“What’s wrong?” I mumbled.
“The car behind me won’t pass.” Aaron muttered a curse. “We’re the only ones out here, and that asshole can’t find another patch of road to drive on. His headlights are driving me crazy.”
Unease crawled through my innards and I leaned forward to peek in the side mirror. Kai’s headlight flashed, close on Aaron’s tail, and behind him was another set of headlights. Too large and high up to belong to a van, they shone brightly in Aaron’s mirrors. I relaxed again.
“Some drivers get weird at night,” Ezra said, “especially in poor weather. They want to follow someone.”
“Asshole,” Aaron repeated grumpily. “Whatever. I want to stop in Squamish anyway. Get some fast-food burgers or something.”
“Do you think anything will be open?”
“Here’s hoping there’s an all-night McD’s.”
A canvas of sparkling lights gleamed up ahead—the town of Squamish, which put us an hour into our drive. I must’ve slept thirty minutes at most. Aaron slowed, complaining again when the clingy driver failed to pass him. The rain was picking up.
“Is this the turn?” he muttered, flipping on his signal as a darkened shopping center came into view. “I haven’t been here in years.”
He made a quick left, Kai’s bike following. The clingy driver continued down the highway, and I glimpsed the big-ass SUV. Definitely not a van.
“This isn’t right,” Aaron sighed. “What street are we on?”
The monster shopping center sprawled across endless blocks, the parking lot lights shining on the wet pavement. Aaron turned right, and up ahead, the road diverged in a Y-intersection. Muttering some more, he hesitated, then cut left toward a liquor store.
“I think you were supposed to go right,” Ezra remarked as we sped past a long-closed grocery mart and straight into a residential block.
Aaron swore. “I’ll take the next right and backtrack.”
We passed a few dozen houses, then trees closed in. The streetlights ended, plunging the road into darkness, and the rain was gaining force. Aaron sped up the windshield wipers and switched his high beams back on. The slick road stretched onward, but there were no right-hand turns. Instead, train tracks raced alongside the pavement.
Biting back another curse, Aaron let off on the gas. “Should I turn around?”
I pulled my phone out of my jacket pocket—my old jacket, because Burke’s demon had shredded my fancy new combat one—but when I pressed the power button, nothing happened. Right. It had died just before we set out.
“Where’s your phone?” I asked. “We should pull up a map.”
“I think the road is curving right,” Ezra said as he passed me Aaron’s spare phone over the center console. “It might circle back around.”
“But how long will that take?” Aaron shook his head and slowed the car. “We need to go back, especially with this rain. Kai shouldn’t be riding on wet—”
He broke off, eyes flicking to his rearview mirror. “Ah, shit, there’s another vehicle. Now I can’t turn around.”
Putting his foot down, he zoomed down the unlit stretch of secondary highway. It was barely wide enough for two cars to pass each other, and turning around would be too dangerous with another vehicle gaining on us.
As I waited for the navigation app to load on the phone, I peered in the side mirror again. Big, bright headlights glared into the car. Kai’s bike drifted toward the centerline as though trying to get out of the light.
Aaron checked his rearview mirror, then accelerated more. The black trees flashed by on our left, the train tracks on the right almost invisible. The wipers whipped back and forth, battling the deluge. Kai must be soaked and freezing.
The highway curved left. We were heading farther from the town center. I tapped urgently on the phone’s screen but the app was blank, the signal too poor to load anything. “The map isn’t coming up.”
Growling profanity, Aaron slowed again and scoured the grassy ditches for a side road to turn off. As the highway curved, the train tracks continued straight and disappeared from view.
Now we were driving through pitch darkness. The black trees on the right opened up, and I glimpsed the dark, blocky shapes of an industrial complex. Were we even in Squamish anymore?
“What is that asshole doing?” Aaron demanded.
I twisted to look out the back window, Ezra doing the same. Kai’s bike was only a few car lengths behind us—and the other vehicle was right on his tail, looming like a black monster with blazing white eyes.
Aaron hit the gas, speeding up to give Kai room to accelerate away from the tailgating jerk.
