- Название: School Spirits (Hex Hall Novel, A)
- Автор: Hawkins, Rachel
Also by Rachel Hawkins
The Hex Hall series
Copyright © 2013 by Rachel Hawkins
Cover photo © 2013 by Michael Frost
Cover design by Tanya Ross-Hughes
All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this
book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without
written permission from the publisher. For information address Hyperion, 114 Fifth Avenue, New
York, New York 10011.
Also by Rachel Hawkins
For Katie, the closest thing to a sister I have
Killing a vampire is actually a lot easier than you’d think. I know movies and TV make it look
really hard, like if you don’t hit the right spot, it won’t work. But the truth is, those are just rumors
spread by vampire hunters to make themselves seem tougher. If everyone knew how easy it actually is
to kill a vamp, there wouldn’t be so many movies and TV shows and stuff. All it takes is a wooden
stake and enough pressure to send it through the chest cavity. Doesn’t really matter if you hit the heart
See? So easy.
But capturing a vampire? Yeah, that’s a little bit tougher.
“Just. Hold. Still,” I mumbled around the tiny flashlight in my mouth. I was straddling the vamp’s
chest, my right hand holding a stake poised over his heart, my left clutching the little piece of paper
with the ritual on it.
“Release me, mortal!” the vampire cried, but his voice broke on the last word, kind of ruining
the dramatic effect. “My brothers will be here soon, and we will bathe in your blood.”
I spit out the miniflashlight, and it landed on the hardwood floor with a clink. Pressing the stake
closer, I leaned over him. “Nice try. We’ve been watching you for a week. You’re working this town
solo. No nest in sight.”
“Nest” is what vampires call both their houses and the group of fellow vampires who are
basically their roommates. I thought it was a pretty dorky name, but then, a lot about vampires is
This one was especially bad. Not only was he rocking the gelled hair, he’d moved into the one
creepy, pseudo-Victorian mansion in town. He might as well have hung a neon sign blaring, HERE
THERE BE VAMPIRE. All of his furniture was red velvet and heavy wood, and when I’d busted in
earlier, he was in the middle of writing in a journal while a pretty blond girl sat near the fireplace.
She’d bolted when she saw me, and I was already cringing, thinking of how Mom would react to
there being a witness.
The vampire, who was going by the name of Pascal, but was probably really a Brad or a Jason,
twisted underneath me, but I was firmly seated. One of the perks of being a Brannick is that we’re
stronger than your average person. It also didn’t hurt that this vamp was pretty small. When I’d
wrestled him to the floor, I noticed that he was only a few inches taller than me, and most of that was
Sighing, I squinted at the piece of paper again. It was only a few words in Latin, but getting them
right was important, and I’d never done this ritual by myself before.
That thought sent a bolt of pain through my chest, one I did my best to ignore.
Underneath me, “Pascal” stopped struggling. Tilting his head to the side, he watched me with his
dark eyes. “Who is Finley?”
My grip tightened on the stake. “What?”
Pascal was still studying me, upper lip curling over his fangs. “Your head. It’s full of that name.
Finley, Finley, Finley.”
Oh, freaking great. Vampires are a pain in the butt when they’re just your garden-variety
bloodsucker, but a few of them have extra powers. Low-level mind reading, telekinesis, that kind of
thing. Apparently Pascal was one of the special ones.
“Get out of my head,” I snarled at him, renewing my focus on the sheet of paper. “Vado—” I
started, but then Pascal interrupted with, “She’s your sister. Finley.”
Hearing my sister’s name from this…this thing’s lips made the pain in my chest even worse, but
at least no tears stung my eyes. I can’t think of anything more pathetic than crying in front of a
Besides, if it were Finley here, if I was the one who was missing, she wouldn’t have let a vamp,
much less a vamp called Pascal, get to her. So I scowled down at him and pressed the stake hard
enough to just break the skin.
Pascal drew in a hissing breath, but he never took his eyes off my face. “Nearly a year. That’s
how long this Finley has been gone. How long you’ve been working alone. How long you’ve felt like
it was all your fau—”
“Vado tergum,” I said, dropping the piece of paper and laying my free hand flat against his
Pascal’s gaze fell to my hand and he went even paler. “What is that?” he asked, his voice high
with fear and pain. “What are you doing?”
“It’s better than getting staked,” I told him, but as the smell of burning cloth filled the air, I
wasn’t so sure.
“You’re a Brannick!” he shrieked. “Brannicks don’t do magic! What the hell is this?”
I kept up a steady stream of Latin, but What the hell is this was a totally valid question. The
Brannicks had spent millennia staking vamps and shooting werewolves with silver-tipped arrows
(and later, with solid silver bullets). We’d burned witches and enslaved Fae, and basically became
what monsters told scary stories about.
