Huntress (Chapter 3)

Jez burst through the door and turned immediately into the small library off the front hall. Her uncle was

sitting there at his desk, surrounded by built-in bookcases. He looked up in surprise.

"Uncle Bracken, who was my mother? How did my parents die?" It all came out in a single rush of

breath. And then Jez wanted to say, "Tell me the truth," but instead she heard herself saving wildly, "Tell

me it's not true. It's not possible, is it? Uncle Bracken, I'm so scared."

Her uncle stared at her for a moment. There was shock and despair in his face. Then he bent his head

and shut his eyes.

"But how is it possible?" Jez whispered. "How am I here?" It was hours later. Dawn was tinting

the window. She was sitting on the floor, back

against a bookcase, where she'd collapsed, staring

emptily into the distance. "You mean, how can a vampire-human halfbreed

exist? I don't know. Your parents never knew. They never expected to have children." Uncle Bracken

ran both hands through his hair, head down. "They didn't even realize you could live as a vampire. Your

father brought you to me because he was dying and I was the only person he could trust. He knew I

wouldn't turn you over to the Night World elders."

"Maybe you should have," Jez whispered. Uncle Bracken went on as if he hadn't heard her. "You lived

without blood then. You looked like a human child. I don't know what made me try to see if you could

learn how to feed. I brought you a rabbit and bit it for you and let you smell the blood." He gave a short

laugh of reminiscence. "And your little teeth sharpened right up and you knew what to do. That was when

I knew you were a true Redfern."

"But I'm not." Jez heard the words as if someone else was speaking them from a distance. "I'm not even

a Night Person. I'm vermin."

Uncle Bracken let go of his hair and looked at her. His eyes, normally the same silvery-blue as Jez's,

were burning with a pure silver flame. "Your mother was a good woman," he said harshly. "Your father

gave up everything to be with her. She wasn't vermin." Jez looked away, but she wasn't ashamed. She

was numb. She felt nothing except a vast emptiness inside her, stretching infinitely in all directions.

And that was good. She never wanted to feel again. Everything she'd felt in her life-everything she could

remember-had been a lie.

She wasn't a huntress, a predator fulfilling her place in the scheme of things by chasing down her lawful

prey. She was a murderer. She was a monster.

"I can't stay here anymore," she said.

Uncle Bracken winced. "Where will you go?"

"I don't know."

He let out his breath and spoke slowly and sadly. "I have an idea."