By Karen Lynch
Copyright @ 2015 Karen Lynch
This is a sample. The number of pages is limited.
Sara Grey is done hiding and done being afraid. The Master thinks he has her running scared, but she’s taking matters into her own hands and taking her life back. With the help of her friends, she sets out to find the one person who can answer her questions about her past, and who may be able to lead them to the Master.
On her journey, Sara faces new challenges and dangers, and learns that the world of good and evil is not as clear cut as she had believed. She makes new friends, unexpected allies, and reconnects with people from her past. As her powers continue to change and grow, she transforms from a struggling girl into a strong young warrior.
But at what cost? How much is Sara willing to sacrifice in her need for independence and her quest for the truth? And will her newfound strength be enough to save her and the people she loves when she finally comes face-to-face with her powerful nemesis? Nothing could have prepared her for what is to come, and it will take everything in her to survive the final test of courage and love.
“Oh my God! I can’t believe I let you talk me into this.”
“M-me?” I wobbled on stiff legs toward the dilapidated building that used to be the Butler Falls lumber mill. My wet clothes hung heavily on me, and the cold wind was an icy lash across my face. If my teeth chattered any harder they would surely break. “You’re the one wh-who insisted on coming along.”
Jordan huffed as she caught up to me in three long strides, her short blond hair flattened wetly against her head. She passed me and pushed open the wooden door, which groaned loudly on its rusty hinges. By the time I entered the building she had shed her wet coat and pulled a small flashlight from the plastic bag she carried. She set the flashlight down on an overturned wooden barrel and began stripping off her clothes.
Shivering violently, I pulled off my own wet clothes. My numb fingers fumbled with the button of my jeans for thirty seconds before it finally came undone. Down to my bra and panties, I ripped open the plastic bag I had tucked inside my coat and pulled out dry clothes and sneakers. My breath fogged the air around me as I struggled to pull the jeans up my damp legs, and I nearly fell over from the effort.
Jordan swung her flashlight in my direction, momentarily blinding me. “You said you could keep us warm in the river, but you forgot to mention that I’d freeze my ass off when we got here.”
I sighed when my thick sweater settled over my body. It wasn’t as warm as a coat, but it was a vast improvement over wet clothes. I slipped on my dry socks and sneakers before I straightened up to answer her. “I said I could get us down the river, and here we are. Okay, I forgot one tiny detail. You have to admit it was a brilliant plan.”
“Bloody genius.” I couldn’t see her face behind the flashlight, but I knew she was wearing her signature smirk. “If we don’t die from exposure, this will go down as the most awesome getaway ever! I still can’t believe what you did back there. Or that we just rode that crazy river all the way to town and we’re still alive to talk about it. They’ll be talking about this one for years.”
“You know me, wild and unpredictable.” I picked up my plastic bag, which still contained a folded blue T-shirt, and tucked it into the waistband of my jeans under my sweater. From an inside pocket of my wet coat I pulled my sheathed silver dagger, which I also tucked inside my jeans. I didn’t have to ask Jordan if she had weapons on her. She probably wore a knife to bed.
“I’m starting to believe you’re capable of anything.” She lowered the flashlight. “Do you think they know we’re gone?”
I wrung the water from my ponytail and started for the door. “Yes – or they will soon enough. And you know the first place they’ll look is town. We need to get a move on before he... they get here.”
Jordan followed me outside. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near Nikolas when he realizes you gave him the slip. He’s going to lose it. I’m telling you now, if he catches up with us, I’m using you for a shield. He’ll be too focused on you to start raging at me.”
“Wow, what a friend.” I blew on my hands and rubbed them together before tucking them under my arms. Why hadn’t I thought to bring a pair of gloves? And a cap? Peering through the darkness, I saw the faint outline of a road to my left, and I started jogging in that direction.
Jordan ran beside me. “I happen to have a strong survival instinct, which is why you asked me to come with you.”
A laugh burst from me. “I didn’t ask you. You blackmailed me, remember?”
“I merely pointed out that you might have cool powers but you can’t fight for shit, and you’ll need someone with my skills out here.”
“You also said you’d tell Nikolas what I was planning if I didn’t let you come.”
She coughed. “Um, I wouldn’t really have done that. I just didn’t want to stay there with you gone and Liv...”
“I know.” We fell silent, neither of us ready to talk about Olivia. I’d known Olivia for only a month, but her death had affected me deeply. I knew Jordan was grieving the loss of her friend even though she kept it inside.
The road was dark and the night was quiet except for the sound of our breath and our feet slapping the pavement. After five minutes, it felt like my hair was frozen to my scalp, but at least the exercise was warming the rest of my body. It was another five minutes before we hit the main road. Fear of being out in the open made us quicken our pace, and I was panting heavily by the time we reached the farmhouse belonging to the only person I knew in Butler Falls.
Jordan rang the doorbell and Derek Mason opened it to stare at us with wide eyes. “What happened to you two?” He ushered us inside and the wave of heat made my cold face tingle. “Where are your coats, and why is your hair wet?”
“Long story.” Jordan walked over to stand in front of the blazing fire in the living room. “I thought your friend Wes was going to be here.”
“He’ll be here at six. It’s only quarter ‘til.” Derek looked from Jordan to me like he wasn’t quite sure what to make of us. “You girls must be freezing. Do you want a blanket or something hot to drink? I can make some hot chocolate or tea.”
I gave him a grateful smile. “Hot chocolate would be awesome. And I wouldn’t mind a hair dryer if you have one.”
“Sure. There’s one in the bathroom at the end of the hall upstairs. I’ll put the kettle on.” Derek was a great host. I’d met him at a party here two weeks ago, and he had gone out of his way to make us feel at home. Of course, that was before his best friends showed up as newly-made vampires and tried to kill us. Thank God, Derek didn’t remember any of that. The Mohiri healers had used a drug to modify his memories, and he thought his bruises were from falling from the loft while giving Jordan and me a tour of the barn. I had no idea what story Tristan had come up with to account for Derek’s missing friends.
Within five minutes, Jordan and I were cradling mugs of steaming hot chocolate, and I was warm for the first time since I’d left the river. We sat in the living room where Jordan and Derek kept up a steady conversation, while I watched the clock and waited for Derek’s friend to arrive.
At five minutes after six, a knock came at the door, and I was so jittery I nearly spilled hot chocolate over me. A tall blond man in his early twenties let himself in. I recognized him from the party. Derek reintroduced us to Wes, and we wasted no time in getting down to business.
“You got the money I transferred this morning?” Jordan asked Wes.
“I did, thanks.” He reached inside his coat and pulled out some folded papers. “Here’s the title and registration. I filled the tank and checked the oil. She’s good to go.”
“Perfect.” I stood and carried my mug to the kitchen. “Thanks for taking care of this on such short notice, Wes. And thanks for the hot chocolate, Derek.”
Derek followed me. “You seem to be in a hurry. Is everything okay?”
I rinsed my cup and faced him. He looked genuinely concerned, and I tried to think of something to reassure him.
Jordan answered for me. “We’re supposed to meet some friends in Boise tonight.” The dazzling smile she turned on Derek made him forget whatever he was going to say, and he merely nodded instead. I hid my smile. Jordan was lethal in more ways than one.
Wes laughed. “Something tells me Boise better watch out.”
“You have no idea.” Jordan grinned and held up her hand. “Keys?”
He pulled a set from his pocket and handed them to her. “You do know how to drive a stick, right?”
She rolled her eyes. “Who doesn’t?”
I decided to keep silent on that subject.
Derek and Wes accompanied us outside where an older model white Ford Escort sat in the driveway. We thanked both men. Then I hurried to the car, hoping the heater worked well. Damn, it was cold outside tonight.
“Hold on a sec.” Derek ran inside and returned a minute later with two fleece jackets. “Here, take these before you freeze to death.”
I refused them because I doubted we’d be able to return them anytime soon, but he waved it off. “My mother keeps buying them for me, and I have more than I’ll ever use,” he argued.
“Thanks.” I pulled on one of the jackets and handed the other to Jordan. We slid into the front seats, waved to Derek and Wes, and pulled away.
“And we’re off!” Jordan let out a whoop and gave me a wide smile. “Next stop, Boise.”
“Let’s get out of town first and then we can celebrate.” I glanced around, expecting to feel a telltale brush against my mind at any second. Butler Falls was only five miles from Westhorne, and it wouldn’t take Nikolas long to get mobile and come after us. This was my only shot at leaving. If they caught me now, there would be no second chance. Nikolas would make sure of that.
Jordan and I were tense as we sped through town as fast as we could go without drawing attention to us. At one point, a dark SUV appeared behind us, and my heart leaped into my throat until the vehicle turned into a grocery store parking lot. By the time we reached the highway exit, my stomach was tied in painful knots and Jordan’s knuckles were white from clenching the steering wheel. We both released audible sighs when we merged onto the highway and picked up speed.
After we put a few miles behind us, Jordan began fiddling with the radio, and I turned up the heater to warm my cold feet. I missed my boots, but they had been too bulky to fit inside my coat with my change of clothes. Someone definitely would have noticed and our getaway would have been over before it had even started.
I still couldn’t believe we had pulled it off. Westhorne was going to be in an uproar when they realized Jordan and I were gone. I’d left letters explaining why I was leaving, though I didn’t expect them to placate the people who read them.
Nate had been through so much lately, and he was going to be very upset when he heard what I’d done. But I was doing this for him and everyone else I cared about. None of us was safe as long as the Master was alive. Our only connection to him was Madeline, and I was sure I could find her with David’s help. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe that.
