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Whether or not Vivienne was right, it seemed that the only thing we could do while Ibrahim and Corrine were gone was to try to figure out what the twins could possibly possess that was so special.

After a particularly grueling day, attempting to continue running the island as normal while suffering under the weight of Rose’s absence, Derek and I sat together at our dining table with Mona and Kiev. I’d requested them to visit because I wanted to discuss further with Mona what Rose might have that was of so much interest to the witches. Since Mona was a black witch herself, or used to be, I figured that if she didn’t know, nobody would.

As I looked at them across the table, it was still bizarre to think that we were holding a meeting with Kiev about how to save my twins when not too long ago he’d been the primary threat to them. I shook away the thought, and focused on Mona.

“Before I try to answer this, Sofia,” she said, “you need to understand that I was never fully involved with the workings of those witches. I shut myself out as much as possible because I didn’t agree with what went on. My involvement was mostly perfunctory. So what I say is based on guessing.”

“A guess is better than nothing,” I said.

She cleared her throat and sat forward in her chair, casting a worried glance at Kiev before beginning. “When the twins were conceived, you were a human, while Derek was also a human, with powers bestowed on him by Cora…”

“Yes,” I replied. “And I was still an immune since it happened before my visit to Cruor.”

Mona slunk back in her chair. “Human, vampire, witch,” she muttered.

“What?” Derek said.

“A confluence of three.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“You know how immunes first came into existence. You, Sofia, as an immune, were essentially a by-product of the witches’ meddling with the human race. A creation of the witches. Derek was an ex-vampire, also endowed with the powers of a witch, and both of you were also human of course. Three species combined. A meeting of three life forces.”

“But what does it mean? So what?”

“I remind you again that this is all my speculation,” she said, looking at me sternly before continuing. Derek and I nodded. “I worked in the spell room for many years under Rhys. While I wasn’t invited in to take part in higher-level plans because they didn’t trust me, I remember the types of potions they asked me to make, and for what purposes. Which ingredients were more potent than others. You see, the reason they are so keen on having a constant supply of human blood is that it is a key ingredient of so many rituals they carry out. Most I don’t want to describe to you, so don’t ask. But human blood is key in most of them. The twins’ blood is more than just ordinary blood. It’s more potent. And it’s rare—I’ve never come across such a combination throughout my years of potion-making… And believe me when I say I’ve dealt with almost every ingredient imaginable.”

“Then wouldn’t Anna’s children be at risk too?” Kiev said suddenly.

Mona paused, staring at him in thought. “They could be. Although Kyle used to be a vampire, he wasn’t endowed with powers like Derek was. But Anna is an immune—the witches’ influence runs in her blood. Vampire, witch, human. The confluence is still there.”

“And for whatever reason, they only decided to take Rose, when there were five children in total to choose from,” Derek said, rubbing a hand over tired eyes.

“It’s possible they aren’t aware that Kyle was a vampire, and so aren’t aware of the confluence,” Mona said. “Remember, Derek Novak has a much higher profile, not just in this human realm, but also in the supernatural realms. The Shade is practically a legend there too. Before I came here, I’d lived my whole life outside of the human realm and even I had heard rumors of The Shade.”

“So if they are interested in this ‘confluence’, as you say, they actually have four more possible targets. Ben, Ariana, Jason… and baby Kiev,” I concluded.

“Maybe,” Mona said. “Since, at least so far, you say you haven’t noticed anything different about the twins, I can only assume that it’s their blood the witches are after.”

Chapter 8: Rose

“We need to stop,” I said firmly, after we’d been driving ten minutes and the gas station was out of view.

“Not yet,” Caleb replied through gritted teeth.

I stared at him in exasperation. “Caleb, you’ve got twenty bullet holes in your chest. You’re losing blood like it’s water.”

His seat was soaked in blood. Even though the seat was made of absorbent fabric, it had reached its limit and blood puddled beneath Caleb.

He exhaled deeply and shook his head. “We’ll stop once it’s dark.”

I stared out at the sky. That could be hours still. “Damn it, vampire. Stop the car now!” I slammed my fist against the dashboard.

He ignored my tantrum, and if anything he pressed down harder against the accelerator as we continued speeding north along the highway. I glared at him, but he refused to look at me.

Stubborn boy.

“If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for me,” I pleaded. “We need to do something about those wounds. If something happens to you—”

“These wounds are inconsequential.”

“What?”

“They’re not going to kill me.”

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