The Calling Page 21

Then I looked out, and when I did, I wasn’t looking for a road. Wasn’t looking for a house. I was looking for him.

I told myself I was looking for his body. That if I could find it, I could mark the spot, make sure he got a proper burial. But that was a lie.

I was looking for Rafe. In spite of every bit of logic that told me he was dead, I could not stop myself from looking. From feeling he was out there.

Of course there was no sign of him and so, finally, I began scouring the landscape in earnest.

I made out the brown ribbon of a dirt road and a distant clearing that could be a town. However, if we were at the north end of the island, a clearing was just as likely to indicate a past forest fire or logging operation.

I was about to decide the road was our best bet when I spotted a thin line of smoke rising near the foot of the mountain. I found a better vantage point, and could make out the faint outline of a roof, smoke swirling above it. The sight was so incredible that I didn’t quite believe it at first, climbing yet another evergreen, until I was certain I wasn’t imagining things. There was a house or a cottage down there. And someone was home.

I scrambled down the tree and took off to find the others.

When I glimpsed the white of Daniel’s T-shirt, I started to run, grinning for the first time in days. Kenjii hit me in a full-on tackle, her vine-leash dangling behind her, as she knocked me down and licked me like we’d been separated for months.

“I saw a road,” I blurted as Daniel rounded a bend in the path, Sam right behind him. “There’s a road down there. I think there’s a cabin, too.”

“What?” Corey brushed past Daniel and Sam. “A house? You saw a house?”

Hayley barreled forward. “There’s a house? Where?”

I took a deep breath. “I think I saw a cabin. Whether there’s anyone in it or not—”

“Who cares?” Corey said. “It’s civilization. Let’s go.”

He broke into a jog, and his knee gave way. I managed to catch him before he fell.

“The only place you’re going is flat on your ass,” Daniel said. “Slow down. Even if it is a cabin, it’s not going anywhere.” He turned to me and I could tell he was struggling to play it cool. “You said there’s a road?”

“I did. That part I’m sure of. And where there’s a road, there are people. In theory.”

The grin burst through. “In theory.” He threw an arm around me, a half-embrace, whispering, “Good work,” and I started to shake a little. It was over. Our ordeal was almost over.

Except it wasn’t. Our real problems—being subjects in a supernatural experiment—had only begun.

I took a deep breath and hugged Daniel back. We’d worry about that later. For now, we needed to get to civilization.

Before wecontinued, I insisted on checking Corey’s knee.

“Looking good, huh?” Corey said as I cleaned the scrapes. “You’ve got the touch.”

Apparently, I did. The bruises were fading already.

When we set out again, I motioned for Daniel to walk up front with me. No one tried to join us. They figured we were discussing the situation and planning our next move, and they were happy to leave that to us.

“You want to talk about Sam?” he said. “I take it you guys had a falling out.”

I gave him part of the story—that I’d told her my theory about Salmon Creek and the people chasing us, and she’d reciprocated by insulting me.

“She blows hot and cold, and it makes me nervous,” I said. “I feel like when she is being chummy, she’s putting it on to get what she wants. It’s almost…”


I lifted my brows.

“Someone who can be charming to achieve their own ends, but ultimately doesn’t care about others. And, no, I’m not studying crazy people. I’ve read case studies in my uncle’s texts.”

Criminal law texts. Daniel wanted to be a lawyer, and although he was still two years from university—and even more from law school—he was already preparing.

“Do you get that vibe from her?” I asked.

He shook his head. “I’m not sure I would, if she’s the same thing I am. But I agree about the hot and cold part. I don’t think she’s a sociopath, but it is—”

“Troubling. I shouldn’t take off alone with her anymore. None of us should.”


It was a quiet walk, but the silence became peaceful, happy even. We weren’t lost any longer. We were walking through wilderness just like the one surrounding Salmon Creek. A wooded playground. Lakes to swim in. Streams to fish in. Cliffs to climb. Hollows to fill with bonfires and beer bottles. Nothing scary about that.

No one trudged now. No one bitched when I led them through thick brush to get a drink. We were still a long hike from the cabin, and everyone was thirsty.

When we found the stream, tumbling over rocks into a pool below, you’d think it was the first time we’d seen a waterfall. Shoes and socks came off. Shirts followed. Or Corey’s and Daniel’s did, then mine, Hayley gaping like I’d stripped naked, though I was wearing a bra. She kept her shirt on. Sam didn’t take off anything, but she sat on a rock, looking almost content, as the rest of us splashed in the water, washing off the filth.

As we got out, I imagined lounging out on the flat rocks surrounding the pool, dozing in the sun, letting my aching muscles relax. But there was no time for that kind of break. We’d had our drink. Time to hit the trail. The end was near.

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