The Savage Grace Page 73

“And we don’t know where he was every minute tonight before you locked him up again, do we?”

I shook my head.

Talbot nodded. “He could have sent the SKs a message to meet him here at a designated time,” he said. “Told them where to find Sirhan and the others. Told them about our plan to try to postpone the ceremony past the eclipse.”

“No, I don’t believe it,” I said. “He wanted to change. He wanted to be better.” My encounter with Jude—our reconciliation—had seemed so genuine, I couldn’t let myself believe that he’d betrayed us. “Maybe that Marrock guy is the one who—”

“I believed Jude, too,” Daniel said. “I really did.”

“Wait, isn’t that your brother?” Lisa asked, pointing at someone who came stumbling into the parking lot only a few yards away.

“Jude!” April and I shouted at the same time.

He looked up at the sound of our voices. His stumbling walk shifted into an awkward, jerking kind of run as he came toward us. He passed right by April, who looked like she wanted to tackle him with a hug, and kept coming toward me. He raised his arm, and something metallic flashed in his hand.

“Jude—?” I started to say.

His eyes looked completely dead as his arm came swinging down, a knife in his hand, aimed right at my heart. I spun away just in time. April screamed. Jude fell forward, and his knife lodged into the grass.

Had my own brother seriously just tried to kill me? Had I been so wrong about him?

Jude let go of the knife, looking stunned. He stood and started walking in a circle.

“What the hell?” Daniel shouted. He and Talbot made a move to grab Jude, but he suddenly scrambled away from them with jerking movements.

He turned those dead eyes on me and stepped toward me, again with odd jerky movements, like part of him wanted to move in my direction, but his feet were fighting it. I recognized those odd movements. It reminded me of those dancing girls at the trance party. It was almost like…

Talbot swung around, a large rock in his hand, ready to bash my brother in the head with it.

“No!” I shouted. “Don’t. He’s in a trance.”

Jude grabbed the knife out of the grass. His arm jerked back and forth as he swung it at me again.

Talbot grabbed him from behind and held him by his arms. The knife dropped from his hand.

“A trance?” Daniel asked.

Jude’s head jerked back like he was trying to head butt Talbot.

“Yes,” I said. “We have to snap him out of it.”

“On it,” Daniel said. “Sorry, friend,” he said to an unresponsive Jude, and swung his fist right into Jude’s jaw.

Jude’s head turned sideways in response to the blow, and then it lulled forward. He looked like he was unconscious for a moment, but then his body began to convulse, like he was having a seizure, while Talbot held him upright.

“Is he okay?” I started to ask.

Suddenly, Jude’s head snapped up. He looked right at me with his glazed-over eyes. His mouth opened and began to speak, but the words he said were not his own. “Sirhan is dead. The Death Howl is over. The ceremony will go forward tomorrow. You will come. You will fight. The Shadow Kings will lap the blood from your throat.” Jude clamped his mouth shut, his face twisted as if he were trying to stop someone else from speaking with his voice. He shook his head, but two more sentences came out. “There, we will bring the child. You will fight, or he will die.”

Daniel sent another punch across Jude’s face. He slumped out of Talbot’s arms and fell to the ground, in a faint.

“Well, those Shadow Kings could make a fortune writing creepy greeting cards,” Lisa said. “That was some message.”

Daniel scanned nearby rooftops. “Jude was being controlled, which means there was probably an Akh nearby, pulling the strings.”

“I’m on it,” Lisa said. “I’ll search the grounds.”

“I’ll go with you,” Talbot said. He stepped over Jude’s body, and he and Lisa took off on their search.

“Is he going to be okay?” April asked. She knelt in the grass next to Jude. He moaned when she felt for his pulse.

A cold dread had filled me since the moment Jude had stopped speaking. “What did he mean about the child?” I asked. “That they’d ‘bring the child’ with them?”

“I don’t know,” Daniel said.

Jude rolled his head back and forth with a great groan. He blinked up at me, looking dizzy. “Gracie,” he said, and I was sure it was actually him that was speaking. “I tried to stop them. I tried.… They said they were going for him.… I tried to stop them, but it’s too late.”

“I know,” I said, sitting next to him in the grass. I picked up his hand and patted it. “They got to Sirhan.”

“No.” He rocked his head back and forth. “Not Sirhan. They wanted him, I heard them say it.…” He blinked, blinked, as if trying to clear his thoughts. He squeezed my hand weakly. “Gracie, the Shadow Kings were headed for our house.…”

Chapter Thirty-two



Baby James was gone.

The Shadow Kings had taken him.

When we got to the house, we found the front room window shattered and another one of Brent’s makeshift gas bombs under the coffee table. Mom and Dad, who must have been waiting up for us to return from the parish, were knocked out cold on the couch. Daniel stopped to check their pulses, but I ran straight up the stairs. Charity was unconscious in her bed, probably unaware that anything had even happened. But James was just gone.

Taken from his toddler bed, blankey and all.

We gathered a rescue party immediately. Every last member of the Etlu Clan volunteered to help us search for any trace of the Shadow Kings, but still we found nothing.



Every scent we followed seemed to evaporate into thin air. Every trail dead-ended. By eight thirty a.m., four hours later, we’d reconvened at the house to talk over new strategies.

“I don’t understand,” I said, pacing the front room. “How can there be no trace of the SKs? When they kidnapped me, Gabriel was able to follow their trail easily to find me at the warehouse.”

Jude cleared his throat. He sat on the sofa next to April. “Gabriel only found the Shadow Kings because they wanted to be found. It was a trap, remember?”

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