Nate wasn’t the only one who would be upset. An ache settled in my chest when I thought about Nikolas. Already, I missed him and I wondered how long it would be before I saw him again. In the back of my mind, a sad voice whispered, Solmi. My Mori couldn’t understand why we were leaving Nikolas and his Mori behind. For once, I had no words of comfort for it.
I pictured Nikolas’s reaction when he discovered I was gone. I hadn’t talked to him since we had argued about his plans to take me away and hide me from the Master. He’d come to my room twice, but I wouldn’t open the door even though it had been so hard to feel him nearby and not go to him. Nikolas was astute, and he would have known I was planning something as soon as he’d seen my face.
He’d left me alone after that, but he’d made it clear that he knew me a little better than I’d accused him of. When I’d left my room to go to the menagerie, Niall and Seamus had materialized beside me and accompanied me there. They hadn’t left my side when I’d taken Hugo and Woolf out, though I could tell they were nervous around the hellhounds. On my way back to the main building we were met by Chris who took over babysitting duty. Nikolas might have been giving me space, but he hadn’t been taking any chances either.
Did he know I was gone? Had he already found the letter I’d left in his apartment? He was going to be furious. He wouldn’t agree with my reasons, but I’d had to try to explain them anyway, and to make sure he knew my leaving had nothing to do with our bond. If I’d believed I could have convinced him to work with me on this, I would have chosen that option in a heartbeat. But I’d seen his face when he said he was going to take me away, and there would be no compromising with him. Not on this.
“What is it?” My head whipped around, expecting to see a pair of headlights closing in on us.
“I forgot my damn sword.”
I stared at Jordan, willing my heart to settle back into a normal rhythm. “Your sword?”
“Yeah.” She let out a mournful sigh. “I’ll never find one as good as mine.”
“Jordan, we barely snuck away as it is. If anyone had seen you carrying a sword, they would have known something was up.”
“I know, but I still hate leaving it behind.”
“We’ll find you a new one.” I looked around. “How close are we?”
“About twenty minutes. I may have broken the speed limit a little.”
Soon the lights of Boise appeared in the distance, and before I knew it, Jordan was maneuvering the car through the busy city streets. She handled the car well for someone who had spent most of her life at a Mohiri stronghold. When I mentioned it, she smiled and said it was easy to get the boys in Butler Falls to let you drive their cars.
After half a dozen wrong turns and a stop at a 7-Eleven for gas and directions, we finally reached our destination. Jordan pulled up in front of St. John’s Cathedral, and I waved wildly at the two figures standing by the large door at the top of the steps. They jogged over to the car, and Jordan popped the trunk so they could stow away their large backpacks.
Roland climbed in behind me and rubbed his hands against his thighs. “What took you so long? We nearly froze our asses off.”
I turned in my seat to face them. “Why didn’t you go inside to get warm?”
Peter made a face. “We did, but sitting through one long mass is enough. We’ve been here for hours.”
“You poor things.” Jordan scoffed. “At least you didn’t have to climb out of a river, and then hike miles in this cold.”
Roland leaned forward. “What are you talking about?”
Jordan groaned. “Before we wow and amaze you guys, can someone tell me where we are going?”
“Salt Lake City,” I said.
The three of them stared at me.
“David has a friend there who is holding a laptop and some cell phones for me. We can stop over there on our way to Albuquerque.”
Jordan spoke first. “That has to be six hours away.”
“Almost five. I looked it up.”
“Sara, don’t you think it would be better to stay in Boise tonight and leave in the morning?” Roland asked.
“Boise is going to be crawling with Mohiri in an hour... if it isn’t already. I don’t know about you guys, but I’d rather not be here when that happens.”
“She’s right.” Jordan said. “They probably have a team here already, and the rest will come when they find out we’re gone.”
Roland rested his chin on the back of my seat. “He’s gonna lose it, isn’t he?”
I didn’t have to ask who “he” was. “Probably.”
His hand touched my shoulder. “It’s not too late to turn back.”
“No. I have to do this, but I understand if any of you have changed your mind.”
“We go where you go,” Roland stated with finality, and Jordan and Peter agreed.
“Salt Lake City, here we come.” Jordan put the car in drive and pulled away from the church.
Roland settled back in his seat. “So how did you girls manage to sneak away?”
Jordan and I exchanged smiles. Then she glanced over her shoulder at Roland. “It wasn’t easy. After you guys left, Sara acquired two personal bodyguards who wouldn’t let her out of their sight. Not hard to guess who gave them that job.”
“I’m surprised Nikolas was willing to let someone else watch you,” Roland said.
I looked down at my hands. “We weren’t exactly talking before I left.”
“Since when has that ever stopped him?”
Peter snorted. “You girls are here, so your bodyguards couldn’t have been that good.”
“You don’t know Seamus and Niall,” I said.
“Once we realized they were going to follow Sara everywhere, we had to get a little creative. Actually, it was all Sara’s idea.” Jordan chuckled. “She set a little trap for them, and they fell right into it.”
I took up the story. “Sahir takes care of the menagerie, but he was hurt during the attack and he has to stay in the medical ward for a few days. I went to the menagerie during dinner to feed Hugo, Woolf, and Minuet, and Jordan came along to help.”
“Of course. I’m such a good friend.”
I rolled my eyes at her. “Seamus and Niall waited by the door while I fed everyone, and Jordan went into Sahir’s office where she could see us on the security monitors. I gave her a signal and she turned out the lights.”
“But can’t warriors see pretty well in the dark?” Roland asked.
“Yep. And the twins went right for Sara, which is what we wanted them to do.” Jordan snickered. “Then she zapped their Irish asses.”
Roland guffawed. “You didn’t.”
“It wasn’t much. I just needed to freeze them long enough for us to take their radios and lock them in Alex’s cage. They were already swearing up a storm by the time Jordan and I left the building. I figured no one would go to the menagerie looking for us for at least an hour. It’s not like Seamus and Niall will have to spend the night there.”
“Now comes the best part,” Jordan said. “Bet you’re thinking we snuck away through the woods, right? Not us. We jumped in the river.”
“Sure you did.” Peter scoffed. “Seriously, how did you get away?”
“We rode the river. I used my power to keep us warm and to get the water to take us where we wanted to go.” I’d gotten the idea from the night of the attack when Jordan and I had ridden the river to the stronghold to escape vampires.
Peter’s mouth fell open and Roland yelled, “Are you insane? You could have died!”
“I’m really good at controlling water. We were perfectly safe. Besides, Feeorin and Fiannar were with us the whole time.”
“What?” Jordan jerked the steering wheel and the car swerved a little before she corrected it. “What do you mean they were with us?”
“I think they like to watch over me. I saw them a few times along the way. I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want you to freak out. Kelpies don’t have the best reputation.”
“With good reason! You couldn’t tell me after we left the river?”
“I was kind of preoccupied, trying not to freeze to death, and to get out of town. I guess it didn’t seem important compared to everything else.” I told Roland and Peter about meeting Derek and Wes and buying the car. “And here we are.”
“And here we are.” Roland looked excited and nervous at the same time.
“You have our stuff, right?” I asked, and he nodded. I’d known there was no way to sneak out with backpacks, so Jordan and I had given the boys our things to stuff inside their larger packs. Once we got to Salt Lake City, she and I could buy backpacks for ourselves.
“Jordan, you might want to step on it,” Roland said. “I have no desire to run into a Mohiri warrior after hearing about the stunt you two pulled. Something tells me they aren’t going to take it well.”
“Way ahead of you, Wolf Boy.”
I glanced at the speedometer and saw we were doing ninety. “Just don’t get pulled over.” She didn’t have a driver’s license or insurance. All we needed was some state trooper poking around and asking questions.
Once we hit the interstate, talk turned to Albuquerque and the chances of finding Madeline. Or more importantly, what I was going to do when I found her. Now that I was getting closer to confronting her, I didn’t know what I was going to say. It wasn’t going to be a sweet mother-daughter reunion. Madeline was a stranger to me, one with information I needed to keep the people I loved safe.
The conversation quieted after an hour or so, and I retreated into my thoughts. Now that we were safely away, guilt settled in. I hated to think of what Tristan and Nate would go through when they discovered what I’d done. Tristan was almost as protective as Nikolas. I promised myself I would call them as often as I could, though I knew that wasn’t going to alleviate their fears. I thought about calling Nikolas and swallowed hard. Already his absence was a hollow pain in my chest.
“Sara, wake up!”
“Huh?” I opened my eyes and sat up straight. “Sorry, didn’t mean to fall asleep.”
Roland leaned away from me. “You can sleep all you want as long as you don’t start glowing again.”
“You were lit up like a giant glow stick,” Jordan said, not taking her eyes off the road. “It’s kind of hard to remain inconspicuous when they can see you from the space station. Does that happen a lot?”
“I don’t know. I mean, I don’t think so.” I held up my hands, but they looked normal. “A month ago I was having little episodes where my power acted up. I thought I was done with them once I learned to control my power. It must be starting again.”
Roland whistled. “If that was a little episode, I don’t want to see a big one.”
“I didn’t glow before, so this must be something new.” My teeth worried my lower lip. I was pretty sure glowing wasn’t normal even for an undine. Aine had said my power would grow, but not when it would stop, and I had no idea what to expect next.
Roland’s hand squeezed my shoulder. “We’ll figure it out. Don’t worry.”
It was well after midnight when we reached Salt Lake City. I wasn’t the only one who let out a big sigh. It had been a long day for all of us, and a five-hour car ride would tire anyone.
