So I used her. Chloe wasn’t dumb, though. She figured it out. She confronted me, and when I admitted it, she still agreed to go along with everything because she knew it was best for everyone. That’s when I started noticing her as more than just the girl who could help us get out of Lyle House. That’s when I started seeing her as a person. And, unfortunately, that’s when I started feeling responsible for her.
I’d used Chloe, and I felt bad about that, but she seemed to have gotten over it. I’d helped her contact some ghosts and she’d helped me with my first, incomplete Change. What if now, though, she was thinking back on my scheme and wondering if I really didplan to come back for her? Why not just get Simon out of danger and keep going without a backward glance?
I wouldn’t do that. Not now, after I started feeling responsible for her. But she had no way of knowing that. No reason not to leave.
It was nearly another hour before we were sure Davidoff and the others had left. By then, more employees had arrived and no one was scouring the yard searching for us, which seemed to mean we were alone. Still, we were careful getting off the roof and we took the long route to the warehouse, cutting behind parked tractor-trailers.
I didn’t shush him. I was hoping for an answer as much as he was. When it didn’t come, he said, “Probably can’t hear us. Let’s start looking.”
We found the front door easily, and from there, I followed the trail to the spot where they had been hiding. Had been. Past tense. It was empty.
Although Chloe and Rachelle were gone, their scents were strong, meaning they hadn’t left long ago. Also meaning they’d been in here while we were on the roof. Damn it.
“They might have just changed spots,” Simon said.
I followed the trail to an open window at the back. I went through it.
“So they found a better spot somewhere else,” Simon said. “No problem. We just keep tracking them.”
When we got near the gate, we could see a security guard manning it. I decided we really didn’t want to explain why we were leavingthe factory yard on a Sunday morning, so we went down the fence to a place I thought was far enough.
Simon had just gotten a hand and foothold on the fence when someone shouted, “Hey!” I looked over to see the guard and another guy running toward us.
Simon glanced down at me. I looked at the men. The guard was heavyset, puffing as he ran. The other guy was younger, but dressed in a suit. Neither seemed to be carrying a gun ready to aim at us.
“Go,” I said. “I’m right behind you.”
We climbed. I swung over the top just as Simon reached it. His backpack was weighing him down so I told him to pass it over.
He heaved it off his shoulder. As he did, the guard shouted again. Simon’s foot slipped. The bag fell.
“Just the backup. I’ve got my kit in my pocket”
He grabbed my arm as I started over. “No.”
I glanced at the men. The guard was fumbling to pull his gun from the holster at his waist. I took one last look at the bag, then helped Simon over and we climbed down.
We found a place to hide and watch, but there was no sign of pursuit. Just a couple of factory employees, interested only in getting us off the premises.
When I was sure no one was coming after us, I followed Chloe’s trail from the factory yard. It led to a street over from Lyle House. I knew where she was heading—the commercial area we’d checked out the night before. Smart. Good. Now that it was daylight, Chloe and Rae wouldn’t look out of place.
They hadn’t gone into a shop for a candy bar, though. They’d gone to a payphone.
“Shit,” Simon said. “Who’d they call? Try— No, there isn’t a redial button. Shit!”
Chloe’s trail left the payphone, went to the corner and stopped.
Simon swore some more. We both knew what this meant. They’d called someone to come and get them. But who?
I went back to the phone and sniffed around. It can be tough sorting out scents, but it seemed that Chloe was the one who’d gotten close enough to make a call.
I told Simon and added, “She must have called her dad.”
He shook his head. “Her aunt. Her dad’s never around. He went back overseas as soon as he got her into Lyle House. There’s a housekeeper, but she doesn’t like Chloe very much. Chloe won’t go there.”
I hadn’t known that. I felt like I should have. But we hadn’t talked much about personal stuff. That’s the kind of thing you do with someone you expect to be your friend or your boyfriend. Someone like Simon. Not someone like me.
“Do you know her aunt’s name?”
“Lauren Fellows. She’s a doctor. Look up Dr. Fellows.” He paused as he caught my expression. “Derek?”
“Nothing. Just . . . The name sounds familiar.”
