We rode the elevator up to the cave of stalactites and then followed David down a sterile passageway to a set of escalators that took us to the main floor of the glass pyramid. Surprisingly, Zeke accompanied us, albeit with a heavy chip on his shoulder.
David strode through the main floor of the pyramid, and we all halted in front of an oversized desk where a Vampire stood sharpening a wooden dagger, a Pottery Barn catalog flipped open in front of him. Apparently, he was interested in zebra print sheets and towels. Slowly his eyes scanned each of our faces.
“We need to see Charles,” David declared with authority.
The Vampire set aside his dagger, placing it on the cold metal desktop with a loud clack, and then picked up a phone. He had a hushed conversation, one that none of us heard, but we knew it was taking place by the way his mouth moved in conversational ways. Finally he replaced the phone in its receiver and turned sullenly to us.
“He’s at the tower, discussing matters with the security team. He asked that you meet him there,” the Vampire stated before sitting back in his chair and snatching his dagger from the desk.
We hurried across the marble floor, our footfalls bouncing about the room with a great racket, and stepped out of the pyramid and into the airy cave. A monstrous swarm of bats zoomed through the air, like a giant black shadow that moved with a flutter of sound as it passed through the tops of the buildings inside the city.
Today, the Kingdom appeared to be in the throes of activity, with Vampires clustered on the stone roads, entering and exiting every building in our line of sight, some carrying shopping bags, while others wrestled with crates filled with jars of red liquid. We stepped into the cobblestone street, passing a majestic grouping of stalagmites, and began to walk towards the high tower.
Every now and then a group of Vampires would pause to watch us pass, and by the time we finally arrived at the clock tower, I was glad to be leaving the trafficked streets behind. We reached the tall tower and I marveled at the detail carved into the granite that made up its outer shell. Decorative stone scrolls were cut into the trim and great arches surrounded the rectangular windows.
“This is the financial building,” David explained as he pulled open a large glass door. We shuffled inside and then halted to take in the lavish interior of the entry hall.
The insides of the tower were laid in warmer tones, with beige marble flooring and metallic gold walls. A long desk wrapped around most of the room. Spaced along the enormous desk were Vampires who perched on tall seats and serviced short lines of pale-faced customers, all of whom stopped to turn and gawk at our entrance. Soon the room dissolved into silence, so that we could hear our footsteps as we fidgeted before the glass doors, and the scraping of Liberty’s claws on the marble as Cash worked to keep her firmly at his side.
David motioned us to follow him to a set of elevator doors on the left, mere steps away. Another Vampire sat in a leather chair, next to a small round desk with a clipboard resting on the copper tabletop. He was busy filling in the blank squares of a Sudoku book. He barely glimpsed up as we passed him, acknowledging our existence with a curt wave of the hand.
We stepped on the elevator, which seemed rather crowded with the four of us Angels, a jittery German shepherd, and a very tense Vampire who appeared to be upset that he was forced to tag along. After a short ride, we exited into a small, sumptuously decorated foyer on the fifth floor.
David pushed through the glass doors without hesitation and we crowded into a dimly lit room with computer monitors resting on long granite desktops and candle sconces burning on the walls. Only one Vampire occupied a computer monitor, the rest of the machines were slumbering and humming alone, and hovering over the Vampire busy on the keyboard, was a taller Vampire that looked like a pirate. He had long, dark curly hair that was tied with a thin string of rope and he wore a billowy white top over his dark pants. When he turned to appraise our entrance, I was immediately drawn to his bushy black eyebrows and thin mustache. The only thing missing was an eye patch.
“Afternoon, David,” he murmured as he stood from his hunched position. “How can I assist you?” He raised one eyebrow and ran two fingers down his oily mustache.
“Charles, we were hoping you could run a search on a family. During our excursion to Rockport, we happened upon a demon and we’d like to find out everything we can about the family he was guarding.” David spoke fast, his tone now urgent.
Charles placed a hand on the Vampire before him, who quickly exited with only a momentary glance in our direction. Once the double doors closed, Charles made his way over to a computer on the adjacent wall and slithered into a chair. As his fingers moved across the keys I stared at his long, pointy yellow nails.
“Did you get a name or address?” He asked after a moment of strumming the keyboard.
David cleared his throat. “I have both actually.”
“Hmm….one moment,” Charles said softly as he began moving his hands across the keyboard once again. “The address?”
