Veronica Rossi’s Riders series continues with Seeker, available May 16th from Tor Teen!
When Daryn claimed she was seeing “visions” during her sophomore year of high school, no one believed the truth. She wasn’t losing her mind, she was gaining the Sight—the ability to see the future. If she just paid attention to the visions, they’d provide her with clues and show her how she could help people. Really help them. Daryn embraced her role as a Seeker. The work she did was important. She saved lives.
Until Sebastian. Sebastian was her first—and worst—mistake.
Since the moment she inadvertently sealed him in a dark dimension with Samrael—the last surviving demon in the Kindred—guilt has plagued her. Daryn knows Sebastian is alive and waiting for help. It’s up to her to rescue him. But now that she needs the Sight more than ever to guide her, the visions have stopped. Daryn must rely on her instincts, her intelligence, and on blind faith to lead the riders who are counting on her in search of Sebastian. As they delve into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems and where Samrael is steadily amassing power, Daryn faces the ultimate test.
You don’t know what anger is until you’ve spent time with a mare in a truly foul mood.
Shadow is livid.
I’ve been back for two days now but she’s still mad at me and determined to let me know it. I can sense what she’s feeling by intuition. No need for that right now, with the tantrum she’s throwing. Twelve hundred pounds of black mare ripping the earth open with her hooves isn’t exactly tough to read.
As Jode would say if he were here, Shadow’s off her trolley.
She rounds the far side of the enclosure and loops back, breaking into another charge and coming right at me. In the stormy after noon light she almost looks like a normal horse. If you didn’t know her, you might look past the unusual blackness of her coat and the smoky wisps that trail behind her lean body. You might not even notice that she’s too fast, and just a little too elegant. But the prolonged eye contact she makes with me and the intelligence in her eyes? Total giveaway.
As she closes in, she lowers her head and shows no sign of slowing down. I brace my feet and prepare to jump back behind the fence. Shadow would never hurt me intentionally, but then I never meant to hurt Gideon and Sebastian.
Sometimes you hurt people even when it’s the last thing you want to do.
With only a few feet left between us, she stops suddenly, her hooves gouging the mud, kicking up a wave of wet spatter that flies right at me.
“Wow.” I wipe my face, spitting out bits of mud. “Thanks, girl!”
Her level stare makes it clear she’s in no mood to joke around. Not that there’s ever much doubt. I can always imagine what she’s thinking.
Do you see? Do you see how scared I was when you left me? Do you see how you upset me?
“I know, Shadow. You’re furious and you have every right to be. Tell me all about it. I’m listening.”
I hope she senses how sorry I am. I hated leaving her for a week, knowing how much she’s suffered after we lost Sebastian. She went from being totally confident and calm to sensitive about almost everything. Other people can set her off. So can airplanes and cars. Fortunately there’s almost none of that out here in Wyoming.
I’m the only one she trusts— and I left her. But my road trip to Georgia gave me the answer I needed. After so many months of indecision, I know what I need to do. When you’re putting your life in danger, it’s only right to be positive about it.
Shadow snorts. I expect her to kick into another rampage but she looks past me just as I hear the screen door bang closed behind me. Turning, I see Isabel. My friend, roommate, mentor, and fellow Seeker steps off the porch of the cabin we’ve been renting.
I’ve been here eight months. You’d think I could call it that by now.
Isabel lifts the edges of her wool poncho to keep them from dragging in the mud as she walks over. She takes her time, choosing her steps around the puddles with care. Iz never rushes through anything. Behind her the line of smoke struggling up from the chimney is erased by a storm gust, only to struggle up again. We’ll get either snow or freezing rain to night. Again. As far as I can tell, spring in Wyoming is a misnomer.
“This looks promising,” Isabel says. “Have you two made up?” She props her arms on the fence beside me and smiles, her broad cheeks like rising mountains. She has a face for looking into sunsets and windstorms and futures— which she does as a Seeker. Which I used to do too, until everything changed after my Epic Fail last fall.
