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Although at the back of my mind I feared that her mood might have something to do with Caleb, I hoped that his behavior had severed any attachment she might have had to him.

Chapter 33: Rose

After we finished talking, we retired to our bedrooms. I lay down on my bed. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I stared up at the ceiling, recalling everything that had happened during the last few days.

Feeling restless, I left my room and went into the kitchen. I poured myself a glass of water and sat down at the table, swirling the water around in the glass, watching as it formed a whirlpool.

I tried to distract myself around the apartment for the next few hours and ended up in the music room. I lost myself in a piece that I’d been trying to master before we left for Hawaii. I played key after key, stopping each time I made a mistake and going back to the beginning, as my father had taught me. That way I was always much more cautious about making mistakes.

After a couple of hours, just as I felt I’d finally mastered the tune, there was a knock. My mother pushed the door open, smiling at me as she took a seat next to me on the bench. She smelled of bath foam and was wearing fresh clothes.

“What were you playing?” she asked, reaching for my music sheet.

“Liszt,” I muttered.

“Dad will be pleased.”

“Yeah,” I said, breathing out.

A silence fell between us. Her eyes roamed my face as I averted my own to my hands folded on my lap. I thought she was going to ask me if I was feeling all right again, but was grateful that she didn’t.

“We’re going to Anna’s now,” she said. “You coming?”

I nodded and stood up, following her out of the room. I was glad to have Anna to distract my mind with.

Ben accompanied us too. We made our way through the woods until we reached Anna’s homely townhouse in the Vale’s town center.

A beaming Ariana opened the door to us. We walked through the hallway and entered the dining area. Anna was nursing her baby on the sofa while Kyle sat opposite her with Jason.

It warmed my heart beyond measure to see Kyle smiling again. I remembered how deathly pale and how much older he had looked. Anna had breathed life back into him.

Kyle stood up and gestured us to take a seat on the long sofa. We acquiesced.

“How are you feeling?” my mother asked Anna.

“Much better,” Anna said. “The baby and I just woke from a nap.” My parents looked at her expectantly. Anna cleared her throat and looked at Kyle.

Kyle took the cue and said, “Ariana, Jason, let’s go down to the beach.”

Ariana looked at me. “I’d rather stay here with Rose,” she said.

Kyle let out a sigh. “No, Ariana. Come on.”

She scowled and looked at me apologetically. “I guess I’ll have to catch you some other time, Rose,” she said and followed her father out of the room with Jason.

Once the door had clicked shut, Anna cleared her throat again, adjusting the baby on her lap as she got into a more comfortable position, folding her legs on the sofa beneath her.

“I guess I’ll start at the beginning,” she said. She closed her eyes for a few moments as if steeling herself.

“Take your time, Anna,” my mother said.

“Yeah,” Anna said, taking a deep breath. “It’s fine. So, the day I was taken… I was resting here on the sofa. The back garden door was open to let in the breeze. I must have drifted off and when I woke, I found myself face to face with a vampire. I screamed. He placed a hand over my mouth and extended his claws, threatening to slit my throat if I didn’t do exactly as he said.” She paused, shifting in her seat. “How he found me so quickly, I don’t know. I guess, as you say, vampires find immune blood much more easily detectable than regular human blood.”

“So he just snatched you from here?”

She nodded. “He drew out a needle and injected it into my neck. I lost consciousness soon after that. I guess he must have transported me to a submarine… or perhaps a witch helped him manifest back to the island. Anyway, I found myself walking up in a cold dungeon with a few other humans around me. I had no idea where I was, and I never saw that red-haired vampire again—”

“Red-haired vampire?” I blurted out, staring at her.

Anna paused, her lips parted as she looked at me, frowning. “Yes, red-haired.”

“Continue, Anna,” my father urged.

Anna continued to recount her tale and although I was curious about it, I found myself unable to concentrate. Her voice was drowned out by a whirlwind of thoughts that started to flood my mind.

So Caleb didn’t actually steal Anna himself. It was Stellan who had been in the back of the submarine.

I also recalled how Caleb hadn’t even wanted to step onto the island. He’d just wanted me to climb out through the hatch. I had been the one to insist that he stay. Perhaps he had been afraid that Stellan might come to while he was gone.

But even if—as Anna seemed to be confirming—Stellan did all this, what did it actually mean?

Did Caleb intend Stellan to wake up from his coma? Was Caleb just here on the island as a distraction so that Stellan could wake and do his thing? Was his fight with Stellan all a big ruse? Maybe he didn’t even snap Stellan’s neck and just made it look like he did… But I’d heard the crack of bone. That was hard to fake.

I sat back in the sofa, my hands over my lap as I stared blankly at Anna. Her lips were moving but I still wasn’t absorbing a word.

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