You know the drill: I own none of the original.

"She got us into a hotel?" I ask incredulously.

Connor shrugs. "Anika did what she thought was best. Now that we don't have the Academy to discuss things at, she got us the next best thing – which is a hotel. She reserved four rooms in Shay's name."

Adne exchanges a worried look with Sabine. "Maybe she should've done room assignments, too," the Weaver comments under her breath.

A growl escapes my mouth. "We'll discuss that once we actually have the rooms," I flash back, angry at her suggestion.

"No, we won't. Room assignments come from either the Arrow or the alpha." Shay glares at his old friend. "Don't get ideas into your head, Ariadne. You and Sabine will be sharing a room." He draws me forward, his arm around my shoulders. "Let's check in."

From Colorado, Adne brought us to New York, no doubt on Anika's orders. Luckily, we're on the outskirts of NYC; otherwise I might be driven insane by the crowd and the noise. The others all traveled before and know how to handle more people. Me? I can barely handle a storm.

"Shay Doran," Dad tells the woman at the front desk.

She nods, types on her computer, and then hands him eight room keys. "Here you are. Top floor – all penthouse suites."

"Thanks." From the gleam of anticipation in the group's eyes, penthouse suites have to be good. Shay glances at each of them. "Remember, I grew up with big money and Bosque. Penthouses are a breeze." In the elevator, he takes on a thoughtful expression. "Sabine and Adne, you both know you're sharing. Connor, you'll be with Ren; Ethan, with Brady." He squeezes my shoulders. "You, little gem, will be sharing with me."

Realizing he did that to separate the boys, I grant him a half-smile. Dad might be a pain in my tail, but he knows what he's doing.

"And if you expect that you can sneak behind my back to change the setup, just remember" – he bares sharpened canines – "I'm not one to fool."

The penthouse is exactly what the others started talking about. Their jaws drop, taking in the first of our four rooms. Ren and Brady glance at me, and I shrug in confusion. Clearly none have ever been to a five-star hotel with an awesome penthouse. I assume the same air as my father, commanding authority. Everyone heads off to their rooms, using the rest of the night to relax. According to Shay, after breakfast tomorrow (a buffet?) we will all meet in mine and Dad's room to discuss strategy. But first, and I quote, "we need a little indulgence." This man can't be my father.

"Enjoy it while you can, Aqua." He stretches out on the king-sized bed closest to the window. I sit on the other bed, surprised at the softness of the mattress and the blankets. "Once we have a plan, it'll be nonstop work. And since we have to break apart the Cross, we have to return everything backwards." He grimaces, a memory clouding his eyes. "Pyralis, Eydis, Tordis, and finally, Haldis."

"Come on, Shay, you know it wasn't that bad the first time."

My head snaps around from where I had been looking at my feet. "Mom?"

"Calla?" Shay echoes, his eyes wide. The ghostly form of my mother stands before us, a rueful smile on her face. Her gaze is misty with unshed tears, as if having her mate see her at last unlocked her emotions. For all I know, it could've.

"What are you doing here?"

"Helping you," she answers me, moving to sit beside me. She places her hand on top of mine; it burns like ice on my skin. "The quest is more trouble than I ever would have wished upon you both. Ren and Brady, too." Her gaze meets Dad's sadly. "You heard the prophecy the morning before I passed. The three of them must be protected at all costs, and only the Scion has enough strength to keep them together."

He looks horrified. "But–"

"I'm sorry, Shay. The Harbinger has the power to destroy the Chosen Three, and the Scion's is the only power that can rival it. I'd like to tell you more, but I can't." She pecks my cheek, the notion leaving a tingling sensation on my skin. She stands, bends to kiss Shay (which I turn away from) and leaves with: "I love you both."

"What are we going to do?" I question, gazing at Dad.

A small bloodstone rock rests in the palm of his hand. He closes his fingers on it and looks up at me. "What we came here to do. We're returning the Cross."

That's the end of Bloodstone. I'll have the sequel up soon; I'm planning on this being either a duel-book story or a trilogy. Guess I'll find out when the time comes. And for my cousin: I did what you asked. Don't make me do it again. (Look at the chapter names if you want to know – she's a little insane, but she's family.) Anyway, please stick around for the sequel!