“I heard from Luciana. She’s freaking out. Whatever this little rebellious phase is, you should get over it and go home.”

Rebellious phase? He made it sound like he was so much older than me. And he was. At thirty, he was exactly ten years older than me. It made him extra gross for getting engaged to a sixteen year old at twenty-six. Not that the age difference was the problem. It was more his lack of maturity. “I’m not going back to the compound. Not now. Not ever.”

“But—”

Advertisement

“No.” I nearly shouted the word. “You don’t know what’s been going on down here. And if you do, well then I’m even happier that we never got married. Because that’s not going to happen. Ever.”

He started yelling profanities, and I put the phone away from my ear.

“Hang up,” Teresa said.

“I’m just going to let him calm down for a second,” I whispered to her.

Her gaze narrowed as Matt let another insult fly. “You weren’t kidding. He’s totally a douchebag.”

I smiled, and put the phone back to my ear. “Matt. Stop.” I said the words calmly, and he actually quieted down. “Luciana is up to some bad things. Really evil. I’m going to do my best to stop her, and if you want to show up here and try to get in my way, fine. Good luck trying to get through the wolves, but if you want to try, I can’t stop you. But no matter what you do, you’re not going to change what I’m doing. Not at all.”

-- Advertisement --

He called me a word that I would never repeat, and Teresa snatched the phone from my hand.

She pressed end, and snapped it closed. “And we’re done with that guy. Jeez. I thought I had a bad mouth.”

I laughed. Big, belly-jerking laughs. And boy did I need them. “You do have a bad mouth, but he’s worse.”

“No kidding.” She stood up. “I’m heading to bed. You staying here?”

I nodded. “I can’t leave him. What if he wakes up?” And what if he’s not himself when he wakes up…

“I don’t blame you. When Meredith was sick, I spent a little time in here. I know it’s not the same. She’s not my twin, but it was scary. And I felt responsible for fixing it. Just…” She paused. “Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. You can’t solve everything.”

-- Advertisement --

“Says the girl who’s always rushing in to save the day.”

She snorted. “As my father says, do as I say, not as I do.” She laughed at her own joke. “Try and get some rest.”

She closed the door behind her, and I shook out the blanket, getting as comfortable as I could get.

When I’d woken up, over twenty-four hours ago, I’d thought the day couldn’t get any worse. Luciana was draining me and I was already exhausted and frustrated.

I’d been so wrong. It could always get worse.

I gripped my brother’s hand, and prayed like I’d never prayed before, letting the words slip from my lips as I waited for the sun to rise, and hoping that the new day would dawn with some measure of answer to my prayers.

Chapter Six

“Claudia.”

-- Advertisement --

Something jerked my shoulder and I sat up, blinking the sleep from my eyes. “Oh, God. I fell asleep.”

“Have you been in here all day?” Teresa said. Her hair was piled in a sloppy bun. She wore a pair of dark skinny jeans and a black T-shirt with a sunburst around the word “orb.” I wondered briefly what that meant before remembering where I was.

The last thing I remembered was laying my head down on Raphael’s bed. I’d been praying, and then nothing. I completely passed out. “What time is it?”

“Just after two.”

I quickly did the math. I’d slept like the dead for almost ten hours. With no dreams. The magic Luciana had cooked up last night must’ve worn her out. My body didn’t seem quite as heavy as it had. “Wow.”

“I came to tell you that Muraco is back. We were going to meet in the library, but I think you need food.” She got that distant look in her eyes, which meant she was probably talking to Dastien via their mate bond. Her aura flashed with hints of amber, and then I was certain they were talking. “Okay. We’re heading to the cafeteria instead.”

My stomach rumbled.

“Come on.” She pulled me out of the chair, and my limbs felt stiff and clumsy. Teresa laughed and pointed to my face. “You have a crease in your cheek from the blanket.”

I rubbed my fingertips over the right side of my face. “I do. I was sleeping hard.” I quickly unbound my long, straight hair. It flowed past my butt when it wasn’t braided, which was why I usually kept it braided. I ran my fingers through it, giving it a rough comb, before quickly braiding it again. I straightened my peasant shirt, and pulled my skirt down, as it had ridden up while I was sleeping.

-- Advertisement --