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An End of Night(A Shade of Vampire,Book 16)(11) by Bella Forrest

“We are not here to harm you,” Matteo said. “We have come to ask some simple questions and then we will leave.”

I wondered if the merpeople could even understand what Matteo was saying. They continued to hiss and glare up at us as they bobbed in the waves.

The three closest to the front exchanged glances. The looks on their faces told me that they were open to anything but to talking now.

My heart pounded as several of them leapt up toward us again, their spears aimed directly at the barrier. I took a step back involuntarily. Thankfully, the barrier held up, or a number of us would have likely found ourselves with holes through our chests.

They slipped back down, and then to my surprise, dipped beneath the waves and disappeared.

I hadn’t been expecting them to disappear so quickly. From the look on everyone’s faces, nobody had been. But the fact that we knew for sure that so many were now in this area—so close to where Mona and Kiev had disappeared—was worrying. Especially if they caught Kiev on his own. He only had one arm.

“What now?” I asked.

“We wait some more,” my father replied. “We shouldn’t leave the spot now until they have returned.”

I hated to voice such a question, but I couldn’t help myself. “What if they don’t return?”

My father shot me a sharp glance. “Let’s just take this one hour at a time.”

I was about to take a seat back down on the rocks when a chilling sight arrested me. A wave was rolling toward us in the distance. A towering, monstrous wave.

“What the—”

My spine tingled as it seemed to be picking up speed, now only three islets away from us.

“Uh, Corrine,” my mother said, her voice trembling, “This barrier should be strong enough to withstand water, right?”

Corrine and Ibrahim’s mouths hung open as they stared at the wall of water.

“Water, yes…. B-But that?” Corrine gasped as she pointed toward the base of the wave.

Now that it was nearer, I realized what she had spotted. The base of the wave was oddly discolored compared to the rest. There was a dark brown shadow.

“Oh my God,” I rasped. “It’s a… creature.”

Barely had I said the words when a set of jagged jaws the diameter of eight grown men poked through the wall of water, followed by two slanted pitch-black eyes. A spiky fin ran from the top of its head down along its spine and stopped at the end of its gargantuan tail. The only way I could think to describe it was as some kind of prehistoric sea monster. Or Frankenstein’s piranha.

Hurtling straight toward us, it smashed headfirst into the rocks. There was a deafening crack as the base of the islet shattered beneath the sheer force of the monstrous creature. The ground beneath us disintegrated, the ocean gushing up and consuming us. Sucked down into the water, I feared that the suction of the sinking islet would hold me under long after my lungs gave way. I splashed about, having no idea where Caleb was, or any of my family and friends. For all I knew, I could have been floating inches away from some kind of dreadful creature, perhaps the sea monster itself.

Relief washed over me as a strong warm hand gripped my arm. I didn’t need vision to know that it was my father. He pulled me upward until we reached the surface. I gasped for breath, wiping the water from my eyes.

“Where is everyone else?” I panted.

“We need to find them,” he said.

“There’s Corrine!” I pointed out at the sky to see a battered-looking Corrine hovering above us.

Before she could make it to us, a deep bellow rumbled through the water and vibrated through my insides. My father and I looked behind us in horror to see a mass of dark shadow beneath the water. An overwhelming suction pulled us downward and we were submerged once again in the ocean.

I opened my eyes underwater even though it stung. Ten feet away from us were the gaping jaws of the sea monster. It was sucking us toward it. Even my father was helpless against its strength. In a last-ditch attempt, my father and I tried to summon our fire powers—it was useless, of course. Like trying to light a wet match.

No.

Just as the monster’s teeth were a few feet away from closing down around us, a sudden weight from above hit hard against my shoulders. I found myself being dragged down further into the sea, narrowly missing being gouged by the monster’s lower set of serrated teeth. My father was pulled down too next to me. I looked down to see that it was Corrine. She had grabbed both of our ankles and was yanking us down, out of direct aim of the monster.

Caleb hurtled toward the head of the creature. His right leg was covered in blood and his chest marred with cuts. He held one of the merfolk’s spears in his right hand. I opened my mouth to scream as he made contact with the creature’s skull. Balancing himself above it, he drove the spear through the roof of the monster’s mouth. A deafening bellow filled the ocean as it thrashed violently. Its movement sent Corrine, my father and me hurtling further down into the depths of the sea.

I couldn’t even see what had happened to Caleb. Corrine gripped my and my father’s arms and propelled us upward with speed that would have been impossible without magic. I looked down to see the blood spilling from the monster’s head as it retreated further into darkness.

But where is Caleb?

“Caleb!” I screamed, as we hit the surface. I looked around wildly. “Caleb!”

“I’m here,” a strained voice called. Caleb had just resurfaced a few meters away from us. Despite his injuries, he swam toward us quickly. Corrine then magicked us all to a nearby rock where other members of our group were waiting, many of them injured. I barely had a chance to look around before Ibrahim and Corrine began ushering us all together in a circle and we vanished.