It was as if everything was planned, and I knew I was right; I knew this had to be the hunter’s plan. One minute Clarice and I had just managed to settle the kids and feed them. The next, an explosion goes off, making us freeze as we stare at the double door leading to the corridor.
The ground shakes, and I look to Clarice frantically when more and more go off. I gasp, reaching for Tyson, when an entire wall inside the ballroom is blown out, and I am sent hurtling toward the wall opposite. The air was knocked out of my lungs as I twisted at the last second, taking the brunt of the impact, so I didn’t crush Tyson.
Screams ring out loudly as my head pounded from smashing against the stone walls; I force myself to my feet, looking around at the chaos when Clarice yells for everyone to get out just as another bomb goes off.
Panicked se**nts make a dash for the doors as Clarice rips them open, and I st*gger, my head spinning as I clutch Tyson, blood dribbled down my head, and every part of me felt batted as I stumbled out the doors, wondering whether or not to try to find Azalea when I hear her voice.
“Get to the tunnels!” My head whips up and turns in her direction just as Tandi and I rush out the doors. We meet up and take off along with the ser**nts that survived the blast toward the back doors.
“There are tunnels in the woods! There’s a bunker not far from here!” Clarice yells through the mind-link. Our feet pounded on the stone floor to the double doors that led toward the gardens when an explosion went off directly behind us, making me duck and cover Tyson’s head.
Trey yells through the link just as someone outside opens the doors. Everyone screeches to a halt, and Clarice shifts, snarling savagely as she puts her body between ours and the door. Yet when the doors open, it is Trey.
He waves us forward, and everyone piles out as he points toward the forest. Se**nts rush out, ducking their heads, and I race to catch up to Azalea, clutching Tyson. Yet I was bleeding and struggling to hold him. On the verge of dropping him, Trey took him from me before we all started racing toward the tree line and the cover of the trees.
My mind raced as we stumbled out, and I could feel Gannon was alive. I could feel he was okay through the bond. Turning back, I see Azalea running toward me, and I step aside. Azalea just managed to rush out the doors before the roof caved in completely.
Bursting through the doors, smoke filled the sky and the smell of gunfire. Shouting and screaming rang out loudly, and the place had turned into a war zone. It was hard to tell our guards from the hunters, except for the insignia emblazoned on their chest armor.
Azalea pushes me forward after Trey, and we race up the small incline when I see Clarice stop up ahead. Oliver, whom I could see beside her, was holding her hand until Peter grabbed him and took off with him; Tandi stood beside Clarice.
as she paused and looked back at us, her eyes widened, and a blood-curdling scream left her as she looked past all of us toward the hill of the cemetery. My head turned, wondering what made her scream like that when I gasped.
Logan wandered around the carnage like a little boy lost, dazed, and covered in dust and blood. Azalea just reacted and took off for the hill as Lycans fought men around us. She reaches out for him; Azalea gets him wrapping her arm around his waist, pivoting on her heel as she clutches him into her chest.
Out of my peripheral vision, I can see Gannon by the flat terrain before the hill down to the stables, fighting alongside his men, yet I couldn’t tear my eyes away from Azalea.
Trey screams at Azalea and shoves Tyson in Clarice’s arms while she runs to get back to the small amount of safety that the side of the building offers. I wave Azalea forward, and her feet slip on the grass; Logan rolls out of her arms, and she gets up, reaching for him just as I scream out to her as I watch the hunter lift his gun in her direction. My heart nearly stopped in my chest, but I reacted, and all I could think was not her.
She looked up to see me running toward her before, guns pointed at her, and a bullet whizzed past me and clipped her shoulder as she grabbed Logan. Azalea hisses but continues to run towards me. The growls and snarls tear through the air around us as ! reach out for Logan in her arms when my eyes widen, looking behind her.
The hunter was now directly behind her with his gun trained directly on her back. I wasn’t going to let Azalea die, she had given up so much for me, and I was going to make sure she lived. She was more than my friend. She was more than my sister. My life was her life.
I force my legs to move faster, my body collides with hers, my arms locking around her in a hug, and I spin her around. It was like I was punched in the center of my back, it stole my breath, and I jolted in her arms before seeing her eyes widen in horror, her lips part as she screamed when I leaned into her.
gasped, trying to force air into my lungs, but nothing I did would make them work. Coldness began to spread from my back to my chest. I struggled to say my last words, mustering all the strength I had left.
Tears streamed down Azalea’s cheeks as she held me in her arms. With the last of my life, I spoke what I knew she would understand; it meant more than any other words spoken because it was ours. “More than my life,” I rasped out, choking on the pain those few words caused me.
I feel the life drain from me, hear my last breath leave my lungs as numbness encroaches on me, along with the coldest feeling. It was death washing over me.
“Abbie! No!” I hear her scream before I feel my eyes flutter shut when I feel Gannon’s heartbreak as the bond pangs with immense pain and his howl. I felt more than I heard when I suddenly felt nothing at all
I felt the moment the bond broke. It sliced through my chest and ripped out my soul. It broke every part of me, feeling her tether vanish, like losing a vital or**an, something you can’t live without.
As I stopped, my eyes went to the other side of the castle to see Azalea clutching her, and I screamed, the sound coming out in a long howl as I watched her turn limp in Azalea’s arms, and I started running toward them.
I fall to my knees, clutching her body in my arms, forgetting the war going on around us when a blade slices down my back, forcing my attention back to fight. I am forced to fight, his dagger embedded in my side, and I pull it free, my claws sinking into the side of his neck as I slash at him.
A pain I had never experienced shot through my chest, and at the realization that she was completely lost to me, the last remnants of the bond fading away as I fought to get back to her. This was my punishment for Sia, the moon goddess cursing me for all my misdeeds.
My surroundings completely faded away as I tried to bring her back, and when I couldn’t help anymore, I clutched her, my heart breaking and splintering into a million pieces. I needed her, Tyson needed her, and I couldn’t and wouldn’t live with this agony; I couldn’t, not without her.
I began pumping her heart, praying it would start again, blowing two breaths in her mouth. Her blood coated my lips with each breath I gave. I refused to believe she was gone; it
can’t end like this. Come on, Abbie. You can’t leave us like this. I pumped and breathed until my arms began to burn. I was lost trying to keep going. My fist banged twice with hard thuds to her heart, and still nothing. I howled till I was dry heaving with despair.
When hunters started coming from everywhere yet, I didn’t care if they killed me. I was dead already without her. From up over the hills, out of the forest, and spewing out from the castle, they just kept coming. Even those who ran for safety in the bunkers were now racing back onto the battleground as hunters chased them back toward us.
The Landeena guards form a circle around us and the Queen. Clarice flees with the kids, and Peter barely makes it past our circle of defense that offered little safety as all guards covered the Queen.
When Crux’s booming voice echoes through smoke and dust as they surround us.
We were circled entirely as Crux stepped out of the shadows and smoke and onto the battlefield. His smug smile of triumph seared into me. He was a traitor to his own kind. A betrayer to all.