It still felt too dark in the house.

I’d uploaded the pictures I’d taken at the park and was flipping through them, but I didn’t really see any of them. My mind was someplace else as I sat on my bed.

Namely, it was still in the park.

What the hell was up with Luc? After he said that creepy thing that kind of felt like a warning, he’d just strolled on off like he hadn’t freaked me the heck out. And I like to think anyone in my shoes would’ve been creeped out. Why did it matter how easy it was to find me?

Shivering, I rubbed my hands down my arms. I just didn’t get why Luc felt the need to search me out in the first place. It was literally the weirdest conversation I’d ever had.


And I’d had some weird conversations with Zoe and Heidi, the kind you didn’t want to repeat and you hoped no one was listening to.

My phone dinged from where it rested beside my laptop. I leaned over and picked it up to see it was a text from Heidi. Excitement sparked to life when I saw it was a picture of her and Emery, their cheeks pressed together. Emery was smiling, and wow, she was truly a stunning girl. Her skin tone was rich and earthy next to Heidi’s paler skin. Of course Heidi’s lips were puckered, like she was blowing a kiss at the camera. It looked like they were at a restaurant.

I quickly texted back: You guys look adorable.

Then I added about a dozen exclamation points, which earned me a heart emoji, the kind that exploded into little baby hearts. I sent another text, telling Heidi to call me when she got home so she could tell me all about her date.

I tossed my phone back onto the comforter. I was still too antsy to go through the pictures I’d taken. I scooted off the bed, and my sock-covered feet whispered against the hardwood floors as I decided to grab something to eat, because shoving chips into my mouth was the only way to kill time when I was feeling antsy.

Stopping near the window seat, I frowned. I walked over to it and lifted the gray cushion to see if there was a handgun or a sword stashed inside.

There wasn’t.

Thank God.

I’d half expected a gun or knife to slip out of the pile of towels in the linen closet that morning when I grabbed a clean one. I honestly didn’t know what to think about Mom having weapons hidden. Part of me kind of understood even without all she told me on Saturday. Things had been tense in the weeks and months after the invasion; it had been scary. Any noise sounded like an explosion, and for a long time it felt like we were waiting for the end to come. So I guessed having weapons within reach wasn’t too bad of an idea.

As I dumped about three handfuls of chips into a bowl, I glanced at the clock on the stove. It was close to eight, and Mom still wasn’t home. It seemed like she was working later and later each week.

I missed her.

I wished I missed Dad.

My entire body clenched with guilt.

Since I didn’t have access to therapy to sort out all those messed-up feelings, I added another handful of chips to my bowl and made my way back upstairs. Munching on the crispy, salty goodness, I started flipping through the pictures I’d taken once more.

I almost missed it, since my head wasn’t all there, but something caught my attention as I flipped through the pictures of the swing set. Right after I’d taken a picture of the swing, I’d zoomed out and snapped another picture without realizing it. Two people stood behind the swing set. Wait. My eyes narrowed as I clicked on the zoom. A chip fell out of my open mouth.

That was . . . I leaned in, squinting. I’d taken a picture of April. Hell, I hadn’t even realized she was there. It made sense that she’d be at the playground, though. I knew she had a younger sister, so one of those little girls was probably her.

But there was something weird about the photo.

There was this odd double exposure effect where April stood. That was why I almost didn’t recognize her, but it wasn’t a normal double exposure. There was this shadow type affect surrounding the upper part of her body, as if someone were standing directly behind her.

That was super-odd, but that had to be it, because the rest of the picture was fine. There had to be someone behind her. Did April know?

Shaking my head, I zoomed out and started clicking through the pictures mindlessly, but I gave up and promptly fell down a rabbit hole of watching short videos of people making fancy cupcakes. I lost about an hour doing that, because I moved on from cupcakes to cakes, and then all I wanted from life was a giant chocolate candy bar.

After logging on to my Facebook page, I hit the “most recent” button and started scrolling through new updates. I needed to be doing homework, but I didn’t budge from my laptop. My finger moved over the track pad as I mindlessly scrolled, stopping when I saw an update from my ex, Brandon. He’d posted a picture of a girl, and it took me a moment to recognize the blonde.

I leaned in, squinting at the smiling selfie. I knew her. She was in my chem class. I’d seen her today. Her name was Amanda—Amanda Kelly. I quickly read the caption under her picture and my heart dropped.

“No,” I whispered, sitting back.

Amanda was reported missing this afternoon by her grandparents. The post read that she hadn’t come home from school.

School had ended only a handful of hours ago, so she might not be missing, but there had to be a reason why her grandparents were freaking out. I read the post again, and it didn’t look like it had been reported to the police. The contact number belonged to her grandparents.


I stared at the picture in disbelief. Colleen was missing. And what if Amanda was too? Both went to our high school and had vanished mysteriously the same weekend? That was . . . that was way too coincidental.

Or maybe her grandparents were just overreacting? That was possible, because it wasn’t like with Colleen, who had been missing since Friday night. Maybe Amanda—

A crash come from downstairs, causing my heart to lurch in my chest. My head shot up.

What the . . . ?

I snatched the remote off the bed and muted the TV, and for a long moment, I didn’t move as I strained to hear any other noise. There was nothing, but that didn’t stop the wave of goose bumps from spreading over my skin. I was frozen for a moment, and then I grabbed my cell phone. I knew it wasn’t Mom, because I didn’t hear the garage door open under my bedroom. I swung my legs off the bed and then crept out into the hallway to peer down into the foyer. I held my breath and, when I didn’t hear anything, realized I had two options.

Go back into my bedroom, sit down with the laptop, and look for a local exorcist, because obviously random, unaccounted-for sounds meant there was a demon in my house. Or go downstairs and investigate the strange noise to determine that it wasn’t a demon. But what if someone was breaking in?

With all the lights on in the house?

That seemed unlikely.

I inched toward the stairwell and headed down them, stopping halfway when I remembered something very important I’d learned recently.

Luxen could unlock doors.

Oh crap.

What if it was a Luxen helping themselves to the bag of chips I knew I’d left on the counter? A shiver crawled along my arms, and I looked down. I was still holding the remote. What the hell was I going to do with the remote? I started to turn back around, but stopped. What was I going to do? Call the police because I heard a noise?

I was being stupid.

Taking a deep breath, I went down the rest of the steps, stopping at the bottom. Front door was shut, but . . . but the French doors to my mom’s office were ajar, cracked open.

I froze.

Those doors were always closed. Always. Had Mom forgotten to lock them? That wasn’t impossible, but it was strange.

Leaning forward, I peered into the rest of the downstairs. Everything looked normal. I shuffled into the living room, making my way through the dining area we never used. The kitchen looked untouched, and I could see the bag of chips, still where I left them. I stopped by the gray upholstered dining room chair, inching closer to the kitchen. There was nothing—

I sucked in a sharp breath.

The back door was wide open and the night air was spilling in, creeping across the tile floor.

I so did not leave the back door open.


Goose bumps returned with a vengeance as I took a step back, my hands clenching the phone and remote control. I doubted a demon had opened the door. Oh God, I should’ve just called the police. I should’ve called—