Dark Descent (Darkhaven Saga # 7) - Danielle Rose

Chapter One

There is a part of me, however small, that is aware of my descent. My inner light is a righteous creature stalking the shadows of my soul, striving for grace only to be smothered by ugliness. And I allow this to happen. What other choice do I have?

That flicker in the darkness of my soul, in the obsidian-colored abyss washing over me even now, reminds me that I once believed I could be a savior. The burden of protecting the innocent and punishing the guilty was a weight I wanted to bear because I believed in our cause, in the greater good. Since then, I have become privy to one undeniable truth: evil lurks while the world slumbers, and never, in all my years, have I wanted something more than my overriding desire to become one with it.

With the battle over, the rogues either dead or running scared, I encourage these thoughts. I think about power and destruction, about claiming my rightful place as leader over this planet. I wish to be their maker, their idol, their god. My body tingles, prickling as tiny bumps glisten against my skin, like beads of water in the moonlight. I look up at her now, bathing in her glory, in her strength. In this moment, I deem myself stronger than even the moon.

“A-Ava?” Jasik repeats, voice beginning to shake.

My sire has said my name many times now, but I continue to ignore him. I don’t care to talk. I have no intention of rehashing details of the battle. They lost. We won, and that’s all that matters. Winning is all that matters. I care about far little more than my desire to dominate this land—and the creatures that call it home.

I glance past him, ignoring everyone around me until my gaze settles on just one. She has added greater space between us now. She halts when I stare at her, but something about her presence continues to grow distant, as though she is becoming farther from my grasp with every second that passes.

She doesn’t need to confess that putting distance between us is her pathetic attempt to squash her fear. I can sense her distress; I can smell it. I lick my lips, and her eyes widen. If she does this for much longer, they may just spill from their sockets, splattering to the ground in a messy heap, rolling from their captor until they are squashed beneath the sole of my boot. I can hear the squish, the sloppy hiss as the goo contained inside stains the ground red.

Of course, I am making assumptions. I’ve never popped eyeballs, so I have no idea what color the devastation would be. Perhaps a bright, fiery red or maybe a pale, sunken blue. I think about this for a long time, never averting my gaze.

“What are you?” Sofía asks. She spits her question at me, full of accusations. Her fear seeps from her as steadily as her budding anger.

I find myself wondering why she is upset. Is it because I foiled some secret plan? Or is she shocked to discover the existence of a hybrid?

I step forward, gliding easily even as my prey stumbles backward. The other vampires are silent, unyielding as they watch me ascend toward Darkhaven’s newest witchy resident.

When I reach Sofía, she sucks in a sharp breath. Her lungs spasm at the abrupt rush of air. I hear them clench, shrinking and widening, desperate to feed her body the necessary oxygen it requires to stay alive. If her lungs could think, if they could foresee my plans for her, would they give up now? Would they save her the despair of future agony by ceasing effort, taking her life this very second?

I stop in front of her, smiling, waiting. She has stopped breathing. Her lungs struggle to feed her organs, using only what is trapped inside them. I think I can hear their plea, their scream for a fresh supply of air, but she must not hear it. She does not release the breath she is holding. I imagine she is waiting for me to break first, but that will never happen. Not because I am overly cruel but because I am strangely curious to know if Sofía can hold her breath so long she passes out.

Her lungs clench tighter, making a soft, squeaky sound that echoes around us. The others must hear it because there is ruffling behind me. The hunters are stepping forward, and I know they have every intention