About the Author:
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
When librarians finally granted Kelley Armstrong an adult card, she made straight for the epic fantasy and horror shelves. She spent the rest of her childhood and teen years happily roaming fantastical and terrible worlds, and vowed that someday she'd write a story combining swords, sorcery, and the ravenous undead. That story began with the New York Times bestselling Sea of Shadows and continues with Empire of Night.
Armstrong's first works for teens were the New York Times bestselling Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising trilogies. She lives in rural Ontario with her husband, three children, and far too many pets.
When the door to my cell clicked open, the first thought that flitted through my doped-up brain was that Liz had changed her mind and come back. But ghosts don’t open doors. They will, on occasion, ask me to open one, so I can raise and interrogate the zombies of supernaturals killed by a mad scientist, but they never need one opened for themselves.
I sat up in bed and rubbed my bleary eyes, blinking away the lingering fog of the sedative. For a moment, the door stayed open only a crack. I slid from the bed, tiptoeing across the thick carpet of my fake hotel room, praying the person on the other side had been called away and I could escape before these people started whatever experiments they’d brought me here to –
“Hello, Chloe.” Dr. Davidoff beamed his best kindly-old-man smile as he pushed the door wide. He wasn’t that old – maybe fifty – but in a movie, I’d cast him as the doddering absent-minded scientist. It was an act I’m sure he’d worked on until he got it just right.
The woman behind him had chic blond hair and a New York suit. I’d cast her as the mother of the nastiest girl in class. Which was cheating, because that’s exactly who she was. Mother of Victoria – Tori – Enright, the one housemate we’d left out of our plans when we’d escaped from Lyle House, and for good cause, considering she was one of the reasons I’d needed to escape.
Tori’s mom carried a Macy’s bag, like she’d just been out shopping and popped in to conduct a few horrific experiments before heading to lunch.
“I know you have a lot of questions, Chloe,” Dr. Davidoff said as I sat on the edge of the bed. “We’re here to answer them for you. We just need a little help from you first.”
“Simon and Derek,” Mrs. Enright said. “Where are they?”
I looked from her to Dr. Davidoff, who smiled and nodded encouragingly, like he fully expected me to turn in my friends.
I’d never been an angry kid. I’d never run away from home. Never stamped my feet and screamed that life was unfair and I wished I’d never been born. Whenever my dad told me we were moving again and I needed to transfer schools, I’d swallowed a whiny “but I just made new friends,” nod, and tell him I understood.
Accept your lot. Count your blessings. Be a big girl.
Now, looking back at a life of doing what I was told, I realized I’d bought into the game. When adults patted me on the head and told me I was so grown-up, what they really meant was that they were glad I wasn’t grown-up enough yet to question, to fight back.
Looking at Dr. Davidoff and Mrs. Enright, I thought of what they’d done to me – lying to me, locking me up – and I wanted to stamp my feet. Wanted to scream. But I wasn’t going to give them that satisfaction.
I widened my eyes as I met Mrs. Enright’s gaze. “You mean you haven’t found them yet?”
I think she would have slapped me if Dr. Davidoff hadn’t lifted his hand.
“No, Chloe, we haven’t found the boys,” he said. “We’re very concerned for Simon’s safety.”
“Because you think Derek might hurt him?”
“Not intentionally, of course. I know Derek’s fond of Simon.”
Fond? What a strange word to use. Derek and Simon were foster brothers, tighter than any blood brothers I knew. Sure, Derek was a werewolf, but that wolf part of him was what would stop him from ever hurting Simon. He’d protect him at all costs – I’d already seen that.
My skepticism must have shown on my face, because Dr. Davidoff shook his head, as if disappointed in me. “All right, Chloe. If you can’t spare any concern for Simon’s safety, maybe you can for his health.”
“W-what ab-bou–” My stutter cropped up most when I was nervous, and I couldn’t let them know they’d struck a nerve. So I tried again, slower now. “What about his health?”
Apparently I wasn’t the only one who watched too many movies. Now they would tell me that Simon had some rare medical condition and if he didn’t get his medicine within twelve hours, he’d spontaneously combust.
“He has diabetes,” Dr. Davidoff said. “His blood sugar levels need to be monitored and regulated.”
“With one of those blood testing things?” I said slowly, thinking back. Simon had always disappeared into the bathroom before meals. I’d thought he just liked to wash up. I’d bumped into him once coming out as he’d been shoving a small black case into his pocket.
“That’s right,” Dr. Davidoff said. “With proper care, diabetes is easily managed. You weren’t aware of it because you didn’t need to be. Simon leads a normal life.”
“Except for one thing,” Tori’s mom said.
She reached into the Macy’s bag and took out a backpack. It looked like Simon’s, but I wasn’t falling for that – they’d probably bought a matching one. Sure, she pulled out a hoodie I recognized as Simon’s, but he’d left behind a whole closet of clothing at Lyle House. Easy enough to grab stuff from there.
Next came a pad of paper and pouch of colored pencils. Simon’s room was filled with his comic book sketches. Again, easy enough to –
Mrs. Enright flipped through the sketch pad, holding up pages. Simon’s work in progress. He’d never have left that behind.
Finally, she laid a flashlight on the table. The flashlight from Lyle House – the one I’d watched him put into his bag.
“Simon slipped going over the fence,” she said. “He had his backpack over one shoulder. It fell. Our people were right behind him so he had to leave it. There’s something in here that Simon needs much more than clothing and art supplies.”
She opened a navy nylon pouch. Inside were two penlike vials, one filled with cloudy liquid, the other clear. “The insulin to replace what Simon’s body can’t produce. He injects himself with these three times a day.”
“What happens if he doesn’t?”
Dr. Davidoff took over. “We aren’t going to scare you and say that if Simon skips a single shot, he’ll die. He’s already missed his morning one, and I’m sure he only feels a bit out of sorts. But by tomorrow, he’ll be vomiting. In about three days, he’ll lapse into a diabetic coma.” He took the pouch from Tori’s mom and set it in front of me. “We need to get this to Simon. To do that, you need to tell us where he is.”
I agreed to try.
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