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With my duffle slung over my shoulder, I look back at the bed to see Simon in the same spot. Closing my eyes for a moment, I feel the love pouring from him before I turn away. The note I wrote is propped against the mirror where he will see it, stained with my blood-red tears that don’t seem to stop.

S,

I’m so sorry. I can’t stay, and you know that. They will ruin me, or what is left of me. Not only that, they will also do that to you as well. I will not take your future away from you, not even for my own selfish wants to be with the only person who has ever truly loved me.

You are my best friend, and you will always be my brother, my family. That’s why I’m doing this. You’ll be angry, and that’s okay, you can hate me if you need to, but know this, brother—I’m doing this for you. Find your happiness, your future, and your mate and hold on tight.

Maybe one day, we’ll see each other again, but if not, remember that I will always be your sister, and in the darkness, you will find me.

Yours always,

A x

I close my eyes when I reach the door, my heart thrumming with constant pain. I know I need to get somewhere safe before I crack and break. I feel it, like a shroud of darkness clinging to me, and as soon as I give in, it will swallow me whole.

But not yet.

Forcing my eyes open, I slip out of the suite door and shut it behind me before hesitating in the hallway. I hadn’t planned to, but I find myself standing in front of the door opposite mine.

My mother’s.

Opening the door, I crinkle my nose at the stale air as I slip into the dark suite. It’s covered in a layer of dust, but everything is where it belongs, as is the rule. This cannot be touched unless it is so decreed, and our king had a soft spot for my mother, so he ordered it to be left as it was for me, so I could know her.

But I could never bring myself to step foot inside, not until this night.

The sitting room is through the open archway to the right—the same layout as mine. A huge fireplace stands empty with a mantel full of pictures of her life and successes, which I stop in front of, dragging my finger across one of her smiling face, cutting through the dust.

I look so much like her, but I couldn’t be more different.

Turning away, I stop before the huge four-poster bed.

I close my eyes once more, searching for any signs of her, needing that motherly comfort now more than ever.

“I wonder if you were scared, if you saw what was coming for you. Did you regret having me, knowing it would kill you? Did . . . Did you see this coming for me? Did you know I would be cursed from birth to kill my mother and then to survive the change, only to be stolen away once more?” Shaking my head, I open my eyes and see nothing but emptiness.

She isn’t here.

“I need you,” I croak, breaking slightly. “I need you so badly. I’m so lost and alone. I’m scared, Mother, so fucking scared.”

You are never alone in the dark, my child. They wait for you. Go and find them.

Find your destiny.

It’s a whisper through the air, and I gasp, unsure if it’s my breaking psyche or a promise from those who watch over us.

“Please, if you hear me, show me a sign,” I beg, spinning wildly. When nothing happens, I lift my wrist and rip it open. “I offer a blood sacrifice, please.”

Still, nothing happens, and I hear nothing aside from my blood dripping onto the stone floor.

Turning away once more, I step forward to leave when something pulls me through the room to her wardrobe. Her dresses remain forgotten inside, along with her suits, her armour, and her medals, yet it’s a small box tucked away on the top shelf that draws my attention. It shines brightly despite being forgotten.

I pull it down and slowly open it. Inside is a mask, one unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

It isn’t like the small, delicate masks the females wear.

No, this one is pure silver, with gold tears falling from the open eye sockets. The mouth is parted in a sinister grin to allow fangs to pop through, and it has horns at the top. It would cover my entire face. For a moment, I stroke the metal, feeling a connection to it.

Or is that my connection to the woman who stored it here?

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