Spy Glass Page 97

I reviewed his comments. “If you haven’t told him about the blood, isn’t that a betrayal?”

He snapped his fingers. “Smart girl, I knew I liked you for a reason. If Vasko found out what I’ve been doing…” He shuddered. “That’s why I triggered the cave-ins. If everyone thinks I’m dead and buried under tons of rubble, no one will search for me. And I’m free to pursue other interests.”

“Except I know.” A rush of cold fear swept through me. “I’m a casualty, too.”

“Yep. Otherwise your friends and family would tear Sitia apart looking for you. And they are way too powerful for my liking.”

“They’ll do it anyway. Unless there’s proof of my death.”

“The searchers will find your backpack and if they dig deep enough, they’ll find a crushed female corpse wearing your clothes. She’s approximately your age, size and weight and has the same hairstyle. Although I must admit, the short cut looked better on her.”

I closed my eyes, letting grief for the anonymous woman overcome me for a moment. Then I shoved it deep. I would need to focus. “Why bother with this elaborate ruse?”

“I’m tired of playing in Vasko’s sandbox. I’ve a new partner. He’s a simple man and only wants one thing in exchange for giving me control over the black diamonds and the super messengers.” Galen gazed at me as if appraising a vein for hidden gemstones. “Aren’t you going to ask?”

“Who is it?”

“Aren’t you curious what he wants?”

“No.”

“Ah, denial. Doesn’t matter, you’ll find out soon enough.” Galen pulled a dart from his coverall and approached me.

“You don’t need that,” I said, thinking fast. “I’m lost down here. I can’t run away.”

“Nice try, but I’ve a few tasks to finish before we go.” He jabbed the dart into my arm. As my head spun, he dropped the null shield. I sagged forward and he caught me.

“Believe it or not, you’re better off with me,” he whispered in my ear.

A pounding headache woke me. I kept my eyes closed, wishing I was immune to Finn’s…er…Galen’s sleeping drug, since the magic immunity didn’t do squat against him. Immobilized and lying on my back, I smelled the familiar aroma of damp minerals. Opening my eyes didn’t change a thing. Pure blackness surrounded me.

The rough floor scratched my back as I squirmed, but I couldn’t move my arms or legs, so he must have secured them. The crook of my right arm throbbed.

As the drug wore off a strange feeling of being satiated welled. Alarmed, I confirmed my coverall remained on. What had Galen done to me while I was unconscious? I yanked and pulled and tried to free my limbs, but the bands holding them down didn’t budge.

I waited. The damp air seeped into my skin, numbed my hands and caused bouts of uncontrolled shivers. Keeping my thoughts on the positive, I ignored the panic building in my dry throat.

My muscles stiffened and ached. Galen had a nasty sense of humor if he thought this was better than… What? Vasko using me as a test subject? Sounded bad, but what tore my heart was my family and friends believing I was dead. What if I never saw them again?

My biggest regret was not apologizing to my mother, not explaining everything to her and not taking her into my confidence. The reasons seemed petty now. I had wanted to save her from worry and grief, but the real truth was I wanted to save myself from the hassle of having to explain my actions to her and dealing with her reaction.

And I had pushed Kade away, too. Running off after my blood, I only thought of myself and no one else. At least now, he’d be free to find someone to settle down with. What about Devlen? Would he continue his rehabilitation? I hoped so.

My thoughts lingered on all the people who would be affected by my so-called demise. Not only my family, but Nic, Eve, Yelena, Ari, Janco and Valek. The list lengthened when I added, Tama, Faith, Reema, Teegan, Fisk and Zitora.

With all these people in my life, how could I whine about feeling empty? What a brat!

After an eternity of blackness, a glow pushed it back and then burned my eyes. Squinting, I peered at my surroundings. A small cave with one opening that led to a tunnel which housed the source of the growing brilliance. Boots crunched on loose stones, coming closer.

As the footsteps neared, I shut my eyes, pretending to be unconscious. The light shone on my face, stabbing straight through my closed eyelids. After a shuffling scrape, a clink sounded.

“Opal?” Galen asked. “I know you’re awake.”

“The light’s…too bright,” I said. Speaking took effort and my voice rasped as if I had gargled rocks. I thought longingly of the cup of water he had offered me before.

Metal rattled and the glow dimmed. I opened my eyes. The lantern had been placed as far away as possible in the meager space. Galen crouched down and lifted my head with one hand and tipped a canteen full of water to my mouth with the other. I gulped it down greedily, making a mess and not caring if it was poisoned or not. The water poured over my cracked lips and soothed my throat.

He pulled the bottle away and shrugged off his backpack. With a hand dipping inside the pack, he met my gaze. “I forgot to ask. How do you feel?”

“Do you want me to list my complaints? Or should I just roll it all into one big tale of woe?”

“Sarcasm aside. Do you feel like your old self?”

A little zing of… What? Fear, hope and panic zipped.

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