Boundless Page 57

The fire’s spread to the heavy curtains at the edge of the stage now, filling the room with thick black smoke that boils in the rafters overhead. The baby starts to cry again, louder this time, angrier. The twins turn toward the sound.

Christian pivots to stand between them and the direction the cry is coming from. He’s amazing with the sword, whirling and cutting, keeping them at bay almost like a dance, so much more than I ever saw in our training together. There’s a fierceness in him that’s breathtaking to behold. But he’s tiring. I can see that, too.

I need to get up, I think. I need to draw my own sword, and help him.

I get my legs under me and shakily rise to my feet.

No, get back, Christian says in my mind. I’ll hold them off. Find the baby.

Web. My shell-shocked brain struggles to focus. I need to get Web.

I stumble up onto the stage and beyond it, backstage into one of the tiny dressing rooms on the side. There’s fabric everywhere, rolls of it lying around, costumes. I paw through them but don’t hit anything solid like a baby. I try to listen for the crying, but it’s stopped again.

“Web!” I call, even though he obviously can’t answer me. “Web, where are you?”

Over to the other side of the stage I go, to another dressing room, but it’s empty. The fire is on this side, and I can literally feel its heat growing. There’s a snapping sound above me, and one of the lenses from a stage light crashes to the floor, making me scream. It’s dark back here, too freaking dark to see anything.

“Cry, Web, cry,” I call. I hear Christian shout out in pain from somewhere above me, near the door to the lobby. I have to do something.

I stagger into the middle of the stage. I don’t see the bright arc of Christian’s sword or the shadows of the twins anymore. The lobby is completely engulfed in flames. There’s not much time left before I won’t be able to breathe or see or fight my way out of here.

But I can’t leave here without Web.

And then I remember the trapdoor. Angela showed it to us once, when we were bored during Angel Club. It’s a space under the stage only big enough for a person to fit, meant for moments in a play when the character should magically disappear.

trp dr

Angela was trying to tell me where he was.

I dash over to the spot and start tearing at the floorboards, then reach deep down into the dark beneath, coughing on account of the growing smoke, and my fingers touch something soft and warm and alive.

I pull out a bundle wrapped in a blanket.

Web.

I don’t take time to get reacquainted. I snug his body into my shoulder and turn and head straight for the back door, which lets out into the alley behind the building.

Christian, I think. I have him. I’m getting out.

But before I make it three steps, I find my path blocked by the twins.

I take a stumbling step back.

They’re my brother’s girlfriend. At least, one of them is.

“Lucy,” I say, blinking at them in confusion.

“Clara Gardner,” says the one with the jangling bracelets, her dark eyes widening in astonishment. “Oh my God.” She smiles. “What a coincidence, me stumbling upon you here, of all places. Clara, I’d like to introduce you to my sister, Olivia,” she says, like we’ve bumped into each other at the country club.

She killed Anna, I think. That girl just killed my friend’s mother.

“Charmed, I’m sure,” says Olivia, although she’s clearly not charmed. “Give us the baby,” she says. “It’s over.”

I glance over my shoulder, back at the auditorium. Where is Christian?

“Oh, we took care of your friend, although he did put up a pretty good fight,” Lucy says offhandedly. “Now hand us the baby. If you give it to us right now, I promise it’ll be quick when I kill you.”

My throat closes in despair at the idea that Christian is lying in the dark below us somewhere, dead or dying, his soul laid bare. I clutch Web to my chest. He’s being so quiet—too quiet, I think—but I can’t worry about that at the moment.

“Give me the baby,” Lucy says.

I shake my head.

She sighs like I am really wrecking her day. “I’m going to enjoy gutting you.” The black dagger appears in her hand. I sense a kind of humming noise from it, a vibration that resonates all through me. She steps closer to me. “I just adore your brother, you know.” She laughs. “He’s the best boyfriend I’ve ever had. So attentive. So sexy. It’s going to be terrible when he finds out his sister died. So tragically too—a fire. He’s going to need so much TLC to get him through it.”

She’s trying to goad me, I realize dully, but nothing in me rises to fight her. I don’t have long now. Out of the corner of my eye I see Olivia start to move in on me from the side. They’re backing me to the edge of the stage. Even if I could fight them, I’d never be able to keep them both at bay. Not with Web in my arms.

They’re closing in for the kill.

I need to summon glory, I think. I don’t know if it will keep them back the way it will for Black Wings, but I need to try. It’s my only shot.

I close my eyes.

I try to empty myself.

Focus.

Every other time I’ve asked it, truly asked it, the light has come to me—that day in the forest with my mother, when I fought Samjeeza; the night of the car accident after prom; any time I’ve truly needed it, it’s been there like it was waiting for the moment to literally shine. But there’s no glory anywhere inside me right now, or if there is, I can’t feel it. I can’t access it.

All I feel is dark. Because I’m going to lose this battle. Christian’s seen it.

I am going to die.

No, comes Christian’s voice in my mind. No, you aren’t.

Tears spring to my eyes. You’re not dead, I say stupidly.

I need you to do what I tell you, exactly when I tell you to. Okay?

Okay.

I hear the sound of sirens in the distance.

“Give. Us. The baby.” Olivia is close enough now that she could easily stab me. She lifts the dagger.

“Go. To. Hell,” I say between clenched teeth. Maybe there is some fire left in me, after all.

Lift Web up over your head! Now! Christian shouts in my mind, and I don’t think, I just do as he asks, I lift the baby, and Christian leaps up from the orchestra pit onto the stage, and his glory sword is a blinding spray of light as it passes through me from shoulder to hip. I can feel it slicing through my clothes, but when it touches my skin, there’s only warmth.

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