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Suddenly, a man came into view. I gasped sharply. It wasn't a vampire that advanced steadily on me...

Chapter 53 – In the Garden – Raine's POV

It was Hayden!

I stared at him in shock and hissed, "How did you find me?  How did you get in here?! They'll kill you!"

He smirked, "No they won't kill me. They invited me. I am here for the Alliance."

"But Armand..."

"Our treaty was reestablished once Armand believed you were no longer the daughter of a Hunter," he explained shortly. There was sharpness in his tone.

I asked carefully, "What do you mean Armand believed? You don't think it is true?"

His mouth was set in a thin hard line as he replied, "No, it works to our advantage right now, but I have always felt a connection with you, something that runs deeper inside of me. It is familiar. And I have to believe it means something."

Oddly enough, his words sounded exactly how I described my relationship to Felaern to Talia, a few days ago. I didn't have time to dwell on it, and spoke gently but firmly, "I am not the daughter of a Hunter. I do bear the family crest of Armand the Slayer."

"Show me his mark," he challenged.

I answered simply, "I cannot."

He narrowed his eyes and nodded as if I had just proved his point.

"When I was mortally wounded by Vladimir..." I explained, my tone taking on an edge, as I reminded him of his earlier betrayal.

He had the decency to flinch.

I continued, "Cage couldn't heal me, because I do not heal from vampire blood – save one. Armand is the only vampire that can heal me and his family crest appeared and remained visible while his blood was still in my system. It faded over time and has gone now, however should I ingest his blood again, it would reappear."

Hayden's eyebrows furrowed together in deep thought.

Finally he spoke, "I am sorry about Vladimir. I never intended for you to get hurt. It was a calculated risk. I thought if you could see Armand for the man he is, you would realize the truth and fight with us. Regardless of your heritage, the prophecy still states that your loyalty rests on the head of a pin. Inside of you is a good person, loyal and loving and just. You are nothing like Armand. He is a coldhearted brutal killer, quite unlike the Hunters, who value family and each person's well-being above all else. You must admit that your heart is the heart of the Hunter, not a Slayer. Everything I have done, even when I put you at risk, was to get you to see that truth. You belong by my side. And the side you choose will bring great devastation and victory."

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