“I’ll shoot you in the leg.” He adjusts his aim.
“What if you hit my femoral artery? I’ll bleed out.” What did the gunman do to Dad? How in the world did he overcome Mother?
He frowns. “It doesn’t matter where I shoot you as long as it’s not immediately fatal. I know you heal fast. Now, stand up. Hands behind your head.”
I comply. “How do you plan to escape with me as a prisoner? Since you know I can heal quickly from a gunshot wound, you probably know I’m faster and stronger than you. Do you really think you can walk out of here, avoiding the security detail, with me in tow? Take your eyes off me for a second, I’ll disarm you and break your arm in the process.”
Sweat rolls down his brow. “Stifle it. Turn around. Keep your hands behind your head.”
“You’re making a mistake.” I can’t believe he overcame Mother. Taking me by surprise is one thing, but overcoming Mother, a battle-harden, magic-wielding, full-fledged skaag, is next level.
“We have your parents downstairs. You don’t start doing what you’re told without giving me lip, they’ll get hurt.”
Dad shouts from downstairs, followed by a loud thud, but no gunshot. I drop my hands and dart toward the intruder. Before he can pull the trigger, I’m on him, wrenching the gun up and to the side. Burning pain lacerates my right shoulder, and the crack of the gun is deafening. I’m more surprised than hurt because the sleeper’s prowess courses through my veins.
Obscured by the surrounding shrubbery next to the base of a conifer is a blue tarp. I press my free hand against the brown bag, feeling the warmth radiating from the container of broth. Good. I’d hate for the soup to be cold.
A gust of wind pushes me sideways. From somewhere overhead comes a loud crack like the bone of some gargantuan creature snapping. A widowmaker thumps to the earth. Gasping, I nearly drop the soup and freeze in place. Overhead, the trees sway in the wind, branches creaking and groaning. I scamper toward the encampment.
About half a dozen tents surround the base of the tall conifer. A wide man with hunched shoulders moves around the camp. I smile. It’s Joe.
I’m about to call out to him when I smell a strange mixture of eucalyptus and menthol and sweat on the wind. It’s the kind of odor I’d expect to roll off guys at a crowded dance club. I scan my surroundings for the source of the scent.
A figure stands behind me in the gloom.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
The stalker strides toward me, raising something about a foot long overhead. A club?
My muscles tense like springs under immense pressure. Dad warned me about attacks on campus. I back away, a scream rising up my throat. The club whirls through the air too fast to avoid.