The Calling Page 70

“I should have tried harder. I’m sorry.”

“You did try hard. I was too distracted to listen. It wouldn’t have changed anything anyway. We have to keep going.” He turned me to the west. “We’ll head toward that ridge. Find a place to hole up.”

As we raced toward the ridge, I heard a cry. Then a shout. Rafe? Corey? There was no way of knowing. When a second shout rang out, I told myself they hadn’t both been captured, but I wasn’t sure I believed that.

Daniel and I kept running. We could see the ridge now. Safety. Just get—

Something whizzed past me.

“Dan—!” I whirled, shouting a warning, only to see him stagger backward, a dart embedded in his shoulder. Another zinged past my arm. Daniel yanked me to the ground. We crawled into thick bushes.

I tugged the dart from his shoulder. He blinked hard, eyes unfocused. He shook his head to clear it.

“I’m fine,” he said. “Just a little woozy. Must not have gone in deep enough.”

I scanned the ridge, and I caught a flicker of light reflecting off metal.

“Sharpshooter,” I whispered. “But you can’t do that with tranq darts.”

“These people can resurrect extinct supernatural races, Maya,” Daniel whispered. “I think their technology goes a little beyond the norm.”

“Right. Okay.” I took a deep breath. “Follow me.”

I started crawling through the brush. I’d gone only a few steps when I realized Daniel wasn’t behind me. I turned to see him on his stomach, blinking hard.

“Nope,” he said. “It went in deep enough.”

I scrambled back to him.

“Go on, Maya,” he said.


Ignoring his arguments, I tried to lift him, arm over my shoulders. When that failed, I tried dragging him from the bushes, pleading with him to help me, to just get himself a little ways away from where he’d fallen, please just a little ways. But he was almost unconscious, fighting just to keep his head up.

“Go on, Maya,” he said, words slurring. “Remember what we said. Only one has to get away.”

“Then it’ll have to be Rafe or Corey. I’m not leaving—”

“They got Rafe and Corey. You know they did. Go.”

I shook my head. “I won’t.”

“One of us has to get away.” He managed to look up at me, his eyes so unfocused I knew he couldn’t see anything. “Please, Maya. Go.”

He dropped then, a dead weight, falling on his side. I could hear a team coming.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered. “I’ll make it up to you.” I bent and kissed Daniel’s cheek. Then I left.


ONLY I DIDN’T LEAVE. Not the way he wanted. I couldn’t. I hunkered down nearby as twostrangers retrieved Daniel. They said nothing, just loaded him onto a stretcher and carried him away. Two others continued the hunt for me. I waited until they had passed, then hurried after the stretcher.

They took Daniel back to the cabin. I prayed this meant they’d set up camp there, so that would be where they’d hold the captives. Of course that would be too easy. I arrived to see them loading Daniel into the back of the van. They were talking to someone inside.

“—find the Delaney girl,” a man said.

I recognized the voice that answered. Dr. Inglis, head of the laboratory in Salmon Creek.

“Once Maya’s in the forest, she’s gone,” she said. “She’s as at home there as any wild animal. Our only hope was to catch her with one of the others.” She sighed. “We’ll give it a few minutes. Then we’re pulling out. The helicopter is waiting back in town. I’d like to get these kids on it before they wake up. That gun doesn’t carry a big enough dose to keep these guys out long and Bryant took the rest.”

I peered out at the setup. Just the one van. Had they already taken Sam and Kenjii?

I had to make sure that van didn’t leave. Give Daniel time to wake up. If I could put a hole in one of the tires, maybe two, that would stop them. I just needed—

My arms ached. I rubbed one absently, and felt the muscles knot. When I looked down, they were moving under my skin.

Not now. Please not now.

I took a deep breath. Nothing to worry about. This had happened before and it didn’t go anyplace. The only time I had shape-shifted, I’d been asleep. Just ignore it and focus—

My legs gave way, like someone yanked them from under me. I crashed to the ground.

“What was that?” the man said.

“Deer, probably,” Dr. Inglis said. “But go check it out.”

I tried to get up, but my legs wouldn’t obey. The muscles kept spasming and seizing, and it was all I could do to keep from gasping. Still, I managed to pull myself deeper into the undergrowth.

“Nothing,” the man said.

I collapsed, body convulsing, the world going dark as my mind slid toward unconsciousness.

No, please no. Not now. Please not now.

I panted for air, my body wracked with sudden fever. I tugged at my shirt.

Right. I had to get my clothing off. If I was going to shape-shift, I had to get everything off, and it gave me something to focus on, to stay conscious.

Undressing wasn’t easy. The signals from my brain seemed to short out on the way to my hands and my body kept jerking. When I finally fumbled most of my clothes off, I blacked out.

I came to, stretching, body aching. When I reached out a hand and saw a paw instead, I leaped onto all fours and peered through the trees, heart pounding, certain I’d see an empty driveway.

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