“I don’t know about you guys, but I’m beat.” Roland yawned loudly. “What do you say we find a motel and catch some Zs?”
Peter stretched. “Sounds good to me.”
“I have to go to David’s friend’s place first to get the stuff he’s holding for me,” I said, rubbing the back of my neck.
Jordan shot me a glance. “Now? It’s awfully late to be making a house call.”
“David said his friend, Kelvan, sleeps during the day. If we don’t go now, we won’t be able to see him until tomorrow night, and I don’t want to spend two nights here.”
“Fine, but I have to find a gas station first. My bladder is about to burst.”
“Same here,” Peter added.
I pulled a folded piece of paper from the back pocket of my jeans and studied the address I’d written on it. We were going to need a map, too. None of us knew our way around this city.
It didn’t take long to locate a gas station. The four of us went in search of the restrooms, and then I found a little souvenir rack up front that had a map of the city. I bought it along with bottles of water and some premade sandwiches from the cooler. Not exactly an ideal meal, but it would tide us over until breakfast. By the time I walked outside, Jordan had finished refueling the car. We devoured the sandwiches, and I realized it wasn’t going to be cheap to feed four large appetites. I decided to worry about that later and focus on finding David’s friend right now.
Peter chuckled when I spread out the map. “Why are you wasting time with that when we can look it up on our phones?”
“We don’t have any phones yet,” I said, tracing a route with my finger. “You two ditched yours, right?”
My head snapped up and I spun in my seat to stare at him. “Please tell me you tossed your phones at the airport.”
Peter flushed. “We thought we should have phones on us in case we needed them.”
I groaned and rubbed my temple where a headache had started to form. “Peter, the Mohiri are very good at tracking people. How long do you think it’s going to take them to figure out we’re all together? We have to get rid of them now.”
“Are they really that good?” Roland asked.
“This is Nikolas we’re talking about,” Jordan told him. “What do you think?”
Roland pulled out his phone and held it up. “What do we do with them? Throw them in the trash?”
“No, they’d still track us.” Jordan lowered the map and looked around. A smile spread across her face. “Hand them over. I have an idea.”
Roland and Peter passed their phones to her, and she got out of the car. We watched her walk toward the gas pumps where an RV was parked. She disappeared behind it and returned a minute later without the phones. She wore a smug expression when she climbed into the car. Before I could ask what she’d done with the phones, she pointed at the RV pulling away from the pump.
A few seconds later I saw what she was grinning about. The rear of the RV was covered in stickers that said things like “Snow Birds” and “Beach Bound,” and the license plate was from Alberta. “Brilliant!”
“I hope Nikolas likes Florida.” Her smile grew. “See, I told you you’d need me on this trip.”
It took us a few minutes to locate Kelvan’s address on the map and for Jordan to figure out the best route to get there. Twenty minutes later, we pulled up outside a dingy four-story apartment building. Jordan cut off the engine, and I looked down the empty street that was dark in places because of missing streetlights. Garbage littered the street that was badly in need of repair, and graffiti covered some of the buildings.
“Not exactly welcoming, is it?” Roland muttered, and I silently agreed with him. “Are you sure this place is safe, Sara?”
“If David says we can trust his friend, I believe him.”
“What if it’s not his friend we have to worry about? For all we know there could be a dozen suckers hiding in that building.”
I tapped my chest. “Trust me, if there was a vampire close by, I’d know it.”
The four of us climbed out of the car, and Roland led the way into the poorly lit lobby on the main floor. A cluster of mailboxes lined one side of the hallway and two elevators took up the other side. I hit the elevator button and could hear the groan and creak of gears as the car slowly descended. From the sounds it was making, I wasn’t sure we shouldn’t take the stairs instead.
We got off on the fourth floor, which looked even more rundown than the lobby with stained carpet and peeling wallpaper that had probably been put up in the seventies. I led the way to apartment 410 and knocked briskly on the door.
I heard someone moving around inside the apartment and then the sounds of locks being undone on the door. One, two, three... four locks? This guy was seriously paranoid. The door cracked open and a male voice spoke. “Who are you?”
“I’m David’s friend, Sara. Are you Kelvan?”
The door opened another inch, but instead of admitting us, the man held up a cell phone and snapped a picture of me. Then the door shut in my face.
“Hey!” I yelled, knocking again. What the heck was that about?
After a minute of knocking, the door opened again and the man said, “Come in.”
I walked into the apartment, followed closely by the others, and the door shut behind us with a loud click. Immediately, my power flared up and static crackled through my hair. I whirled around and got my first look at our host, one word racing through my mind. Demon!
The demon stared at me with wide eyes as I took in his appearance: my height with a rounded face and curly brown hair. If it weren’t for his black eyes and the two small horns peeking through his curls, I might have mistaken him for human. That and the fact that my power was going a little berserk. What the hell was David thinking? Why hadn’t he told me he was sending me to see a demon?
Kelvan put up a hand and fear flashed across his face. He stepped back until he was pressed against the door. “You’re Mohiri... and Lycans! David, why did you send hunters into my home?” he asked shrilly, and I glimpsed tiny fangs where his canines should be.
A faint voice issued from the cell phone in his hand, and he hit the speaker button.
“Kelvan, this is my friend Sara I told you about,” said David’s familiar voice. “Sara, meet my good friend Kelvan. You’ve probably figured out that Kelvan is a vrell demon.”
I looked at Jordan, who had studied demonology a lot longer than I had. She gave a slight nod, which I assumed meant vrell demons were not dangerous.
“Hi.” I smiled at Kelvan but didn’t extend my hand. I didn’t think he would appreciate my power’s reaction to him.
“Hello,” he replied stiffly, without returning the smile.
David spoke again. “Kelvan is one of the best hackers in the business. He’s actually the one who tracked Madeline to Albuquerque.”
“Thank you,” I said.
Kelvan shifted from one foot to the other. It struck me then that he was not being unpleasant on purpose. He was genuinely afraid of us, afraid of everything if all the locks on the door were any indication.
Someone moved behind me and Kelvan’s eyes widened even further. “David vouches for you, but what about the other hunter and the wolves?”
I glanced over my shoulder at Roland who looked ready to pounce if Kelvan made one false move. Turning back to Kelvan, I said, “Are you going to try to eat us or anything equally unpleasant?”
The look of horror on his face was almost comical. “Of course not!”
“Then we’re good.” I faced my friends. “Chill out, guys.”
Roland’s jaw dropped. “But he’s a demon, Sara.”
I arched an eyebrow, and he reddened. “I didn’t mean it that way. You’re different.”
“David trusts him and so do I. Not all demons are evil, you know.”
They all stared at me like I’d sprouted my own pair of horns, and I could feel Kelvan’s eyes boring into the back of my head.
Jordan looked at Kelvan. “You see what I have to live with? Watch out or she’ll be trying to feed you blueberry muffins next.” She went to the coffee table, grabbed a National Geographic magazine, and settled down in the stuffed armchair as if she hung out in demon lairs every day.
Roland relaxed his stance, and he and Peter took the couch. He picked up the TV remote. “Hey, do you mind if we watch TV while we wait?”
“Um, sure, go ahead,” Kelvan replied weakly as if he didn’t know what to make of the strangers invading his living room.
“If you guys don’t need me anymore, I have something to take care of,” David said. He told me to contact him when I got to Albuquerque then said goodbye and hung up, leaving me standing with a nervous demon. I tried not to stare at Kelvan, but it’s not every day you meet a demon. Sure I’d seen a few, but none that were humanoid.
“David said you have a laptop and some phones for me,” I said to break the awkward silence.
Kelvan nodded and went to the far corner of the living room that served as his office. The large desk was almost impossible to see beneath the computers and multiple monitors that were mounted on stands to make room for them all. Soda bottles and Chinese takeout containers also littered the top, and he muttered an apology as he hurried to clean it up.
I took the opportunity to study the apartment. It was cluttered, but much cleaner than I’d expected based on what I’d seen of the building. Books, magazines, and newspapers lay around the living room, and the kitchen table was covered in what appeared to be model airplane pieces. There was a stereo with an actual turntable and a large stack of albums beside it. The top one was a Fleetwood Mac album, and my fingers itched to find out what others lay beneath it.
All in all, it looked like a pretty normal place, not what I’d expected a demon’s home to look like. But then, I’d never really imagined demons living among humans this way. I’d pictured them living in sewers and abandoned buildings, not in a little apartment with throw pillows and a ficus tree.
I did take note of the thick bars on the windows, and I couldn’t help but wonder who or what Kelvan was hiding from. Granted, it wasn’t the nicest part of town, but his defenses seemed a bit extreme. Maybe he was afraid someone was going to steal all his computer equipment.
“I hope you like Macs. They’re all I use, and David didn’t give me much notice.”
I turned to find Kelvan holding out a thin, silver laptop. “Wow, it’s so light,” I marveled when I took it from him. And small. This would easily fit in a backpack. “Nice!”
“It gets great battery life, and you can go a few days without charging if you don’t use it much. I got you a padded case to protect it.”
“This is great, Kelvan. Thanks.”
Kelvan smiled for the first time, and his fangs flashed again. It was a little strange to be talking computers with a guy who had fangs, but I did my best to act like it was no big deal.
He held up a small rectangular gadget. “This is a mobile hotspot and it’ll let you connect to the internet from almost anywhere. The account is not in your name, and there’s no way to trace it back to you or us. I also installed some of my own apps on the Mac that will allow you to browse the internet and make secure calls that can’t be traced to your IP. Come over to my desk and I’ll show you how to use them.”
