The Calling Page 66

“But they’ll—”

“They’ll catch me. I know. It’s the only way. They’ll think I did my best, so Annie will be safe. I wish—” He looked away, then leaned toward my ear again so I couldn’t see his face. “There’s no other way. Annie needs me. And you … you don’t. Not like that. You can look after yourself and…” He straightened and gave me a crooked smile. “By then you’ll be happy to be rid of me, I’m sure.”

I leaned forward and whispered, “No, I won’t.”

Then I kissed him. Just a kiss, my hands still at my sides. When I pulled back, he looked stunned. Then he rubbed his mouth and said, “I know that just means you understand. At least, I hope you do.”

“I do.”

I understand that you had an impossible choice to make. I understand that I couldn’t be that choice. It had to be both of us—Annie and me—safe, and what you wanted didn’t matter. Just like when you let go of my hands in the helicopter.

I said the same words he’d said to me before he’d let go.

“It’s okay.”

A twisted smile. “No, not really. But it’ll be okay soon. Or as close as it can get.”


RAFE LEFT THEN. GOT out, dried off, dressed, and slipped away before anyone caught him. I washed in the now-cool water. Or I think I did. I couldn’t remember doing it, though the walls were flecked with suds when I got out.

I’d forgiven Rafe for what he’d done. I suppose that surprised me a little. But he really didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t hold that against him.

Back when he’d told me why he’d come to Salmon Creek, I hadn’t forgiven him nearly as quickly. There had to be a better way to find the other skin-walker, I reasoned, one that didn’t hurt the feelings of every girl in town. But a lot had changed since then. A lot had changed in me, and even if I still thought I’d have found another way, I understood that he’d done his best, that he regretted any hurt he’d caused. This time, I wasn’t even sure there was another way.

That didn’t mean I was okay with it. Okay with his decision, yes, as painful as it was. What I wasn’t okay with was the overall situation. We were sitting in a trap. The St. Clouds—and maybe even the Nasts by now—were out there, watching us and listening. And there wasn’t a damned thing I could do about it because Rafe was right—we needed to get to Vancouver, where we could lose ourselves in a metropolis. Until then, we had to act like nothing was wrong. No, I had to act like nothing was wrong. The others couldn’t know.

But Daniel… Daniel wasn’t just “the others.” Not telling him felt like a betrayal. It was a betrayal. I’d told Rafe that I wouldn’t, but the more I thoughtabout it, the less certain I was I could keep that promise.

We gathered food and supplies from the other houses. As for money, I’d cleared out the emergency stash my parents had forgotten, and even if I knew they’d want me to have it, it still kind of felt like stealing. The others did the same, taking money from anyplace they knew their parents hid it. We all had bank cards, too—all except Rafe. We agreed to take out the maximum just before we got on the ferry.

Would our accounts be blocked? We didn’t know. If not, would the banks alert our families? Would our parents think some ghoul had taken the cards from the crash wreckage? Or would they realize how unlikely that would be—not only finding our cards but our PINs—and would that make them consider the possibility we were still alive? I hoped so. God, I hoped so.

We decided to stay at Principal Barnes’s house. He had a ten-year-old son and a daughter in the grade below us, so there were three bedrooms, plus a sofa bed. Daniel wanted the sofa bed, so he could sleep on the main level, in case anyone broke in. I’d get Kenjii to stay with him, as backup.

Sam and I took the kids’ rooms. Both had just single beds, and I’d suggested Sam and I could share the master room instead, but Rafe said no. Give that to Corey and he’d use the futon in the covered back patio and guard the back door.

Did he need to sneak out and report in? Maybe. We’d barely spoken since the shower. Or, I guess, I’d barely spoken to him. I couldn’t stop thinking about his clothes being bugged.

I was heading to bed when Daniel appeared. “Is everything okay?” he whispered when we were inside my room with the door closed.


His look called me a liar. “You and Rafe. Something’s up.”

I hesitated and the urge to tell him everything was so strong, I had to clamp my jaw shut.

“No,” I said quickly. “Everything’s fine. I just… It’s a little much right now. I thought he was dead, and he isn’t, and… I’m feeling a lot of things.” Which was the truth.

“Okay. I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t a problem.”

There is. There’s a huge problem. And I should tell you. If anything goes wrong and you get hurt, I’ll never forgive myself.

“No problem,” I said. “I’m just confused and exhausted and worried about my parents, and really hoping we’ll get somewhere tomorrow.”

“We will.”

I lay in bed and stared at the wall. Rafe had put me in an impossible position. If I didn’t tell Daniel, what did that make me? The kind of girl who fell head-over-heels for a guy and forgot her friends? Who’d put her new boyfriend ahead of those who’d been in her life for years?

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