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A Trail of Echoes(A Shade of Vampire,Book 18)(13) by Bella Forrest

Xavier slapped me on the back. “Good luck.”

I nodded, and then touched the warlock’s arm. Xavier and the rest of our surroundings vanished from sight and we reappeared at the end of the Port’s jetty.

Ibrahim and I looked out toward the huge ships, still stationed in the exact same positions as they had been for days now.

“Which ship do you want to try first?” Ibrahim asked.

I didn’t care much. I imagined that all of them would be similarly equipped. I pointed to the one furthest to our right.

“All right,” Ibrahim said, and then clutched my shoulder. A second later, we had left the boundary of The Shade and emerged on the dark deck of the hunters’ ship.

As I looked around the empty deck, the vessel appeared to be much larger than I had thought. Rows of chairs were positioned at the bow, directly facing The Shade, and they were surrounded by various telescopes and other spying equipment. This was where they sat and watched us.

Now, however, the deck appeared empty.

“Derek,” Ibrahim muttered.

I could not see him because he had placed an invisibility spell over the two of us, but I felt him touch my arm, and the next thing I knew, he was tying a thin rope around my wrist. We had to stay connected. He was my ticket back to the island, and I couldn’t afford to lose him.

Xavier had wanted to accompany Ibrahim and me, but of course, coming here with a bloodsucker was the most stupid thing we could do.

We remained in one spot for the next minute, continuing to look around, and then we moved toward the edge of the deck. Placing my hands over the railing, I looked downward. There were two rows of windows beneath us, one above the other.

Gripping Ibrahim’s shoulder, I leaned in close to his ear. “Hover us down there so we can see through the windows,” I said, in a voice barely louder than a breath.

I felt myself being lifted from the ground as Ibrahim levitated us until we were level with the first window. When we peered through it, it was clear that this was a cabin room. It was small, and there were two bunk beds. One man was sitting at a small table, reading a book. He wore a black polo neck shirt and black pants. Since there was nothing of importance here, Ibrahim moved us to the next window. Yet another cabin room. We continued moving around the ship at the level that we were on, but all we found were more cabins.

“Let’s go further down,” I whispered.

Ibrahim lowered us down a level, and now we began to see things that looked more interesting. Behind the first window was some kind of meeting room. It was a large room, and there was a long glass-topped table running down the center, with high-backed wheeled chairs around the edges of it. There was a light cream carpet on the floor, and everything looked sleek and modern.

We moved on to the next window, and here we found some kind of control room. The walls were lined with desks upon which sat dozens of computers and other equipment I couldn’t put a name to. From where we hovered, I could make out five men—also wearing all black like the others we had seen previously. They were eating around a small table in the center of the room and were caught up in conversation, though I couldn’t hear a word they were saying from outside. Even when I pressed my ear up against the glass, I couldn’t hear the slightest thing. This was one thing that I found odd—Xavier and other vampires had tried to listen in from a distance to make out any conversations happening on the ships, but they had been totally unable. They should have been able to make out at least some human voices from where they stood listening. Now I was beginning to believe that these hunters had deliberately soundproofed the boat—yet another thing about their presence here for me to feel disconcerted about.

“I want to get into this room,” I whispered to Ibrahim. “But in order for me to look around, I’m going to need you to create a distraction.”

Ibrahim paused. “A distraction… Okay. I’ll think of something. But this will mean being separated for a while.”

“That’s all right. Just make sure that I stay invisible. I will stay in this room until you return. Say something when you enter so we can find each other.”

Ibrahim grunted, and then he held my arm again. A moment later, we appeared inside the room. We emerged in one corner, and I remained deathly still, barely daring to breathe as the rope attaching the warlock to me slipped from my wrist and I felt the warlock’s presence leave me alone with the hunters.

I backed up further against the wall as I watched the men cautiously. I was now able to hear what they were saying.

“How is Sarah?” one of them asked.

“Due in three months,” another replied.

“Do you know what it’s going to be?”

“We want it to be a surprise… How is your other half?”

The man sighed. “Jenny hasn’t been well recently. She’s been in the hospital more than she has been at home. But when I left, she was doing okay.”

To my disappointment, the conversation continued in the same mundane vein, so I focused my attention on the computer monitors. I did not dare budge from my spot just yet, in case the floor creaked beneath me. So I remained standing as I was. I had to wait for Ibrahim to figure out a way to draw these hunters out of the room so I could explore.

Barely a minute later, a deafening siren went off. It was so loud, it reverberated around the entire ship. I had no idea what he had done—perhaps set off a fire alarm. In any case, his idea worked. The five men exchanged confused glances and, dropping their food, they ran out of the room.