The crowd of over 150 human reporters continues to cheer for Darkins. Many are slapping the samples of Elixir of the Sea that were included in the original press kits on to their faces. They must've read the blurb in the glossy inserts about how the cream will give them the appearance of eternal youth.

Darkins stands next to me waving at the audience like some kind of monarch. He doesn't even seem to notice I'm there—like I'm a tiny bug not even worth swatting. He makes a small gesture and a half-dozen of his guards start walking toward the stage. "Oh yes, my dear," says Darkins very quietly. "I not only switched the press kits, I have destroyed all of yours and the original evidence. Not very bright hiding the press kits in the trunk of my limousine. I had to get in there for a change of clothes after you managed to soil my suit with your clumsiness. You are almost too easy to defeat. Barely any fun at all."

What? Darkins' trunk was the safe hiding place Cupid talked about? And what does he mean 'clumsy?' I threw him into a window!

My classmates at the back of the room-about fifty of them including Khione, Vang, Lily-Bella, Thunder and the other wolves-are watching the guards approach the stage. Lily-Bella nods at me and raises her sword-shaped wand. I shake my head and mouth, "not yet." She nods back.

Pierce is pacing at the front of the stage, awaiting the guards. What's he going to do, attack them all at once in front of everyone? I know he can, but does he realize it will be on television everywhere? I project this thought at him. He glances back at me in time to see Darkins grab my arm, trying to keep me in place, giving the guards an opportunity to catch me.

"Let go," I snarl, twisting in his grip.

"Don't think so, mermaid," he says out of the side of his mouth, still waving and smiling at the crowd.

Pierce glares at Darkins.

"Pierce, I got this," I think at him. "Don't eat anyone, okay?"

Pierce frowns; his eyes are focused on Darkins' hand on my arm. I can tell my boyfriend wants to relieve Darkins of every drop of blood coursing in his evil veins.

"Pierce, watch out!" I yell as the guards suddenly bound on to the stage behind him.

Pierce pivots, grips the torso of the closest guard, and tosses him at the others. The guards fall into a jumble of chaos. The audience of reporters is stunned. For a moment, it's quiet as they look at one another in shock. Once they've recovered enough, they all start grinning. A story is happening before their eyes. They jockey for position, holding up their cameras trying to get the best view of the fight.

"Seize them you idiots!" Darkins bellows at his henchmen, pointing at Pierce and me. The guards scramble up from their pile.

Darkins is squeezing my arm so hard; I can feel the bruises forming. I take that pain, clench my teeth and, oops! Did I mean to kick him in the crotch?

Darkins goes down on his knees, clutching his "parts" and screaming like a demented seagull.

The guards are about to grab me, when Pierce blocks them. He crosses his arms over his chest and widens his stance. "Touch her and die," he says in a low, menacing growl that sends goose bumps prickling up my arms and down my neck.

The guards pause, look at one another, then at Darkins, then back at Pierce.

"You fools!" says Darkins, in a pain-enhanced, high-pitched, very satisfying squeak.

It's mayhem. A hundred and fifty cameras are whirring and almost as many languages are being spoken into microphones. Our classmates in the back are trying to push through the crowd to get to us. The noise is deafening.

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