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A Trail of Echoes(A Shade of Vampire,Book 18)(3) by Bella Forrest

Her face was frozen in utter terror as she collapsed on the floor.

Afraid to step away from Ben in case he launched another attack, I pulled him down to the floor with me as I checked the girl’s pulse. It was so faint, I could barely feel it.

“You need to heal her with your blood,” I hissed to Ben, having no idea whether vampire blood could even heal a person at such a desperate stage.

He still seemed to be in a daze, his whole face now contorted with some kind of pain of his own.

“Ben! Give her your blood.”

Extending a claw, he cut his palm and held it to the girl’s lips.

“Drink,” I urged, clutching the girl by the shoulder.

But she didn’t.

I shook her hard. But as I checked her pulse again, it became clear that I could shake her until her neck came loose. She wasn’t going to respond. She was gone, as gone as the other ravaged corpses in this room.

Standing up with Ben, I placed both palms against his chest and pushed him back against the wall.

“What the hell were you thinking?” I asked through trembling lips. “I left my blood for you!”

Ben’s eyes looked unfocused, blood still dripping from his lips, onto his soaked robe. His voice was low and hoarse as he responded. “You shouldn’t have left without warning me.”

Ding! Ding!

The shrill sound of the bell at the front desk pierced the atmosphere.

My hair stood on end. I looked in panic from Ben to the corpses scattered around the room.

“Excuse me,” a high-pitched voice called in Arabic. “Excuse me!”

Shooting to the door, and wiping the blood that had gotten on me onto my black robe on the way, I stepped out of the room and back into the reception area, closing the door behind me and standing there, holding the handle in place. Now that I had distanced myself from Ben again, I was half expecting him to storm out and attack the middle-aged Arab woman standing behind the desk.

“What was all that screaming?” the woman complained, her black eyebrows knotting. “It woke me from my rest.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry, ma’am,” I replied, trying to act as though I had just returned from a toilet break rather than from witnessing a bloody massacre. “It was coming from the street outside. I am not certain what happened, since I have been busy with paperwork.”

“Hm.” The woman eyed me curiously, then her expression turned back to annoyance. “Anyway, I also came down to tell you that the flush in my toilet has stopped working.”

“Oh, dear. That is… entirely unacceptable. If you return to your room now, I will send someone up in the next hour. Okay?”

“In the next hour? I can’t wait that long!” she grumbled.

“Okay,” I replied. “How about in the next fifteen minutes? I will try to get hold of our caretaker.”

She still looked dissatisfied, but to my relief, she headed back up the staircase.

I clutched the door handle and stepped back inside the room, slamming the door behind me.

My stomach lurched as I looked over the horrifying scene once again. I half expected Ben to be crouching over the girl, drawing out the very last drops of blood from her still-warm corpse. But no. He was sitting on the floor in the far corner of the room, his back against the wall, his head clutched in his hands, breathing heavily.

I hurried over to him and bent down to his level, gripping his shoulders.

“Ben,” I rasped. “We have to leave. If someone finds us…” I looked up at the ceiling. If there were any surveillance cameras in here, they were well hidden because I couldn’t spot any.

“Get up,” I urged.

When he looked at me, his green eyes seemed darker than usual. Much darker. They were practically black.

His mouth was no longer covered in blood. I could see that he’d wiped it against his sleeve. He stood up, slightly unsteady. His jaw clenched as he eyed the corpse nearest to us.

“Let’s get out of here,” he said. He reached for my wrist and closed his hand around it. The next thing I knew, he was pulling me into the reception area and out of the main exit of the guesthouse. When we arrived on the street outside, it was dark. He gathered me onto his back and lurched forward with speed that made my stomach flip.

I was still feeling overwhelmed at what I’d just witnessed Ben do. I’d known that he was a vampire, but I’d never witnessed such a harrowing scene, even during my stay at The Oasis. And Ben… although he had told me about his struggle around humans, I’d still thought he was different because of the way he’d treated me. Seeing his darkness so starkly before me was something that I was still trying to come to terms with.

As he ran, we were just a blur in the darkness. It was a good thing too. Although he was wearing black, which helped to camouflage the stains, his robe was drenched in blood. We were moving too fast to see, but I was certain that we were leaving traces of blood on the sidewalk.

My grip around Ben’s shoulders tightened.

“We have to stop and get you some new clothes,” I said.

He didn’t argue with me. I was sure that he was having the same thoughts about leaving a trail behind us. We stopped as we reached a night market and he placed me down on the ground.

Taking the backpack off my shoulders, I dug inside and reached for a few notes—enough for new clothes. I handed the backpack to Ben, who put it on his back. He stood behind me, one arm wrapped around my waist and the other holding my upper left arm as we walked forward. His position against me made me feel like a prisoner being escorted somewhere.