As I drifted off, I chastised myself for springing myself on him the way I did. I didn’t know what I’d been thinking. It wasn’t in my nature to behave the way I had. I’d always considered myself shy, introverted, even kind of dorky.
I supposed that Caleb was a man who made me do things I wouldn’t normally do.
I recalled the look in Caleb’s eyes as he’d drawn away from me. Even if on the surface he seemed to accept certain things, like not blaming himself fully for Annora’s demise, he was still deeply scarred. I realized that what he’d revealed to me about his past so far was only a glimpse into the darkness he’d endured for decades, perhaps even centuries.
One thing became clear to me that night. Caleb Achilles was a broken man. More broken than I’d thought.
But I didn’t care how long it might take him to find himself again. I didn’t care how many layers he had to peel back. I’d stay by his side and do everything I could to help him heal.
Because I loved him.
Chapter 21: Sofia
Days passed and Ibrahim and Corrine still hadn’t returned.
None of us were any closer to answering the questions that surrounded us either. The more we tried to decipher the black witches’ reasoning, the more confused we became. I could only hope that Corrine and Ibrahim would return soon with my daughter, and hopefully with them bring back an understanding of what was really going on and what these black witches’ motivations truly were.
The thought had occurred to me more than once that perhaps it was too late to save Rose. That they could have already taken from her what they wanted. Vivienne’s surge of dark visions hardly served to make us feel any better.
But Derek and I had to hold out hope. We’d been through enough desperate situations in our lives to know that we couldn’t allow ourselves to fold to grief or desperation. We had to stay strong, for Ben if nobody else.
Since Rose’s absence, I’d been thinking a lot about our son. I guessed that Derek had too, but it wasn’t until after a week of Rose’s absence that I voiced what had been playing on my mind ever since our discussion with Mona.
I waited until night, when Ben had retired to his room, and I lay in bed with Derek. I snuggled closer against him, looking deep into his blue eyes.
“Derek,” I whispered, for I was afraid that if I spoke, my voice would crack. “I don’t think Ben should wait any longer before turning into a vampire.”
The way my husband looked back at me, I could immediately see that he’d already had this thought himself. If we turned Ben into a vampire, his blood would lose its special quality.
Derek drew me closer and planted a kiss on my forehead.
“I agree,” he whispered back.
“But we need to think how to break this to Ben. I don’t want him to ever think that we pressured him into this decision. I want it to come from him and know that it’s what he really wants.”
“Darling, the twins have wanted to become vampires since they were children. We were the ones who told them to wait until eighteen.”
“I know. I… I’m just nervous.”
“We’ll talk to him about this first thing tomorrow morning. I think he’ll be happy we’re giving our blessing for him to turn earlier.”
I paused, closing my eyes. “Now I just wish that we’d turned Rose sooner…” My voice choked up and I had to fight not to break down again.
Derek gripped me tighter. “So do I. But there’s no point lamenting the past.” He held my face in his hands and kissed me. “When we get Rose back—and I do say when—we’ll turn her immediately. And I know she’ll be just as eager to turn as Ben will be. Then the two of them will no longer be such walking targets.”
I thought of Anna’s children. They were still young. It seemed unfair to turn even Ariana and Jason at such a young age, not to speak of Kiev, who was still an infant. We’d already been to visit Anna to discuss the potential danger her children were in as soon as we’d spoken to Mona about it. I suspected that Anna and Kyle might have already had the same conversation Derek and I were having.
“What do you think Anna and Kyle will do? I mean, Ariana is at least in her teens now. But Jason isn’t. And young Kiev? I’ve never even heard of a vampire baby. It just wouldn’t be humane to subject an infant to that kind of trauma.”
“Then they will have to take the risk that they will be able to keep him safe until all this danger has passed.”
I paused, biting my lip. “What if it doesn’t pass? What if Kiev was right when he said that we may just have to learn to survive alongside these witches, rather than hope to ever get rid of them completely?”
Derek swallowed hard. He had been trying to reassure me that things would work out—after all, we were no strangers to storms—but even he couldn’t find a single word of comfort. He rolled over onto his back and stared up at the ceiling.
“Sofia, let’s just get some sleep now. We’ll talk to Ben, Anna and Kyle in the morning.”
Chapter 22: Sofia
We caught Ben in the kitchen before he left for school. Derek sat down at the kitchen table while I walked up to my son and held his shoulders. “We need to talk.”
He looked from me to his father, shrugging his bag off his shoulder and placing it down on the counter. “About what?”
Ben pulled up a seat at the table opposite Derek, while I sat between them. I looked at Derek, raising my eyebrows to see if he’d prefer to broach the subject.