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Excerpt

Excerpt

Hearts at Stake: The Drake Chronicles, Book 1

“How are we going to do this?” I asked Lucy. “I can’t believe Mom and Dad sicced them all on me.”

“It’s okay, we can totally do this.” She started to pace between my desk and the closet door. “We just have to keep them distracted somehow.” She paused. “Connor will be on his computer all night. Maybe we could ask him to track Kieran down online, keep him busy.”

“That’ll definitely work. And maybe you could try convincing the others to watch a movie or something? Make it sound like I’m sulking and just want to be left alone?”

She nodded. “Brilliant. I’ll be right back.”

She wasn’t gone long, and by the time she came back I could hear the sounds of some action movie on the television in the far family room. It was conveniently on the other side of the house from the sunroom, which had a door to the backyard.

“I made it really loud,” she informed me proudly. “Logan looked a little suspicious but he’s watching it. Connor’s online and Nicholas was up in his room, so I thought it was probably safest to leave him there. If he’s brooding, it could buy us some time.”

I shook my head. “No amount of brooding or distraction will keep him off our trail.”

She snorted. “As long as we act suspicious, he’ll follow us for a while without saying anything and think it’s his idea. Besides, it might be good to have a little vampire instinct on our side.”

“You’re kind of evil, you know that?” I grinned at her.

“I’ve been practicing,” she shot back with her own grin. “So are you ready to do this?”

I nodded, shrugging into a black sweater so I’d blend into the shadows better. “You know this is definitely one of our dumber ideas?”

“Please, would you rather sit around here and worry?”

“Hell, no. Let’s go.”

“That’s what I thought.” She poked her head out the window. “I don’t think we can climb down from here.”

“Not without you falling on your head.” I pulled her away. “I’ve seen you in gym remember?”

“Hey, you don’t even go to my school.”

“In that class you had at the park, that time you tripped on your shoelace and took out a row of girls in pink shorts.”

“Oh.” She made a face. “Right.”

“We’ll use the back stairs and go through the sunroom.”

For some reason we had to stifle giggles as we crept down the stairs. I felt like I was in some bad silent movie. Lucy clutched my hand and we used the movie’s car chase to cover our movements. My brothers were still young enough that they shouldn’t be able to distinguish our heartbeats over that kind of volume, even if they thought they could.

The backyard was dark— we remembered to avoid the motion-sensor light. We stayed low, moved quickly.

“How do we know we can trust him?” Lucy worried, not sounding quite as confident and cavalier now that we were getting closer to the edge of the forest.

“I think we can.” I didn’t know why I thought that, I just did.

“Oh man, is it wrong that now I really hope Nicholas is following us?”

I shook my head mutely. I was kind of hoping the same thing. Vampire hearing would be an advantage right now. We crouched in a thicket and waited. My palms were damp. Lucy fidgeted anxiously. Even the crickets sounded sinister.

The crack of a twig underfoot had us clinging to each other.

“Solange? Lucy?”

Lucy popped up, scowling. “You scared the hell out of me.”

Kieran jerked back. “Likewise.”

I stood up much more slowly, wondering why I felt shy. This totally wasn’t the time. He looked at me for a long moment, then nodded. Lucy stared at him, then at me. If she said anything I was going to kill her. She pursed her lips but mercifully stayed silent, instead staring over his shoulder suspiciously.

“You don’t have to do that,” he told her. “I’m alone.”

“Forgive me if I don’t entirely trust your motives,” she shot back grimly. “You tried to kill my best friend.”

“I did not!” he exclaimed hotly. Lucy had the ability to make most guys revert to being ten years old. That should’ve been in their stupid field guide. “She wasn’t even out in the garden.”

“Technicality,” Lucy grumbled. “You came for the bounty.”

“Yeah. It’s my job.”

“You should get a new one. Your boss sucks.”

“Here’s your book,” I said quietly, handing him the guide before they started to pull each other’s hair.

“Thanks.” Neither of us said anything else. I was starting to hope Lucy would snap at him again, when he finally glanced away. “Why’d you want to meet?”

“You have to know we didn’t break the treaty.”

“Look, like I told your mental friend here, I don’t make the rules. I just graduated. And anyway, isn’t it all part of your coup? To be queen?”

“Is that what they’re telling you?”

“You don’t want to be queen?”

“No,” I said emphatically. “I don’t. Look, I’m the first girl born to the House of Drake. That’s all. It’s only a big deal because of people like you. I didn’t ask for this.”

“Then don’t let them turn you into a vampire.”

“Oh, sure, she’ll just die instead,” Lucy said waspishly. “Nice plan.”

He blinked at me. “You really would? That’s not a myth about the ancient families?”

“No, it’s not a myth. And I really don’t want my family being hunted because of me. Can’t you do anything?” I wasn’t sure why I was asking him for help; I only knew that we really had no other options. I had to do something and this was it. Problem was, he didn’t look entirely convinced. “If you really believe we should be hunted down, why don’t you just kill me now?” I took a step closer to him, opening my arms.

“Don’t be stupid.” He took a startled step back, as if I was the one covered in weapons.

“Why not? It’s what you do, isn’t it?”

“It’s not like that. Besides, you’re human. Mostly.”

“For now. Does that mean you’ll kill me after my birthday?”

“No! Maybe. I don’t know. I just want to find the one who killed my dad.”

“You were so convinced it was one of us.” I stepped even closer, could see the way his pupils dilated.

“Solange,” Lucy said nervously.

I didn’t look away from Kieran. “So go ahead.”

Excerpted from HEARTS AT STAKE: The Drake Chronicles, Book 1 © Copyright 2011 by Alyxandra Harvey. Reprinted with permission by Walker Books for Young Readers

. All rights reserved.

Hearts at Stake: The Drake Chronicles, Book 1
by by Alyxandra Harvey

  • Genres: Paranormal, Romance
  • hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Walker Childrens
  • ISBN-10: 0802798403
  • ISBN-13: 9780802798404