My heart sank, instantly assuming the worst: Rhys.
I’ve just about had it up to here with that warlock.
I would’ve taken great pleasure in tying him up and burning him at the stake.
“Where is everyone else?” I asked as she reached us.
“Rhys started causing problems,” she said. “I stayed behind on this beach to make sure someone was here when you came back. But everyone else is trying to head Rhys off just beyond those rocks over there.”
“We don’t have time to waste on that warlock now,” I said, grinding my teeth in frustration. “We need to get Mona and everyone else to the graveyard.”
“Without letting Rhys inside,” Hermia said, her face paling.
“Will you place an invisibility spell on the three of us?” my mother asked, addressing the witch.
“Yes,” Hermia said, and it was done a moment later.
I reached for my mother’s hand, then for the witch’s. We hurried across the sand and over the rocks.
A sandstorm had engulfed the area, particles of dust blowing in all directions. I shielded my eyes with my fingers to prevent more particles from flying into them.
“Everyone is in that?” I gasped.
“Yes,” my mother replied. “I don’t know how Rhys detected us, but he did. Mona conjured up this storm to make aiming curses more difficult. We need to somehow get everyone’s attention without attracting Rhys. We can’t afford to make him aware that Hermia is here with us or he will head straight for her.”
Hermia shuffled uncomfortably next to me.
“Hermia,” I said. “You stay here. My mother and I will go in and start trying to gather people, and then you must escort them immediately through the boundary.”
“I will wait here,” Hermia replied. “Just be careful. If I sense Rhys heading my way, I’ll have to re-enter the boundary without you. I can’t risk being caught and him gaining entrance to The Sanctuary.”
My mother and I both continued over the rocks and touched down on the sand on the other side.
The full force of the wind against my face now was dangerous. I had to close my eyes for fear of being blinded. There was a tearing sound next to me and I felt my mom’s hands around my head, tying a piece of fabric so that it protected my eyes, nose and mouth from the brunt of the wind. When I touched the cloth, it seemed like she had just ripped it off from the bottom of her shirt. It wasn’t easy to see through it, especially in this storm, but I could just about make out the ground a few feet in front of me. Everyone was invisible anyway—there wasn’t a lot to see. I would have to find my way by watching the ground for footprints. Of course my mother had her acute sense of smell. She could keep her eyes closed and still find people without problem.
“Hopefully vampires will detect your blood and start making their way toward us,” she breathed.
We waited in the same spot for a minute, but when nobody approached us, we had no choice but to move forward.
I kept my eyes focused on the ground in front of me as far as I could see, holding the fabric tight over my mouth so that nothing entered it.
I was glad when my mother let go of me so we could go in separate directions. It would make things faster.
The first footprint in the sand was only about two feet away from me. And more footprints were being created as I looked down. I heard heavy breathing—it sounded like that of a female. I reached forward and felt cold skin.
“Rose?” Ashley had scented my blood.
“Come with me,” I hissed.
I dragged her away and raced with her toward Hermia by the rocks, leaving her there and trusting that Hermia would do as my mother and I had requested.
Then I rushed back toward the stormy beach. The next footprints I spotted were large—clearly that of a man. I stopped in my tracks, holding my breath and listening for any clue as to who this was.
A hand reached out and touched me. It was warm. “Rose?” It was Micah.
I hurried back over with him to Hermia.
“Has my mother returned with anyone since?” I asked.
“Yes,” she replied. “Quite a few. Your father, grandfather, and several others. She and your father are on the beach now searching for those remaining.”
“You remember Caleb, right?” I said. “You saw him with me that day you came for us on the boat. Has he returned?”
“I don’t think so,” she replied.
I backed away and moved back into the storm. I guessed that Mona must still be out here too causing this commotion. Perhaps she was keeping Rhys occupied.
It took me much longer to spot more footprints this time. Caleb should have sensed my blood by now. Why hasn’t he made his way over to me?
Finally, I noticed indentations in the ground about five feet away. Again, they were large, as Micah’s had been. These could have been Caleb’s. Or they could have been…
My stomach plummeted as the footsteps approached me. I barely had time to stumble back before a hand reached out and grasped my arm. The moment it did, the warlock appeared before me and I realized that I too had been made visible again.
Instinct took over and fire coursed from my palms, forcing him to shoot back away from me. His eyes sparked with fury and he glared down at me.
“Rose Novak.” As he raised his palms, I was about to hurl myself in the opposite direction when a heavy weight crashed into my midriff, making me fly several feet away from the direct aim of the warlock.
Arms wrapped around my body and lifted me off the ground. I was whizzed across the beach with lightning speed. The fabric my mother had tied around me flew off and I was forced to cover my eyes with my hands. But I didn’t need sight to know that it was Caleb. I knew my fiancé too well by now. His scent, the way he breathed… I could recognize his presence even in the darkest of nights.