“I think we’re getting there.” Shadow has backed up and turned toward the river, striking a pose like we’ll be sketching her, rant concluded for now. I stuff my cold hands into my pockets and make myself ask the question I’ve been holding all day. “What about you? Have you forgiven me?”
I left Isabel for a week, too. She’s not my mother. I didn’t need to ask her permission. But I could’ve run it by her.
“I was never angry with you, Daryn.” Isabel brushes a lock of her hair behind her ear, most of it already escaped from the bun she swept back before her morning shift at Franklin
Ranch, where we both work. She regards me with bright eyes, goldish green at the edges and warm brown at the very center. “I was worried. There’s a big difference. And the note you left helped.”
I wonder how much good it really did. I didn’t tell her where I was going or how long I’d be gone—only that I needed to figure something out. I still haven’t told her anything, but I should. After all she’s done for me, I owe her some answers. As long as they don’t give away too much.
“So…” Where to begin? How far back does my regret extend?
Isabel’s eyebrows lift. “So… ?”
“I was on the computer at the ranch about two weeks ago doing some research.”
“On the friends I used to have until I disappointed them horribly? Gideon, Jode, and Marcus? I wanted to see how they’re doing. Whether they’re okay.” And hopefully not as miserable as I am, I add silently. “I came across an announcement. An event where I knew they’d all be and I couldn’t resist. I had to go see them in, um…” On three, Daryn. One, two, three. “In Georgia.”
Saying it out loud makes it sound even more extreme and I almost wince, but Isabel doesn’t react.
“Why Georgia?” she asks, like she’s not at all surprised that I drove four thousand miles in nine days.
“Marcus enlisted. It was a graduation celebration for him from the Ranger program—the one Gideon was in, too. I knew Gideon and Jode would be there for it. They’d never miss something that important.”
I couldn’t miss it, either. For several reasons.
“And how was it? Did you get a chance to talk through everything? Were they angry with you?”
She knows this is my greatest fear. That Gideon, Marcus, and Jode will blame me for what happened to Sebastian. I mean, I blame me. Why shouldn’t they? It’s a fear that’s kept me immobilized here for more than half a year. That, and no longer having visions to tell me where I’m needed.
Right after the battle against the Kindred, aka my Epic Fail, they completely stopped. I’ve been totally cut off from the future. Without visions, I’ve felt incomplete. I’ve felt this constant quiet dread, like I’ve forgotten something important. Except it’s not that I can’t remember what I should know. It’s that I can’t foresee it.
“No, they weren’t angry with me.”
“That’s good,” Iz says, brightly.
“Not really. It’s not anything.” Isabel’s smile fades. I can’t look at her anymore, so I look at Shadow. With the daylight fading and the darkness reaching for her, anxiety curls low in my stomach. Her coat is so black, so deep black, I’ve always had an irrational terror of losing her at night. “I didn’t talk to them.”
My words sound confessional and they hang in the stormy silence. A cold breeze sweeps across our property, stirring the trees at the edges of the field and lifting a lone hawk into the unsettled sky.
“Daryn… You went all that way and you didn’t speak to them?”
“I chickened out, Isabel! I couldn’t figure out what to say! ‘Sorry’? What good would that do? I’m the one with the Sight. Was the one. I knew we’d have that showdown with the Kindred. I should’ve had a better plan. I should’ve anticipated every outcome. But I didn’t and Gideon lost his hand because of me and Sebastian’s hurt or possibly dead but definitely trapped in a realm with a demon. A realm I opened. How do you apologize for that? For making a mistake that big? What could I have said to make any kind of difference?”
Isabel carries a meditative quiet about her. I love it. I used to try to emulate it. She taught me that the quieter you are, the more you hear and see and understand and even feel. Quiet lets you fill yourself up. There’s wisdom to be found in listening, in silence. But since my screwup, I’m not always quiet. I have a new volume, a yelling volume. It comes out of nowhere too, like those air horns people bring to sporting events. Just hit the right nerve and WAAHHHH!