Twenty minutes later, I closed the laptop after a crash course in how to use a Mac and Kelvan’s special software. In addition to the laptop, he gave me a bag containing four prepaid cell phones and an envelope containing five hundred dollars in cash. I tried to refuse the money, but he said it was from David, not him. When I asked him if David could afford it, Kelvin chuckled and said their clients paid generously for their services. His statement made me wonder exactly what they did for their clients and why he chose to stay in this rundown building when he could afford to live in a better neighborhood. He seemed like a nice guy, a bit shy around strangers. But then it wasn’t as if a guy with horns could go out and socialize a lot. From the look of his apartment, he didn’t have many visitors either.
I was getting to my feet when a scrawny white cat entered the living room and headed straight for Kelvan. It was easy to tell from the cat’s matted fur and staggering walk that it was unwell, and I automatically bent to pick it up. The poor creature weighed next to nothing, and it could barely manage a weak hiss in my direction.
Kelvan immediately reached for the cat. “Please, don’t hurt her.”
I was so shocked anyone would think I could harm an animal that I answered more sharply than I meant to. “Don’t be ridiculous.” I cradled the cat in my arms, my power already searching for the source of her illness. It didn’t take long to discover the tumors riddling her frail body. The poor creature would be lucky if she lived another two weeks. “She’s full of cancer. Didn’t you take her to a vet?”
His eyes widened until they looked like large black buttons. “How do you...? I took her to one of our doctors, and he said there was nothing he could do for her.” He held out his hands and I saw they were trembling. “Please, Lulu is all I have.”
I gave him a reassuring smile and sat on the couch between Roland and Peter with the cat on my lap. I had healed very sick animals before, but never one so full of cancer. I didn’t want to make any promises to Kelvan until I knew I could help Lulu. I laid both hands on her stomach and cringed as my power explored the extent of her tumors. They were so big that some of them had fused together. She should have been put to sleep weeks ago. The agony on Kelvan’s face told me he knew that, but couldn’t bring himself to part with her.
Kelvan came to stand before me, clenching his hands together. “What are you going to do to her?”
Roland stood beside him to watch me. “Dude, I think this is Lulu’s lucky day.”
“What do you mean?”
Hoping Roland was right, I stroked Lulu’s head, letting my power soothe her. Soon her head drooped limply against my thigh, and my power went to work. I went after the smallest tumors first, gently consuming them with healing fire that repaired the organs they had damaged. The largest growth was attached to her lungs, and it took me a good five minutes to destroy that one. Then I had to fix her weakened heart and remove the remaining impurities from her blood. I smiled in satisfaction as the glow faded from my hands. That should do it.
“You killed her!”
I looked up at Kelvan’s grief-stricken face and shook my head. “No, she’s just sleeping. See? She’ll be perfectly fine when she wakes up. The really sick ones always do this after they’re healed.”
“Healed?” His eyes darted from me to his cat. “How... how is that possible?”
“It’s something I do, and I’d really appreciate it if you’d keep it to yourself.” It had been careless of me to show my power to a stranger, especially a demon, but all logic had gone out the window when I’d picked up the sick cat. Standing, I placed the sleeping cat in his outstretched hands. One of my fingers grazed his hand, and he jumped as if he’d received a shock. “Sorry.” My power was a bit amped because of the healing and the presence of a demon. I forced it back down. The lessons with Nikolas and Chris had really paid off.
Kelvan’s next action shocked us. He sat on the coffee table, cradling Lulu to his chest while fat tears rolled down his cheeks. “I’m sorry,” he said hoarsely when he could talk again. “Lulu was my brother’s cat, and she’s all I have left of him.”
“Your brother?” I prodded gently.
“Mallar, my older brother. He brought Lulu home five years ago when she was just a kitten.”
Jordan came to stand beside me. “Where is he?”
Kelvan sniffled and wiped his face with his hand. “He was killed two years ago. He and his friend, Jaesop, went out one night and ran into some vampires.”
“Vampires?” Peter asked. “Why would they kill another demon?”
Kelvan shrugged sadly. “Why do humans kill other humans? They are evil. Vampires think themselves superior to all other races, and they kill anyone who crosses them. There are few demons who would not rejoice if every vampire was wiped from the face of the earth.”
“Is that why you’re helping us?” I asked him. “Because of your brother?”
“David and I have been friends for years, so I would have helped him anyway. When he told me Madeline could lead the Mohiri to the Master, I made tracking her my first priority.” He stroked his sleeping cat’s head. “Hunters don’t help my kind, and we don’t help them. But if you need anything, you let David know and he’ll contact me. I can never repay you for helping Lulu.”
“You don’t owe me for that. I would have done it anyway.”
He gave me a watery smile. “You are not like other hunters, are you?”
Jordan snorted. “You have no idea.”
“How did you know what we are anyway?” I asked him.
He shrugged. “Most demons can sense another demon when we get close enough. My people have a very good sense of smell, which is why I knew those two were werewolves.”
Jordan covered a yawn with her hand and looked at me. “As fun as all of this is, I’m ready to crash for a few hours.”
“Me too.” I gathered up the laptop, cell phones, and cash and looked around for my backpack before I remembered I still had to buy one. I spotted a paper bag on the kitchen counter and stuffed everything into it. If we ran into anyone on the way to the car, I doubted they’d take much notice of a Chinese takeout bag.
“Thanks for everything,” I said to Kelvan before I followed the others into the hallway. He held out his hand, and I shook my head. My control was a lot better now, but I didn’t want to risk hurting him. “Better not.”
“Oh, right.” He withdrew his hand and ran it through his curls. “Listen, I know you’re more than a hunter. It doesn’t take a genius to see that. David said the Master is looking for you, and I’m sure it has something to do with whatever you did to Lulu. Be careful out there. Word is that this is the most dangerous vampire anyone’s heard of in a long time. They say he’s insane, and he really has it out for the Mohiri. All vampires do, but he’s the worst.”
“If you know that, you must know more about him.”
“No one really knows anything about him, except what comes from other vampires, and they’re not saying anything. There have been some demon disappearances that have been blamed on him, too. No one knows what he’s doing with them, but everyone’s afraid. Just watch your step.”
“I will. Thanks.”
The four of us were quiet as we walked back to the car. Jordan started the engine and looked over at me. “I’m going to stop at the first decent motel I see.”
“Someplace cheap,” I reminded her. “We have to make this money stretch until we can get more.” David’s five hundred dollars would help a lot, but between gas, food, and hotels, it wouldn’t take us long to run through it. I had some diamonds that would fetch a good price if I could find a buyer. I put that on my mental list of things to do – after I got some sleep.
“As long as it’s not a total roach motel.” She reached into the back pocket of her jeans and pulled out a thin wad of bills, which she handed to me. “Here’s four hundred. It’s all I could get.”
Roland leaned forward. “I have five hundred. I found a bank machine at the airport.”
“I can’t take that. It’s your car money.”
He laughed and sank back against his seat. “I don’t think a car is very high on my list of priorities right now.”
“I have two fifty,” Peter chimed in.
I opened my mouth but Roland spoke first. “We’re in this together.”
Jordan pulled away from the building. “See, we’re better off than we thought we were.”
Ten minutes later, we parked outside a Motel 6. Jordan and I went inside to get two rooms, and the boys stayed with the car. I leaned wearily against the front desk as I waited for the clerk to finish whatever she was doing and check us in. It had been a long, stressful day, and all I could think about was how good it would feel to lie down and close my eyes.
The featherlike touch against my mind was so faint I thought I imagined it at first. It came again, and I jolted away from the counter. Nikolas was here. Not at the hotel but definitely close-by. And if I could sense him...
I grabbed Jordan’s hand and pulled her toward the door. “We have to get out of here.”
“Nikolas is here.”
She scanned the parking lot as she ran after me to the car. “I don’t see him.”
“You know that bond thing? He’s here, trust me.”
Roland and Peter were in the front seats so Jordan and I dove into the back. “Get us out of here, Roland,” I cried, sinking low in the seat.
He turned in his seat to look at me. “What’s wrong?”
“Nikolas,” I gasped as the sensation grew stronger. Roland continued to stare at me, and I yelled, “Drive, damn it! Nikolas is here.”
“Fuck.” He started the car and eased out of the parking spot.
“Hurry,” Jordan barked. “I’d rather face a couple of hungry vampires than Nikolas right now.”
“If I drive too fast it’ll draw attention.” He pulled out onto the road and slowly picked up speed. “And I’ve seen what Nikolas is like when he’s pissed.”
“You’ve never seen him like this,” Jordan muttered.
I didn’t speak because I was too busy trying to sense Nikolas’s presence. It disappeared and reappeared several times, and each time my breath caught in my throat. His nearness awakened a storm of emotions inside me, and my Mori moved restlessly. It hadn’t even been a day, but I missed him so much. I hated the way things had been between us before I left, and part of me wanted to tell Roland to stop the car and let Nikolas find us. Shaking it off, I reminded myself why I was out here and what was at stake if I didn’t do what I’d set out to do. There would be no future for any us until the threat of the Master no longer hung over our heads.
“We’re clear,” I said at last.
Roland merged onto the highway. “How do you know?”
I swallowed past the small lump in my throat. “I just do. I’ll explain it later.”
“How the hell did they find us so fast?” Peter asked.
Jordan harrumphed. “My guess is they tracked the cell phones you were supposed to ditch in Boise. There’s no way they could have guessed we’d come to Salt Lake City.”
“But how’d they know we were at that motel?” Peter wondered out loud.
