Dark Descent (Darkhaven Saga # 7) - Danielle Rose Page 0,1

of intervening. Still, I won’t break first. I will never break first.

Malik is at my side. I see him from the corner of my vision, but I never break eye contact with Sofía. Only when she falters, expelling the used, useless breath from her lungs, do I look away. She stumbles backward so quickly, she falls.

My leader catches her, and he gives me a piercing glare. Malik’s narrowed eyes pinch his features, making him appear far more dangerous than I know him to be. His hardened gaze threatens my very existence, but I know he will never follow through with the silent turmoil between us.

I turn on my heels and skip toward the manor, softly giggling while the night hums all around me.

I swipe the steam from the mirror and stare at my reflection. My hair hangs raggedly at my shoulders, a sopping wet mess after my shower. I run my fingers through my tresses, smoothing tangles as I go. I continue to hum a tune heard only in my head when the distinct sound of my bedroom door opening distracts me. Quickly, I dress and exit my bathroom, stopping short of crossing the threshold into my room.

Sofía is there, standing in the doorway, not fully committing to entering my personal space but not leaving either.

“Hello, Sofía,” I say.

She does not respond, so I walk closer, halting only when she is directly before me, close enough where I can reach out and grab on to her flesh and bone.

Her breath hitches, so I know she is afraid, but she maintains eye contact. Her eyes are the color of milk chocolate, smooth and dark, with specks of golden bronze scattered around her pupil. I imagine my own, neon crimson and swirling with magic. I wonder if this intimidates her. Now that she knows I am not simply a vampire, what does she see when she looks at me? A fallen witch? An enemy?

“Holland told me you’re different,” she begins.

“So you came to tell me what I already know?” I ask, both intrigued and annoyed by her persistence and courage.

“You’re a vampire who can access magic,” she says softly. Her voice is low, her words coated by her disbelief. When she speaks, she does not ask questions. She simply states her words—again, reminding me of something I already know to be true.

“Ah,” I say, understanding her true intentions. “You want to see? You want a show? You want me to use magic to validate what you think you saw earlier tonight.”

Sofía swallows hard, and I quiver at the sound. Her esophagus constricts, spilling her spit into the empty pit at her core. I feel my own stomach churn from hunger. My gaze flickers to Sofía’s neck, and she sucks in a loud breath. She wavers, becoming unsteady on her feet.

“You’re not like the others,” she whispers.

Her words ground me, rooting me in place. Meeting her eyes, I blink away my desire to feed.

“What others?” I ask. “The vampires of this nest?”

“Um…yeah,” she says. Her hands are balled into fists at her sides, and her arms are shaking from strain. Even this fascinates me. Everything she does, from the way her fear affects her body to the way she sounds when she moves, it all excites me, interests me—almost as if she is the first mortal I have ever seen in performance.

“Correct,” I confirm. “You’re right. I am not like them.”

“So what are you?” she asks, repeating her question from earlier. She sounds different this time. Earlier, her disbelief was evident in her tone. Now, curiosity overpowers her fear, and her eagerness is reflected in her voice.

“Strong,” I say simply.

I chuckle. I enjoy the way my confession processes in her mind. It bleeds into her features, from realization to shock to terror, and each emotion amuses me.

“They have no idea, do they?” Sofía asks, her voice a harsh whisper. I don’t like the way it targets me, lashing out as if it intends to harm.

Still, her question catches me off guard, so I think about it for a moment, letting the silence linger. I scan her frame, soft but muscular, looking for any clues that may help me understand her intentions. She gives away nothing, and this frustrates me more than her candor.

“About what?” I ask finally. “What don’t they know?”

“They have no idea how evil you actually are,” she says plainly, no longer questioning her beliefs. She states her hypothesis with firmness. The positivity there only irritates me further.

But I smile, finding