I clutched the edge of my seat. “Is that an SUV?”
“I think so,” Ezra said. “Why?”
Apprehension clanged through me. “Is it the same SUV that was following us earlier?”
Aaron’s startled gaze snapped to me. “How could—”
Light flooded the car’s interior—the SUV rapidly closing the gap. Kai’s headlight swept past us as he dodged toward the empty opposing lane. The SUV surged forward.
The bike’s silhouette lurched—and vanished.
“Kai!” I shrieked, twisting in my seat.
The bike’s headlight flashed as the fallen motorcycle slid across the road toward the bank of trees. Aaron slammed the brakes, throwing me against my seatbelt.
The SUV’s lights blazed—and it rear-ended the car.
I was flung into my seatbelt a second time. The car swerved, fishtailing violently. Aaron clutched the wheel, fighting for control as the road flew by. The nose steadied.
The SUV rammed us again.
The back end swung out. The car spun, the ditches and the SUV careening past. Hydroplaning on the slick pavement, we reeled wildly, speed barely diminished, and I had one moment to realize what was coming as we spiraled toward the road’s edge. Aaron’s little sports car hit the ditch.
The car flipped, and my ears filled with deafening bangs, shattering glass, and my own terrified scream.
“Tori? Tori, please wake up.”
Through a dim haze, I recognized Ezra’s voice pleading with me.
I squinted my eyes open, and for a second, I thought I’d gone blind. Then I made out his face hovering in the darkness in front of mine. He had squeezed into the gap between the car’s two front seats and cradled my head with gentle hands. My whole body throbbed, limbs tingling with adrenaline.
“Tori!” he gasped in relief.
I drew in a quivering breath. The car had landed upright, but all the windows were broken and the windshield was a pale sheet of cracked safety glass that had somehow stayed in one crumpled piece. The engine was silent, steam rising from the hood, and the only sound came from the rain drumming on the dented roof.
“Are you hurt, Tori? Are you okay?”
“I—I think I’m okay.” Nothing seemed broken, at least.
“I’ll climb out the back and get you. Just hang on.”
He retreated into the back seat, and glass crunched as he crawled through the shattered back window. I blinked slowly in the darkness, and now that Ezra’s face wasn’t filling my vision, my gaze fell on Aaron.
He was slumped against the steering wheel, the remains of the airbag hanging from it.
“Aaron?” I whispered. “Aaron?”
Ezra appeared at my window. He reached through the broken glass to unlock the door.
“Ezra. Aaron i-isn’t—” My voice quavered and broke. “Aaron isn’t answering.”
“He’s alive.” Ezra almost sounded calm, but panic edged his voice. “I don’t want to move him. I don’t know how bad …”
He grabbed my door handle and pulled. Metal creaked, but the door didn’t move. He wrenched on it. With a loud snap, it gave way and he staggered backward. Catching his balance, he leaned across me and unbuckled my seatbelt.
“What about Kai?” I whimpered, fighting back hysteria. “He fell. I couldn’t see where he—where—”
“We’ll find him next. He’ll be okay. The pavement was wet so he could slide. He knows how to fall safely. He—” Ezra stopped, seeming to realize he was babbling. His hands cupped my face. I could feel them shaking. “We’ll all be okay, Tori.”
He was as scared as I was. I gulped down my terror and blinked away tears. “Help me out.”
Nodding, he slid his hands down to my shoulders and gently drew me forward. I grabbed the doorframe to heave myself out.
Light bloomed across us. I squinted, half blinded. Blood streaked down Ezra’s face from a cut at his hairline.
He turned toward the light source. Sticking my head out of the car, I spotted a pair of headlights. Someone had seen the accident and come to help us! Wheels grinding over a gravel track, the vehicle lit up the side of a featureless warehouse twenty yards away. Aaron’s car had come to a stop at the edge of an industrial lot.
As the vehicle approached, my relief sputtered out. Cold fear sparked in its place.
“Ezra,” I gasped. “That’s—that’s the same SUV! It—”
The vehicle stopped, its high beams pointed at our car like twin spotlights. The doors opened. Three men climbed out.