The Rising Page 64

He stopped in front of me. “There’s definitely someone out there.”

Tori stood. “Um, don’t you think you should tell the person in charge here?”

Ash gave her a cold look, then stepped to the left, so he was addressing both me and Daniel. “There’s definitely someone out there.”

“Not really what I meant,” Tori said.

“Don’t really care,” Ash said. He caught my sleeve and tugged. “Forget them. We’re going. Now.” He looked over at Hayley. “You coming, blondie?”

She hesitated.

“Whatever,” he said, waving her off as he herded me out the door.

“Hold up,” Hayley said, and hurried after us.

“I really don’t think—” Dr. Fellows called.

“Really don’t care,” Ash called back.

“You guys are definitely related,” Corey said as we jogged down the hall. “The only difference is that Maya is polite when she’s getting in your face.”

Ash snorted and started to reply.

“Wait!” I skidded to a halt halfway down the steps. “Where’s Rafe?”

“Already outside,” Ash said. “I took him scouting. He’s standing guard on the porch. Now stop talking and move!”


I TURNED LEFT AT the bottom of the stairs and headed for the living room.

Ash caught the back of my shirt. “The exit is this way.”

Daniel brushed past us. “Yes, but we’re going to take the extra minute to tell Kit and the others that we’re leaving.”

“Fine, go,” Ash said. “Maya, stay with me.”

I followed Daniel into the living room.

“Hey!” Ash said. “Both of you don’t need—”

The back door banged open. Shoes pounded down the hall as Rafe raced in.

“They’re coming,” Rafe said. “I saw someone around the side of the garage. They shot out the lights on it.”

Daniel was now in the living room doorway, hands braced on either side as he leaned in, talking fast. Then he jogged back to us.

“Daniel!” Kit shouted. Daniel didn’t stop. Kit swung out the door. “Hold on. They’ll have the house surrounded. There’s no place you can run.”

“We’re sure as hell not surrendering,” Ash said.

“No,” Chloe said. “There’s an escape route in the basement.”

“You guys take them down.” Kit pushed Derek, Simon, and Chloe toward us. “I’ll get Tori and Lauren.”

When Chloe and the guys caught up, they started waving us down the hall. Ash didn’t move.

“Come on,” I said. “There’s a way out.”

“You really think so?” He tugged me aside, out of Derek’s path. “A secret escape in the basement? Like hell. It’s a trap.”

“Why would they—?” I began.

“They’re going to use us. Lock us in the basement and negotiate with the Cabals.”

“We wouldn’t do that,” Chloe said.

“Why not?” Derek said. “It’d work.”

“Really not helping, bro,” Simon muttered.

“I’m being honest,” Derek said. “It’s a good plan. It isn’t what we have in mind, but they don’t know that. They don’t know us. I don’t blame them.” He looked at Daniel, then me, his gaze shifting between us. “It’s not a trick. I don’t know how to convince you of that, but we can’t stand here and argue.”

“Split up,” I said quickly. “Ash, if you have another idea, you do that with . . .” I hesitated and looked from Rafe to Daniel to Corey. “Take me. Guys—”

The back-door window shattered. Something dropped, hissing, on the floor, spinning, smoke swirling out.

“Gas!” Ash yelled. “Everyone down!”

We all dropped. I told them to pull their shirts up over their mouths, and a second canister crashed through a front window, then a third someplace else, only the explosion of glass reaching us. Smoke from the first canister filled the hall.

“Stairs,” I said. “Where are the—?”

Fingers clasped my upper arm. It was Chloe, mouth covered, her slitted eyes already tearing up. Daniel reached over and grabbed a handful of my shirt hem.

“Everyone grab somebody,” he called. “We’re moving.”

And so we did, a slow, awkward, blind snake crawling along the hallway. Someone bashed into a wall. I told them to move slowly and hold on—and to make sure whoever had them was still holding on. My words came out slurred, and I could feel myself blinking hard, not just against the smoke, but against a numb, floating feeling.

“It’s a sedative!” I yelled. “Try not to breathe it and try to stay awake. We’re almost there.”

I had no idea if we were really “almost there” until I felt a rush of cool, clean air . . . and nearly toppled headfirst down the stairs. Chloe released my arm and I reached back for Daniel, guiding him onto the steps. We crawled down backward. When Corey tried to stand and walk, he lost his balance, woozy from the gas, and fell onto Daniel. Daniel and I managed to get him downstairs with Hayley’s help.

We ended up in almost a heap at the bottom, everyone hunkered down together, sputtering and wheezing. Gas filtered through the open doorway until Derek—bringing up the rear—closed it and stumbled down the stairs.

I lifted my head and peered around. “Rafe? Where’s Rafe?”

Derek stepped over us. “And where’s Simon?”

No one answered either of us. I sprang up. Derek wheeled toward the stairs. Chloe shot up and grabbed him.

“Simon was beside me when the gas hit,” she said. “He said someone should warn your dad. Rafe said he’d go with him. I said no, your dad would be fine, we just needed to get to the basement. Then I couldn’t see and I thought he was right there.”

“He went for your father,” I said. “And Rafe went to help.”

“And neither of you can go after them,” Chloe said, jumping into our path when we started for the stairs. She turned to Daniel, arm shooting out as he tried to get around her. “None of us can go back. You know you can’t. They’re fine. Simon can take care of himself and he has Rafe. They’ll watch out for each other.”

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