Chapter Thirty

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The house was silent by the time I reached it. I hoped they were asleep, not dead.

Snow got caught between the laces of my boots as I trudged my way to the back door. Surprisingly, the snow hadn't fallen for nearly a day now. Would it finally be over for good? The thought excited me before I realized how many more problems melting snow could cause. There had to be at least ten feet of snow beneath my feet right then.

I reached the back door and turned the door knob. Locked. Or maybe frozen if they hadn't used it in a long time.

Great.

I had no clue how to pick a lock and doubted smashing the glass would help. I had to be quiet and discretely get everyone out. Otherwise, Claudia and John would take down at least a few of us with guns before we even exited the house.

I needed another way.

An idea struck me.

The windows.

It seemed like a terrible idea, but I had to. Seeing the stakes, this was the most efficient option I could think of.

But, of course, it had to involve more climbing.

At least this time would be easier. There was a tree next to one of the upper level windows. If I fell, though, it'd be a two-story fall. I would either die, or get lucky and break something. Either way, my mission would fail.

Trying not to think about that, I began climbing the tree, shoving my boot into whatever openings in the bark I could find. Fortunately, the windiness gave an excuse for why the tree was suddenly shaking to a viewer from the inside. Unfortunately, it was windy enough that, once I reached the upper branches, it was going to be more difficult to hold on.

As I made it closer to the window, my fingers gripped harder into the bark. I felt the wind whip my hair into my face. I kept moving.

The window was directly in front of me. I could see its shades.

A sudden gust almost blew me off my branch. I leaned lower to the bark. I let the wind blow against my face so the strands of hair that had been blocking my vision blew away. Carefully, I moved an inch closer to the window, feeling the branch shake with my movement. It was barely ten inches in diameter. The size only petered off the closer I got to the window.

I got as close as possible without breaking the branch. My legs straddled the thin branch as I touched the freezing glass window that separated the rest of the world from the inside.

I began swiping away the snow that had piled up on top of the clips that kept the window locked in place. My greatest fear was that those, too, would be frozen, but somehow when all the snow was gone it didn't look that bad.

I should not have said that.

I tried pushing the clips up, but they refused to budge. I exerted a greater force and felt the clip move just slightly. But it wasn't enough. There was still much farther to go.

In my haste to get inside, I slammed my shoulder against the window. I paused for a second and muttered a curse under my breath. If Claudia or John heard, I'd be screwed.

I put more effort into getting inside. Now that it was possible someone heard me, I needed to move quickly. With the position I was in now, anyone could shoot me. There weren't many ways I could move to avoid it.

My fingers were freezing as I continued pushing on the clip. I couldn't even feel the pressure against my thumb. I had to get inside. No matter how hard it was, I had to get in the room so I could save them.

This was the thought that kept me pushing on that clip.

I was so close...so, so close...

Suddenly, the clip slipped out of my fingers. There was a loud clicking sound and a blast of warm air hit me in the face.

I almost fell off the branch in surprise.

Asten stared at me with raised eyebrows. "I'm not even going to ask."



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