My hands shot for the water jug and I downed it all within a matter of minutes. Then I finished the bread. I picked up the clothes and looked around. There weren’t any trees or boulders nearby I could change behind, and I didn’t want to go trekking for miles. So I asked Rhys to face the other way while I changed. After putting on the dress and shoes, I pulled the cloak close against me, relishing the warmth of its soft cashmere lining.
“Will you help me find him?” I asked anxiously. Rhys still had said nothing about whether he even knew where Caleb was.
Rhys’ eyes sharpened.
“I have every intention of finding him.”
Chapter 1: Rhys
I returned Annora to her island in the human realm. I didn’t know why Lilith had taken away her powers and rendered her a pathetic shadow of what she’d been, but I guessed Lilith had her reasons. Or perhaps she didn’t. Perhaps it had been an accident. I had, after all, interrupted a ritual. Perhaps in her excitement to see me back with Rose, she’d forgotten about Annora.
Lilith was getting more absent-minded recently, her concentration less sharp, her patience thinner than ever. A concern for all of us, and yet another reason we were pushing ourselves harder. We couldn’t take her life for granted. It had already been extended far past what any of us could have ever predicted, even after all the rituals and sacrifices we’d performed to give her strength. There was only so long even an Ancient could run from the hands of death.
Whatever the reason Annora was now a human, I didn’t care. I brought her to Isolde, who’d already moved into Annora’s chambers at the top of the castle, and left the girl under her care. Annora was now my aunt’s problem. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the only thing useful about Annora now was her blood. But Annora had been faithful to our cause all these years. She would be treated with respect, even if she was useless to us now.
Once I’d left the sobbing Annora, I headed straight for Caleb’s quarters. I broke down the door with a snap of my fingers and strode into the room. I walked over to his bed and examined his pillows. One hair was all I needed. I found what I sought on his bathroom floor. I placed the hair on his desk and reached into my pocket, drawing out two small glass tubes. One already had some of Rose in it—a drop of blood I’d scraped away from the stone where I’d left her back in Lilith’s cave. I opened the lid of the other and locked Caleb’s hair inside it before placing both bottles securely back in my pocket.
After I left his apartment, my next stop was the dungeons. I vanished myself down to the chamber beneath the kitchens and walked along, eyeing the prisoners as I passed by. I stopped once I’d reached the cell of Micah Kaelin. He was sprawled out on the floor, asleep. Since day had already broken here on earth, he was now in his human form.
“Wake up,” I said.
He continued to snore. I unlocked the gate and kicked him in the gut with my boot. That woke him. He jolted upright with a start and began coughing up blood.
He glared up at me. “What do you want?”
“Come,” I said. “We’re going on a journey.”
“No need to ask questions. You’ll be given information if and when necessary.”
He backed into a corner, narrowing his eyes on me. “Why would I go with you?”
“Because you have no choice.”
His questions were beginning to try my patience. I closed the distance between us and gripped his skull in my fingers. He screamed as I sent heat surging through my fingers, directly into his brain and down his nervous system. When I let go, he collapsed on the floor, every limb in his body trembling.
Manifesting a metal leash, I fastened it around his throat. “Come now, wolf. Don’t make me tame you again.”
Chapter 2: Rose
Caleb and I both took turns using the shower before leaving our hotel room. Neither of us knew how long it would be before we reached running water again. After I’d dressed, I slipped on a pair of old sandals Caleb had found beneath the bed. They were almost a size too large, but they were better than nothing.
Once ready, we descended the stairs to the reception desk and handed in the key. Sun blazed through the glass-doored entrance as we approached it. We stopped as we reached the last patch of shadowed floor. I looked up at Caleb.
“We’re going to have to find something to cover you or you won’t last long,” I said. “We should have brought a sheet down with us, or maybe we could ask the woman for one.”
Not waiting for Caleb’s answer, I walked back up to the reception desk and placed my hands on the counter.
“Um, excuse me.”
The woman peered up at me through her spectacles.
“Do you have a sheet you could spare?”
“Uh, a sheet. You know…” I began making a rectangular motion with my arms, which only seemed to confuse her further. Apparently she didn’t get many English-speaking tourists here. Either that, or she refused to learn English.
Caleb gripped my arm. “Forget it,” he muttered. “A sheet wouldn’t be thick enough anyway.”
“What about a blanket?”
“We need something that’s fitted or it’s going to keep coming off.” He pulled me away from the woman, who looked happy to get back to her newspaper, and returned to the entrance. “We’re better off looking for some kind of long… raincoat. I’m sure they sell something like that in the market to tourists who come trekking here in the Amazon.”