Yuri, Xavier, Vivienne and Claudia all pushed their cell door at once—but it didn’t budge.

As the hours passed, hopes of ever finding Anna evaporated. Derek pulled me onto his lap as I buried my head against his neck. Though I knew he could offer me no words of comfort, I felt glad that he’d reached for me. There was something about his touch that I drew strength from.

The vampires in the opposite cells sat back down after their failed attempt to open the door. “What do you think they’re going to do with us?” Claudia asked for the umpteenth time, clutching Yuri’s knee.

We all looked blankly at one another.

Yuri wrapped his arm around Claudia and drew her closer to him. “I don’t know,” he said, his voice hoarse.

I thought of our twins and prayed that Corrine would keep her word to look after them and not let them off the island again, whatever happened. I looked around at the people in the room, most of them our closest friends and family: Vivienne and Xavier; Ashley and Landis; Yuri and Claudia; Gavin and Zinnia… The weight fell upon Derek’s and my shoulders to keep them all safe. We’d led them into this situation. And yet Derek and I were incapable of protecting even ourselves.

“How is it that we never knew about this place? These vampires…” Zinnia voiced the question that had been whirling in all of our minds ever since we first discovered these two vampire islands. And none of us were any closer to knowing the truth.

I reached for Derek’s neck and pulled his ear closer to my lips.

“I hope they’re not planning an assault on The Shade,” I whispered. I’d been avoiding saying this to Derek until now because I hadn’t wanted to panic the others, but after hours of being trapped I couldn’t hold in my fears any more. Even though I spoke the words barely louder than a breath, I knew most of them would be able to pick my words up anyway.

Now that we knew the strength of this witch, I was sure that she would be able to penetrate Corrine’s protective spell. Now that Caleb knew the location of our island, there would be nothing stopping her.

Caleb. Just thinking of that boy made my blood boil.

The click of the dungeon door opening echoed off the walls. I strained my neck to see who had entered.

Speak of the devil…

Derek let out a low growl as Caleb emerged from the doorway.

Caleb walked toward us and scanned our cell. As his eyes moved away from us, Derek’s hands shot out to grip Caleb. Although Derek had aimed for his neck, Caleb dodged too quickly. Derek managed to catch hold only of the front of Caleb’s shirt, which tore as the boy stepped back.

Derek stood, his chest heaving, holding a shred of Caleb’s shirt in his hands. “What do you want with us?” Derek demanded.

Caleb didn’t respond as he continued inspecting our cells.

I gripped the bars and hissed, “Answer him, boy.”

To my surprise, while he had ignored Derek, he looked up into my eyes. I stared at him, trying to read his blank expression and failing.

“I don’t know what the witch’s plans are for you,” he said curtly.

Several seconds later he was done inspecting our cells—for what, I had no clue—and he turned to leave. We all slumped back down to the ground as the click of the door locking echoed around the prison.

Our situation now seemed more hopeless than ever—if that was even possible. Not only had we been unable to save Anna, but I feared that our lives, our children’s and those of all the other inhabitants of The Shade now lay in the balance.

Chapter 9: Caleb

“Nobody down there is hiding the immune,” I said to Annora on returning to her quarters.

She stared at me, silence filling the room.

I was sure that Stellan wouldn’t have been brave enough to steal the immune away. Besides, he would have no reason to… unless he was trying to pin her disappearance on me, which I doubted since I had a clear alibi. Even Annora seemed to be past suspecting me.

Although I was perplexed as to what could have happened, and Annora clearly had some idea as to who was behind it, I didn’t press for answers. I wasn’t in the mood to question her and, quite honestly, I didn’t care.

All I could think about now was the fact that the Novaks, and consequently Rose, believed me to have betrayed their trust and stolen Anna.

It was a thought that had been weighing heavily upon my mind. Although I knew it was irrational, since I would never see Rose again—and indeed I had to stay away from her—it pained me to know that she would believe that I’d been playing her just so I could gain entrance onto the island.

After I returned to my room, I threw open the balcony doors and stared down at the cruel icy slopes. As the wind whipped past my face, it brought me to my senses.

This is the best thing that could have happened. Rose will distrust me, and whatever affections she might have held for me will be forgotten. And now it’s time for me to forget too.

Chapter 10: Rose

Staying inside was beginning to feel claustrophobic as we waited for our parents’ return. They hadn’t given us the slightest indication of when it might be. Hours? Days? Weeks? Even Corrine had no idea. They had all rushed off in such a hurry I doubted they had even known themselves.

Since all the leading vampires had left the island along with my parents, including their seconds-in-command, Vivienne and Xavier, Corrine and Eli had been left in charge. It was a lot for the witch to bear on her shoulders, given that she was also in charge of making sure the spell remained over the island. But if it was a struggle for the witch, she didn’t show it. She took everything in her stride and kept the island running smoothly in our rulers’ absence. I supposed it also helped to take her mind off worrying about her husband, Ibrahim.

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