Chapter 26: Secrets
Cari’s unoccupied hand found mine and she squeezed my fingers. I was still looking down into the darkness, so I jumped slightly when she touched me.
“Lena,” she said softly.
I shut my eyes and shook my head. “He’s going to kill Clay.”
“He’s not,” Cari said, her voice hard. “We’re not going to give him the chance. Lena, look at me.”
I turned my head. Her slate-colored eyes were hard. Her other hand was shaking as she gripped the roof, her knees digging into the shingles.
“I’ll be okay.” Despite everything, she smiled. “We’ll get him back and find out all that guys secrets.”
I shifted away from her and looked over the edge of the house onto the lawn. “How are we going to get down?” I asked.
“We’re not going that way,” Cari muttered. “We’re going back down into the house. But we have to be really careful.”
“Are you insane?” I hissed. “What if he decides to burn the house down with all of us in it?”
“He wouldn’t do that,” Cari said. “I don’t think he wants to die.”
“You’re being awfully calm about all this,” I told her.
She shrugged. “I read books. I know how to survive.”
I stared at her. I was tempted to hit her, but instead I said, “Those are fictional! Of course the characters are going to pull through. But this is real, Cari. Our friend is down there and he could die, along with us. That psychopath wants your head on a platter for some reason, don’t you remember?”
She blinked and shivered slightly. “I don’t want Clay to die.” Then she moved toward the skylight and slipped down into the darkness.
My eyes widened. “Cari!”
“I’m okay!” she whispered back. “I’m good on my feet. Come on, we have to get Clay and get the fuck out of here.”
I hesitated slightly before slipping my legs into the hole. I closed my eyes and slid into the darkness. I was surprised when I didn’t land on my feet. Cari caught me and I slammed my face into her jaw.
I knocked both of us down. We landed with a thud, and I prayed it didn’t echo through the house. When the madman didn’t come running up the stairs, I figured we were safe. I just wished the lights would come back on.
I stood and helped Cari up. “I’m sorry,” I whispered. “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine,” she muttered, gripping my shoulders to steady herself. “Come on.”
We walked slowly toward the staircase. Soft light illuminated from downstairs, so we had somewhat of a path to guide us until we reached the banister. Cari stopped in front of me and stepped down, her foot making noise when it hit the wood.
I closed my eyes, even though I couldn’t see anything anyway.
Nothing creaked or groaned. The only sound was the slow crackling of a fire below. I held onto Cari’s sleeve as we crept further, and I hoped that we’d come to find Clay still alive.
Before I knew it, we reached the bottom. I opened my eyes and saw the living room glowing. Clay was lying on the couch, unmoving. For a few moments, I thought he was sleeping, but then I knew.
He was dead.