Richard took a step forward. “If you couldn’t tell, she’s seasick. Besides, the formula won’t wear off for another few hours, and I don’t plan on waiting around.”
The blonde woman who’d been silently watching from the shadows finally spoke up. “Leave her test to me.”
Cam didn’t like the sound of that. Using her peripheral vision, she tried to spot something she could use to get away—a life jacket, a life ring, or even an automatic inflatable boat would do. But the closest life boat, where she could find some of those supplies, was twenty feet down the deck.
The blonde woman was now standing over her, and she looked to be about twenty years old, reminding Cam of her own fuck-ups in her early adulthood. She wondered if this woman had been coerced into helping, or if she had joined of her own free will.
The woman opened her mouth, and her blue eyes started to glow as she sang:
“Sister of my race, heed my call. Let your claws grow as nature intended.”
At first, nothing happened, but the woman kept singing the same two sentences over and over again. Her eyes grew brighter with each pass, and Cam tried to remember the stories from her childhood, desperate to place what kind of latent power this might be so that she could exploit its weakness.
But on the eighth time around o
f the woman singing those words, Cam felt the area just below her fingernails start to tingle. Usually, she would feel nothing more than a light stretch when her claws extended, but as they began to grow ever so slowly, it felt as if someone were tearing her fingernails off with a pair of pliers.
Cam gritted her teeth. She’d experienced worse, and she wasn’t about to give these people any sort of sick satisfaction.
The blonde woman stopped singing. Cam looked down and saw that her claws were fully extended.
The tall man leaned down, grabbed her hand, took out a mini-metal flashlight from one of his pockets, and used one of her claws to slice through it.
As he dropped her hand and stepped away, the woman said, “Only Blue Demons have claws strong enough to slice through titanium.” She looked to Richard. “You did as you said you would. The Collector’s handler will be in touch.”
Cam tried not to blink. How in the hell did they know about Blue Demons? More than ever, she wished she’d heard of this Collector person before.
Richard replied, “And when is that supposed to be? I don’t want to leave until I have some sort of proof that the Collector will follow through.”
The woman opened her mouth again, but the middle-aged captain spoke up. “You’ve delivered the cargo, and it’s time for you to get off my ship.”
Richard opened his mouth to argue, but the captain whistled, and ten crew members appeared with guns in their hands.
Great. She had been hoping that since they were doing an illegal exchange that the ship would have minimal staff. Apparently, she’d been wrong.
She watched Richard stand his ground. Maybe he’d be cocky, and she could see what these people could do.
Richard eyed the crew. “I want to hear from the Collector’s handler by tomorrow.”
The captain said, “You’re a bit of a fool. But the Collector wishes to use you again, so I will pass on your words. That will have to be good enough.”
“Fine.” Richard headed for the ladder on the rail, but stopped, turned around and looked at her. “Don’t worry, Cam, they want you alive. I wouldn’t have traded you otherwise.”
As if that was comforting. But before she could reply, Richard was gone.
Unsure of how long she could get such a good look at everyone, Cam memorized as many faces as possible before the tall, lean man unstrapped her from the board, picked her up, and carried her inside to one of the cabins. As they passed the captain, she swore that the man’s face flickered, but she brushed it aside—she’d never met anyone who could change their appearance before. And if such a person existed, Neena would’ve let them know about it.
Marco sat in a small boat that he’d surrounded with a low wall of water to hide them from the prying eyes of the other boats.
As soon as Aislinn had told him that his boat was ready, he’d gathered the two local DEFEND soldiers who’d agreed to help him and headed toward the location of his tracking device. They’d arrived before Ekstrom had traded Cam, so he’d had to sit and merely watch as the bastard had tossed her over the side of the ship. Luckily for Ekstrom, Cam had surfaced, otherwise Marco might’ve had to disobey Aislinn and teach the other man a lesson.
But Cam was still alive, at least for now.
He moved the water to create a small hole in the protective wall. He then used his high-powered binoculars to check and see if Richard Ekstrom was still on the other vessel or not. Because of Aislinn’s order, he couldn’t do anything for Cam until Ekstrom was safely away.
He spotted Ekstrom back in his own little inflatable boat. The man started the motor, glanced over his shoulder, and drove away.
Marco gripped the binoculars tight as he pulled back and filled the hole with water. Just like that, Ekstrom had left Cam behind. If he hadn’t already promised Aislinn that he’d let Ekstrom get away, he’d be tempted to use his elemental water magic to capsize the man’s boat.