She slept,but he wasn’t there. She stood at the edge of the forest, looking out. There was nothing there but blackness, and the birds did not sing.
“You shouldn’t have left.”
The voice came from behind her. She turned and saw the soft-spoken man in glasses.
“You shouldn’t have left. He’s coming now. His children found you, so he can, too.” The man sighed. “Blood. It’s very difficult to stop blood magic.”
“That, I cannot tell you. Perhaps he does not sleep.”
She blinked and the image of the man wavered.
“Take off your mask,” she said.
He smiled. “You are bold in dreams. I do not find offense in this.”
“Then take off your mask.”
“Are you sure you want to see me as I am?” He must have read the uncertainty in her eyes. “I will show you a shadow of my face in this world, but that is all.”
The man grew. Expanded. His soft face shimmered away and a harder one took its place. A beautiful face. Unearthly. His hair was black and shining as a raven’s wing. His eyes were a glittering amber gold. Smooth tan skin was marked by raised letters she recognized. They were like her mate’s, but more. This being’s magic was not written on him, it was part of him. She knew he would not hurt her. He was frightening, but she felt no fear.
“You are not the first to say so.”
“Your spells…” She stepped forward and put a hand on his arm. The skin was warm under her fingertips. The raised letters glimmered with a faint, silver sheen.
“They are not spells.”
“Magic that is part of me.”
“Like my magic is part of me?”
“I don’t understand.”
“You’re not meant to, child. It is a thing beyond your ken.”
She looked around the forest. The darkness crept closer. Around the glowing being, it was held back, but it did not seem afraid of him any more than she was.
“Why does it find me here?”
“He finds you because he can. Just as I can.”
She looked up into his glowing face. “Will it hurt me?”
He cocked his head. “I do not know his purpose. Only that he would thwart mine.”
“And what is your purpose?”
He smiled. “That is not for you to know yet. I gave you my vision once. I will give you others when you need them.”
“When will I need them?”
He shook his head. “Not now.”
“Wake up, or the darkness will find you.”
She frowned. “I don’t want to leave yet. You don’t answer my questions.”
His smile turned sad. He lifted his hand to her cheek and trailed a warm finger there. “I had hoped… You look nothing like your mother. But your voice reminds me of her.”
She felt tears on her cheek, but he brushed them away. “I don’t understand you.”
He vanished from her sight, but his whisper came from the trees around her.
She woke, and the tears were cold on her cheeks. There was a commotion outside the cottage. She could hear shouting and car engines roaring to life.
Ava bolted up in bed, throwing on her clothes and racing from the bedroom. Damien burst through the door a moment later.
“Two Grigori. Both dead. But they found us, Ava.” His cold voice turned Ava’s stomach. “They found Sarih?fn.”