We nodded jerkily.

I tilted my head far back, staring at the section we wanted the spout, which in effect turned my attention away from the pleading Mysticals. The Coms were bearing down on them as the two battles became one outside the dome’s safety.

The spout was made.

Jack’s voice was as chilled as ice. “Time to move.”

Our elite guards were still protecting us against the few Mysticals inside the dome who were begging for us to lift it. Just loud enough not to break my concentration, I called quietly over my shoulder to them, “We’re moving out. Pass the word on.”

Felix decked a Vampire, who was crying for her mate on the other side of safety. Even before she hit the ground, he shouted to the anxious crowd, “If you’re not organized yet, get so now! We’re leaving, people.”

I heard resounding murmurs behind us as I looked forward. “Let’s go.”

Ezra glanced down at me, his eyes as haunted as mine. This wasn’t training, when Antonio had used his Mage magic to transfer his memories of war chaos to outside the dome’s walls. This was reality. Our friends, family members, and individuals we had spent the last year with were outside the dome’s wall. They were more than likely going to die.

Ezra wrapped his free arm around my waist, holding me close against him — both of us needed the comfort so to hell with our ‘no touching in public’ policy right now — as we began to move the dome with our will. Putting one foot in front of the other was difficult; we saw the will of our dome begin to shove Mysticals and Commoners out of our way as we moved toward the back edge of the school property. To the Sound.

I was trembling, my chest aching in anguish and guilt, as I watched from our shelter. Swiping tears away from my cheeks with my free hand, I rested my head against Ezra’s chest and focused the best I could. I was trying to ignore the cries for assistance when what had to be the second round of the attacks began taking place. Explosions rocked the ground again, shaking my entire body. To my left I saw a swarm of Coms, dressed not in plain clothes as the other Commoners had been, but in black tactical wear. They were racing from the trees, on foot or in military vehicles, and firing on any Mys they saw.

Jack murmured, “Keep moving. Will the dome to be impenetrable but see-through. No rockets or bombs should be able to get through it. Will it. Push it.”

I focused, doing exactly as he had said.

“Perfect,” Jack murmured.

Only a beat later, bullets from machine guns hit the dome and grenades were thrown.

“My mom,” Pearl whispered, her voice soft and cracking. She pointed with her free hand over Jack’s shoulder. Her mom was on the fringe of the battle straight ahead. “They’re almost on her.”

“Don’t watch,” Ezra ordered immediately, his gaze snapping to Pearl’s profile as his grip tightened around my waist. “Look down.”

Jack’s right arm snaked back, and he wrapped it around Pearl’s waist, tugging her close. He tucked her face against the crook of his neck before giving a harsh dictate. “Keep focused and keep moving.”

Pearl’s grip on his shoulder appeared brutal, keeping her will in contact, as she nodded her head of golden hair and as her soft sobs racked her body. But she kept her feet traveling forward, kept the dome from crumbling by her added will. She was tough on a whole other level.

I watched in horror as a group of trained tactical Coms advanced on the group of Mysticals where her mother was already fighting. My brows slammed together in sudden confusion, leaving me blinking, as at least fifty of the trained Coms began…sinking. With my eyes darting across landscape, my breath caught when I saw King Fergus, King Venclaire — my biological father — King Kincaid, and King Nelson off to the side of the group, almost hidden behind the trees. They were linked like we were, and King Fergus’s arms were raised, his eyes glowing fiercely. He was using his earth Elemental power.

The screaming group of Coms sank into the grassy knoll, two armoured vehicles included.

Buried alive.

King Fergus wasn’t done either.

He attacked another section of the new group of invading Coms, and their bodies and vehicles plummeted into the ground like it was quicksand.

“My God,” Ezra muttered. “That’s f**king awesome.”

Jack snorted. “Mine’s better.”

“What?” Pearl asked, sounding hysterical, her voice octaves higher than normal.

I explained quickly, “King Fergus just buried a shitload of Coms who were heading in the direction of where your mom’s fighting.”

Her breath caught. “She’s alright?”

“She’s still killing away,” Ezra mumbled easily as we watched her mom blow a Com’s head off in a gold-sparkled explosion. “Damn, she’s good.”

“Of course she bloody is,” Pearl murmured, her face still stuffed against Jack’s neck, even though she sounded like the prim English woman she was, her tone turning curt. “She’s my mother.”

“Focus people.” Jack cleared his throat harshly. “And water’s better than earth.”

Unexpectedly, my lips twitched. He sounded jealous. Even a smidge hurt. I squeezed his shoulder, focusing as he had instructed. “I’d want you over King Fergus any day.”

Ezra snorted. “Hell, King Fergus can’t blow water out of his mouth and drown everyone. Or freeze them solid from the inside out or the outside in. All he does is play with dirt.” He shrugged one shoulder, making my head press against his chest further. “Water is definitely better than earth.”

Still hanging tight to Jack, Pearl added, “Duh.”

Jack walked a little straighter. “That’s what I said.”

My eyes met Ezra’s, and even if this situation didn’t warrant our humor, it flickered.

Chapter Two

Taking one of the wide back pathways to the Sound, we began traveling over the sand. I had no shoes on, like my besties, so my toes dug into the burning granules warmed by the sun. I paid no attention to the crowd’s buzz behind us when we didn’t alter our course to the crashing waves. Instead, I glanced to the left and down the beach when a commotion caught my eye.

My feet faltered.

Ezra’s steady arm around my waist tightened, and he jerked me forward, keeping me moving while ordering severely, “Sweetheart, concentrate!”

“It’s them,” I mumbled, blinking in shock. And in instant fury.

“Yes, it is,” he muttered, literally lifting me off the sand and crushing me against his muscled frame to keep our progression moving forward. “There’s nothing we can do about it now.”

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