The Calling Page 25

“We need to get him away from here,” I said, “so we can interrogate him.”

“Interrogate me?” Moreno sputtered a laugh. “You kids are cute, you know that? You escape from a helicopter crash and suddenly you’re outlaws. Let me tell you how this is going to work—”

Daniel heaved Moreno to his feet. The man swung at him, but Daniel ducked easily and returned a one-two punch that left Moreno reeling.

“Island wrestling champ,” I said. “Only third place in boxing, though, so you’re getting off easy.”

Moreno steadied himself, then charged. I stuck out my foot and tripped him.

“Ouch,” I said as he hit the ground. “That’s kind of embarrassing.”

Daniel hauled him up again and led him toward the forest. I ran back inside and grabbed rope and a towel to gag him if we needed to. But Moreno didn’t try to scream for help. He just let Daniel lead him along, smirking, as if humoring us.

“You taking me to the other kids?” he asked.

“There aren’t any others,” Daniel said. “We’re the only ones who made it.”

Moreno laughed. “Right. That’s sweet, protecting your buddies. Did you forget we have a source now? Little Nicky?”

“Ni-Nicole?” I said.

Daniel glanced back at me, his look warning me not to fall for it so fast.

“We saw her get shot,” I said.

“Um, yeah, tranquilizer dart. I’d have thought you would know about those, Miss Maya the animal doctor.”

“You expect us to believe you?”

“Ah, getting cynical. Can’t blame you, under the circumstances, finding out your entire life is a lie. Not going to trust anyone now, are you? Nicole is fine. She told us what happened on the helicopter. How things went wrong. You thought the mayor had been sedated. Daniel sent the pilot flying and knocked him out. Samantha tried to fly the bird, but Rafe fell out. Then it crashed and now the pilot and the mayor are dead.” He paused. “I can’t imagine how bad you must feel, Maya. All those people dead because you made a mistake about the mayor.”

Daniel clenched his free hand, as if he was going to deck the guy. When I shook my head, he shoved Moreno hard and said, “She didn’t make a mistake. The pilot dosed Mr. Tillson before we got on that helicopter. I saw it happen and I saw the injection spot.”

Moreno shrugged. “If he did, it was to prevent exactly that sort of scenario. Panic and tragedy.”

Daniel kept pushing him forward until we were deep in the woods. Then he kicked him in the back of the legs, knocking him to his knees.

“Tough guy, huh?” Moreno said. “I’m not the one you’re supposed to be using those skills on.”

“Oh, I think you are …demon.”

Daniel’s voice was steady, but I saw the hesitation in his eyes as he said the word. Moreno didn’t and, for the first time, he looked genuinely surprised. With that, Daniel knew Sam had been telling the truth, and his chin dipped.

“Yes, Daniel knows he’s a benandanti,” I said.

“Suppose the Russo girl told him. We thought she might know.” He looked at me. “And what about you? Figured out your superpowers yet?”

Daniel looked over at me, but there was no shock in his eyes. Just the same look as when Moreno confirmed he was part-demon, one that said he’d already suspected as much.

“I know something’s happening to me,” I said.

“Already? Calvin will be pleased. So, Maya, do you want to know the big secret? What you really are?”

“Of course she does,” Daniel said.

“Good.” Moreno flashed a smile. “Then this is where we begin negotiations. You two lead me back to that cabin and let me call my associates. We’ll take you someplace safe and tell you everything you need to know.”

“Um, right,” I said. “We’ve escaped a helicopter crash, trekked through the forest all night, and captured you. But that was just for fun. Time to stop goofing off and turn ourselves in.”

“Do your parents let you get away with talking to adults like that?”

“Only when those adults treat me like an idiot.”

“We have the upper hand here,” Daniel said. “If you’re going to give us some crap about turning ourselves in because we’re a danger to society? Don’t bother.”

“Danger to society?” Moreno pursed his lips as if considering it. “Not really. A danger to yourselves? Absolutely. You’re going through a lot right now, but it’s nothing compared to what’s coming. You need help.” He looked at me. “Have you met Annie?”

My mouth went dry and my heart started to thud.

“I take it that’s a yes. I don’t know how much you know about your ‘condition,’ Maya, but unless you want to end up like Annie, I’d suggest you take me back to that cabin. Turn yourselves in. Get the help you need. The kind of help the St. Clouds and the Edison Group can’t provide.”

“Edison Group?” Daniel said.

“Don’t know as much as you think, do you? I’m betting, in the larger scheme of things, you barely know anything.”

“Tell us, then,” I said. “Otherwise, how can we understand how much danger we’re in?”

“You’re a clever one, aren’t you? Nope. Sorry. You want more, you need to take me back to the cabin and call the others—your friends and mine.”

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