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A Fall of Secrets(A Shade of Vampire,Book 15)(4) by Bella Forrest

“Rose!” My mother beckoned me over.

Caleb and I took seats around the dining table. “You two must have been tired,” I said. “We came by earlier.”

My father let out a yawn.

“I guess the dragons left already?” I asked.

“Oh, yes,” my father replied, rubbing his face in his hands. “They left some hours ago.”

“When will they return?” Caleb asked.

“They didn’t specify,” my father replied. “I don’t imagine they will be away long though. They are fetching their prince and about fifty other dragons.”

“And what about their accommodations?” I asked.

“The witches are working on them now. We are converting the storage chambers into apartments for the dragons. They said they like high ceilings and the rooms we had built for humans simply won’t do,” my mother said. “We’re holding a memorial ceremony for our fallen in an hour. I’m going to take a quick shower.” She stood up and headed out of the room.

I reached across the table and gripped my father’s forearm. “Thank you for saving Caleb.”

My father nodded, glancing briefly at Caleb.

The three of us didn’t exchange many more words until my mother reappeared from her shower dressed in a long black robe. I looked down at my own clothes, then at Caleb’s. We ought to change into something more subdued too. I took Caleb’s hand and walked with him toward my bedroom. I didn’t have any long black dresses like my mother’s, so instead I pulled out a smart black shirt and pants, followed by a long black cardigan. I slipped into them quickly before leaving the room again and entering Ben’s bedroom with Caleb. I searched through my brother’s closet until I found a black outfit for Caleb as well. He changed quickly and we returned to the living room. My father had also changed into black clothes.

We all left the apartment together and headed towards the Sanctuary. People—humans, vampires, witches and werewolves alike—were already gathering in the clearing outside of the witches’ temple. Since we had no bodies to bury, we held a similar ceremony to the one we’d tried to hold for my own grandfather and those we’d mistakenly thought we’d lost.

Corrine was standing in the center of the courtyard, arranging row upon row of burning candles. More and more people were arriving by the moment. We all took a candle and returned to our spots around the courtyard. Once the area was filled to capacity, Corrine floated the remaining candles higher in the sky until they were all hovering above our heads.

One by one, the relatives of our fallen stepped up by the fountain and spoke eulogies. My eyes glossed over as I stared into the flickering flame of my candle. I should have been grateful that we hadn’t lost more of our people. After all, every single one of us should have burnt to the ground last night. But all I felt was sadness and remorse.

However, as the ceremony neared a close, I dried my tears and a different emotion took hold of me. Hope. That from this day forward, The Shade would be a safer place.

Chapter 3: Aiden

I had been avoiding Adelle all throughout the ceremony, not that it was difficult. She had been avoiding me too. I didn’t catch her once looking my way. Perhaps she felt embarrassed.

The redheaded witch had been playing on my mind ever since she’d come to see me. I couldn’t deny that I was still deeply attracted to her. But the werewolf had gotten under my skin, touched me in ways that I hadn’t expected. She truly was a breath of fresh air. After Camilla, Kailyn’s frankness and straightforwardness were qualities I needed in a life partner. Kailyn was everything that Camilla wasn’t. And though physically she wasn’t my type, somehow I preferred that she wasn’t. Adelle’s beauty was almost too similar to Camilla’s for comfort. It felt like Kailyn was the clean break I needed in life. In love.

Although I’d known Adelle for much longer, I couldn’t be sure that her attachment to me was as true as Kailyn’s. Granted, I had certainly taken my time in asking her out, but if she had truly had a crush on me all those years, what had been stopping her from expressing her feelings? I wondered whether it was more the breakdown in our friendship since she’d started going out with Eli than actual love for me that had caused her to react the way she had.

But whatever was going on in that witch’s head, I was Kailyn’s now.

After the ceremony, Kailyn and I made our way back to our mountain cabin. Although we could have opted to live in the trees, I’d realized that it would be much more practical to stay in the cabin when Kailyn transformed into a wolf. We walked hand in hand up the cabin steps, in through the front door and dropped down on the sofa in the living room. She wrapped an arm around my waist and leaned her head against my chest. I stroked her wavy blonde hair, resting my lips against her head.

“Sometimes I wish I could turn you into a werewolf,” she said with a smile.

“Why’s that?” I asked.

“Werewolves just have more fun.”

I chuckled. “You’re probably right.”

“Though,” she said, “it’s true that vampires have one advantage over us. They live forever.”

I hadn’t thought until now about the longevity of werewolves. “How long do werewolves live?” I asked.

“A long time. But not forever.”

I held her hand and kissed it. “Well, a very long time will have to be good enough for me. Unless we can turn you into a vampire.”