The day I found the letter, just over a month after I'd moved in with Dem, things had been going well. I'd had a great session that morning, managing to flip Demitri over my hip and pin him to the ground, the first time that had happened since he'd stopped being soft with me. Now even he couldn't disagree with me and say I wasn't getting good.
I'd even made some progress with Kel, speaking to her for the first time since I'd walked out of her house. I'd literally run into her as I'd come out of History, knocking both of us flying. Demitri hadn't been with me and for a moment of two we'd just stared at each other.
'How are you?' I finally found my voice and squeaked out the question.
'I'm good thanks,' Kel said stiffly.
'Things are going well for me at the moment,' I blurted out. 'Demitri says I'm-'
'I don't want to know Cassie,' Kel interrupted with conviction.
'I'm sorry,' I mumbled. 'I wasn't thinking.'
'It's OK,' Kel mumbled back. We stood in silence again for a few moments while we both tried to build up the courage to speak again. 'Look I've got to be somewhere,' Kel said, her tone genuinely apologetic.
'That's fine, I'll see you later.' Kel gave me a small smile before collecting the last of her stuff from the floor and walking off down the corridor.
Demitri had been so happy Kel and I had reconnected and the rest of the day continued to go well. Because I'd been progressing so well in my physical training, Dem had given me the afternoon's theory lesson off and we headed straight back home after school.
This is where everything seems to blur in my mind, like I'm watching it back in slow motion. Both Demitri and I were laughing. He'd just told a joke, I can't remember what it was about, and I could barely breath I was laughing so hard.
I pulled out my front door key and slipped it into the lock. The door opened easily, as it always did and we both staggered into the house. I don't think I would have noticed the letter if Demitri hadn't lost his footing as we walked through the door and knocked me over so we both landed face first on the doormat, still laughing.
Then I saw the note, a piece of white paper folded in half with my name written in a familiar handwriting, which sent shivers up my spine and stopped my laugh.
'Demitri,' I breathed, too stunned to speak at normal level. He barely heard me so I repeated myself a little louder and he stopped laughing. 'They've found out Demitri,' I said, picking up the letter and looking at my name written on the front.
'You don't know that, you haven't read it yet.' I knew he was trying to be reassuring and positive but I already knew inside what the letter would say. I reluctantly unfolded the paper and looked at the words scrawled on the inside.
You think you are so clever. You think you can outsmart us.
Well you're wrong.
We were willing to compromise if you did what we said and stopped learning from Demitri. But you've disobeyed us and have lost your final chance.
Say bye bye to your mother.
I was so stunned I couldn't do anything. Couldn't scream, couldn't cry. I couldn't even move.
I think Demitri led me into the living room with the comfy sofas and sat me down but nothing seemed to be in focus. I heard voices come and go around me but it felt like I'd slipped through time and nothing was coming to me in the right order. I couldn't make out words, only the sounds of people's voices.
Someone I didn't recognise.
I even thought I heard Savannah's voice for a few minutes as I lay, motionless on the sofa. Then Demitri's voice finally cut through whatever it was that was trapping me and I understood what he was saying.
'For God's sake Cassie snap out of it! There's been a break through and we need you to help us. You're not going to save your mother by breaking down, you have to fight for her, we have to act or many more people than your mother will die.' A sigh of defeat. 'Please Cassie,' he begged.
And I responded. I sat up, the letter still clutched in my hand and my face set in a determined frown. The people in the room came into focus. Demitri was kneeling by the sofa, his head tilted upwards to look at me. Mark was standing by the door, a look of pure concern on his face. Opposite him with her usual stern expression on her face was Abril.
And sitting on the other sofa across from me was Savannah, looking radiant in a dark blue and purple dress that was almost skintight on the embroidered bodice and billowed out in a balloon towards her knees. I opened my mouth to speak.
'So what's happened?'