“Come on.” Shay’s tone was full of authority as she led the others off across the back of the diner’s parking lot. There were no windows. None witnesses to see what she was about to do.
Sleeping had given her powers time to replenish themselves, and Shay flickered her wrist at the door of a black SUV. Its doors swung open.
“Shay!” Isobel gasped.
But Shay wasn’t listening. She went over and slid into the driver’s side of the car, feeling her hands along the interior until she found the spot she was looking for. There was a jolt of electricity on her palms, and then the car roared to life.
“You don’t know how to drive,” Isobel hissed, but even so, she slipped into the passenger seat as Aubree and Ivory climbed in the back.
Shay put the car in reverse, and glanced over her shoulder as she pulled out. “How hard can it be?”
She tapped the pedal, and the car jolted back, slamming into the bumper of the car on the other side of the parking lot. She was flung forward against the steering wheel.
“Oh, my God!”
“You’re going to kill us!” Isobel shrieked.
“Hang on!” Shay yelled back.
She threw the car in drive and stepped on the gas, joining in on the other girls screams as they flew from the parking lot. They bumped over the curb and crashed down into the street, and Shay jerked the wheel hard, swinging them out into the right lane.
Another car honked, but Shay pressed down harder on the gas.
They left the town behind, and the trees sound became a blur of green around them.
“Everyone okay back there?” Shay called. She glanced back in the rearview mirror to see Aubree clinging for dear life to the handle above her head, face pale, and Ivory with the windows down and the air blowing her hair all around. She looked back over at Isobel, and the girl was sprawled out across her seat, one hand wrapped around the console beside her and the other wrapped around the sill of the open window.
Isobel released the console long enough to give Shay a thumbs up.
When they reached the narrow dirt path, Shay pulled onto it and they bumped along the uneven road. In the rearview mirror, Aubree looked like she might be sick.
They neared the stone wall, and Shay gritted her teeth.
“Hold on to something.”
The engine revved as Shay threw all of her weight down onto the pedal.
The metal gate crashed open as the car collided with it, one half breaking away and flying off to clang to the ground several feet away. Shay pulled the steering wheel hard, swinging them away from the path that lid up to the mansion and taking them along a walking trail through the forest that surrounded it.
“Where are we going?” Isobel screamed.
Shay’s fingers clenched tighter around the steering wheel. She knew what she was doing. She remembered an earlier conversation she’d had with Jack while walking the grounds.
“Grandmother Clarissa said there’s a building out here somewhere from the slave days and that an underground tunnel connects it to the mansion,” Shay mused out loud to Jack. “It’s probably all dusty and boarded up, but I think it sounds kind of neat.”
Shay caught a glimpse of a wooden building through the trees and slammed on the brake. The tires squealed, and she was thrown forward again as they came to a stop.
She un-clicked her seatbelt and threw open her door, and then saw that Isobel was doing the same.
“What are you doing?” she demanded.
“We’re coming with you,” Isobel said, glancing back at Ivory for a moment. “You’re not going to fight them alone.”
“I have to,” Shay replied. “I’ve already lost Theo. I can’t risk losing you, too.”
“You can’t make us stay,” Ivory said.
“She’s right,” Isobel agreed. “You need our help, and we’re not letting you go in alone.”
Shay looked at the two of them and saw that Ivory was right and that she wouldn’t be able to make them stay. She turned to Aubree, who was trembling and looked like she might be sick at any moment.
“You stay here,” Shay told her.
Shay crept through the trees toward the wooden house with Isobel and Ivory following close behind her. When they reached it, Shay could see that it wasn’t even really a house. At least, not anymore.
The wooden roof had collapsed in on itself on one side, and the bricks that had once been a chimney lay in ruin on the ground. There was a gaping hole where the door must have been before it had fallen off its hinges.
Shay stepped over beams of broken wood that had fallen into the doorway, and the wood of the floor sank uneasily beneath her feet. She could see the stairs by the back corner and she slowly made her way over to them.
Each time the floor creaked under her weight, Shay winced.
If it gave way beneath her and she fell through, she could break a leg or an arm or even her neck. She could die.
But she made it to the stairs, which were carved from stone and covered with dust and dirt. She turned back for Isobel and Ivory to find that they’d been right behind her the entire time.
Shay grabbed a wooden board from the ground beside her and cleared away the cobwebs hanging along the opening to the stairs.
“Alright,” Shay said. “Let’s go.”
And they descended into the darkness.
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