“Mmm, yes, I’m sure, but Peter might not be arriving for awhile,” Gunnar said with faux sadness. “So I thought we would play a game until he joined us. Can you guess what it is?” I glared at him. “Tag – vampire style.
“You see, it’s just like normal tag, except you have to kill whoever you tag. Since you’re new to this game, we’ll keep it easy and start with two players. How about… you,” he pointed to Jane, “and you,” he pointed to me. “And since you’re the vampire, you’re It, Alice.”
“No! I already told you I’m never going to bite her!” I yelled at him, disgusted.
“But you don’t even know what the prize is yet?” Gunnar smiled widely at me. “It’s that Milo fellow. If you win, you get him back. If you lose, then Stellan gets him, and we all know how he likes to play.” Gunnar nodded to the corpse on the trail. “But since I am such a giving guy, I’ll give you a parting gift. After Stellan eviscerates Milo, I will personally give you his heart.”
I just gaped at him for a moment, unable to do anything but try not to vomit. Either I would have to murder my best friend, or they would murder my brother. The only good thing was that I wouldn’t live very long to regret my decision, no matter what it was.
“No,” Jack said. “Let me play. I’m much quicker than Alice.” I’m not sure if he had a plan to save Jane, or if he was only trying to save me from killing her by doing it himself.
“Well, Jane doesn’t seem much in the running mood, so I don’t think speed is really an issue.” Gunnar had a point.
Jane had tied the tourniquet around her arm but not before she lost quite a bit of blood. Her only consolation is that her body was used to running on less blood, and she had spent the last few days building her supply back up. But she was barely even holding herself up, and she hadn’t screamed or protested when Gunnar told me to kill her. Her skin was completely ashen, and the blood had started freezing on her arm.
“There has to be something else!” Jack shouted.
He let go of me so he could step forward to Gunnar, challenging him. Stellan stepped towards Jack, defending him, but Gunnar held his hand out to him. His hand was the only thing preventing Stellan from ripping out Jack’s heart, and we all knew it.
“I have other ideas, but I’m certain you wouldn’t like them anymore than this one!” Gunnar growled.
I exchanged a look with Milo, his eyes wide and uncertain. If I had to choose, I would pick him. Without a doubt, I loved him so much that I would do anything for him. But I didn’t want to kill Jane. She hadn’t done anything to deserve this, and I couldn’t imagine taking anyone’s life, let alone someone I cared about.
“Just do it, Alice,” Jane mumbled, her voice barely audible. Her heart was beating so slowly, I didn’t know how she was still awake. She propped herself up with her good arm, and she held the wounded one up, trying to keep the cut above her heart. “I’m dying anyway.”
“No. I can’t.” I shook my head and tears filled my eyes. “I can’t do it.”
“So be it.” Gunnar shrugged and nodded to Milo. Stellan stepped towards him, and I shouted.
“No! Wait!” I shouted. Bear tightened his grip around Milo, and Milo clawed at him. “Milo! No! Stop! Let him go! I’ll do it! Milo!”
“Do it, and we’ll let him go,” Gunnar said through gritted teeth.
“Fine! Just stop hurting him!” I begged. “Stop!” Gunnar rolled his eyes, and nodded at Bear again. Instantly, he loosened his grip on Milo, who gasped for breath.
My panicked screams for my brother had carried farther than I thought. I heard him before I saw him. Bobby was racing through the grass towards us. He fell and slid on his ass, and I wanted to scream at him, but I prayed he wised up and realized what he was up against.
“Milo!” Bobby shouted, and I winced. His only hope for survival had been going undetected, but he had just drawn attention himself. He scrambled to his feet. “Milo!”
“Run!” Milo screamed as loudly as he could, but it was already too late.
Stellan had started moving towards Bobby, but only a split second before he got there, another lycan came out and wrapped his arms around him. Bobby screamed in surprise, but the lycan held him tightly. Stellan growled in protest. If he had caught Bobby first, he would’ve gladly torn him apart.
Then the lycan holding him looked at me. His brown eyes were sad and disappointed. It was Leif, the kind lycan that had helped Ezra and I find Peter. I realized exactly what he’d done. Leif had just saved Bobby’s life by intercepting him before Stellan did.
“This has all gotten rather tedious,” Gunnar said wearily and looked at Bear. “I’ve tired of this game. Kill the boy.”
Before Jack could stop me, I dove at Bear. I jumped onto his back, clawing and biting at him. Dodge came towards me, but Jack managed to fight him off. Milo bit into Bear’s wrist, and in a bold move, started drinking his blood. Bear howled, and even though he was weakened, I could do little against him.
Stellan was on me instantly, pulling me off Bear. He threw me onto the ground and sat on top of me, pinning my wrists back. His mouth was stained red, and he bared his teeth at me, showing his bloodied incisors with bits of flesh still clinging to them.
“Stellan! Don’t kill the girl!” Gunnar shouted. “We need her! Just scent the ground with her blood!” Keeping his dead black eyes locked on me, Stellan yelled something back at Gunnar in Finnish.
I tried kicking at Stellan, but he refused to budge, and he had my wrists locked into the cold slush. Dodge and Jack were still fighting, but now Dodge was holding Jack back from getting at Stellan. Milo had managed to get Bear to the ground, but he wasn’t free yet.
Through it all, Gunnar didn’t enter the mix. He just stalked around, observing our futile attempts at escape. Bobby was screaming at us, but I doubted that Leif was hurting him.
Stellan bent down and head butted me incredibly hard. Shooting pain shot through my skull and everything went black for a second. Had I been human, I’m sure he would’ve killed me with that. I could hear him saying something to me in Finnish, but I couldn’t see him or understand him.
When my vision started clearing, I was holding my head, my natural reflex. Belatedly, I realized that that meant he’d let me go. He was standing over me, repeating the same word over and over again.