But things were different now. For starters, there were no more Brannicks besides me and my
mom. Rather than hunt the Creatures of the Night, we worked for the Council that governed them. And
they didn’t call themselves monsters; they went by the much more civilized term “Prodigium.” So the
Brannicks were now more or less Prodigium cops. If one of their kind got out of hand, we tracked
them, captured them, and did a ritual that sent them directly to the Council, who would then decide
Yeah, it was a lot harder than just staking a vampire or shooting a werewolf, but the truce
between Brannicks and Prodigium was a good thing. Besides, our cousin, Sophie, was a Prodigium,
and set to be Head of the Council someday. It was either make peace or suffer some majorly awkward
The ritual was nearly finished, the air around Pascal starting to shimmer slightly, when he
suddenly shouted, “The boy in the mirror!”
Surprised, I sat back a little. “What did you just say?”
Pascal’s chest was heaving up and down, and his skin had gone from ivory to gray. “That’s what
you’re afraid of,” he panted. “That he had something to do with Finley’s vanishing.”
My mouth had gone dry, and, blinking at him, I shook my head. “No—” I started to say, only to
realize too late that my hand had slipped off his chest.
Taking advantage of my distraction, Pascal gave another twist, this one stronger than the others,
and managed to free one of his arms from beneath my knees. I was already ducking the blow, but the
back of his hand caught me across the temple, sending me sprawling.
My head cracked against an end table, and stars spun in my vision. There was a blur of motion—
vampires may not be that strong, but they can be fast—and Pascal was up the stairs and gone.
Sitting up, I winced as I touched my temple. Luckily, there was no blood, but a lump was already
forming, and I glared at the staircase. My stake had rolled under the table, and I picked it up, curling
my fingers around the wood. The Council may prefer for us to send monsters to them, but staking a
vamp in self-defense? They’d be okay with that.
I carefully made my way up the stairs, stake raised at shoulder level. The wall was lined with
those tacky globe lamps—seriously, vampires are the worst—and a twinkling caught my eye.
Glancing down, I saw that I was covered in a fine layer of shimmery silver. Oh, gross. He was
one of those body-glitter-wearing jerks. Now I was even more embarrassed that I’d let Pascal get
inside my head, that I’d dropped my guard long enough for him to get away from me. If he got out of
My fingernails dug into the stake. No. I was not letting that happen.
The landing was covered in burgundy carpet that muffled my footsteps. Directly across from me
was a large mirror in a heavy gilt frame, and in it, I looked a lot less like a bad-ass vampire slayer
and a lot more like a scared teenage girl.
My skin was nearly as papery white as Pascal’s, a sharp contrast against the bright red of my
Swallowing hard, I did my best to calm my hammering heart and racing mind. There was one
thing vampires and Brannicks had in common: a few of us had special powers. Pascal’s was reading
minds, and mine—in addition to the strength and quick healing that came with being a Brannick—was
sensing Prodigium. And right now, my Spidey senses were telling me Pascal had gone to the right.
I took one step in that direction.
On the one hand, my detection skills were dead on. On the other, I’d expected Pascal to be
cowering behind a door or trying to open a window and get out. What I hadn’t expected was for him
to suddenly come barreling out of the darkness and slam into me.
We flew back onto the landing, crashing to the floor. I felt the stake tumble from my fingers, and
with a grunt, tried to ram my knee up into Pascal’s stomach. But this time, Pascal had the advantage—
he was faster than me, and he’d caught me by surprise. He dodged my knee like it was nothing, and
his fingers sank into my hair, jerking my head hard to the side and exposing my neck.
He was smiling, lips deep pink against the stark white of his fangs, and his eyes were black
pools. Despite the stupid hair and the silly name and the flowing white shirt, he looked every bit the
And when he ducked his head and I felt the sharp sting of his fangs piercing my skin, my scream
was high and thin. This couldn’t be happening. I couldn’t go out like this, drained of blood by a dorky
vampire calling himself Pascal.
A gray circle began to fill my vision, and I was so cold, colder than I’d ever been in my entire
life. Then, from above me, there was a flash of silver, a glimpse of bright copper, and suddenly,
Pascal was the one screaming. His body fell off of mine, and I raised a trembling hand to my neck, the
rush of blood hot against my freezing skin.
Blinking rapidly to clear my vision, I scooted backward on the carpet, watching as the
redheaded woman all in black dropped a knee in the middle of Pascal’s chest, one hand pushing a
bright silver amulet against his cheek. Her other hand reached back and pulled a stake from the belt
around her waist.
The stake swung down, and there was a sound almost like the popping of a bubble, and Pascal
vanished in a surprisingly tiny cloud of dust and ash.
Head still swimming, I looked at the woman as she turned back to me.
Even though I knew it was impossible, I heard myself ask, “Finn?”
But the woman who strode over to me wasn’t my sister.
“You okay?” Mom asked.
