"There has to be something," I argued, refusing to accept what I knew was true. Sarren was gone. There was no cure. No hope for New Covington, for the sick humans and vampires, for Kanin. My eyes started to burn, and I blinked them angrily. "I'm not giving up," I told him. "Dammit, Kanin! You're not going to die."

"Death." Kanin closed his eyes again. "I've lived so long," he whispered. "Maybe it has been long enough. Maybe...I've atoned for my sins by now. Surely by now I can be forgiven."

"No." My voice came out choked, because hot, angry tears were starting to run down my cheeks. "There has to be a way. We've come so far, beaten Sarren and everything. You can't die now."

Vaguely, I was aware of Zeke, hovering just inside the door, looking grim. Kanin's tortured eyes strayed past me, to the human, and a puzzled look filtered through the agony. "Ezekiel. You're here." He sounded surprised. "You...did not succumb to the illness."

That's right! Zeke is still here.

I gasped and spun around, clutching at a tiny, wild hope, a ray of light in this darkness. "Zeke, you survived," I whispered, making him blink at me. Striding forward, I grabbed his arms and pulled him forward, into the cell. "You survived," I said again, peering intently at his face. It was pale, a little gaunt, but his skin was dry; the sickly heat pouring from him had vanished. "You fought it off. How?"

"I don't know." His brow furrowed. "After you and Kanin left, I think I passed out for a while. When I woke up, I felt fine, so I came looking for you again. I don't know how..." He frowned suddenly then shook his head. "It...it might be connected to what they did to me in Eden."

I stared at him in alarm. "What did they do to you?"

He raked a hand through his hair. "I spent a lot of time with the scientists on Eden, talking about Jeb's research. They needed a test subject, so...I agreed to be their lab rat for a little while."


He sighed. "I figured, better me than anyone else. And it was all to find a cure, so...yeah." He shrugged. "Don't look so horrified, Allie. They explained everything they were doing, and always gave me the option to refuse. They weren't going to turn me into a rabid."

"You didn't know that!"

"Someone had to take the chance." His voice was firm. "I won't say it didn't terrify me at times, but someone had to volunteer. Right before I left to find you, they inoculated me with a couple 'experimental vaccines' based on their research up until then. They weren't certain it would help with the rabids, but it was better than sending me out with no protection at all. It might've not helped with anything but..." He made a helpless gesture. "I'm still here."

Yes, he was. And the inkling of an idea was beginning to creep through my brain, taunting me with possibilities, with hope. "Zeke," I said, talking his hand, "if you survived, then...then maybe the cure...is in you. In your blood."

He frowned slightly, but I took his arm again and pulled him out of the cell, back into the main room. He didn't protest and let me drag him to the cot where Sarren had tied me down, and the cart of metal instruments still beside it. Ignoring the blades and scalpels and the other awful tools, I picked up a syringe and turned back to Zeke, who was still watching me with a bemused look on his face.

I paused, excitement warring with a desperate hope, my last gamble. If this didn't work...

I pushed the thought away. "Zeke," I began, holding up the syringe. "You...might be the only one who can help Kanin now. If you survived Sarren's plague, then whatever is in your blood might be the key to a cure, to saving everyone. If... if you're willing...to help a vampire, to give your blood..."

"You don't have to ask me, Allie." Zeke stepped closer and held out his arm, wrist up. "Kanin is important to you, and he's saved my life, as well. If this will help, if this might cure him, I'm willing to give it a shot."

I wanted to hug him in gratitude, but there was no time for that. Instead, I gingerly took his offered wrist, staring down at the smooth, warm skin. I'd seen Sarren draw blood, when he'd done it to me, but...how did you do it, exactly? Was there a specific place to put the needle, or did you just poke and draw?

"Allie? You okay?"

"I...um...don't really know how to do this," I finally admitted, embarrassed.

Zeke didn't laugh. Reaching out, he gently took the syringe from my hand, flipped the needle around and, clenching his fist so that the veins suddenly rose to the surface, sank it beneath his skin. "Had to do this a lot back at the lab," he muttered, lips tight in concentration. I watched, fascinated, as he used his thumb to push back the top of the syringe, and the vial slowly filled with dark red blood. Annoyingly, the Hunger perked at this, and I shoved it back. "It takes a few times to get the hang of it."

Pulling the needle from his skin, he solemnly handed the syringe to me. "I hope this works," he whispered, and the honest concern in his voice made my throat close up. Clutching the syringe, I hurried back to Kanin's cell.

He still sat in the corner, legs crossed, head bowed, arms resting on his knees. I walked up to him and dropped down, peering into his face. His eyes were closed, and he did not open them when I whispered his name. My alarm grew, and I put a hand on his knee.


"I hear you, Allison." He did not move or open his eyes as he said this, his voice low and strained. I swallowed hard and held up the syringe, even though he wouldn't see it.

"I'm...going to inject you with something," I told him. "Zeke's blood." I hoped he wouldn't refuse, because I wasn't going to take no for an answer. "It might help, Kanin. It might be enough...to save you."

