“Try harder,” he gritted out, impatient.
“You’ve got what you wanted,” Imani said to Covington, licking her lips nervously. “You’ve got me. Let them go.”
It hit me then. “It was never really Paige that anyone wanted, was it?”
It was Langley who answered me. He glared at Paige as he spoke. “I sent her to retrieve Imani for me. She never returned. She completely disappeared, and I knew that she had taken Imani with her. Finding Paige would lead me to Imani.”
“And now you have me,” said Imani. “You don’t need the others.”
Covington gave her an indulgent smile. “Yes, we do have you. But it’s not just about you anymore.” He looked at Jared. “Eloise told me all about the conversation that you had with your brother in the infirmary. She had been lingering outside the room.” He briefly glanced at the High Masters. “Samantha Parker…is a hybrid.”
Shit, shit, shit.
In response to the shock and disbelief on their faces, Covington laughed. “Oh I didn’t believe it myself at first. That can’t be possible, right? But let’s look at the facts. Here she stands with Pagori strength and Keja hypnotic beauty. And you’ve all seen the mercury glow to her irises that are currently glowing with anger. Who else do you know who has that? No one, no matter how powerful they are. And I’ll tell you why: it’s a marker – a marker that signifies that she’s a hybrid.” He zeroed in on me. “It’s true, isn’t it? Tell them.”
I thought about calling him a liar, but what was the point? Seeing the fear in his eyes, it was more than obvious what he intended to do – kill me. Whether I denied it or not, he’d still do it, he’d still kill me out of blind fear. “It’s true.”
“Antonio lied for you.”
“To protect me from people like you who are scared of what they don’t understand.” There was an extra hard tug on the energy constructing my shield, and Dana gasped – the hybrid energy was filling her, invigorating her. My shield was still in place, thanks to my reserves, but I knew it was weakening.
“Scared?” he scoffed. “I’m not scared, sweetheart.” Oh yes he was. “I’m smart. Smart enough to know that a hybrid is a dangerous thing – many saw you duel with the vampire who Turned your mate. They know what you can do. They know exactly what any vampires you create will be able to do. They know you can’t be allowed to live.”
Jared made another move toward him and I again pulled him back. “You won’t f**king touch her,” he ground out, his irises glowing so red they were like lasers.
Covington turned suitably nervous. “Maybe you both plan to create an army. The ultimate legion.” It was clear that he was planting the seed of suspicion in the minds of the High Masters, but what wasn’t clear was if it was working. It couldn’t be a good sign that they were still and quiet, could it?
“So you’ve come to kill me? You’re doing this big song and dance just to destroy me? I don’t think so.” When he went to speak, I raised my hand. “I don’t doubt that you want me dead. But what you most want is The Hollow, the position of Grand High Master. You’re posing as the saviour of vampirekind to try to excuse your actions. But anyone with half a brain can see right through you.” Or, at least, I hoped they could.
He snarled, “You need to die.”
“And maybe I will?”
“No you f**king won’t,” Jared vehemently snapped.
“?but if you think there won’t be repercussions, you truly haven’t thought this through.”
Covington didn’t appear concerned. “The Hollow was considered impossible to infiltrate, and yet I am now in total control of it. Come see for yourself.” Very slowly, still holding Antonio hostage, he edged toward the balcony and gestured at one of his vampires to open the doors. The sound of utter chaos filled the room. “Take a look.”
When Covington’s vampires moved slightly to let us pass, Jared and I cautiously moved to the balcony with my shield still encompassing us. My stomach plummeted as I glimpsed the vision below us. Buildings were on fire, people were bleeding and screaming, the bodies of dead humans dotted the ground, and the man-made beach was littered with ashes – the remains of so many dead vampires.
“Right now, all hell is breaking lose in The Hollow because of me,” claimed Covington. “I’ve got your big, bad leader!” he declared to all the vampires below, making everyone freeze. “Not even the Heir or his mate can help him or you. So stand down unless you want them dead!”
Oh he had to be f**king kidding.
“Stand down, and you will not be harmed! Continue to fight, and you will all die! And so will your precious leader!”
There was the briefest hesitation, and then all The Hollow’s vampires surrendered. Of course they did. They would never risk Antonio being hurt because they all adored and respected him. I noticed that the squad, Evan, Alora, Ava, Cristiano, and Jude were among them. Their expressions were filled with fury, apprehension, and anguish. At least they were alive.
All those who had surrendered were instantly rounded up like sheep by Covington’s men, who then surrounded them. The snickering ass**les actually had guns. Vampires relied on their strength, speed, and gifts, not human weapons. This was cowardly and insulting. But it also indicated that they knew they were no match for the legion without the weapons.
Covington laughed. “See how they obeyed me? I am in control here. Anyone who would want to go against me would have to be very stupid.” That comment was for the High Masters.
Jared snarled at him. “And anyone who would be prepared to follow you would have to be even more stupid. You didn’t challenge Antonio for this position. You tried to take it. He welcomed you into his home, and you abused his trust. Not only that, you turned on your own High Master. I can’t think of any vampire who’ll follow someone who can so easily betray others.”
That had Covington tensing, and I could almost see the wheels turning in his head. My shield flickered as the suction suddenly intensified, and I quickly reinforced it again. Dana was smirking, pleased with herself. Had I not been a hybrid, she would have disintegrated the shield by now. It was at moments like this when I was actually glad to be a hybrid.
“Maybe you’ll kill us and keep The Hollow,” said Jared. “But you’re forgetting one very important thing.”