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  • Home > Samantha Young > The Tale of Lunarmorte > River Cast (Page 37)     
  • River Cast(The Tale of Lunarmorte #2)(37) by Samantha Young
  • “Uh.” Julia giggled nervously. “I think you better leave... Ryder... now... LEAVE!”

    He was out the door like lightning, Dimitri’s snarls still snapping at his behind like little angry ghosts.

    The witch still made Jaeden uneasy, despite Ryder’s defense of her. Jae knew the girl didn’t look like much, but Midnights were slippery, vicious creatures who knew how to get under the skin. She sat stiffly in a chair by the window, while Vil and Laila snuggled together on the sofa, munching on the snacks Jaeden had brought over with her. The reason why she was here made her smile softly, wondering if Ryder would get the answer they both needed.

    “You know you don’t have to be afraid of us,” Vil’s serene voice suddenly penetrated her musings.

    Jaeden snapped to alert and grunted, “I’m not afraid of you. Her... not so sure of.”

    Laila’s huge blue eyes widened even further as she looked up and over at her. Jaeden felt an unexpected twinge of guilt at the hurt she saw shimmering there.

    “I would never hurt anyone,” she whispered.

    Vil shushed her, squeezing her closer, soothing her pain.

    Why can’t I shrug the guilt? Jae growled at herself, looking back at Laila. The Midnight was still staring at her, and as their eyes locked Jaeden saw something in the magiks that was intimately familiar. Familiar... because that haunted look had once reflected back at her every time she gazed into a mirror. Ryder’s voice echoed in her head.

    I’m telling you Jae, they’re OK. Vil seems like a standup guy, and Laila… well she won’t tell anyone, including Vil, what happened to her back at that camp, but I’m telling you it was enough to make her hate them.

    “Can I speak with Laila alone?” she suddenly asked, standing over the two of them.

    Vil frowned, eyeing her warily. “I don’t think so.”

    “I’m not going to hurt her.”

    “No, she-”

    “It’s OK.” Laila placed a placating hand on his arm and he glanced at her sharply.

    “You are sure?”


    “OK. I’ll be down the hall if you need me.” He got up and threw Jaeden a stern, warning look before he left.

    She settled on the arm of the sofa, scrutinizing Laila, who had moved back a little from her. “What happened at this camp, this army camp?”

    The magik shook her head. “I don’t talk about it.”

    “If I’m to trust you I need to know about this camp.”

    She shrugged helplessly. “It was... just a camp.”

    “Under Ethan’s control?”


    “So...” Jaeden searched for the right phrase. “It was like special ops?”

    “What is… special ops?”

    “You know, like a government operation designed to... let’s say win a war, when normal tactics aren’t moving things along as nicely as one would like.”

    Laila snorted, her ethereal face twisted in disgust. It was the most negative emotion Jaeden had seen her emit. “Yes. You could say it was this special ops you speak of.”

    A moment of silence fell between them as Jaeden worked towards posing her next question. She blew out a shaky breath, her voice going husky as her own memories swept through her. “Did it involve torture?”

    The witch’s mouth fell open in surprise, her eyes round with torment. “Why...?”

    “I’ll take that as a yes then.”

    Laila shook her head. “I don’t... I can’t... I-”

    “I’ve been there, Laila,” Jae whispered, not even sure why she was telling the girl something so personal. Perhaps she knew it might be the only way to get information from her. “Ethan... personally kept me in a cage. He tortured me. For weeks. Although it felt like years.”

    Her young face crumpled in empathy and she reached out to place a cool hand on Jaeden’s wrist. She was surprised by the gesture, for Laila had only allowed Vil near her since their arrival. As her hand withdrew from her, Jaeden’s pain at the memories dissipated, leaving a warm peace lingering in its wake. Relaxing back into the sofa, she smiled sadly at the Midnight. “Is that what happened to you?”

    The girl nodded rigidly.


    A tear slid down her pale face. “It was a behavioral modification camp for magiks. He took children of magiks from all over. I come from Halmstad, but others came from Grena, Oslo... all over Scandinavia. He told our parents he was going to train us to be an elite force. It was an honor to be chosen. Instead, he used all measures of control - withholding food, brainwashing, all to turn us into an elite force that would only answer to his command, no matter the order.”

    “Like daemons.”

    Revulsion passed over Laila’s face. “Like daemons. But so much more powerful.”

