“Why doesn’t—?” I cut myself off as I caught a glimpse of brilliant white reflecting off the windowed front of an office building. I stopped, my heart speeding up as I searched for its source.
Roth immediately sensed the change. “What?”
“I see an all-white aura,” I explained, walking again as I strained to catch sight of it through the dizzying shades passing us. “It was dazzling, way too bright to be a human.”
I nodded. It had to be a Warden, unless it was an Alpha. Though I doubted the latter would be roaming the streets. As far as I knew, they looked the way they did all the time, and there was no hiding those wings.
Roth’s hand tightened around mine, and a general sense of alarm took root in my stomach. It could be any Warden, but if I’d caught sight of their aura, they could’ve sensed Roth and me in turn. If it was Nicolai or Dez out there, I thought they’d approach. Maybe not Zayne at this point, and that killed me to even acknowledge.
We walked another block, silent and on alert. Just as we were several feet from an alley, I felt the awareness. The Warden was nearby.
Roth’s chin dipped down. “You feel that?”
I nodded, and as we crossed the mouth of the alley, I caught sight of brilliant white again, and my head swung sharply to the right. All the way toward the back of the alley, there was a huge source of pearly goodness. The aura faded and I caught a glimpse of what existed beyond the glow.
Ice shot down my spine as I sucked in a sharp breath. Even from across the distance, I recognized that face. Who wouldn’t? The jagged scar that sliced from the corner of his eye to his lips was unmistakable.
It was Elijah.
In the back of my head, it registered somewhat dimly how misleading that white aura was. He had wanted me dead my whole life, his own daughter. But Wardens had pure souls, no matter what sins stained them.
Slipping my hand free from Roth’s, I didn’t think as I shot down the alley, racing toward the back where I’d seen him. I didn’t know why I was even chasing after him. I hadn’t seen him since he’d ordered his son, my half brother, to take me out. When Petr had vanished, Elijah had disappeared, and back then, I’d been under the protection of my clan. Not so much anymore.
But I didn’t need their protection now.
Right now none of us needed Elijah skulking around the city. We had enough problems, and if he was here to mess with me, which he had to be, I’d rather deal with him now instead of looking over my shoulder, waiting for him to strike.
“Dammit,” I heard Roth growl just before he took off after me.
I was fast when I wanted to be, but as I rounded the back of the alley, my target wasn’t there. My head jerked up. Elijah was scaling the fire escape at a rapid clip, the dark trench coat he wore whipping out behind him.
“This could be a trap,” Roth reasoned as he caught up to me, staring up toward the rooftop. He wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t already know. “Layla, we need to think about this.”
“We don’t need to deal with him haunting us. It’s bad enough that his son has been doing so as a wraith.” I turned to him. “That’s the last thing any of us need to be worried about.”
I met his stare for a moment and then I spun around. Running to the fire escape, I jumped and caught the rail. My body swung to the side and then back. My feet hit the ladder.
“Okay,” Roth called out from behind me. “You’re crazy, but that was also crazy hot.” He grunted as he landed on the ladder behind me. “Just thought I’d share that with you.”
I flew up the ladder, determined. It took only seconds to climb what had to be at least ten stories, and in the back of my mind, I wondered how that was possible. I’d always been faster and stronger than a human, but not like this. Now just wasn’t the time to really delve into why.
Reaching the top of the ladder, I propelled myself over the ledge, landing in a crouch. My eyes widened as I took in the scene before me and my stomach dropped a little.
Ah, Roth might’ve been right.
He landed beside me, cursing under his breath as we both rose. Standing at the other end of the rooftop was Elijah. He wasn’t alone. Three Wardens were with him. I recognized them from when his clan had visited the compound.
Wind whipped across the roof, blowing Elijah’s jacket out around him as his cold gaze centered on me. An ugly, hateful emotion rose within me, spreading through my veins like battery acid. “Hello, Dad.”
Surprise etched into his harsh features. It was brief, gone when his lips curved into a sneer, distorting the ragged scar. “Do not call me that.”
“Why?” I asked as Roth moved closer to me, but I was focused on this being who was supposed to love me. Wasn’t that what mothers and fathers did, like innately? Why were mine the exception to the rule? “You’re my father.”
One of the other Wardens, a tall, dark-haired man, glanced at Elijah questioningly. Did they not know? A horrible smile pulled at my lips and it was without any warmth. Instead, it was full of scorn and seventeen years of wondering. “Yeah, maybe you remember how you hooked up with Lilith—the Lilith—”
“Shut up,” he hissed, his hands forming meaty fists.
A low grumble of warning rumbled from Roth as a blast of heat rolled off him, but my smile, it spread. “And the two of you produced little old me. What? You didn’t think I knew?”
Two of the Wardens behind him exchanged uncertain looks. “What?” I repeated. “They didn’t know?”
“That doesn’t matter.” His nose began to flatten and his jaw lengthened, extending to make room for the massive fangs that could cut effortlessly through steel and marble.
“It doesn’t?” I knew I was pushing him. His fury was a tangible third party on this rooftop. I could practically reach out and touch it, but I was too focused on my own anger to be afraid. After all this time, I was finally able to confront him. It was like a secret fantasy of mine was finally coming true. “You boinked Lilith.”
“Boinked?” Roth chuckled under his breath and then said, “God, I love you.”
Elijah jumped on that comment. “Love? From a demon? Are you serious?”
“Don’t,” I warned, feeling the space below my neck start to tingle. “Don’t try to act like you know anything about love. You’re no better than me, and you’re sure as Hell no better than him. He’s a thousand times better than you could ever hope to be.”
Elijah snorted. “Him? A demon? You are—”
“He’s the Crown Prince,” I snapped, my hands curling tight. “Not just a demon. But even if he was merely a Fiend, he’d still be too good for the likes of you.”
“That’s my girl,” Roth murmured.
“Why are you here?” I demanded, fueled by an anger that burned so deep and so bright, it was like it was my own personal sun. “Wait, let me guess. You want to kill me?”
“I was tracking you. I knew that eventually you’d resurface.” His skin started to darken. “And I should’ve taken care of this when you were nothing but a babe. I should’ve known the moment that bitch left you with me that you weren’t right. You’d be just like the whore—”