I pressed my palm tighter to the holes in my neck and nodded. “Yeah,” I replied. Using the wall
to brace myself, I went to stand up. As I did, my eyes skated over my mom, noticing that even though
she’d been right on top of Pascal, she’d somehow managed to avoid getting even one speck of glitter
“Of course,” I muttered, and then the carpet was rushing up to meet me as I passed out at Mom’s
The lights in our kitchen were too harsh. My eyes ached in the fluorescent glare, and my head was
pounding. It didn’t help that we’d taken an Itineris home. That was a type of magic portal, and they
were located at posts all over the world. Problem was, like most things involving magic, there was a
catch. While an Itineris made traveling a lot more convenient, it was also really rough on your body. I
guess getting bent and twisted through the space-time continuum isn’t exactly good for you.
The concoction in front of me finally seemed cool enough to drink, so I choked it down. It tasted
like pine trees smell, but the ache in my head disappeared almost immediately. Across from me, Mom
turned her coffee mug around and around in her hands. Her mouth was set in a hard line.
“He was a young vamp,” she said at last, and I fought the urge to lower my head to the table.
“Yes,” I replied, hand reaching up to touch the little puncture marks just under my jaw. Thanks to
Mom’s “tea,” they were already starting to close, but they still hurt.
“He should have been no issue at all for you, Isolde,” she continued, her gaze still on her mug. “I
would never have sent you in there alone if I’d thought you couldn’t handle it.”
My hand dropped back to the table. “I could handle it.”
Mom looked at the bite on my neck and raised her eyebrows. When she was younger, my mom
had been beautiful. And even now there was something about the strong lines of her face that made
people look twice at her. Her eyes were the same dark green as mine and Finley’s, but there was a
hardness that neither I nor my sister had.
“I mean, I was handling it,” I mumbled. “But he was one of those mind-reading ones, and he…he
got inside my head—”
“Then you should have shoved him right the heck out,” Mom fired back, and I wondered what
felt worse, the vampire bite or the guilt.
With a sigh, Mom dropped her head and rubbed her eyes. “I’m sorry, Iz. I know you did the best
But your best wasn’t good enough.
Mom didn’t have to say the words. I felt them hanging between us in the kitchen. There were a
lot of words filling up the space between me and Mom these days. My sister’s name was probably the
biggest. Nearly a year ago, Finley disappeared on a case in New Orleans. It had been a totally routine
job—just a coven of Dark Witches selling some particularly nasty spells to humans. We’d gone
together, but at the last minute, Finley had told me to wait in the car while she dealt with the witches
I could still see her standing under the streetlight, red hair so bright it almost hurt to look at. “I
got this one, Iz,” she’d told me before nodding at the book in my lap. “Finish your chapter.” A dimple
had appeared in her cheek when she grinned. “I know you’re dying to.”
I had been. The heroine had just been kidnapped by pirates, so things were clearly about to get
awesome. And it had seemed like such an easy job, and Finley had swaggered off toward the coven’s
house with such confidence that I hadn’t worried, not really. Not until I’d sat in the car for over an
hour and Finley still hadn’t come out. Not until I’d walked into the house and found it completely
empty, the smell of smoke and sulfur heavy in the air, Finley’s weapon belt on the floor in front of a
Mom and I looked for her for six months. Six months of tracking down leads and sleeping in
motel rooms and researching other cases like Finley’s, and it all led nowhere. My sister was just…
And then one day, Mom had just packed up our things and announced we were going home. “We
have a job to do,” she’d said. “Brannicks hunt monsters. It’s what we do, and what we need to get
back to. Finley would want that.”
That had been the last time Mom had said Finley’s name.
Now Mom sat across the table from me, and her coffee mug turned, turned, turned.
“Maybe we should take it easy for a while,” she said at last. “Let you go on a few more missions
with me, get your legs back under you.”
Finley had been doing solo missions since she was fourteen. I was almost sixteen now, and this
had been the first time Mom had let me out in the field by myself. I really didn’t want it to be the last
I shoved my own mug. “Mom, I can do this. I just… Look, the vamp, he could read my mind, and
I wasn’t ready for that. But now I know! And I can be better on my guard next time.”
Mom lifted her gaze from the table. “What did he see?”
I knew what she meant. Picking at the Formica tabletop, I shrugged. “I thought about Finn for a
sec. He…saw that, I guess. It just distracted me.”
I didn’t add the bit about how Pascal had mentioned the boy in the mirror. Bringing up Finn was
going to bother Mom enough.
Just like I’d thought, her eyes suddenly seemed a million miles away. “Okay,” she said gruffly,
her chair shrieking on the linoleum as she shoved it back and stood. “Well, just…just go to bed. We’ll
think about our next move tomorrow.”
Deep parentheses bracketed Mom’s mouth, and her shoulders seemed more slumped than they
had been just a few moments ago. As she passed my chair, for just a moment, Mom laid a hand on my
head. “I’m glad you’re okay,” she murmured. And then, with a ruffle of my hair, she was gone.
Sighing, I picked up my cup and swirled the dregs of tea still l