He stood in the doorway and cocked his head to the side, his expression elusive and a bit curious. Everything about him looked normal. Normal by the “new Sam” standards—his artfully messy hair, his stylish clothes and the shiny confidence he wore like an expensive pair of designer jeans. Sam had changed.
But it wasn’t normal at all.
His smile spread, causing his eyes to twinkle. “Layla? Are you okay?”
The tone of his voice was now like having someone drag nails down my skin. I drew in a breath and suddenly—oh my God—suddenly I understood. It all made sense in a sickening way. I just couldn’t see it until now.
“I know,” I whispered, horrified.
Confusion marked Stacey’s features as she folded her arms. “Know what?”
“Ah,” Sam cooed softly. “The light dawns. About time, too, because I was seriously beginning to doubt your intelligence, sister.”
Ice blasted into the room as understanding swept through Roth and he growled low in his throat.
Sam’s gaze flicked to where Roth stood, but he appeared wholly unaffected by the violence rolling off the Crown Prince. But I was blown away and if I thought my world had shattered earlier, I’d been wrong. It was smashed to pieces now.
There was no aura around him. Nothing. Like with Roth and all demons, there was just a vast, empty space. But with Roth, that was expected. Not with Sam.
Sam had no soul.
Oh, but it was more than that. A human didn’t just lose their soul. They either had one or they didn’t, and if they didn’t, they were dead—wraiths. Only something inhuman could rock the no-soul glow. Or something totally possessed.
Zayne had just said there had been a wraith at the compound. It had been Petr doing those things. Not me. And the crone’s words resurfaced. We had perceived everything she’d said wrong. What we’d been seeking had been right in front of us the entire time and it had been someone who’d always been around me, who mostly had contact with the same people I did. At one point I’d even said it when I’d discovered that the lady in the Palisades had died—that the only other option was that the Lilin was following me around, but I had disregarded that idea, immediately believing the worst of myself.
Paimon’s ritual had worked that night that now felt so long ago. It had never been my virginity that had been the key to the spell. Cayman had hit the nail on the head when he said it only had to be a carnal sin. My blood had been spilled that night, it had burnt through the floor, and there had been a cocoon in the basement of the school, which was a part of the ritual—my blood needed to be spilled.
Bambi had affected my abilities, but only for the good, I realized. She hadn’t caused me to suck out souls by being around other people. She had helped me, because all the terrible things hadn’t been me, but I felt no relief.
“Everyone, including your clan and the loves of your life, thought it was you.” Sam laughed, and that laugh sounded like his. It was his, but what was behind his skin wasn’t the boy I knew. “Even you thought it was yourself. And that’s kind of sad, actually. Takes low self-esteem to a whole new level.”
“Sam,” gasped Stacey, pressing her hand against her breast. Blood drained from her face. “What are you talking about?”
His pupils bled into his irises, turning his eyes into shards of obsidian. His features remained the same. No. Sam hadn’t lost his soul. He wasn’t possessed. It was worse than that, because what stood in front of us wasn’t Sam anymore. It hadn’t been for a while now.
Sam was the Lilin.