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“What attack?”

I heaved a sigh, clasping a palm to my forehead. Where do I even start? “There are two islands not far away from here. Islands that we didn’t even know existed until recently. They are populated by vampires and controlled by a witch more powerful than any I’ve ever witnessed. I believe she must be a black witch. We fear she wants to take over The Shade, take control of our supply of humans—”

Mona’s mouth fell open and she looked up at Kiev. “Do you know the name of this witch?”

“Annora.”

Mona’s eyes darkened.

“You know this witch?” I asked.

“I don’t know her personally, but I know what she is… because I am a witch of the same breed.”

I stared at her. I still barely knew anything about this witch, but right now, I didn’t need to. Through all the dark thoughts my mind had been drowning in came a bolt of hope.

Maybe not all black witches are evil.

It could have been that Kiev and this witch had some sinister ulterior motive for returning Anna to us, but I couldn’t think about that right now. They were already here on the island, after all. I just had to hope that they didn’t wish us harm. So far at least, they’d shown no signs of it.

“You were strong enough to penetrate our defenses,” I said quickly, reaching out and clutching Mona’s shoulder. “Since you’re of Annora’s kind, are you as powerful as her?”

She frowned. “Yes, I believe so.”

I gripped her tighter. “Then will you help us fight? You can stay with us on this island as long as you want if you agree to help us to secure it from that witch.”

She paused, glancing at Kiev once again. I tried to read his expression, but it was stoic as ever.

“Yes,” she said finally, turning back to me. “I believe I can help with that.”

Chapter 28: Rose

News spread quickly around the island about Anna and her baby’s return and Kiev Novalic’s arrival. I hurried to the Port and as soon as I caught sight of Ben, standing by a crowd of vampires and werewolves, I rushed forward and wrapped my arms around him.

“I was so worried about you,” I gasped.

He loosened my hands around his neck and scowled at me.

“And what about you, huh? You couldn’t have told me that you were going to run away with Eli? You knew how much I wanted to go help our parents.”

I sighed, thoughts of what our parents could be going through now piercing through my chest. “Ben, I didn’t have time. And I didn’t want to risk you not allowing me to go too.”

“What happened to Mom and Dad?” he demanded.

“I… I don’t know. There was a power cut and then it was as if the witch’s influence over that island disappeared for a few moments. Mom and Dad… They could have come with us, but they chose to stay behind to try to find Anna. And now…” My voice broke as I swallowed back the lump in my throat. “I don’t know where they are now.”

“What do you mean you don’t know?“ he asked, gripping my arms.

“Ben,” I said, tears threatening to spill from my eyes again, “I mean I don’t know. We left behind Ibrahim, Grandpa, and Zinnia too. They didn’t make it out in time.”

Ben let go of me and swore.

I looked around at all the strangers who’d just appeared on our island. Seeking distraction from the pain of speculating what our parents could be going through now, I asked, “Who are all these people?”

Ben didn’t answer as he rubbed his face with his hands.

Abby approached and laid a hand on Ben’s arm. She looked at me worriedly. I knew how attached she was to my parents too, after all the years they’d looked out for her.

“That witch has said she will help secure this island from Annora,” Abby said. Ben looked up. She offered us both a small smile. “I have a feeling Mona might be able to help us get your parents and the others back too.”

Ben stared at Abby for several moments. I could practically sense his brain whirring. He looked around the clearing.

“Where is Mona?” he asked Abby.

“She’s left with Corrine for the Sanctuary,” she replied. “They don’t want to be disturbed now. They’ve gone to discuss with the other witches…”

Ben grunted in frustration. Then his eyes shot toward a tall green-eyed vampire. I gasped. “That’s Kiev? I thought he had red eyes.”

Abby shrugged. “He did.”

Ben began walking toward the vampire. I followed my brother. He was looking too hot-tempered for comfort.

He stopped in front of Kiev, who returned his gaze steadily. “Look,” Ben said, “I don’t know why you brought Anna back to us. I can only assume it’s to try to make amends for the despicable things you’ve done to us in the past.” His eyes narrowed on Kiev. “But now, if you’re to stay with us, not only must your witch protect us from Annora—you must also agree to help rescue our parents.”

A deathly silence fell as Kiev and my brother stared each other down. They were both almost equal in height, Kiev being slightly taller. Kiev’s breathing was steady, though his jaw twitched at the mention of our parents.

Finally, Kiev spoke. His voice rumbled as he glowered at my brother. “You’re as arrogant as your father, I see. Let me make one thing clear, Novak.” Kiev averted his eyes from my brother momentarily. I shivered as they roamed me. “We don’t have to do anything. You’re at our mercy now. If we wanted to, we could ravage this island, suck you and every other human dry and feed your remains to the sharks.”

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