(THREE YEARS EARLIER)
Cade forced himself to wrap an arm around the lanky, tear-stained thirteen-year-old sniffling in the pew next to him. The boy looked up with gratitude in his swollen green eyes, and Cade’s jaw twitched. This scrawny mess of snot and tears was supposed to be his best shot at getting back to Alea? The kid couldn’t even keep his composure at a funeral. It would take months—maybe years—to get him tough enough to be of any use. Still, Cade knew he had to continue playing the part of the caring uncle. He had invested too much time tracking the boy down to screw up his plans now.
An overweight woman with a bad perm stepped up to the podium and started her raspy version of “Amazing Grace.” Immediately, the boy began to sob again. Cade suppressed a groan. Living with such a pitiful half-breed for the next twenty-nine months would be a slow, painful torture.
His ability better be worth all this, Cade thought, eyeing his sniveling nephew. The kid really should have been tougher; he had already lost his parents and his sister. Why couldn’t he handle himself after losing his grandmother? If Cade had known the boy was such a weakling, he would have reconsidered killing the old woman in the first place. It took quite a bit of planning to make it look like a stroke. Maybe it would’ve been better to let her live so she could keep caring for the boy until his power manifested.
No. That wasn’t an option. Cade had to earn his trust early on. Now that he was the only remaining family member, there was no one to interfere.
Glancing at the empty pew behind them, Cade leaned down and whispered, “No need to cry. You’ll come live with me, and everything will be fine.” He kept his expression smooth despite his disdain at the thought of housing this pathetic excuse for a teenager. If Cade wanted to keep his sanity, he would have to snuff out his nephew’s emotions.
Thankfully, he knew exactly how to do it.
“Everything will be fine,” Cade repeated, already going over the possibilities in his head. “Trust me, Kai.”