I guessed that this must have happened long ago, because she spoke calmly, as though she was just reflecting on a memory. Though her jaw still clenched. It reminded me of how I thought of Camilla now… as a distant memory. Except for when my daughter spoke of her—somehow that always sliced open the wounds afresh and it took a while to stem the bleeding.

I reached for Kailyn’s hand across the table and squeezed it. She locked eyes with me and smiled.

“Don’t worry,” she said. “I won’t break down on you. This happened many years ago.”

I was about to respond when there was a rapping at the door. I couldn’t imagine who it might be. I doubted it would be Derek or Sofia—they had both looked ready to flop into bed after the exhaustion of the day.

I peered through the spy hole and swung open the door. I found myself face to face with Eli. His expression was serious, his eyes intense as he looked at me.

“Eli? What brings you here?”

“May I come in?”

“Of course,” I stepped aside to allow him entrance. His eyes fell on Kailyn sitting at the table before he turned round to look at me.

His brows were furrowed, his face agitated. I had no idea what could have caused such a disturbance in him. He normally avoided conflict at all costs.

“How come you weren’t at the meeting today? Are you all right?”

Eli scoffed, then began pacing up and down the room.

I exchanged glances with Kailyn. She looked just as confused as I felt. When he still failed to respond to me, I reached out and gripped his shoulder.

“Eli, what’s—?”

His hand shot out, knocking my hand away from him. “Don’t touch me,” he snarled.

I was so stunned by his behavior, I staggered back, barely believing what I was seeing.

His breathing became louder and more uneven by the second. He took a step closer to me, and finally spoke what was on his mind. “I saw you with Adelle down by the lake last night.”

His words knocked the breath right out of me. My face contorted with confusion. “What?”

“Don’t mess with me, Aiden,” he snapped, his face now merely inches from my own.

My shock was beginning to turn into anger at his accusatory tone of voice. “I wasn’t even at the lake last night,” I said. “And Adelle and I are just friends. Even if I did feel something for her, I would never, and I mean never, poach another man’s woman.”

My words barely seemed to register. “How long have you two been seeing each other?” His hands shot out and gripped the collar of my shirt.

I clutched his hands, pushing them away from me.

What is wrong with this man? He’s crazed.

My motion only seemed to agitate him further. His hands shot out again, this time, to my shock, his claws extending. I had to jump back to avoid being grazed.

I stared at him, stunned. “Eli,” I gasped. “What the hell?”

He lurched forward, aiming for me again. I caught both his forearms before he could reach me and pushed him backward.

By now, Kailyn had abandoned her tea, too shocked by what was going on. She approached Eli from behind and attempted to restrain him. But as soon as she was within three feet of him, he lashed out at her too, catching her cheek with the tip of his claw.

Sweat dripped from his forehead, his chest heaving. “You’re a cheat, Aiden,” he hissed.

That hit a raw nerve.

“How dare you,” I growled. “Whomever you saw Adelle with last night, it was not me.”

I didn’t wait for Eli to lunge again. I dove for his waist, sending us both thudding to the floor. Gripping his neck with one hand, placing my other round his back, I flipped him over until he was lying face down on the floor.

Perhaps the one advantage I had over him was that, despite being a vampire, Eli was not trained in combat. He used his brain far more than he ever used his muscles. So he barely had time to struggle as I snapped his neck with one swift motion.

There was a grunt in the corner. I turned to see that Kailyn had now turned into a werewolf. She padded over to me, and we both stared down at Eli’s unconscious form.

He’d be back to normal soon enough. I grimaced, thinking that we’d have to take him to Adelle to get fixed up and I’d have to speak to her.

I didn’t know what to think as I stared down at Eli—always the most gentle of people. It sent chills down my spine, the way he had looked at me with such hatred… such darkness. How he could doubt me, and what I had done to deserve such doubt, I could only wonder.

And who had he seen down by the lake last night? How had he managed to mistake that man for me?

I could only wonder what had gotten into his head.

Chapter 15: Sofia

During the second day’s meeting at the Great Dome, we finally came to a decision—albeit temporary. Mona would enforce a boundary, separating their part of the island from ours. No werewolf could cross it without permission.

We’d discussed the idea the day before, but I’d felt deeply uncomfortable about it. Now, after another day of discussion, we were no further forward. It seemed that this was our only choice if we wanted to keep this island from going under.

I hated it. It caused a divide far deeper than the physical. I had begun to make friends with them. It felt like we were going backwards. I was grateful at least that Mona seemed to be understanding about it. Although she’d made clear in no uncertain terms that the werewolves were like her family, she was at least helping us deal with the situation and come to a compromise.

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