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The Dark One: Chapter 7

WINNIE

The shock has the air rushing out of me in a useless gasp and Vane’s hold on me tightens, closing off my air supply as he lifts me off my feet and I pedal uselessly for purchase.

The darkness of the Death Shadow surges around his eyes as his hair turns bright white.

“Vane! For Christ’s sake!” Pan and the twins rush up behind us.

I can feel my face turning bright red as I struggle for oxygen.

“Let her go,” Pan says.

The terror kicks up again in the base of my belly and crawls like a centipede up the center of me. My heart beats loudly in my ears.

“The Darling wants what she wants.” Vane’s voice has shifted along with his gaze. The Death Shadow turns him more demon than man so that his voice rumbles and echoes around us.

Tears spill over my lids and trail down my cheek.

I was not prepared for this.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

“Shhhh,” he coos. “Save your tears for when it really hurts.”

My eyes bulge from their sockets.

“Please let her go,” Pan says, as the twins edge around us.

“She thinks she wants it,” Vane goes on. “Let me prove to her why she shouldn’t.”

If I had air in my lungs, I’d be screaming.

I wrap my hand around Vane’s wrist, the other scrabbles at his grip on me. I need air. I need air. Some kind of reprieve.

Fuck.

Maybe I am a stupid girl who knows nothing at all.

“Vane,” Pan says again, just as the twins lunge.

I drop to the floor when Vane lets me go. On all fours, I gasp for air.

The twins grab each of Vane’s arms and haul him back. Vane fights them and throttles Bash by the throat and tosses him aside like he is nothing at all. Kas comes next and gets a boot square in the chest. He flies through the air and slams into the trunk of the Never Tree and the branches shudder from the impact.

Vane turns on Pan next.

Pan holds up his hands. “Get your shit together,” he says.

Vane stalks toward him.

“For fuck’s sake, Vane.”

I suck in oxygen and then put my back to the wall and use it to slide up to my feet.

When I try to speak, my voice comes out raspy and hollow. “Vane,” I try.

“She’s ours, isn’t she?” Vane says, his voice still terrifyingly dark.

“You need to figure out how to control the shadow,” Pan says, still backpedaling. “Or we’re all going to end up dead.”

“I am the shadow.” Vane closes the distance between him and Pan. “I don’t need to control it.”

“Yes, you fucking do or I’ll send you back to your island.”

Vane lunges. Pan ducks. Vane swings again and catches Pan across the jaw. He staggers back and Vane takes the opening, catching Pan by the arm.

Darkness blooms from Vane’s touch, spreading over Pan’s tattoos, soaking into his skin deeper than ink.

What is that?

The darkness spreads up and up and eats away at the pale skin of Pan’s throat.

“What’s happening?” I croak. “Kas? What is happening?”

Kas shakes his head, wide-eyed. “He’s going to kill him if he doesn’t stop.”

The inky tendrils stretch up the curve of Pan’s jaw, turning his lips black.

“What do we do?”

Bash frowns. “I don’t fucking know. No one can stand against Vane, other than Pan.”

Pan grits his teeth as the darkness consumes him inch by inch. “Vane…for fuck’s sake.” Pan gasps out but Vane shows no signs of letting up.

“We have to do something,” I say.

Peter Pan can’t die.

“Vane!” I yell.

He turns just slightly, the line of his jaw meeting the rise of his shoulder.

“You can have me any way you need me.”

Darling,” Kas says on a hiss. “The fuck are you doing?”

I edge closer, keeping my arms out to prove I mean him no harm.

Vane drops Pan and the darkness immediately recedes and Pan hunches over, hand clutched at his chest.

The Death Shadow turns to me and the terror edges back in.

He takes slow, deliberate footsteps stalking me like a predator stalking prey.

I back into the wall and step on a shard of glass with my bare foot and hiss at the bite of pain.

That’s the least of my worries. I can look at the wound later.

But Vane’s gaze wanders to the floor, to the footprint I’ve left in blood.

The pain is sharp and intense but it’s nothing I haven’t endured before.

As the blood spreads and the pain throbs through my nerves, I notice something else.

The terror has seeped away with the blood.

Vane frowns at me and the white disappears from his hair.

I breathe through the dull ache in my foot.

Vane’s eyes return to their normal mismatched black and violet, but the anger is still cut into the line of his jaw.

The energy of the room has shifted. It is the quiet after the storm when the ocean has stopped churning and the sky has stopped crackling.

Vane rocks his shoulders back and takes in a long, deep breath and says, “Don’t ever do that again,” and then makes his way down the stairs and right out of the house.


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