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A Wind of Change(A Shade of Vampire,Book 17)(19) by Bella Forrest

I remained still for several moments, turning my head to look toward them from my position against the ground. Although two men were still looking in my direction, it seemed that they either hadn’t noticed me, or just weren’t interested. They turned their backs and headed back toward the rest of the crowd.

I breathed a little more easily. Raising my head higher, I stood up slowly.

I began to move closer, but to my dismay, the conversation had died down by the time I was close enough to hear. Most of them were now staring northward in silence, guns in their hands and those odd red flashing boxes scattered around the area. I looked north myself, trying to understand what they were all staring at. I couldn’t see anything but endless sand dunes.

What are they all waiting for?

I decided to start walking in the direction where they were staring. I kept down low against the ground, careful to keep an eye out for creepy-crawlies. I had to catch my scream in my throat as a hideous black scorpion scuttled out from a hole in the sand about a foot away. It nearly crawled over my feet.

After that, I remained standing, praying that I wouldn’t encounter another dangerous creature before I returned to the truck.

I swerved out wider, further away from the men to avoid being seen, and continued walking north, looking back every now and then to be sure nobody had noticed me.

I was about to see the futility of my attempt and return to the vehicle when a sharp pain filled my skull. It felt like I’d just walked headfirst into a wall. I staggered back, cursing and clutching my forehead.

What in the world…?

Reaching out a hand, I was shocked to find something hard.

I’ve got to be hallucinating.

I stretched out my other hand. That also touched something hard. It was the most bizarre thing I’d ever experienced in my life, like some kind of invisible barrier. I moved my hands along the hard surface. It felt neither rough nor smooth… I didn’t even know how to describe its texture, if it even had a texture. It just hurt like hell to walk into.

Blinking hard, I looked toward the truck still parked up on the mound of sand. Then I looked back at the tanks. I didn’t think that I was hallucinating.

What is this? I walked further, keeping my hands against this strange invisible force field. After twenty minutes of walking, I was about to run back to the car to get Fariss and ask what he thought when I heard a voice. A male voice, speaking English.

“No, Marilyn.”

It sounded like it was coming from behind the barrier and yet, when I looked straight through it, I saw nothing but sand. Where is it coming from? It sounded so close.

Then there was a wailing—presumably a female’s.

The male voice spoke again. “Why don’t you go and spend the night with your boyfriend for a change?”

“Because he’s not mine anymore! He’s got a new girlfriend!” She sounded hysterical.

Where on earth are these people? I found myself looking in all directions, even down at the ground, wondering if there was some kind of bunker beneath me. No. It was coming from behind this strange invisible wall.

Clenching my fists, I called out, “Who are you?”

The man and woman fell silent.

Rapid footsteps crossed the sand, and then I heard deep breathing only feet away from me. My heart hammered against my chest. I felt a presence so close to me, and yet I still couldn’t see anyone.

Could they be… ghosts?

I shook myself.

Don’t be so stupid.

Ghosts don’t exist.

“What brings a young woman like you out here so late?” The male spoke.

I shuddered at the proximity of his voice.

“I’m looking for my sister,” I replied, even as I felt crazy for talking to thin air. “A six-year-old girl. She went missing about twenty-four hours ago. She’s plump, has brown hair, turquoise eyes and light tan skin. H-Have you—?”

Before I could finish my question, a cold hand shot out from nowhere and gripped my wrist. Next thing I knew, I was being pulled through what had previously been an impenetrable barrier. I landed on the ground near a pair of large feet. Shock coursing through my veins, I raised my eyes to see a tall, blond-haired, brown-eyed young man standing over me. He was terribly pale and there was a strange vibrancy to his irises, almost as though he were wearing special contact lenses.

“Yes,” he responded calmly, his gaze roaming the length of my body. “We have your sister. And now we have you.”

Chapter 6: River

I screamed as the man bent down and gripped my neck with his freezing hands. His grip was so strong, he could crush my windpipe with the slightest bit of pressure.

He raised me to my feet and stared down at me.

“Who are you?” I choked.

He ignored me and looked over at a blonde woman standing next to him. She also looked unnaturally pale. I strained to see where I’d just been pulled through. I was able to spot the white truck in the distance.

“Help!” I shouted.

“That’s it,” the man said softly, looking up toward where I was looking. “Call for help. See what good it does you.”

To my surprise, he let go of me. I made a dash toward the vehicle but smashed into the barrier again, the same barrier I’d just been pulled through. I continued yelling for help.

The truck’s engine roared in the distance and it began trundling down the sand dunes toward us, headlights on full blast. It approached near where I was standing, then drove right past. I could see Bashira and Fariss looking around in bewilderment.