“Four-oh-one-four Lotus Lane. Rockport, Texas.” David stated as we all crowded around the computer.
Charles stopped moving his fingers and twisted around in his chair. “Space please?”
We stepped away as fast as we could and I noticed Zeke shaking his head at us in a disdainful manner.
“The house is registered to the Nicole Abbott Heritage Trust.” Charles spun around in his chair. “That’s odd. You don’t come across that often. Usually, a house is registered to an individual, not a trust.”
“Nicole! That was the woman’s name. That must be them.” I exclaimed.
Charles twisted back to view the computer screen. “Nicole Abbott is twenty-eight. She married Jon Abbott four years ago and gave birth to a daughter who’s about to turn two. I found a DBA filed by Jon five years ago. Let’s check their finances.” He fingers started flying. Screens were popping up and down like crazy as he moved from website to website.
Liberty wandered over to nuzzle against my leg. I reached down and ruffled her fur. David dropped down on his knees and began to play with her ears. For a moment our gazes pulled together and the room just disappeared. All I saw was David. In his eyes were a thousand blissful secrets, an intimacy that pierced my heart.
Charles spoke, interrupting our moment. “They don’t appear to make a lot of money. Jon Abbott is the sole breadwinner. The woman stays home with the child. The family income reported for the past four years is thirty-four thousand dollars. That’s not a lot for a family of three, but they’re not destitute either. Still, this family seems unimportant. I’m not sure why Lucien would waste one of his demons on the Abbotts. It doesn’t make sense.”
I don’t know why but my mind was suddenly saturated with this one line, spoken by the demon flies when I was in Rockport…I don’t want you coming with us this weekend. Megan and I will go see my parents by ourselves…
“Who’s her parents?” I blurted out loud.
My heart started beating fast. There was something strange about the way I abruptly remembered what the demon flies said. It didn’t feel natural. It felt as if that one line was zapped into my brain. Goosebumps started popping out of my skin. My mouth went dry. I was scared, but I wasn’t sure what I was afraid of.
Charles sat back in his chair and twiddled his thumbs before launching himself towards the keyboard and rapidly moving his fingers across it. “Nicole Abbott’s father is Steven Adams. Wait…this is interesting…give me a minute.”
Liberty walked over to Isaac and started hopping around playfully.
“Stop that, you stupid dog!” Isaac grumbled, swatting her away. Cash narrowed his eyes at Isaac and then went to grab Liberty by the collar.
I felt David step closer. He turned his back to the commotion and slipped a hand in mine. “Why are you pale?”
I shrugged. I couldn’t explain it to myself.
“Alright, we might be on to something here. The Abbott family doesn’t seem important, but they are connected to a very important man, from what I can tell,” Charles announced, clapping his hands together. “Steven Adams, Nicole Abbott’s father, owns a very successful, international construction company out of Pearland, Texas. He’s a very, very wealthy man. He owns several properties and he just purchased a ranch in George West, Texas six months ago. He has at least eight million dollars tied up in assets like private plans, boats, and vehicles. His company is very generous…they’ve funded several orphanages in Africa, financed missionary trips through a church in Pearland, and even built churches out of charity.”
Cash stepped to the center of the room; his hands shook at his side. “The ranch…the ranch in George West…what is it called?” His voice trembled.
Charles flipped through the websites. “Sunset Ranch.”
“That’s my ranch. I mean, that’s where I grew up.” Cash turned his huge eyes to every face in the room. “I lived there nearly all my life. I can’t believe it was sold.”
I stared back at him, my pulse thudding loudly in my ears. I jumped when David spoke right beside me.
“So…what do the demons want? Why are they interested in Steven Adams? And if they’re so interested in Steven Adams, why are they wasting time stalking the Abbott family?” David asked.
“They certainly want something.” Charles responded. “I can tell you that. This Steven Adams guy is under serious attack. I’ve found hospital records that indicate he’s dealing with a cancer of a very painful type. He’s also supporting several members of his wife’s extended family who have been ruined financially through various means, all of which are suspicious in nature, when you consider the power of demons. Over the past year, Steven has spent a chunk of money to build two additional homes on his personal property so that these family members would have a place to live. According to court documents filed three months ago, two of his business partners are going through nasty divorces resulting from inter-office affairs. The divorces have caused the company to take a significant financial hit. Additionally, just three weeks ago, one of Steven Adam’s business partners became the subject of a private investigation—an investigation put in motion by Steven Adams himself. His daughter’s marriage seems to weigh heavily on his mind because he’s paid for marriage counseling sessions through a therapy center in Corpus Christi. His eldest son has been in and out of rehab for a drug addiction, and was sentenced to prison recently. In fact, Steven Adams built the prison that’s housing his son. And I think it’s worth mentioning that Ann Adams—the wife—is very active in a lobbyist group that works to advance victim’s rights. She has numerous media and political connections going all the way to President of the United States. So she’s an influential person in her own right. I think we can assume that Steven Adams is a person of interest, a person surrounded by demons working against him. And judging from the types of contributions he’s made through his personal wealth and the wealth of his company, he appears to be a man of God.”
