“Tomorrow.” My sire spared a glance at me. “As soon as the sun goes down.”
Hendricks started to reply, but gasped and started to cough, causing the doctor to scurry forward with a syringe. “I’m sorry, but he really needs to rest,” he told us, over the mayor’s breathless protests, pushing the needle into his arm. “You’re welcome to stay in the infirmary, provided you can find an empty bed. And that the…er…young woman isn’t a danger to the patients.” His bespectacled gaze went to me, which I found ironic, given the circumstances. Especially with Jackal leaning against the corner, watching us all. I felt the smugness radiating from him even without turning around.
“I won’t stay here,” I told the doctor. “So, you don’t have to worry about that.”
“It’s fine, doctor,” said Hendricks, having recovered from his coughing fit. “Look at her. She’s not going to go on a killing spree.” He glanced in my direction. “Will you, Allison?”
“No,” I said simply. I’m not the vampire you have to worry about.
“Oh, and Mr. Crosse.” Hendricks looked at Zeke. “I had someone track down the names you gave me,” he said in a solemn voice. “Would you like to know what happened to them now? I warn you, you might not like what you hear.”
Zeke closed his eyes for a moment. I could see him bracing himself, preparing for the worst. Opening his eyes, he gave a stiff nod, his voice grim. “Tell me.”
“Very well.” The mayor nodded. “Silas and Theresa Adams died of natural causes not long after you left the island,” he began, making my stomach clench. “They were both found in their bed one morning, no signs of struggle, no apparent wounds or sickness. It seemed they both just went in their sleep.” He gave Zeke a sympathetic smile. “They’re buried in the town cemetery on Eden, if you wanted to look for them.”
Zeke took the news stoically, though a muscle worked in his jaw. “And the others?” he asked in a voice that wavered only slightly.
Hendricks sighed. “Jake Bryant and his wife, Anna, managed to escape the chaos when it first broke out,” he continued. “Unfortunately, Mr. Bryant was struck with a stray bullet and badly hurt. He remains in the clinic with his wife, in critical condition, but they don’t think he’s going to make it. The others…” The mayor paused, and by the expression on his face, it was clear that he was reluctant to go on. “Mrs.
Brooks made it off the island, but her husband was killed in the first attack, as was her adopted son, Matthew. Her other two children, Caleb and Bethany Brooks, remain missing.
Alive or dead, we’re not certain. All we know is that they are not here.”
Zeke’s voice was choked. “No one has gone to look for them?”
“We send out search parties every day,” Hendricks replied, his voice gentle. “The men leave as soon as the sun rises, and remain on the island until an hour before it sets. Any longer, and it becomes far too dangerous for them to continue.
They can’t be everywhere at once, and lately, they’re finding fewer and fewer survivors each time they venture in. This last time, they didn’t find anyone. I’m sorry.” He shook his head, genuine regret spreading over his face, then added, “I think you need to accept that they might be gone.”
Zeke clenched his fists. Without a word, he turned and left the room, moving past me with his head down. I watched the door swing shut and hesitated, torn between rushing after him and giving him space. If he was upset, he might want to be alone to grieve for his family in peace. But he was also a vampire now. And I knew how quickly sorrow could turn into a blinding, bloodthirsty rage, as the monster lashed out at everything around it.
I looked at Kanin, and he nodded. “Go,” he murmured, and I went, slipping through the door into the hall, searching for Zeke.
I found him on a narrow pier over the lake, well away from the building and the wounded people inside. The icy wind tugged at his hair and shirt, tiny flurries dancing around him and settling on his bare skin, but he didn’t move as I approached.
He didn’t answer. Stepping up beside him, I peeked at his face. It was dry, no red tracks slicing down his cheeks, but his expression was blank once more. Alarmed, I put my hand on his arm, trying to get him to look at me. “Hey.”
“I’m fine, Allie.” His voice was low, tight. He didn’t sound fine. He sounded like he was barely hanging on to a swirling mess of emotion inside. I stared at him, worried. “I’ll be all right,” Zeke insisted. “I’m just…”
Bowing his head, he shuddered, and the first red tear slipped from his eye, dropping into the water. It made my throat tighten with sympathy, but it also sent a shiver of relief through me. Horrible as it was, he was still letting himself feel something.
“They’re gone,” he whispered, making a lump rise to my throat. And I forgot about the monster’s indifference, wishing I knew what to say. “My family is dead. I’m the only one left.”
“We don’t know that,” I said gently. Near his feet, the waters of Lake Erie lapped against the pier, a quiet, somehow ominous rhythm. “They could still be out there.”
“They’re kids,” Zeke murmured. “And it’s been days. How could they survive, alone, with the rabids? And Sarren?”
I swallowed. I didn’t know how they could still be alive, either. It wasn’t fair that those two little kids had to die, killed by rabids and a deranged vampire, after they’d come so far.
That they’d survived the entire journey to Eden, only to die in the very place that was supposed to be safe.
But the world didn’t care about that; it was ruthless and brutal and merciless, just like Sarren, and not even people like Caleb and Bethany were immune to its darkness.
Zeke suddenly raised his head and roared, baring his fangs and making my heart jump to my throat. I tensed, but immediately after, he dropped his head, clenching his fists so hard his knuckles turned white. “My fault,” he whispered. “This is my fault. I gave Sarren the information . I told him where Eden was. He wouldn’t have come here if it wasn’t for me—”
Stepping forward, I slipped my arms around him, pinning his arms to his sides as I pressed close. He stiffened, but didn’t fight me, and we stood there on the banks of the lake, the wind tugging and snapping at our clothes.