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Finding my balance, I crouched down against the roof. Confused mutterings drifted up from the open window, but the truck wasn’t yet showing signs of slowing down.

I pulled myself toward the front, stepping off the elevated roof of the container at the back and lowering myself onto the cab roof directly above the driver’s seat.

I breathed deeply, preparing myself to duck down and pull Rose out. I needed to be fast, because I wasn’t in the mood for a struggle.

I was seconds from lowering myself down when I heard another loud thud against the vehicle a few feet away. My eyes shot up, but I saw nobody. For a moment I suspected that this was Micah being disobedient again. But that was impossible. I’d secured him to his spot with a spell.

As I stood up, my eyes fell on two dents in the roof. Dents just a few steps back from my own. As I approached closer, I heard harried breathing.

“Show yourself,” I hissed.

A blast of light shot out of nowhere, blinding me. I staggered back, my hands over my eyes. I lost balance. Feeling myself sliding off the sloping roof, I managed to save myself just in time. Gripping on to the edges of the roof, I hauled myself back up. I lunged for the mysterious two dents in the ceiling and found myself grabbing hold of a thin waist. But the moment I did, my surroundings disappeared.

Chapter 13: Rose

After hours of being stuck between the two men in the heat of the truck, I was beginning to feel faint from dehydration. They’d offered me water, but I’d refused it repeatedly. Eventually, I had no choice but to accept.

I should have held out. They’d put something in the flask, because soon after I drained it, my head began to feel heavy, my eyelids weighed down. I lost the fight to stay conscious.

When I came to again, I was lying on a stiff mattress. It was pitch black. I sat up, holding my head. I had a migraine. I reached out, trying to get a sense of my surroundings. My throat felt more parched than ever. I staggered a few feet forward until my hands grazed against a rough wall.

Where am I?

The room was cool, but I couldn’t hear any AC unit. I was likely underground. I had no idea how much time had passed. Panic rushed through me as I realized I could have been out for days and I wouldn’t have known it.

Days… Where’s Caleb?

I’d hoped that he would break free. But perhaps they hadn’t opened the doors. Perhaps they’d been smart enough to realize that he’d spring on them again. I spread my hands out on the wall, trying to feel for a switch, anything other than crumbling brick. The wall disappeared and my hands brushed against wood. I felt a door handle. Gripping it, I tried to yank it open. It was locked fast.

“Let me out!” I shouted.

I banged my fists against the door, then placed my ear flat against it. No sounds of anyone approaching. I banged again and again. I kept banging until my fists felt raw and blistered.

Fear welled in the pit of my stomach as I continued feeling my way around the room, still hoping to find a light switch. But I didn’t. I felt my way back to the mattress and sat down, running my hands down my thighs. That was when I realized that the clothes I was wearing were different from those I’d fallen asleep in. I was wearing some kind of top and baggy pants. I shuddered.

I have to get out of here.

I crouched down and spread my hands out around me on the dusty floor. I was hoping by now that my eyes would have adjusted to the darkness and I’d be able to see at least something. But it was so pitch black, I was as blind now as I’d been when I’d first woken.

I almost screamed when my hand hit something hairy. I scrambled back, barely daring to breathe as I strained my ears. It felt like a leg. A man’s leg.

I thought for a moment that it might have been Caleb, but as I fumbled up his shoulders and placed my hands on his neck to check his pulse, he was warm.

Who is this?

It could have been the biggest mistake I could have made, but desperation was clouding all rational thought. I clutched his shoulders and began to shake him.

“Excuse me,” I said, my voice trembling. “Wake up. Please…”

He drew in a deep, rasping breath and began to move. I crawled back away from him, listening to sounds of him waking from his slumber. I could only assume that he too had been kidnapped and drugged.

He began mumbling incoherently. His voice was young, which I was relieved about. Somehow it made me feel safer that at least I wasn’t sharing a room with someone twice my age.

“Do you speak English?” I asked, barely daring to hope.

I breathed out in relief as he replied in a Midwestern accent.

“Y-yes.”

“My name is Rose. My friend and I were kidnapped by three men. Phillipe, Guillerme and Miguel. They drugged me. I just woke up. Who are you? Do you know where we are?”

“My name’s Brody. I… I think I know where we are.” His voice was thick and sluggish.

“Where?”

There was a pause.

“On the coast. Some miles out of Caracas.”

Venezuela. I swallowed hard, trying not to think about how long we must have been traveling to reach here.

“How do you know?” I didn’t want to believe we could have traveled so far.

“I was still conscious when they brought me in. And I’ve been here before, on my brother’s behalf. He… did business with Aurelio.”

“Business? Who’s Aurelio?”

“Miguel, Guillerme, Phillipe… they all work for him. My brother and Aurelio’s business is none of yours. Just know that it was dirty.”

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