“How can you trust him?”
Anna looked up at me and smiled faintly. “I don’t know what happened to him during his time away from Earth. He hasn’t told me and I haven’t asked. But it doesn’t matter because something has changed in that vampire. Neither myself nor my baby would be here now if it weren’t for him and that witch.”
I still didn’t understand how she’d ended up in the realm of supernaturals with Kiev Novalic of all people, but it was clear that now wasn’t the time she was going to answer my questions.
“Ben, I-I need my family. Kyle, Ariana and Jason. I’ve been away from them for so long…” Her voice broke as she reached a hand to her face, swallowing back a sob.
“Of course,” I said, forcing myself out of my stupor. “All right. We’ll return now.”
“You can allow Kiev to return with us,” she said. “I promise, it will be fine.”
Although every fiber of my being was screaming at me to just refuse—take Anna and run, while leaving behind all these strangers—I couldn’t ignore the conviction in Anna’s eyes.
We returned to the chamber. Mona and Kiev still stood in the same spot we’d left them.
I looked at Kiev again. Just the vampire’s presence alone gave me goosebumps. Although I felt insane for doing it, I held out my hand to Mona. She shook it.
“You can return with us,” I said.
I couldn’t bring myself to shake hands with Kiev, instead I just glared at him before wrapping my arm around Anna and leaving the enclosure, Abby leading the way. I looked over my shoulder to see them all following us.
We climbed out of the tunnels and emerged on the beach. I pointed to the submarine I had moored and eyed the huge crowd of vampires and werewolves. There seemed to be at least a hundred of them in total.
“I hope they’re house-trained, Anna,” I muttered, eyeing the scraggly-looking werewolves in particular.
“They are,” she assured me. “I’ve spent days with them and none of them has tried to harm me or the baby.”
My chest still constricted, I walked over to Mona. “So my submarine isn’t nearly large enough for all of your troops. How do you plan to get there?”
“Oh,” the witch said, lifting a hand in the air. “I can handle that. Do you have any maps in your submarine?”
“Then mark out where The Shade is and I can vanish us all there.”
I looked at Abby nervously. She shrugged.
I ran to the submarine and fetched a map. Spreading it out on the sand, I showed Mona the location. She pored over the map for several minutes before standing up.
She turned to face the others. “You know how this goes,” she said, her voice raised. “Form a circle.”
I knew what would come next. I looked back at the submarine. “I can’t just leave that here,” I said. “Submarines are valuable and that one is in perfect working order.”
She looked back at it. “Well, I’ll vanish that too along with us. Now everyone, please form a circle.”
“Another thing,” I said, “You can’t just enter the Shade so easily, it’s protected by our witches. And—”
Mona reached out and touched my shoulder, “Don’t worry about it,” she said.
I stared at her and wondered what she meant as she walked away, hurrying everyone into forming a circle. I looked around at the new vampires and werewolves, wondering what each of their stories were, and how they came to stumble through that gate along with Kiev and Mona.
Kiev had remained silent all this time. I felt his eyes on me constantly. And despite Anna’s reassurances, it still felt wrong to allow him back on the island. I wasn’t sure that my father would ever forgive me for it.
It was too late now for second thoughts though. Mona stood in the center of all of us and a few seconds later, we were all lost in a whirl of colors.
Chapter 27: Corrine
“You!” I gasped, staring at Kiev.
In that moment, I even forgot the relief of seeing Ben, Anna, and her child again. The vampire consumed my mind as I stared at him. As if he was sucking the oxygen out of the air, I could barely breathe.
Even as Anna rushed forward and wrapped her arms around me, I couldn’t take my eyes off the vampire.
“I’m going to find Kyle,” Anna said and hurried off with her baby.
Ben left the crowd and walked toward me, placing a hand on my shoulder.
“Anna trusts Kiev,” he said. “I don’t know why exactly, but she says he helped her. Both Kiev and this witch, Mona, brought her back to us.”
I looked from the blonde witch to Kiev. The witch walked forward and held out her hand to me. “Corrine?” she asked, raising her eyebrows.
I nodded weakly.
“My name is Mona,” she said. “We’ve come from the supernatural realm. It’s a long story, but we happened upon Anna. Kiev… he wanted to return her. We don’t intend to stay long, but we’d like to find our feet. A few days would be appreciated.”
I was speechless. Kiev wanting to return Anna to us? It was as though this was a different vampire standing before me.
I also couldn’t help but smirk at their assumption that The Shade would be a good place to find their feet. “The island is expecting an attack at any moment. Even if we trusted you enough to let you stay here for a short while, I doubt finding your feet is what you’ll do. It’s dangerous here—”