“Where are you going?” Ben asked.

“Back to Caleb’s island,” I replied.

“And if you don’t find her?”

“We’ll return to Stellan’s island.”

“But aren’t those islands protected by a spell?”

I bent down and kissed his forehead. “Honey, don’t worry about us,” I said. “We’re bringing as many witches as this island can spare with us and they will try to help us penetrate the spell. You focus on getting yourself better while we’re gone, all right?”

My heart ached to see how weak he still was. I hoped that by the time we returned he would be back to his normal vibrant self.

“We need to leave now,” I said.

“But Mom…” Rose’s face was lined with distress.

“Don’t either of you go anywhere until we return.” Derek glared at the two of them. “Corrine will stay behind, and if you need anything, she will be here to help you.”

“But Dad—”

“We’ll be back as soon as we can.”

With that, Derek caught hold of my hand and pulled me out of the room. We exited the Sanctuary and raced across the courtyard, through the woods, until we reached the Port. Our hastily assembled army was already waiting for us in the submarines that bobbed either side of the jetty.

Derek and I boarded the largest one. “Start moving!” Derek bellowed, closing the hatch above us. The vessel lurched forward.

We hurried along the narrow passageway to the control room. Vivienne and Xavier sat in the front seats navigating the ship, while my father and Ibrahim sat behind them.

Every vampire on the island had been willing to put their lives on the line for Anna. We’d had so many volunteers, we didn’t have enough submarines to fit them all in. Derek, with the help of Xavier, had singled out only the most capable in battle. Anna’s husband Kyle had wanted to accompany us, but, being a human, he would have been more of a hindrance than a help. Besides, he had two children who depended on him now.

Anna was the heart of our island. She beat blood around for all of us to take advantage of. Without her, we would have been trapped as vampires forever and none of us would have the option of having children.

We all sat in silence as the submarine sped through the waters. I was sure that the same thought was plaguing all of us. What if we’re already too late?

Derek and I took seats behind Aiden and Ibrahim. I gripped Derek’s hand as he wrapped an arm around my waist. He drew me closer to him, placing a kiss on my forehead.

“We’re going to find and rescue her, Sofia,” he murmured, his eyes fixed on the dark waters rushing past us. “And I’m going to rip out that vampire’s heart with my bare hands.”

As I looked out of the window at the ocean, my mind drifted back to our daughter—the anxiety I’d seen in her eyes as she tried to defend her vampire captor. Her discomfort played on my mind as we sped faster and faster toward our destination.

Chapter 2: Rose

My hands trembled as my parents rushed out of the room, the words my mother had spoken still ringing in my ears.

“He used you.”

A hollow feeling welled in the pit of my stomach. Doubts began to assail my mind, even as I tried to brush them away. I found myself recalling the time I’d spent with Caleb, wondering if all along this had been his plan—to gain my trust enough that he’d be welcomed on this island and could roam around without suspicion.

Although so many things about my parents’ assumption seemed impossible, nothing could change the fact that Anna had disappeared just as Caleb had left the island.

I remembered how genuine his behavior toward me had seemed. The humanity I’d seen in him.

But I’d also seen with my own eyes how he and his comrades roamed the beaches kidnapping innocent girls for their blood and God knew what else. It was hardly beyond the realm of possibility that he could have taken pregnant Anna.

Maybe Caleb is just a good actor and he spent all that time leading me on. Just as he does with the girls he steals from the beaches.

I closed my eyes. My mind drifted back to the last moments I’d spent with him. The fire in his gaze, the strength of his kiss. The way his whole body had tensed with need… A very good actor indeed.

Maybe I’m just naive, like Kristal said.

Maybe I’ve just been a pawn in his game all along.

Pain gripped my chest. Kristal. Ben still hadn’t told me what had become of her or her brother. “What happened to Kristal and Jake?”

Ben closed his eyes, his face contorting. “They killed Kristal.” His voice cracked.

I stared at my brother, stunned. Shock turned to grief. Then to guilt.

Tears burned in my eyes and spilled down my cheeks. I staggered to Ben’s side and gripped his hand. “How?”

“A witch. She…” He paused, breathing heavily. “Rose, you don’t want to know.”

He was right. I didn’t want to know. But his mention of the witch sent fire through my veins. Annora. It must have been. Who else?

I didn’t think that I could have despised that witch more, but now my hatred toward her increased tenfold.

“And Jake?” I whispered, steeling myself for Ben’s answer.

“He was taken away,” Ben said grimly, “along with a bunch of other humans. I don’t know where to.”

I sank to the floor, my legs folding beneath me.

They were gone because of us. If we hadn’t gone behind our parents’ backs and made that stupid trip, none of this would have happened.

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