Chapter Thirty-Nine

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May was slouched low in her seat, examining the finer intricacies of the Star cannon in the creeping light of morning, when the vehicle slowed to a stop. Lety cut the engine, and the silence that followed was heavy.

The sun's first rays were blazing over the horizon, chasing away the night. Drawing herself up, May peered out the window. They were parked at one end of a long gravel drive that lead to an old two storey farmhouse, standing like a sentinel in the middle of an empty field. All the lights in the house were off, and with the early morning mist drifting across the land, it looked rather haunted.

"Where are we?" May asked. Her throat was parched and her voice croaked.

"WIND HQ," Dom answered. He was holding a stack of folded clothes out to Lety, who was taking one item at a time. She shimmied into them as best she could from the driver's seat.

"I've been driving all over this barren wasteland for the last three hours," Lety grunted as she pulled a sports bra over her head. "If we were ever being followed, I've definitely lost 'em by now."

May glanced over to where Welkin and Jeremy sat in stony silence. Dark circles hung under Jeremy's eyes. Arms crossed, he slumped against the door with an expression of exhaustion and defeat on his face. Beside him, Welkin's posture was rigid. They appeared as fresh as always, but there was an undeniable hint of anxiety playing behind their golden eyes. May recognized the way that look reflected the jittery feeling in her own heart.

"So, what do we do now?" she asked.

Dom twisted in his seat. He looked confused.
"We're going inside." He looked at Jeremy, seeking confirmation, which he received in the form of a weak shrug.

"Priva doesn't sleep much, so she'll probably be on guard right now." He peered at the house. His eyes searched the windows for signs of life. "I'll bet she has the whole house up by the time we get down the driveway."

May's breath hitched. Her eyes followed Jeremy's and raked over the creepy little house in the field. Em was in there, somewhere behind those peeling clapboard walls and dusty windows. Maybe she was already awake; maybe she was looking back at that very moment. After all these weeks and miles, now only minutes separated the two of them. May was surprised to find herself wrestling with both desperate excitement and overwhelming apprehension.

She wanted to see Em so badly that her chest actually ached. But when she thought about reaching out and laying her hands on her, she wasn't sure if it would be to embrace Em or shake her.

The sound of Welkin clearing their throat pulled her from her waking dream.

"Would one of you mind letting me out of the vehicle?"

"Where are you going?" May asked.

"You don't need to walk there," Lety said. "I'm gonna drive us down."

Welkin sighed. Their shoulders sank. "I'm sorry, but I can't go with you."

Jeremy lurched forward with such force that his seat belt seized with a snap, trapping him into place. "No fucking way. You're not taking off now. She needs you!"

"I can't believe I'm about to say this, but... I agree with Jeremy." May reached out and clutched Welkin's wrist. "Em has been searching for you for so long. You can't just leave."

The Star's features pinched as tears welled in their golden eyes. They drew in a quivering breath and looked down, ashamed. "I wish I could explain, but I can't. That I'm here is bad enough. Please don't make me feel worse than I already do."

May and Jeremy locked eyes from opposite sides of the back seat, one looking just as confused as the other and just as unwilling to budge.

"Where are you going to go?" Dom asked. "We're kind of in the middle of nowhere."

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