The Calling Page 14

After a few more steps, I opened my mouth, but again he got there first.

“I think… I think Sam might be onto something. Everything she says is true. Even about the pilot. I had a bad feeling, when we got on the helicopter, but only a slight one, and with everything that happened, I figured I was just stressing out. I don’t believe the parts about demons and all that, but I can see maybe having some power to sense bad vibes in people. I mean, it’s not like she’s saying I’m a vampire or a werewolf. That would be crazy. This is just a little weird.”

No, it wasn’t like she’d said he was a werewolf. It wasn’t like she’d said he could change into an animal. That would be crazy.

I shut my mouth and carried on in silence.


WHEN WE DREW NEAR the place we’d left Corey, we realized going straight to him wasn’t wise. We decided to take a look from farther down the shore.

We could hear a boat motor, but the running lights were off. There were people on board with flashlights, though, so we could see where it was.

Did that mean everyone was back in the boat? Did they have Corey?

A distant splash told us someone had gone in the water. Retrieving the bodies? Removing identifying parts from the helicopter? It sounded far-fetched, but if you kidnapped kids in a helicopter that crashed, you didn’t want local fishermen finding the wreckage.

Daniel tapped my arm. I followed his outstretched finger and saw two more flashlight beams strafing the forest right around where we’d left Corey.

I gripped Kenjii’s collar as we crept closer. Another flashlight beam flickered through trees farther down. Three searchers. At least two more on the boat plus the diver.

So how would we get to Corey? Was he even still there? If they’d found him, had they—?

My brain stuttered over the thought.

Shot him? That was the easy way of saying it, like it didn’t mean what I knew it meant. Killed him.

Nicole was dead.

“Nic,” I whispered. “Nic’s—”

“We don’t know that,” Daniel whispered harshly, and I knew that’s what he’d been telling himself. It’s what I’d been thinking, too. Shot. Just shot. Hayley hadn’t seen exactly, so we could keep telling ourselves Nicole was only injured.

Kenjii whined and brushed my hand, and I patted her head.

“Corey,” Daniel whispered.

He meant we couldn’t think about Nicole. Just like we couldn’t think about Rafe. We had to focus on saving everyone else.

Oh God. How had it come to this? Where I had to concentrate on saving the friends I could. Forget the ones I couldn’t. The ones I’d lost. The ones who were already…

Daniel clutched my arm.

“Maya,” he whispered. “I need you.”

I nodded and took a deepbreath to steady myself. Then I got us as close to the searchers as I dared, picking my way through shadows too dark for Daniel to see. I stopped, and we hunkered down. I wrapped both arms around Kenjii, whispering for her to stay quiet.

After a moment, a radio crackled.

“No, we haven’t found them,” a male voice said. “And we’re not going to. Even if they stuck around, they’d see us coming from a mile away. Especially after you shot the girl.”

I couldn’t make out the voice on the other end.

“Yeah, well, by that time, they’ll be long gone. If they aren’t fifty feet underwater.”

More unintelligible murmuring as the person on the other end responded.

“Just because you only found Jason and the mayor doesn’t mean they were the only ones who died. The others could have fallen out or floated from the wreck or—”

“Shut the hell up.” Another man’s voice. One that didn’t come from the radio. One that made the hair on my neck stand up. The man in the forest. The man who’d pointed a gun at me. The man who had my eyes and my cheekbones.

“The kids are fine,” the man continued. “They’re in excellent shape. Athletes, all of them. Champion swimmers and runners and fighters. Whatever else the St. Clouds screwed up, they did that right. They made them survivors.”

“I’m sor—”

“You want to keep your job? Then don’t apologize. Just find these kids. Find my daughter.”

Blood pounded in my ears and I grabbed a tree for support, nails digging into the bark.

Find my daughter.

He meant me. I’d known that. From that moment in the woods, I’d known it. I just hadn’t wanted it to be true.

Daniel gripped my shoulder, squeezing until I looked at him.

“It’s okay,” he murmured. “We can do this.”

I could tell by his expression that he hadn’t heard what the man said. He didn’t have my enhanced hearing.

I had to forget what the man said. I’d always known I was adopted. Rick Delaney was still my real dad. He raised me. Nothing else—no one else—mattered.

I whispered to Daniel, telling him the other things that the men had said.

“They’re after all of us,” Daniel said.

“I think so.”

“I don’t get it.”

I think I do. I think it wasn’t any coincidence that my family wound up in Salmon Creek. It wasn’t any coincidence that Sam came here, either. They found me and they found her, and they brought us back to Salmon Creek, with the rest of you. I don’t know what it all means, but I’m starting to understand. I can’t tell you any of that, though. I wish I could. God, I wish I could.

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