The Calling Page 20

“I guess so.”

“You said your parents were hiding from someone. The researchers? Or someone else?”

She shrugged.

“Did they warn you?”


“They were murdered. Do you think these people were responsible?”


“So that’s how it’s going to be? I share and you don’t?”

“You didn’t share anything. You made connections that might be totally wrong.”

“Maybe I’ve got more.”

She shook her head. “You think you’re smart. Well, maybe you are, but you’re still just a kid who got caught up in something. Daniel and I, we’re the ones they want. I know you’re used to being special, Maya, but for once, you aren’t.”

I’d been about to tell her the truth. As much as I wanted Daniel to be the first to know, it had seemed wiser first to share with someone who’d believe me.

But if I said something now, I’d sound like I was just trying to be “special.” Sam’s about-face, from ally to antagonist, reminded me of my suspicions about her involvement in Serena’s death.

I played back her earlier words. “Mr. and Mrs. Tillson were great.” No mention of Nicole, when I knew Nicole had gone out of her way to make Sam feel welcome.

Someone had pulled Serena under the water and drowned her. Someone had pulled me under, then and now. Someone had pulled Nicole under, too.

Sam hadn’t liked Serena. She hadn’t liked Nicole. Apparently, she didn’t like me much either, no matter how hard she tried to pretend otherwise.

Who did Sam like? Daniel. Who had been pulled under the water? His girlfriend, his best friend, and a girl who wanted to be his next girlfriend.

“I think you should go back with the others,” I said. “You’re slowing me down.”

A look crossed her face, so fast I couldn’t quite catch it. Then her features hardened.

“Oh, so that’s how it’s going to be? Invite me along because I might tell you something useful? Send me away when I don’t?”

“Sound familiar?”


I stepped toward her. “Last night, in the water, I didn’t notice you going to your cousin’s rescue. Or to mine. In fact, when we nearly drowned, I didn’t see you anywhere at all. You popped up afterward.”

Her mouth went slack, before she managed a strangled, “What? Are you—? Wait a minute. I didn’t—”

“You said it yourself. You’re special. You have powers.” I met her gaze. “And we have no idea exactly what those powers are, do we?”

I turned and loped uphill.

It took Sam a moment. Then she shouted, “Maya! Wait! Hold on!”

Brush crackled as she ran after me. “I’msorry, okay? Just wait and listen to me. I didn’t have anything to do with pulling you under the water. Or Serena, if that’s what you think. I can barely swim. But I might know—”

I heard a crash and a yelp as she tripped. I picked up my pace. By the time she recovered, I was too far away for her to catch me.


I MADE IT TO the crest in about an hour. Then I had to climb a tree to get a better look. Any other time, this would have been the gift at the end of a long hike, and I’d have found a last spurt of energy to grab the bottom branch and swing up.

Now I stood at the base of a tree and thought, “I can’t do this.” I remembered last night’s climb, the grief and the loneliness. Here on the ground, I could keep that at bay. But up there…

Rafe was up there. Maybe he always would be.

Or maybe he wouldn’t. Next year, I might be climbing trees, remembering him only when a certain scent wafted past. Like with Serena. For months after her death, I’d go out of my way to avoid passing any lakes. That changed. I still couldn’t go swimming in the one where she’d drowned. I probably never would. But just this summer, I’d gone with Daniel and a bunch of summer kids to another lake, and I’d been there at least an hour before someone shrieked, and I thought of Serena and had to leave.

Remembering. Forgetting. I’m not sure which is worse.

I gripped the tree trunk and closed my eyes, focusing on the rough bark under my fingers. Then I opened my eyes and stared at it. Rubbed my fingers over it. See, feel, smell the tree. Just a tree. Not a reminder of him.

I circled it. No branch low enough for me to swing onto. I embraced the trunk and shimmied up ten feet to the first branch. From there it was an easy climb.

My energy ebbed fast and before I was high enough, I had to stop and rest. I sat on a branch and looked out. There was little to see from here. Just endless emerald needles perfuming the air.

I let my feet dangle and took a deep breath. The wind whispered past.


I rubbed the back of my neck and closed my eyes. Don’t do that. It’s just the wind.

A branch overhead creaked.

Help… Maya.

I swung up to the next branch so fast I almost lost my grip, and I sat there, trembling, looking down and thinking of what would have happened if I’d fallen. Then I thought about what Rafe’s fall must have been like. The terror of those few minutes. The despair of knowing there was nothing he could do to stop it.

Had he regretted letting go? Had he thought Maybe, just maybe, I would have been okay if I held on? Did he blame me for not holding on to him?

Up again. Climbing, climbing, climbing until I was so high my empty stomach made me light-headed and I had to stop, eyes squeezed shut, until the feeling passed.

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