Chapter Forty

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Caleb lay on his back, a bloody hole where his throat had been. His eyes were fixed on the night sky, his face forever twisted into a rictus of pain and hatred.  

I blinked a couple of times, convinced he was going to get up any minute. That was what Caleb did. He always got back up, no matter what anyone did to him.  

Not this time. 

My initial shock subsided and grim satisfaction unfurled inside me. It might have been wrong to gloat over someone's death but I couldn't help it. This man had destroyed my life, killed my friend, and almost killed the boy I loved. Was I supposed to forget all that because he was dead? Not a chance. I was glad he was dead.  

Regret twinged inside me that I hadn't been the one to do it but at the same time I was relieved that I hadn't been. Killing him would have damaged something inside me, pushed me over a line into a darkness that I didn't want to be a part of.  

Madeleine strode over to Caleb and kicked his body. "This one's been a thorn in my side from the word go. When I arranged to have those ex-hunters killed I never expected one of them to fight back like this." 

Noah's word rang in my ears. There's not really any such thing as an ex-hunter. Caleb might have retired but hunting vampires is in his blood. He could no more truly give it up than he could give up breathing. Madeleine should have investigated the hunters properly before having them killed. If she'd known that Caleb was a dangerous fanatic she'd probably have killed him first and saved us all a lot of trouble. Sophie would still be alive. 

"However" - Madeleine looked up at me and her dark eyes glittered - "he has proved he can be useful, after all." 

"How can he be useful? He's dead." 

Madeleine squatted next to Caleb and dipped her finger into the ragged hole where his throat had been. She sucked the blood off her finger, her eyes never leaving my face. If she was trying to sicken me she'd have to try harder than that. 

"Caleb here is the bait," she said. 

"Oh. I guess I thought that was my job."  

Madeleine snickered. "My intent is to draw your parents and their team out here where I can get to them. I think you and I both know they wouldn't come running just to save you." 

It was probably true but still...ouch.  

"Do you know what Caleb did with his last few moments of life? He betrayed your team. I got him to call them and tell them another ex-hunter had been killed. He told them to hurry to the latest murder because there was something here they'd all want to see. Obviously he didn't realise the latest murder was going to be him," Madeleine chuckled. 

Fresh disgust washed over me as I looked at Caleb's corpse. When he'd captured Samuel, Samuel had been willing to die rather than betray his clan. Caleb had summoned the entire team to their deaths because he'd hoped it might save his own wretched skin. He was more of a coward than I'd ever given him credit for.  

"If Caleb's your bait what do you want with me? Why am I still alive?" 

It probably wasn't the best move to be questioning why she hadn't killed me yet but I needed to have all the answers for when I escaped. And I would escape, just as soon as I worked out how to get away from the bearded vampire still holding my arms. 

Madeleine flashed over to me. Her fingers twisted in my hair, forcing my head back so my throat was exposed. Fear clamped around my heart.  

"You're here so Ava can watch you die. Finding your body is one thing but I want her to see the life fading from your eyes and know there's nothing she can do to save you," Madeleine hissed. 

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