A Shade of Vampire 30: A Game of Risk (17 page)

Derek

I
retreated
from Grace’s room with Ben and Ibrahim, while the others stayed inside. Many of them mourned as though we had already lost the girl.

I could see that it was taking my son all that he had to not break down himself. He knew that he had to remain strong, and I tried to assist him in that by keeping my own demeanor calm.

Ben had raised the doubt already that maybe Lawrence had deliberately given the wrong formula. But my son could not quite bring himself to believe it. Although I barely knew the lad, I couldn’t either. It was more likely that Atticus had somehow figured out Lawrence’s plan and slyly intervened, causing his son to deliver a concoction to us that would not only not save Grace, but speed up her deterioration.

Ben was holding Lawrence’s phone in his hands, browsing through the contacts. Thank God he had forgotten to give it back to the boy. Scrolling to the most recent calls, he brought up Dr. Finnegan’s number. She was a scientist whom Ben believed held answers.

“I need to make a call,” he said, bringing the number to the screen. “And it’s best that I make it from Lawrence’s phone. Ibrahim, can you take us outside the boundary?”

Next thing we knew, the three of us were standing on an islet beyond the borders of The Shade. Lawrence’s phone was not charmed like mine and some other council members’ were, and thus could not make contact with the outside world while within the island. Ben pressed dial and held the phone to his ear.

Ring, ring. Ring, ring.

No answer after twelve rings.

He tried again.

Still nothing.

We waited for five minutes and tried again. Then ten minutes. No luck. She wasn’t picking up. We even tried from my phone, with no difference.

“We can try again in an hour,” I suggested. “In the meantime, let’s head back to the island.”

Ibrahim transported us back to the hospital, arriving outside Grace’s room. As we were about to return inside, to my surprise, my phone sprang to life. I reached for it, and on the screen flashed an unfamiliar number. Someone calling from the outside world.
Dr. Finnegan calling back?
There were only a very few number of people who had my number—Fowler having been one of them. But after he had fired us, I’d had no contact from him since.

“Hello?” I said, pressing the phone to my ear.

“Hello?” a female voice responded. She had an Australian accent.

“Who is this?” I asked, freezing.

“J-Jennifer Thornton. Is that Derek Novak?”

My heart sank at her reply.
Jennifer Thornton

Thornton
. That surname sure rang a bell.

“Yes,” I said. “That’s me.”

“You knew my husband… He was the IBSI official in charge of Australia and the Philippines.”

Of course I knew that man. I’d killed him, back in The Trunchlands. The way he had behaved in those last few seconds of his life—laughed in my face as he had been letting out his last breath—still haunted me even now. The words he had spoken…

“You think you know what you’re doing, don’t you? You think this is how you will solve Earth’s problems, right? Bring peace? You’re clueless, Novak. So bloody clueless.”

Why was his widow calling me?

“Yes,” I replied. “How did you get my number?”

“I… would rather not say too much on the phone. But I want to talk to you. You and TSL’s co-founder.” That meant Ben.

I frowned down at the phone, wondering if this call was actually genuine.

“It’s important,” she went on. “I assure you. I’m in New Zealand, Auckland. I know that you have the means to travel much faster to me than I could travel to you. Could I request a meeting?
Please
.”

Ben was standing close enough to me to hear what she was saying even though the phone wasn’t on loudspeaker. He stared at me, a flicker of hope sparking in his eyes. He shrugged. “Why not?” he whispered.

I nodded. If she was Thornton’s wife, then she might’ve been involved with the IBSI herself. We would take Ibrahim with us for protection in case this was some kind of trap. I didn’t see the harm in going.

“What is your address?” I asked her.

I put the phone on loudspeaker so that we could all hear it clearly, Ben punching it in on Lawrence’s smartphone as she recited it.

“Is that your home address?” I asked.

“No. But I’ll be there all day tomorrow. Could you see me by then?”

Catching Ibrahim and Ben’s eye, I nodded. “Yes,” I said. “We’ll be on our way now.”

“Thank you,” she whispered.

Then the line went dead.

I wondered if she knew that I had been the one who murdered her husband. If she did, she had a lot of courage to be requesting a meeting with me.

“Maybe she has information that could help us,” Ben said. “Maybe she even knows Finnegan… In Thornton’s final moments, he didn’t exactly seem besotted with the organization he was supposed to have dedicated his life to, did he?”

“No, he didn’t,” I said, recalling the memory. He had seemed quite jaded. Bitter, almost.

All I knew was that we had to pray that this unexpected call was a silver lining.

Ben, Ibrahim and I ran to our wives. Sofia had been holding River as they gazed into the cage at Grace, who was still thrashing angrily at the bars, frustrated that we were so close and yet out of reach for her to take a bite. I informed Sofia where we were going. She, River and Corrine opted to stay, but urged us to hurry back as soon as we could. We still had Hawks hanging around by the Port, waiting for my next instruction, but I couldn’t think of them now.

As Ibrahim vanished us from the hospital, my mind returned to Atticus.
Mr. Atticus Conway.
Words could not express the loathing I felt for that man. He made Thornton seem like a kitten. My fists balled just thinking about what I would do to him if he ever crossed paths with me again…

That man had better hope he never does.

* * *

Ready for the PENULTIMATE book of “Season 4” of the Novak clan’s story?

Twisting fates and colliding hearts...

D
earest Shaddict
,

The next book,
A Shade of Vampire 31:
A Twist of Fates
is the
penultimate
book in what has been “Season 4” of the
A Shade of Vampire
series, as we move toward the thrilling finale in Book 32!

A Twist of Fates
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August 3rd, 2016.

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Read More by Bella Forrest!

A
SHADE
OF VAMPIRE SERIES

Series 1: Derek & Sofia’s story

A Shade of Vampire (Book 1)

A Shade of Blood (Book 2)

A Castle of Sand (Book 3)

A Shadow of Light (Book 4)

A Blaze of Sun (Book 5)

A Gate of Night (Book 6)

A Break of Day (Book 7)

Series 2: Rose & Caleb’s story

A Shade of Novak (Book 8)

A Bond of Blood (Book 9)

A Spell of Time (Book 10)

A Chase of Prey (Book 11)

A Shade of Doubt (Book 12)

A Turn of Tides (Book 13)

A Dawn of Strength (Book 14)

A Fall of Secrets (Book 15)

An End of Night (Book 16)

Series 3: Ben & River’s story

A Wind of Change (Book 17)

A Trail of Echoes (Book 18)

A Soldier of Shadows (Book 19)

A Hero of Realms (Book 20)

A Vial of Life (Book 21)

A Fork of Paths (Book 22)

A Flight of Souls (Book 23)

A Bridge of Stars (Book 24)

Series 4: A Clan of Novaks

A Clan of Novaks (Book 25)

A World of New (Book 26)

A Web of Lies (Book 27)

A Touch of Truth (Book 28)

An Hour of Need (Book 29)

A Game of Risk (Book 30)

A Twist of Fates (Book 31)

A SHADE OF DRAGON TRILOGY

A Shade of Dragon 1

A Shade of Dragon 2

A Shade of Dragon 3

A SHADE OF KIEV TRILOGY

A Shade of Kiev 1

A Shade of Kiev 2

A Shade of Kiev 3

BEAUTIFUL MONSTER DUOLOGY

Beautiful Monster 1

Beautiful Monster 2

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