Zeke pushed his glasses up his nose and cut in to Charles’ conversation. “It appears to me that Steven Adams is fighting his own demonic war and he doesn’t even know it. If my instincts are correct then Steven must be winning; otherwise, we wouldn’t see such a frenzy of demonic assaults over such a short period of time. Lucien wants something from this guy and Steven Adams isn’t giving it to him. It’s possible that Steven has very strong faith and doesn’t yield to demonic temptations and influences. It’s possible that—as a result—Lucien has turned his demonic forces to the weakest humans surrounding Steven Adams—those of lesser faith; those who are more pliable—and the demons are wrecking havoc in their lives in order to put pressure and strain on Steven Adams indirectly. Lucien must be very interested in this human, this Steven, if he’s going to go through all this trouble and expending his demonic forces. ” Zeke shrugged. “We need to find out why. It’s possible this information will lead us to one of Lucien’s plots. You can usually follow the trail of demons, they tend to lead back to Lucien eventually.”
“Wait a minute!” I shouted. And then I felt silly and stupid. I should have spent time thinking before I grabbed the spotlight. “Never mind, it’s not related.”
David gave me an encouraging look. “What were you going to say?”
I blushed scarlet and focused on my feet. “Last night when I was riding the train, I watched some of the news on CNN. And there was a plane crash. Some construction company called…Juniper-something. Anyway, all the important people involved in this company were killed. I thought for a minute it might have been the same construction company, but it’s not. Sorry.”
“That’s okay,” David said kindly as he moved to stand beside me.
At once, a shrill ring blared in the room, and the entire group startled. I jerked my head toward the sound to see Zeke snap open his cell phone and sweep from the room. I turned away to stare at the wall.
For some reason I felt anger roll through me. Demons never seemed so evil, so real, as they did now. I couldn’t rid my head of the images of the little girl I had seen that night in Rockport. She seemed to speak to me in ways I couldn’t understand. I saw myself in her. I saw what might happen to her. And I wanted it to stop. I wanted her to be able to have a family more than anything. I knew what it was like to go through life without one. Demons wanted her parents to get divorced and they were working hard to accomplish their goals. They wanted to destroy a little girl’s life. My heart ached with helplessness, and my head pounded with rage.
“I want to see a demon,” I declared to the room. “I want to know what they look like. I want to know how they act. I want to know everything about them. I feel like I have to see one, to truly understand them.”
“Yeah, me too. I’m tired of wondering,” Isaac chimed in.
David’s face froze and he went as pale as a cotton ball. He stared at me unmoving.
“No,” he said ever so softly. “You’re not ready.”
“Ready?” I snapped. “When will I ever be ready?”
“Shayne! Have you forgotten what happened in Rockport?” David stepped closer and spoke quietly into my ear. “Don’t you remember the demon flies? Don’t you remember how much they affected you? A demon…it will be way worse. A million times worse. Please, trust me.” David stood back and talked to the floor. “You’re not ready.”
“I’m ready. Let’s go right now,” Isaac said confidently. “Let’s go see this Steven Adams guy. He seems to be surrounded by demons, so it shouldn’t be hard to spot one. We don’t have to show ourselves. We can, like, hide in the bushes. I just want to see.”
David turned to face Cash. “Cash, surely you aren’t ready to see a demon…”
“He doesn’t have to come,” Isaac cut in.
“David, why are you fighting this?” I asked carefully.
David stared at me beseechingly. At once there was tenderness and compassion in his eyes, but there was also fear. I couldn’t understand it. If anything, David had been our leader, he had pushed us along. And now, it was strange, the way he seemed to hold us back, when we were willing to move forward.
