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“Chained to a wall? Isn’t that a little over kill?” I had to ask. “Wouldn’t keeping watch and tying her hands be enough?”
“They seem determined to keep her there. I don’t know what they have planned, but it can’t be good.”
Normally, I’d have been highly skeptical. The girl had admitted to being part of the same clan that took Casey, but I wasn’t. Something about her face said it all. She was as worried about Casey as we were. Either way, she was our best shot of finding her.
“What!” Toby yelled. “We have to get to her.”
“I didn’t know anything about it until they brought Casey in.” Her face paled. “I’d have never stayed. Everything changed when the boss came into the picture, and then I found out they were hunting my sister.”
“But why would they hurt her?” I asked the obvious question. “That’s insane.”
“It’s the boss. I haven’t met him, but he’s here.”
“We’re getting her now.” From the tone of Toby’s voice, I knew he wasn’t playing around.
I couldn’t wait a second more. Chained? They had her chained? My stomach churned and my heart beat out of my chest. We had to find her.
I tried to tune out Vera and Jared. They’d been bickering constantly since leaving my grandfather’s house. How two people who didn’t know each other could find so much to argue about was beyond me. At the moment, they were discussing the art of the hookup. I couldn’t listen. I knew they were distracting each other, making every moment more tolerable, but it was just making it harder on me. I couldn’t relax. I could barely breathe until I had Casey at my side again.
“We’re going to get her out.” Vera caught up with me as we walked through the woods. It was only a three mile walk, but it felt endless. Vera had scoffed when I offered to fly her. I guess bears don’t like to leave the ground.
“I know. I just want her now.”
Vera smiled. “And that’s admirable. I’ll be sure to tell Casey she has the real deal with you, but we can’t rush this anyway. We have to get in there when most of the clan is out hunting.”
“What if they don’t go hunting tonight?” I’d been through enough crazy experiences to realize that things rarely went perfectly as planned.
“They will. They didn’t leave for two days while waiting for Murphy to bring in Casey and for the boss to show up. They’re going to be gone awhile.”
“Who’s the boss?” I needed more information. At least it would keep me occupied as we walked.
“I don’t know. I wasn’t allowed in, and I left the first chance I had.”
“Wait.” I spun on her. “You left Casey with the boss?”
“I knew I couldn’t do anything on my own.” Vera glanced at me nervously. “She told me you guys would help.”
“What’s happening to her? How could you leave her?” I bellowed.
Jared grabbed my arm. “Shut up! Do you want to give us away?”
He was right. I had to calm down. I just couldn’t believe Vera was only mentioning this information now.
“I want to get her too, remember that.” Vera’s voice was soft and far less confident than I’d gotten used to her sounding like. She seemed like the kind of girl who had to be right all the time. Casey had some of that in her too, but she was more balanced. Just thinking about her made my chest hurt. I’d never felt half as strongly about anyone in my life. How was it possible that we’d only known each other a few months? It felt like ages—and not in any semblance of a bad way.
Finally, the cave came into view. I started toward the entrance, but Vera pulled back on the collar of my t-shirt. “We have to wait.”
I spun on her. “How much longer?”
“It shouldn’t be much longer now.”
We waited what felt like an eternity but no one came or went. I was losing it. I couldn’t wait.
“I’m going in alone.” Vera stood from the crouch she was in.
Jared pulled her back down “Are you crazy? I’m going with you.”
She put a hand on her hip. “I’m a bear. I can handle caves better than you.”
Jared gave her a long look. “They know you left. It’s not like you can just return like nothing happened.”
She seemed to think over Jared’s words for a moment. “Maybe, maybe not. Maybe no one noticed I was missing.”
“You’ve been gone for hours. They have to have noticed.”
“What good is it going to do if you both get caught? I’m going in and getting her. I’ll bring her out to you, Toby. Then you get her the hell away from here.”
“I’ll go in with you. Toby waits out here.” Jared said it like he was actually in charge.
I wasn’t having it. “No. Why should I wait?”
“Didn’t you hear what Vera said? We’re going to get her out to you. That way, if something happens to us, there’s still a chance for her.”
I gritted my teeth. “She needs me. I’m going.”
Vera placed her palm on my chest. “Trust me on this. Stay here. She has a better shot if we’re split up. If we don’t come out quickly, come in after us.”
I didn’t like it, but I also didn’t have a better plan. I could wait a while, but I wasn’t waiting too long. Casey needed me, and I wasn’t going to let her down.
Terrified. I’d never understood the true meaning of the word until I woke up and found myself left there helpless and chained to a cave wall. One chain was attached to each leg while another covered my body that was wrapped up in that straight jacket again. I was in trouble.
By temperature I wasn’t cold, but I couldn’t control the shivers caused by fear. I needed to believe Vera would find Toby in time. I knew I was leading him into danger, but I needed to trust his words. I needed to believe he wanted me in his life. I also knew that something was wrong with me. My head throbbed and vague memories of a robed figure started coming back to me. The room was pitch black, and I had no idea how much time had passed. It could have been hours or days since they first brought me in for all I knew.
I struggled against the chains again even though I knew they wouldn’t budge. What good was Pteron strength if it wasn’t enough to get me out of the situation?