I watched as Griffin stared at Caleb as though he didn’t know what to make of him. His expression was a mixture of surprise and distrust.

“Well, thank you,” he finally said, patting Caleb on the shoulder. “I’m not sure what I’d do without this girl.”

I stared at Griffin, surprised by the strength of emotion in his voice as he spoke those last words. We were close friends, but I supposed that I had never quite realized just how much I meant to him.

Griffin turned back to face me.

“Are you all right?”

“Yes, I’m not harmed. I just have a few scratches.” I squeezed his hand, hoping to reassure him. “But I really need to see my brother now.”

Chapter 38: Caleb

Rose insisted that I stay on the island until her parents returned. Although I felt uncomfortable, something made me give in to her requests. Perhaps it was just because she was so stubborn.

After greeting Aiden and her friend, we headed to see Rose’s brother in a beautiful white stone building they called the Sanctuary. Walking through the hallways, we stopped outside a circular bedroom where Ben lay in the center of a bed. His eyes were open by the time we arrived.

“Ben!” Rose yelled and ran over to him, planting a kiss on his forehead and embracing him.

“Rose,” he whispered, coughing and rubbing his throat. Compared to Rose, he certainly looked worse for wear. He had shadows beneath his eyes, his skin had a yellowish tinge to it and he looked much thinner compared to when I last saw him. I dreaded to think what Stellan had put him through.

I looked at the brown-haired witch who was attending Ben along with several other witches. Her face lit up as soon as she saw Rose enter and she wrapped her in a tight hug.

“How did you get here?” Ben asked.

Rose ran over to me and dragged me to his bed. “Caleb.” The princess beamed up at me. “He saved me.”

Ben looked up at me and smiled, nodding. “I remember you,” he wheezed. “Thanks man, for saving her… and for trying to save me.”

He reached up a hand and I shook it.

It made me uncomfortable how she was touting me as some kind of hero. Still, she was getting pleasure out of it, so I didn’t say anything to her.

Rose stayed beside Ben for a while longer, but it was clear that he wasn’t in much of a state to talk. The witches suggested we leave and allow him to sleep to speed up his recovery.

We left the Sanctuary with Aiden, emerging into the beautiful moonlit courtyard outside.

“Grandpa,” Rose said, “I’m going to show Caleb around the island for a bit, all right? I’ll check back at the port in a couple of hours or so to see if Mom and Dad have returned.”

“Okay, darling.” Aiden gave his granddaughter another hug before we parted ways.

Once we were left alone, she looked up at me. Her beautiful face broke out into a smile. “So,” she said, wrapping an arm around my waist and squeezing me against her playfully, “what do you think of The Shade so far?”

“It’s quite impressive,” I replied, looking back at the witch’s temple.

“You’ve barely seen anything yet.” She had a twinkle in her eye. “I want to take you to The Residences now, but it’s a fair walk. Could you carry me? I’ll tell you how to get there.”

I bent down as she wrapped her arms around my shoulders, her legs around my waist.

I began to speed through the forest, following her directions.

“Okay, stop here,” she said, as we approached a particularly tall redwood tree. I put her down and she pointed upward. I couldn’t help but inhale at the sight above me. Magnificent penthouses sprawled out among the treetops. They looked more stunning than rumor had made them out to be.

We entered the elevator and rose to the top. Crossing the veranda, she pushed the front door open and led me inside. She pulled me past a luxurious sitting room and along a number of glass-covered walkways until we reached a spacious oval bedroom.

“This,” she said proudly, “is my room.” She pushed the door wide open and gestured that I step inside.

I looked around the room from the outside, hesitating to step in. Somehow, it felt strange to be stepping into her private space.

Growing impatient, she tugged on my shirt and pulled me inside.

She walked to a corner of the room and pointed to a large stack of CDs.

“As you can see, they’re mostly classical,” she said, grinning. “Or at least that’s my excuse for not being able to dance to club music… Now let me show you the Sun Room.”

She led me back along one of the glass-covered walkways and we stopped outside another room. She pushed the door open to reveal a room lit so brightly with LEDs, it gave the illusion of sunshine. The walls were covered with a mural of a sandy beach.

“This room has some history for sure,” she said. “My dad destroyed it once. Ripped it to shreds with his bare hands. He used to have a real tough time controlling his temper. Then my mom decided to recreate it.”

Next, she led me into the music room. Calling it a room was rather an understatement. It was more like a small hall. Wind and string instruments lined the walls and at its center was a large grand piano.

I walked around the circumference of the room slowly, taking a closer look at all of the instruments. Only the best for the Novaks.

Rose took a seat at the piano. I walked over to her as she began to play. But as I approached, she stopped. She moved up along the seat, requesting that I sit next to her. I acquiesced.

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