Elfblood (Book One) (Elfblood Trilogy 1)

By: Kyra Dune

CHAPTER ONE





The night was silent and starless, the sky hidden beneath charcoal clouds, so quiet Charlie could hear the horses moving about within their stalls. He crouched low by the side of the stable, his heart beating erratically, and thought to himself that this was the stupidest thing he had ever done.

Charlie peeked around the corner. The house was dark. He licked his lips and took a breath to steady himself. Hands pressed flat against the rough, wooden wall, Charlie crept along the side of the stable, his eyes never leaving the house. Sweat slid down the side of his nose despite the chill of the night air.

He inched closer to the stable door. A few more steps and he would be inside; after that he had only to open the stalls, then slip away. The horses would take care of the rest themselves. Charlie’s foot struck some unseen thing in the darkness. It tipped over with a horrible clang that thundered in the silence.

Charlie froze with his gaze fixed on the backdoor. Minutes crawled by. Nothing happened. He let out a breath and reached for the iron handle on the stable door. The back porch light came on, casting a pale yellow glow across the steps.

It was pure instinct that made Charlie drop behind a pile of hay only seconds before the back door opened. The whine of the hinges cut through the night like a knife. A heavy booted foot stepped out onto the porch, accompanied by the click of a shotgun being snapped shut.

Charlie pressed a hand to his mouth in an attempt to stifle his rapid breath. What would it feel like to be shot? Would it hurt, or would he be dead before he even knew what hit him? A low moan escaped his frozen lips. He began to shake, sure he was going to scream, sure he was going to die, sure he would never see fifteen.

The crack of the door shutting was so close to the sound of gunfire that Charlie did scream, but his throat was so tight it came out as nothing more than a squeak. The porch light went out. That was enough for Charlie. Forget the dare, forget Thomas, forget the consequences of running away, all he could think about now was getting far away from the business end of that shotgun.

Charlie crawled out from behind the hay and ran full out all the way back to the home.

The lights were out, as they were when he left, so at least no one had noticed him missing. Charlie jumped up, grabbed the top of the tall wooden fence, and swung himself over into the backyard. He crossed beneath the basketball hoop to the window of his room. All he wanted was to crawl into bed and pretend this night never happened. At least until tomorrow.

The window was shut tight. Charlie stared at it with a sinking feeling in his gut. He’d left the window open. He was sure of it. But now it was shut and there was no way to open it from the outside. Thomas, it had to be; he was the only one who knew Charlie was out tonight.

The clouds broke and icy rain began to fall. Charlie leaned against the side of the house, his head hanging. There was only one option for him now, and he dreaded it.

It took three taps on the window before the curtains moved and Grant’s face appeared. He frowned at Charlie, slowly shaking his head, then pushed the window open. “Get in here.”

Charlie climbed up into the bedroom and stood staring down at the dark carpet, waiting for the lecture.

“Shut the window. You’re letting the rain in.” Grant went over to his closet and pulled out a bathrobe. “Here, put this on before you freeze to death.”

Charlie peeled off his wet clothes and slipped into the robe. It was warm and soft against his shivering body. “Well, thanks for the help. Guess I better get to bed.” He started for the door.

Grant grabbed the collar of the robe and hauled him back. “Not before you tell me what you were doing out in the rain at”--he squinted at the wall clock--“three in the morning.”

“I went for a walk?”

There was a warning tone in Grant's voice as he spoke. “It’s too early for stories, Charlie. Come on, what were you up to?”

Charlie shrugged. “I had something to do.”

Grant studied his face and sighed. “How bad is it this time? Can we expect a visit from the town constables?”

“It was just a stupid dare.” Charlie scuffed his bare foot against the carpet. “I didn’t even go through with it.”

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