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I stared up at him, dumbstruck. He avoided meeting my eyes as his strong hands engulfed my waist. Hurling me over his shoulder, he raced out of the apartment and down the steps toward the ground floor.

I guessed a part of me had decided to seek out Caleb because, deep down, I had hoped that this was all a big misunderstanding. I’d hoped that he would be able to explain his innocence to me.

But now, at least the truth was clear.

He was right. I should have pulled the trigger when I’d had the chance.

Chapter 16: Caleb

I’d known that I would regret kissing that girl the moment our lips touched.

Now that Annora had made her intentions clear in regard to The Shade, it was far too dangerous to have even the slightest connection with Rose.

I’d been shocked that Rose had dared to seek me out. It had made me realize that I’d been far too soft with her. It had caused her to underestimate me—the kiss of death.

Now, the time had come to show her the monster that I truly was.

Ignoring her struggles, I raced down to the dungeons. I decided to show her the mercy of putting her in the same cell as her parents. But that would be the last gesture of goodwill she’d receive from me.

I avoided looking at her parents as I shoved her into the cell. I exited the dungeon just as swiftly as I’d entered it, ignoring the questions and insults that were thrown at me.

I didn’t know if she, her parents, or any of the prisoners would make it out alive. But I couldn’t help her any more. Implicating myself further would only put our lives in danger. I’d already only narrowly escaped Annora believing I was a traitor. I wasn’t about to risk that again.

Rose’s death would be less painful down in the cells along with the rest of her people than if Annora discovered her with me. The witch would unleash all her pent-up frustration on the girl, and Rose would wish she’d died any other death.

After locking Rose away, I returned to my apartment.

The first thing I did was smash my entire collection of instruments. They reminded me too much of her. I destroyed them one by one with my bare hands and threw the remains off the balcony. They tumbled down the cliffs and disappeared into the snow.

Even with those instruments gone, I suspected that I would have a hard time forgetting that girl. But my callousness toward her would at least destroy her affections for me—or whatever few I had imagined existed in the first place.

I walked over to my dressing table and poured myself a shot of whiskey, throwing it back and shutting my eyes. I had three more, then sat back down on my bed.

There was a knock on my door. I looked at the clock on the wall. It was late.

I opened the door to see Annora standing outside. Her long hair hung loose down her back and she wore a silk dressing gown that clung to her curves.

“How long have you been back?” I asked, stepping aside and allowing her entrance. I shut the door behind her.

“An hour or so,” she said, making her way toward my bedroom.

She shivered at the chilly breeze running through my room and closed my balcony doors. I stood by the bedroom doorway and stared at her from across the room.

“So?” I asked. “What happened?”

She heaved a sigh and sat down in a chair. Reaching for my bottle of whiskey, she took a swig, wincing as she swallowed. She rested her feet on my bed and looked up at me.

“The immune is no longer our concern,” she said simply.

I stared at her.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean? After all the trouble I went through to get her—”

“Caleb,” she said, clucking her tongue, “how many times do I have to tell you? The tasks we are given are ends in themselves. You did your part, now think nothing more of it.”

I didn’t push her. It wasn’t like the immune’s fate concerned me anyway. Still, I couldn’t help but be curious as to how a heavily pregnant woman could have escaped from under our noses.

Downing another mouthful of whisky, Annora said, “We’re not blamed for her disappearance. That’s all that matters.”

I grunted and walked over to the balcony doors, staring out at the night sky. It was overcast tonight, and I couldn’t see a single star.

“Our authorities, however, do have another task for us,” she said softly.

I turned around to face her again. “And what’s that?”

“I told them we have Derek and Sofia Novak trapped in our dungeons, along with their strongest vampires and witches.”

My stomach clenched.

“They don’t see the point in us scavenging around beaches while The Shade has such an ample supply of humans,” she continued. “It’s a waste of our energy and resources when humans live in such quantities in one place.”

I turned away to face the window again. I knew where this would end.

Over the years, the only thing that had stopped us tapping into The Shade’s resources had been our ignorance of its location. But now I knew exactly where it was. So did Stellan, and consequently the witch.

Now it was only a matter of time before the witch gave into the temptation she’d had ever since we first established ourselves in the human realm.

“Isolde suggested that we empty our current supply of humans first,” she said, twirling a lock of dark hair around her fingers. “And then the next top up we will get from The Shade. We won’t need to venture anywhere else again until we’ve sucked The Shade dry… and from what we know of The Shade’s population of humans, that could take a long time.”

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