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“Yeah, I bet.”
“You know Allie will insist on coming home if she thinks anyone’s in danger.”
“We’ll be gone two weeks. Try to hold things together until then.”
“Don’t worry. We’ll be fine.” Owen gave me a look. He was letting me know we were going to drop our stupid argument. It wasn’t going to help anyone. Besides, I was pretty sure I knew where his outburst had come from. Watching Levi get married had probably reminded him of what he didn’t have. Maybe this would spur Owen to start dating again. He had danced a few times with Allie’s friend Anne.
The send-off was Levi’s idea, but he left it up to me to execute. His surprise worked spot on. Allie’s face lit up as bright as the fireworks when they shot off across the sky. He’d had them timed perfectly to their first dance song. The band had set up a little ways behind us. She nearly hopped up and down watching the fireworks, that is until Levi started kissing her. I had to clear my throat after I saw her dad’s eyes nearly bug out of his head. We were standing around the landing strip. The resort was the exclusive kind designed for politicians and those who want privacy. The private landing strip was an added bonus.
“Be good, princess.” I hugged Allie. We’d come a long way since I first met her. It was hard to believe we’d pretty much hated each other in the beginning, but now I counted her as one of my closest friends. Life is full of weird surprises like that, I guess. I hoped I’d say the same thing about Casey at some point, but there were feelings and urges there that I needed to get rid of first.
“You be good too.” She gave me a warning look before nodding toward Casey.
I smiled. “Don’t worry. I’ll be on my best behavior.”
Levi took Allie’s hand and led her onto the plane. They were headed out for a two week trip to a private island in the South Pacific. Levi didn’t bother hiding his excitement. Allie’s mom cried silently next to Helen. I was just glad we’d made it through the wedding.
My celebration was short lived. As soon as the plane disappeared into the distance, the lights went out.
All hell broke loose. There’s no other way to describe what happened when all of the resort lights shut off without warning. I’d been standing with Tiffany and Anne, but we were separated as the crowd swelled around me. My newfound ability to see in the dark came in handy, but it wasn’t enough. The crowd was too thick and the hysteria nearly overwhelming. A few screams filled the air, and the chairs set up for the sendoff were overturned as everyone ran from some unidentified danger.
Goose bumps, and not the good kind, covered my body. Something was going on, and I knew without question it was about me. Murphy had attacked just as Jared predicted.
Through the people, I saw a whiz of brown fur, and I heard a gnarly roar. The bears were definitely there in full force. I tried to gently move through people, but it didn’t do any good. I had no idea which way to go. I needed to find Toby or Jared. If it would save everyone, I’d turn myself in, but I had the sinking feeling that would only make things worse.
“Casey?” a loud voice called. I followed it to find Tiffany huddled behind one of the buildings.
“Hey. Are you okay?” I hoped she wasn’t injured, but even with night vision, I couldn’t tell from the way she was crouched.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” She didn’t move. “A little freaked out though.”
“Tell me about it.” I glanced around, making sure we weren’t in eminent danger. The fighting seemed to have quieted down, but I wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad thing. I hoped more than anything that no one was hurt.
“They want you, don’t they?” Tiffany asked quietly.
“Yes.” No reason to pretend otherwise.
“We need to get you to Toby. He’ll know what to do.”
“You’ve seen Toby?” My heart soared. She was right, he’d know exactly what to do. Then we’d have to find Jared.
A growl filled the night, and I shuddered. I couldn’t just hide out. I needed to come up with a plan.
“The last I saw him he was around the other side of the resort. He was dealing with some fierce bears.” She pointed to the largest of the buildings.
I started to follow her, forcing myself to block out the shouts around me. I prayed everyone else was okay. I couldn’t handle having any more guilt.
“We’re almost there,” she said softly. My heart beat faster. I could do this. I just had to find Toby.
“Well, hello there, sweetheart.” Murphy’s gravelly voice froze me. He grabbed my arms, and I started to struggle, the motion easily loosened his hold. I moved to attack.
“One false move and he kills your friend.” Murphy gestured to where a fully transformed bear held onto Tiffany. Her face was a mask of complete shock.
My arms went limp at my side. “Let her go.”
A wry grin spread across Murphy’s face. “Absolutely. All you have to do is come with me.”
“Why didn’t you take me before? Why show me my wings then just leave? Why all this?” I needed to stall him. I could take him out, but I couldn’t get to the other bear fast enough. What if he hurt Tiffany? I couldn’t live with that guilt on my head.
“We had to make sure you were Pteron first.”
“What do you mean? You knew I was.”
“No, we didn’t.”
A wave of nausea overcame me. “You didn’t know if I had wings?” He’d pushed me off a building and he wasn’t sure? “What would have happened if I didn’t?”
He shrugged. “That wasn’t our concern. You were only worth something to us if you were Pteron.”
What? He thought he might have been pushing me to my death. What did any of this mean? The more I learned, the less I understood.
“Now, are you going to come willingly, or do we need to get rid of Goldilocks over there?”
Tiffany let out a shriek as the bear slowly sliced her arm with a claw. A line of red blood oozed down from the cut. The color nearly matched her dress, reminding me of how crazy the situation was. We’d somehow gone from celebrating a wedding to having my friend’s life threatened. And they were doing it because of me. I had no choice. I cringed. “I’ll come.” I couldn’t let someone else get hurt. “Just let her go. Let everyone else go.” I wanted to cry, but showing more weakness was never a good thing. I needed to stay tough. Whatever was coming would probably be even worse.