He turned to look back down at me, frowning.

“What?”

“If there’s ever a way you can free yourself from that island… Please, come back here.”

He froze at my words, his chocolate-brown eyes locked on mine. Then something sparked in them that I had never witnessed in such intensity. Passion. Desire. Fire. Before I could even realize what was happening, he’d leapt back down and wrapped an arm around my waist, pulling me close against him. Gripping the base of my neck with his other hand, he forced his lips against mine.

The strength of his hunger for me overpowered my ability to return it in kind. I closed my eyes and reached my hands into his hair, gripping it and pulling myself closer against his body. Breathing in his scent, I relished every second that his tongue brushed against mine.

And then just as abruptly, it was over.

Still breathing heavily, he pulled away.

“I don’t belong in your world, Rose.”

He lifted himself up against the vessel and a few seconds later, he was gone.

When the hatch clicked shut, I could no longer hold back the tears. The ache in my chest consumed me.

Damn this cruel port and its tradition of first-and-last kisses.

As the submarine disappeared beneath the waves, it felt like a piece of me was drowning with it.

Chapter 41: Aiden

My life and the lives of most other vampires on this island had been utterly taken over by the disappearance of the twins. We’d used every hour of the day worrying about them and trying to locate them.

Although Ben appeared shaken by whatever he had gone through in Stellan’s island—far more shaken than Rose—the twins were back.

Life can finally return to normalcy.

The first thing I did was seek out Adelle. She’d been worried sick just like the rest of us, but she hadn’t come with us on any of our excursions because she—along with Abby and a few other witches—had to keep up their duties looking after the children on the island.

I suspected that at this time of day she might still be in her office in the school. I raced through the corridors and knocked on the door, relieved to see that my guess had been correct.

She stood up, her eyes widening as soon as she saw me.

“What’s going on?” she asked, hurrying over to me.

“They’re back,” I panted. “Both twins are safe.”

She clapped a palm over her forehead and breathed out.

“Oh, thank heavens. It feels like this whole island has been holding its breath for their return.”

“Ben’s extremely shaken by whatever happened to him,” I continued. “He has refused to talk about details with anyone yet. But at least physically, he’s recovering under Corrine’s expert care.”

“And Rose?”

“She seems to be fine. A few scratches, but nothing to speak of.”

“I can’t tell you how relieved I am,” Adelle said, leaning against a desk and brushing hair away from her face with the back of her sleeve.

Mirroring her body language, I leaned against the chalkboard.

“Things can finally return to normal,” I said.

“You look exhausted,” she commented, eyeing me.

I nodded. “I think I’m going to go and get some rest. I just wanted to make sure you’d heard the news first.”

“Thank you. It’s much appreciated.”

“And… uh, there also was one other thing I wanted to say.”

I stood up straight, dipping my hands into my pockets as I took a few steps closer to her, casually closing the distance between us.

“And what’s that?” she asked, her eyebrows arched.

“Adelle, I—”

The door crashed open and Sofia sped in, her face alight with panic, sweat dripping from her brow.

“Have you seen Anna?” she panted.

“No,” I said, walking up to my daughter and gripping her shoulders. “What’s wrong, darling?”

“Kyle said she’s disappeared.”

Adelle and I both stared at Sofia, dumbstruck.

Chapter 42: Sofia

I stood staring across our kitchen table at Derek.

“A setup,” I murmured.

“What else could this be?” He glared back at me. “As soon as they realized we’d shown up without Anna, those vampires had Caleb concoct an excuse to enter this island—that he was returning Rose to us. And while he was here, he swiped Anna.”

His words sent my head into a tailspin. Every inch of the island had been searched. Anna had well and truly disappeared. Kyle was distraught, although he was trying to put on a brave face for Ariana and Jason.

“I can’t believe we could have been so stupid and gullible as to trust that vampire,” Derek seethed, throwing his hands in the air.

“Derek,” I gasped, tears burning my eyes. “Anna’s pregnant. She’s eight months pregnant, goddamn it!”

I picked up a vase from the table and hurled it against the floor, shattering it into a thousand pieces.

I sank to my knees, fighting back the tears. I never had been one to express my feelings with violence, but this was about Anna.

Whoever is responsible for Anna’s disappearance—be it Caleb or someone else—has just called upon a very different side of me than anyone is used to witnessing.

Chapter 43: Caleb

I swore as soon as the hatch slammed shut above me.

The taste of Rose was still alive on my tongue, her scent still haunting my senses.

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