I recalled the atmosphere of that place. I could easily believe what the Elder was telling me; it had certainly felt toxic, infectious. I wondered whether there was any cure for a vampire born out of Cruor. Whether—if I ever managed to break free from the Elder’s clutches—there was any hope of living a normal life.
My body quivered again.
Why do you want to go to Headquarters so much? I asked, eager to divert my attention away from my fate.
“You’ll find out soon enough.”
Why did we leave the hut so suddenly?
“I don’t have patience to argue with that fool. A period of absence should make him more malleable. But, fear not, we have things to do in the meantime to keep you occupied.”
The words sent shivers running through me. But more than my own safety, I feared for my husband’s.
You have my memories; it’s not like you don’t know the location of Hawk Headquarters. Why do you need Derek to escort us there?
“He’ll serve as an extra layer of protection for you as my vessel, and consequently myself. You’ll understand how this will prove to be valuable once we arrive and begin our mission. There aren’t many people who will risk their life for you to the extent that he will.”
Chapter 11: Derek
Corrine stood by the front door, clutching Rose in her arms, and Ibrahim stood next to her. They watched as I ripped through the small hut for the third time. I was in denial, refusing to accept that I had lost Sofia yet again.
Finally, I slumped down in a chair and admitted defeat. What a pathetic husband you are. Your wife miraculously returned to you and you couldn’t even keep hold of her for more than a few hours.
I looked up at Corrine and Ibrahim and shook my head. “She’s gone,” I croaked.
“What on earth could have possessed her to leave in broad daylight?” Corrine’s face contorted with distress.
“I just don’t understand. She was insisting on visiting Headquarters. I argued with her, but how on earth could she think she’d be able to travel there with the sun shining? I can’t believe she would be that stupid.”
“Maybe she’s just lost her mind,” Ibrahim said.
“What if the Ageless took her?” The idea hit me like a punch in the gut.
“I would have sensed her. I doubt very much that the Ageless is behind this.”
“Then where is she?” I smashed my fist down against the coffee table and it shattered, shards of glass cutting into my hand. I barely noticed the pain. If anything it distracted me from the anguish that was eating me away inside. The carpet started to singe beneath my feat. My body was heating up rapidly.
“Leave with Rose. Leave now! Before I burn you all to ashes.”
Corrine exited the hut with the baby, but Ibrahim stayed behind and stepped toward me. “Do you need my assistance?”
“No. Just leave. I need to practice controlling my own power.”
“Will you follow us to the new house?”
“Not until I’ve found Sofia. I can’t leave this location in case she returns. Now, enough talk. Just leave with Corrine.”
Ibrahim gave in to my request and followed Corrine through the door.
Now alone, I jumped over the terrace and dug my feet into the sand. Its heat melded with my own as I ran along the beach. I ran along the shore for miles, first in one direction, then in the other. I’d been half expecting to find Sofia lying in a heap unconscious somewhere along that coast. But I didn’t.
Then I made my way to the nearby village, thinking that perhaps Sofia had got it into her head to meet Corrine’s friends, whom I’d mentioned to her in passing. I stopped by their house and was lucky enough that they understood some English, for I spoke no Spanish. They hadn’t seen any pale redhead pass their way.
One of them was kind enough to accompany me to the local market and ask around for Sofia. But nobody had seen her.
By the time I had finished my search, darkness had fallen and it was well past midnight. I returned to the hut with a sinking feeling in my stomach. How am I going to tell Aiden?
I picked up my phone and dialed the number for the main switchboard at Headquarters.
“I need to speak to Aiden Claremont.”
“He’s retired to his rooms now, sir. I doubt he’s still awake. Can I take a message?”
“No. Go to his apartment and wake him up immediately. Tell him Derek Novak is on the phone.”
Soon enough, Aiden’s groggy voice was on the other end of the line.
“Derek? What’s going on? Are you ready for me to send an aircraft to collect the two of you?”
“Aiden, Sofia’s gone.”
“Huh? What? I thought she returned.”
“Yes, she did. But then she disappeared again. I’ll explain everything, but first, I think there’s a small chance she’s headed for Headquarters. You need to watch out for her arrival and bring her into your custody. Don’t alert everyone there—especially not Arron. Only warn the people you trust.”
“Because she… she’s now a vampire.”
“Wh-what! Derek, have you lost your mind? How is that possible?”
“I don’t know. She claimed she didn’t know herself.”
Aiden asked me a barrage of further questions about the details of Sofia’s escape from Cruor, her arrival at the hut, and the short time I’d spent with her. I told him everything I knew, except for the strange change in her personality. I didn’t have the heart to tell Aiden yet. The poor man was barely coping with the bad news that I’d just given him.