and stab it down into Meridian’s heart. She arched up, opening her mouth, but he couldn’t hear the screams. Against all laws of the dead or undead, Meridian’s quiet chest heaved, like a balloon being inflated to capacity. As it deflated again, two thick clouds of smoke drifted from her body into the air. But they weren’t plumes of smoke. No.
They were shadows.
Dark and light.
The white shadow, thick and soupy like holy fog, rose up to the sky. It hovered against the ceiling for a moment, shifting into indistinguishable shapes, bubbling at the edges as if to form something new, though not forming anything at all. A moment later it disappeared, leaving the dark one hovering near Savage’s line of sight.
Savage watched closely as the midnight-black shadow seemed to hang in the air before him. Like it was speaking to him. But he couldn’t hear anything. Why couldn’t he hear? It was like he was stuck in some sort of premonitory vortex, tunneling out all the sound.
It bubbled and churned, spun endless circles in the air. Hesitating.
In a heart-pounding crash of light and dark, Savage was at Meridian’s neck again. In the present. A smile turned the edges of his mouth as he realized what was about to happen.
With a jolt, he unsheathed his knife, stabbed it between Meridian’s ribs, right through the center of her heart, until the steel of the blade met the stone of the tablet. She arched up, screaming a primal cry that scorched Savage’s ears.
Then just as he saw in the vision, her body heaved. Two shadows escaped her. The light, a soft mist that floated to the ceiling, spread thin to the point he thought he might’ve peered through it.
And the dark . . .
It hovered before him, as heavy as night, as ominous as Death itself. It seethed fear and vengeance with every expansion and contraction of its blanket of black. Savage didn’t know whether the thing was going to suck the breath from his body or cover him like a cloak. Fizzing and hissing with every slow bob and weave in front of him, the death shade seemed to hesitate . . . as if . . . could it be?
Savage dared speak. “Down, I command you.”
The shadow slithered to the floor, writhing and spitting in compliance. A dark cloud of evil gathered at his feet, awaiting the next command.
Oh, yes. This is what he’d been waiting for.
His gaze darted to Meridian’s lifeless body.
“I suppose I should thank you,” he said, knowing he’d just succeeded in the task he came here to complete. He’d heard death shades accompany elders to the Ever After, but one could never be too sure about vampire lore. Now he’d discovered the truth: death shades don’t accompany elders to the other side at all—they bond to the killer responsible for their premature release. “You’ve shown me the way, Meridian, albeit against your will. I will reveal all the dark secrets of the Ever After by drinking the blood of your elder friends. When I do, I will control the death shades— all of them —and then unleash them on the world. I’ll figure out Eve’s purpose on my own.” Realization sank in. “I no longer need you . . . or your approval.”
Before devilish anticipation could take him over completely, Savage bent down on one knee, held his mother’s cold, bloody hand and recited the Lord’s Prayer. In death, she showed him the love she never could in life.
Now he’d use the dark powers of the Ever After to kill them all.
“ReVamp remains open for business despite the chaos surrounding Savage’s return at Winter Solstice. Dylan has successfully duplicated Eve’s blood, providing a blood source capable of strengthening our race. Why Eve’s blood seems to be more pure than other Alvambra donors is anyone’s guess.”
Statement from ReVamp representative
“W HAT DO YOU think this means?” Dylan leaned over her cherrywood desk at ReVamp and studied the letters more closely:
gtw drh sos aiv xkqgal—jzvv gyvumww sycoxhb kcmv
Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Katherine Manners, Hodder, Stoughton