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A Wind of Change(A Shade of Vampire,Book 17)(18) by Bella Forrest

“Give me four hours.”

“Then can you sleep in one of the spare rooms here? Traveling back to your home will just waste time.”

“Okay,” he said.

I took him up the stairs and showed him one of the spare bedrooms. I met my grandfather on the staircase on my way back down to the ground floor.

“Fariss is sleeping in one of the bedrooms,” I said. “He agreed to take me back to the desert, to where we saw those tanks.”

My grandfather stared at me. “I don’t understand what good returning there will do. Yusuf said that you already asked them and they had no idea about the situation.”

“I just don’t believe them,” I said. “I want to return there with Fariss to watch them for a few hours. Perhaps overnight.”

“I don’t like the idea of you two going alone. If you insist on going, I’ll come with you.”

“No, Grandpa. You should stay. Dafne needs someone from her family here. If you want to send another person with me, then ask Bashira if she will come.”

He sighed, then nodded. “Let’s ask Bashira.”

We headed to the kitchen where she was seated, looking pale and sipping from a cup of tea. We explained the plan and she agreed with little hesitation. So it was decided. Once Fariss finished sleeping, we would head back to the desert.

The next four hours were possibly the hardest of my life. They felt like an eternity. I tried to find things to do around the house—like search for a flashlight to pack in my travel backpack and take a shower—but nothing made the time pass any more quickly. My grandfather suggested calling my mother, but I refused. I kept telling myself that we would find Lalia soon. That there was no need to worry my mother. We’d tell her the story once Lalia was safe at home again. I had to keep thinking like this, otherwise I would sink into a pit of despair. I had to stay strong. We all had to.

Finally the staircase creaked and Fariss descended it. He looked refreshed. He looked from me to my grandfather. “Will you be coming, sir?” he asked.

My grandfather shook his head. “Bashira and River will be going with you.”

“Very well,” he said.

In the meantime, Bashira had been preparing lots of food and water to take with us in case something happened and we got stuck out in the desert longer than we had expected. I wanted to stay at least the whole night in the desert, camp out in the car and keep an eye on the Americans to see what they were doing—assuming they were even still there.

I gave my grandfather a hug. Then we exited the house and climbed back into the white truck.

We sped up along the road, and although the tank was nearly full, we stopped by a gas station and filled it right up. We also stocked up on some extra fuel just in case we ran out.

And then we headed straight for the desert. We barely talked as we traveled beneath the late-afternoon sun. I just kept looking straight ahead through the windshield. About halfway, exhaustion caught up with me. My eyelids began to droop. I figured it was better to take a nap now than tonight when I needed to be alert and watching. I drifted in and out of sleep for the rest of the journey.

“Over there,” Fariss said, pointing to a cluster of tanks in the distance. I was relieved that they were still here.

“Good,” I said, leaning forward in my seat. “We should try to remain hidden from them. I don’t want them to know that we’re spying on them.” We had stopped on a raised mound of sand that sloped downward toward the area where the tanks were stationed. This gave us a good view of their camp. But we were too exposed for my liking. Fariss pulled back a little so that we were a bit less visible but could still see everything that was going on.

And then the wait began. Once the sun had set behind the horizon, men began to climb out of the tanks and stretch their legs. I rummaged in the front compartment of the vehicle and found a pair of binoculars. I looked through them and zoomed in to get a better look.

They all seemed to wear belts with the same equipment I’d seen the two men wearing the other night—sharp wooden spears, silver guns, and boxlike objects with flashing lights. I also noticed some other odd-looking technology that I couldn’t put a name to. Some of them sat on top of the tanks, looking north, while others walked around the area or leaned against the tanks, eating and talking.

What I wouldn’t give to overhear their conversations.

I looked at Fariss, then at Bashira—who was beginning to nod off in the backseat of the car.

“I need to hear what they’re saying,” I whispered.

“Miss Giovanni,” Fariss said, looking nervous, “you didn’t say that you would want to leave the truck.”

“I promise I’ll be fine, I just need to do this.”

I grabbed my backpack and a bottle of water, opened the door and stepped out onto the ground.

“Miss Giovanni,” Fariss called, “don’t go too far. And watch out for dangerous creatures—cobras and scorpions in particular.”

I gulped. “Thanks.” I put the bottle of water into my backpack and then pulled out the flashlight, tucked it into my belt and flung the bag back over my shoulders. Then I positioned the hood of my dark-colored jacket so that it covered my face as much as possible.

I began making my way down the slope. Of course I couldn’t use my flashlight or I would attract their attention. That was just in case of an emergency. I had to go by the light of the moon and stars.

When I was level with the tanks, I could already hear better. I was just about close enough to begin making sense of their words when two men turned toward me. I dropped to the ground, hoping that they hadn’t noticed. And that I hadn’t just dropped down near some kind of deadly creature.