It’s awful. Isabel doesn’t deserve it. Neither does Shadow. She takes a few steps toward me before she realizes I’m fine. Mostly fine.
My throat feels raw and I’m biting down so hard I may crack my own teeth. Isabel reaches over and squeezes my wrist with her strong potter’s hand. I watch the hawk riding the storm winds as I wait for the tears that have welled up to be reabsorbed into my eyes. To the west the clouds have broken and are spilling themselves open. Unlike me.
“This is as close as I got.” I slip my phone out of my pocket and pull up the only photo I took during my week away. I’ve looked at it five hundred times and every time it hits me with
a different feeling. This time it triggers an aching, wishing feeling, like I want to be that hawk up there, gliding through a storm like fear is just a myth.
Isabel takes the phone. “Is this Gideon?” She must see the answer on my face, because she turns back to the phone and studies the photo. I won der if she’s looking for his prosthetic hand. You can’t see it in the photo. I could barely see it in real life. “He’s handsome.”
“It’s a picture of his back.” He was turned away and standing in a crowd about forty feet away from where I lurked like a stalker. Which I technically was.
“Yes, but I can tell.”
A smile rises inside me. This should be good. “How can you tell, Iz?” I waggle my eyebrows. “Does he have a handsome back? Do you think his butt is handsome?”
She rolls her eyes. “If you must know, he has a handsome bearing. He holds himself like he’s comfortable with the moment. I extrapolated from that.” She hands the phone back.
“And I’m right, aren’t I?”
“Kind of. ‘Hot’ fits him better than ‘handsome’ does, but… whatever.” Appreciating Gideon’s handsomeness is like standing in front of a bakery window full of the most delicious things I’ve ever seen—then trying the door and realizing it’s locked. And realizing I’m the one who locked it.
“I know this has been hard for you, Daryn.”
“I only wish I hadn’t sucked you down with me.” I’ve wondered if I’m her current mission as a Seeker. Maybe her Sight told her how much I’d need her?
“Well, regardless, thanks. For everything. For being marooned here with me.” I scan the vastness that’s all around me. So beautiful and isolating.
“You don’t have to thank me, you know that,” she says easily, but there’s a rare intensity in her gaze. She pats my arm, glancing toward the cabin. “It’s getting dark and I’ve got soup on the stove. Come inside? We’ll talk some more over dinner.”
“I’ll be right in.” I listen to her trudge away, the bang of the screen door telling me she’s inside.
Shadow moves closer, bobbing her head, her eyes never leaving me. Somehow I can feel that she knows more, senses more, than even Isabel.
What aren’t you saying? What are you planning?
I climb off the fence and sweep my hand down her strong neck. The curls of her darkness wrap around my fingers, following my movement. She feels like sun- warmed silk. Like steadiness.
“We’re going after Sebastian to night, girl,” I tell her. “It’s time to make things right.”
Hate to say it, Cordero,” I say, dropping into the chair in front of her desk. “But I’m a little disappointed.”
Natalie Cordero, PhD in criminal forensic psychology, my ex- interrogator and current boss, looks up from her laptop, peering over the frame of her glasses. “Morning, Gideon. I don’t remember asking you to come in here.”
“That’s okay, I’ll be quick.” I rest my prosthetic hand on the arm of the chair, in plain view. I’m not above using it as propaganda if it helps get Sebastian back. If there’s a better reminder of what the Kindred did to him, I don’t know what it is. The Kindred got me, too. Just not as badly. “We need more resources. More drones. More geniuses. More of everything and we need it quickly.” After eight months, we finally have a shot at getting Sebastian back, but it hinges on finding Daryn. She’s our way into the realm where Bas is trapped. Daryn not only has the key; she’s also the only one who can use it. But none of that matters if we don’t find her. “We’re at four days,” I continue. “And you know what they say about cold trails.”
