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

“Sir, you may not be able to help, but please, tell me what you know. It’s my sister… my little—” My voice broke. “Why are you all here in the first place?” I managed. “What are you waiting for?”

The men began backing away. “I’m sorry,” the man repeated.

I lurched forward and grabbed the man’s arm. “Please!”

He brushed me off and Yusuf—who’d followed after me—grabbed my arm and pulled me back.

“River, these men don’t know anything. The best thing we can do now is return and give a full account to the police.”

I looked back at the men closing their hatches. They knew more than they were letting on. I just knew it.

Still, they were refusing to speak to me anymore and Yusuf was tugging me back toward the car. I had no choice but to retreat, so we sped back across the desert toward the city. We didn’t even stop at camp as we reached it—we passed right by.

About two hours into the journey, we were afraid that we might run out of fuel completely—we’d done a lot of extra driving that had not been planned for. But by some mercy we managed to arrive at the borders of the city and reach a fuel station before the engine became completely empty.

Fariss got out of the car with Yusuf to refuel. When they returned, we headed straight for the nearest police station.

We hurried into the reception area that was filled with a surprisingly large crowd of people.

“I have an emergency!” Yusuf shouted in Arabic, cutting through the noise.

A policewoman approached. “What is it?” she asked.

“A seventeen-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl went missing in the desert late last night. Has a man called Samir Haik arrived here?”

Recognition spread across her face. “Yes, come with me. You are witnesses?”

Yusuf gestured to me. “She is a witness.”

She led me and Yusuf along a winding corridor. We reached an office and stepped inside. There we found my grandfather and Dafne seated in front of a desk. My sister’s eyes were bloodshot, and she looked terrified. My grandfather looked relieved to see us.

The woman took a seat behind the desk next to a policeman who was already sitting there.

“We have a witness,” she said, pointing to me.

“Well? What can you tell us?” the policeman asked.

I could understand Arabic, but I couldn’t speak it as well. I wasn’t about to take chances on his English though, so I recounted the whole incident again in Arabic as well as I could.

“Have search parties been sent out already?” I asked.

The policeman and my grandfather nodded. “But anything more we can add to this case will help, of course,” the policeman replied.

“Have they sent helicopters?” Yusuf asked.

“They’re on their way,” the policewoman replied.

“Are you aware of a group of Americans in the desert with tanks? Do they have permission to be there? What are they doing?” I asked.

The policeman and woman eyed each other, then shrugged. “We are not aware of them. But I will verify their authorization to be here.”

We remained sitting in that office throughout the early hours of the morning. Officers came in and out, and we listened to reports of progress. I held my hands clasped together, praying every time a speaker crackled or an officer came in that they would have found them.

But 11am came around and they still hadn’t located either Lalia or Hassan.

“At least now that it’s daytime, we can see more easily,” the policeman said, rubbing his eyes wearily.

I looked toward my grandfather and Dafne. She had fallen asleep against his chest.

“Let’s return home for a short rest,” my grandfather said. “Sitting here any longer is not going to help. We’ve told the police all we know. We can return again this afternoon.”

Although I knew what he was saying made sense, leaving the police station felt like yet another step away from my sister. Still, Yusuf and I agreed and we headed to the car. Fariss drove us back to my grandfather’s home.

There was no way I could sleep no matter how tired I was. Clearly neither could Yusuf. He retreated into the living room and began making phone calls—presumably to his wife and relatives.

My grandfather carried Dafne upstairs to her bedroom. I found myself standing in the hallway with Fariss, who looked exhausted.

I still couldn’t get those strange American soldiers out of my mind. What were they doing in that part of the desert, so close to where my sister and Hassan had disappeared? I just knew that they had some clue about what had happened. I couldn’t shake the feeling.

Fariss was about to return to the car, presumably to drive home for a sleep, but something made me call out and stop him.

“Fariss, would you do something for me?”

“What would that be, Miss Giovanni?”

“I need you to take me back to that area where we saw those tanks,” I said.

He looked nervously at me and I was sure that he was about to refuse.

“Please,” I begged before he could object. “I will talk to my grandfather and convince him to let us go.”

He rubbed his forehead. “All right, I will take you there. But I really need to sleep, otherwise I’m sure I will crash before we ever reach the desert.”

“Okay,” I said. I understood he must’ve been exhausted, but I couldn’t help but feel frustrated all the same. “How much time do you need?”