The Savage Grace Page 70

I stole one more kiss and then backed away to the door. My hand was on the knob, my mind swimming, trying to recall what else I’d wanted to come down here for.… I’d wanted to talk to Daniel about … something.

“Wait, Gracie,” Daniel said, but he stayed on his side of the room, as if trying to resist temptation.


“There was something else I wanted to say. Another reason I was hoping to see you.” He took one tiny step closer, the muscles in his body tensing. “Something happened at the hospital. You called me your … fiancé, remember?”

I nodded. “I was just … the nurse wouldn’t let you in because you weren’t family.…” Should I lie? “I just made that up.…” What was the point of lying now?

“But when we were doing the healing session for your dad,” Daniel said. “When we were connected, I remembered something. No, not remembered really. But I felt something.… Like what you had told that nurse about us … Like it was just…” He ran his hand through his rumpled hair and bit his lip. He looked like he was searching for just the correct words to say.

“Daniel, I—”

“It just felt … right,” he said.

My heart almost stopped—in a good way.

“We’re engaged, for real, aren’t we?” Daniel asked, taking two large strides closer to me. “It must have happened at the warehouse, right? That night we spent in Caleb’s dungeon?”

I took a few steps closer to him, feeling my heart drumming, propelling me forward. “Yes,” I said. “Yes, Daniel…” but my voice was almost completely drowned out by the ring of the telephone on Jude’s nightstand.

I looked at it, perplexed. Did that really just happen, now, or had I imagined it? Daniel stared at the phone, too. Who the heck would call here at three in the morning?

That couldn’t mean anything good.…

The phone started to ring for a second time. My hand shot out, and I answered it before it could even finish its nerve-rattling sound.

“Hello?” I asked—half pissed off by the interruption, half frightened by what might be on other end of the line.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing but silence.

I looked at the caller ID—this whole situation feeling eerily all too familiar. “It was from the parish,” I said. “But nobody is there.”

“Maybe someone knocked the phone off the wall by accident and it was just a flyaway?”

“Do landlines make flyaway calls?”

I put the phone up to my ear again. “Hello?” I strained my superhearing to try to make something, anything, out on the other line.

What I heard, somewhere in the distance beyond the phone, made my blood run cold: the screeching cry of an Akh, before the line went totally dead.

“Akhs!” I said. “There’re Akhs at the parish.”

In a lightning-quick movement, Daniel grabbed the shirt he’d worn earlier off the dresser. He yanked it over his head and pulled it down over his abs. He grabbed the phone from my hand.

“What are you doing?”

“Calling my cell,” he said. “I gave it to Gabriel before he headed off into the woods.” He put the phone to his ear and waited a second. “Trouble at the parish,” he said into the phone. “We’re on our way. Meet us there.” He slammed the phone down on its base and grabbed my hand.

We flew up the basement stairs, through the door, and out into the kitchen.

“Where’re you lovebirds headed?” Slade asked from the couch.

“There’re Akhs at the parish,” I said. “Have to get there as fast as we can.”

“Then let me drive.” Slade was up and had grabbed the keys to the Corolla from the key hook before he was even done speaking.

I shouted to the other lost boys to wake up and follow us.

“I’m coming, too,” Dad shouted as he came down the stairs in his pajamas.

“No! Stay here!” I said. I had no idea what we were headed into, and I wasn’t going to risk putting anyone in my family in harm’s way.

Chapter Thirty



We followed Slade to the car, and I was glad for his maniacal driving skills as we flew down the empty streets of Rose Crest and into the parish’s front parking lot. The building seemed quiet and peaceful. No lights shone through the windows, and I started to wonder if I’d imagined hearing an Akh. I started to hope we were acting on a false alarm—but then I noticed that the front door of the building stood wide open, making any thoughts of reassurance fleeting as we dashed into the building.

I detected the smell of Akh and Gelal, not to mention Urbat, as soon as we entered the foyer. But there was another unexpected smell, like rotten eggs, that filled my nostrils. I wrinkled my nose, coughing. “What is that?”

“I know,” Brent said, and he took off in the direction of the social hall. Slade and the other boys followed.

Daniel started to go after them. “No. Let them handle it. Come with me. I need to check on Jude. If someone called, it was probably him.”

We darted down the stairwell leading to the basement. The air was clearer, and the rotten-egg smell faded the farther down we went. I reached for the light switch in the pitch-black basement, but nothing happened when I tried to flip it. “Power is out.”

“It’s okay,” Daniel said. “I can see.”

I concentrated my powers into my eyes until my night vision sharpened.

We rounded the corner and went straight for the gate of Jude’s cage. Only it wasn’t there—the gate, I mean. It had been ripped from its hinges and cast aside like the lid of a tin can. Jude’s cot was overturned, his blanket splayed across the ground, with the TV set tipped over on top of it.

Jude was gone.

“What happened here? A struggle? Has Jude been kidnapped?” I asked.

“Or is someone trying to make it look like that’s what happened?” Daniel crouched, inspecting the mangled hinges of the gate.

“What are you saying?”

“I don’t know … But this gate was torn off from the inside of the cage.”

“You guys!” Slade shouted down the stairs. “You need to get up here!”

Daniel let go of the gate frame and picked something up. He handed it to me. The moonstone pendant, tied to a broken string.

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