“I can’t fight all of them. There are hundreds.”

I swallowed as the truth hit me. We were going to die. And so was my brother.

A tear rolled down my cheek. “I’m sorry I got you mixed up in this.”

Lucas brushed the tear away. “I’m not giving up yet.”

“There’s no giving up. Just reality. We’re going to die.” Sweat broke out along my skin, and I brushed it away on my shirt. As I moved, I saw my hands shaking.

Okay. I needed a way out of this. Something. Anything.

I dug through the contents of my purse. The ring. I put it on my thumb, and felt the hum of its power against mine. “With the power of this ring, I let the mages’ power sing. Destroy the evil in this room, so that the good in here can bloom.” I focused all my will and energy on letting those words ring true, but I didn’t feel anything. Not even a little bit of magic stirred inside me.

I waited, holding my breath. Hoping for a miracle.

But none came.

Beyond the flames, the vampires edged closer, moving faster by the moment. My breath came in tiny gasps as I watched them. We were running out of time, and I didn’t have anything to make a spell with. Just some hair, bones, the ring, and the crystal. But what could I do with them? One vampire would be hard enough to manage, but this many?

There had to be something. I just needed to think.

Come on, Claudia. Think.

“We need to bond.” Lucas’ words cut through my panicked thoughts.

All the air was forced from me like I was punched in the gut. “What?” Was he totally crazy? We’d known each other for days. Both of us came with a whole heap of baggage.

“Think about it,” he said as he scooted closer. “You’ll have all the pack magic at your beck and call. We’ve mixed so much with the brujos, that we’ve got power to spare, but my Alpha powers are useless here. I don’t have the ability to harness any kind of magic that would help, but you do. If we bond, you’ll have access to all of it.”

Just like that? He couldn’t be thinking this through. I swallowed. “But… But it’s not a full moon. And we can’t do the ceremony here.”

“That’s all for show.” He scooted closer, reaching for my hands. He looked calm, with a small smile on his face. “It’s trappings, just like a lot of magic. You like to rhyme when you do a spell, but you don’t need it to access your magic.”

He was right. Holy moly. He was freaking right.

“You just need to accept the bond.”

This was insane. I couldn’t do this. Not right now. Not here. “But how do you know you want to be tied to me? You don’t even know me.”

He squeezed my hands. “I knew you were my other half the second I saw you. The more I got to know you, the stronger that pull was. I know all about your past. About your parents. About your brother and the coven. I know everything you’ve sacrificed. And what I don’t know, I’ll learn.”

“But… I don’t know you. I don’t even know how old you are.”

His small smile spread into a full-on grin. “It doesn’t matter right now. What you don’t know, you’ll learn, too. But we don’t have a lot of time.” His grin faded, and he leaned forward. “I know this is scary. It’s not ideal. But I want to live. And I want to spend my life with you, Claudia de Santos.”

It felt as if a thousand butterflies took off in my stomach, and for a second everything paused.

He wanted to spend his life with me?

A vampire reached through the fire. I screeched and jerked away from it. The hand caught fire and turned to ash.

Lucas’ hand guided my face back to his. How was he so calm right now? “Do you trust me?”

I did. I knew that much. “Yes.”

Holy moly. Was I actually going to do this?

I cleared my throat. “But I don’t know if I want to be a wolf.”

He raised a brow. “Do you mind being mated to one?”

I shook my head. “I don’t think so.” If the wolf was Mr. July, I was in.

“Well then, hand me the knife.”

I handed it to him as another vampire tried to go through the fire, and instead, burned.

I ducked down in front of Lucas. “What now?”

He took the sharp knife and cut across his left hand. “Now you.”

I took the athame back from him, but paused, holding it over my left hand. “Won’t this turn me into a wolf?”

“No. It has to be my saliva directly into your blood stream.”