Preface

I watch, agonized, as my father shoves him away.

"Daddy, no!" I yell again. He's not listening, but I can't stop myself.

My mother is still holding me tightly so I can't get to him, telling me in a hissed whisper to stop fighting—that it's for my own good.

I don't believe her.

"They're out there; he won't survive ten seconds!" I shout when they reach the door. Daddy doesn't stop. He rips open the door and throws Edward out into the streets without a second of hesitation.

Across the street, the lookout tower is on fire. People are screaming and the sound of snarling is loud outside. The dragons are really hunting this time, not just looking to torment us for everything we've done to them. They're out for blood.

"Please!" I whimper helplessly as I feel myself coming apart inside. "Please don't let him die."

"Isabella, he's not your betrothed. Stop worrying about him," my mother demands under her breath and gives me a sharp yank backwards.

I wonder why Edward hasn't run. He's just standing there outside the door, looking back at me like he's frozen. I can feel the tears running down my face, I can imagine what I look like, but I don't care.

Finally, my father shuts to the door and locks it. I'm released from my mother grip and instantly fall to the floor now all the fight has gone from me.

"Throw me outside," I whisper.

"Don't be ridiculous, Isabella," my father growls and stomps through the living room to the kitchen. "He's a hopeless street rat. I have no clue how you even met him. If the dragons get him then so be it; better him than one of us."

"How can you be so cruel?" I ask, heaving in breaths forcibly.

He takes a cup down from the shelf and pours himself a drink before responding to me. "My instinct to care for you knows no bounds. If I have to put him at the mercy of the dragons to keep you from him then I'll do it.

"I don't know what's going through your head—frankly, I don't want to know—but whatever life you think you could have with him is nothing compared to how well taken care of you will be when you marry Michael. Stop being such a petulant child and just accept the world you live in."

My chest hurts from crying and the heartache of knowing that Edward is probably already dead. I don't have the strength in me to keep fighting my father.

"He's dead because of you," I whisper and slowly get to my feet so I can retreat to my bedroom.

"No," he replies and quickly throws back the last of his drink to his throat. "He's dead because you couldn't obey me. You brought him here. He could have lived exactly as he was before you two crossed paths if you'd just listened to me."

I freeze in place. He can't really have just said that. My own father wouldn't have said that to me when he knew how much the very idea would cut me.

"Go to bed, Isabella," he continues when I don't speak for over a minute.

Stiffly, I turn to my room and begin walking there slowly. It's only when I reach the door that I finally put together a response.

"I may I have brought him here, but you threw him out. I love him regardless of how much money his family has or how socially important they are. I didn't give another human being to those giant lizards, you did. Don't you try and blame me for you sending a person to his death. You're the biggest low-life I've ever come across, father. Not any of the people that I've met in the slums."

When I stop speaking, I remain in the same spot, watching my father toy with the rim of the cup. He doesn't seem particularly angry or offended by my words, but I know that that's not a good sign.

"Go to bed, Isabella," he repeats. "I don't have the patience to deal with you right now. I know that if I grant you your wish to be thrown outside that I'll regret it later. We'll talk about this in the morning."

No we won't, I mentally argue, but say nothing out loud.

I turn and step into my room completely, then close the door as softly as I can manage.

Outside my window the screaming has stopped. The dragons have moved on now, having taken what they wanted. I don't even begin to speculate how many have been injured or killed. My mind is focused on only one thing as I swing the iron grill back from the window.

I have to look for Edward, even if it's only his body I find.