He reached over and grabbed my hand. “It’s going to be okay.”

I nodded. “Okay.” A hint of panic hit me.

He liked me. Like liked me liked me.

Oh boy. Why is everything so complicated?

He ran his thumb up and down my hand, and I glanced at him.

He winked, giving me a different small smile. This one had hope.

I relaxed back against the seat. “Holy moly.”

He laughed. “I told you, you weren’t ready.”

“No kidding.”

Me? With Mr. July?

Oh boy…

By the time we pulled up to the hotel, the silence had become tense. It wasn’t the easy silence that we’d had moments—or what felt like moments—before. No. That was gone. Lucas was growing more agitated the closer we got to the hotel.

He put the van in park. “Are you sure there isn’t another way?”

I undid my seatbelt and faced him. “Maybe. But this is a real option and it’s all I have right now. A real chance to save my brother. I have to try.” I almost laughed. It seemed that no matter what I did, I was faced with impossible choices. Every time I tried to do what was best without thinking of myself. One day I’d put what I wanted first, but not today.

“If you change your mind, we can figure something else out.”

I shook my head. “There isn’t any time for figuring something else out. Tomorrow I need to get whatever it is that the mages have. Then, we’ll go from there.”

“I don’t like it, but…” He looked back out through the windshield, effectively ending the conversation.

I stared at him for a moment. At the strong lines of his face. The curve of his shoulder. The muscle that stretched his long-sleeved T-shirt. “I’ll be okay.”

“I know. I just don’t like you being with him and going to see those brujos. It’s dangerous.”

I took a breath. “I’ve been around a very dangerous witch my whole life. So far, I’m still alive, despite it all. I plan to stay that way.” Back to reality. I hopped down from the car, and slammed the door, not looking back as I stepped toward the lobby. I didn’t dare glance back and see whatever expression he was wearing now.

I checked my watch. It wasn’t quite dinnertime, and I didn’t really want to mope in my bedroom all evening. I could find Matt, but chances were we couldn’t visit the mages today anyhow.

It’d have to wait for morning like Lucas had planned.

So, what now?

I needed to check on Raphael. I felt so far away from him. We’d never been apart like this. And with everything… It was like he was gone.

I’d take an oath with Luciana a million times over if I thought it’d do any good, but I guess I’d learned that lesson. We’d always end up here, with someone I loved in danger. That was how Luciana built her power.

I had to save him. Then, I’d break the oath and get rid of her one way or another.

Breaking the oath…

I walked through hotel in a half daze, thinking about what Lucas had said. If he meant what I was pretty sure he meant, then I could bond with him and it would all be over.

But did I want that? I always thought I’d marry another witch. Even though I was a little jealous of what Teresa had, I didn’t want to be a wolf. I couldn’t imagine fitting into that lifestyle with Lucas or anyone else.

I slid the key into my hotel room door, and my twindar went crazy, stopping me in my tracks.

Raphael. Something was wrong with Raphael.

I rushed inside and dumped out the contents of my purse, looking for Raphael’s stupid flip phone.

Damn it. Why do I keep so much junk in my purse?

I spotted the black square, and grabbed it with shaking hands. It took me two tries to dial Adrian’s number correctly.

As soon as Adrian picked up, I could hear yelling.

“What’s going on?”

“Your brother is losing it, that’s what’s going on! He nearly bit Beth. We’re trying to tie him down. Hang on.” The phone clattered as it dropped.

A bunch of shouting and screaming that I couldn’t make out echoed through the line before it went quiet.

Please let everything be okay.

I paced the room with the phone glued to my ear. Maybe I wouldn’t mind being a wolf. At least then I could hear what was going on.

It felt like a million years passed before Adrian picked up the phone again. “You still there?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Is he okay?”

“He’s alive.”