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I climbed onto his back and he quickly swam back toward the boat.

“I’m throwing down a rope for you,” Micah called.

A rope dropped into the water from nowhere. Caleb gripped the end of it as Micah pulled us back into the boat. Micah’s face came into view as soon as Caleb climbed over the railing. We retreated into the control cabin.

“What was that?” I breathed, staring back out at the waves.

“Somehow, overnight, someone put an invisibility spell over this boat,” Micah said.

“Who?” Caleb looked just as confused as me. “Could it have been Mona? Or one of the other witches from The Shade?”

I paused, considering the idea. “If any of The Shade’s witches knew our exact location, they wouldn’t have left us here.”

“Then who?” Caleb said.

I looked from him to Micah.

“Someone who wants to keep us safe.” Micah shrugged.

My stomach flipped as a sense of unease filled me.

“Someone was on this boat overnight,” Caleb said softly. He turned to Micah. “Have you checked all the cabins?”

“First thing I did,” Micah said.

I shuddered at the thought of this strange witch being so close to us during the night without us even realizing it.

“I guess this is a good thing,” Micah continued, running a hand through his long blond hair. “I mean, for now it suits us, doesn’t it? It can only make our journey back to The Shade easier…”

Neither Caleb nor I answered. If I could have been sure that this was the doing of one of The Shade’s witches, I’d be sighing in relief. But I didn’t see how it could be them.

“Why would someone do this though? If it wasn’t one of our well-wishers back in The Shade, what would their motivation be?”

Micah shrugged. “I’m no more comfortable about this than you. But I mean, if this witch or warlock wished us harm, she or he could have taken you already overnight. Maybe you have more well-wishers than you’re aware of, Rose… What’s the saying you humans have? Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

Micah’s words did little to calm my nerves. I couldn’t stifle the feeling that this was a gift horse we should conduct a full-on oral examination of.

But there wasn’t much we could do other than accept the situation. We were in the middle of the ocean. It wasn’t like there was an abundance of vessels we could swap ours with. Whoever had done this, we had to try to make the best of it and return to the safety of The Shade as soon as possible.

Chapter 28: Rose

I stood at the front of the boat with Micah, watching the Panamanian shore come into view as Caleb navigated the boat. The day had been overcast, which had been a boon for him.

It was early evening now, and the protective shield was still upon us. We’d stopped every few hours to check.

I’d hoped that we could have avoided stopping for fuel, but it was too risky, even with the extra tanks we had on board. If we got lost on our way back to The Shade, or delayed for some reason, we had to be sure we wouldn’t get stranded.

As we entered the Gulf of Panama, we drifted along, trying to decide where to stop. Since we were invisible, it shouldn’t be too difficult mooring up somewhere without drawing attention.

“Over there,” Micah said, pointing toward a cluster of masts rising into the sky a few miles ahead of us.

“It will have to be good enough,” Caleb said. He sped up the boat and navigated toward the marina. We couldn’t occupy a regular berth in case another boat tried to moor up while we were stopped there and smashed into us.

“I might as well go looking for fuel,” Micah offered, once we’d found somewhere to stop.

“Okay,” Caleb said, before turning to me. “We need to find you something to eat.”

I hadn’t thought about food since the morning. My mind had been too preoccupied with what had happened to our boat overnight to think much of food. But now that Caleb mentioned it, I realized I was famished. There were some dried snacks on the yacht and plenty of bottled water, but I couldn’t deny that I yearned for something more substantial to eat. The last proper meal I’d had was more than a week ago—and I’d vomited most of that out in the rainforest soon after Caleb had rescued me.

Not waiting for my answer, Caleb turned to Micah. “If you’re going to sort out the fuel, I’m going to go with Rose and look for food. Do you want us to bring something back to you?”

“Yes,” Micah said. “I’ll be grateful for anything that’s not packaged in plastic and overly salted.”

“We’ll do our best,” Caleb said. “I suggest we meet back here in an hour.”

“Can we make that two?” Micah said. “I’d like to have time to stretch my legs a bit too once I’ve tanked up.”

Caleb looked down at me. When I didn’t protest, he said, “All right. We’ll meet back here in two hours. But not a minute later.”

Two hours seemed like a long time to delay our journey back, but the thought of taking a break from the water and walking around on solid ground for a while was too appealing for me to object.

Caleb scooped me up in his arms and jumped off the boat. We landed on the jetty and looked back toward our boat, invisible as ever. I looked around at the ships moored next to us, trying to commit their details into my memory.

Caleb set me down on my feet and pulled me forward. “Don’t worry. I’ll remember where it is.”

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