She stared at him, her right leg beginning to twitch and shake with her growing disquiet.

“You’re wondering how it’s possible,” he said, still in that low, captivating tone. “You see, Shadoe was fatally wounded. You were a huntress even then. Adrian loved you so much, he couldn’t bear to lose you. I’d already discovered that I could share immortality with others, and he brought you to me on the brink of death, begging me to save you.”

Lindsay didn’t realize she was crying until she felt the drops hitting her chest.

“I didn’t hesitate,” he went on. “I began the process of Changing you.”

“Into a vampire?” She was sickened by the thought.

He gave a soft, humorless laugh. “Adrian’s reaction was the same. He thought I could heal you without Changing you. You were too far gone for his blood to do the trick, but he’d heard that the Change took individuals to the very precipice of death, and he thought I could pull you back from it. Which I could, but as a vampire. When he realized what you would become, he finished you himself with a blade through the heart.”

She flinched imagining what that would have cost Adrian—to kill the woman he loved in order to save her. But she understood it, too. Like her, every blow he’d been dealt in his life had come from a vampire. Of course he would rather lose his love than have her become a soulless, bloodsucking creature.

“But it was already too late. You were a naphil, one of the nephalim—a child born to a mortal and an angel. Your soul was stronger than a mere human’s. It had the strength of an angel’s, but without the weakness of wings. I’d given you just enough of my blood to immortalize that inhuman part of you before Adrian killed your body. So you’ve returned again and again, always in a different vessel but still my daughter.”

Still the woman Adrian loved. A woman that wasn’t her.

Her spine straightened. “A pretty s-story, but I don’t believe you.”

“Why would I lie?”

“To turn me against Adrian.”

He made a soft tsking noise. “On the contrary, I can give him back to you. Fully, completely. I know you want that. I can see how much you love him.”

“What are you saying?”

Pushing to his feet, he stepped closer. “I can finish the Change, Lindsay. I can give you immortality and reawaken the soul in you that Adrian loves. I can take away the mortality that makes you forbidden to him. Everything can be what it should have been.”

She laughed, but it came out a broken and painful cry. “Of course. Take Adrian’s woman and make her a vampire. The ultimate revenge for the loss of your wings. It must kill you to see those crimson tips on his pretty feathers. It must be an agonizing reminder of how he mutilated you.”

Syre was unfazed by her venomous outburst. “I didn’t expect you to believe me. Will you believe him?”

Her heart stopped. “What are you saying?”

“Call him.” His beautiful eyes glittered like gemstones. “Ask him yourself.”


Elijah watched the gates of the Navajo Lake pack entrance pass by the rear windows of the black Suburban he was in. He couldn’t shake off the coiling apprehension rippling through him. Although Damien had assured him he wasn’t being held responsible for Lindsay’s abduction—which had technically happened under the Sentinels’ watch—he’d been immediately returned to Navajo Lake instead of being allowed to assist in the hunt for her. All of Adrian’s pack was being sent to the Lake and a new pack was being formed.

The extreme scope of that act spoke of deep suspicion. Lindsay had been taken from the Point, which meant someone there was undeniably involved. Quarantining the lycans appeared to be the first step in the attempt to find the culprits.

Despite understanding the precariousness of his own situation, Elijah’s greatest fear was for Lindsay. Once he’d learned the identity of the vamp she’d attacked, his stomach had bottomed out. Vash had already been hunting him because of the blood in Shreveport; then Lindsay had been spotted with him—in the midst of launching an attack of her own. No matter how he looked at it, it looked bad for his friend. Real fucking bad. He doubted Lindsay would survive the day, if she wasn’t already dead.

And he was states away, unable to help her. The beast inside him was pacing restlessly, growling its desire to be slipped free of its leash. If he weren’t an Alpha, he would have lost control hours ago. As it was, he was debating mutiny for the first time in his life. He didn’t have enough friends to callously disregard losing one, and Lindsay was special to him—she’d already proven she would die to save his ass. He had yet to return the favor.

