I almost chicken out as I listen to the phone ring. You’re not playing, Archer said.

As if he could speak, Phillip thought woozily.

How much longer? I whispered, as the hunters disappeared from sight.Not much longer, Jocelyn replied in a strained voice.

After what felt like the sixth walkway, I finally spotted the parking lot through the glass walls of the building. I heaved a deep sigh of relief. Although the feeling didn’t last long. Even if I managed to figure out how to drive the car away from here, there would surely be some security barriers to get through. I doubted anybody could just drive to and from this place. I realized that I might have no choice but to take Jocelyn with me, and she would have to give some excuse to the security personnel as to why she needed to drive away with me… And then what? Even if we managed all this, where on earth would I even go? I hadn’t the first clue of how to make my way back to The Shade, and I was quite sure that no one on the island knew where I was. They would have noticed that I was missing by now, but they wouldn’t have seen me being dragged away by the hunters in their submarine.Heck, I didn’t even know where I was.I shook myself. I had to stop thinking so far ahead and just take this one step at a time. Once I got in the car and got it to start, then I could begin thinking further into the future. At least I would be one step closer to escape than I was an hour ago—however pathetic or small that step might be.

We entered another elevator, and this time, she pressed the button for the ground level. We descended and when the doors glided open, my heart beat faster as I realized that we were going to have to pass through a reception room. Surely there would be more hunters in there. Now more than ever, I needed to keep Jocelyn under my control. As we reached the double doors, which Jocelyn proceeded to march through, I pressed the metal against her back again as a reminder that I meant business.Moving further into the reception area, I spotted three women sitting behind the wide desk. Each of them looked up from their computer screens at once.

To my angst, the blonde woman spoke up. All right, Jocelyn?

I’d been praying that the receptionists wouldn’t bother to make conversation. As Jocelyn turned to face the woman, I had to work hard to make my stance look natural as I kept my right hand close to her back.Oh, I can see that she’s not, he said, a little quickly. He almost seemed… worried that he might’ve offended me. I realized that he’d spoken with tongue in cheek. I was once again struck by how in tune he seemed to those around him, no longer in his little narcissistic bubble he used to float around in day and night.

I would like to apologize to her, he said, after yet another pause. His voice sounded a little unsteady as he added, Properly.I’m sure there will be ample opportunity for that, I said.

Sofia was a forgiving person. It just was not in her nature to hold a grudge. No matter what atrocities a person might have committed in the past, if she saw genuine repentance in a person’s eyes, she was the first to give them a second chance. I found myself wondering whether Lucas had feelings for her. I had thought at the time that his pull to her was just lust, as it was with all the other young women who had the misfortune of crossing paths with him. Now that I thought back over my brother’s life, I could not summon a single instance when he’d had an actual girlfriend. Claudia was probably the closest he’d come to one, though theirs was anything but an actual relationship. They had been on and off for centuries, but it had been no secret to anyone on the island that they met only for one thing.As we reached the end of this stretch of beach and turned around, I glanced at my brother thoughtfully while he looked straight ahead. For the first time, it really hit me in a way that it never had before: Has he really never fallen in love? The only person I’d ever known him to be in love with was himself. Maybe Vivienne shared a piece of his heart… though not a large piece, since Lucas had gone along with my father’s plan to bundle her off to Borys Maslen. Lucas couldn’t have loved Jeramiah or his mother much either, or he would not have abandoned them so callously. Both of these incidents had taken place even before he became a vampire—he had been a mere human then. It was as if he’d been born with these cold, harsh traits. Could I really blame all of this on my father?