Kanin didn't reply. Without a word, he raised an arm to me and turned it palm up, a silent acceptance. I wondered if he really believed it would help, or if he figured nothing I did could hurt, now. Regardless, I inched closer and took his wrist, his skin cold beneath my fingers. His arm looked ravaged, blackened and peeling, and by the tight press of his lips, I knew moving it even this much was painful. Remembering what Zeke had done, I found a pale blue vein and, before I thought too much about it, sank the needle into his flesh, sliding it beneath the skin.

I slowly injected the blood into Kanin, rose and backed away, staring down at him. Zeke entered the cell and stood beside me, watching the vampire, as well.

"That's it," I whispered, feeling Zeke gently take my hand. "That's all we can do. I hope it works."

Zeke pulled me to him, wrapping his arms around me. "He's strong," he murmured into my hair. "If anyone can pull through this, it will be him."

"You two do realize I can hear you, right?"

I felt like laughing and crying at the same time. Pulling myself together, I let Zeke lead us out of the cell, keeping his fingers laced with mine. "Where's Jackal?" he asked as we left the room.

"Right here, bloodbag."

Jackal leaned against the wall beside the frame, arms crossed, watching us as we came out. His shirt was a mess of blood, especially around his stomach, but the vampire seemed fine now. Zeke went rigid, his hand clenching around my fingers, but he did not pull his weapons.

"He gonna make it?" Jackal nodded through the door to the hunched form in the corner.

"I hope so."

"Huh." Jackal pushed himself off the wall, stretching long limbs. "Well, dawn's almost here," he announced, as if nothing had happened between us. "And it's been sort of a rough night. If we don't have anything else to do, I'm going to get some sleep. Unless either of you objects, of course."

His tone was mocking, and Zeke glared at him. "You expect a whole lot of trust from us, after you just stabbed us in the back."

"Tactical maneuver, kid." Jackal looked at him and smirked. "We wouldn't have beaten Sarren if someone hadn't taken that hit. Not with you and Kanin shambling around like drunk sleepwalkers. Sarren had to think he was winning. Ask your girlfriend."

"We didn't exactly beat Sarren," I reminded him. "He's still out there."

"And probably very pissed at you," Jackal added unhelpfully. "But I don't think he'll be back tonight. With that wound, he'll have to feed soon, and he's made it slightly difficult for himself with all the crazies outside. And even Sarren can't move around in broad daylight. So don't worry-he's not going to return for his missing arm tonight."

I glanced over to where the pale, dismembered limb lay in a spatter of blood on the floor, and shuddered. And, just as I had the image of it creeping across the floor on long bony fingers, Jackal bent down and whispered, "Try not to imagine it crawling up to strangle you in your sleep."

"I'll take watch," Zeke said before I could kick Jackal in the shin. "If anything comes through that door, they'll have to get past me. I'm fine, Allie," he added as I glanced at him, worried. "Go ahead and sleep. I'll be close. I'll keep an eye on Kanin, too."

I could feel the sun's approach, creeping closer, and knew I wouldn't be able to resist forever. But I hated the thought of going to sleep, not knowing what I'd wake up to. "I'll stay with Kanin," I muttered, turning back into the room. Pausing in the frame, I glanced back at Zeke and Jackal, narrowing my eyes. "I also don't want to wake up to find either of you dead. Just remember that."

"Perish the thought, sister." Jackal smirked. Zeke didn't say anything, just nodded. I continued into Kanin's cell and sank down into the corner opposite him, pulling my sword to my side and leaning against the wall.

You're not going to die, I thought at him. This will work. It has to work.

The seconds ticked away, turning into minutes, as outside, the sun began its ascent into the sky. I kept my eyes open as long as I could, struggling against the heaviness pulling at my lids. Inevitably, though, I lost my battle and sank into darkness.

Chapter 21

Dread assaulted me as soon as I opened my eyes.

There had been no nightmares, no visions, nothing in my dreams to indicate Kanin was still alive. I woke, slumped against the wall in the dank little cell, and instantly looked to the corner where his dark, hunched form had been the night before.

It was empty.

"Don't panic, Allison," soothed a low, quiet voice, stopping me from doing just that. I jerked my gaze to the door... and there he was, standing beside the frame, watching me. "I'm right here."

Relief, swift and sudden, coursed through me. I leaped upright and hurried toward him, studying his face as I drew close. The black wounds were still there, but they were smaller now, less severe. I could see pink flesh around the edges, where new skin was forming, beginning to regrow, to heal.

"It worked!" I whispered. Kanin gave me a small smile. "It appears I am going to live awhile longer."

"Allie." Zeke appeared in the doorway, glanced at Kanin, back at me, and grinned. "Hey, vampire girl," he said, walking up to me, and I collapsed against him in relief. "You did it."

Kanin watched us, his dark eyes lingering on Zeke, appraising. "I believe," he murmured, sounding hopeful and awed himself, "that we have found our cure."

Tags: Julie Kagawa Blood of Eden Book Series
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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