“Shayne,” David said my name so quietly I almost missed it. “I don’t think we should take off right this second to go see a demon. Don’t you want to rest? I mean, I would think you’d want to recover after going through what you went through in the alley with Cash. Cash needs to recover. We just need to sit on this and…make a plan…or something. I agree that we might have uncovered something important and we need to check into it. But—”
I stared at David. He was making excuses. I don’t know why, but I was sure he was keeping something from me. I felt like he was lying!
The double glass doors crashed open, bouncing off the limestone walls. I jumped and whirled around. Zeke flashed across the room and was suddenly standing inside our huddle.
“I’ve just got off the phone with Phinneas. Black City Vampires have been spotted in the Austin Hill Country, directly above the Kingdom. Our sentries discovered a team skulking in the hills surrounding the Fourth of July festivities on Lake Travis. Cyrus, the one who made the discovery, was able to identify two members of the rogue team. One was a nomad, Fallon. The other was Mina, a Black City recon explorer.”
Chills started rippling up my spine. I knew who Fallon was—he was the Vampire who attacked us in the alley in Rockport. Why did it seem like everything was connecting? My whole body started quaking. I opened my mouth, but no words would come out. I kept remembering Fallon as he advanced down the thin alley, his long hair fluttering behind him, his red glowing eyes full of murder…
“What’s a recon explorer?” Isaac asked.
“A recon explorer is sent into a battlefield to scout the resistance before an assault. Mina’s reputation in this role is legend. She was responsible for Rafe’s victories during the Vampire Revolution that took place before the treaty was signed. Phinneas has taken two operational teams above ground, to secure the hill country. The Kingdom is readying for an attack.”
Charles slid across the floor and halted in front of Zeke. He glanced at us before saying, “We’ve uncovered something important. It appears Lucien is attacking a human through an excessive quantity of influential demons. He’s waging war on a man named Steven Adams. I didn’t think it was important earlier, but I just came across records that Steven Adams rented a houseboat on Lake Travis for the Fourth of July weekend. It’s possible that the events are related. I can get the boat’s identifying information pretty quickly. Call Phinneas and alert him that it’s coming. I think we should send out forces to search for this boat and keep an eye on it until the hill country is no longer compromised.”
Zeke hit speed dial on his cell phone and hurried from our presence.
“Oh my god.” I rubbed my face. When I closed my eyes I saw the little girl, the toddler. The tiny blond ringlets that reflected the light and the way they fell across her big round eyes. I saw her cheeks scrunch up when she smiled. I saw her tiny little fingers as they pulled apart the blinds. Her face filled my head, just a vision surrounded by blackness. And slowly, in the background behind her, the darkness was broken by neon red eyes and glowing white fangs.
…As if I want to spend a weekend trapped on a boat with your parents…
…You’re not taking Megan. She stays with me…
God, I whimpered silently, let Megan be at home with her dad.
Panic overwhelmed me and I finally found my voice. “Please, we have to find them right now. Fallon, he was there in Rockport, he was the one who attacked us in the alley—Phinn must know this. Everything is just connecting. It can’t be a coincidence. We have to do something. I can’t let anything happen to that little girl. She’s just a baby. And right now she’s with Steven Adams—and her parents, or at least her mom—on that houseboat.” I think. Oh God, please…
“What do you suggest we do? Go on a rescue mission?” Isaac scoffed.
“We rescued Cash! Why not them?” I yelled, feeling fear rise inside me.
“Phinneas and Joshua rescued Cash, not us.” Isaac responded without pause.
“We helped too!” I screamed. “We have to go. Don’t you see? We know someone is in danger, serious danger. And we can’t even call the cops. No one will believe us! We have to try and help these people. We can’t just sit back and wait to see if Black City Vampires are going to attack them!”
Liberty started whining at Cash’s side and he stroked her fur, his wide eyes silently taking in the exchange.
“No. No, we need to focus on finding the other Fallen Angels. There are two more of our people out there. We have to find them first. Nothing matters until we do that. We have to stay hidden as much as possible. The Kingdom Vampires can handle this situation. We’re vulnerable until we find the rest of our kin,” David said without his usual confidence.
“But David, they can’t be found.” I reasoned passionately. “Not until they manifest. And the three of us manifested at eighteen. What are the odds that the other two will manifest any time soon? I mean, you said it could happen between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one. So we could find ourselves sitting around, just waiting, for years. That seems like a waste of time.”
“Shayne…” David said. “I don’t think this is a good idea. I mean, seriously, I would think you’d want to recover after going through what you went through.”
