“What did Lilith do to me?” I gasped.
He eyed me, his face cool as stone.
I clutched his collar and tried to shake him. “Why did she take away my powers?”
I cursed the Ancient in my mind—something I had been warned never to do during my induction as a witch. But the thought of having found Caleb by now if I’d just had my powers sent me into a tailspin of fury and frustration. The joy she’d denied me for the majority of my life, she still denied me even now that her spell was supposed to be off me.
Rhys’ powerful hands closed around mine and crushed them. I cried out, stumbling back and nursing my fingers.
He glowered down at me. “What Lilith did to you should be the least of your concerns now, after what Caleb has done.”
Like a drug, my fiancé’s name lit up my brain. “Do you know where he is? Tell me, where—”
Clutching my shoulders, Rhys pushed me back down until I was kneeling before him. His fingers dug deep against my scalp, tugging painfully at my hair.
Before I could utter another word, my mind was no longer my own. A vision blasted through it. Caleb walked along a dimly lit tunnel with me in his arms, unconscious. He stopped abruptly and laid me down on the ground. Walking toward a gap in the wall, he looked down at a young girl who lay curled up there, her hands and feet tied with rope. The Shade’s princess. Rose Novak. He scooped her up in his arms and raced out of the tunnel with barely a look back at my unconscious form.
As the vision ended, Rhys removed his hands from my hair. My breathing came hard and fast as I knelt before him, stunned into silence.
Then shock turned to devastation, clawing at my chest and eating me alive.
He left me for the Novak girl.
Why would he do that? What could she have done to gain such affection from him? How long has this been going on between them?
He’d abandoned me so easily, I was too shattered even to weep.
But how could I expect any different from Caleb? After the way I’ve treated him all these years, it’s no wonder he sought the warmth of another woman’s arms when all he found in mine was pain and sorrow.
Although it crushed me to dust, I couldn’t help but think that it might be too late. That I might have lost him already to this green-eyed girl.
And if I have, I’ve nobody to blame but myself.
The vision had gutted me so completely, I barely had the strength to harbor jealousy toward the girl. I just felt grief… overwhelming grief and remorse. I gathered my knees to my chest and buried my head in my arms. I closed my eyes, wishing I had my magic so I could shrink myself into the size of a grain of sand. That was how small I felt. I just wanted to disappear.
The warlock’s heavy boot nudged the base of my spine. I didn’t respond. He nudged me harder.
I buried my head deeper into my arms. For the first time since coming to consciousness in the tunnel, I wished that I was back to my numb self. It was a dull pain I’d have to bear, but it would be nothing compared to the suffering I endured now.
Rhys’ fingers sank once again into my hair. He jerked upward, hauling me up into a standing position.
“This is how you react? You’re just going to let your lover, your betrothed, make a mockery of you?” His dark eyes bored into me.
My lips opened but no words came out.
Caleb wasn’t making a mockery of me. He was living his life finally. A life that I had deprived him of.
But I could see looking into the blazing black eyes of this warlock that he wouldn’t understand. As he was a Channeler, Lilith’s bony hand was still wrapped tightly around his heart. He wouldn’t have hope of understanding unless she also set him free.
I still didn’t understand why she would lift my powers. I could only conclude that it had been some kind of mistake, because I couldn’t imagine them wanting to find a replacement now to manage the two islands.
Caleb had been hoping for this, of course. But I couldn’t imagine Lilith even entertaining the notion, much less granting it. It made no sense.
Rhys tugged again, still gripping me by my hair.
“Do you feel no shame? Do you have no self-worth?”
Again, his words had no resonance with me. Each time he tried to make me feel Caleb’s betrayal, I just felt more guilt. My own betrayal dwarfed Caleb leaving me.
“Please, help me find Caleb,” I said. “I need to speak to him.”
As much as it pained me to think of finding Caleb in the arms of that girl, I couldn’t deny the draw to him. Once I find him, I just need to convince him that I’ve returned. It may take time, but he’ll recognize that I’m back again.
“Don’t worry,” Rhys muttered.
I was too weak to even think about Rhys’ motivations. At that moment I didn’t care. The only thing that mattered to me was laying eyes on my beloved’s face again. Thinking about it brought strength to my legs I’d thought I wouldn’t regain without water, food and medical attention.
Rhys’ eyes roamed my body and settled on my bloodstained feet.
He ran his hands from my shoulders, down my waist, down my legs until he was touching my ankles. And as he did, the pain and weakness drained out of me, replaced by a warm rush. The type that a human might experience after a long night’s sleep. I no longer ached. It was no longer a struggle to support my own weight.
He knelt down next to me and with a flourish of his hand, he manifested a pair of shoes, a long dress, a thick cloak, and next to it, perched on the rocks, a jug of water and half a loaf of bread.