Shay pictured fire in her mind, bright and glowing, and she shoved the thought out of her head, and flames blossomed along the torches mounted on the stone walls. The tunnel that it lit was eerie and tight, and more cobwebs were strung from the ceiling.
Their footsteps echoed as they walked in silence.
Shay could hear Isobel’s shaky breathing and when she looked back over her shoulder, she saw Ivory slipping her fingers through her sister’s and giving her hand a squeeze.
“Everything’s going to be alright,” Ivory told her.
Isobel nodded, though she didn’t seem entirely convinced.
There was a corner up ahead, and they all turned when they reached it.
The sound of skittering feet made Shay glance down at the ground, and she kicked her foot out at the brown rat that raced out of a hole in the wall, and then disappeared into another.
As they walked, Shay ran her fingers absentmindedly over the red marks on her wrists from the chains.
“Shay . . .” Isobel said tentatively. “Are you . . . okay?”
Shay faltered for a moment in her steps, but then she replied without so much as a glance back at the other girls. “I’m fine.”
“None of this is your fault,” Isobel said. “Please don’t blame yourself.”
“Isobel . . .”
“I mean it, Shay.”
Shay shook her head. “I’m not going to let anyone else get hurt.”
They turned another corner, and then they came to a stop in front of a rotting wooden door. Shay drew back her leg and kicked as hard as she could, and the wood gave way beneath her foot. It cracked and crumbled, collapsing to the floor as it broke from its hinges.
A cloud of debris shot up into Shay’s face, and she coughed, waving it away with her hand.
The room that she stepped into was dark and musty and there were furniture scattered all around and covered in clear plastic tarps. A heating duct ran along the ceiling, and cardboard boxes were stacked on top of one another in the corner.
“This must be the storage room in the basement,” Shay whispered.
They snuck silently across the room towards the door on the other side. Light shone from beneath it, and Shay pressed her ear against the wood to listen for voices.
She looked back at Isobel and Ivory and pressed a finger to her mouth. She turned to the door again and eased it gently open.
She poked her head into the basement and her eyes widened at what she saw.
The body of Elijah, the boy who’d bitten her when she’d been chained up, lay mummified on the ground. A wooden stake protruded from his chest.
The flat screen TV had been torn from the wall and it lay on the ground, its monitor a spider web of cracks. The cushions on the couch had been torn open, and feathers fluttered around the room, laying here and there on the carpet like snow. Several pool sticks were snapped in half, and Shay’s foot hit against one as she stepped out into the room.
The pool stick rolled a few inches, and then came to a stop.
Shay bent and picked it up, examining the splintered end where it had been broken. Her fingers curled heatedly around the wood.
“Oh, my God,” Isobel murmured, coming up beside her.
The ceiling above their heads creaked, and Shay jumped. She waited until the footsteps and voices faded away before speaking again.
“Stay here,” she told the other girls. “I’m going to go to the top of the stairs and see what’s going on.”
“Be careful,” Isobel said.
She made her way across the basement towards the stairs, and paused at the bottom steps. She could hear the voices more clearly now, and they sounded like they were coming from the living room.
“How long does it take to get here?” Kendall hissed.
“Maybe she decided not to come back here,” Rowan replied. “Or maybe the Elves took her somewhere else.”
“Maybe they’re still hiding in the forest,” Anna said.
“You idiot,” Rowan snapped. “We would have smelled them.”
“Maybe,” Kendall shouted, “you should all just shut up!”
Shay slunk up the stairs, praying that none of the steps would creak and thankfully, they didn’t. She stopped on the top step, crouching low and peering out from between the bars of the railing.
Shay silently thanked Grandmother Clarissa for the ugly table that she’d put in the corner between the railing and the wall because it allowed for her to watch without being seen.
Shay could make out the back of Kendall’s head from where she sat on one of the couches, and Rowan was standing in front of the window that looked out over the backyard. Shay couldn’t see Anna, but she suspected her to be on the floor.
She caught a glimpse of fair hair on the floor in front of the couch and she knew immediately that it was Sienna. The other Daughters were blocked by the couch, and Shay didn’t see any of the other vampires around.
Suddenly, a shrill, crackling sound broke through the air.
Kendall snatched up a walkie-talkie from wherever she had been keeping it and lifted it to her ear.
Shay couldn’t make out what was being said.
“What do you mean you found a car?” Kendall snarled back into it. “Is it theirs?”
The walkie-talkie crackled again as someone replied.
“Well, then follow the tunnel and see where it leads! Are you incapable of thinking for yourself? Do I need to write out step-by-step instructions for you?”
Shay froze as Kendall gave an aggravated sigh and threw the walkie-talkie across the room. It hit the opposite wall with a crash.
They’d found the tunnel. It wouldn’t be long before the reached the basement.
Shay darted back down the stairs. She needed to get to Isobel and Ivory and warn them.
She dashed around the corner, and the warning was on her lips just as a vampire she didn’t recognize emerged from the storage room. The girl had skin the color of creamed coffee and dark curls that were pulled back in a ponytail.
She seemed as startled as Shay at first, but then she shook herself and grabbed onto Isobel.
Isobel screamed as the girl tipped her head back and exposed her throat. Shay saw a flash of fang in the light, and then she dove for the girl.
She still had the broken pool stick in her hand and she jammed the splintered end into the girl’s stomach. The girl let out a snarl and dropped Isobel. She tore the pool stick away, and then glanced at Shay before lashing out with her hand and sending Shay flying across the room.
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