From the steps of the library, I could see the glistening car tear away from the school, taking Katie and her uncle with it. I could also see the screaming mob that still stomped around near the Arts building.
I raised my hands to rub my eyes. I'd lost my sunglasses at some point, but everything had been such a blur that I couldn't pinpoint when. I barely cared anymore. I'd already started this awful chaos. I'd driven poor Katie out of the University. And Marti was still down there somewhere. I could only imagine what the rebels would do if they got their hands on Redding's daughter. And it was all my fault.
I heard footsteps come up from behind me, and I instictively buried my head between my knees and closed my eyes. No point in causing any more damage and turning someone to stone.
I was suddenly in his arms. He was holding me. I started to cry. Because I knew I didn't deserve him after everything I'd done.
"Victoria, look at me," Dalton said in my ear.
"No," I sobbed, pulling my arms over my head. I thought of how I'd turned him to stone on our very first meeting. I thought of Katie, looking terrified as she was thrown into the back of that car. I thought of Marti, trapped in a school that was howling for human blood. I thought of Dalton's peaceful nature, despite his strong opinions. "I'm a monster," I said.
"No, you're not," he said gently.
"How can you say that?" I croaked.
I felt his hand cup my chin, and I allowed him to gently lift my head. My snakes were tensed, teeth bared, as thought prepared to lend Dalton a dose of venom.
"You only wanted to protect the school. You didn't know Katie was tied up with Redding. And the most important reason..."
My eyelids fluttered open, exposing my glistening orange irises for the first time since the night Lance had arrived. My stomach turned as I expected Dalton to turn to stone right before me. But he didn't. He remained his warm, smiling self, his hair drifting between white and blue as clouds wavered across the sky.
"A monster can't have beautiful eyes like those," he whispered.
Claudia was standing by the window of her office when I burst in, her arms folded tightly across her chest as she watched the car leave the University.
"He's gone, Bruce," she said immediately, as thought sensing my presence. "Let it go."
"We can't," I said. "The human media is too powerful, and that man has it at his feet. This gets out, and it's over, we're closed down for sure. All we went through to get this University up and running, Claudia, it's all for nothing."
She turned slowly around to face me, and I noticed a wine glass, filled with what I could only assume was blood, in her right hand.
"Need I remind you, Bruce, it was you and your students who started all this nonsense."
"It was you who let the human in."
Her face paled slightly, and she took an elegant sip from her glass, peering at me skeptically. "Do you have a plan, Minotaur?"