Then I found out Matt was full of lies. He didn’t like classical music. He didn’t like classic literature. He wasn’t saving me from anything. I’d been set up. And when I tried to get out of the agreement, he’d really shown his true colors. Douche extraordinaire.

But hate was too tame a word to explain how Raphael felt about Matt. When he found out about the engagement, he just about lost his mind. That he was telling me to go to Matt now was a true sign of how worried he was.

“If you’re not leaving and you’re not going to ask Matt for help, what are you going to do?” Raphael paused, but not long enough for me to answer. “Because you can’t go on like this. You won’t survive it.”

“I’ll figure something out. You know me. I always do.”

Raphael pinched the bridge of his nose as he squeezed his eyes shut. He only did that when he was so frustrated he wanted to strangle me.

“Look. They have different books here. And Tia Rosa will help, too. I bet she knows how to get away from Luciana. I’ll find a way. Don’t doubt me now. I can’t do this without you.”

After a moment he dropped his hand. “You’re probably right.”

“Probably?” I didn’t really matter which part I was right about. Just that I was right.

“We’ll go see Tia Rosa tomorrow, but if she says you should go far away, then I think you should reconsider Muraco’s offer on Peru.”

No way, big brother. “That wolf is old and insane. You heard him. He wants me to go to Peru alone and find some sort of mages that haven’t been heard from in a century. Me? Hiking through the woods? Alone. In Peru. Is it just me or does that sound like a disaster waiting to happen?”

Raphael snorted. “When you put it like that…” He paused. “But how can we defeat Luciana if she starts summoning demons again? Especially if she’s using your abilities to boost her spells? We don’t have the knowledge or power to kill that kind of evil and neither do the wolves. She’ll slaughter us all.”

I suppressed the shudder that wanted to roll down my spine. “We’ll find a way. We don’t have any other options.” To be honest, I wasn’t sure what we were going to do, but I’d gone my whole life following other people. Doing what they wanted. Trying to save everyone and only hurting people in the process.

I was done with that.

Yes, we needed to stop Luciana, but I wasn’t convinced that rushing off to Peru because Muraco said so would solve our problems. I couldn’t take his offer seriously unless he had a more concrete goal, like a weapon he knew where to find or a source of white battle magic that was free for the taking. But wandering through the mountains to find mages who may or may not exist and may or may not deign to help? I just didn’t have time to fool around like that. None of us did.

Raphael stood up. “Fine. I’m going back to bed.” He started for the door but paused. “Are you going to be able to sleep?”

Not a chance. “Sure.”


I threw my pillow at him. “Go already.” I paused. “But actually give that back first. That’s my only pillow.”

Raphael shook his head and tossed it gently back to me. “Night, Cloud.”

“Night, Turtle.”

He shook his head again as he closed the door. He didn’t like being reminded about his former obsession with a certain quad of human-like turtles.

Once he was gone, it was quiet again, and I wished he hadn’t left. I knew Raphael was just in the room next door, but the walls were so thick that being here was like being in a tomb.

I guess that makes having horrible, screaming bloody-terror nightmares not so embarrassing.

I huffed and the sound echoed against the walls. I wanted to sleep. Exhaustion pulled at my body like a ten-ton weight, but I was afraid of what Luciana would do with my powers when I slept. I didn’t dare let myself close my eyes, but no matter how hard I tried to keep them open, they grew heavy. Sleep tugged and I barely managed to shake free from the next nightmare before it swallowed me whole.

I threw the covers off, walked to the tiny window, and slid it open. Sticking my head out, I breathed in the familiar scent of the forest. We might be miles away from the compound, but it was the same forest. It had the same cedar trees. The same sounds of night.

Two floors below me, wolves prowled through the St. Ailbe’s campus. I’d never been here until a few days ago. The campus was bigger than I’d expected, but completely hidden from the road. It had to be. The werewolves liked their privacy. That’s one thing we have in common.