An Hour of Need

By: Bella Forrest

A Shade of Vampire 29: An Hour of Need



Prologue: Brucella





After Sendira Mortclaw departed for the ogres’ realm in search of her cub, I was left alone on Murther Island. Well, not exactly alone—the rest of the Mortclaws were still in their cave—but I decided to move away from the prison and put some distance between myself and those murderous creatures for a while, to allow myself time to clear my head after the encounter.

I waited and waited until Sendira finally returned with… bad news. She said that she had managed to find The Shade—or at least where she thought it was, based on the myriad of smells surrounding it. But on arrival, Bastien’s scent was far too weak. She’d concluded that Bastien definitely was not there, and must have left The Shade.

I cursed, wondering where on earth he could be if not The Shade. Where would he have gone with that wench? Then it struck me that together, they might have returned to The Woodlands. Where else would they have gone?

I instructed Sendira to search The Woodlands for the couple, in spite of my worry that she might snap up an innocent werewolf or two in the process.

When she returned this time, many hours later, she had a smile on her face—a smile that I couldn’t recall seeing on her lips since before she and her family had been kidnapped by the black witches. She informed me that she had found her son in The Woodlands. She had picked up on his scent, soared over the land following it, and managed to track him down high up in a tree. She’d taken him away to a nearby rock formation where they could talk without interruption.

To my dismay, Sendira informed me that Victoria had not been there—or so Bastien had claimed. I drew in a sharp breath. This was definitely a setback. I still feared for my life every moment that Sendira was outside of that cave. My safety relied entirely on my shaky bluff, and her not wanting to risk that I was lying.

We couldn’t just skip over the first task of ending Victoria and immediately launch into the second condition of our agreement. If Victoria was not taken out of the picture, Bastien would still be clinging to her in his mind. It would be hard enough for him to move on after her death, but knowledge that his little human still lived would make it a thousand times more difficult to ever get through to him, and for him to accept my daughter.

Victoria had to be eliminated before any marriage could take place.

Thus, as much as it killed me, it seemed that I had no other option than to wait. Hopefully not for too long. I’d witnessed with my own eyes how hopelessly infatuated Bastien was with the girl—I knew he could not stand to be parted from her for long. They would meet up sooner or later…

But I needed it to be sooner.

Very soon.

I did not want to enter a waiting game.

Hm.

Maybe, just maybe, there is a way for me to speed things up…





Victoria





We were all in an utter frenzy over Grace’s condition.

A Bloodless.

She had been bitten by a Bloodless and she was displaying the first symptoms of turning. After her initial fit on the bed, none of us were sure what to do. What we could do. Then Corrine, shellshocked as she was, took charge.

“P-Perhaps,” she said in an unsteady voice, “Grace’s tremors could be a symptom of something else. Please just… Let’s not assume anything at all, until I have conducted a thorough examination. Dammit,” she added to Grace beneath her breath, “I knew I should have done this as soon as you stepped in here.”

She requested everyone leave the room except for River and Ben, who could hardly be expected to part from their daughter at a time like this. The rest of us piled out into the corridor, our stomachs tied up in knots.

Although we had been asked to leave, every single member of my family remained hovering outside the door, as if bound by invisible chains. But after an hour had passed, I found the wait unbearable. I kept mulling over and over the very worst-case scenario—that Grace’s fae blood was not strong enough to counteract the Bloodless venom. That she was turning, slowly but surely.

As was usually the case in times like these, it was the uncertainty that wore us down the most.

I couldn’t stand waiting outside the door any longer. I rose from the seat by my mother’s side and stood up.

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