As for Annora, where was she? And how could they have entered so easily?
I glanced at the blonde witch and could only assume that she must have been more powerful than The Shade’s witches.
“Retreat!” Kiev bellowed through the chaos.
Kiev stood behind Sofia and I now. He pushed us forward as vampires and werewolves hurried together to form one tight-knit bundle. I was loath to find myself standing next to Kiev, his shoulder brushing against mine.
I held Sofia close to me as the grim walls of Annora’s castle disappeared.
Chapter 32: Sofia
I opened my eyes to see that we had arrived back at The Shade’s port. I clutched Derek’s shirt as he bent down to kiss me again, relief showing in his eyes now that the Novalics had returned us as promised.
My mind was still blown on seeing Kiev. His siblings’ claim that the Novaks and Novalics were related. His change of eye color.
I glanced at Kiev, now standing a few feet away from me. When he sensed my gaze on him and looked up, chills ran down my spine. That harsh jawline, dark hair… and now sharp green eyes. I recalled every moment I’d spent in his care in the Blood Keep while I was pregnant. I remembered how he had terrified me—an unpredictable monster who could snap at any moment. I remembered how in my most vulnerable hour, he had stolen away my newborn. If it weren’t for Anna, I likely never would have seen Ben again.
And now—assuming Helina had been telling the truth—not only had he returned Anna and her newborn to us, but we also owed him our own lives. I was half expecting to wake up from a long dream.
I recalled the last time I’d seen him in Aviary. The way he’d let me pass through the gate when he could have held me back. I remember thinking as I lowered myself into that abyss that I’d never unravel the mystery that was Kiev. And now that I saw him again, I felt only more mystified.
Although my mind was burning with anxiety to go seek out Anna and my children, I felt I couldn’t go a moment longer not understanding Kiev’s intentions. We needed answers.
Clearly feeling the same way, Derek pulled me over to where Kiev, the witch and his two siblings were standing. Derek—never one to beat around the bush—stopped about a foot away from Kiev and glared at him. “Why are you back here?”
Kiev scowled and inhaled deeply, as though trying to rein in his own temper. The two men could be so fierce and uncontrollable, it was like being in a room with two bombs, capable of setting off the other at any moment.
Kiev looked down at me, his eyes glimmering in the moonlight, as if Derek wasn’t there.
Derek exhaled sharply, clearly irritated by Kiev’s refusal to respond to him directly. I reached out and clasped Derek’s arm. This was the second time I’d noticed Kiev do this. It was as if Kiev felt obliged to answer but didn’t want to give Derek the satisfaction of answering him directly, so he would look at me instead.
“Let’s just say that I came to return something that is yours,” he said.
“What?” I asked.
“A woman and her baby.”
That shut both Derek and I up. We looked at each other. “Where is she?” Derek demanded.
“Ibrahim!” Behind me Corrine rushed out of the woods.
She raced across the lawn and leapt into her husband’s arms, wrapping her legs around his waist. Holding his head in her hands, she kissed him like she was suffocating and his lips were her only means of resuscitation. It wasn’t often that Corrine showed emotions publicly, but now tears streamed down her cheeks. Her hair was disheveled and the dark circles beneath her eyes revealed that she likely hadn’t slept since we’d been gone. Ibrahim held her tightly against him and, between whispering words of comfort into her ear, he returned her passion in kind.
“I thought I’d lost you,” she gasped. She slid down his body, her feet touching the ground again. Still gripping his hand, she finally took a step away from him and looked around at the rest of us. On spotting Derek and I, she hurried over, pulling Ibrahim along with her. “Derek! Sofia!” She wrapped an arm around each of us and kissed our cheeks.
“Our children, Viv, Xavier and the others, did they all return?” I said anxiously.
“They’re safe,” she said, brushing hair away from her sweaty forehead. “Nobody else was missing from the island except you two, Ibrahim, Aiden and Zinnia. As for the twins, they’re still in the Catacombs with the other humans. We had to evacuate all the humans from their homes because we suspected Annora would attack… and she did. I haven’t had time to organize their resettlement yet. We wouldn’t have survived all this if it wasn’t for Mona.” She gestured toward the blonde witch standing next to Kiev.
Mona’s navy blue eyes settled on me. She stood now with her arm through Kiev’s.
So this is Mona…
“Mona has secured the island,” Corrine continued. “I’ve never seen a witch as powerful as her. My skills pale in comparison.” She nodded in reverence in Mona’s direction.
“Annora?” Derek said. “Where is she now?”
“She left a while ago,” Corrine said, a small grin curling her lips. “I must say that it was terrifying at first watching her trying to assault the island… but it turned into quite a treat. Watching that bitch flailing around trying to get in was just the dose of entertainment I needed after all this stress.”
“And the Novalics speak the truth that they brought back Anna?” I asked, eyeing Kiev. He returned my gaze steadily, accepting my challenge to his integrity.