“I don’t know why,” Caleb replied. “Annora doesn’t tell me everything.”

“So, Stellan was going to hand me over to my parents?”

“No. They thought they could trick your parents to hand over the immune, while in return giving them your brother only. Stellan escaped from your parents and came to take you away somewhere else in case The Shade’s vampires managed to storm my island.”

“Why would the witch want to keep me?”

Caleb shrugged.

“An extra bargaining chip against The Shade. Perhaps there are other things that you have over there that would be useful to us.”

“Did they hand over Anna? Our immune?”

“I don’t know.”

I sat back in my chair, breathing deeply as I tried to absorb all this information. My heart was pounding at the thought of Anna’s life being in danger. She was loved dearly by all of us. My parents had told us how she had saved Ben when he was just a baby. If it hadn’t been for her, I likely would not have had a brother. What made things more worrying was that she was heavily pregnant. I prayed that my parents had managed to keep her safe. I couldn’t imagine them ever handing her over.

“How long will it take to get there?” I asked anxiously.

“Perhaps another half an hour. It’s not far.”

My stomach was in knots for the rest of the journey. Finally, Caleb brought us to the surface. He moored up in some sort of port and then stood up. Rummaging around in the compartment above me, he pulled out a long dark cloak and a pair of sunglasses. I gasped when he drew out a dagger from his belt and cut a large gash in his palm. He dripped his blood all over the cloak, rubbing it into the fabric. His palm healed quickly, so he had to cut himself several times before enough blood had soaked into the fabric.

“Now, put these on,” he said, handing me the cloak and shades. “My blood will help to mask the smell of your own. And keep that hood pulled down over your face.”

I did as instructed and followed him toward the hatch entrance.

“Wait here,” he whispered down at me.

I watched from below as he raised his head out of the hatch and looked around.

He reached down for me. His hand enveloped mine in a strong grip as he pulled me up. He lifted me out of the hatch and placed me on the ground. I shivered. This place was as cold as Caleb’s island. It seemed that the witch had cast the same spell over both.

Getting down himself, he stood in front of me, his muscular frame concealing me from view against the submarine. He turned around and looked down at me.

“You’re going to need to stick close to me until we find your parents. Understood? Follow me like you’re my shadow.”

Holding my arm tightly, he held me close against him as we moved forward. I couldn’t see much, given the dark shades and hood pulled right over my eyes, and I dared not lift either after Caleb’s stern instruction. I could only see what was on the ground a few feet ahead of me.

We had barely been walking five minutes when he hissed, “Duck down!”

He pushed me down behind a bush. He knelt beside me. I held my breath as I tried to listen to what was going on. He parted the shrubbery and peered through it.

“They’re leaving,” he whispered.

“Huh?”

He parted the bush a little more and I raised the hood and sunglasses. We were still near the port—we had been walking along the outskirts of the dark island—and I looked just in time to see a submarine submerging. Even though I only caught the top of the submarine, I knew it was one of The Shade’s subs from its distinctive design.

Before I could say another word, he lifted me up and raced back to our submarine. Flinging open the hatch, he lowered me inside and shut it after him. He raced back to the control room and lurched the vessel forward before I even had a chance to reach my seat.

“We can’t lose them,” he said. “Or we’ll have no way of getting you back to The Shade.”

I gripped my seat as we surged forward. As I looked through the front screen at the dark waters we were traveling through, I couldn’t see anything, but from the way Caleb was navigating the vessel, it was clear that he was following something.

But something didn’t seem right. Home was the last place my parents would have been traveling to if they had been unable to find me on Stellan’s island. They had found Ben, but I couldn’t imagine them returning home without me.

“Do you think they’re definitely heading back to The Shade?” I asked.

“It looks like it. At least, they’re not headed toward my island.”

I wondered if perhaps they had to return some injured vampires back to the island before coming back to search for me.

I settled more comfortably in my chair and looked up at Caleb’s face. His eyes were fixed forward. As the hours passed by in silence, his concentration didn’t break. I assumed that we definitely were headed toward The Shade since Caleb hadn’t said anything to indicate the contrary.

This is it now.

I’m going home.

I’d thought I would be feeling joy and relief.

Instead, watching Caleb speed the vessel forward, I felt strangely numb.

Chapter 37: Rose

A few hours later, the vessel ground to a halt.

I glanced up at Caleb. He stood up and walked out the door. He headed toward the hatch and pushed it open, then lowered himself back down, making way for me to climb up.

Shivers ran down my spine as I looked up at the open hatch.

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