“They say—” I rub my jaw, buying a second. She’s the criminologist. I thought she was going to fill in the answer for me. “They say that cold trails suck.”
“Elegantly put, but the trail isn’t cold yet. We’re getting close. Some of the top analysts in the world are on this. We’re gaining ground.”
Her eyes move past me, into the ware house space where the team is huddled around desks, laptops, easels. We took over this place—an abandoned food-distribution hub—as our command center right after Daryn’s appearance at Fort Benning a few days ago. Since Cordero’s in charge she’s set up in here, the old manager’s office, which somehow smells more like frozen meat than the rest of the ware house. The rest of us are working in an office supply flotilla in the middle of forty thousand square feet of open space.
It’s kind of unbelievable. Three PhDs from MIT out there, but where do they set up our desks? Right at the center, so we can trip all over extension cords and have the worst possible lighting and ventilation.
“I understand you’re motivated, Gideon, but adding people isn’t necessary,” Cordero says. “Or even realistic. The security clearance alone would take months. Even if I could expedite it, bringing new people up to speed would only slow us down.
We don’t need anyone else. We’re making progress. We’ll find her.”
She pauses, probably expecting me to keep pressing, but the truth is I’m actually not sure more resources would help. No one does the disappearing act like Daryn.
I stand. “All right. Good talk.”
“Gideon, hold on a second. Now that you’re here, there’s something I want to discuss with you.”
I ease back into the chair, but now I’m on my guard. “What’s up?”
Cordero closes her laptop and sits back, giving me her full attention. It’s only now that I notice my right hand is in a fist. Cordero notices this as well. “Want to close the door?” she asks.
“Do you want me to close the door?”
“If it’ll make you more comfortable.”
“Are you going to psychoanalyze me?”
“Then open’s fine.”
“Open it is.”
My knees are almost pressed against her desk, so I push the chair back and try to relax. Jode’s laugh carries from the ware house behind me, rising above the patter of tapping keyboards and humming generators. He has a high chuckle that reminds me of a little kid’s laugh— a psychotic little kid’s laugh.
Our team’s technically nonmilitary. Totally off the grid and comprised of three out of four horsemen—me, Marcus, and Jode—plus Cordero; her assistant Ben, who’s one of three
MIT prodigies; Sophia and Soraya, the other two; and eight special- ops soldiers who were with us in the final showdown against the Kindred—the rebel group of demons we shut down in the fall.
Almost shut down. Samrael’s still out there. Still in there, to be precise. In the realm he managed to open by coercing Daryn. And by cutting off my left hand. Which he’s going to regret the hell out of next time I see him.
Not a day’s gone by that I haven’t thought about Bastian and how to get him back. I think Cordero’s motivations for going after him are professional. She never met Bas, but she’s been studying occult and paranormal phenomena her entire career. This whole task force was created for that specific purpose. I couldn’t care less what her motivation is, though, as long as she helps us. For Marcus, Jode, and me, this is personal. Bastian’s one of us.
Cordero removes her glasses and sets them down on her desk. “How are you doing today, Gideon?”
She nods, so I nod.
Actually I’ve struggled to keep my frustration under control today. I have a feeling that’s what this little chat is about. Everyone feels it when I get riled up. A fun part of being an incarnation of War is that my anger’s literally contagious, so. I’m kind of a liability. Fortunately over the past six months, Cordero has developed a solid toolbox for disarming the Gideon rage bomb. “How about we run through what we know again?” she suggests.
Ah. Redirection. Refocus my attention toward something productive. This is awesome when it works. “Sure.”
“You saw your sister standing alone at Marcus’s graduation. Tell me again what made you go to her?”
Cordero’s smile is faint, almost exclusively in her eyes. A couple of months ago, she told me all about the research paper she did as an undergraduate at Yale about telepathic connections between twins. Anything that defies explanation, Cordero loves.
I actually do feel super connected with Anna sometimes, so it’s weird that she doesn’t know about any of this stuff. My sister has no clue that I’m War. Or that her boyfriend’s Conquest.
