[This post is from Kailey Astoris’s point of view.]
“Now isn’t a good—” Jacqueline glanced back over her shoulder to see who’d opened the door and Kailey swallowed hard, almost retreating. She swallowed once, then again, meeting first Jacqueline’s eyes and then Lin’s.
Her cousin sat ramrod straight in a chair, complexion washed-out, as if something was leaching the life right out of him. There were small gashes on his shoulders and upper arms, deeper ones across his chest. His lips thinned as he stared back at her.
She swallowed hard again. “What happened?” she asked, her throat so tight she could barely speak.
“Long story,” Lin mumbled, looking away—staring at the window at the far side of the cottage, at the curtains that fluttered in the summer breeze. She had a matching set in her room at home; they’d made them together the summer she turned ten from some fabric they’d found in one of the storehouses. “I’m okay.”
“Really,” she whispered, slipping inside and easing the door closed behind her. “I’m not sure how much I believe that.”
Jacqueline shook her head and turned her attention back to the rag in her hand, one already stained pink with Lin’s blood. “He tangled with something that shouldn’t have gotten the drop on him. He will probably be fine assuming that nothing goes horribly sideways.”
Kailey nodded, drifting closer. “What was it? Where?”
“Out in the ravine,” Lin said, closing his eyes for a second. “I was just taking a walk.”
“What jumped you out there?” She stared at the wounds, a chill creeping down her spine. What could have been out there that left cuts like those? They look like claws. A wolf? That would have been more than claw marks, and those would have been in more than one place, not like the ones he has. Something else?
“A camazotzi,” Jacqueline said.
She froze. “Like—like from Uncle Phelan’s stories? Those?”
“Yes,” Jacqueline said softly. “Those.”