Cast Into Darkness
artifact I think it is, then it was white before Kate handled it. I think when she touched it, she activated the stone.”
    A knot twisted inside his stomach. “That’s bad?”
    She looked up at him, her eyes serious. “Get it back. This is too powerful to leave in Hamilton hands for long.”
    “You never explained what the hell this thing does, how we can use it to overthrow Papa.”
    “Oh, believe me, if it’s the artifact you described, it has more than enough power to take out him, his bodyguards, and anyone else we want. And after Papa, well, there’s always the Hamiltons. You’ll need to cement your position as leader, after all.”
    Her eyes had a dark glow inside as she contemplated the destruction she’d outlined with the careful precision of a Mongol general about to sack a city. Kristof felt a disquiet stir deep within him.
    His gaze wandered to a photo on Melina’s desk—one of him, his sister, and their mother. It had been taken on his third birthday when they swam in the cool ocean of Mykonos, his sister holding him above the waves as his mother stood in the waist-high water next to them. He looked up at Melina, pure trust shining from his face.
    She wasn’t telling him everything she knew about the stone. But how much did that matter, if it did what she said it would do?
    “So you’ll make what I want?” Kristof asked.
    She took the key fob from him. “It will take a few days.”
    “Let me know when it’s done.”
    Kate’s eyes opened. Light filtered into her consciousness. So did pain.
    She felt like she’d been thrown from her car and dragged behind it for a few miles. Every muscle in her body ached. Even her aches had aches. Each time she moved a sharp jolt of pain from her ribs made her want to stop.
    Squeezing her eyes shut, she tried to remember what had happened. That stupid stone had taken control of her, made her bring it inside the circle stones with Brian. He’d cast some kind of spell, the stone had done something, and then… Oh God, the pain. She’d heard Brian screaming, then she’d blacked out.
    Her eyelids fluttered open again. She lay in her bed, the only light in the room shining from her bedside lamp. Someone had dressed her in an old, white cotton nightgown. Her alarm clock read 2:00 a.m.
    “Kate? Oh my God, Kate? Are you awake?” Hayley sat next to her, shoulders slumped forward, eyes red.
    “Wha…what happened?”
    “Don’t try to talk. My dad healed you, but you’re still not, um, really better yet.” She sniffled and reached up to wipe her nose with a tissue.
    Kate shifted, then winced. If Grayson healed me, I’m glad I wasn’t awake when I was hurt.
    Hayley put a hand on Kate’s shoulder, her fingers pressing in.
    Why was Hayley crying?
    “Where’s Brian? Is he okay?”
    “I’m…supposed to let your dad talk to you.” Hayley’s eyes were wide and filled with tears that trembled on the brink of her eyelids. She sniffled again. “I’m not the one who should…”
    Kate’s pulse picked up speed. “Not the one who should what?”
    “Brian’s dead,” Hayley blurted out, tears spilling down her face. “He’s dead, and no one could save him.” She shot to her feet. “No one. Brian was gone…just gone.” She ran out the door, leaving it swinging open.
    Hayley’s words rang through Kate like a lightning bolt. “No. He can’t be… There’s no way he’s—” Hayley was wrong. Brian wasn’t dead. There had to be some mistake. No way would her father let that happen.
    Kate threw off the covers and slid out of bed. She had to find Brian. He must be here, probably right next door, messed up and in pain like her. She’d go to his room and see him lying on his bed, his head nestled among the striped pillows, and his face would light up when she walked in.
    She flew out of her room and threw open the door to Brian’s.
    His bedroom sat dark and cold and empty.
    Like her heart.
    Crumpling to the floor, the emptiness took up residence inside

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