Jode, man. Talk about the worst guy for your sister to be with. It’s not right.
The best the guys and I can tell, we’re incarnations of the horsemen not because we’re bringing about the end times, or Judgment Day. We are what we are as a kind of lesson. Me, for example. It’d be fair to say I have anger issues. It would also be fair to say I’ve had my share of internal unrest. As War, I’ve had to learn to deal with it. Really learn. Same goes for Jode, aka Conquest, who’s got his superiority issues to deal with, and Marcus, who, as Death, has had to fight harder than anyone I know personally for a good life. We’re walking metaphors, you could say. Human works in progress—but we are progressing. Every one of us has grown in character and in faith because we wear our weaknesses so openly.
“Give me more,” Cordero prompts. “You saw Anna and noticed something unusual. What was it?”
“Hey, Cordero. Doesn’t this remind you of the time you were questioning me but you actually secretly wanted to take my head off?” This entire moment, me sitting here and answering her questions, brings back bad memories of when one of the Kindred, a shape-shifter, impersonated her and interrogated me.
“That wasn’t me, so of course I don’t remember it.” Her eyes narrow just slightly. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“No, thanks. I’m good.” It’s not that I don’t trust Cordero. It’s just that it’s hard to forget. “You were asking about Anna. Why I went over to her.” I lift my shoulders. “I just knew. She had this look on her face like something was going on. She told me a girl had come up to her and that she’d looked nervous. She introduced herself as a friend of mine and asked Anna to give me the key.”
My attention pulls to that very key, which sits between Cordero’s computer and her glasses. It’s heavier than an ordinary key, like something ancient. Daryn wore it around her neck for weeks. The guys and I had thought it was so important. A sacred key, to open heavenly gates. But we’d been wearing the real key all along without realizing it—divided and disguised as wrist cuffs. Four cuffs that were misused. That opened a splinter realm, under Daryn’s control, when she was coerced by one of the Kindred. “I instantly recognized the key as the decoy when Anna gave it to me and—”
“I think I’ve got something!” Ben, one of the MI Trio, barrels into the office with a sheet of paper crammed in his hand and drops it on the desk. For a second we all look at it, this paper-spider; then Ben dives back. “Shoot, sorry,” he says, palming it flat. “That’s from a gas station sixty-five miles north of here. Oh hey, Gideon,” he says, finally noticing me.
Cordero picks up the rumpled page to get a better look. I’ve stopped breathing in mid- exhale. Totally stopped. I also seem to have spontaneously developed X- ray vision, because through the fibers of the paper I can make out the faded image of the girl.
The disappointment is gutting.
I let out my breath. “That’s not her.”
Cordero frowns and flips the paper around. “You’re sure?”
“Yes.” The girl in the photo has long blond hair and she’s about the right age, seventeenish. Other than that, she looks nothing like Daryn.
“It’s a grainy image,” Ben says. “I can sharpen it up.”
“Then it’ll be a sharper picture of not her.”
Cordero cuts a look my way. I know she wants me to be more encouraging. Every one’s working nonstop. We have cots set up outside and most of us sleep here rather than trek back to the motel. “Keep working, Ben,” she says, handing the paper back to him.
“You’re doing great, man,” I add, to be more encouraging. “But try to do better. Faster, too.”
“Definitely. You got it,” Ben says, super earnestly. Then he jogs back to his desk. Literally jogs.
I can’t keep the smile off my face. “See that? That’s an A- plus effort, Cordero. Everyone should work that hard.”
She shakes her head. “You take such advantage.”
I laugh. “What’d I do?”
“Never mind. It’s my fault. I should never have allowed them to see you as War.”
“Nah. They loved it.” Aside from Daryn, who’s not here, and some extremely high-up government people, the people in this ware house are the only ones who know what we are.
Who we are? Whatever.
