After a few moments, I went to the living room and began rooting through Xenia’s books. The entire room was wall-to-wall bookcases—a cozy atmosphere that begged for one to sit and read.
I brushed my index finger across the leather spines of a dozen books before I found one that caught my interest. I freed it from the crowded shelf and opened the cover carefully. I quickly sat in the chair near the fireplace and blew onto the logs. The fire roared as I curled up in the overstuffed chair and began reading.
How many hours passed, I was not sure. The sound of footsteps finally peeled my eyes from the content of the book. James stood near me, quiet and anxious.
“Why are you looming? I hate that,” I said, not taking my eyes from the page I was reading.
“I’m not looming; I’m being respectful. Jesus, you can be bitchy.” He sat on the ottoman.
“Go ahead—speak your mind. Your heavy sighing is getting on my nerves.”
“Dija, I went for a run before, and I smelled not just women, but others—like me. This was not just a Guardian ambush.” He sat, mesmerized by the fire. I watched his face as his brow furrowed. He finally turned to me. “This is not something simple, Dija—there is something more to this. Why would they want them dead?”
I closed the book and looked at him. “James, I think you know.”
“I reject that premise. There were others who could have pointed a finger. It’s no secret who Morgaine’s child is.”
“No—they knew I was aware about the hole in the veil, the visits to other Vlkolak, and their involvement in dark magick. They have spies. I wonder if I should trust Anouk.” I closed the book and looked into the fire. “Sooner or later the anger will fester, and she will eventually blame me. It’s only natural, don’t you think?”
I turned to look at him. We stared at each other uneasily for several seconds.
James finally shrugged his shoulders and resumed his stare into the large flames.
“You’re too quiet—this disturbs me. I hate when you sit there expressionless.” I leaned forward to stir him.
“Remember when Father and I told you that the Vlkolak’s mother claimed he’d return with expensive treasures?”
I nodded my head.
“I’ve been thinking about that. It was odd that he left the items behind. There’s also something else that was strange.” I detected an unusual amount of fear in his eyes. “They were not random items; there was a pattern. I saw chalices and daggers—just two specific items—piled into a sack. Yes, they were ornate, ancient, and priceless—but not the sort of items you’d raid a house for. If you were stealing for money, you’d take other expensive items, as well. It seems he was searching for something specific.”
“I know,” I whispered.
James turned his head to me with a confused look.
I picked up the book and showed it to him. He reached for it and opened it up gently. A few seconds later he looked me in the eyes and shook his head in disbelief.
“I think that’s what they were searching for—and sadly, I think they found it. It’s the only way to open the veil permanently. And then they can take control! What if they can control you? What if Morgaine was right in her theory, and you are half-demon, James? Do you know what this means?” I let a tear escape and brushed it away quickly. I was scared out of my mind.