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A Dawn of Strength(A Shade of Vampire,Book 14)(18) by Bella Forrest

Vivienne exchanged a reluctant glance with Xavier. “Okay,” she said. “If you insist, we’ll leave tonight.”

I gripped her hand and placed a kiss on the back of it. “Thank you,” I said.

Averting my attention away from my sister, I took in all the members of the council who’d gathered around the table to meet with us. Satisfied that everyone was present, I began.

“Black witches,” I said, grimacing. “That’s what we’re up against now. My daughter and Caleb are dealing with our humans. In the meantime, we need to formulate a combat strategy. The only weak point we know of in these witches is their palms. Damage them badly enough and they lose their powers.”

“I am the only one here who can truly rival a black witch in terms of strength,” Mona said. “But there’s only so much pressure I can handle. If more than one black witch attacks me directly, which I suspect they will, I won’t be of much use once they’ve broken through my barrier. So you can’t rely on me. Nor can you rely on the other witches present on this island, whose powers are far less than mine.”

“So each and every one of us needs to be prepared to tackle a witch head on,” I said.

A deathly silence fell about the hall.

“But these witches,” Ashley spoke up, her voice shaky, “couldn’t they just end a vampire with a flick of their fingers? I thought we’re hardly any stronger than humans against them.”

I was about to respond when there was a thunderous banging against the Dome’s front door.

“Come in,” I growled.

Two vampire guards stepped in, propping up a soaking wet man between them. His clothing was ripped and bloody, and he had a nasty-looking burn on his chest.

“Micah?” Saira gasped. She was nearest to them, sitting at the opposite end of the table.

“Witches,” he wheezed, as Saira shot to her feet and sat Micah down at the table in her place.

I stood up and hurried over to him, and everyone followed my lead, gathering in a crowd around the werewolf.

I bent down to his level, staring him in the eye. “What do you mean, witches?” I asked.

“White and black,” he breathed, wincing as he tried to rip his singed shirt away from his red, raw skin. “They’re outside The Shade now, as I speak. In a battle. The white witches are protecting The Shade.”

White witches? Protecting The Shade?

Before I could begin to comprehend the werewolf’s words, my eyes shot to Vivienne and Xavier.

“Forget about leaving tonight,” I said urgently. “You must leave this instant.”

“No,” Micah rasped behind me. “You… me… we’re all trapped now.”

Chapter 13: Xavier

The moment Micah said those words, I knew what had to be done and from the look in Derek’s eyes, so did he. I didn’t bother to explain to Vivienne what I was doing as I scooped her up in my arms and hurried out of the Dome. I darted away from the small clearing outside the building and into the woods, where I ran as fast as my human legs could carry me.

“Xavier,” Vivienne said. “Where are we going?” Worry choked her voice as she tightened her arms around me.

“As far away from the shore as possible,” I murmured.

I focused all my energy on my speed and didn’t talk to my wife again until we’d arrived outside the entrance to the Black Heights. Clutching the handle, I attempted to pull it open. It was locked. Putting Vivienne down on the ground, I pounded against the wood.

Five minutes later, the bolt was drawn, and I was met with a familiar face. Kyle.

“Xavier? What are you doing—”

“No time to explain now, Kyle.” Picking up Vivienne again, I hurried with him along the lantern-lit tunnels. I began to lose count of how many locked doors Kyle had to open as we moved deeper and deeper into the bowels of the mountain. Each barrier had been charmed by our witches for extra protection in case of an emergency like this, and if I remembered correctly, there were only three sets of keys that could open them.

Eventually, I began to hear sounds of humanity. I pushed open an old oak door to find us in one of the communal chambers. Previously a dungeon, it had been converted into a living area. I spotted Anna sitting on a couch with her baby. I was relieved to see her—I couldn’t have thought of a person I’d rather leave Vivienne with than her.

Her face lit up as we approached. I set Vivienne down on the couch next to her.

“Vivienne’s pregnant,” I said immediately.

“Oh, congratulations!”

“She needs to stay here with you. Will you fix her up with a room?”

“Of course,” Anna said. “I—”

“Xavier.” Vivienne frowned at me. “What do you mean, fix me up a room? You’re human, too.”

I shook my head. “Not for long.” I took a step away from her.

“Xavier, no. Wait—”

“You’ll be safest here, darling.”

She leapt up from the seat and threw herself into my arms. I felt her tears against my skin as she buried her face in my neck. Gripping her face, I kissed her passionately.

“Please don’t leave me,” she gasped, clasping the collar of my shirt.

“I’m not leaving you, Viv,” I said, my eyes boring into hers. “We’re just going to be apart for a short while.”

She closed her eyes tight as she clung to me.