The Rising Page 73

Before Annie arrived with Kenjii, there were others coming. Very important others. Our families.

When I’d won this concession from the Cabals, there had been strings attached. Our parents could never know that the people who’d arranged this happy reunion were actually the ones responsible for the separation. There was no way to explain that, especially to my parents, still reeling at the news that not only did supernaturals exist, but their daughter was one of them.

Which parents had always known their kids were part of an experiment? The Morrises and the Tillsons. That’s why the Tillsons got custody of Sam—the St. Clouds had asked them to take her in with the false story that she was their niece. Chief Carling hadn’t known; her husband was the one who’d agreed to take part in the experiment and moved them to Salmon Creek. She had, however, known that supernaturals exist—her family were sileni, like her husband’s. So she’d understood that the St. Clouds were a Cabal, but had been told they were developing medicine for supernaturals, which explained all the secrecy. Daniel’s father had found out when his wife left.

Now all the parents knew about Project Phoenix and their children’s role in it. Those who hadn’t known were furious, of course. But that anger was mitigated by the lie that the Cabals had “found” their children and returned them. The fire, they said, had been set by a rival group, who’d stolen us and faked the crash, complete with DNA. But the Nasts figured it out, tracked them down, and rescued us. So they were the heroes in this story and now, to make up for everything we’d been through, they were going to give us a new town and everything we needed to be happy, healthy teen supernaturals. Did it make sense? I don’t know. I think our parents were just too happy right now to question it.

Was I happy with a version of reality where the Cabals were the good guys? Of course not. Would I always be able to keep the truth from my parents? Probably not. But as much as the lies hurt, I knew this was best, for now.

The van continued through the forest. We went from a two-lane highway to a narrow paved road to a dirt lane to something that was little more than tracks heading into the brush. Then, without warning, it opened up into what looked like an overgrown parking lot. A half dozen trucks and vans were already there. Cleaning and repair crews, Sean said. Making the place ready for our arrival. “The place” seemed to be a two-story wood building, but when we got out, Sean led us around it and we found ourselves at the edge of a lake circled by wooden cabins.

Everyone spread out, walking to the lake or perching on the picnic tables.

“For now, you’ll live in the cabins,” Sean explained. “We’ll get them cleaned up, of course, but we’ll have construction crews here tomorrow. They’ll tear down some cabins and begin building houses. Ontario winters aren’t as kind as British Columbia’s, but we’re hoping to get the homes done before Christmas.”

While the Cabals envisioned a new Salmon Creek here, they were starting with just us. If other kids came into their powers, they’d be moved here, and the necessary facilities—shops, clinic, school—would grow.

“Was it a camp?” Daniel asked.

Sean nodded. “A naturist camp.”

“Maya will feel right at home,” Corey said from his spot on a wooden lawn chair.

Daniel sputtered a laugh and Sean tried to hide his.

“Naturist, not naturalist,” I said. “It means nudist.”

Corey leaped up and spun. “You mean old, naked butts sat on these chairs?”

“It’s been a few years,” Sean said. “There’s not nearly as much call for those camps these days, which is why we got this one at a reasonable price. The naturists liked privacy, so it’s not easy to get here, as you saw.”

So the Nasts bought it. Just like that. I remembered Dr. Inglis saying they’d already been planning a new Salmon Creek, which was probably this place, but still I was stunned by how fast they’d moved. We agree to their terms, and less than a day later we’re seeing the genesis of our new town.

“What do you think?” Rafe asked as I wandered toward the woods. “It’s not quite like your forest, but see those trees? Deciduous. You know what that means.”

I grinned over at him. “Easier climbing. Custom-made for big cats.”

He returned my grin and when I looked into his eyes, my heart fluttered. I cared about him. I really did. I’d forgiven him for telling me about Daniel. He’d been under a lot of stress and I’d been too quick to blame him. To judge him. It was a lesson I was learning, but change came slowly.

When I looked at him, grinning at me, amber eyes dancing, my own stress evaporated for a moment and I wanted to grab his hand and run into the woods. And kiss him. Yes, I wanted to kiss him. Whatever I’d felt before, I still felt. And yet . . .

I didn’t look over at Daniel, standing by the water’s edge. I wouldn’t do that to Rafe. But I was still thinking about him. Still confused.

Rafe leaned in and whispered “It’s okay,” and I was transported back to that horrible moment when he’d fallen from the helicopter, those same words the last ones he said to me. It’s okay. The same tone. The same wistful look. I wanted to throw my arms around his neck. Instead I stood there, feeling a tear creep down my cheek.

“None of that today,” he said, reaching out to wipe it away. “Today we rest. Put everything else aside and rest.”

He took my hand and tugged me toward the forest. I ran with him. We’d only gone a few steps when tires crunched on the parking lot gravel and I stopped. Rafe leaned in again and whispered, “I think you’ll want to go see who that is.”

I did throw my arms around his neck then. I hugged him and gave him a quick kiss, then I raced off toward the parking lot. Corey was running, too. And Hayley. Sam kept her pace to a walk, but only because she was still limping. Only Daniel hung back. When I stopped, he looked over and mouthed, “Go on.”

We ran to the lot. There was one van there, half hidden behind trees. The doors were all closed, the windows dark. A face pressed against the glass. It was Corey’s brother, Travis. As Corey raced forward, Travis threw open the door and practically fell out, his mother catching him, making sure he had his balance, then running with him to Corey.

The Morrises piled out next—Mr. and Mrs. Morris and fifteen-year-old Brooke. They ran to meet Hayley. When Mrs. Tillson came out, she stood there a moment, peering toward the building. Sam was beside me, hidden by the trees. She took a tentative step forward. Mrs. Tillson saw her. Her hands flew to her mouth and she staggered forward as Sam broke into a hobbling jog.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies