Unraveled, p.18

Unraveled, page 18

 part  #2 of  Intertwined Series

 

Unraveled
 



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Page 18

 

  What was happening at that vampire mansion? Was everyone okay? Had the vampires accepted Aden without protest?

  Clearly, Riley viewed her as weak. A hindrance. She’d suspected, but this…this was proof. And she didn’t like it. Wouldn’t stand for it. But what could she do?

  She couldn’t kidnap a witch on her own. That was just craziness. One, she didn’t know the extent of their powers or how they wielded that power. Even though she’d spent the last few hours studying every book she’d checked out at the library, as well as scouring the Internet yet again, looking for obscure details. Anything. There was tons of information out there, most of it conflicting.

  Witches drew their power from the elements. Witches drew their power from inside themselves. Witches were good, benevolent. Witches were bad, evil, servants of the devil. Witches liked to perform ritual sacrifices. Witches were merely delusional.

  You’re getting sidetracked. You were thinking about why you can’t kidnap a witch. Oh, and two, she doubted she could subdue someone physically just yet. And three, where would she keep the witch? In her closet? Her dad wouldn’t find anything odd about that. Yeah. Right.

  Still. Waiting for Riley, Victoria and Aden to do something grated.

  She wasn’t the best at spotting witches, but she could do it. Riley had taught her how. So. Maybe she could go into town and count how many witches were out there, discover what they were doing and where, exactly, they were congregating. Or even find out if none were out there. Tomorrow, she could report her findings, helping her group instead of dragging them down.

  Go ahead and pat yourself on the back. Because yeah, it was an excellent plan. She wouldn’t get out of the car, of course. She wasn’t that stupid. She would simply drive around, people-watch—or rather, creature-watch—and take notes. And, even better, she would take Penny with her as backup.

  Yep. An excellent plan.

  Mary Ann left her tank and jammie shorts on, and pulled on a long-sleeved shirt, jeans and a jacket. She anchored her hair in a ponytail, slipped on her tennies, grabbed her purse and stuffed her cell, keys and voice recorder—a gift from her dad to help her keep track of her thoughts—inside, then wrapped the long strap around her shoulder and hip.

  Excited, nervous, she switched off her lamp, then arranged her bed to look like she was lying in it. At the room’s only window, she opened the glass and peered down…down. Her bedroom was upstairs, and there were no nearby trees to scale. Smart daddy, digging up her supposed only way down. But he hadn’t been able to alter the shape of the roof. If she dropped a wee bit, she would hit the first story. From there, she could drop and roll to the soft grass below. Simple. Easy. Please be simple and easy. She’d never snuck out before. Never really broken any rules before. Now, she was breaking every single one of them. But this was a new world, she reminded herself, which meant new rules were needed. And the first new rule she was implementing was that the survival of her team was more important than curfew.

  Dad would not agree, her conscience shouted.

  Well, Dad didn’t have all the facts.

  Palms sweating, Mary Ann hoisted herself out. She maintained a somewhat steady grip on the ledge, allowing her legs to dangle. Deep breath in, deep breath out. The air was no longer layered with mist, but was chilled nonetheless.

  She let go. Her feet hit—thud—and her knees buckled. She slid along the shingles before catching herself on the gutter, sprawled out, scratched and bruised. Well, more scratched and bruised. Her workout with Aden had left her unbelievably sore. And in places she hadn’t even known she possessed!

  She panted, grateful for the shadows as she waited for her dad’s light to turn on and his head to peek out his window. One minute passed, two. Her arms shook. There was nothing, no movement.

  In the distance, several wolves howled.

  She gulped. Riley? Had he spotted her?

  Probably not, she quickly decided. He would have called her cell, texted her, something. So who did that leave? His brothers? She knew they were out there, patrolling the area and fighting goblins, but she’d never met them. And if they had spotted her, they would have contacted Riley. Right? Right. So again, she would have been called or texted. That she hadn’t been had to mean no one was watching her.

  Okay. You can do this. Slowly, she inched her way over the final edge. The shaking in her arms intensified as she once again dangled. Had the first-story roof always been this high up? Couldn’t have been. She would have noticed. Just do it.

  Mary Ann let go and fell.

  When she hit, her legs were jarred, her kneecaps slamming straight before bending. She flipped backward, rolling far more inelegantly than she’d intended, air knocking from her lungs and dirt and grass filling her mouth.

  Thank God she still hadn’t eaten. She would have vomited for sure. But it was odd, her lack of appetite. More and more, she was actually…repulsed by food. The thought of it, the smell of it. Ick. Even odder, she wasn’t weak from lack of nourishment.

  Two days had passed. Shouldn’t she be shaky?