    “Why the torture? Was that part of it?”

    She shook her head wildly, and Jaeden was surprised to see an almost smug smile form on her lips. “His men couldn’t break me. So they tortured me in an attempt to subdue me.”

    Horror rippled through Jaeden at the thought of what this frangible creature had gone through.

    “How did you escape?”

    A cold, ferocious look froze over her face. “The oldest trick in the book.”


    “One of the warlocks had an... unhealthy interest in me.”

    No, no, no, Jae pulled back, he didn’t... oh goddess.

    “Don’t worry,” Laila assured her. “They had orders not to touch us that way. It could have a disturbing effect on the controls. But this one.” She shuddered. “He would sneak in some touching, petting.”

    “Bastard,” Jaeden snarled.

    The witch looked startled at her vehemence before throwing her a grateful smile. “I used it against him, though. I pretended an interest in him, which is probably the most difficult thing I have ever had to do, and he took me from the cage and snuck me out towards the back of the camp. He turned his back for a second and I knocked him out with a spell my mother had taught me years before. Stupid man.” She shook her head in disgust. “I stole his keys to his car, got a few miles away before I abandoned it and set off on foot, confusing my trail as I went. I thought Ethan would find me... but he never came.”

    Jaeden snorted. “Yeah, cos’ he was dead.”

    “He is dead then?” Laila queried quietly, her haunted eyes begging for an affirmative.

    “Caia killed him.”

    “She helped save me from prison... and now this news. It seems I will be forever in her debt.”

    A sense of connection threaded its way between them and Jaeden smiled warmly at her for the first time. “The way that girl is going, we’re all going to be in her debt.”

    The sound of the front door slamming pulled them from Laila’s tale, and Ryder strolled in, an obvious look of surprise on his face at the sight of them sitting together.

    “Everything OK?” he queried, his eyes flicking between them.

    “I was just going to ask that?” Vil hurried in now, his anxious gaze locked on Laila. She smiled at him, holding her hand out to draw him to her.

    Visibly relaxing, he moved towards her like a magnet. Jaeden huffed in amusement at the suspicious look he leveled at her and jumped up towards Ryder, wrapping her arms around his waist, snuggling close to him. “Everything is good actually.” She searched his eyes, attempting to find the answer he had received this evening from her parent’s. “Everything is good?”

    “What did I miss?”

    “Ryder?” she whined.

    “I’ll tell you if you tell me what happened here.”

    She groaned and pulled away from him. “You’re a pain. Fine. Laila and I understand one another now, and I believe Caia when she says Laila is a good Midnight. Who would have thought? Now tell me what my father said.”

    All of a sudden he laughed and grabbed her, whirling around the room. “Yes!”



    “Oh my god-” he smothered her words with a passionate kiss. A discreet cough pulled them apart a few seconds later and they turned, smiling, to see Reuben lounging in the doorway. Immediately she felt Ryder tense.

    “What are you doing here?”

    “I came to see how your guests were faring, but obviously I’m interrupting a celebration.”

    Vil grinned. “Jaeden’s parents are allowing them to mate.”

    Reuben remained passive, not giving anything away. “How nice for them.”

    “Reuben.” Jae made a move towards him, hating to hurt her friend. “I’m glad you’re here. I want you to be here for the ceremony. You’ve been through so much with me it would feel weird without you.”

    “No it wouldn’t,” Ryder growled, brushing past her to stand bristling at the taller vampyre. “For a start my guests are none of your business.”

    “I was merely curious. She is a Midnight after all.”

    Ryder scoffed, his fists curling into knots. “We both know why you’re here, you son of a bitch.”

    Jaeden fought an oncoming headache. “Ryder-”

    “Son of a bitch?” Reuben thrust his shoulders back in an attempt to intimidate, all evidence of passivity gone and replaced with a stony anger. “I’m the son of a bitch? You’ve done nothing but hassle me since I got here.”

    “Because you’re always here!”

    “I’m her friend. I’m not going anywhere.”

    “We’ll see-”

    “Guys!” she shouted, looking desperately to Laila and Vilhelm for help. They were no good. They were already sidling quietly from the room to disappear into their bedroom.

    “You have no right turning up all the time, that’s all I’m saying.”

    “I came here to see if the boy and the girl were OK. That they weren’t causing any trouble, that’s all.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire