I’m trembling as I watch another one of Vincent’s men step out of the truck behind him…and then another. Now there’s three of them and only one of Magnus. What is he going to do? They all have guns too.
Vincent looks up at Magnus and chuckles.
“Good job, partner.”
A jolt runs through me—the kind of jolt you feel when you get jump-scared in a horror movie.
“Great job leading us back here. She’s been missing long enough.”
“Vincent—” Magnus starts to speak, but Vincent laughs and waves his hands in the air.
“I told you that you could take her for a day and have your fun with her. My treat to you for being my most prized head of security. But boy did you put on a good show to win her over!”
Wait…what’s happening? Put on a show? Win me over? The pang in my chest grows, turning into a gripping pain that expands throughout my entire torso.
“Don’t listen to him, Josie,” Magnus says over his shoulder back to me.
“Wow,” Vincent remarks. “You really fell for her, huh? But you can’t change the plan up at the last minute, buddy.”
I’m sweating. Trembling. The perfect moment we had among us no less than five minutes ago has shattered like a pane of glass.
“You pretend to rescue her from me, Iletyou, she puts out for you, but then I come back and get her after you lead me to her. You knew how this was going to end, pal. Onlyourplan had you looking innocent in the whole thing—”
“That’s not how it went, Vincent,” Magnus growls. “Don’t believe him, Josie.”
I’m feeling sick.
“No?” Vincent laughs. “How’d I find this place then, Mag? Have I ever been here before?”
“I don’t know, Vincent. But it sure wasn’t me.”
“And why was it you that just happened to come upon me and Josie having an argument? You just lucked out? Or did you and I set that up beforehand?”
My heart is in my throat as I reach out and brace myself against a pillar of the porch. Blur coats the edges of my vision.
Vincent is right; howcouldhe have found this place without Magnus leading him to it? Magnus isn’t dumb enough to let himself get followed.
Is it possible that Magnus played me? That they both…played me?
I don’t want to believe that. There’s nothing in the world I want to believe less.
“Magnus!” I scream. “Magnus, you—”
Suddenly, I feel a hand on my shoulder and look back to see my mom standing behind me, eyes fixed on Vincent. I can see the hatred there and am instantly reminded of what she’s been through over the last few months that he’s been holding her.
“You’re aliar, Vincent!” she hisses. “And my daughter knows better than to believe you!”
A gunshot rings out, and one of Vincent’s men goes down in a bloody heap.
“Josie! Debbie! Take cover!” Magnus’s voice rings out.
There’s another gunshot, and just as I grab my mom and dive off the side of the porch into the bushes, I hear a handful more.
“Oh, honey!” my mother cries out over the thunderous ruckus. I grab her head and hold it down. Through the leaves I see another one of Vincent’s men go down and the sound of someone else crying out.
I close my eyes against the storm of the firefight.