A great sense of foreboding took root and spread rapidly. Immediately, I reached for the opal around my neck and all I felt was the chain the piece of obsidian hung from.
Blake’s lips slowly curved up at the corners.
My heart stuttered and then my stomach fell so fast I thought I’d be sick. That smile… That smile felt like a big gotcha. A surge of unbridled terror turned my skin icy cold. But it couldn’t be. No. No. No. It couldn’t be…
Blake cocked his head to the side as he stepped back. He opened his free hand. The thin, white string unraveled, slipping through his fingers. The piece of opal dangled there, in his grasp. “Sorry,” he said, and he truly sounded sorry. It was unbelievable. “It had to be this way.”
“Son of a bitch!” roared Daemon, breaking free from me. He launched forward, going after Blake in a way I knew would end in bloody violence.
Heat flared between my breasts, unexpected and just as terrifying as an army of DOD soldiers. I reached down, yanking the obsidian from my shirt. It glowed red.
Daemon drew up short, snarling.
The darkness behind Blake thickened and stretched out, creeping into the entrance of the tunnel. The blackness seeped over the walls. Lamps sparked and went out. The shadows dropped onto the floor, rising up all around Blake. Not touching him. Not stopping him. The smoke formed pillars at first and then human forms. Their skin was like midnight oil, slick and shiny.
Arum formed all around Blake—seven of them. All dressed the same. Dark pants. Dark shirts. Eyes shielded behind sunglasses. One by one, they smiled.
They ignored Blake.
They let him go.
Blake disappeared into the night as the Arum flew forward.
Daemon met the first one head on, his human form flickering out as he slammed the Arum back into the wall. Dawson shoved Beth to the side as he closed line on an advancing Arum, taking him down.
Reaching down, Matthew grabbed a slender shard of Obsidian, sharpened into a fine point. He spun around, slamming it deep into the belly of the nearest Arum.
The Arum drew up, losing its human form as it rose to the low ceiling. It hung there for a second and then shattered as if it were made of nothing more than frail bone.
I snapped out of it.
Knowing that none of them, including me, would be able to rely on the Source for very long, this would be a hand to hand kind of combat. I yanked the obsidian around my neck and the chain snapped just as one of the Arums reached me. I saw my pale face in its dark sunglasses and searched for the Source inside me.
He reached forward, and whitish-red light erupted from me, throwing the Arum back and knocking it flat on its ass. The energy rushed out like an overflowing stream. The onyx had lessened the blow, and the Arum was on his feet as Daemon took out the one he was fighting. Another explosion of black smoke rocked the corridor.
The Arum I knocked down was in front of me, sunglasses gone. His eyes were the palest blue, the color of the winter sky. They were just as cold as Simon’s, if not more.
I took a step back, my hand clenching the piece of obsidian.
The Arum smiled, and then he twisted to the side, swinging his leg out and catching my bad one. I yelped as my leg caved. I started to go down, but he caught me around the neck, lifted me off my feet and into the air. Beyond him, I saw Daemon spin, saw the anger building in him, saw the Arum rising up behind him.
“Daemon!” I shouted as I slammed the piece of obsidian into the chest of the Arum holding me.
The Arum dropped me as Daemon whirled, dodging the other one. I hit the cement floor for the umpteenth time as the Arum broke apart with such force it blew my hair back from my face.
Daemon grabbed ahold of the enemy closest to him by the shoulders, tossing it several feet behind me as I stood on shaky legs. My hand trembled around the heated obsidian.
“Go! We need to go!” Dawson grabbed Beth and started for the door, dodging an Arum. “Now!”
I didn’t need to be told twice. This was a battle we wouldn’t win. Not when we had no time left and there were four Arum still standing, obviously unaffected by the onyx.
Pushing past the pain, I started forward, taking a few steps before my leg was snatched from behind. I went down fast and hard, dropping the obsidian to save my face from smashing into the cement. The coldness of the Arum’s touch soaked through my sweats, traveling up my legs as its grip on my ankle tightened.
I twisted onto my side and kicked out with my good leg, catching the Arum in the face. There was a satisfying wet crunching, sound and the Arum let go. I scrambled to my feet, gritting my teeth from the pain in my leg as I headed for Daemon. He’d turned and was coming back for me as a low hum rumbled through the building, gaining and gaining until it was all that we could hear. All of us stopped. Light flooded the tunnel and down the hall, automatic locks slamming into place. The thump-thump-thump went on in an endless succession.
