Chapter 87

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Hailie jumped to her feet and looked out the window. There were three soldiers at the door but there were shadows moving around the house. She ducked.

"Eli and I will handle this," Kendra said softly. "Hide Hailie and get rid of any evidence."

"I never realized just how annoying soldiers were," Justin said, standing up.

Zigzag grabbed Hailie's bowl and ate the rest of her stew. Indira kicked her bag underneath the couch. Lilly pulled her to her feet.

"Come on," she said.

Lilly pulled her up the stairs and into a room. She pulled away some boards from the corner of the wall. "I found this, this afternoon. Get in."

Small spaces. Hailie hated small spaces.

Lilly shoved her inside and covered the hole. Hailie heard something dragging on the floor.

"I'll come back for you when they're gone," she said. The door closed.

Hailie closed her eyes and hugged her knees to her chest. Maybe getting taken by the soldiers wouldn't be so bad. The prison cells they put her in were much bigger than this hole she was hiding in.

She rested her head against the wall and tried to think of other things, anything except the hole she was in. It was only for a little while. Eli and Kendra would get rid of them and Lilly would come back and let her out of this hole.

The minutes ticked by. She was sure of that since she could hear the ticking of her watch. What was taking them so long?

The door opened. Finally.

Footsteps came closer. She didn't recognize them. She peeked through one of the cracks in the wood. A soldier.

"Did you find her?" someone called. The footsteps came closer. Hailie pressed her back into the wall, closed her eyes and held her breath.

"I don't see her," another voice said.

"She has to be here. The men she was with are staying in this house," the first voice said.

Hailie dug her nails into her leg. She had to stop shaking. This wasn't like the last time. No one was dead. A familiar scent filled her nose when she took a breath. There weren't any bodies outside. It was just her brain trying to trick her. Tears ran down her cheek and she had to bite her tongue to not make a sound.

Minutes or hours later, the wood was pulled away. She tried to get out as quickly as she could, knocking over the person who had opened the hole. He grabbed her and held on tightly so that she couldn't leave.

"Let me go," she said. "I have to get out."

"No. You can't go outside," Eli said.

"I cannot stay here. I need air," she said. She tried to get away but Eli wasn't letting go.

"They're still hanging around outside. You can't leave," he said. Her struggles were getting weaker. "I'm sorry, but you have to stay inside."

She slumped against him. "I want a cigarette."

"You can't smoke this problem away." He held her head to his chest, not seeming to mind the tears, and possibly snot, wetting his shirt. "It's okay. They're gone now. We can go back to the living room and finish eating."

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