The Suburban rolled to a stop in the center of the outpost. Elijah climbed out. A half dozen full-sized vans pulled up in a line behind the SUV, and the rest of Adrian’s pack emptied into the courtyard.

Jason approached him. “You got here quickly. Good. I’ve narrowed the suspect pool to six individuals. One of them is responsible for stealing your blood. I thought you might like to question them.”

Elijah stared at the Sentinel through his sunglasses, instantly put on guard by the show of camaraderie. Jason saw little value in lycans. They were occasionally useful, but always expendable—treated worse than dogs at times.

The Sentinel patted him on the back and smiled. “I thought you’d be pleased. Instead you’re scowling at me.”

Catching on, Elijah twisted away from the Sentinel’s touch. He was being shown off as a lycan who was more connected to the angels than he was to his own kind. That was why they’d had him ride in the Suburban. That was why he was being singled out by Jason now. Elijah had thought they were keeping him close in preparation for punishment.

And he’d been right, just not in the way he’d expected.

Moving back toward the other members of Adrian’s pack, he found them eyeing him with defiance and determination.

Rachel stepped forward and hissed. “Do you think you’re one of them?”

“You’re a smart girl, Rach. You know they’re playing you and me both. They’re playing all of us.”

Jonas stepped closer. “You’re Alpha, Elijah. What are you going to do about it?”

The impetuous young lycan gestured at the thirty-foot-high log fence around them. “If I were Alpha, I’d tear this place apart.”

“And go where?” Elijah challenged.

Rachel’s eyes glittered. “I don’t know what you’re afraid of, El. But you’re going to have to make a decision about which side you’re standing with. Don’t let Micah’s death be in vain.”

“You can’t put that on me.”

“It’s all on you,” she said coldly. “More than you know.”

He opened his mouth to retort, but she shifted and howled. The rest of the pack altered their forms en masse, circling him in a blatant show of subservience. The Sentinels nearby unfurled their wings, their eyes aflame.

Jason stepped closer, with his wings curled forward in the familiar battle-ready pose. “Elijah—”

The pack responded to the implied threat to their Alpha—a threat they’d instigated—by lunging forward in a writhing sea of multicolored fur.

Shouts shattered the mountain’s tranquility. Angels took to the air. Lycans in lupine form poured from splintered doorways and shattered windows in an endless wave. Shots rang out and howls rent the air.

Elijah stood in the middle of utter chaos, watching everything he knew crumbling into pools of blood and fur and feathers. Screams reverberated through him, echoing in his horrified mind.

A bullet pierced his shoulder, the tiny bit of silver in it sizzling his flesh like acid. The lycans grew more frenzied and ferocious in reaction to the smell of his blood. With the choice taken from him, Elijah shifted and leaped into the fray, hoping to save as many lives as he could.

Adrian looked out of Syre’s office windows at the town below. His blood had gone cold with trepidation. With every second that passed, he felt himself spiraling deeper into a primal state of rage.

His cell phone vibrated on the desktop. He felt Raven’s wary eyes on him as he lifted it to his ear. “Mitchell.”


His breath exploded from his chest. “Lindsay! Where are you? Are you hurt?”

“Would you prefer to call me tzel?” she asked softly.

He sank into Syre’s chair. “What did he tell you?”

“A long story, but the gist is that I carry the woman you love inside me. Is that true?”

He hesitated a moment, feeling the underlying pain in her voice. “You carry Shadoe’s soul in you, yes.”

Raven watched him avidly from the chair in the corner, her eyes sparkling with malicious glee.

“That’s why you came up to me in the airport.”

“At first it was for her,” he admitted. “But that changed. What’s grown between us since then is because of you, Lindsay.”

“In a few short weeks you got over the woman you’ve loved for ages and fell for me?” She made a choked noise, a sound so agonized his heart broke at the sound of it. “Forgive me if I don’t believe you.”

