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A Dawn of Strength(A Shade of Vampire,Book 14)(14) by Bella Forrest

Mona shot a worried glance his way. “How are you feeling, Kiev?” she asked.

He turned around and walked over to her. Lifting her chin upward, he planted a kiss on her lips.

“I’m fine,” he said.

I almost jumped as a banging sounded at the door. Since I was closest to it, I stood up to answer it. My voice caught in my throat at the sight on the doorstep.

Standing next to my daughter and Caleb were Vivienne and Xavier. I stared at them, blinking. They looked so different with their sun-kissed skin and glowing complexions.

“What are you doing here?” I gasped.

Derek shot to his feet and pulled the door open wider behind me. His breath hitched as he stared at his sister and brother-in-law.

“Vivienne!”

She rushed forward and flung herself into her brother’s arms. They entered the cabin with us along with Rose and Caleb.

“I had a vision, Derek,” Vivienne said, her forehead creased with worry.

“But why are you here? I told you to stay away. Why couldn’t you call me? You left with one of the charmed phones.”

Vivienne’s cheeks flushed as she exchanged glances with her husband. I wondered why they looked so embarrassed all of a sudden, though I wasn’t left wondering long as Xavier replied, “That’s what we were going to do, but… uh… something happened to the phone.”

“Huh?” Derek turned on Xavier. “What?”

“We thought we’d lost it at first,” he said, “but after searching the apartment, we realized we’d… uh, been a little too hasty the night before out on the veranda. Long story short, we found the phone at the bottom of our pool.”

Derek breathed out sharply in frustration, running a hand through his hair. “You should have taken a backup with you.”

“Well, we didn’t. And we’re here now,” Vivienne said, sitting down on the couch and pulling her brother down with her. “I need to talk to you.”

Everyone took seats around Vivienne and listened with bated breath as she began to tell us about her vision. She looked traumatized as she recounted it, as though she was reliving it all over again.

“What do you think it means?” Derek asked.

“I think it means we need to be prepared for an assault by the black witches,” she said, her breathing uneven. “We’ve suspected all along that this was what they were planning, but with their failure to keep hold of Rose… I think they’re just going to cut to the chase now.”

My eyes travelled to Mona. The blood had drained from her face as she stared at Vivienne.

“Prepare,” the witch murmured. “If they’re going to attack, I’m not sure there’s much we can do to prepare. The protection that’s around the island right now is the strongest that I’m capable of. If they…” Her voice trailed off as she swallowed hard. “Put it this way: if they bring all of their most powerful witches, there’s only so much pressure I’ll be able to stand before I break.”

Derek stood up and began pacing up and down the room. “So we need to assume that they’ll break through within a few minutes, perhaps a few hours, of them launching an attack. Is that accurate?”

“It’s impossible to say,” Mona said.

“We need to call a meeting in the Great Dome with all the council members,” Derek said.

“I’ll go gather them,” Kiev said. “I could do with the exercise.”

Mona didn’t look happy about Kiev leaving, but he left the cabin before she could protest.

“Our first priority is to protect our most vulnerable,” Derek continued. “Our humans. We’ll inform all of them of this threat we suspect is looming, and all those who wish to leave us will be shipped away. Those who wish to stand by us and weather the storm should be evacuated into the innermost chambers of the Black Heights. Then we’ll have to figure out how the rest of us can best prepare for their arrival.”

“Their weakness is in their palms.” All eyes shot toward Caleb as he spoke. “Damage them, and they’re stripped of their powers—at least, temporarily.”

“But after we injured Rhys,” Rose said, “I doubt they will fall for the same trick easily.”

“Oh, not easily,” Mona said.

“At least we have Corrine and Ibrahim returned to us,” I said. “After you, Mona, they’re our two most powerful witches.”

“Their powers won’t be a lot of use against the likes of Rhys’ kind,” Mona replied. “Though of course, we need all the help we can get…”

“Caleb and I can start alerting and rounding up the humans,” Rose said, shooting to her feet and catching Caleb by the hand. “As soon as we’re done, we’ll meet you in the Great Dome.”

She didn’t wait for our answer. The two of them slipped out of the cabin, closing the door behind them. I considered going with them to help out, but I trusted my daughter could manage it with Caleb. Besides, Derek needed me by his side now.

“Let’s head to the Dome,” he said. Everyone stood up and motioned to follow him out the door. But he stopped just as his hand closed around the handle. He turned round to look at Vivienne and Xavier. “I suppose the two of you weren’t away long enough to… accomplish what you set out for.”

To my surprise, Vivienne’s and Xavier’s ashen faces lit up.