“David!” I scolded. “Stop talking about that recovery crap. You said yourself that we’ve given the demons eighteen years to advance their goals. I don’t want to give them any more! I don’t need to recover. I don’t want to sit around while demons are out there right now, destroying families. I know how important family is. And you should too! I saw that little girl through the window, the toddler. And she was precious, innocent, and completely helpless. If I can do something to stop her from losing a mom and dad who belong together, well I’ll do what I have to. And I can’t do a darn thing until I know what I’m facing.”
I didn’t want to give a demon three years to tear apart the family in Rockport. I wanted to find a way to stop it. Now.
“I’ll go with you Shayne.” Cash said quietly. “I won’t turn and tuck my tail when little girls hang in the balance. It just ain’t manly. And I just…I keep thinking about Sunset Ranch, where I grew up. There’s a lot of young foster kids who depend on that ranch because their foster family depends on it. I don’t like the idea of it turning into some kind of demonic battlefield because Steven Adams decided to buy it.”
Isaac dropped into a desk chair and let his head hang between his knees. “I’ll go too. But…these people better be worth it because we’re all risking our lives by trying to save them.”
“Let’s just think about this for a minute.” David pleaded in a hushed voice. “Lake Travis is sixty miles long. How do you think we’ll find them? They could be anywhere in that houseboat, anywhere there’s water.”
“Does it really matter whether we can find them or not? We have to try.” Cash placed a hand on David’s shoulder. “You can stay here. It’s only fair that we give you the same option you’ve given us. If you’re too scared…”
“I’m not scared!” David shrugged Cash’s arm away. He looked at me and his face was blank. “Fine. If this is what you want…fine!” He threw his arms in the air and dropped into a chair. “We’ll go. I just want you to know that we’re wasting our time. We’re not going to find this family—we’re only going to put ourselves in danger.”
“I can tell you how to find them.” Charles said, pushing back from the desk, his chair rolling straight to the center of our group. “I’ve just been checking their credit card transactions. They purchased drinks thirty minutes ago at a restaurant called Carlos and Charlie’s, right on the lake. Carlos and Charlie’s puts on the biggest fireworks display in Texas. I’d bet good money this family will stay there to watch the show. In fact, I bet they showed up early to get a boat slip. Check there first. If they are somewhere inside Carlos and Charlie’s, you should be safe from Black City Vampires. They won’t enter a big crowd and draw attention.” Charles stroked his mustache in thought. “You’ve got some time. The show begins in three hours.”
We stared at him in awe.
Two and a half hours later, we huddled on the red velvet sofas of the bullet train. David had made all the preparations. He contacted Phinn to let him know we were coming and gathered communication devices for us to use on our mission. We didn’t really have a plan and that scared me the most.
My mind was reeling with unknowns. I had no idea what I was about to step into—what kind of evil awaited me above ground. I only knew that I had to take that first step—to dive into the black ocean that had become my world. As the train entered the winding tunnel the interior lights dimmed and flickered back to life. My eyes darted to a tumbler of water resting between my legs. The water flattened into glass and I could see my reflection in the mirror—just my face surrounded by darkness. Was this my future?
Liberty lumbered over to me, resting her large face on my lap, her expressive eyes locking with mine. Her nose bumped the glass, sending lines and ripples through the water, obscuring my face.
“Here.” Isaac said, tossing me a sandwich. “Eat. I’m really getting tired of skipping meals. I swear, if it was up to you guys, we’d all drop dead of starvation.”
“Isaac, you’re not going to starve.” David said pointedly. “You’re an Angel. It’s impossible.”
“What?” Isaac said as his mouth dropped open.
“You don’t need food or water to live.” David said, meeting Isaac’s confused gaze.
Isaac stared hard at David for a full minute before speaking again. “Well…I like food. And I don’t like starving,” he responded in a daze, dumbfounded. “You know, you need to share this kind of information with us. What else are you holding back?”
David shrugged indifferently, staring into the dark tunnel and Isaac started mumbling under his breath.
I placed my sandwich on the ledge below the train windows. My stomach felt as if a thousand flesh eating bugs were inside, chewing their way out. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t even think. My mind was fogged by terror.
Isaac jumped from his seat. “Where’s the remote!?” He yelled, trampling the carpeted floor. “Hurry! Find it!”
