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He averted his eyes away from me and looked down at Sofia. His face softened slightly as he looked at my wife.

I didn’t care what he was doing here. All that mattered was that he was here, within a few inches of my claws. It infuriated me that I’d still barely scratched him.

My body was beginning to feel the strain when all it wanted was to crumple to the floor. I forced myself toward him again. This time, hands gripped me from behind.

I whirled around to see a young female vampire and another tall male standing behind me.

“Derek,” the girl said. “Stop it. We’re here to help you.”

I stared at her, dumbfounded. “Who are you?”

She reached out her hand and said, “Your family.”

Speechless, I looked from her to the other vampire, and then back to Kiev. It sank in that they were siblings. The resemblance was unmistakeable.

But my family?

The adrenaline subsiding, my knees were weakening fast. I gripped hold of a gate. “What?”

“My name is Helina,” she said. “This is Erik.” She pointed to the brown-eyed male vampire. “We are Kiev’s siblings. And your distant cousins.”

My heart hammered in my chest faster than when Annora had tortured me.

No.

No.

That bastard is not related to me.

“Prove it,” I spat.

Erik and Helina exchanged glances. Running a hand through his hair, Erik spoke. “It’s far too long of a story to explain now, but we know it from the Elders themselves. Think about it, Derek. It’s no coincidence that so many family members end up as vampires. Once they find a bloodline they like, they come back for more.”

Still convinced that he was lying, but unable to counter him, I changed the subject. “Why would Kiev help us?”

This time Kiev responded, though he was looking at Sofia as he answered. “Come with us, or stay here in this dungeon,” he said calmly. “We don’t have time for more talk.”

I stared at Sofia. She raised her eyebrows, her lips parted, breathing heavily as she looked up at the man who’d caused her more grief than any mother should have to go through.

He held out his hand to her, though it seemed to me to be more of a challenge than an offer of help.

But I was shocked when something flickered in her eyes. She reached out and took his hand.

“Sofia,” I breathed. “What are you doing?”

She looked back at me weakly as he wrapped an arm around her waist and helped her to her feet.

“I have no idea,” she said. “But I’d rather take this risk than stay trapped in this dungeon a second longer.”

Helina took over steadying Sofia as Kiev turned back to me. To my horror, he reached out his hand to me. I was about to mock his gesture, but caught sight of Sofia’s pleading expression.

I shut my eyes, drawing in a breath.

I can’t believe I’m about to do this.

God knew, it was for Sofia alone that I gripped Kiev Novalic’s hand.

An infuriating smirk crossed his lips as he hauled me to my feet. Then his arm was around my own waist as he began helping me out of the dungeon. My chest constricted, I looked anywhere but in Kiev’s direction. I caught sight of Ibrahim, Aiden and Zinnia up ahead. They’d already been freed by some other vampires I didn’t recognize.

Although my mind burned with a hundred questions, I was glad that Kiev remained silent. We reached the top of the stairs and a young woman with long blonde hair hurried toward us. She eyed me briefly, then looked at Kiev.

Reaching for his face, she planted a passionate kiss on his lips.

“I was worried,” she said. “I didn’t know you’d gone to get them already.” She looked back at me again. “This is Derek Novak?”

Kiev grunted, letting go of me unceremoniously and leaving me to stand on my own two feet. I gripped hold of a column for support. The blonde approached me and, before I could object, placed both hands either side of my head. She muttered something beneath her breath and a warm sensation rushed through my body. I was able to stand without gripping the pillar as all the strength my body had lost returned to me.

So this is a witch.

An odd couple. I wondered how she and Kiev had ever gotten together. And more to the point, how any woman could stand the man for more than a few hours.

The witch walked toward Sofia, who was still standing with Helina’s arm wrapped around her. The witch placed her hands on Sofia as she had done with me. A few moments later, a look of relief spread across Sofia’s face and she stood up straight. Kiev’s sister let go of her. Sofia hurried over to me. She slid her arms around my neck and pressed her lips against mine, tears of relief in her eyes.

I didn’t understand why she was experiencing such relief. We still had no idea what these Novalics’ intentions were.

“Anna,” she murmured. “Helina told me they returned Anna to The Shade.”

“What?”

“Anna has given birth already. She’s back in The Shade with her baby.”

“Well, I wouldn’t get too excited yet,” I said darkly. “They could be lying.”

“Hurry,” the witch called out, looking around the chamber.

Sofia held my hand, entwining her fingers with mine, and pulled me forward as we joined Aiden, Ibrahim, Zinnia and the other vampires who’d come to help us escape the dungeon. We exited the chamber and entered the main entrance hall.

It was a battleground. A blur of vampire clashing against vampire, and… wolves. Giant black and brown werewolves. I wasn’t sure now which of these creatures were on Annora’s side, and which on Kiev’s.

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