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A Trail of Echoes(A Shade of Vampire,Book 18)(7) by Bella Forrest

“Let’s go,” I said.

River looked at me nervously as I led her to the door.

There was hardly anything I could say to comfort her when I was a bag of nerves myself. I swallowed hard, my mouth watering just at the thought of passing by a human in the corridor. Clenching my jaw, I swung the door open and we stepped outside.

To my anguish, we passed many more humans on the way down than we had on the way up. It was early in the evening, and the ship had come alive with people going to dinner and heading up to the deck to participate in the nighttime entertainment.

River gripped me so hard, if she’d had claws, they would’ve pierced right through my flesh. But thanks to River’s conscientiousness, we made it off the ship and onto the jetty without any bloodshed.

Chapter 4: River

As soon as our feet hit the ground, we hurried across the harbor toward a tourist shop. We stopped here to buy another, more detailed map of the area, and then we made our way toward the nearest road. This time, I didn’t run. I allowed Ben to carry me, which meant that we moved a lot faster. Racing partly on the road, and partly through the desert, he carried me through the late hours of the night until we ended up in a harbor in Ismailia. I was relieved that we hadn’t got caught out in the desert when the sun rose without any shelter for Ben, but it also meant that nobody was around, so we’d have no choice but to take another boat.

Ben chose a vessel that was much larger and sturdier than the speedboat we’d found before, and equipped with lots of extra fuel. I headed below deck to have a look around while Ben figured out how to start the boat. As soon as the engine stuttered and the boat moved forward, I froze.

Footsteps sounded outside, and then three guttural voices shouted in Arabic at once.

“Hey! Stop!”

I shot back up to the deck to see three men dressed in uniform racing toward us carrying guns.

Oh, crap. Security.

I hurried toward Ben, who’d poked his head out of the control room at the commotion. On eyeing the men, he looked ready to pounce. I stood in front of him, blocking his view of the men as they each boarded jet skis and began speeding toward us.

“Just keep the boat moving,” I called back to Ben. “I’ll try to… deal with this.”

Even as Ben ramped up the speed, the men were quickly gaining on us.

Guns began firing as they continued to yell and demand that we stop.

If we ignored them any longer, they’d catch up with the boat and try to board it. And then they’d be directly within Ben’s reach.

I rushed down the stairs to the storage room beneath the deck and looked around frantically. I was relieved when I found what I’d hoped to see—a weapon. A rifle to be precise. Grabbing it, I made my way back up to the deck.

I had only practiced using a gun once before in my life, and it was nothing this large, but I didn’t have time to doubt myself. As I arrived back on the deck, I ducked down and crawled toward the edge of the boat. I sensed them only feet away now.

I didn’t want to harm these people. But we needed to get them off our tail.

Using all the speed that I possessed, I raised myself and began firing wildly over their heads. I was scared that I might actually hit one of them because my hands were so unsteady, but thankfully, my idea ended up working. Having no cover at all, the men had no choice but to fall back and return to shore.

Thank God.

As I made my way back to the front of the boat where Ben was, my hands were still shaking. I sat next to Ben and looked at him. His eyes were set forward, fixed in concentration.

Then he eyed the gun I was holding, and raised a brow. “Did you kill them?”

“No. I could have just let them climb aboard and come near you if I’d wanted to do that… I just scared them off.”

Leaning the rifle against the dashboard, I put thoughts of the men aside.

“So now we’re headed for the Red Sea,” I said. “Do you think this boat will last us?”

“I hope so.”

I hoped so too, because I really didn’t fancy stopping by another port to meet with more security personnel. Or stealing another boat for that matter.

I tried not to think too much about it, and instead just focused on the immediate stretch of journey ahead of us.

I leaned back against the wall, and to my annoyance, started shivering again. This coldness was really becoming tiresome. It wasn’t even cold outside.

I left Ben and went back down to the lower deck. I entered the bedroom—a small, basic room that could have done with a good refurbishment. But at least it was clean. I tore off the blanket from the double bed and wrapped it around my shoulders before leaving the room and heading back up to join Ben in the control room.

But as I climbed the stairs, I stopped short.

Noises filled my ears—noises that didn’t belong on this boat. The echoing of footsteps, the dripping of water, the murmuring of people talking around me, the sound of… grinding.

My tattoo prickled uncomfortably.

I scrambled up the steps and ran toward Ben. He looked at me in surprise as I clutched his shoulders.

“I hear it,” I said, my eyes wide. “I hear what you hear. It’s like… It’s like we never left.”

Chapter 5: River

After the noises disappeared a few minutes later, I was surrounded again by the sound of water lapping against the boat.

My breathing was quick and shallow as the prickling in my arm began to subside. Looking down at the skin around the etching, I could’ve sworn that it was glowing with a slight tinge of red.