  Think about that later. She popped to her feet and stumbled next door to Penny’s house, stopping at the large oak next to Penny’s widow. Lucky.

  Stars winked over Mary Ann’s eyes as she gathered a few small pebbles and tossed them. Clink. Clank. A moment passed. Nothing. How frustrating. Would people wake up if she shouted “fire”? ’Cause this was ridiculous.

  Three more stones were needed before the glass rose and Penny stuck out her blond head. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and yawned as she searched the night for whatever had disturbed her. Her hair, usually straight and gleaming prettily, was in tangles around her face.

  Her jaw dropped when she spotted Mary Ann. “What are you doing?” she whispered fiercely.

  “I need your help. Get dressed. And bring your keys. ” They’d take her Mustang GT. Mary Ann was still saving to buy a car for herself.

  Penny didn’t ask any questions. She simply smiled, blue eyes gleaming, and nodded. “Give me five,” she said, and closed the window.

  Mary Ann used the time to catch her breath. Her lungs were so grateful, they finally stopped burning. Then another howl rent the air, this one closer, and Mary Ann’s lungs were forgotten. She spun, nervously studying the gravel road, the homes, the trees. Leaves and branches rattled together as if something—or someone—was out there, just waiting for snacktime.

  Hurry up, Pen.

  A few minutes later, the front door of the house squeaked open, then closed with a snap. Mary Ann whipped back around. And there was Penny, clad in one of her favorite baby doll dresses—pink with white lace—flip-flops on her feet, hair straight and gleaming again, strolling forward without a care. As if they were headed to school. As if it wasn’t beyond cold and close to midnight.

  “What are you doing?” Mary Ann demanded quietly, racing over to her friend. A cloud of expensive perfume enveloped her. “Your parents—”

  “Won’t care, believe me. The shock of my new ‘condition’ wore off and they gave me a pardon. I’m no longer grounded for life. Besides, I rarely sleep anymore, so they hear me padding around the house at all hours. Sometimes I get bored and take off. ” She shrugged. “No big. So where we going?”

  “Let’s get warm, then talk. ”

  When they were situated inside the car, buckles in place, the engine revved and Lady Gaga blasted from the speakers. Penny turned down the volume and pulled out of the driveway.

  Mary Ann said, “I’m sorry I woke you up. If I’d known you were having problems sleeping, I would have—”

  Penny laughed. “No worries, girl. I’ve been trying to begin your miseducation for years. The fact that you asked me to sneak out is priceless. So I’ll ask again. Where we going?”

  “Tri City. ”

  “Really? Why? It’ll be dead this time of night. ”

  Maybe. Maybe not. “I just wan
t to drive around and see if anyone’s out. ”

  “Try again. I don’t believe you. There’s something else…expecting someone in particular to be there? Someone like, oh, I don’t know, the oh, so gorgeous Riley?” The last was said in a sing-song voice. “’Cause he’s the only person I can think of who could make Mary Contrary finally come out to play. ”

  “Mary Contrary,” Penny’s childhood nickname for her. And she had been. Very contrary. A bundle of energy her parents hadn’t been able to tame. Until her mom—aunt—died, and then Mary Ann had changed. Happy smile—gone. Laughter—gone. Wild spirit—crushed. In their place, a need to please her dad had grown. She’d become somber, a little withdrawn. She’d even developed a fifteen-year plan for her life. College, doctorate, internship, open up her own practice. Like her dad. Now…goodbye, fifteen-year plan. She had no idea what she’d do tomorrow, much less next year. And she was happy about that. Finally free.

  “Well?” Penny prompted.

  Mary Ann ignored the question. She didn’t want to discuss Riley with Penny, and not because Penny had slept with Mary Ann’s last boyfriend. To her surprise, that was even less of an issue than it had been at lunch. She just, well, her feelings for Riley were so new, so…intense. She could barely process them herself and didn’t want anyone else trying to do so.

  “Is the baby keeping you up?” she asked.

  “Probably,” Penny replied, allowing the subject change without comment.

  “Any word from Tucker?”

  Her friend’s baby blues clouded over. “Not a peep. ”

  Tucker was a moron.

  After the Vampire Ball, she, Aden, Riley and Victoria had taken him to a nearby—yet not too nearby—hospital for a much-needed transfusion. Earlier she’d called his room to check on him and was told he’d taken off. Now, he was out there somewhere, armed with knowledge that could be dangerous to her friends.

  Had he told anyone that vampires were real? Riley had made him vow not to—Victoria would have Voice Voodooed him, but vampire compulsion apparently didn’t work on demons—and Tucker had seemed adamant in his agreement. But as Mary Ann well knew, Tucker was a very good liar. What was he doing? Where had he gone?
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