My mother had always told me to picture what I wanted; if I believed it to be true, it would happen. I’d been doing that all night as I sat in the chair beside Raphael’s bed.
He hadn’t woken up yet. No one knew what that meant, but it couldn’t be a good sign. His exhale had taken on a rasping rattle that made my lungs burn in sympathy. But that wasn’t the worst part.
His aura was changing. It was usually blue and purple with touches of white. Now, it was turning a muddy brown. It was like his soul was slowly disappearing. I’d cried a little at first, but as time ticked by, I grew more and more determined.
I’d go. Find the magic I needed to save my brother and defeat Luciana. Use the distance to figure out how to break Luciana’s hold on me.
My backpack sat at my feet. I’d stuffed it until I could barely get the flap closed. I was showered. My hair was braided. I was as ready as I’d ever be.
When I shook off the sleepless trance long enough to check the time, I realized it had gotten away from me. Muraco would be by any minute now, and this might be the last time I saw my brother alive.
No. I stood up and paced away from the bed. I rested my forehead against the cool wall, trying to calm down but failing.
I couldn’t think like that. I had to fix this. There was no other choice.
A soft tap sounded at my door just before five in the morning. I brushed my sweating palms on my jeans.
“Are you ready, child?” Muraco said as soon as I opened the door. His white hair stood out brightly against his darkly tanned, wrinkled skin. He was tall, but walked with a little bit of a hunch. His golden aura had threads of darker oranges and reds running through it. Most of the wolves here had very one-note auras, but his was rich and varied. The deeper highlights told me he was special. He had to be much stronger than he looked. And much, much older.
He huffed and turned, heading down the hallway.
I leaned over my brother and kissed his clammy forehead. “Hang in there for me. Don’t you dare give up.”
With that, I hoisted my pack and started after Muraco. When I reached the door, I didn’t dare look back.
The next time I saw Raphael, I’d be handing him the cure he needed.
A black SUV was idling in the parking lot. I didn’t know which Cazador had to take us to the airport, but I felt a little bad about the early hour. I could’ve driven. I had a license. Not that I used it much… But I had it.
“You will do this,” Muraco said when I got in the car.
I placed my backpack between my feet and buckled in. “Of course.” I stared out the window as the car began to move.
So long, I thought to myself as the driver sped out of St. Ailbe’s parking lot. Only the unknown lay ahead of me. Even with all my worry, there was hope. I just had to hold on to that feeling and not let go.
By the time we landed in Cusco, I was ready to be done traveling. It’d taken two flights and most of the day. Since Mr. Dawson had to get my ticket so last minute, I was at the back of the plane, while Muraco was at the front. I didn’t mind, but now I was anxious. In all the rush, we hadn’t coordinated where we’d meet after this last leg of our journey.
At least I’d found a new hope to latch onto. As soon as we’d taken off in San Antonio, I’d felt my oath to Luciana start thinning
I’d let sleep take me in the middle of the first flight, but I’d been in the aisle seat. The guy in the middle seat hadn’t liked it when my head rested on his shoulder and he couldn’t wake me. He’d been pretty upset.
Since I was on the aisle again for the second leg of the trip, I fought sleep the whole way from Lima to Cusco. I didn’t want to cause another scene, but a handful of hours of sleep in the past few days made it extremely difficult to keep my eyes open. Thankfully, it wasn’t a long flight.
I waited to exit my aisle, holding only my small purse. I texted Teresa quickly and then shut the phone off as the roaming warnings started buzzing in. I’d borrowed Raphael’s cell, but I would pay for the bill. It would be expensive if I wasn’t extremely careful. I looked past the man sitting next to me to stare out the window as I waited for everyone in front to clear the way. The sun was setting outside the airplane window, spreading beautiful pinks and oranges across the sky.
“Ma’am?” the guy sitting next to me said, impatient to get out of the aisle.
“Sorry.” I moved too quickly and tripped over my own feet. Just the way I wanted to start this out. “Sorry,” I mumbled again to no one in particular and started down the aisle.