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I hoped that this tangent would distract Phillipe from asking too many questions about Caleb’s transformation. Like which hospital he went to, and what kind of surgeon would perform such drastic operations on a mentally unstable man.

Phillipe frowned and muttered, “What a nutcase.”

He looked at Guillerme and began speaking with him animatedly in Portuguese. I wished I could understand what they were saying. Some words were similar to Spanish—which I understood since I had studied it at school—but I couldn’t follow the conversation.

I wondered where we were going and how they would get Caleb out of the truck. They couldn’t just keep him in there forever. I comforted myself with the fact that when they did eventually open up the doors, Caleb would spring on them, and no number of bullets could stop him from tearing through their throats. These weren’t hunters after all, with special UV bullets. I hoped that it was now just a matter of time.

Miguel joined Guillerme and Phillipe’s conversation. Phillipe finally turned to me, a broad smile deepening the lines in his face.

“How do you like the circus, Rose?”

Chapter 12: Rhys

I decided to save us time by vanishing us up segments of the highway, for even though we were faster on foot than any vehicle, there was no reason to exert our energy unnecessarily. The only reason I’d ridden Micah through the rainforest for most of the way was because it was part of his training. Carrying me on his back had reinforced my position as his master and helped make him submissive to me. Now that he seemed to have learned his lesson about disobeying me, riding him was no longer required.

The highway was long and winding, and for miles there was only one course that one could travel along, because the Amazon rainforest surrounded either side of the road. Still, I made sure that we stopped every few miles so Micah could confirm the scent was still there. The next few hours were tedious, stopping and starting, but eventually Micah led us off the main road and into a gas station.

“It’s getting strong again,” he mumbled. He led me across the parking lot and stopped in front of an area covered with splatters of blood.

“Whose blood?” I asked.

“The vampire’s. Mixed with human blood… but not Rose’s.”

“Do you still detect Rose?”

Micah paused and sniffed around some more. “Over there,” he said, pointing to a corner of the concrete where an empty parking slot was.

There must have been some kind of fight here involving the vampire. I crouched down and examined the blood. While the sun had already dried out most of it, there was a particularly deep pool of blood that had seeped into a pothole in the road and this was still wet, fresh. We were getting closer.

We left the station and continued along the main road. After about an hour, Micah stopped us short. “I can no longer sense the vampire. Only the girl.”

“What do you mean?”

“His trail stopped here.” We were standing at the edge of the highway, and he pointed to the center of the lane nearest to us. There were more splatters of bloodstains. “I sense Caleb’s and Rose’s blood here.” He walked a dozen feet further. “And here I sense Rose. But I no longer sense Caleb.”

What could have happened to the vampire? I looked up and down the highway. Unless he died here…

Micah was adamant that he’d lost the vampire’s trail even after I’d forced him to walk a mile in each direction to double-check. I cursed beneath my breath. We now had no choice but to continue following Rose’s trail, and hope that the vampire would be with her. I hated the thought of him having died without punishment. He’d had an easy escape out of this world if he was in fact dead.

Not wanting to waste any more time, I kept us moving. As the hours passed, Micah seemed to become more and more confident in detecting Rose. Soon we barely even needed to stop for more than a couple of seconds for Micah to inhale and give me a nod before we swept forward again.

As night began to fall, and Micah was on the verge of transforming, he pointed to a large moving vehicle, traveling along the third lane of the highway. Keeping to the edge of the road, I raced forward on foot rather than by magic, my supernatural speed matching Micah’s as I pulled him forward. We sped up until we ran parallel with the vehicle. And there she was… Finally, I laid eyes on the human girl. She was wedged between two humans, her head lolling as she slept.

I pulled us both to a stop. “You’re going to wait here while I get the girl.” I spoke quickly. I couldn’t afford to lose sight of the vehicle now that we’d found it. “Sit,” I ordered.

His limbs began changing into that of a beast even as he sat down on the concrete at the side of the road. I placed his leash on the ground and uttered a charm that would keep him there, just in case he decided to try to make a run for it. I kept the invisibility spell on him, but I had no more use for it so I removed it from myself.

I wanted Rose to be able to look me directly in the eye. I wanted to see her fear of me.

Once Micah was securely fastened to his spot, I dashed away, hurrying to catch up with the vehicle. For a few moments, as the road curved toward the left, I thought I might have lost her. But then I spotted the vehicle again. It had now moved to the middle lane of the highway. Once I was running parallel with it again, I took a leap, kicking off the ground with all my strength, and landed on top of the roof of the vehicle. The metal roof dented beneath my feet and a thud reverberated through the vehicle.

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