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Hurrying over to me, Caleb pulled the gag from my mouth and with two swipes of his claws, he’d freed me from the ropes. I gasped, clutching my throat.

He lifted me up and walked me round to the front passenger seat where he sat me down and fastened the seat belt around me.

Then he walked back over to the corpse of Luis, lying on the ground a dozen feet away. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, Caleb bent down and scooped up Luis’ dark sunglasses, still miraculously intact. Then he limped back to the truck and heaved himself into the driver’s seat, slamming the door shut and starting the ignition.

Donning Luis’ shades, Caleb pressed down hard on the accelerator and made the engine roar.

“Let’s get out of here.”

Chapter 7: Sofia

Our decision to stay in The Shade while Ibrahim and Corrine went to look for our daughter was probably the hardest Derek and I had ever made. Every fiber of my being screamed out to chase her down again. But Corrine had managed to talk sense into us. If anybody had a chance of finding Rose, it was them. Derek’s and my absence would only weaken our island at a time when we needed to be at our strongest. The Shade’s king and queen simply couldn’t abandon their people at a time like this, not even for their daughter. After Mona, Corrine and Ibrahim were the most powerful witches we had. And since there was no way Mona could leave, the two of them had volunteered to go.

Their departure brought back memories of the time I’d been separated from my twins at birth. While Derek had been scrambling around trying to piece our family back together again, Ibrahim and Corrine had kept Rose safe. They were already like second parents to her. There was nobody I trusted more than them.

And so they left us. I didn’t even know where they were going to start their search. Derek and I were still clueless about where our daughter was.

Soon after Rose was discovered missing, we’d realized that Micah was too. It had sent shockwaves throughout the island that one of our guests could have kidnapped the princess, and I was worried that we might have an uprising on our hands as members of our council began demanding that the werewolves be kicked off the island entirely.

Of course that would have been impossible, since they had close ties with Mona and none of us would even have an island without Mona. We couldn’t afford to upset her.

Although it pained me, I couldn’t deny that a part of me suspected that Rose might have gone willingly. She’d been acting so recklessly of late, I couldn’t dismiss the possibility. And to my further sadness, Derek confessed the same. Sometimes it felt like we didn’t know our daughter any more.

The other possibility, of course, was that Micah had made off with Rose. We’d searched for miles around our island in hopes of finding them. We reasoned that they couldn’t have gone that far in the missing boat. But when we hadn’t found them, Ben and Griffin had stepped forward with a more chilling theory—that perhaps it hadn’t actually been Micah who’d made off with Rose. They’d told me how they’d saved Micah from being stuck outside the island. He’d given an excuse that he must have been absent during the time Mona gave everyone permission to enter the island. Mona had confirmed that it was not true. She said she remembered distinctly Micah being there.

Saira and another werewolf named Kira—the two wolves who’d known Micah most closely—also spoke up in defense of him. They said Micah had been behaving strangely of late. Kira had said that he’d developed an obsession with the princess, while he had shown no interest in her before.

Even I found it hard to believe that Micah could have done something like this. I’d met him only briefly, but he didn’t strike me as someone who would have kidnapped my daughter.

We went back and forth, discussing the situation for hours in the Great Dome. While some were convinced that Micah had just given into temptation and stolen Rose away, others—particularly those who had known the wolf—concluded that something must have happened to him while he was outside the island, and the Micah who had returned was an imposter.

The latter, of course, dug up a whole new plethora of questions.

Mona concluded that the most likely person to pull something like this off would have been one of the black witches. Being unable to penetrate Mona’s spell, they’d had to find another way around it. But if this was the case, we didn’t understand why they would go to all that trouble to get Rose and then leave the island. Why not take Anna, our immune, whom they’d seemed so bent on having before? It was as if they’d lost interest in Anna, because I was sure they could have easily swept her away along with Rose. And what about Mona? Surely, if they’d wanted to take over The Shade and its supply of humans, the best way would be to take down Mona—then it would be no trouble taking over the island.

Although we’d come to some theories, they were just that: theories. And with them came dozens of other questions we had no answers to.

Then Vivienne had another vision, which confirmed that the black witches were behind this. Vivienne had difficulty telling us exactly what she’d seen, but she was convinced that our twins had something that the witches wanted.

I was doubtful about this. Vivienne’s visions had been known to be misleading in the past. If it was my twins they wanted, why wouldn’t they have taken Ben too while they’d had access to the island?

Vivienne had pointed out that there could be an explanation as to why they only needed Rose first. The fact that they’d taken Rose didn’t preclude that both twins had something the witches desired. It just meant that they wanted Rose first.

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