“Back to base.”
“You’ll see,” Caleb said, impatience beginning to show in his voice. “Enough questions.”
I gripped the back of his seat and, wiping away my tears with the back of my sleeve, looked forward through the screen to try to make sense of where we were headed. All I could see was an endless expanse of black ocean.
I sat back in my seat and closed my eyes.
Please, Ben. Be safe. Please.
Then I thought about the mobile phone they had confiscated. Our parents were used to us calling thrice a week. Usually Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. If we didn’t call them, they’d get suspicious.
But how on earth will they find us? They’ll contact the adventure company’s office only to find that we checked out long ago.
Goddamn it. We should have called to tell them about those vampires.
Tears threatened to consume me again, even though there was no point to them. Tears weren’t going to help bring Ben back. Or help our parents find us. I looked up at Caleb.
He’s our only hope.
I still didn’t understand his motivation for helping us, and I couldn’t trust him. But he was the only glimmer of light we had in this darkness.
I sneezed. My clothes were soaking from the rain.
Caleb turned around in his chair to look at me and immediately got up. “Come with me.”
I followed him out of the control room, along the passageway. We stopped outside a door. He knocked three times.
“Frieda,” he called.
The door opened and a tall ebony-skinned vampire nursing a painful-looking gash in her arm appeared in the doorway.
“Do you have anything this girl could change into?”
Her chestnut-brown eyes settled on me and she nodded.
“Yes, I’m sure I can fix her up with something. Come in.”
Celeb placed his hand on the small of my back and nudged me inside. Frieda closed the door behind me.
“Let’s see what we’ve got here,” she said.
The cabin was tiny—barely large enough for a single bed and a cabinet. She crouched down and pulled open a drawer in the chest in the corner.
The first thing she pulled out was a towel. Then a long cotton nightdress.
“It’s not much, but it’s better than staying in those wet clothes.”
She placed both on her bed and left the room for me to change.
I wasn’t sure what to do with my sopping wet pajamas so I just put them in a corner of the room. I dried myself as much as I could with the towel, then pulled the nightdress over my head. I wrapped up my wet hair in the towel to form a turban.
I opened the door to find Frieda waiting outside.
“Thank you,” I murmured.
She nodded and was about to shut herself back in the room when I asked, “Could I ask you a few questions?”
“I think it’s best you ask Caleb any questions you have. I don’t know how much you’re allowed to know.”
She shut the door and I made my way back to the control room. When I pushed open the door, Caleb turned around and looked me over briefly, then turned back to face the glass screen.
I sat down in my seat.
“How much longer until we arrive at your ‘base’?” I asked.
“About three hours.”
Chapter 16: Rose
The submarine slowed to a halt and rose to the surface.
“We’re here,” Caleb said.
He stood up and I followed him out of the control room, along the narrow passageway, until we reached the ladder leading to the hatch.
He climbed up first, and I followed next, the rest of the vampires lining up behind me.
“Oh,” I breathed as soon as I looked around outside.
The sudden cold was the first thing that hit me—it felt like we were in the Arctic. Everything seemed to be covered in snow. We had stopped outside a small port. Behind us in the far distance the rays of the sun beat down against the water, but here they were blocked out due to the same protective charm that The Shade had.
I turned to look in front of me. Caleb had climbed down onto the icy wooden jetty and was looking up at me, hands crossed over his chest.
Shivering, I climbed down after him, almost slipping on Frieda’s long night gown in the process.
When I cast a cursory look around the island, leaving aside that it was covered with snow, it did appear similar to The Shade. There were thick woods—although the trees weren’t nearly as tall here—and I spotted a mountain range in the distance.
“Where do you vampires come from?”
Caleb remained silent, his eyes set forward.
When I repeated my question, he stared at me and said, “The less you know, the safer you’ll be. My priority is to get you and your brother back to your parents. I’ll tell you everything you need to know. Anything else you may ask is irrelevant and I suggest you keep it to yourself.”
I wanted to argue back, but the seriousness in his expression chilled me more than the weather.
Once we had crossed the beach, I looked back to get a better look at the vampires who were a part of this coven. I spotted among them some of the men I’d seen that first night I’d met Caleb at the beach party. There were perhaps fifty vampires in total—a mixture of men and women. All of them appeared to be young vampires, around the age of twenty.
Leaving the beach, we veered left toward the foothills of the mountains. And then I saw it looming in the distance. A giant grey stone-walled castle, with half a dozen sharp black-roofed turrets, built up among some of the highest peaks. Just looking at how high up it was made my head dizzy and my knees weak.
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