“I can prove it to you. Tell me where you are, how to find you. If I take Syre down, Shadoe’s soul will be freed. It will just be you and me.”

“But you said good-bye to me yesterday, Adrian. Not in so many words, but it was the end all the same. Is this why?”

“No, damn it.” His hand fisted around a pen on the desktop. “It’s because once I kill Syre, your body and soul will be your own. You won’t feel evil around you anymore. You won’t sense beings that aren’t human. You won’t have physical attributes that you’ll have to hide. You can be normal. Lead a normal life. Enjoy all the precious mortal things you haven’t had time for.”

There was a long silence filled only with the sounds of their mutual labored breathing. He heard a door close on her end of the line. “Syre says he can fix this. He can make it right.”

Adrian leaned forward. “Don’t listen to him. He’ll tell you whatever he has to in order to get what he wants.”

“He says if he completes the Change, you can have Shadoe back. Forever this time. Immortally.”

“Fuck no.” The room spun around him. “That’s not what I want.”

“Isn’t it? All those centuries . . . all those incarnations . . . You’ve found her and loved her. And lost her—over and over again. Now there’s a chance to stop all that.”

“He’s wrong, Lindsay.” Adrian heard the hoarseness of his voice, the brutal desperation, and wondered why she couldn’t. “He thinks Shadoe’s naphil soul—a soul that’s part angel—is stronger than yours. When she was alive, perhaps that was true. But she’s not. She’s a stowaway in your body. Your soul has a stronger hold on your physical form than hers does. You’re not like the other incarnations of her. You feel her impulses, but you can ignore them. You have always been you since the moment we met. If you let Syre finish the Change, her soul will be freed, yours will die, and what will be left is a bloodsucking vampire. You don’t want that. I don’t want that for you.”

He heard a soft sob.

“Lindsay.” His eyes burned. His lungs were on fire. “Please. Please don’t do this. Let me come to you, talk to you. You’ve been through a lot in the last twenty-four hours. You’re reeling from your father’s death—justifiably so. You need time to think. Time to heal. Let me be there for you, as you’ve been there for me.”

“I don’t need to think about this. No matter which way things go with the Change, you’ll finally be free. Whether you’re free with her or without her, this horrible cycle you’ve suffered through will finally be over.”

The pen snapped in his hand. Black ink burst across the desk. “I can do the same thing by killing Syre. He started the Change; he’s the only one who can finish it. Let me do it my way. Let me take care of this.”


“I love you, Lindsay. You. Not her. I did love her once, but not anymore. Not like I used to. Not for a long time, I realized last night. And never like I love you. I’m begging you . . . with everything I am—with everything that belongs to you—don’t do this.”

“I believe you love me,” she whispered, so quietly he barely heard her. “As much as you’re able. But that’s just another reason to finish this. As long as I’m out there somewhere, you’re never going to be able to let me go—I can hear it in your voice. You’re going to bash yourself against the rocks over and over until you’re completely broken. I can’t let you do it. At least once I’ve Changed, you’ll let me go. You won’t want me as a vampire.”

Adrian shoved to his feet, his BlackBerry cracking under the strain of his grip. “Lindsay!”

“I love you, Adrian. Good-bye.”

Lindsay stepped out of the bedroom, freshly showered and feeling cleansed inside and out. Syre waited patiently at the dining table. She had the feeling he was the type of man who could sit absolutely still for hours, waiting, his patience infinite and unyielding. So much control and power—it radiated from him as it did from Adrian. Adrian, whose beautiful voice had slashed and whipped with the force of his emotions. She was making him more human by the day, weakening him when he needed to be the strongest. Seeing Syre face-to-face proved that to her more than anything else. The vampire leader was a formidable force to be reckoned with, and his second was a homicidal manic. In the days ahead, Adrian would have to be at the top of his game in order to survive.

“Are you ready?” He stood in a display of sleek fluidity and grace.