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       Lost Girl, p.23

           Chanda Hahn
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  “Who?” Peter asked, his mind whirling with possibilities.

  “A traitor in your own midst.” Michael laughed. “And you didn’t even know it.”

  “Who are you talking about?” Peter yelled, his fists clenching as he tried to control his emotions.

  “Jax,” Wendy whispered. “It’s Jax. He’s still alive and he’s working with the Red Skulls.”

  “I don’t believe you.” Peter shook his head.

  Wendy touched his arm and he looked into her blue eyes and saw the truth.

  A shadow flew behind Michael, and Peter watched it fly in circles—in what looked like agitation. He tried to ignore the shadow, but it dove past him and straight into Wendy’s body. What?

  Michael couldn’t see the shadow.

  Her head fell backward, and she convulsed for a second. Then the shadow moved through her and out the other side.

  “You hurt me, Wendy. Real bad. But I know it wasn’t your fault. It’s his.”

  Wendy’s eyes flew open and she screamed, lunging for Peter. He couldn’t take his eyes off her, didn’t understand what was happening. He just wanted her to be well.

  Suddenly, Wendy shoved him in the chest just as gunfire exploded in the air. Peter spun and saw the smoking gun in Michael’s hand. The young boy let it clatter to the ground, his face white at missing his target.

  A feeling of dread overcame him. Peter turned.

  Wendy stood in the exact spot he’d been moments ago. Her face was ashen, her right hand covering her chest, blood seeping between her fingers. She looked to him and tried to say his name, but blood bubbled up out of her lips.

  “NOOOO!” Peter wailed.

  Wendy stumbled, and fell backward off the roof.

  Chapter Forty

  She was weightless, and the sky seemed so bright as she fell. She heard Peter scream, and then he caught her midair.

  They were flying. The cold wind rushed against her cheeks as he flew down to the path on the other side of Neverwood and gently set her down on the ground. The shock of the flight wore off, and…it hurt to breathe.

  “Pe—ter?” Wendy gasped out. Blood pooled in her mouth.

  “Oh, Wendy, I’m so sorry. I failed you again.”

  “I-I-I’m…” She started to choke as tears poured from her eyes. “I’m scared, Peter.”

  He wrapped his arms around her. “Shh, it will be okay. I promise. It will be over soon, and you’ll be right as rain again.” He was dying inside knowing he was losing her. She had already panned twice. He prayed she’d have one more in her.

  “I don’t want to die. I’ll forget everything…I’ll forget you.” She was whining, and every word was like a dagger slowly twisting in him.

  Her death was only seconds away…and his helplessness infuriated him. It was all his fault. He was the one who kept doing this to her, and he realized he couldn’t continue to hurt those he loved. He wanted to protect Wendy, even if it meant protecting her from himself.

  “Peter, I’ll forget that…I love you.” Her tears soaked his shirt, mingling with the blood. She coughed again, struggled for breath. “I…don’t want to forget you…ever.”

  Peter gritted his teeth as tears burned in his eyes. “I love you, Wendy. I have since we were children…and this time I promise to take you home.”

  “To Neverwood?” she asked. Her chest rattled in the throes of death.

  Tears blurred his vision. Her voice sounded distant…weak.

  “Wendy, forget everything. Forget Neverwood. Forget me.”

  He leaned down and gently pressed a kiss on her forehead as Wendy died in his arms.

  Wendy felt something wet hit her cheek. She was just waking up when she heard someone whisper her name. She groaned and opened her eyes but no one was there. The only movement came from a gently moving curtain next to the bedroom window.

  It was early morning. Sunlight was streaming in.

  It took a few moments to focus on what she was seeing. She was lying on a bed with a white and pink duvet. It was someone’s bedroom. Whose? She moved her arm but her whole body was sore, stiff.

  It was a struggle to sit up in the bed—littered with way too many throw pillows. Who on earth had this many stupid throw pillows? There was an especially ugly one, with a stitched peacock on it, placed right in the middle, like a place of honor. Wendy let her feet touch the floor, and she noticed the grass stains on her pants…and the condition of the rest of her clothes.

  Her shirt was ripped and stained with something dark—blood?—across the front. No way she could save it. She was going to have to get a new one. Wendy stood up and grabbed onto the white dresser for support—her right leg almost gave out on her. Her arm felt stiff, and her chest hurt when she tried to breathe. She looked in the mirror and poked her finger through the hole in her shirt.

  “What?” Wendy couldn’t believe the red scar on her chest. How? When? It looked fresh, but that wasn’t possible. She must have hit her head harder than she thought, since that was the only explanation for what she imagined.

  She looked down at the dresser and saw a hairbrush, curling iron, and lipstick. A handmade collage of photos were pinned on a corkboard on the wall next to the dresser. Wendy shuffled over and stared at the photos. A happy teenage girl wearing a cheer uniform stared back at her. The same girl had her arms wrapped around another girl. There was one of her in a prom dress. She recognized the face, because she had just seen it seconds ago in the mirror. Her own face stared back at her.

  This was her house. Her room.

  That was her prom.

  Wendy heard a dog bark and she looked out the open window to see a long shadow fly across the yard. She looked up but didn’t see anything. Just a morning jogger. She didn’t recognize the blue Prius parked out front or the white Nissan. She didn’t even recognize the house across the street.

  She changed shirts, tossing her ripped one in the trash.

  She limped toward the bedroom door. With each step, she felt like she was getting stronger, gaining more control of her weakened limbs. She opened the door and peered out into the strange hallway before stepping out and walking down onto the landing.

  A family portrait hung on the wall. All she could do was stare.

  A gentleman with a five o’clock shadow rested his hand on the woman’s shoulder. She had a very warm smile. Standing in back was a teenage boy who resembled the man, and Wendy herself smiled serenely in the front. She swallowed, feeling ill. Apparently, these strangers were her family.

  The teenage boy threw the door open, his mouth filled with white foam and a toothbrush dangling precariously from his lips. “You’re back?” White paste sputtered everywhere. He ducked back into the bathroom to spit and rinse. The kid rushed back into the hall, his lower lip quivering. The boy’s eyes became glassy, and he wrapped his arms around Wendy and started to cry.

  “I’m so glad you’re safe.”

  “John, honey, time to eat.” A woman’s voice—a familiar one—called from downstairs.

  John. His name was John. Wendy felt like one huge hurdle had been overcome. Now how many more before she could put the pieces of her shattered soul together?

  At the smell of breakfast, her mouth began to water. Bacon. And she suddenly craved ice cream.

  John let go of her and motioned for her to go downstairs ahead of him. Each step was slow, but somehow she knew how to get to the kitchen.

  A woman bustled around the kitchen. Her red polka dot apron fit snugly around her thin waist as she stepped around the table with a pan of eggs, scooping them onto each plate. On the table, Wendy counted place settings for three people—not four.

  On the counter were boxes and boxes of missing person posters. A map hung on the wall in the dining room with push pins all over it.

  She called out softly, “Mom?”

  Her mom turned, wooden spoon in hand, and her face drained of color. “Wendy?”

  The pan of eggs clattered to the floor.

  * * *
br />   THE END


  About the Author

  CHANDA HAHN is a NYT & USA Today Bestselling author of Reign and Forever. She uses her experience as a children's pastor, children's librarian and bookseller to write compelling and popular fiction for teens.

  She was born in Seattle, Washington, grew up in Nebraska, and currently resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband and their twin children.

  For more information:



  [email protected]

  Also by Chanda Hahn










  Iron Butterfly

  Steele Wolf

  Silver Siren



  Chanda Hahn, Lost Girl



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