I stop for a moment, glare at his shadow through the grimy windshield before hurrying around. “They could kill her for her connection to me.”

“Who? Xander?” Tamra demands from the back. “Why would he kill Mom? Just because he saw Jacinda manifest? He can’t know what he saw, can’t understand it.”

Cassian ignores my sister’s confusion. I’m grateful. Now’s not the time to explain Will and his family to her.

“My only concern is you,” Cassian replies in an even voice. “Bringing you back home. Tam is welcome—”

“Gee, thanks,” she mutters.

“But your mother is the one who took you away. They won’t welcome her back.”

“Either you get my mother or I’m not going anywhere,” I threaten, my hands knotting to fists at my sides.

“Fine. But they won’t welcome her…and she doesn’t even want to be part of the pride any longer,” he reminds me in succinct tones. Like I ever forgot that fact.

“Neither do I.” Tamra punches a fist against the back of Cassian’s seat.

Cassian flicks his attention back to her for a moment, his expression flat, unreadable. In that moment he looks nothing like the guy who stood in the pool house with me. The softer, caring side I glimpsed of him is nowhere to be seen. This Cassian doesn’t look like he possesses a heart.

I open my mouth, ready to flay him with words. Ready to insist that my mother and sister would choose to come with me. It’s my mom. My sister. We stick together.

But I say nothing. Because I simply don’t know. Because the truth, hard as it is, drums me in the face. I’ve been functioning without thought or concern for them for some time now. Maybe I don’t deserve them.

They have to know what happened. Everything from the beginning. Finally everything. I look back at Tamra. “Whether you and Mom want to come with me or not, you can’t stay here anymore. Not after I’ve exposed myself.”

She stares at me, her pasty pallor starting to seriously concern me. “Well, isn’t this perfect for you. You got what you wanted from the start.”

Leaving Will? Not really.

“Let’s not do this right now, Tamra. The fact is, you have to run, too.” Because of me. What I’ve done makes certain of that. Only the question remains: Will they hate me for it later? Will they leave me to Cassian and the pride and start fresh someplace else among humans?

Or will Mom sacrifice her life all over again? And Tamra’s? For me? I don’t expect it of them. Don’t blame them if they run in the opposite direction without me.

I’ve lost my freedom tonight. I’ve lost Will. Will I lose Mom and Tamra, too?

As Cassian turns the car around and heads back into town, I stare out the window into the night, remembering the awful car ride I took over a month ago when we left the pride. I was so afraid, so unwilling.

Now it’s the same. I’m sitting in the front seat of a car and heading into an unwanted future all over again. Hating that I must go with Cassian, I wonder if I’ll ever find a way back to Will. I don’t expect him to find me despite what he said.

“There will be a reckoning for your actions tonight,” Cassian declares as we race headlong into the dark.

No surprise there. A reckoning. For revealing the greatest secret of my species. For running away in the first place. For Will. Yeah, for Will.

I slide a slow glance at Cassian. An oncoming car casts his face in harsh light. There’s no missing the grim press of his lips. I swallow past the tightness in my throat.

“I’ll try to protect you….” His voice swirls through the air, thick as smoke.

“Don’t let them clip my wings,” I plead.

His dark gaze brushes over my face, softens for a moment. “I’ll try, Jacinda. I’ll try.”

Not much for reassurance. I draw a ragged breath and stare out into the night again. I glance over my shoulder. Big Rock rises behind me, a great slumbering shape.

A sound rises on the night, above the low rumble of the car’s engine. My skin shivers at the bird’s broken call, desperate and unremitting. Lost. Desert quail, Will called it. Searching for its mate. For family. For home.

I can relate. At the pitiable sound, I close my eyes and lean back against the seat. We’ll be there soon.

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