The Quiet

I followed her gaze to the other side of the room, where there were two windows. One was closed tightly. But the other was opening slowly. I could see some kind of shadow come over the bottom.

Someone was coming inside.

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46. Gone

I pressed my face into Clay’s back, breathing in his scent. I could feel him shaking against me and I closed my eyes, trying so hard to do what he’d asked of me. My mind told me not to look, but part of me needed to know.

Slowly, I moved my face over the contours of his back. He had his arms placed awkwardly, so I was able to see. My stomach twisted and I gagged, my eyes filling with tears. Again, I tried to speak, but all that came out was a low, agonized whimper.

Maddox was sprawled on his back, one of his legs bent in an obscure way, obviously broken. His eyes were open and there was blood on his face; it ran down his cheeks and clothing. There were bruises all over him, probably from the fall.

He wasn’t moving, not that I really expected him to. But a small part of me wanted him to, because I didn’t want him to be gone yet. I wanted him to survive with us, to take down Alec together.

“Cari,” Clay murmured, turning to hold me. “I told you not to look.”

“I just wanted…to see…” I whispered, trying to keep my voice steady. It didn’t surprise either of us when I burst into tears and held him tighter.

“I know,” he replied, running his fingers through my hair. “We’ll find Alec and get revenge for Maddox, I promise.”

I lifted my head, wiped my eyes, and looked at him. I tried to smile but it was pretty useless at the moment. Clay pressed his lips to my forehead and hugged me. Then we stepped carefully over Maddox’s body and walked outside.

The sky had cleared considerably, but there were still a few gray patches of clouds. The weather was the least of our problems right now but it was the only thing I could think of to get my mind off Maddox.

We walked across the lawn. Trees surrounded us, and more than once, I thought I saw something in them. I stopped Clay and pointed. Through a set of trees was a pond, and something else.

“Something’s there,” I told him, heading that way.

My gut knew what I would find before I got there, and I was right. As I edged closer, I saw a hand draped, hanging above the water. So this was where Alec had taken Lena’s body. It sent a shiver down my spine.

Something rushed at me suddenly, knocking me off balance. I was able to catch myself before I hit the ground in time to hear a soft, eerie chuckle.

“I’ve got to give you two credit,” Alec said, smirking, “you’ve come this far.”

He was leaning against one of the trees, staring at us, his face cut. He had a black eye and I hoped very much that was because of Maddox.

“What do you want with us?” Clay asked as he came to my side.

“Oh, you misunderstand, Clayton. I don’t want her. I just want you.”

“I gathered that much,” Clay said, glaring. “You think I stole something from you, which I haven’t.”

“I want my fucking knife back!” Alec snarled, coming forward.

He tackled Clay and sent him into the water. Before Clay could get up, Alec pushed his face under. I watched this in utter horror, unable to move or do anything. A flash of silver caught my eye on the ground and I saw the knife.

I knew what I had to do before it was too late.

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