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Mona… she was my anchor. Keeping me rooted during even the fiercest of storms. I still hadn’t known her long, but she fulfilled me in ways that no other woman could. And because of her own past, I could return her love without fear of breaking her.

Everyone on this island seemed to be talking about my so-called transformation. I’d overheard some call it a miracle. But the fact was, Mona was the only miracle that had ever happened to me.

Chapter 42: Sofia

By the time I’d left the Port, the Great Dome was completely empty. I returned to our penthouse. Rose and Ben had already retired to their rooms. I made my way to Derek’s and my bedroom.

The shower was running in the bathroom as I entered. I took off my cloak and rummaged around in one of the drawers for a fresh nightgown. The door to the bathroom clicked open. Derek stood in the doorway, a towel wrapped low around his waist as he leaned his arm against the door frame, water dripping from his gorgeous dark hair onto his broad shoulders.

The sight of him standing there all wet made me ache for him. It had been too long since Derek and I had taken time for ourselves.

“Where did you disappear to?” he asked, removing the towel from his waist and drying his hair. “I was searching for you.”

“I was with Kiev.”

He stopped drying his hair and looked at me. “And?”

“He told me his story.” I walked up to Derek and wrapped my arms around his bare waist. “I think it’s possible that he has changed, darling. I believe this now more than ever.”

Derek grunted and resumed drying his hair. He walked back into the bathroom, wrapping a robe around himself.

“What was his story?”

I breathed out.

I’d already spent the whole evening with Kiev. I really wasn’t in the mood to stay up for hours talking more about him. Now, I just wanted Derek.

“I’ll tell you tomorrow,” I said, sliding my hands beneath Derek’s robe. “He’s been all we’ve been worrying about all day. I’ve had enough of green. I want myself some blue-eyed Novak now.”

Derek smiled down at me, a boyish grin splitting his face. “You like your Novak men.”

“Man,” I corrected him. Reaching up to grip his chin, I pulled his head down toward me so that I could look directly into his stunning blue eyes. Gazing into them still made my heart race like the day I’d first met him.

Not bothering to change out of his bathrobe, he scooped me up in his arms and carried me out of the penthouse. I wrapped my arms tighter around his neck as we whipped through the forest. A few minutes later, we were at the lighthouse. Our sacred space. He barged in through the main door and, rushing up the stairs, entered the room at the top. He walked around the room closing the curtains while I lit some candles.

We met in the center of the room. He drew me close as I slipped my hands beneath his robe. I ran them upward, feeling his smooth muscles beneath my palms.

“You know I never need a change from blue,” I whispered.

We ripped off each other’s clothes and Derek pulled me on top of him on the bed. He groaned as my fangs scraped his earlobe. Reaching for my face, he brushed my cheeks with his thumbs.

“I’m yours, Novak,” I breathed, leaning down and caressing his rough jaw with my lips. “And don’t you ever forget it.”

He flipped me beneath him on the mattress, gripping my wrists in his hands and stretching out my arms.

“Is that so?” He paused, his mouth moving up from my chest and resting on my throat. “I remember a time when you would chastise me whenever I claimed to own you.”

I grinned. I too remembered how adamant I had been about that when we’d first met.

How things change with time.

Epilogue: Annora

Tick, tock.

Tick, tock.

A glass of blood in my hand, I sat alone in my study staring up at the old wooden clock.

I smiled, recalling the way the mighty king and queen of The Shade had writhed on the carpet in front of me. I’d driven them to the brink of unconsciousness.

Now, they believed that they’d gotten away.

They believed that those few hours of punishment I’d inflicted on them were nothing more than that—a chastisement for their escape from the dungeon.

And that was the way it would remain… at least up until their flesh started to eat itself. Then they might suspect that I’d had a deeper purpose for their visit to my study.

If they were lucid enough, they might even guess that I’d cursed them with a bond. The same bond that kept every other vampire on this island on a tight leash.

But until that moment, they would be living in sweet ignorance, unaware that the last seven days of their lives were slipping through their fingers like sand.

The curse would creep up on them silently, like a thief in the night.

And this time, not even the Channeler they’d managed to get on their side would be able to save them.

Because one can’t fix what one doesn’t know exists.

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