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A Bond of Blood(Shade of Vampire,book 9)(1) by Bella Forrest

Prologue: Caleb

My throat prickled as I gasped for air. I lifted my heavy eyelids, only to be met with more darkness. I reached out. My hands brushed against cold stone.

Where am I?

My breathing quickened as memories returned to me. Stellan injecting me with a needle. Throwing me into the submarine’s storage chamber and bolting the door.

My body was still weak from the drug. I groaned as I turned over onto my stomach in the narrow box. It was then that I realized I’d been stripped of my clothes. My head felt light, my lungs screaming for fresh air.

How long have I been trapped in here?

Stellan’s last words haunted me.

“This dosage should be enough to keep you unconscious for just over seven days.”

If the dosage indeed lasted seven days, now that I had woken up, I should be writhing in agony.

I knew what happened to vampires who thought they could escape Annora’s bond. I’d watched the whole process with my own eyes, from when the blood began to seep from every orifice, through to their flesh disintegrating as though some invisible demon skinned them alive.

I brushed the back of my hand against my nose, checking for blood. There was none. I ran a hand along my skin. It felt dry, but still intact. No signs of any lesions yet. I could only conclude that Stellan must have miscalculated the dosage and I’d woken up early.

Whatever the case, I didn’t have much time. If I didn’t find a way to escape this dark tomb and return to the island, it wouldn’t be long before I met with the same fate.

My palms spread flat against the dusty floor, I arched my back and raised myself until my spine touched the low stone ceiling. Summoning all the strength left in my muscles, I pushed upward as hard as I could. The rough stone grated against my skin and sent pain shooting through my spine.

But no matter how much pressure I applied, the stone didn’t budge. I lowered myself back down, now weaker than ever. I turned over on my back again and stared up at the ceiling.

Dread filled the pit of my stomach. I wished that Stellan had left a stake in here. I could have put an end to this quickly, before the torment began. But of course, he wouldn’t have done that. He wanted me to suffer.

Trying to steady my breathing, I closed my eyes.

Is this how it all ends? Lying here. Alone in the dark.

I thought of Rose. She at least was a memory I could cling to that would perhaps make this end less hellish…

A deafening crack broke through my thoughts. A shaft of light fell across my face.

I gasped as a flood of fresh air filled my nostrils. I sat up, squinting though a gap that had formed in the corner of the ceiling. I placed both palms against the stone and applied pressure again. This time it moved easily. I pushed until it slid off, out of sight. I sat up, the flood of light blinding me. It took several moments for my eyes to adjust.

My heart skipped a beat. Annora stood a few feet away, arms crossed over her chest, glowering at me. I looked around the small metal chamber and recognized it as the same storage room I’d been thrown in by Stellan.

“What’s going on?” I demanded, rubbing my eyes and climbing out of the rectangular container.

“I should be asking that of you,” Annora snapped.

I stared down at the stone tomb I’d been encaged in. Then my eyes fell on Stellan in the passageway outside. The sight of him lit my mind on fire. I lunged toward him, but the witch froze my limbs mid-air. She sent me crashing back against the wall.

I glared up at her. “So why am I not dead?” I spat.

Annora closed the distance between us and crouched down on the floor next to me. She gripped my jaw, her beautiful face a few inches away from mine.

“Because I intervened,” she hissed, her eyes darkening. “Now that you’ve become a traitor, the punishment Stellan had in mind for you wouldn’t have been enough.”

Chapter 1: Sofia

Derek and I stormed into the witch’s temple to find Rose sitting by Ben’s bed. They both looked up in surprise as we burst into the room.

“Anna’s missing,” Derek announced.

“What?” Ben gasped.

“Someone has taken her,” I said.

“Who?” Rose asked, color draining from her face.

“Nobody saw it,” Derek said, glaring at our daughter, “but there’s only one person who could have done this. Caleb.”

Rose inhaled sharply. “No. He… he can’t have done this.”

“Rose,” I said, walking up to her and gripping her shoulders. “There’s nobody else.”

She began shaking her head furiously. “No, you’re wrong. I was with him the whole time he was here. I even watched him get into his submarine and leave. There’s no way he could have—”

“There’s no way you could have known that he really did leave,” Derek said impatiently, running a hand through his hair. “He could have resurfaced a few minutes later on another part of the island. It’s not difficult for a vampire to locate Anna. Her blood is a siren call to all of us.”

“But… he rescued me.” Her face contorted in confusion. “He never would have done something like this.”

I felt disturbed by the attachment she was displaying for this young man.

“Darling,” I said, clutching her hands in mine, “he used you. The only reason he returned you was to gain entrance onto this island.”

She opened her mouth to argue again, but Derek silenced her.

“Every second we remain here, the smaller our chances become of rescuing Anna.” He leaned over the bed, placing his palm on Ben’s forehead to check his temperature. “Your mother and I are leaving with Vivienne, Xavier and some others.”

“Where are you going?” Ben asked.

“Back to Caleb’s island,” I replied.

“And if you don’t find her?”

“We’ll return to Stellan’s island.”

“But aren’t those islands protected by a spell?”

I bent down and kissed his forehead. “Honey, don’t worry about us,” I said. “We’re bringing as many witches as this island can spare with us and they will try to help us penetrate the spell. You focus on getting yourself better while we’re gone, all right?”

My heart ached to see how weak he still was. I hoped that by the time we returned he would be back to his normal vibrant self.