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My whole body felt weak—my limbs, muscles… hell, my very bones felt shattered. It hurt just sitting up.

I looked across the dungeon to see Ibrahim, Aiden and Zinnia staring at us from their cell. “Sofia,” my father called, reaching a hand through the bars. “How are you feeling?”

Being a vampire, he would have already been able to hear the answer I’d given Derek. I guessed he was just asking the question again for his own comfort.

“Not well,” I said honestly, rubbing the base of my spine. I looked back at Derek. “What now?”

Derek shook his head.

I didn’t understand why Annora was still keeping us alive. Surely, she should have killed us for our audacity in attempting escape.

I pressed my lips against Derek’s as he held me closer. He seemed to be in a worse state than me. Perhaps because he’d put up more of a fight. He had dark bruises all over his body, and a deep gash in his cheek that wasn’t showing signs of healing.

Remembrance of our failed mission crashed over me. Tears spilled from my eyes. I was mourning for Anna now. Anna and her unborn child. Thinking about Kyle and their two other children choked me up even more.

Despite the grief consuming me, I realized that I had to put thoughts of Anna aside. Mourning for her now would only make me weaker. I had to think of my own family. Of our twins. Of my vow to keep them safe and not let them grow up parentless. Taking deep breaths and biting back the pain, I brushed away the tears from my eyes with the back of my sleeve.

“Annora could be attacking The Shade by now,” Zinnia said, her face ashen.

The thought chilled me to the bone. Zinnia was right. Annora was clearly capable of it. And since we had so many humans there was no logical reason for her to not do it.

“We still don’t even know what they use these humans for,” my father muttered.

“Well, whatever they use them for, they—”

A deafening crash shook the dungeon. Particles fell from the ceiling. I coughed, dust filling the air.

“What the hell?” Derek breathed.

We all stared at each other as there was another loud crash. Then screams and shouts. The sounds of battle breaking out overhead.

The commotion continued, only increasing in intensity. I jumped as a crack of wood echoed through our dungeon. Everyone scrambled toward the gates, peering through toward the direction of the entrance. Except Derek and I. It was though our limbs were still paralyzed from the torture the witch had put us through.

“What’s going on?” I hissed.

Their faces were too stunned by whatever had just entered for them to answer.

“What is it?” Derek urged.

As heavy footsteps approached, their mouths hung open.

Heavy leather boots stopped in front of our cell. I raised my eyes up the body of a tall man covered in a black cloak, and when my eyes reached his face, I almost choked on my tongue.

Chapter 31: Derek

Kiev Novalic.

The green-eyed vampire ripped open our cell door. With slow footsteps he approached within a couple of feet of where Sofia and I were slumped. The dim lighting of the dungeon cast shadows across his face. His eyes traveled from Sofia to me, then back to Sofia again.

No matter how much his features changed, there was no way I wouldn’t have recognized this vampire after the amount of misery he had caused my family. Kiev Novalic was burned into my memory for all eternity. He could grow a beard, get a goddamn tattoo across his face, and I’d recognize him in an instant.

An uncontrollable rage erupted in the pit of my stomach.

I’d never had the chance to pay him back for what he’d done to my family. To Natalie Borgia. Memories of all the pain he’d inflicted on us came flooding back. Adrenaline rushed through me. I was shocked to find that I was able to push myself up and stand on my feet.

Now that I was level with him, we were standing barely a foot apart. A growl escaped my lips. I didn’t know why or how he was here. But none of it mattered. Weak or not, I was going to finally make him feel my wrath.

“Derek Novak.” His face was expressionless as he spoke my name.

The sound of his voice threw me over the edge. I launched myself at him. Gripping his neck between my hands, I pushed him back into the corridor and smashed his head against the wall.

Extending his claws, he lashed out at my stomach. I jumped back before he could cause serious damage, though he managed to graze my skin. Staggering slightly, but commanding every bit of willpower I had to remain steady, I extended my own claws and attacked him again. Ducking, I threw myself at his midriff. We both crashed to the floor.

Pinning him against the stone, I dealt him blow after blow. He caught hold of one of my wrists, blocking a punch. Digging his claws into the flesh of my forearms, he weakened my grip on him. Rolling over on the floor, he escaped my grasp.

“You dare show your face before me?” I hurled myself against him again, crushing him against the iron gate of a cell. He gripped my head and jerked it forward, smashing it against metal. Pain seared through my already aching skull. I looked daggers at him, preparing myself to lash out again.

Breathing heavily, he backed away from me. “Derek. Enough.”

Truth be told, I was surprised that he hadn’t been fighting more aggressively. I was expecting him to try to inflict as much pain on me as he could. But all he’d been doing so far was defending.

“Kiev.” Sofia’s weak voice came from behind me. I turned around to see Sofia hauling herself up against the broken gate. She gazed up at Kiev, her face a mixture of confusion and fear. “What are you doing here?”

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