“I don’t think they did. They were probably driving around checking out motels.” And seeing if he could sense me nearby. It had almost worked. Another twenty minutes and I would have been asleep in my hotel room, unaware he was anywhere close by until he showed up at the door. Something told me he wouldn’t have knocked either.
It was just past four in the morning when Roland pulled into a roadside motel and declared that we weren’t driving any farther tonight. I had no idea where we were, and I didn’t care as long as there was a bed. I paid for a room with two beds at the front desk, and the four of us said good night. I didn’t even bother to undress. I fell on top of the covers and was out within minutes.
* * *
I leaned against the car, sipping the hot coffee Roland had brought back for me along with breakfast. The morning air was cold, but I was enjoying my first real view of Utah too much to sit inside the hotel room with the others. We were in a town called Green River, which the motel clerk told me was popular with outdoor enthusiasts. Watching the sun slowly turn the peaks of the distant rock formations to gold, I understood why.
I stared at the laptop sitting on the hood of the car, which was my other reason for being out here alone. I dreaded making the call, dreaded the worry and anger I would hear in Nate’s and Tristan’s voices, but I had to call and let them know we were okay. I wasn’t sure if Tristan would even be there or if he was out looking for me, but Nate would be there for sure. Kelvan had warned me not to use the cell phones to call home because they could be traced, but he’d assured me the software on the laptop would prevent the Mohiri from tracing my location.
I hope you’re right, Kelvan. I opened the app and typed in the number to Tristan’s office phone. There was a short delay before it began to ring. I held my breath until I heard someone pick up on the other end.
“Sara! Is Jordan with you? Are you girls okay?” The relief in his voice brought tears of guilt to my eyes.
“Yes, she’s –”
“Where is she? Is she alright?” Someone demanded in the background, and I knew it was Nate before Tristan put me on speaker. “Sara, what the hell were you thinking running off like that? Where are you?”
I took a deep breath. “I can’t tell you that. I’m sorry I worried you, but I had to do this.”
“Worried? I’ve been half out of my mind that one of those monsters will find you.” I had never heard Nate so upset. “I know you’re angry about the decision to take you away, but this is not the way to handle it.”
“His decision, not mine.” I squeezed my eyes shut. “I know you all want to protect me, but I can’t live that way, to be constantly guarded and never allowed to have any control over my own life. You know me, Nate. That would kill me.”
His tone softened. “Then we’ll figure something out. Just come home.”
The plea in his voice made my stomach knot, and I tried to think of something to say that wouldn’t cause him more pain.
“Tell us where you are and someone will be there in hours,” Tristan said, mistaking my silence for concession.
I stared at the ruggedly beautiful terrain and steeled myself to say what I had to say. “I can’t do that. This is about more than controlling my life. I’m tired of hiding and watching people I love get hurt. I don’t want us to spend our lives looking over our shoulders.”
“What are you saying?” Tristan asked slowly.
“I’m saying that as long as the Master is alive, none of us are free.”
Tristan sucked in a sharp breath. “Sara, you can’t mean to go after him alone? That would be suicide.”
“I know that. I’m just going to find the person who knows his identity.”
“Once I find out what she knows, I’ll tell you and you can take care of the rest.”
“What makes you think you can find your mother when Tristan’s people can’t?” Nate asked. “She could be anywhere in the world.”
I heard clicking in the background and knew Tristan was on his computer, most likely asking his security guys to trace the call. I sent up a silent prayer that Kelvan’s software blocked them from tracking me.
“I have my sources too, and according to them, Madeline is a few hundred miles from where I’m standing. If they’re right, I’ll be paying her a visit tonight.”
The clicking stopped. “Sara, if you know where Madeline is, tell me and I will bring her in.”
“She’ll see you coming, but she won’t expect me.” I let out a short laugh. “Who knows, maybe she’ll be curious enough to meet her daughter that she won’t try to run.”
A door opened behind me, and I turned to see Roland leave our room and start toward me. It was time to get on the road again.
“Listen, I have to go.” Nate and Tristan began to protest, but I cut them off. “I only called to let you know we’re okay. I’ll call again in a day or so.”
“You haven’t asked to speak to Nikolas,” Tristan said. I suspected he was trying to keep me on the line as long as he could, which meant he was having trouble tracing the call.
“That’s because I know he isn’t there.”
“You should call him.”
“I’m in no mood to be yelled at right now.” I bit my lip. I did want to hear Nikolas’s voice, even if he was yelling at me. I just didn’t trust myself to speak to him yet.
I changed the topic. “By the way, how are Seamus and Niall?”
“Furious they were tricked so easily. It may take them a while to live it down.” Tristan released a slow breath. “You can’t go around using your power on the warriors, Sara.”
“Nikolas taught me anything is fair in a fight. They use their strength and speed against me. My power is my strength, so why shouldn’t I use it to level the field?”
“I don’t think that is how he intended for you to use it.” Tristan was stalling now, trying to keep me talking. Kelvan’s software was obviously working as he’d promised, but I didn’t want to take any chances.
“Tell Seamus and Niall I’m sorry.” My hand hovered over the keyboard. “I have to hang up now. I love you both and I’ll talk to you again soon.”
“Sara, wait –” Tristan said, but I ended the call before he could finish. I swallowed hard and closed the laptop with a shaky hand.
Roland leaned against the car. “Rough call?”
“It was a lot harder than I thought it would be.” I picked up my cup and drained the last of my coffee. “Do you want to use the laptop to call your mom? She must be worried.”
“I called her from the Boise airport and told her we were staying a few more days with you. She wasn’t happy, but she said she’d let the school know.” He made a face. “She’s going to flip when I tell her it’s going to be more than a few days.”
“Who knows? It might be only a couple of days if we find Madeline,” I said hopefully. “And if not, you can always go back.”
“Stop trying to get me to go home. We’re in this together, and that’s it.”
I smiled and gave him a quick hug. “I’m really glad you’re here.”
Jordan walked up to us, jiggling the car keys. “We ready to get this show on the road?”
“Yes.” A thrill went through me. Today we would reach Albuquerque, and I might finally get some of the answers I was looking for.
Peter joined us, carrying his and Roland’s packs. “What if we find Madeline and she won’t talk?” he asked, dampening my excitement.
“She’ll talk.” Madeline owed me that much, and she was going to help me whether she wanted to or not.
We were leaving town when I spotted a sign for a thrift store. It didn’t take us long to find two small backpacks, coats, and a few needed toiletries. I moved my stuff from Roland’s pack to my own, smiling when the laptop fit easily inside. Tucked in with my clothes was a silver necklace, and I fastened it around my neck, letting the plain silver cross settle on my chest. It had been my grandmother’s and a gift from Nate on my sixteenth birthday. Wearing it made me feel like he and my dad were with me in a small way.
Eight hours and two pit stops later, we reached the Albuquerque city limits. I wasn’t the only one who released a happy sigh. Jordan and Roland had switched places at the last stop, and he glanced over at me as we drove into the city. “Where to?”
“Let’s get something to eat before we do anything else.”
“Really? I mean, I thought you’d want to go after Madeline as soon as we got here.”
“I need to check in with David first, and we’re all hungry.” We’d only been on the run for a day, but they all looked worn out and in need of a break. Spending so many hours in a car is tough for anyone, and it didn’t help that we were all a bit on edge. “Just make sure it’s someplace we can afford.”
I wasn’t the least bit surprised when Roland found a little mom-and-pop burger joint. When it came to burgers, he and Peter had built-in radar. We filled a booth and the waitress took our orders. While we waited for our food, I stepped outside to call David, using one of the prepaid phones.
“You made good time,” he said when I told him where we were. “I didn’t expect you to get there until tomorrow.”
“We were motivated to move quickly.” There were things David didn’t know about me, so I was vague on the details of our near run-in with Nikolas.
“This is good actually. We’ve been keeping a close eye on Madeline’s movements, and she’s still in Albuquerque, but for how long I don’t know. Since we’ve been tracking her, she hasn’t stayed in a place longer than a week.”
My pulse quickened. “So she’s here now, for sure?”
“Yes. Do you have your laptop with you? I’m sending you something.”
I tucked the phone between my ear and shoulder and opened the laptop. It powered up in seconds, and I opened the browser and logged into the new email account David had set up for me. Before I’d left home, I’d wiped the computer in my room as he’d instructed, but I had no idea what Tristan’s security guys were capable of.
There was a message from David in my inbox, and I opened it to find a black and white security photo of a dark-haired woman leaving what looked like a hotel lobby. She had either dyed her hair or was wearing a wig, but there was no mistaking Madeline’s beautiful features. I studied her for a long moment, expecting to experience anger, pain, something for the woman who had abandoned me, but all I felt was cool detachment.
“When was this taken?”
“This morning at Hotel Andaluz. She was checked in under the name Teresa King. It’s the first actual picture of her we’ve been able to get. She’s good at hiding from cameras. Is it her?”
“Yes.” My breath caught, and I immediately began to Google the hotel name for directions.
“She’s no longer there,” David said. “She stays only one night at a hotel before she gets a new one. She hasn’t checked into another one yet.”
My heart sank. “Then she might have left town already.”
“We have reason to believe she is still there. Kelvan has friends in the demon community in Albuquerque, and he found out through them that Madeline has gone to see a local warlock named Orias for the last two nights. His friends tell him she is expected back tonight.”
There’s a demon community? “Why would demons help us?” I asked when I’d gotten over my shock.
“They wouldn’t, but they’d help Kelvan. You must have made quite an impression on him.”
I closed the laptop so I could hold the phone again. “What do you mean?”
