The Calling Page 69

As he rocketed along the lane, I scanned the surrounding forest for any opening big enough to drive through. There wasn’t one. Just narrow tracks, ending at a cottage, trees hemming in all sides.

“We’re going to have to run,” Daniel said. “Everyone out! Into the woods! Split up!”

As we scrambled out, I yelled, “Sam! She can’t run.”

Daniel swore and raced around to the rear. Corey and Rafe were helping Sam down.

“Go,” she said.

“Corey and I can carry you,” Daniel said. “Just grab on—”

“Then three of us will get caught instead of one. Go.”

She pushed Daniel. When he hesitated, she shoved him hard enough to knock him off his feet.

“You know it’s the right thing,” she said as he scrambled up. “They won’t hurt me. Without you, I’m the only benandanti they have.”

We didn’t know that, of course. But she was right that we’d never escape carrying her.

“We’ll come back for you,” Daniel said.

“After you have backup, please. No offense, but you guys aren’t up to fighting these people.”

Daniel nodded. “But we will come back.”

“I know.” She hugged him. It was an awkward, one-armed embrace that caught him off guard. She pushed him away before he could say anything. Then she turned to me. “Look after him. Don’t let him do anything stupid.”

“I will.”

When I looked for Rafe, he wasn’t there. Then I saw him jogging back from the woods.

“Debugged,” he said to me.

Daniel gave us a look, but I couldn’t explain then.

We ran into the forest just as the service truck was on us. Kenjii brought up the rear, herding us. When a man shouted, she wheeled and snarled. Then she charged.

“Kenjii, no!”

The shot hit her square in the chest and she reared up, toppling over backward and hitting the ground, and if Daniel and Rafe hadn’t both been holding me back, nothing would have stopped me from going to her. But they held me and all I could do was fight and scream at them to let me go, until Daniel said,

“It’s a dart, Maya.” He pointed at her, struggling to rise. “Just a tranquilizer dart.”

That stopped my heart from pounding, but it didn’t mean I wanted to abandon her. They had to drag me away, Corey helping, until I heard someone say, “Load the dog in the back with the girl,” and I knew there was nothing I could do.

So I ran, stumbling at first, still seeing Kenjii lying in the dirt, struggling to rise. Daniel kept me upright and kept me moving.

“They aren’t following us,” Corey said. “Why aren’t they following us?”

“They know it won’t be hard to findfour kids tearing through the woods,” Rafe said. “Daniel’s right. We need to split up. Better than that, we need a target. One person to make more noise than all the others put together. That’d be me.” A wry smile my way. “I’m good at causing trouble.”

“It’ll work better if there are two targets,” Corey said. “Rafe and I go separate ways. We make noise. You two keep going. We hope that splitting their attention means no one gets caught.”

“I’ll do it,” Daniel said.

Corey thumped him on the back. “I know you would, but you and Maya are our best chances of getting help. Don’t worry—I don’t plan to get captured. We’ll meet you guys…”

“At the ferry,” I said. “They won’t expect us to follow the same plan.”

“But how would they know what we had planned?” Corey said.

“They must have planted bugs,” I said quickly. “Maybe in the house or in the truck. We’ll meet at the ferry. They won’t expect that.”

Before they left, I took Rafe aside. “Will you be coming back?” I whispered.

“They double-crossed me. I don’t know what that means for Annie.” His eyes darkened, but he shook it off. “I can’t trust them. Better I come with you, and try to rescue her.”

“Good. I mean—”

“I know what you mean.” He turned to leave, then came back with a folded note. He shoved it in my pocket. “Just something I was going to give you before I left.”

He jogged away. Then Daniel and I took off. We moved as quickly as we could, making the least amount of noise possible.

“They know everything,” I said finally. “The St. Clouds. They—”

“—had Rafe bugged. He told you.”

I glanced back, but his face was expressionless. Intentionally expressionless.

“The St. Clouds caught him coming into Salmon Creek,” I said. “They have Annie. They used her to get him to trap us. But that’s not what happened here. He was supposed to get us to Vancouver so they could grab us there. Once we arrived, I was going to turn on him, say I knew he was working with them. We’d take off. They’d think he’d done the best he could. That was the plan.”

I looked back again. Daniel’s face still wasn’t giving anything away, but he nodded, as if he understood.

“Obviously they figured out what he was doing,” I said. “Or they fed him a false plan, so they could make sure he didn’t double-cross them.” I stopped and turned around. “I’m sorry, Daniel. I tried to tell you.”

He paused, then swore. “Back at the house.”

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