The Calling Page 5

“You need to get off,” Daniel said as he crouched beside me.

“Of course she does,” Nicole said. “You’re always worried about Maya. Why? She doesn’t deserve—”

Sam spun on her. “Shut the hell up!”

Daniel and I stared at both of them. It was Corey who murmured, “Nic didn’t mean it, guys. She just lost her dad.”

“And I just lost my uncle,” Sam said.

“Take Nicole out,” Daniel said. “Please. Before—”

The helicopter groaned again and began to tilt.

“Off!” Daniel shouted. “Everyone off!”

He grabbed the door handle. Sam and I helped, all three of us yanking until it finally opened. Water poured in, but it only came up to midcalf. Land was a few meters away.

Corey went first, carrying Hayley. Sam, Nicole, and I followed. The helicopter jerked. I lost my footing and plunged backward into the icy water that filled the cockpit. Daniel grabbed my arm and Kenjii swam to me, taking my shirt in her teeth and hauling me until Sam could pull me out, Daniel right behind us.

The helicopter gave one final wail, metal scraping on rock, then rolled off the ridge into the deep water.

“Kenjii!” I shouted.

Sam and Corey had to hold me back as I fought and screamed for my dog. Daniel jumped in. He’d barely gone under when Kenjii surfaced. I ripped free from the others and waded to the edge as Daniel climbed back onto the ledge. Kenjii’s nails kept slipping on the underwater rocks, but with me pulling on her collar and Daniel pushing from behind, we managed to heave her up.

We waded through the knee-deep water toward the tiny island. As soon as I was on land, I let myself collapse and would have stayed there if Daniel hadn’t caught me under the arms and propelled me to higher ground. I was about to drop on the grassy bank when Corey shouted, “It’s Hayley! She’s not breathing!”

I stumbled to where he crouched beside her.

“I was sure she was breathing before,” he said. “I should have let you check. Damn it.”

Hayley lay on her back in the long grass. Her skin was tinged blue.

Daniel steered Corey away as I ripped open Hayley’s shirt and started chest compressions. He sat Corey down and told him to stay there, then returned, and took over the compressions while I breathed into her ice-cold lips.

On my third breath, I felt her chest move. On the fourth, she coughed. We got her sitting up and breathing.

“Wh-what happened?” she said, looking around. “Where’s the helicopter?”

I told her. She just sat there, nodding, like it wasn’t sinking in, but when I asked if she understood, she snapped that she wasn’t stupid, and I backed off.

I kept backing off until I found a flat place to sit. Daniel slid inbehind, arms around me, letting me lean back against him. Kenjii came over and put her head on my lap and I cried then. Just cried.

When I could finally speak, I twisted to face Daniel and said, “It’s my fault Rafe’s dead.”

“No, it isn’t,” he said fiercely. “I’m the one who knocked out the pilot.”

“How? You never touched him?”

“I—I don’t know. I startled him or something.”

I shook my head. “You didn’t. I don’t know what happened, but it wasn’t your fault. I’m not talking about the crash anyway. I mean that if it wasn’t for me, Rafe wouldn’t have fallen.”

“No, Maya. He let go. I saw it. He made a choice and there was nothing you could do about that.”


“He did the right thing. If he’d held on, you’d have fallen, and maybe me, too. I know it doesn’t make this any easier, but he did the right thing.”

“That’s not what I mean. He should never have been on that helicopter. If I’d let them wake him up, he’d have insisted on staying to find Annie.”

Daniel shook his head. “They’d have put him on that helicopter whether he wanted to go or not.”

“But he’d have been awake. He wouldn’t have fallen—”

“If he resisted getting on, they’d have sedated him, just like they did with the mayor. You know he’d have resisted. Nothing would have changed.”

When I tried to look away, he caught my chin and turned me to face him.

“Nothing,” he said.

My eyes filled with tears again. “It doesn’t seem real. The fire. The people in the forest. The helicopter crash. Mayor Tillson. Rafe.” I looked up at him again. “It can’t be real. I’m asleep. It’s a nightmare. Tell me it is.”

He hugged me so tight my ribs protested. “I wish I could.”

His voice cracked and I hugged him back, as hard as I could.

Someone cleared his throat behind us. It was Corey. He crouched and said, in a low voice, “I know this is a bad time, guys. I’m really sorry. But the girls—They’re freaked out and they need someone to tell them what to do and … that’s not me. They want one of you two. Daniel, I’ll stay here with Maya if you can talk to them.”

I wiped my sleeve over my eyes. “No. Sitting here isn’t going to help.” It just gave me a deep, dark pit to lose myself in when I really couldn’t afford to be lost.

We both got up and followed Corey.

Nicole and Hayley were huddled in the long grass, staring out at the island to the west. Vancouver Island. Our island. Shrouded in fog.

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