“Kelvan is a nice guy, but he doesn’t do well with strangers, especially hunters. That’s why I didn’t tell him what you are. After you left, he told me that if you ever needed anything, to let him know. He took it upon himself to reach out to his friends in Albuquerque.”
“I think his cat really liked me.”
David let out a laugh. “Lulu likes people even less than Kelvan does.”
I grinned. “I have a way with animals. It’s all part of my charm.”
“Okay, I get it. You’re going to be mysterious about it.” I could tell by his voice that he was still smiling. “I hope your charm works on warlocks, too.”
“I’ve never met a warlock. I’ve heard they can be into some heavy stuff.” Like capturing baby griffins and using their blood to raise demons. I shuddered. I had no desire to meet someone who practiced that kind of magic. Everything I knew about warlocks had come from Remy. Warlocks were born with magic, but they needed demon essence to make them strong. They raised higher demons and kept them captive so they could draw from the demon’s power. The stronger the demon, the stronger the warlock.
“Orias is a powerful warlock. He offers his services to anyone for the right price. He doesn’t care if you are demon, human, or something else as long as you can pay and don’t cause him any trouble. He doesn’t have a problem with Mohiri, like many of his clientele do, but he never gives anything away for free either, and that includes information.”
“Great,” I muttered. If we were lucky, we’d find Madeline at the warlock’s place and I wouldn’t have to deal with him at all. I sighed. Since when had I ever been that lucky?
“I’m sending you directions to Orias’s place now. It’s a little tricky to find if you don’t know exactly where you’re going. I think that is by design.”
Someone tapped on the window behind me, and I turned to see Roland waving for me to come in.
“Thanks, David. Listen, I have to go but I’ll let you know how it goes. And tell Kelvan thanks for me.”
“Will do. Stay safe.”
I hung up and joined the others in the booth where a burger and fries waited for me. Looking over at Jordan’s plate, I shook my head at the two monstrous cheeseburgers. “You aren’t actually going to eat all of that, are you?”
“Duh.” She smirked and took a huge bite from one.
I picked up my own and took a much smaller bite. It was homemade and so delicious after twenty-four hours of gas station food. I gave a contented sigh that drew smiles from my friends.
“What’s the plan?” Jordan asked in a lowered voice after she finished off her first burger. “Do we know where Madeline is?”
“She’s here in town, but she moves around a lot.” I told them about the picture David had sent me, and they all started talking at once.
“So we wait for her to check into another hotel?” Peter asked.
I took a sip of my soda. “We don’t know if she will get another hotel. But I have the name of a person she has been going to see, and there is a very good chance she’ll be there tonight. David is sending me the address.”
“Great.” Roland grinned at me. “So who are we going to see?”
I smiled at their expectant faces. “We’re off to see the wizard.”
“Sara, are you sure these directions are right?” Roland twisted the wheel to the left and the headlights bounced over the cactus growing along the edge of the twisting desert road. Not a road actually, more like a track that wound through the uneven terrain with occasional markers to let you know you were still on it. We had been following it for forty minutes, and so far there was no sign of buildings or any kind of life.
“David said it was a bit out of the way.”
“Out of the way or out of the state?” he retorted. “If this road gets any worse, we’re probably going to lose the exhaust... or worse.”
“We should almost be there.” The car crested a rise, and I pointed to a small cluster of lights less than a quarter of a mile away. “There it is.”
Jordan leaned forward in her seat. “Where? I don’t see anything.”
“Right there, those lights.”
She shook her head. “I don’t see any lights.”
“Me either,” Roland said.
“Ha-ha, you guys. Very funny.”
By now we were close enough to make out a large, two-story adobe structure with lights shining from some of the downstairs windows. Outside lights illuminated the front of the building where half a dozen cars were parked.
Roland maneuvered the car across a small wooden bridge. “I don’t know what you’re talking –” He hit the brakes. “Whoa! Where did that come from?”
“What the hell?” Jordan yelled close to my ear. “That was not there a minute ago.”
One look at their shocked expressions told me they were not kidding me. “You really didn’t see it before?”
Roland shook his head, still gawking at the building.
I studied the structure, which appeared pretty normal to me – well, as normal as any building in the middle of the desert. “It must be some kind of spell to hide the place until you get close to it. He’s a warlock, so he could probably do something like that.”
“But you saw through it,” Peter said.
I chewed my lip, just as mystified as they were. “Maybe my power makes me immune to it. I don’t know.”
Roland parked the car in front of the building. He rested his hands on the steering wheel and looked at me. “Are you sure you want to go in there?”
“No, but I think I have to,” I replied. “You guys can stay in the car if you want.”
He reached for his door. “No way am I letting you go in there alone.”
The four of us got out of the car and walked to the entrance. I stopped in front of the arched wooden door and read the sign affixed to it. NO WEAPONS. NO BLOODSHED. NO CREDIT. “Nice.”
“No weapons?” Jordan blustered. “That’s ridiculous.”
I removed my dagger from the inner pocket of my coat and motioned for Roland to unlock the car. “It makes sense if you think about it. He does business with everyone, so he must get clients who hate each other. It would be bad for business if they killed each other at his place.”
Jordan didn’t remove the knives I knew she was carrying, and I waved a hand at the door. “I bet he has a ward in place to detect weapons.”
She glared at me for a long moment then stalked to the car. “Fine, but I’m going on record as saying this is a bad idea.”
“We’re not completely unarmed. We still have Roland and Peter.”
She made a sound that told me she’d rather have her knives.
Roland opened the door, and we filed inside. I was at the rear and had to move up between him and Peter to get a look at the room we were in. For some reason, I’d expected the inside of a warlock’s house to be dark and creepy with candles and wands and spell books all over the place. This room resembled nothing from my imaginings. It was warm and inviting with pale stucco walls, red ceramic tile floor, and a high beamed ceiling. Several pieces of what looked like local art adorned the walls. Brown leather couches, small tables bearing pretty stained glass lamps, and several large potted plants completed the décor.
The occupants of the room were another story.
Seated on one couch was a diminutive man with a ruddy complexion and small pointed ears who looked suspiciously like a dwarf. Across from him, two old crones in identical gray dresses bickered quietly over something. A burly man with shaggy yellow hair held a magazine in his clawed hands. He appeared to be some kind of werecat on the verge of shifting. Next to him, a slightly balding man in a dark suit was playing with the silver-tipped cane that lay across his knees. Everyone looked up when we entered and watched us curiously for a moment before going back to whatever they were doing. There was no sign of Madeline.
To the left of the door, a pretty young Hispanic woman sat behind a desk. She smiled and beckoned us over. “Welcome to Casa Orias. Do you have an appointment?”
“I don’t have an appointment, but I have an important matter to discuss with Orias,” I told her.
She flashed her dimples. “Orias is a very busy man, and as you can see he is booked tonight. If you’ll leave me your name and phone number, I’ll add you to his schedule.” She glanced at her computer. “How about tomorrow at 5:00 p.m.?”
Jordan tapped her fingernails impatiently on the desk. “This can’t wait until tomorrow.”
The receptionist’s smile never faltered. “I understand, but everyone’s business with Orias is important. It wouldn’t be fair to the clients with appointments.”
Something told me sweet talk wasn’t going to work on this woman. I unzipped the small front pocket of my coat and pulled out a rolled-up tissue. Discreetly, I opened the tissue and let a perfect, fat diamond bounce across the polished wooden desk. The diamond had to be four or five carats, and it sparkled under the small desk lamp. Beside me, Jordan let out a small gasp while the receptionist’s mouth made a perfect O.
The phone on the desk rang and the receptionist answered it. “Yes, sir. Canceled? I do have a walk-in I could schedule instead. I’ll do that.” She hung up and smiled again. “Wonderful news. One of our clients just canceled and we have an opening tonight. Mr. Orias will see you right now.”
“What luck.” I picked up the diamond. “Lead the way.”
She walked around the desk and led us through a closed door, down a hallway, and up a flight of stairs. At the top, she knocked on a door and a male voice rumbled for us to come in. I took a deep breath and stepped inside.
“Welcome,” said the man sitting behind a large mahogany desk. He looked to be in his thirties, with long black hair and sharp brown eyes. He wore a plain blue dress shirt and black pants, and he looked more like a businessman than a powerful warlock.
He looked at the four of us and his eyes widened almost imperceptibly. “Mohiri children and werewolf pups, what an intriguing group.”
“We get that a lot.” I walked farther into the room and my power stirred, sensing the presence of a demon nearby. Warlocks kept their demons with them at all times so it made sense that Orias had one in his office. The demon felt oddly muted, as if it was under glass, but even so I could tell it was somewhere to my left. It was strange and disconcerting to be in a room with a higher demon, and I forgot to introduce myself.
Orias steepled his fingers, and his shrewd gaze shifted to me. “And how may I be of service to you this evening?”
Trying to ignore the demon, I walked forward until I stood behind one of the three visitor chairs in front of his desk. I rested my hands on the back of the chair, thinking about how to broach the subject of the reason for our visit. “I’m looking for information.”
“I know many things. What kind of information are you seeking?”
“I’m looking for someone, a Mohiri woman who has been to see you a couple of times this week. I need to find her.”
“Indeed. And does this woman have a name?”
“She probably goes by a lot of different names, but I doubt you have many Mohiri clients.”
He rested his forearms on his desk. “And what business do you have with this woman?”
“Indeed.” Orias smiled, showing off even, white teeth. “It’s not often I have three beautiful Mohiri women visitors in as many days.”
My breath caught. “So she was here?”
“I do have a client who matches that description, yes.”