Until last night, though, the techs only knew in theory, so we did the full kit reveal for them here in the ware house, calling up weapons, armor, and horses. It was Cordero’s idea. She thought it would motivate the team, and did it ever. We made an impression, Marcus especially. When you get a look at Death, you feel something. I only wish we’d recorded their reactions.
Cordero and I pick up where we left off. This must be the tenth time I’ve answered these questions but we’re working on my frustration and it’s also her investigative process. I know she thinks she’ll stumble on a clue.
Marcus and Jode stroll in as we’re going through it. Jode takes the chair next to mine, his watch flashing as he drops his hand on the arm. As Conquest, he’s an incarnation of the white rider. Even in street clothes the hints are there if you know what you’re looking for. Under the fluorescent lights, Jode’s blond hair has just a little too much shine. Same with his watch, his fingernails. He’s got some flash. Jode— James Oliver Drummond Ellis by birth—is English, smart as a wellbred and highly educated Englishman, and one hundred percent lethal. None of us would be here if not for ole Drummy. The world might not even be the same. When we fought the Kindred, Jode fired an endless supply of arrows from the back of his white stallion, keeping us from getting overrun by demons. There were a lot of heroes that day but Jode was center podium.
Marcus leans against the wall behind Cordero, gravitating to the back as usual. He trains his glass- colored eyes on me. Quiet, steady eyes. Death stare. Before I got to know him I saw that look as completely hostile. Total turnaround now. Marcus and I are connected like Anna and me— like words aren’t necessary.
He had it rough growing up in foster homes around Chicago. He doesn’t say much about it, but it was hardcore survival. Every day. I lost Dad last year, and nothing will ever replace him, but I got Marcus right around the same time. A brother. It was meant to happen, I think. Mom and Anna needed him, too.
Marcus crosses his arms and listens, his gaze moving from me to Cordero. Jode’s attention’s more like a satellite: unfocused and landing nowhere specific but taking in everything. I wrap things up, describing how I’d sprinted after Daryn— the direction
Anna indicated— getting the attention of the military police on base, but coming up with nothing. Daryn had disappeared again. Even now I feel the echo of that moment. Brutal.
“Okay,” Cordero says, keeping things moving along. “What do we know for sure?” She steeples her fingers and taps them together as she thinks. I used to be able to do that. “We know she didn’t come solely to give you the key. It has no real value and she could’ve found a much easier way to deliver it if that was all she wanted to do. She came for another reason. What was it, and what caused her to veer from her plan?”
“How do you know she veered from her plan?”
“I’m making an assumption based on the distress your sister picked up on.”
“You think she saw a threat of some kind and changed her mind?”
“Or had a change of heart.”
Cordero and Jode exchange a look. Marcus drops his head and stares at his feet.
I don’t like this. “Spill, Ellis. Marcus… ? Someone, talk.”
Jode looks at Cordero. I think I see a slight nod of approval from her. “What if she didn’t come because of Sebastian?” he asks.
“Daryn might have come for strictly personal reasons,” Cordero adds.
“Ah. Got it. You think I’m the personal reason. Solid theory, but you’re wrong. Daryn would never show up for that reason. She’s dedicated. All Seeker business all the time.” Why are they saying this—to test me? Or do they really think it’s a possibility? “Anyway, this part of the discussion isn’t up for discussion.”
“Maybe it should be,” Cordero offers. “Maybe you should consider that she might’ve shown up to see you and left because she wasn’t ready.”
Marcus crosses his arms. “She could’ve seen your prosthetic.”
“You mean this?” I raise my robohand. It’s capable of fifty distinct gestures, but the bird’s one of my top-used ones.Marcus is already smiling. He knew it was coming.
“It might have taken even less,” Jode adds. “One look at you could’ve sent her running.”
An image flashes through my mind. Daryn seeing me, then doing an about-face and hauling ass like she’s in a B horror film.
