“Is it Luc?” I asked, scrubbing my hand down my face.
“No,” she answered. “I need you to get up.”
“What time is it?”
“It’s a little after two.” Mom backed away from the bed as I dropped my hand. “I need you to get up,” she repeated.
A second later, the ceiling light came on, flooding the room with a stark white glow. Wincing, I threw my arm up to shield my eyes from the bright glare. Mom hurried over to my dresser and crouched in front of it, grabbing what appeared to be my undies.
“What are you doing?” I rose onto my elbows. “Did you get my message—”
“There’s not a lot of time to explain,” she said without looking at me. “And I need you to do exactly what I tell you, Evie, because they’re coming for you.”27Icy fear paralyzed me. Some kind of primal instinct told me who they were, and I knew, I just knew.
“The Daedalus?” I asked.
Mom rose swiftly from the dresser and hurried to my side. Kneeling down, she clasped my hand in her cold ones. I stared at her, my chest rising and falling heavily. “I’m sorry,” she said, her face pale. The thin lines at the corners of her eyes seemed deeper than normal, more noticeable. “I’m so sorry.”
“What’s going on? Where’s—?”
“Oh, Evie.” Mom closed her mouth and shook her head before she squeezed my hand. “Things at work have gotten out of hand.”
“You know what happened today?” I asked.
Her eyes searched mine as she clasped my cheeks. Her hands were like blocks of ice. “Things are about to start happening, and when they do, it’s all going to happen fast. Do you understand?” Letting go, she rose. “People won’t even realize until it’s too late.”
“People won’t realize what?”
She let out a shaky breath as she swallowed hard. “It was a part of the plan. From the beginning. They let all of this happen, but they lost control, and we need to leave.”
“What plan? What are you talking about?” Nausea twisted my stomach. “Do you know what—?”
“Yes. I know. So do they.”
I stared at her from where I sat. If she knew and they knew, then that meant she’d always known. And then she’d lied.
“I’ll explain what I can, but I need you to get up and get ready.” Mom turned to my desk. I saw my purple weekender bag sitting there, the cute one with the blue polka dots. It looked packed full. “Just do what I’m asking. Please.”
Rising on shaky legs, I watched her walk over to my closet. She snatched a pair of dark-rinse jeans off the shelf. “Here. Put these on.”
Feeling way out of it, I took the jeans from her and dropped them on the bed. She grabbed a sweater. The hanger spun and fell to the bottom of the closet. The fact that she didn’t pick up the hanger or comment on how messy my closet was freaked me out more than anything. She’d lied—she’d been lying, but the way she was acting …
Something bad was going down.
She handed the sweater over to me. “Evie, I really need you to get dressed now.”
For a few seconds, I couldn’t move, and then I took the sweater. Mom’s hands were shaking as she smoothed the flyaway hair back from her face. She was dressed like she’d just gotten home from work. Dark slacks and a white blouse. She was even wearing what she called her sensible pumps, black shoes with a low heel. She’d obviously come straight from Fort Detrick.
Mom stopped in front of me again, cupping my cheek with one hand and brushing my hair back with the other. “God, Evie, I never wanted this day to come.”
Air hitched in my throat as I dropped my shirt on the bed and clasped her wrists. “You know what happened to me?”
“Please, Evie. There’s no time.” Her eyes, those brown contacts, met mine. They were watery. “It’ll be okay, I promise you, but I need you to get ready.”
I didn’t believe her for one second.
Even if everything that happened today never had, being woken up like this in the middle of the night did not mean things were going to be okay.
Leaning down, Mom pressed her lips to the center of my forehead. “I know you have questions, but I need you to trust me.”
My lower lip trembled as I took a step back. “But I don’t.”
She flinched as if I’d smacked her, lowering her hands. “I deserve that. I do. But please, get ready.”
Suddenly wanting to cry and scream all at once, I forced myself to nod as my stomach flipped and flopped. Shimmying out of my bottoms, I grabbed the jeans and pulled them on.
Where was Luc?
Mom walked to the foot of the bed as she pulled out her cell phone and glanced down at it. “Come on,” she murmured, pressing her lips together as her finger tapped on the screen. “Come on.”