Y’ALL. Can I say I’m so glad we’ve put the hard core tough girl act behind us? Cos I was getting just a little bit afraid we were getting in WAY over our heads. Um, not that we’re coasting along here, but it’s nice to have a little help (and a nap and a snack!). after last week’s meeting with Grinnald (where DID that guy disappear to, anyway?) and sleeping all night and the next day, we’re awakened by Kayleigh acting all creepy and mysterious. and y’all chose to: B.  Call out to Jacob. Maybe he can keep Kayleigh from running away long enough for you to get to Heather.

Continue on to see what happens next!

Chapter 21: To Get the Hell Outta Here, Turn To Page 336

Kayleigh beckons you to come with her. You nod, and reach for the bag with the holy water. Slipping quietly out of bed, you start to follow Kayleigh, but as she drops out your open window, you run over to Jacob and shake him awake.

“Wha … who?” he sputters, looking really too adorably confused, his hair sticking up a bit in the back where he’d rested his head on the chair.

“Shh!” you whisper. “Kayleigh’s here. She wants me to go with her.”

Jacob looks concerned, but nods. “Go. I’ll follow, and get in touch with Grinnald and Neil on the way. Be careful — don’t let her suspect anything. Just play along. I’ll be right there,” he finishes, gazing intently into your eyes. You almost forget what you were doing, but he gives you a little push toward the window. “Go, before she notices you’re not with her.”

You wrestle your bag out the window, but don’t drop it, afraid of breaking the vials of holy water. Gripping it and the windowsill, you slip out and step to the ground. Luckily, your room’s on the ground floor. Kayleigh’s waiting for you under the big elm tree in the front yard.

“What took you so long? We have to get there. It’s almost time,” she hisses.

“Sorry. I, uh, had to put on some clothes.”

Kayleigh’s eyebrow raises slyly, and you realize how that excuse must sound since Jacob was in the room with you, but it’s too late to take it back now. At least she’ll think that’s why you’re blushing (why do you have to blush when you lie? So inconvenient). Your friend grabs your arm, and pulls you down the street. Holy shizz, she’s fast, you think. You sneak a look behind to check on Jacob, and see him crouching by the azalea bushes, worried face lit by the screen of his cell phone.

Several minutes later, you’re winded and your feet hurt. Kayleigh seems fine, and she also isn’t having any trouble finding her way around the sketchy warehouses and abandoned storefronts that surround you. You’re definitely in a part of town your mother would not let you go to. Oh, God, your mother. What in the world will she be thinking? You disappear for days, Jacob’s in your room — and you’re not. Again. She’s probably called the police, and they’ll be looking for me next. I wonder if I’ll see my face on a poster in the gas station, or on a milk carton? Well, probably not the milk carton. That takes too much time. Now you’re worried about being recognized and arrested (do they arrest runaways?) before you can take care of Heather and Kayleigh and this Crazy Old Dude.

Your thought tangent is interrupted when you trip and go sprawling on the sidewalk. And land right on top of your bag. And hear a crunch. Followed by the sensation of cool damp soaking the front of your shirt. Your stomach drops, and you are grateful you haven’t had anything to eat since that cheeseburger and fries more than 12 hours ago. Kayleigh turns to check on you, and you grin shakily and stand up.

“I’m such a klutz. I’m fine — don’t worry,” you say. When she turns away and starts jogging again, a little disgusted, you quickly peek into the bag. Just as you thought — both vials of holy water are smashed. But you spot something else in the bag — a heavy book that looks like it belongs in some library special collections, two stakes and something glittery. You don’t have time to investigate, but you’re glad you brought the bag.

There’s no sign of Jacob behind you, and you’re a little worried, but you shake it off and jog after Kayleigh. Before long, she’s stopped in front of an old warehouse and is tugging at a basement door. Crossing your fingers that Jacob can see you, you follow her in, kicking a chunk of wood in the doorway to keep the door from closing completely. Maybe that’ll be enough for him to find you.

As your eyes adjust to the gloom in the basement, you notice one major thing — or lack of major thing. You and Kayleigh are totally alone. No Ancient One, no Heather, no creepy vampires lurking, no drugged-out human vampire toys crashed on the broken-down couches.

“Kayleigh? What’s going on?”

“Look, I don’t have much time,” she says. “When the sun finishes setting, I won’t have any control. He’ll be awake and will be able to reach me. I just …” her voice breaks. “I just wanted you to be safe. Look, he knows where you live, where I live. This place … I think you’ll be able to hide for a while here.” She gives you a quick hug and her eyes fill with tears. “I’m sorry. I’d better go before it’s too late.”

And she’s gone, leaving you tired and confused. There are just too many twists to handle. After a few minutes, you inch the door open and look for Jacob. No sign. You pull out your cell phone, and of course there’s almost no battery.

in warehouse. k gone. corner of 146 and maple.

You hit SEND and hope Jacob gets the text quickly, wondering how long you should wait for him. But before you can decide, you hear footsteps on the floor above. Heavy footsteps, heading straight for the stairs. You bolt for the door and are up the concrete steps to the sidewalk and hauling ass to the alley across the street before you have a chance to think. Shaking, you squat down in the alley behind a row of trash cans and watch the building you just fled.

“Well, hello there,” a familiar voice says behind you. Grinnald. You turn to find him standing in a doorway, smiling benignly, but with something glinting behind the lenses of his glasses. “You’re a long way from home. Where’s Jacob?”

You start to stammer an answer, but he interrupts you. Holding the door wide, he gestures you to come inside.

Do you:

A.  take off running down the street, praying you don’t get hopelessly lost and look for a pay phone to call Jacob or Neil at the Greyhound station you remember passing two blocks away?

B.  run back to the warehouse? Maybe it was Jacob upstairs looking for you.

C.  go inside with Grinnald. After all, Jacob trusts him. You might be able to contact Jacob and Neil — they might even be in there with him. What have you got to lose?

Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.