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Despair overcame me as I pulled against the bars until my palms started to peel away. I climbed down from the stool and scrambled about the room. There was nothing that would be even remotely helpful.

I sank down on the floor and buried my head against my knees. I felt too drained to even cry. I just sat there, my eyes shut tight, imagining that ship sailing away before my very eyes in a few hours.

I lost myself to grief for God knew how long. Light began to trickle through the glass. I raised my head.

A shadowy figure crouched down on the floor on the other side of the room.

Black eyes gleamed at me in the light of the early dawn.

Chapter 18: Rose

The warlock had finally caught up with me. As if that wasn’t heart-stopping enough, another figure stirred in the shadows beside him. A werewolf. A chain was fastened around its neck, held by Rhys.

Rhys stepped forward, snaking an arm around my waist, and the room vanished.

When our feet hit solid ground, my back brushed up against a wall. I blinked, trying to see through the darkness. A humming filled my ears, and water dripped. The werewolf grunted. Rhys gripped my arm and pulled me toward him. The flicker of a fire appeared a foot away, hovering over his palm. It cast light around a high-ceilinged chamber filled with luggage and storage containers. We must be inside a ship. Camilo’s ship. Although I would have given anything to be on this boat less than half an hour ago, now my presence here with the warlock chilled me to the bone.

My eyes fell on the werewolf, now in mid-transformation. I almost choked as his metamorphosis completed. As he straightened up, I found myself staring at Micah’s unshaven face. He stared back, and I could have sworn I saw a flicker of apology in his eyes.

He turned his attention to Rhys. “Where have you brought us now?”

“Just start sniffing,” Rhys hissed, tugging on the chain around Micah’s neck. It seemed to have shrunk to accommodate for his change of size. “We need to find the vampire.”

My stomach formed in knots. As much as I was desperate to find Caleb, I couldn’t bear to imagine what Rhys would do to him for his betrayal. I stared at Micah as his nostrils flared, taking in deep breaths.

Please, Micah, don’t pick up his scent. Don’t pick up his scent.

I wanted to reach out and throttle Micah as he began walking forward. Rhys followed, pulling me along after him. Anger boiled up within me, but I knew that it wasn’t right to blame the wolf. Rhys had him under his control. I wasn’t sure that Micah could refuse even if he tried.

We reached the end of the chamber, and Micah was still sniffing the air. He walked toward a door to our right and pushed it open. It led into yet another storage chamber. The musky smell of animals invaded my nostrils as we stepped into the room. Micah kept walking forward, past cages of lions, chimpanzees, a couple of zebras, until a black armored truck came into view at the end of the room.

“No,” I breathed. “Please.” I gripped hold of Rhys’ rock-hard arm and tried to pull him back. I might as well have tried to move a mountain.

He strode forward and gripped the heavy lock. He muttered an incantation, and a second later the lock snapped open. I hurried forward, holding my breath.

Caleb wasn’t there.

There was a thick splattering of dried blood on the floor, but otherwise, the dingy container was empty.

I didn’t know whether to feel relieved or devastated.

What could they have done with him? Could he have escaped? Where would he have gone?

Rhys turned around, grunting in frustration. Micah shrugged.

“Keep moving,” Rhys said, casting one last look inside the truck before turning away. We walked through a door to our left, leading into yet another storage chamber. If it weren’t for the blood on the floor, a clear reminder of the struggle here before the doors slammed shut, I would have suspected this to be a different truck entirely.

“Follow, Rose,” Rhys growled. “Don’t make me hold you the whole time.”

I was about to limp after him, but something made me look upward, at the ceiling.

My breath hitched. Caleb clung to a shadowy corner of the ceiling of the container like a spider. If his eyes had been closed—as they must have been when I’d first looked inside—I wouldn’t have noticed him. It was their gleam that had caught my attention. Our eyes locked for but a second before I whirled around and began walking toward Micah and Rhys. I was scared that they might have already seen my reaction, but their backs were turned to me. I hurried forward to catch up with them, even as my heart lifted.

He’s still alive.

I had to get out of this chamber. The doors to Caleb’s prison were open now. I’d have to lose Rhys. I couldn’t afford to let him give up his search and vanish me away somewhere, maybe to another realm. If that happened, it would be the end. Both for myself and Caleb. Even if Caleb managed to make it back to The Shade without me, he needed me to let him in and convince my parents to allow him to stay. I wasn’t sure that Mona’s word alone would be enough.

My mind was reeling as we entered the adjoining chamber. Like the last, this too was filled with cages of animals. We’d walked halfway across it when Micah stopped.

“I’ve lost the scent,” Micah mumbled. “I guess he was kept in that van, but now he’s elsewhere…”

I was tempted to suggest he might be upstairs, but was worried Rhys would find it suspicious I was so keen to reveal Caleb’s whereabouts.

“We’ll retrace our steps,” Rhys said, turning around.

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