The Calling Page 39

“And took your story to a rival Cabal. Sold us out. Told them where to find us.”

Silence. Then, “You’ve figured out a lot, Maya. You’re a very smart girl.” A small laugh. “I’d like to say that means you take after your father.”

“No, I take after my parents. The Delaneys.”

I turned off the radio, and looked at the others, who were staring at me.

“There isn’t another exit, is there?” I said.

“Got a trapdoor over here.” Corey waved us into the storage room. He pulled aside a filthy carpet. The trapdoor had been secured with a padlock, but he’d managed to pry the whole latch off.

“Does it lead anywhere?” Daniel said.

“No. It’s just a hole where they stash the beer and smokes. Big enough to hide in, though.”

Daniel shook his head and we walked back into the store, where the radio was buzzing again.

“If you don’t answer that, he’s going to come in here,” Sam said. “They all are.”

“And if she does answer, they’ll come in anyway,” Daniel said. “He was hoping she’d lead us out peacefully, but obviously that’s not happening.”

“I could fake it,” I said.

“He’d know you were up to something.”

They talked—Daniel, Corey, and Sam. I was having trouble concentrating. That damned buzzing radio didn’t help. I went behind the counter to see if I could turn it off. As I picked it up, the newspaper fell to the floor. It flipped over and a headline caught my eye.

Bodies of Local Teens Recovered.

Before I could take a better look, Daniel said something about causing a distraction.

“That’s probably our only hope,” I said as I straightened.

“The question is how to pull it off.”

He told us his idea.

“No,” I said when he finished. “Absolutely not. No one sacrifices themselves for this.”

“We don’t have time to argue,” Daniel said. “I’ll be fine—”

“But we won’t,” Sam said. “We need you to get us out of here. It has to be someone else.”

“And you’re volunteering, right?” Corey said.

Sam opened her mouth, but nothing came out.

“Thought so.” Corey turned to us. “I’ll go. Play the hero for a change.” A forced smile. “I hear chicks really go for that kind of thing.”

“It should be me,” I said. “That … guy. He wants me. I can distract—”

The crash of breaking glass had us all hitting the floor. Another crash as a second window smashed, glass tinkling. Shouts sounded outside.

I looked up to see brown liquid running down the wall under the broken window.Some kind of solidified gas? Sedative?

No—the window had been broken from the inside. A pop bottle lay on the sill, cola dripping down.

That had been Daniel’s plan. Smash the windows. Then, after our captors raced around the front, thinking we were trying to escape, he’d run through the side door and pretend to be the last one out—that the rest of us had already made it to the woods while, really, we were hiding inside.

I leaped to my feet in time to see the side door swinging shut.

“Who—?” I began.

“Guys!” Hayley shouted outside. “Wait up! Please, don’t leave me here.”

Corey ran for the side door. Daniel caught him, hauling him back. Corey took a swing at him. Daniel ducked and wrenched Corey’s arm behind his back.

“She did this for us,” Daniel hissed. “Don’t blow it or she’s given herself up for nothing. She’ll be okay. We’ll get her back.”

Corey hesitated. Then he dropped his chin, and let Daniel steer him toward the trapdoor. Sam and I followed. I won’t say I didn’t glance over at that side door. I won’t say I didn’t feel like a heartless bitch, listening to them chase Hayley, knowing they would catch her and hold her captive, like Nicole. But Daniel was right. She’d made this sacrifice for us, and she hadn’t done it hoping we’d all be taken captive with her.


DANIEL OPENED THE trapdoor leading into the crawl space, then prodded us inside, whispering “Move, move!” Sam and I burrowed past the boxes. Corey was right behind us. Then the front door opened, bell jangling.

Daniel jumped in, still holding the broken latch, and closed the trapdoor as one set of footsteps circled the shop. They stopped at the storage room door. Daniel tensed, ready to leap if the trapdoor opened.

“Clear!” Moreno yelled.

The steps crossed the store. The bell sounded again.

“Get in farther,” Daniel whispered. “We need to hide better.”

“Didn’t you hear him?” Corey whispered. “We’re clear.”

“They’ll look outside some more. Then they’ll come back in.”

The guys shifted the boxes, then we crawled in behind them. It was far from an ideal hiding spot. The crawl space wasn’t even three feet deep. Dirt floor. I didn’t want to think about what else was alive—or dead—down here. I twisted around and stretched out on my stomach. Sam huddled beside me, hugging her knees.

The guys wiggled backward to us, as they moved the boxes and cases of beer, stacking them so we were hidden.

How long should we wait? That was the question. Finally Sam asked it out loud

“Until we think it’s safe,” I whispered.

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