The Calling Page 72

A gun fired. I let go and wheeled to see Dr. Inglis holding a rifle.

“Please, Maya,” she said. “These aren’t tranquilizer darts. We don’t have any with us. I don’t want to shoot you. Can you understand me?”

I snarled at her.

“Everything’s gone wrong,” she said. “I told them we needed to tell you all the truth sooner. I said the early symptoms had begun and you’d figure it out, but the St. Clouds wanted to fly in themselves to be there when we broke the news. They hesitated and others took advantage. Others who don’t care about you the way we do.”

I glanced back at the man on the ground, clutching his bleeding foot. I snarled again.

“He’s not one of us,” she said. “He’s St. Cloud security. A nobody. The people who count are the people from the lab, from Salmon Creek. We care about you and we are going to make sure your lives change as little as possible, and only for the better.”

I looked at her. She seemed sincere, which meant she didn’t know about the deal the St. Clouds made with the Nasts—giving us away. Or maybe she thought it was a ploy, one they wouldn’t go through with. I knew better. These were businessmen. She was a scientist, which made her as much of a nobody as the man I’d bitten.

“We’ll make sure you’re taken care of,” she continued. “Make sure you get back to a normal life. All of you. Just like Salmon Creek, only someplace else. They’ve already found a new location. But you have to show them that you won’t fight them. That they don’t need men like him.” She waved at the security guy. “You need to come with me, Maya. Stop fighting and trust us. I don’t want to hurt you.”

She didn’t. I could see that in her eyes. And I could see it in the way the gun now dangled at her side. I tilted my head and studied her. Then I started lowering myself to the ground.

“Good. Thank you, Maya. We’ll—”

I pounced.


DR. INGLIS STAGGERED BACK, gun still clutched in her hand. It fired. The shot went wild. I hit her and we went down. Her head struck a half-buried rock. Hit it hard. Her eyes widened, and she collapsed, unconscious.

I nudged her. Even opened my mouth and wrapped my jaws around her throat and dented her skin with my fangs. When she didn’t move, I let go. I picked up the gun in my mouth and moved it into the long grass, out of her reach.

I turned to see the man inching back toward the other side of the road. Looking for something else tossed into the weeds. The keys.

He was on his stomach. I walked over, caught him by the collar and dragged him off the road. As I did, I could smell the blood, could see it stretching in a trail behind us. He struggled feebly at first, then stopped, and when I dropped him and looked into his face—his skin pale, pupils dilated,breathing shallow—I knew he was going into shock.

I looked at his foot. It was covered in blood. How hard had I bitten him? Harder than I meant to.

And what would he have done to me? Worse. That’s how I had to think of it.

As I was wondering how I’d get the van open without hands, my paws started to throb, as if telling me hands were coming soon.

The shift back was easier. Probably because I passed out faster. When I came to, Dr. Inglis was still unconscious on the road. I scooped up the keys. As for my clothing, all I could see right away was my T-shirt and panties. Good enough for now.

I was still tugging my shirt down as I opened the back doors of the van. A thump sounded from within. Then, before I could even see inside, Corey said, “Don’t! It’s Maya.”

I flung open the door to see Corey holding Daniel by the back of the shirt. In one hand, Daniel held what looked like a shard of metal. He let out a relieved sigh and dropped it.

“How’d you know it was me?” I said.

Corey shrugged. “Good guess.” His gaze shunted to the side, and I knew it wasn’t a guess at all.

No time to ask.

I looked in the van. I couldn’t see anyone else, but I looked anyway.

“Rafe’s not here,” Daniel murmured. “They must have taken him with Sam and Kenjii.”

“So you rescued us on your own?” Corey said.

“Yes,” I said. “You were saved by a girl. Horrible, isn’t it?”

He slid out and looked down at my bare legs. “Not just a girl, but a half-naked one. Now that’s hot. If I’m still unconscious, don’t wake me, okay?”

I rolled my eyes and waved them out, then went to find the rest of my clothing.

The guys had been bound, but only loosely, Dr. Inglis apparently not wanting them to get injured on the ride. While I’d been fighting, they’d gotten free.

We used the ropes to tie up Dr. Inglis and the security guy, who had also passed out. We made their bindings light—we wanted to delay their return to town, not leave them in the woods to die.

I wrapped the man’s foot, but that was the best I could do. We took their radios and left.

As we climbed into the van, all three of us in the front, I told Daniel they’d taken the others to the helipad. I expected him to say we couldn’t go there, couldn’t try to save them, but he just nodded and said, “Then that’s where we’re going,” and started the van.

We parked at the ruins of a cottage that had been abandoned years ago, then we slipped through the forest to the far end of town, to the helipad on top of the laboratory.

I knew we were too late when I heard the whoop-whoop of the helicopter preparing for liftoff. We ran behind the town hall.

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