phone to see.

You can do everything I can do.... It\s in your blood. Adrian\s words stole through my mind, encouraging me and slamming me with guilt at the same time. Dammit, I needed to stop thinking about him! I\d made the only choice I could by not trusting him, same thing he\d urged me to do over and over again. Jasmine was the person I should feel guilty about. If Adrian had been lying and she was dead, then I\d failed my only remaining family. Worse, I\d lost my best friend.

Memories began to assail me. Jasmine screaming with excitement because she\d been accepted to the same college as me. Her countless pranks, like adding BENGAY to my suntan lotion or replacing my shampoo with bubble bath. How she\d hugged me after my disastrous prom night, and how she\d never told any of my friends or hers why I really went to the doctors so frequently. Jasmine as a little girl, sitting with me in a psychologist\s waiting room, her blue eyes somber as she whispered, ’’If you say you see stuff, Ivy, I believe you....’’

The cell phone vibrated, startling me so much I almost dropped it. Incoming call, read the screen. Unknown.

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