David launched himself to the mini bar and opened a small compartment, tossing the remote to Isaac. I glanced at the television monitors as Isaac hit rewind. In just three seconds, we were staring at an anchorwoman in a crisp red suit. Her first sentence stunned me; her voice was suddenly the most distinct sound I had ever heard.
“The Willowtech Construction Company was offered the opportunity to take over construction on the Dallas Cowboy stadium. They had placed second in the original bidding process and were the natural choice to take over the Juniper-Scranton project after the company was dissolved following a high fatality plane crash—an event that has brought construction on the stadium to a screeching halt. According to state authorities, Steven Adams, the owner of Willowtech Construction, has been given three days to accept the general contractor position. As they await the company’s response, everyone in Texas is holding their breath. Citizens of Texas and fans of the Dallas Cowboy’s are all asking the billion dollar question: Will the stadium be operational in time for the Dallas Cowboy’s next football season?
“In other news…”
Isaac started wailing. “What? What? Those are my boys! Please, tell me this is a nightmare!” Isaac dropped to his knees and began to pray out loud. “Oh please God, please! I can deal with Vampires and demons—I’ll take it for the team—but don’t take away my Cowboys!”
David leaped from the sofa and started pacing the cab. “What do you think this means?” he asked in a small voice, appearing rather fearful. “You think the demons want Steven Adams to turn down the Dallas Cowboy stadium project? You think they want their hands on the stadium?”
“What would they want with a stadium?” Cash wondered out loud. “I mean, you don’t think they would…” Cash trailed as his eyes widened. “You don’t think they’d like, make it collapse or something? You know, blame it on terrorists and start a war?”
“Why would they? There’s plenty of wars going on.” I chimed in and then began to bite my nails because I was crazy nervous.
“No! I won’t let this happen! The Cowboys kept me alive, man. I mean, they were the only thing that kept me going in junior high. I lived for their games. I still do!” Isaac shouted as Liberty started whining.
“You know, the Cowboys have kind of sucked lately,” Cash muttered as he watched Isaac behave like a psycho.
“Don’t you dare talk about my boys that way! You’re talking about America’s team, man!” Isaac yelled wildly, shoving a finger into Cash’s chest with eyes ablaze.
David stepped between Isaac and Cash and shoved Isaac onto a sofa. Isaac huffed with steam as he glared hard at Cash.
“Everyone just calm down already!” David barked. He pressed his hands on either side of his head and then mumbled something under his breath. “It all fits, doesn’t it? I mean, it’s like the stars are aligning, showing us the way. This can’t be one big coincidence. It just can’t be.” David rubbed his face aggressively. “The demons are waging war on this Steven Adams guy and he’s suddenly connected to the Dallas Cowboy stadium project. In fact, the demons most likely had a hand in the plane crash that got Juniper-Scranton out of the way. But…why?”
I stared at David in horror while the air crackled around us. I felt nauseous.
David ruffled his hair and plopped down beside me. “Alright, focus people. Right now, we just need to focus. We’ll figure this out later. Apparently, we have a family to save.” David grabbed a handful of blue folders from his backpack and started passing them out.
I opened my folder and stared down at the photos Charles had printed for us—driver’s license photos of every adult member of Steven Adam’s immediate family. Their faces seemed illuminated on the page. On another sheet of paper was the printed photo of a houseboat—white with wavy blue lines and a Texas flag hanging off the back.
Never before had I realized that my actions could mean the difference between life and death. Never before had everything seemed so real. Every face smiling motionless before me represented a human in fatal danger. I knew without a doubt that the Black City Vampires discovered in the hill country were there for Steven Adams—maybe they were there to kill him on Lucien’s orders.
And close by was a little girl with ringlets of blond hair, probably holding tightly to her doll, her face scrunched up in a grin. Megan. Her name was Megan. A tear dropped down onto the page I was holding.
“Memorize these faces,” David ordered. “Memorize the houseboat. When we get to the restaurant, we’ll split up in pairs. Isaac, Cash…take Liberty and search for the houseboat. Shayne and I will canvass the restaurant. When you find something—if you see anything—report it immediately. Do you understand?”
No. I didn’t understand a thing.
The train jerked to a stop, the chandeliers above our head clinked together as the door slid open. The boys hurried from the cab with Liberty trailing behind them, and after a brief hesitation, I followed them onto the platform.
David caught me by the arm as I passed him. “Shayne, I need you to promise me something. I want you in my sight at all times. You stay with me, right beside me. Understand?”
“Okay, I promise.”