Fear covered me like a blanket. The music that had been uplifting now pounded a drum of dread in my heart. Why did it have to be so loud? I pulled desperately on the arm of a nearby boy, spilling some of his beer. “Where’s Amanda?” He rolled his eyes, cursing a little at his spilled beer, and shrugged me off. I turned to another, who gave me the same response. My heart pounded like a freight train in my chest as my eyes tore wildly around the room. I had known this was a bad idea; though there had been no vision, a malevolent feeling had burned in my gut. If my past had taught me anything, it was that I was becoming a good judge of character, and something about Caleb had just seemed off.
The crowd of bodies pressed against me, surging to the beats of the pulsing music. Sweat from those around me joined my own, trickling down my back. I pushed back, fighting my way to the other end of the house where the bathroom and bedrooms lay. He had to have taken her to one of them. A hand grabbed my wrist, and I whirled on a blond surfer type with long hair. At the sight of the fire burning out of my eyes, he let go, holding his hands up in apology. A tipsy blond fell into me, and I shoved her to the side. The bathroom door loomed just ahead.
“Amanda?” I pounded on the white wooden door. “Amanda, open up if you’re in there.” The pounding of my heart was now reverberating in my head, creating a pounding headache that made my eyes hurt.
The lock clicked, and the door opened. A thin brunette in a mini skirt and crop top stumbled out. “There’s no Amanda here.” Her words were a slur and her brown eyes barely focused on me.
I grabbed the girl’s thin shoulders and shook her. “Have you seen her? Red hair? She would have been with Caleb West.”
The girl shook her head and fell into the wall as soon as I released her. Rolling my eyes, I pushed past the girl and opened the first bedroom door. A couple was entwined on the bed, but the girl had blond hair and the face of the man didn’t belong to Caleb.
“Sorry,” I pulled the door shut and moved on the next one. Another couple was heavily involved on this bed too, but again no Amanda.
The next door was locked. This had to be the one. I rattled the handle, but to no avail. “Amanda?” I pounded on the door. “Hey, can you open this?” I grabbed the arm of a nearby male and pointed at the door.
“Sorry, I don’t live here.” The man shrugged and walked away.
“Argh!” I turned back to the door and rammed my slim frame into it. The door didn’t budge. Perhaps a kick would work. I took a step back and planted a perfect front kick. I felt the reverberation up my leg, but not even a tremor from the door. Cursing my weakness, I looked around for anything to wedge in the door. Would they have a crowbar in the house? Would anyone have one in their car?
“Jess!” At the sound of my name, I whirled around. Jared was fighting his way to me through the crowd. Thank goodness he saw my text. A glance at my watch revealed ten minutes had passed since I had texted him when I’d first lost sight of Amanda. I hadn’t trusted even for a moment that she was just getting air somewhere, not with the premonition I’d had. Jared’s disheveled appearance said he’d either just woken up or thrown on clothes in a hurry or both. “Where is she?”
I shook my head, the fear constricting my vocal chords and making them sound higher than normal. “I don’t know. She was right with me, and then I ran into a friend and started talking. They said they were going to get a drink, but when I turned around again, she was gone. It’s my fault.”
“It’s not,” – he ran a hand through his sandy hair – “but we have to find her.” Anger and fear radiated off Jared in waves, and I wondered what else he knew.
“I’ve already checked those two rooms, but this one’s locked.”
“Step aside.” His eyes were wild, the eyes of a man in love.
Acquiescing, I stepped to the side, and Jared pounded on the door. Still no answer came from the other side. He took a step back and rammed the door with his shoulder. This time the wood did tremble, but the door stayed locked. Jared took another step back and rammed the door again. A wonderful terrible splintering sound of wood echoed, and the door opened. I rushed past Jared into the room.
Amanda lay sprawled on the bed. Her shirt was open and her pants were undone, but still on. As Jared entered, I looked up long enough to yell for him to find Caleb; then I returned my focus to Amanda. Her scared eyes flicked back and forth.
Pulling on the comforter, I wrapped it around her. “Can you move?” No head shake, but Amanda’s eyes moved left and then right. “Okay, it’s going to be okay. We’ll get you out of here. Any sign?”
Jared crossed to the bed. “No, the window is open, but he’s gone.” A tear slid out of Amanda’s eyes. “Don’t worry, we’ll find him. He won’t get away with this.” Jared patted her hair tenderly and wiped the tear from her cheek. Then he scooped her up and headed back out the door. “Let’s get her to the hospital.”
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While you can read this book first, two of the characters are introduced in the first and second books, so you will have more background on them if you have read those books first. If not, you can go back afterwards to find out more about them.