I have to laugh. It’s just so sad. “How is this relevant to anything?” I’m sweating and I can’t sit any longer. I stand and brace my hands on the back of the chair. “Hey, Ben,” I call into the ware house. “How’s your personal life? You got any rejections you want to dissect with our psychologist-boss?”
Ben jumps up and rounds his desk. “Definitely. I’m the king of rejection.”
“Dude, then I’m your co-monarch.”
“Blake,” Cordero warns.
“We’ll talk later, Ben. Keep after it. You’re doing great.”
Ben spins and goes back to his desk.
Cordero sighs. “This is a relevant line of inquiry, Gideon, because her appearance the other day could be a false lead. She doesn’t seem to want to be found. We have to consider that she might want no involvement in the search for Sebastian. And since she controls the key…”
I shake my head. “I’m not on board with this line of thinking. If Daryn isn’t willing to go after Bastian, we’re nowhere. And I’m not throwing in the towel before we even find her. We either assume she showed up because she wants to go after Sebastian, or what’s the point?”
“All I’m trying to understand is why she’d leave without approaching you if she wanted your help.”
“Because that’s what Daryn does.”
At this, Cordero’s antennae go up. It’s subtle, a quick blink like she’s afraid she might miss something. “Explain what you mean by that.”
“She’s not the most open book out there.”
“Can you elaborate for me?”
“If she were a book, you’d only be able to read a few pages.”
I pull in a deep breath, then let it out. How can I say this without throwing Daryn under the bus? “She’s not one to ask for help when she needs it. She’s… I don’t know. She’s skittish.”
“So she might, for example, attempt to approach you for help, then get cold feet and back away?”
Marcus and Jode both look at me. We all know where this is going.
“She might do that.”
“And then?” Cordero asks.
“She’d go after it on her own.”
The silence that falls over us feels like it reaches out to the warehouse. Like the team out there has felt a shift, too.
“Do you believe it’s possible she might go after Sebastian alone?”
It’s exactly what Daryn would do. Exactly.
Before I can reply, Ben jogs into the room carrying his laptop. He sets it down on Cordero’s desk. Instantly, I know this isn’t a false alarm. My heartbeat starts pounding in my ears as we crowd around it.
The screen is divided into four squares. My eyes pull to the top right quadrant first. It’s a photo.
A close-up shot of her in an old Ford pickup. She’s leaning slightly out of the driver’s window as she hands money to a tollbooth operator. Her hair is up in a ponytail and she’s wearing sunglasses with lenses in the shape of hearts, which seems weird and unlike her but then again, I haven’t seen her in six months, aside from seeing her in my head all the damn time, so maybe she’s changed. Maybe I never knew the real Daryn. Maybe everything that happened between us was fake.
Whatever. Doesn’t matter.
Good. So that quadrant’s out of the way.
The one below it has a shot of license plates with the registration information. It’s registered to Isabel Banks of Moose, Wyoming. Which takes me to the left two quadrants. Both are maps. One is the projected route Daryn drove, or is still driving, from Georgia to Wyoming. The other is a map with Isabel Banks’s last known address.
125 Smith Ranch Road, Moose, Wyoming.
Daryn is in Wyoming.
Has she been there this entire time? Just miles from where I last saw her?
The name Isabel Banks sounds familiar. Daryn told me once that Seekers have a tight network. They help each other with connections, travel, boarding, money. That’s how we think she got into Fort Benning.
I remember. Isabel was the Seeker that mentored Daryn when she first started having visions. She’s like an aunt to me, Daryn told me.
“I got it right,” Ben says. “That’s her, isn’t it?”
I can’t answer him. My jaw feels welded shut and I’m back on quadrant one, a hundred thoughts racing through my head, not a single one sticking.
Cordero looks up, waiting for confirmation.
“That’s her,” Marcus says.
“That’s Daryn,” adds Jode.
“Ben, get us a flight to Wyoming.” Cordero grabs her laptop and stands. “Let’s go track her down.”
I’m already out the door.
Excerpted from Seeker, copyright © 2017 by Veronica Rossi.