“No,” Matthew said, his eyes darting down from where we came. “No.”
Daemon’s gaze shot behind me. I turned, seeing light flaring in the tunnel, crackling and forming a wall of shimmering blue light. One after another, every ten feet or so, over and over…
The blue light came down on one of the Arum not too far behind me. It caught it, and the light flared. There was a loud cracking sound, like a fly caught in one of those traps.
“Oh my God,” I whispered.
The Arum was gone—simply just gone.
Don’t go near the blue light, Blake had said. They’re lasers. Rip you right apart.
Daemon lurched forward, his hands reaching for me, but it was too late. Before he could reach me, and not even a foot from my face, a sheet of blue light appeared and heat blew off it, blowing my hair back. Daemon let out a startled scream, and I jerked back.
I couldn’t believe it. Not possible. I refused to believe it. Daemon was on the other side of the light, closer to the exit, and I…I was on the other side, the wrong side.
Daemon’s eyes met mine and the look in them, the horror in his extraordinary green eyes cracked my heart into a million useless pieces. He understood—oh, God, he understood what was happening. I was trapped with the remaining Arum.
Shouts sounded. Booted feet pounded on the floors. They sounded like they were coming from everywhere. In front of us, from behind, and all corners. I couldn’t turn, though, couldn’t look behind me or away from Daemon.
“Kat,” he whispered, pleaded, really.
Sirens blasted shrilly.
Daemon reacted so fast, but for once in his entire life, he wasn’t fast enough. He couldn’t be. Emergency doors started to slide from the top and bottom, and Daemon shot to the side, slamming his palm on a tiny control panel. Nothing was working. The doors kept sliding together. The blue light was like a stream of destruction separating us. Daemon whipped toward me. He launched toward the blue shield, and I let out a startled gasp. He’d be destroyed if he hit the lasers!
Pulling from the Source as much as I could, I held out my hand, ignoring the heat as I pushed at Daemon with the last of my strength and will, holding his straining body back from the blue lights until Matthew sprang into action, grabbing Daemon around his waist. I slid to the floor, my knees barely catching me. Daemon went wild, throwing punches and dragging Matthew as he struggled to move forward, but Matthew got him back from the light, managing to bring Daemon down to his knees.
It was too late.
“No! Please! No!” he roared, his voice cracking in a way I’d never heard before. “Kat!”
The voices and sounds of pounding feet were drawing closer, and so was the bone-chilling coldness of the Arum. I felt them along my back, but I couldn’t look away from Daemon.
Our eyes locked, and I would never, ever forget the terror in his, the look of pure helplessness. Everything felt surreal on my end, like I really wasn’t here. I tried to smile for him, but I’m not sure I managed one.
“It’ll be okay,” I whispered as tears filled my eyes. The doors were coming out of the ceiling and the floor. “It’ll be all right.”
Daemon’s green eyes held a glassy sheen. His arm reached out, fingers splayed. They never reached the laser or the door. “I love you, Katy. Always have. Always will,” he said, voice thick and hoarse with panic. “I will come back for you. I will—”
The emergency doors sealed shut with a soft thud. “I love you,” I said, but Daemon… Daemon was gone. Gone on the other side of the doors and I was trapped—with the Arum and Daedalus. For a moment I couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe. I opened my mouth to scream, but terror poured into me, cutting off the sound.
I turned around slowly, lifting my head as a tear rolled down my cheek. An Arum stood there, head tilted to the side. I couldn’t see his eyes behind the sunglasses, and I was glad I couldn’t.
He knelt, and beyond him and the other Arums, I could see men in black uniforms. The Arum reached out, trailing an icy finger down my cheek, chasing the tear, and I recoiled away, pressing against the emergency doors.
“This is going to hurt,” the Arum said. He leaned in, his face inches from mine and his breath cold against my mouth.
“Oh God,” I whispered.
A burst of pain encompassed every cell in my body, and the air flew out of my lungs. Suspended there, I couldn’t move away. My arms didn’t work. Someone grabbed me from the side, but I couldn’t feel. It felt like I was still screaming, but there was no sound.
There was no Daemon.