A warm breeze blew against our skin as we emerged. We slid down the edge of the submarine into the shallow waters and waded through the water onto the beach. Careful to keep the map away from the waves, I shone a flashlight on it again once we had reached dry sand. I held it lower down as Abby approached so she could look at it with me.
I cast my eyes along the length of the beach.
“That way,” Abby said, pointing to our right. “I see the entrance to a cave.”
I squinted, trying to make it out in the distance. Failing, I had no choice but to trust her superior eyesight. We jogged along the beach. My heart hammered against my chest as the cave entrance came into view.
Abby’s breathing had quickened too, and she reached for my arm, gripping it tightly.
We stopped. I reached for my backpack, pulled out a gun and made sure it was fully loaded. I handed it to Abby, then took out another for myself. We walked to the entrance of the dark cave. I was wary of shining a flashlight, but it was either that or tripping and breaking a bone.
As we crept deeper into the cave, several tunnels came into view. We paused, wondering which to take first. Abby pointed to the first tunnel on our right.
“We may as well start with this one,” she whispered.
The passage was narrow and since we had to walk in single file, I took the lead. The crashing of the ocean waves became quieter and quieter with each step we took. Soon, the only sounds were our echoing footsteps and the dripping of water from the stalactites. I stopped short as we hit a dead end.
I turned around, and was about to tell Abby to do the same when she pointed to something on the ground. I shone the flashlight to see that she had spotted the entrance to some kind of narrow underpass.
“Down there?” I frowned, crouching down. “Really? If we retrace our steps there are other tunnels we could try.”
Abby crouched down next to me. “It’s not very far to the other side,” she said. “It could be a shortcut.”
Although I was still dubious, I placed the flashlight between my teeth and started crawling through the hole. Sharp rocks ripped my jeans and grazed my palms. I heard Abby breathing heavily behind me. She was right at least that this tunnel wasn’t long. I reached the exit and stood up, wiping my palms against my jeans. Abby was standing by my side a moment later. We both gazed around at the small enclosure we’d emerged in.
“Hm,” I muttered, spotting two more passageways to our left.
This place was so big, we could be searching for hours before we ever found them. I wasn’t in the mood to waste any more time, so regardless of what the consequences might be for us, I began shouting the names of my family at the top of my lungs.
My voice reverberated around the chamber and echoed off the walls. I shouted until my voice was hoarse, pausing for a few seconds in between.
Abby gasped and squeezed my shoulder. Her lips parted, her blue eyes wide. “I hear someone calling,” she whispered.
I could hear nothing still. She walked toward a tunnel to our left and ran through it. I followed her, pushing my legs to keep up with her speed. She gripped my hand as we passed through tunnel after tunnel, pulling me forward in the darkness. Finally, she stopped short and listened again.
Now even I could hear it. A distant shouting. A female voice.
Abby lurched forward again, towing me after her. The louder the voice became, the more I realized I didn’t recognize it.
Abby slowed down as the voice now sounded like it was in the next chamber. We both reached for our guns and held them out in front of us. Of course, in a sense, holding up these guns was stupid. They would only be of use on vampires, and I knew what we were up against was far more powerful than any bloodsucker.
Still, it was the only thing we could think to do.
Abby and I stood either side of the entrance to the chamber. She took a deep gulp, then nodded. I turned the corner first, Abby following closely behind.
Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw in the center of that room.
If there ever was a time I doubted my sanity, it was then.
Chapter 24: Corrine
I was sure that by the end of all this, I would finally look my age. The strain that was upon my shoulders not just with Rose’s but now also Ben’s disappearance was sucking me dry.
I paced the floor of my bedroom, racking my brain as to where Ben could have gone. I replayed the last moments I’d spent him in my mind.
My palms sweaty, I rushed to my bookcase and reached for the atlas I’d just remembered scribbling in. I flipped through the pages and stopped abruptly at a page that had been torn out. I ran my fingers along the rip, a bitter smile forming on my lips.
Well, now I know where that disobedient boy has gone. Back to Hawaii.
I vanished myself and reappeared at the Port. The last submarine was gone.
He’d made it no secret how restless he’d been. He just couldn’t help himself from going, even despite everything.
I shuddered to think that he might have arrived already, while I was bound to this island—now more than ever. Abandoning it now would mean abandoning all the humans and vampires who still depended on me. I couldn’t do that. No matter what, I had to stay here.
I checked the stretch of beach near the port just in case the submarine had been parked somewhere else, but it was wishful thinking. Ben was truly gone and, thanks to his uncle Xavier, he knew how to navigate a submarine as well as any of us.
I walked back along the jetty and headed back toward the Sanctuary. To do what, I didn’t know.