“Every night, her thoughts weighed heavily on her soul, but every morning she would get up to fight another day, every night she survived.”~R.H. Sin
I hastened downstairs and from my desk, grabbed the spare phone I purchased the other day, and headed outside, hiding in a corner of the garden to avoid any eavesdroppers. The bitter air didn’t help the shivers of terror traveling down my spine every few seconds, but I didn’t care. My focus remained solely on Elsa and Anna. One of them was safe, one of them wasn’t. This phone call would determine which one was okay and which one wasn’t.
Dialing Anna’s number, I waited impatiently for her to pick up. The phone rang and rang, but no one answered. I tried again, and again, and again, but nothing. I texted her, saying it was me, to pick up my call. I tried phoning Anna again, and this time, she picked up.
“Anna, thank God,” I breathed, squeezing my eyes shut as the revelation of Elsa’s fate dawned on me. “Are you okay?”
“Caleb?” A man asked.
I froze, jaw clenched. “Her brother, Caleb. Who the hell is this? Where’s my sister?”
“Relax, it’s Dom.”
“Where’s Anna? Is she okay?”
“Yes and no… She’s here with Spencer and me. Elsa’s being tortured, and the pain transferred to Anna. I was inside while she talked to Spencer outside, and I heard her suddenly scream bloody murder. She’s resting now. I’m keeping an eye on her. Why are you calling? Is everything okay there?”
I sighed in semi-relief. At least Anna was safe, but that meant Elsa was in dire trouble. Not doing anything went against every bone in my body, but how could I help her when I had no idea where she was?
“Yes and no,” I replied, going into a brief explanation about Riley and Akira’s disappearance and reappearance. “I’m supposed to be grabbing stuff for them right now, but I wanted to call to check on Anna first. I considered this an emergency.”
“I understand. Call Lily, see if the same thing happened to any of our pack members. If so, and they’ve been returned as well, maybe they can give us information that could help us find Elsa.”
“I’ll have Hunter do it. She likes him better.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure of that. You call her. It’ll be fine, I promise. She cares more about Spencer’s wellbeing and mine than whatever feud you have with her.”
I sighed again. “All right. Thanks, Dom.”
We hung up, and I fiddled with my phone with near-frozen fingers, contemplating on calling the feisty Stark girl. I’d be lying to myself I said I didn’t want to talk to her again. It’d only been a few days since I’d seen Lily when Dom rescued Anna, but I couldn’t get her jade eyes out of my mind, her snarky sense of humor, her intoxicating perfume. I’d developed a massive crush on her during school, especially when we chemistry together. Ironically, we had chemistry together. It was undeniable. We’d become almost friends or at least friendly acquaintances. Then, one day, she distanced herself from me again. I couldn’t pinpoint what happened, but it didn’t matter. It happened, and Lily hated me ever since.
I decided to call her later. Riley and Akira needed medicine and sustenance sooner rather than later. Returning to my office, I grabbed a box of crackers, two bottles of Gatorade, and a bottle of ibuprofen and stuffed my spare phone in a secret compartment in my desk.
Rushing back to two-seventeen, I found Akira and Riley sitting up, talking to my parents and Hunter. I handed them the items I retrieved and sat at the foot of the bed. Hunter glanced at me questioningly, and I mouthed: Elsa.
The color drained from Hunter’s face. Almost imperceptibly, he shook his head. I understood what he meant.
Directing his attention to Riley and Akira, he asked, “What happened?”
Riley took a sip of his Gatorade before answering. “Akira and I were attacked from behind on patrol. We never smelled them coming. The Shadows tranquilized us somehow… When we came to, we were in a cell. I could smell one of the twins, but I don’t know which one. The Shadows kept us in a pitch-black room. I couldn’t see anything. I had to rely on all my other senses to find where everything was. They’d play deafening rock for hours on end to torture us, hoping it’d break us into telling them how to get past the barrier blocking them from sniping us. We told them every time that we didn’t know.”
“Any idea where they were keeping you?” Mom inquired.
“No. It was a massive building, though. I remember seeing it when we were leaving. That’s when I saw one of the twins. They must’ve been torturing her horribly. I could hear her screams when they weren’t blaring music. She looked God-awful. She waved at me, so I think she’s the reason we were let go. Even the Starks.”
“There were Starks with you?”
“Yeah. Uh… Tommy, and, uh, Gigi. I was in a cell with Tommy. We only tried to kill each other once.”
“Same with me and Gigi,” Akira said. “Maybe they wanted us to…”
“Well, sucks for them because we didn’t,” Riley retorted. “I noticed we were in a wooded area before they freaking tranquilized us again. It wasn’t exactly mountainous, though. A little hilly.”
“That suggests possibly the Midwest,” Dad said. “We’ll look into it. Let’s get you back to the compound. Your parents are going nuts not knowing where you are.”
Dad helped Akira up, putting a fatherly arm around her. She still wasn’t coping well with her father’s death, although I don’t know how anyone could cope well with that. I couldn’t imagine losing either of my parents, no matter how old I got. They were my rocks in this crazy life, and I didn’t want to do it without them.
Mom escorted Riley out, who continued rambling everything he could about the place off the top of his head, although he mostly repeated himself. Once the door closed behind them, Hunter whirled on me and demanded, “Is Anna okay?”
“She’s mostly fine, but she’s picking up everything Elsa’s going through. Dom told me she suddenly dropped to the ground screaming bloody murder because Elsa was getting tortured.” I clasped my hands behind my head, trying to get the image of my baby sister being beaten within an inch of her life. “We can’t search for her ourselves, but we have to do everything we can to help Anna find her.”
Hunter clapped his hand on my shoulder. “I know. We won’t let her down a second time.”