No. All of them.

Chapter Twenty-Three

Ten men dressed in black robes stepped into view in a wall of black and red aura that made my heart beat faster. Father Valentine’s white hair made him stand out.

The pack isn’t far, Lucas said, his voice was deep and gravelly. His wolf was close. But if they attack, I’m going to switch forms. Don’t be scared. I’m going to try and keep him away from you—stall until the pack gets here—but keep the knife handy.

I felt along his pack’s bonds, but the other wolves wouldn’t be here. Not soon enough. I reached into my purse, feeling for the cool metal, and gripped it tightly. Okay.

“You surprise me,” Father Valentine said. “I didn’t expect you to get out alive.”

We needed more time. “Why did you do it?” Not that it mattered, but if I was going to stall, I might as well ask him something relevant. “I wasn’t doing anything to bother you. I would’ve taken what I needed from the temple and left. You never would’ve seen me again.”

Father Valentine grinned, and I took a step back. “I would’ve thought you’d have figured it out by now.”

Figured it out? I’d missed something. What was it?

The only reason he might not want me dead was if he was working with Luciana. “You taught her?”

He spread out his hands. “Who else?”

It made sense. Their auras weren’t the same exactly, but they both had a heavy dose of black in them.

Matt stepped around Father Valentine and a small gasp slipped free.

I hadn’t seen him since he attacked me. I hadn’t really had time to think about it. Everything had been a rush the past couple days. I would’ve thought anger was going to be my first reaction to him. But it wasn’t.

I saw Matt, and all I felt was fear. It was powerful—making my whole body shake with tremors. I wrapped my arms around myself.

I’m here with you, Lucas said, as he stepped in front of me, blocking Matt.

“You’re not still upset, are you, Claudia?” I ground my teeth at the sound of my name—Clod-ia—coming from him. “You don’t use your powers for yourself. I need them. So, you might as well give them to me.”

Give them? Give them? I’d given everything I had to everyone else. I knew what giving felt like. No. He’d tried to take them from me. And failed.

I stepped beside Lucas. I needed to be strong, not cowering behind him, or else I’d never feel strong and safe again. “I’m not giving you anything.”

Matt stepped closer, and the moonlight hit his face, revealing a cold look in his eyes. There was something wrong with him—with the color of his skin. It was too gray. I scanned him, trying to figure out what else was making my skin crawl, and I kept coming back to his eyes.

Matt had never been a nice guy. He was always rude, even when he’d been trying to win me over. But this was different. The way he looked at me…

It was the way Luciana looked at me. Like a thing instead of a person.

His aura was the same as it always was—pink and gray—and I wondered if this was a side of him that had always been there or if it was new. A real change. If so, it wasn’t for the better.

“I need to go, Matt. I have somewhere to be. Let’s not turn this into a fight.” I had zero faith that we’d get out of here without at least some kind of a fight, but I had to try. This was a waste of time. A very dangerous waste of time.

Matt spat on the ground. “If you won’t give me what I want, I’ll take it from you. In case you missed it, you’re outnumbered.”

I focused on the bond that linked Lucas and me together, and felt for his pack again. The wolves were closer. Minutes away. If I kept him talking a little bit longer, then maybe they’d get here before—

Everything happened all at once.

Matt moved his fingers.

Lucas shifted.

Father Valentine started muttering a spell.

I made quick knot in the air, matching the ends. The magic heated against my skin. With the protection spell in place, I felt better, but there wasn’t any time to waste.

Lucas knocked against me as a flash zipped by, narrowly missing me.


What was with today and fire?

The smell of sulfur burned my nose.

Dread crawled up my spine, and I focused on drawing as much magic as I could through Lucas.

The priests had formed a circle. Lucas ran at it, but hit an invisible barrier. He flew back a few feet and skidded across the ground.

Matt ran at me. His lips were moving, but I couldn’t hear what he was saying.