“So good to hear your voice,” Kendall said, and her tone was cheerful. Mocking.
“What do you want?” Shay demanded.
“To chit chat. Dwindle on the past, and such. It seems your life has improved drastically in the last few months. Lucky you.”
“Are you jealous? Is that why you’re calling?”
“Jealous? Of you?” She laughed. “Oh, God, no. If anything, I pity you. All your little responsibilities and obligations. Doesn’t it get tiring? You can’t save everyone, you know.”
“Of course I can’t, but—”
“I’m not finished,” Kendall snapped. “Now, where was I? Oh, yes. You can’t save everyone. So many friends, only one Shay. How’s the tiny blonde girl? Or the tall wiry brunette?”
Shay felt nauseous. Sienna and Vivienne.
“Yes, I know all about them. And by now I figure you know I didn’t just call to hear your voice. In fact, it infuriates me.”
“Is there a point to all this?” Shay said through clenched teeth.
“If you would stop interrupting me, I could get to it sooner. As I was saying, you are so intent on protecting the people you care about, that I cannot just sit by and let you amble on with it so easily. As your archenemy—and I despise how clichéd the word sounds—it is my job to provide the complete and utter chaos that your life so severely lacks. Which is why I’d like to now hand the phone over to my new friend. I believe her names is Aubree.”
Mother Ophelia’s apprentice? What was she doing with Kendall? Shay’s stomach sank. Oh, God. She really was going to be sick.
There was silence on the other end for a moment, and then Kendall’s scornful coaxing was joined by a terrified whimpering.
“Please . . . Just let me go. I haven’t done anything to you . . .”
“Oh, I know, sweetheart. It’s not your fault,” Kendall told the whimpering girl. “It’s Shay’s.”
“Aubree?” Shay yelled into the phone as the whimpering faded. “Aubree! Just stay calm! It’s going to be okay!”
“How touching,” Kendall said. “I assume you’re planning on rescuing her. I’d like to negotiate a compromise, so if you’d like to meet me on the corner of Bayard and Tamarind, we can try and work something out. If not . . . Well, let’s just say I hope Aubree isn’t too fond of her fingers.”
“Don’t hurt her! I’ll come! Alright?” Shay said. “I’ll come!”
“Good girl. Come alone, and I’m sure Aubree will appreciate it.”
“Just . . . don’t hurt her.”
“I’m a woman of my word, Shay, as long as you are,” Kendall replied. “And say hello to Jack for me, will you? Goodbye.”
Shay held the phone in her hand long after Kendall’s line had disconnected.
Kendall had Aubree. And it was all Shay’s fault.
She numbly set the phone back down on the desk. Juniper circled worriedly at her feet.
She suddenly sprinted for the bathroom. She threw open the toilet and grabbed her hair with her other hand as she bent, coughing and retching. When she was finished, she sat back on her heels and grabbed a wad of toilet paper to clean off her face.
Shay had to rescue Aubree, there was no question about that, but meeting Kendall would be stupid. She was absolutely crazy if she expected Shay to agree to whatever “compromise” she came up with. That was if Shay was being optimistic and believed she really would compromise. Which she didn’t.
There was one thing she was certain of though.
She had to do it on her own. She couldn’t put anyone else in danger.
Shay devised a plan as she laced up her boots and took a jacket down from one of the hangers in her closet. Sienna had said Grandmother Clarissa needed to repair her jumpsuit, and she didn’t know what she would be facing. She took down a satchel that she found on a shelf in the back and she looped it around her shoulders.
She touched the stone of celesite at her neck to make sure it still hung there before she slipped out her bedroom door. She would go to the practice room to grab what she needed, say goodbye to the others, and then find Phoenix.
She headed for the stairs, but a crash from Lacey’s room made her pause quizzically.
“Lacey?” she called from outside the door. “I heard—”
When she was interrupted by another crash, her thoughts immediately turned defensive, afraid that now she’d somehow put Lacey in danger, too. She flung the door open.
Her hand froze mid-air and her face paled.
Two tails flicked like angry cobras above the disheveled comforters, and two faces lifted to meet her gaze. One had scattered dark spots and the other, stripes. A growl split the air.
Although they were in their half-shifted forms, Shay recognized the two figures, one on top of the other, on the bed.
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