Koa awakened to the sun’s rays. Completely healed, she stretched her arms and rubbed her swollen eyes. Groaning, she went to her knees and crawled to the edge of the cliff to look at the Cumbria countryside below. She was tired, and thirsty, but the pain was gone at least.
The sun beamed down at her, warming her cold cheeks. The sun usually erased the evil of the night, but this time, Koa was still haunted by all that happened at Lady Colleen’s ball.
She hoped Jax, Evina, and Ian were somewhere safe. The thought of them being terminated by the organization she’d once thought as family sickened her.
Where could she go? They knew where she lived, and she wasn’t welcome back at headquarters. Memories of her dream returned and she tried to make sense of it. All she could think was that her father wanted her to retrieve the enchanted dagger.
A cry of surprise escaped her lips and her heart soared when Halston landed in front of her.
“Koa,” he said and tears burned her eyes.
“Halston, I’m sorry. I didn’t know it was you. I was still drunk on Bund’s curse. I thought you were him.”
She stepped forward to wrap her arms around his waist. When he backed away and held his hands out to stop her, she froze.
“Do you forgive me?”
Halston sighed. “Of course, I do. I know you didn’t mean to hurt me. I need to apologize for leaving you back there. You were so taken by Bund’s curse that you nearly killed me.”
“I know. Jax told me. I forgive you, too.”
Halston watched her, still keeping his distance.
Perplexed, her brows furrowed as she took another step forward. “What is it?”
She wanted nothing more than to feel his chest against hers and to bask in the warmth of his love. Still, he held his hands out.
“Don’t touch me,” he said in a voice laden with sadness. It broke her heart.
Tears burned her eyes. Why wouldn’t he let her hold him?
“Because, I’ve changed.”
Confused, Koa rubbed her exposed arms and searched his ice-blue eyes. Her eyes widened, realizing how different Halston looked. There was something new in his eyes that left her speechless.
Evil looked back at her and it made her blood run cold.
Halston looked away raked his hand through his hair which had once been bright blond. Now, it his hair was a deep golden color. The changes were subtle, but Koa knew that something was different.
“Halston, what did you do?”
Halston’s light was gone. He seemed to be little more than a shell, harboring the evil he’d embraced to save her life.
“I crossed over to the dark side,” Halston said, his voice hollow. “For you.”
“What do you mean?” Koa asked, her eyes fixed on Halston as he avoided her gaze.
“Bund unlocked your other side. Now, not only are you a threat to me, but the Division will be looking for you.”
“My other side?” She remembered the way her body had lit up in Lady Colleen’s castle. The surge of energy that had filled her veins had been surprising and intoxicating, overwhelming her with such power that she’d never felt. That had been her first clue that something was not right.
Was she wrong to believe that she was half-human all this time?
“Do you know what I am?”
Halston paused, his shoulders slumping. He glanced at her over his shoulder. A bit of bitterness dripped from his reply.
“There’s only one angel on this mountain. And, it isn’t me anymore.”
Koa’s cheeks paled, and she covered her mouth with her hand. “Angel?” That was the last thing thought he would say. Angels were perfect, selfless, driven by the duty to free the world of evil. That was so different from Koa. She wanted to protect the humans and keep the world safe, but she was far from human.
Halston nodded and folded his arms across his chest. “That’s right.”
Falling to her knees, Koa’s eyes widened and her throat went dry. It explained so much, and yet she couldn’t believe it. Why would her mother keep it a secret?
“It doesn’t make any sense,” Koa said in a soft voice. “My mother never told me she was an angel. She never showed any signs.”
Memories of being poor in a small village in South Korea came to Koa. An angel shouldn’t have to suffer the way they did, and to give birth to a vampire was something Koa knew must have gone against the morals her mother had been instilled with.
“I don’t think she wanted anyone to know what she is. She kept this a secret for a reason. And, she kept it well.”
Koa looked up to meet his eyes. “Why would she need to keep that a secret?”
Halston sat next to her and she took the opportunity to rub her shoulder against his arm. Just being close to him was enough. If he needed time to relax his guard toward her, so be it.
“I wish I knew. There is something about her that has had the Netherworld Division searching for her for centuries.”
Alarmed, Koa shot a glance at him. “Really?”
With a sigh, Halston nodded and looked down at the rocky terrain beneath them. “She’s on our watch-list. I think Viktor wanted to bring her in.”
“Why didn’t he?” Koa asked.
Halston drew in a deep breath and tilted his head as he looked back at her. “Because, he’s afraid of her.”
Those words shocked Koa, but Halston turned and nodded to the vast forest.
“We need to get somewhere safe. Viktor and the Division will be looking for us. Let’s not make it easy for them by going to Wryn Castle. It’s probably being raided as we speak.”
Her throat was dry, but she nodded in agreement. “Where should we go?”
“Tristan should be back at the safe house.”
“Does Viktor or anyone know about that location?”
Halston shook his head and together they flew from Cumbria to the abandoned church in the woods.
“I don’t tell everyone everything for a reason.”
Koa kept her mouth shut and followed. She knew that better than anyone. He’d kept the truth of the years she’d spent wed to the vampire king of Lyrinia a secret from her by erasing her memory. She’d forgiven him, but hoped they would never keep secrets from one another again.
As they headed to the church, Koa licked her lips. A sinking feeling filled her belly and she tried to push it aside.
She needed blood.
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