He was stronger than I’d estimated.

I gripped his throat and hauled him upright, smashing him back against the wall. Clasping my arms and digging in his claws, he brought his knee up and kicked against my chest. I caught his leg and hurled him back down against the floor.

As I aimed for his heart, someone approached behind me. I whirled around to find myself face to face with a tall ebony-skinned vampire. Releasing Caleb, I leapt against the dark vampire’s midriff before he could strike me and dug my fist right into his chest, removing his beating heart and throwing it down against the floor.

When I turned back to Caleb, he was gone. I growled in frustration and I cast my eyes about the hall in search of him. Milling through vampires as I made my way around the room, I finally caught sight of him fighting Gavin. I saw where their fight was going as soon as Caleb reached for Gavin’s neck. In one sharp movement, he disjointed Gavin’s neck and Gavin fell to the floor, paralyzed.

“No!” I leapt in front of Gavin before Caleb could harm him further. I was about to launch at Caleb once again, but Xavier gripped him from behind and began fighting him.

I cast my eyes around desperately for Sofia and caught sight of her standing over the body of a female vampire. Sofia’s face shone with sweat, her right hand coated with blood, holding within it a still-beating heart.

“Sofia!” I yelled. She dashed toward me. She gasped as she saw Gavin lying on the floor. “Return Gavin to the submarine.”

She wrapped Gavin’s arm around her shoulder, forced him upright, and hurried out of the room with him. I followed her until she reached the exit, watching their backs in case some other vampire took advantage of Gavin’s vulnerable state. It would take Gavin several hours to recover and he wouldn’t survive if he remained in this hall.

Now I scanned the room once again for Caleb. He was still battling Xavier. I raced back over to them and gripped Xavier’s shoulder, hauling him back.

“This one’s mine,” I growled.

Xavier raced away to find another combatant, leaving Caleb standing in front of me, his chest heaving. Sweat was forming on his brow, and his claws were tipped with Xavier’s blood. His deep brown eyes settled on me, though his expression was still hard to read—he seemed to keep a poker face at all times.

We circled each other once again.

“You had us fooled,” I said, my voice low and menacing. “I’ll grant you that much. I didn’t expect you to be such a lowlife. What did it feel like playing on my daughter’s affections? Using her to steal away a pregnant woman? It must have made you feel like a real man…”

His face remained straight, though I knew my words had stung him from the way his jaw twitched.

I threw myself at him once again, and we both landed against the bottom of the staircase. I gripped his head and smashed it against the edge of a marble step. Refusing to let him squirm away from me again, I extended my claws as far as they would stretch and pierced them through his chest.

I exhaled sharply. I could barely believe my own eyes.

No matter how much pressure I applied, my fist wouldn’t sink further than the surface of his skin—even as my arm muscles bulged from the pressure I was applying.

Caleb looked as surprised as I.

Then a cool female voice spoke from behind me.

“Derek Novak. How good of you all to stop by again.”

I looked up to see a tall dark-haired witch with cold grey eyes looming over us. She reached down and touched my forehead. The moment her skin touched mine, my surroundings disappeared and all turned to black.

Chapter 6: Sofia

I woke up to something brushing against my lips. Slowly, my heavy lids opened and I found myself staring into my husband’s eyes. He was shaking my shoulders and kissing me, forcing me to come to.

He breathed out as soon as my eyes opened. I rubbed my head and sat up on the cold damp floor. I looked around me to see that we were trapped in a cell within a dungeon of some sort. Bodies of familiar vampires lay strewn all around us, still unconscious. Ibrahim sat upright, leaning against the wall in the far corner. I crawled to the gate of our cell and peered through. Several other cells surrounded us, also filled with our vampires and witches. All of them appeared to still be in slumber except for Vivienne and Xavier who were in the cell directly opposite us.

I looked back around my own cell, and approached my father, who was lying a few feet away from me. I grabbed his shoulders and shook him vigorously until he came to. He cursed beneath his breath as he sat up.

“Where are we?” I whispered to Derek.

“I don’t know,” he replied, his voice hoarse.

“How did she trap us down here like this?” I looked over at Ibrahim. “Were you witches not paying attention? The reason we brought you was to do what we vampires cannot—protect us from the powers of this witch.”

“We tried,” Ibrahim muttered. “But our powers are useless against this witch. It’s as though she’s drained us of them.”

“But there are almost a dozen of you!” my father said, rubbing the back of his head. “Combined, how could you not have been able to do something?”

“Clearly,” Ibrahim said, standing up, impatience now in his voice, “this witch is no ordinary witch.”

I stared at him, perplexed. “What do you mean?”

“I’ve never come across a witch so powerful before,” he said. “She is not a witch of The Sanctuary.”

“What do you mean? All witches come from The Sanctuary,” Derek said, frowning at the warlock.

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