He spoke in that chilling, high-pitched voice and it was almost as if she heard the words in her head.
It was partly the drugs flowing through her system, but she also knew that it was because she was connected to him in some unearthly, ungodly way.
She wasn’t sure how and wasn’t sure she wanted to know.
She wasn’t even sure she believed in that sort of thing, but she couldn’t deny what she felt.
He said the words again and she shook her head as if it would dismiss them and make them disappear and go back into his mouth as if she had never heard them.
No. The words he spoke were impossible. It couldn’t be.
She was stunned. She tried to form words but her mouth opened and closed without a sound coming out.
“You know it’s true,” he said.
“No!” Rose said in a hoarse voice, blinking back tears. “You’re lying.”
He pulled back the dark hood and she saw his eyes clearly for the first time.
At that moment, looking into his eyes, she knew he was telling the truth.
It was such an ugly truth. It flipped her entire world upside down. Everything she thought she’d known was tainted and stained—made ugly, even horrific.
In the dim light of the cave, her eyes darted, taking in the dark recesses, frantically searched for a way to escape.
He stood between her and freedom. Beyond his silhouette, she could see the beginning of a sunrise. Everything that was alive and real and beautiful was outside this dark, damp, oppressive cave.
But he was in her way. Beyond him was freedom. She knew that behind her lay a crawl space. She was certain if she went inside, it burrowed to the bowels of the earth where she might be trapped forever.
Her only chance was to go through him.
She lifted the dagger in her hand. It caught a lone ray of early morning sunlight that had filtered into the cave, its slim beam offering a hope she hardly dared to believe in.
“Put the knife down.”
He was right in front of her, but it seemed as if the words had traveled a great distance before they reached her ears. The drugs again. She lost track of time and the order of things. How long had she been in the cave? Days? Moments? Had he spoken an hour ago or a second?
She blinked. She was still in shock.
“Do it,” he said.
“Put the knife down, Rosalie.” His voice was high-pitched.
She shook her head again, her hair swinging wildly.
“You can’t kill me,” he said, taking a step and closing in on her. “It’s not possible.”
He held a sword in his left hand. The tip was dipped in blood. A drop dripped on the stone cave floor making a soft plopping sound. Her blood.
That’s when she remembered. He’d stabbed her right before his horrific revelation.
Her core was ice cold. She wondered if when he’d stabbed her, it had actually been a fatal blow. Maybe her dying brain was hallucinating —concocting some absurd story that was not reality. At that moment, she realized she’d rather believe she was dying than what he had told her was true.
She reached for her side and winced in pain as her fingers touched the spot where his blade at pierced the flesh. Her fingers drew back with sticky blood that had seeped through the makeshift bandage. How had the bandage gotten there? She blinked, confused.
“Put down your dagger. Your wound must be tended or you will die,” he said. “My bandage is not enough.”
He had tended to her wound? She had been unconscious? Nothing was making sense.
She raised her eyes to look at his face and saw the scar from the last time they’d met.
“Rosalie, listen to me or you will die.”
Her eyes narrowed.
“I’d rather die than believe what you just told me,” she spat out.
“It will take time for you to accept. I realize that.”
His voice was so calm that it fueled her anger. He let his sword drop to the ground. Then he crooked a finger at her and took a step toward her.
“I won’t hurt you anymore.”
He was so confident that she wouldn’t kill him. All because of what he had told her. But he was wrong. Dead wrong.
She didn’t answer. He took another step forward.
Come closer now. Closer. Closer.
It was all she could think. Her fingers tightened on the handle of her dagger.
Then he was within striking distance. Her entire body tensed. Her years of training made the next step automatic.
He thought he knew her. He didn’t know her at all.
And he never would.
He’d underestimated her for the very last time.
*Sneak peeks are not edited and may have typos and may change before publication day – in other words, DON’T JUDGE. : )