She handed me a glass of water. I drank it down in a few gulps. Still the foul taste lingered on my tongue. I slid back down beneath the covers and glared up at Caleb.

“What the hell was that?“

“A potion,” he said.

“The witch made it?”

He shook his head.

“The witch isn’t here right now.”

Hm. That would explain a lot.

“Then who?”

“I made it.”

I stared up at him. Dancer. Musician. Potion-maker. The more time I spent with this man, the less I felt I knew about him.

“So can you do spells too?”

He shook his head again. “I’ve just spent enough time around witches to have picked up a trick or two.”

He forced me to drink that foul liquid three times a day. He personally made sure that I swallowed every last drop. As revolting as it was, I couldn’t deny that each time I drank it, I felt better. By the third evening, my appetite had returned to normal and I was able to walk around again.

He sat in the chair in the corner of my room, watching me stretch my legs.

“Rose,” he said, breaking the silence after Frieda had left us. “I apologize if I hurt you the other night.”

My hands reached instinctively for my shoulders as I recalled the incident. He had not so much hurt me as shaken me.

I nodded.

“All right.”

He stood up and headed toward the door. Before opening it, he turned around to me.

“You need to understand that there are things that I cannot and will not talk about with you. There are many things about me, the witch, and this place that you cannot know. So you need to stop pressing me for answers. But you have my word that I will do what I can to get you out of here as soon as the next opportunity presents itself. I want you out from under my skin just as much as you want out of here. I can’t tell you when or how it will happen, but you have my word: I will be waiting and watching for that time.”

With that, he left and shut the door behind him.

Chapter 28: Rose

With Caleb’s assurance, it felt as though a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I still had no idea when or how I would escape, but somehow I trusted Caleb. Despite his mood swings and unpredictable nature, there was something in his eyes that was sincere.

I also couldn’t deny that all along he had shown no signs of wanting to keep me trapped here. Indeed, he had left me behind on the beach when he could have easily taken me. Even though I didn’t understand why he couldn’t help me escape now, he had gone out of his way to try to save both Ben and I. He’d risked his life and those of his men in ambushing Stellan and trying to save us. I was quite certain that he would have returned us immediately to The Shade.

The witch deserved my resentment. But not Caleb. The man seemed to be bearing enough weight on his shoulders without my resentment.

No, he deserved more than that from me.

I had tried to pry but it had just earned me his ire. I just had to trust that he would help me to escape as soon as he could.

The following evening as I was getting out of the shower and drying my hair, the oak doors creaked open below my balcony. I wrapped the coat around me and looked down over the banister.

Caleb sat on the stone steps, staring out over the frozen dark island and the sea beyond.

I hurriedly got dressed, dried my hair as best as I could, and left the room. I rushed down the stairs until I hurried across the entrance hall.

“Caleb,” I said, placing a hand on his shoulder as I reached the snow-covered steps.

He didn’t flinch at my touch as I had expected him to. I sat down next to him in the snow.

“Thank you,” I said softly.

He stared at me, his expression hard to read, as though he wasn’t sure how he should be reacting to my expression of gratitude.

He cleared his throat. “I don’t know why you would thank me.”

I sighed, averting my eyes to the beautiful view surrounding us.

“You tried to save Ben and I from Stellan,” I said. “You’ve looked out for me ever since I got here. You just nursed me back to health. Look, I don’t know what this place is, Caleb. But it honestly feels like you’re the only light I have here. Guiding me. Making me believe that there’s still hope I might escape. Just thinking about what I’d do if you weren’t here…” I shuddered and turned to face him again. “Just thank you, okay? For being my light during this long, dark night.”

His eyes widened and his lips parted, as though he was going to say something. But then he glanced away from me and looked back out at the view.

I moved closer to him on the step and, lifting his arm up, placed it around my waist. He tensed up, but I didn’t move away. I rested my head against his shoulder, settling myself in closer against the contours of his body.

“A vampire has never felt warmer to me than you do right now,” I whispered.

Chapter 29: Caleb

For being my light during this long, dark night.

Her words replayed in my mind long after she had spoken them.

Me? Her light?

The words sounded so preposterous, at first I’d thought that she was joking. But when I’d looked down into those beautiful green eyes of hers, I’d seen earnestness behind them.

I hadn’t known what to do or say as she wrapped my arm around her small waist. And when her warm body pressed closer against me, my muscles tensed as her nearness overwhelmed my senses.

After she showed no signs of moving from her position, I felt concerned that my coldness was starting to drain the warmth from her.

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