“Probably because you heard them use it at the house. She’s the one who came to get Chloe for breakfast that day.”
Only it sounded morefamiliar than that. Dr. Fellows. I must have known someone with that name. Maybe a doctor where we’d lived once. It wasn’t important. What mattered was that Chloe had called someone who might send her right back to Lyle House. We had to find her before that happened.
There was only one problem. We couldn’t get a home address for Lauren Fellows. The number in the phone book rang through to her office in a medical clinic. I should have known. Dad used to say we didn’t need to worry about anyone thinking it was suspicious that they couldn’t find us in a phonebook. As a lawyer, he was unlikely to list his home number. A doctor would probably have patients calling at all hours.
We tried getting a phone number from her clinic. Simon figured if he did that, he might be able to convince the phone company to part with an address. Normally, he’s really good at getting people to do stuff like that. But Dr. Fellows’ after-hours staff knew better than to give out anything, no matter how charming Simon was.
“Okay,” Simon said when we finally gave up. “If she went to her aunt, they’d take her to Lyle House, right? So that’s where we go.”
Returning to the place we’d just escaped? Was he crazy? I almost said that. Then I thought about it.
Returning to the place we’d just escaped wascrazy, which meant no one would expect it. Anyone looking for us would stake out bus terminals and train stations. They wouldn’t be at Lyle House.
As it turned out, no onewas at Lyle House. We crept through a neighboring yard until we could see that all the windows were dark. The morning sun beat down on the cold ground, leaving a layer of thin fog. Simon used that cover and added his own fog so he could get closer to the house.
“Empty,” he said when he came back, hunkered beside me behind the neighbor’s shed. “That must mean they only had Tori left, so they moved her to another home. So they didn’t catch Chloe and Rae.”
“Or they did, which is why they moved them allto another home.”
“You could be right. If Tori was the only one left, I bet they didn’t move her, though. They let her go home. Reward for turning us in.”
“You said those guys came after you right away. There wasn’t time for Gill to notify them after she saw us. And what the hell wasGill doing at the house anyway? She must have been called in becausewe ran off. So how did they know we were gone?”
Simon gave a slow nod. “Because Tori must have heard us making plans and warned them. What difference would it make to her if we got away? Hell, you’d think she’d be happy to have the whole house to herself.”
“Better to use the information to negotiate her own release.”
“Bitch.” He glanced at me. “So what’s the plan?”
“First step is getting you some food.” I cut off his protest. “You need your shot and if you have your shot, you need food. We have to try finding Dad andChloe. That’s going to keep us busy. We’ll start with breakfast.”
We had two ways to find our father: natural and supernatural. Natural meant hunting for him the way anyone else would—by computer. Supernatural meant using a spell Dad taught Simon.
So if Simon had this magical spell, why hadn’t he used it when our dad first went missing, before we got locked up in Lyle House? He’d tried. It hadn’t worked. At the time, that hadn’t surprised me. Even Dad had trouble with the spell.
After a few months in Lyle House, that excuse had faded, overtaken by another one—that for it to work, both people needed to be in relatively close proximity. It hadn’t worked while we were at home and in Albany because Dad hadn’t been there. So why did we think Dad might be in Buffalo? First, if he’d been kidnapped by his old employers—the people we’d been running from—they were based in Buffalo, so they’d bring him here. Second, if Dad had been taken by someone else and gotten free, he might have realized we’d be brought back to Buffalo and come here looking for us.
Was either of these a perfect explanation? Hell, no. They weren’t even all that plausible. But when you’ve spent months locked up, having no idea what happened to your father, you start grasping at straws. You just don’t realize it until you’re outside those walls and faced with the cold reality that you really don’t have a clue what you’re doing.
My plan was to travel from library to library. While Simon cast his spell outside, I’d search on the computer inside. Changing locations helped Simon. It helped me, too. There’s a limit to how long you can use a library computer. With some people they don’t notice if you’ve been there a while. With me, they do. I’m six feet tall, with hair that always looks like it needs washing and skin that looks like it needs pro-acne cream. Librarians are usually quick to tell me to move along, probably shutting down the computer afterward to check the history list for porn sites and bomb recipes.