His short evasive answers were starting to annoy me. “Can you tell me where she is? It’s really important that I find her. I can pay.”
He leaned back in his chair and shook his head. “I can’t give out sensitive information about another client.” I started to speak, and he raised a hand. “My clients pay well for my discretion as well as my services. It would not be good for my business if they felt like they could not trust me.”
His expression told me he wasn’t going to be persuaded to give up Madeline. I wanted to scream. I couldn’t believe we had driven all this way to the middle of nowhere for nothing.
“What kind of services do you offer, if you don’t mind me asking?” Jordan said from behind me.
“I offer many services, spells mostly. Protection and locations spells. My specialty is glamours.”
Orias smiled at her. “As you probably saw on your way in, many of my clients can’t go out in public in their natural form. My glamour spells allow them to live among humans undetected. They look and sound human for as long as the spell lasts. Of course, the stronger the spell, the shorter it lasts. Mine are very strong so my clients have to come back for a new one every month. I have many repeat customers, and I’ve found it to be a very lucrative business.”
Roland spoke up. “What if someone asked for a spell to kill someone else? Do you do those, too?”
“At one time, yes,” the warlock replied without remorse. “But I found it to be too messy, so I don’t deal in that type of magic anymore.” He waved a hand at his richly furnished office. “As I said, my current business is very profitable. It also keeps a certain warrior organization that likes to raid my peers at bay.”
I sighed inwardly. It was obvious we weren’t going to get anything useful from Orias. Hopefully, Madeline was still in the city and Kelvan could locate her again before she moved on.
Orias tapped his long fingers on his desk. “Speaking of the Mohiri, I received some very interesting news this afternoon. It seems they are looking for two of their young people, and they are offering a generous reward for their safe return. It’s not often that they reach out to their contacts in the community, so these two lost children must be very important to them.”
“All their children are important to them.” I swallowed and walked over to look at a painting to hide the panic flaring inside me.
“And imagine my surprise when two of their young people show up in my office on the same day. A coincidence, no?”
Jordan snorted. “Do we look lost to you?”
I could only muster a small laugh as I strolled toward a bookcase that held an odd assortment of books and ornaments. The demon’s presence grew stronger until it was impossible to ignore. I turned away from the shelves to find Orias watching me with a calculating gleam in his eye. It was time to get out of there.
“Thanks for taking the time to meet with –” I gasped as Orias raised a hand and the office door slammed shut behind Roland and Peter.
Roland grabbed the knob and pulled, but the door refused to open. He spun to glare at the warlock. “Not funny, dude. Open the door.”
Orias reached for his phone, looking very pleased with himself. “Why don’t you children get comfortable while I make a call? Don’t worry; you won’t come to any harm here.”
Roland, Peter, and Jordan started toward the warlock. Orias flicked a finger and the three of them suddenly found themselves sitting on the three chairs with their arms and legs bound by some invisible force. They yelled and were gagged until all they could do was struggle mutely in their bonds.
Orias glanced at me. “I only have three chairs, but you don’t look like much trouble. Behave yourself while I make this call or I’ll stick you in the closet until they get here.”
Why did everyone always assume I was the helpless one? I spun back to the bookcase, looking for something to use as a weapon. I laid my hand on one of the shelves and blue sparks danced across my skin. The demon was very close, the same demon the warlock needed to feed his magic.
I scanned the items on the shelves and my eyes lit on a small brass replica of Aladdin’s lamp. I couldn’t help the laugh that slipped out. “How original.”
As soon as my fingers touched the lamp, I felt something move inside it. I picked up the lamp in both hands and turned to face Orias, too desperate to ponder how a powerful demon could fit into such a small space. Orias was looking through the phone book on his computer and completely ignoring me.
I let a small amount of power infuse my palms. The lamp jumped in my hands, making the lid rattle.
Orias’s head whipped in my direction and he paled slightly when he saw what I was holding. “That is very valuable. Put it down.”
More of my power surrounded the lamp, and it began to quiver and issue a faint whining sound. I ran a hand along the side. “I wonder; if I rub this, will a genie appear?”
“That... that is not a toy, you meddlesome child.” Orias’s words were stern, but he had gone a shade whiter and small beads of moisture appeared on his brow. “You don’t know what you are messing with. Set it down before you get hurt.”
“I know exactly what this is.” I gave the lamp a shake and the whining grew louder. “You have one pissed off demon in here. I’m afraid he doesn’t like me at all. Tell me, how do you fit a demon in a lamp anyway?”
Orias stood and held out his hands, which I noticed weren’t so steady anymore. “Give that to me.”
I looked at my friends to see them all watching me with a mixture of curiosity and worry. I gave them a small smile and let my power brush against the brass sides of the lamp again. The demon rumbled and I thought I could actually feel its fear. That’s new.
“Stop!” Orias cried, panting. He put a hand on the wall to steady himself, and fear filled his eyes. “Please.”
I tilted my head toward my friends. “Release them.”
Jordan sputtered and yelled the second her magical gag fell away. She jumped up from the chair and reached for her weapons... which were in the car. By the look on her face, she might not need anything but her bare hands.
“If this is how you treat clients, it’s no wonder you have that ‘no weapons’ rule,” she shouted at the warlock.
Orias ignored her. “They are free. Now please hand over the lamp.”
“Do you honestly think I am that stupid? I give you this, and you’ll have us all tied up before we know what hit us.”
“What are you going to do with it? You can’t take it.”
Jordan made a face. “There is no way I’m getting in the car with that thing.”
I touched the lamp’s ornate lid and the demon actually growled.
“Oh, be quiet,” I said to the lamp. I met Orias’s worried gaze. “You can have your pet demon back after you promise to let us go and tell no one we were here.”
Jordan scoffed. “You actually expect him to keep his word?”
“No. That’s why he’s going to take the White Oath.”
Orias inhaled sharply, and my friends shot me questioning looks. “What’s that?” Peter asked.
“The White Oath is the only oath that can bind a warlock to their word.” Thank you, Remy, for everything you ever taught me.
“How could you possibly know about that?” Orias demanded, not bothering to deny it. “That is something known only to my kind.”
“Doesn’t matter how I know. Are you going to take the oath?”
Anger replaced the fear in Orias’s eyes. “Fine. I’ll do it. I swear that –”
“Not so fast.” I knew the oath had to be worded right so there was no way for him to wriggle out of it. I walked over and grabbed a pen and notepad from his desk. It took me a few minutes to write something, and then I handed the notepad to him. “Read this.”
Orias pored over what I’d written, and when his mouth set in a straight angry line, I knew I’d gotten it right. “I swear under the White Oath to the following terms: I will allow Sara, Jordan, Roland, and Peter to leave this place unharmed. I will not try to harm them or bring them back once they leave here, nor will I have someone else harm them or bring them back for me. I will tell no one I have seen Sara, Jordan, Roland, or Peter, and if anyone asks about them, I will not reveal they were here. And...” He paused and scowled at me. “I will tell them how to find the woman they are looking for.”
“Brilliant!” Jordan crowed.
I hadn’t planned to add the bit about Madeline, but Orias had brought it on himself when he’d tried to turn us in. I watched him expectantly.
He gritted his teeth. “I don’t know where the woman is now, but she is headed to LA. Go see Adele at the Blue Nyx club. She knows everything that goes on in the city, and she can find anyone. That’s all I have.” He held out his hands. “Now can I please have that?”
I handed the lamp to him, and he cradled it like it was a baby. His eyes met mine. “What are you?”
“I’m just a girl looking for answers.” I reached into my pocket for the diamond and set it on his desk. “Payment for the information you gave me.”
Roland huffed. “Are you nuts? The dude tied us up. He doesn’t deserve payment.”
I turned, ignoring his outburst. “Come on, guys. Let’s get out of here.” The last thing I wanted was a powerful warlock holding a grudge against me. Anyone who could raise a demon and imprison it in a lamp was not someone I wanted as an enemy. Hopefully, the diamond would soothe his wounded ego and make up for some of the reward money he’d lost out on.
The door opened this time when Roland tried it, and we filed out into the hallway. We hurried down the stairs and along the hallway to the waiting area, all of us eager to quit this place.
“How the hell did you know about that oath thing, Sara?” Roland asked from behind me. “That was genius by the way.”
“Remy. He taught me a lot of stuff. I just never thought I’d have to use it.”
The waiting room had a few more occupants, and I knew immediately that at least one of them was a demon. It was either the short man with yellow skin and pointed ears or the young gray-skinned woman with long white hair. She glanced at us then looked away. Tucked against her side was a tiny version of her that had to be her child. I smiled at the little one, and she returned it shyly before burying her face in her mother’s sleeve.
I was halfway across the room when cold stabbed me in the chest. “Oh, no,” I uttered, looking around frantically. But the vampire wasn’t in the waiting room. He was outside and coming closer.
Jordan grabbed my arm. “What is it?”
“Trouble.” I met her eyes and said, “Radar.”
Her eyes widened and she cursed softly. “I told you it was a mistake to leave the weapons in the car. How many? Can you tell?”
“One, I think. I can’t be sure.”
Roland came to my side. “What’s wrong?”
“Vampire,” I whispered, and he let out a low growl. I’d never heard him do that in human form, and I had a suspicion he was very close to going furry.
“What should we do?” Peter asked in a low voice.
Before I could answer, the door opened and the vampire stepped into the room. He was medium height with black hair, and he wore a brown leather jacket. Fear stole my breath as his eyes passed over us on his way to the receptionist’s desk. A second later, he stopped and I saw him sniff the air. I wondered if he was picking up the werewolf scent in the room.
