Chapter Thirty-One

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I opened my mouth to respond, but wasn't sure what to say.

I'd made it in. That was all that mattered.

"Asten...," I said, still in shock, before blinking and realizing I was still in the tree, while everyone in the house was still at risk.

All of it would be ruined if Claudia or John was in the room behind him. I tried looking over his shoulder, and still couldn't tell. If they were there, they probably would already be on top of us.

"Calestia...where have you been?" he asked, just as I began to move through the window and into the house.

I didn't answer his question. "We need to leave. Right now," I blurted, before quieting my voice. "We're not safe here."


"It's why Callie's sick, there's a prison in the basement. Just..." My voice was getting louder as fear began to shroud my thoughts. Who knew how long it would take them to realize I was no longer locked up? For all I knew, they could be coming up the stairs right now with guns, prepared to take everyone down. "Trust me. Wake everyone up. Silently."

Out of every room I could've ended up in, thankfully, it was one of our bedrooms.

I turned to the boy closest to me and shook his shoulder softly. His eyes opened and I put a finger to my lips. I couldn't have anyone making too much noise. I continued to go around to anyone else in the room who wasn't already awake, before going to the girls' room next door.

It took only five minutes to get everyone awake and standing together in one room. Asten and I stood facing the rest of the group, the undeclared leaders in the situation. I found it funny how quickly I'd become attached to them when only a week ago I would have hidden. I wondered what my week-ago self would say in response to where I was now.

"We have to get out of here," I announced as quietly as possibly. "This house isn't safe. I came across their basement...they have a prison down there and I don't know why, but I have a feeling that it has something to do with us since they imprisoned me in their shed when I found it."

Asten stood by my side and I waited for him to add something, but he didn't speak. I nodded and turned towards the door. It was time to go.

But just as I was leaving, the door slammed open in front of me.

Just as I'd imagined, Claudia and John stood on the other side of the door. Claudia stood slightly in front of John, holding a large gun in her hands as she pointed it at us.

"Don't move...," she whispered. "Put your hands up and drop any weapons you have."

My eyes widened in fear as I began to put my hands in the air. We had been so close to getting out. But after all my work trying to escape the shed, then climbing the tree to get up here, we'd still been caught.

Everyone else in the room followed my lead. I heard the thud of Jadyn's knife and a few other clatters. When Claudia and John were satisfied, they walked forward and Claudia let her gun slip lower.

"Good," she muttered, before gesturing with her gun towards the door. "You're going to walk down stairs and take a right towards the dining area. There will be a door that you will go through." She didn't have to add what would happen if we didn't comply.

I trusted she wasn't kidding. I began walking out the door begrudgingly, then down the stairs...and finally towards the metal door that lead down to the basement.

I stopped in front of the door, feeling my heart begin to race like the first time when I'd seen it. Except, back then, I'd avoided being seen. Now, I was in full view of everyone.

"Continue...," Claudia whispered from right behind me. My fingers were starting to shake as I reached for the handle. I paused before grabbing it. "Continue," she repeated with more force.

I pulled the door open, feeling the familiar musty draft and seeing the white walls from earlier. This was the only way in and out. Once I stepped down onto the first stair, I would be trapped. It would be over.

Sucking in a deep breath, I stepped down onto the first white cement step leading into our prison.

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