Heather Brewer

Tenth Grade Bleeds

The third book in the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series, 2009

To you,

for being who you are


It would be easier to thank all of the people who have contributed to my success by writing “thanks, everyone,” because there have been so many people that have blessed my life that I am positive I’ll leave out at least one or two. To those I do forget-my deepest apologies.

I’d like to thank Maureen Sullivan, who is quite possibly the smartest woman on the planet, and whom I am blessed to be edited by. Also, Michael Bourret, who isn’t just brilliant, but funny and insightful too-qualities that make him the best literary agent that any author could ever have. To everyone at Dutton-you are amazing people and the magic that you perform stuns me every time I am witness to it.

Jackie Kessler-you are the best friend a gal could have, and I’d happily face hellfire with you (besides… you have the map). Dawn Vanniman-I love you, sis! Kylie McAuliffe-a most loyal Minion and fangtastic contest winner. And, once again, thanks to Paul, Jacob, and Alexandria -you are my everything. I am absolutely amazed by your support, your dedication, and your unfailing belief in me. Without you, none of this would be possible.

Most importantly, thanks must go to my Minion Horde, of which you have just become a part by picking up this book. Without you, my Minion, I am nothing, and Vlad is but a piece of fiction. In your hands, he becomes real. Thank you, from both of us.


IGNATIUS DREW THE CURVED BLADE along the whetstone slowly, the gritty sound filling his ears. It had to be sharp, sharp enough to slice into bone if necessary. He didn’t expect to kill the halfling boy, only to damage him, break him, before dragging his nearly lifeless body before the council, as he’d been hired to do. But if the boy gave him any trouble at all, Ignatius would take his bloody pleasures slowly, so that the boy felt every bruise, every cut.

He almost hoped the boy would fight back, give him an excuse to torture him. After all, he had it coming. His very existence was an abomination.

Small sparks flew from the blade, and at last, Ignatius pulled metal from stone. He ran his thumb along the steel, splitting his pale skin open. Blood-rich, red-dripped from the cut before it healed closed again.

He was hungry. It was always better to hunt when he was hungry. He hadn’t eaten in months, in eager anticipation of that insatiable need pushing him through the capture and, perhaps, the kill.

The council had been clear: “Bring us Vladimir Tod and your reward will be immeasurable.” They never mentioned in what condition to bring him, had only barely stressed that he should be living. Little did they know, Ignatius didn’t require payment. Causing the boy’s suffering-and perhaps even his death, he thought with a pleasant shiver-would be reward enough.

The boy who would be the Pravus. The thought enraged Ignatius further, and he returned his blade to the whetstone, working it slowly, smoothing the edge into a razor.

Soon. Once the final paperwork was signed, his hunt would begin.

And Vladimir Tod would be made to suffer.


VLAD SQUEEZED HIS EYES TIGHT and listened to the thumping of his heartbeat and the whoosh of his blood as it pumped through his vampire veins. Well, half-vampire veins, anyway. His stomach had been rumbling loudly for the last half hour, and the hunger eased the task of locating his uncle with nothing more than his vampire intuition. Otis hadn’t thought that it would. Actually, he’d presumed quite the opposite-the same way Vikas had been surprised during their training sessions in Siberia last year when Vlad confessed he found it easier to push into people’s minds when he was hungry. It turned out Vlad was a freak in that regard as well. But maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing. After all, the hunger seemed to sharpen his vampire skills.

He tightened his stomach muscles and refrained from pushing into Otis’s mind. As his uncle had said, sensing a vampire’s location wasn’t about tapping into his thoughts. It was about reaching out with your blood, your very vampire cells, and feeling the presence of one of your kind, gauging the distance they stood from you.

With a deep breath, Vlad reached out and sensed his uncle’s presence northwest of where he stood on the front porch of his Aunt Nelly’s house, the house he’d called home for five years. The corners of his lips rose in a half smile as he spoke to Otis with his thoughts. “Oh come on! That’s too easy. Go farther away! You’re only a half mile out. Even Henry could detect you at this distance.”

“Your drudge couldn’t detect the Stop & Shop with the aid of a GPS.”

Vlad laughed aloud, brushing his black hair out of his eyes and dropping his gaze to his shoes, the smile still firmly fixed to his lips. “How am I doing, anyway?”

“Exceptionally well, Vladimir, but I’d wager you don’t need me to tell you that. In fact, better than any vampire I’ve ever encountered. Most can detect our kind up to roughly six hundred yards. But you… you’re clearly gifted in this regard-your father would be proud. Now, clear your mind and try again in five minutes.”

He sat on the steps and stared up at the star-speckled sky. A cool breeze brushed his cheek. As of tomorrow, summer would be at its end, and Nelly would no longer have an open mind about his late-night activities-even those with Otis. He had hoped this evening could last forever, but the first day of school was looming, and with it, something disturbing that he’d been pushing out of his mind all summer.

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