Chapter Twenty-Two

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Greylark Asylum loomed over me, a squat, ugly building of weathered grey stone and broken windows. Standing alone amid a patchwork collection of fields just beyond the woods that fringed Dalwick, it looked like a tumour clinging to the lush countryside. But for several weeks, back when Luke and I were still hiding our relationship, it had been one of the only places where we could go to be alone. It was the place where we'd first kissed. Ugly as it was, it would always hold a special place in my heart for that memory alone.

Today though, it held a very different purpose than romantic trysts.

Between us, Ethan and I carried an unconscious Leon up the curving staircase that led to the second floor. Clara strode ahead of us, carrying several coils of rope and a sturdy chair. I didn't bother asking where she'd got it all.

Ethan thought we were wasting time looking for a suitable room upstairs, but Clara explained that it was too risky to keep Leon downstairs. The most popular rumour surrounding Greylark was that it was haunted, and it wasn't uncommon for kids to sneak out here to test their mettle. That was, after all, how Luke and I first met.

It felt like forever ago that I'd come in here on a stupid, alcohol-fuelled dare, and had wound up finding everything I'd ever been looking for.

Clara chose a room halfway down the landing that made up the second floor. From there she could hear if anyone came into the asylum, and the thick stone walls that completely surrounded us would muffle Leon's screams. And I didn't have any doubt that he'd be screaming.

She set the chair down in the middle of the room, and Ethan and I manoeuvred Leon into it. Clara deftly bound him hand and foot with the ropes.

A chill rolled across my skin as I looked around the asylum. My secret night meetings with Luke weren't the only memories associated with this place. Luke had almost died here. This was where Caleb had come after us with a crossbow, shot Luke twice, and then thrown him into the sun to burn. I hadn't been back here since that awful day.

Clara slapped Leon on each side of his face until he stirred and groaned. He stared up at her and, though he tried to affect a defiant expression, there was no denying the fear in his eyes.

"Feel like talking yet?" Clara said.

Caleb would have spat in her face, but Leon wasn't so bold. He just looked away from her. His eyes found me and Ethan, standing just behind Clara, and a myriad of emotions rushed across his face – guilt, anger, fear.

"You've got this all wrong. I just want to help," he said.

Clara shook her head. "If this was a real courtroom I'd say you have a good shot at pleading insanity." She leaned over him, thrusting her face towards his. "But this is my courtroom. Here I am judge and jury, even executioner if needs be."

Leon visibly swallowed.

"Here you belong to me," Clara continued. "You can make this nice and easy and just tell us where Riley is, or you can make me beat it out of you. Either way works for me."

Leon swallowed again, looking at me over Clara's shoulder. His eyes were pleading, like he actually thought I was going to step in and save him. I returned his stare and my eyes were like ice.

"You have no friends here, Leon, and no one is coming to help you," Clara said.

"I'll give the girl back once Kiara gets that clan to surrender to me," Leon said.

Ethan made a low, angry noise in his throat. He started forward but I stopped him with a hand on his arm. "Let her handle this," I whispered.

The casual, easy way Clara issued her threats made me suspect this wasn't the first time she'd done this.

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