When I’d almost lost Nate I made a vow to destroy every vampire that crossed my path. But we were weaponless, and I had no idea how old the vampire was. The smartest thing to do right now was get out of there.
Roland’s fingers closed around my wrist. Come on, he mouthed.
Peter was the first one through the door with Jordan close at his heels, eager to retrieve her knives. I was about to follow them when there was a sudden breeze and the door slammed in my face. I found myself face-to-face with the vampire. My heart thrummed against my ribs and I let out a small scream. Someone pounded on the door, but the vampire held it shut with one hand.
The vampire let out a hiss. “A Mohiri child all alone without her protectors.” He reached for my face, and Roland growled. The vampire’s eyes flicked to him. “I am a lot older than you, pup. Stay out of this and I might not kill you.”
I tried to step in front of Roland, but he put an arm across my chest to stop me.
“Don’t touch her,” he snarled in a voice that was several octaves deeper than his normal one.
I looked down and saw dark wiry hair sprout from his arm as claws grew from his fingers. I flexed my own fingers, feeling power hum through them. Between us, we can handle this.
“Heel, dog,” the vampire spat, showing his fangs. He reached for me again.
Roland lunged at him. The vampire moved so fast he blurred, and Roland flew backward across the room to crash into a tall ceramic vase. Shards of pottery flew everywhere.
“Roland!” I turned to run to him but my arm was held in an iron grip.
“Now where were we?” The vampire stared at me with dark hungry eyes. “I had a young Mohiri once, but his blood smelled nothing like yours. It’s so sweet.”
Revulsion coiled in my stomach. I brought my free hand up between us, and it took the vampire several seconds to notice it was glowing.
My hand slammed into his chest and power exploded from me. His eyes widened in shock, and he let go of my arm. Before he could recover I laid my other hand on his chest and pushed another wave of power toward his heart. He didn’t go down as I’d hoped, but he wavered stiffly as if he was momentarily frozen. I’d never taken down a mature vampire, and I had a feeling this one was strong. I hit him with another blast, and he made a strange keening sound but stayed on his feet. Jesus, what did it take to kill one of these bastards?
The door crashed open, knocking us both off balance and severing my contact with him. I fell backward and landed on the two old hags, who shrieked indignantly. Mumbling an apology, I scrambled up just as the vampire gained his own footing. He wasn’t moving nearly as fast, and his confident sneer was gone as he crouched, facing Jordan, who was now armed with two long knives. Peter crowded the doorway in wolf form.
“You weren’t going to keep him all to yourself, were you?” Jordan quipped. “Friends share, Sara.”
“Help yourself.” I darted a glance at Roland, relieved to see him sitting up. He looked dazed but otherwise okay.
The vampire glared at me. “First, I’m going to take care of this little piece, and then you and I are going to get to know each other a lot better.”
“Ew! Dude, you look old enough to be her father.” Jordan twirled one of her knives. “And don’t call me a piece, you sexist pig.”
The vampire shifted his stance.
“Jordan, watch out!” I shouted.
A shriek split the air, and the vampire grabbed at the knife that had just missed his heart. His hand smoked as he ripped the blade out of his chest. He had to be very strong if he could withstand touching pure silver. He raised his hand, his intent clear. There was no way Jordan would survive a blow at such a close range.
I dove at him.
I felt a sharp pain in my shoulder, but it faded as magic surged in me. Lightning bolts leapt from my hand before it even made contact with his chest. This time, instead of drawing back for another strike, I fed more power into him. I felt it surround the demon inside him as he sank to his knees, his face frozen in a silent scream.
Something shiny caught my eye, and I turned my head to see the knife protruding from my shoulder. Bracing myself for the pain, I grasped the handle and yanked it free. Fire lanced through my shoulder, but I ignored it. I wasn’t giving the bastard time to recover. With gritted teeth I lifted my glowing hand from his chest and plunged the silver blade into his heart. He made a sound like air leaking from a balloon, and his eyes grew round in disbelief before he toppled over and was still.
“What have you done?” I turned to see Orias emerging from the hallway. He wore a look of horror mixed with shock. “Do you know who that is?”
“You mean was.” Jordan reached down, pulled her knife free from the vampire’s chest, and wiped it on his shirt. “And it’s nice of you to show up and lend us a hand by the way.”
Orias ignored her. “That was Stefan Price.”
I lifted my uninjured shoulder. “Is that supposed to mean something to us?”
“He was the oldest vampire in these parts, over one hundred and fifty years old, and very strong.” The warlock stepped into the room and stared at the dead vampire. “No one has ever fought him and lived.”
Roland limped over to us and laid an arm across my shoulders. “That’s because old Stefan never met a couple of real warriors before.”
Orias took in the state of his waiting room. “You four are nothing but trouble. You tore up my place and killed one of my clients.”
“That client tried to kill us first. Ask anyone here.” I looked around the room and caught sight of the stunned faces of the other occupants. My gaze met the eyes of the man with the yellow skin, and he jumped up and bolted for the door. Peter moved aside and the man disappeared into the night. He was followed by the two crones, who moved a lot faster than I would have expected them to.
I heard a whimper behind me, and I turned to look at the gray-skinned woman. The woman’s child clung to her neck, her little body trembling. Poor thing. I didn’t blame her for being terrified of that monster.
I walked toward them, intending to reassure the little girl, but her mother shrank away from me, holding her daughter tightly. “Please… my child,” she whispered, her black eyes glistening with tears.
“It’s okay. He’s dead.”
The woman seemed not to have heard me. She raised a hand to ward me off. “Don’t hurt us.”
Her plea stopped me in my tracks. She was afraid of me? “I wouldn’t...” I looked at my friends helplessly, but they were as surprised as I was. Facing the woman again, I took a tentative step. My fingers tingled with power. It took me a few seconds to put it all together. I stopped walking and locked my power away.
“You’re demons,” I said gently, remembering Kelvan’s reaction when he realized what Jordan and I were. Apparently, the Mohiri were known and feared everywhere.
“We’ve never hurt anyone. I promise. Please, don’t kill us.”
“No one is going to hurt you.” I knelt in front of her so she would feel less threatened. This was new territory for me. If they had been animals or some other kind of creature, I could use my power to calm their fear and earn their trust, but my power had the opposite effect on demons. “I give you my word that you and your little one are safe. What kind of demon are you?”
“She is a mox demon,” Orias said when the woman did not reply. “A very passive race, I assure you. She buys my glamour spells for her daughter, so she can attend school.”
I smiled at the woman. She didn’t return it, and I wasn’t surprised considering the situation. “I don’t know what you’ve heard about the Mohiri, but you don’t have to fear us.” I stood and looked around the room, meeting the eyes of the remaining visitors. “My friends and I aren’t here to hurt anyone.” I pointed at the dead vampire. “He was different. We kill vampires, but we don’t hurt innocent people, no matter what they are. That includes demons.”
I looked at Roland. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. What about you? You’re the one who is bleeding.”
My shoulder chose that moment to twitch, and I sucked in a sharp breath at the pain I had forgotten until now. Adrenaline is a great pain buffer, apparently. I put up a hand to cover the wound made by the knife. It didn’t feel like anything major had been hit, and the blood was already beginning to slow. I suddenly felt tired and wanted nothing more than to lie down. It felt like forever since I’d last slept.
“Come on. Let’s get out of here,” Jordan said. “I have something in my bag that will fix you up.”
I scrunched up my nose. “Please don’t say it’s gunna paste.”
Jordan grinned. “What else? I snagged a can before we left. I figured if I didn’t use it, you definitely would.”
I cast one last glance at the demon woman. She was rocking her child gently, and I heard her say softly, “Talael esledur.” Whatever it meant, it worked and the child stopped crying.
“I’m really sorry I frightened her,” I told the woman before I walked out.
Jordan retrieved the dreaded can of gunna paste from her backpack and laughed at my expression as I dutifully swallowed some. The stuff was horrid, but it worked amazingly fast to numb pain and speed healing. She was smart for remembering to take some. It wasn’t as if we could go to a hospital if we got sick or hurt. She got a towel from Orias to staunch the flow of blood until the gunna paste and my accelerated healing kicked in. The warlock happily provided one, and then he politely asked us to leave and never come back because we were bad for business.
“Sara, do you realize what you did back there?” Roland asked as he drove us back to the city. “That vampire was super old, and you killed him by yourself.”
Jordan and I were sitting in the back, and she laid her hand on my arm. “I have to admit, that was the most badass thing I’ve ever seen. When you pulled that knife out of your shoulder and stabbed him with it, my jaw nearly hit the floor.”
I grimaced and adjusted my hold on the towel pressed against my shoulder. “What is it with vampires stabbing me anyway?”
“At least you aren’t picking pieces of pottery out of your skull,” Roland complained. “You were amazing, Sara. Nikolas would be proud of you if he’d seen that.”
“Are you kidding? Nikolas wouldn’t let me get within ten miles of a vampire that old. And we might want to keep the whole stabbing thing between us.”
Laying my head against the headrest, I stared out the window at the dark desert landscape. I couldn’t help but wonder where Nikolas was now and what he was doing and thinking. I had no doubt Chris was with him, and they had probably scoured every square mile of Salt Lake City after he’d sensed me there. How long would it take him to figure out where we’d gone? I was sure he would eventually. If there was one thing I had learned, it was to never underestimate Nikolas.
I thought about the vampire I’d just killed and smiled sadly at the darkness. Maybe, when all of this was over, Nikolas would feel the same way about me.
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