Chapter One

We had driven throughout the afternoon and into the night, pulling into a motel just to toss and turn and pretend to sleep for a few hours before setting off again as the sun broke through the storm, rising above the mountains to paint the sky pink.

By the time we passed the border into Idaho the clouds had once again gathered, and by mid-morning the cold drizzle had turned into heavy rain. The stolen black SUV sped along despite the gloomy weather, moving past the grassy fields so fast they were only a blur outside the windows.

I flipped on the radio and some pop song came blasting through the speakers, cutting through the heavy blanket of silence that had settled between Christian and I and was suffocating us both. I fiddled with the dial and turned up the sound until the music drowned out the noise of the rain. Christian grabbed his coffee from the cup-holder and finished it off in one swallow, crushing it in one hand before throwing it in the backseat.

I looked out the window, cringing when I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the glass. My normally tanned skin looked pale and pasty, contrasting with the dark smudges under my eyes. My lack of sleep from the nightmares I'd had lately was catching up with me—I looked ill. I sighed and looked away, stifling a yawn.

I was curled up in my seat with my head resting on the glass when my eyes drifted shut. I was just about to doze off when a sharp poke to my shoulder startled me back to consciousness.

"What's your damage, Pyro Boy?" I slapped his hand away before he could poke me again.

I realized as I was rubbing my eyes that we were no longer moving.

"Food," Christian replied, and got out of the car.

I glanced up and saw the fast food sign through the window, and a few seconds later I was hurrying through the rain after him.

I didn't know how hungry I was until I was handed a burger and it was gone before I could blink. Christian looked amused when I had to go get another.

"So who did you steal that car from anyway?"

He shrugged and grabbed a french fry from my plate.

"Who cares?"

The corner of my mouth curled up into a half-smile and I tried to force it down.

"The Moroi that owns it, probably."

"I'm sure everyone will be focused more on our disappearance than that of a car."

I bit my lip and locked down at my tray. I had known we were breaking rules leaving without informing Court of where we were going, but now was the first time I had thought it through slowly with a clear head. Maybe running off had been a bad idea? Janine was going to freak...

"Well, it won't be the last rule we break on our little vacation, honey, so go find a bus back to Montana if you're gonna chicken out on me."

I shot him a glare.

"I don't care that you stole a car, Christian."

"Oh. Look, Rose—"

"I'm going to the bathroom," I said, pushing away my food as I stood up, ignoring the way his eyes stayed on my back as I went into the ladies room.

After splashing water on my face and counting backwards from one hundred I ventured back into the little restaurant, only to see Christian's chair empty. After scanning the occupied tables for a head of dark hair I went up the front counter. The kid at the desk couldn't have been more than sixteen, and didn't take his eyes off my chest once.

"There was a guy I was sitting with early—do you know where he went?"

The boy shrugged.

"What's he look like?"

"Tall and pale, black hair, really blue eyes...is any of this ringing any bells? He—well, he kind of looks like a vampire," I said, and tried to hide my smile at the joke.

"Haven't seen—oh, is that him?"

I followed his gaze and turned just in time to see Christian emerge from behind the front door, soaking wet with ketchup on his lip. I thanked the boy at the counter and made my way to the Moroi dripping water all over the floor.

"What the hell are you doing?

"Nothing," Christian said quickly, "Are you ready to go?"

"Um, I guess—"

"Good. I'll be in the car."

And with that he took off towards the SUV. I shook off the odd experience—we were both acting a little weird recently, and had reason to. Once I threw a twenty on the table I ran after Christian. The engine was already started and we screeched out of the parking lot the second my butt hit the seat.