Maybe if I called her and told her he was coming?

A chill snaked down my spine. I was currently trapped here in Avalon because Grace had absconded with my passport. I was willing to take the risk that Ethan might betray me, but could I also risk my mom like that? Could I have her hand over her passport to a guy I wasn’t sure I could trust?

The answer was no. I was going to have to get the passport myself, and I wasn’t going to let it out of my sight while Ethan tried to replicate it.

“I’m going to have to sneak out of the house somehow to get it,” I said.

“Not a good idea, Dana.”

I bit back a snappish response and went for dry sarcasm instead. “You expect me to get out of Avalon without leaving my dad’s house?”

He sighed. “Right. Good point. But I’m not letting you wander around the streets of Avalon undefended. Tell me when you intend to perform your great escape. I’ll come meet you. I’m not as powerful as Finn, but I’m better than nothing.”

More lip-gnawing was in order. If I was wrong about this, if Ethan backstabbed me, then I was delivering myself straight into Alistair’s arms. I wondered if he would change his mind about whatever agreement he now had with Grace and my dad if I were in his custody.

But despite my doubts, I had already made my decision before I’d even picked up the phone.

“I’m going to wait until late, when I’m sure my dad is asleep. Maybe one a.m.?”

“That’s good. There will be fewer people in the streets then. Less chance of being seen. I’ll be waiting for you. Call if there’s any change of plans, okay?”

“Yeah. Sure.” Oh my God, I was really going to do this. Was I nuts? “I’ll see you then.”

“Okay. Hang in there. If things go well, we’ll have you out of Avalon before the sun rises tomorrow.”

I clung to that hopeful idea as I hung up the phone and tried not to think about just how many things could go horribly wrong.

chapter twenty-four

That night was one of the longest in my life. The hours of the early evening crept by like years, and then, once Dad and I said our good nights, they slowed down even more. I tried calling my mom about eight times to let her know I was coming, but she never answered. I hoped that didn’t mean something had happened to her. I also hoped that didn’t mean she was too drunk to answer the phone. Getting out of Avalon was going to be hard enough without alcohol entering the picture.

I heard Dad mount the stairs to his bedroom at around eleven. Then after that, nothing.

I decided I didn’t want to wait until the last minute to go downstairs. I wanted Dad to have plenty of time to fall asleep again if I inadvertently woke him as I crept down the steps. If he came to check on me, I’d tell him I was having trouble sleeping and was going to make some tea.

Before I left, I fished the cameo out of the trash—lucky for me, Dad didn’t have a maid service to empty the trash every day. I stared at the cameo for a long moment, then fastened it around my neck. I wanted nothing whatsoever to do with the Seelie Court, but the cameo was a gift from my dad. If my plan worked, I would probably never see him again, but at least I’d have something to remember him by.

There was no light under the door leading to Dad’s room when I passed by, and none of the stairs made any telltale creaky noises to wake him up. When I was in the living room, I did some more ear-straining to see if I could hear him moving around, but the house was silent.

I stood at the front window with the living room lights off, looking out into the distance. Or at least, trying to. A dense layer of fog blanketed the land at the mountain’s base, wisps of it drifting through the quiet streets. I couldn’t see the moon or stars, and even as I watched, the unseen clouds spat some drizzle to join the fog. I shivered in anticipation.

I knew better than to make my escape attempt carrying my luggage or my backpack. I hated to leave everything behind, particularly my computer, but all my instincts told me I might be running for my life tonight, and I couldn’t afford the extra burden.

I’d put on one of the thick woolen sweaters—or jumpers, as they called them here, which seemed like a silly name—that I’d bought on my shopping trip. I’d left my packages in the wreckage of the shop, but Kimber had collected them for me and had them delivered. My throat tightened as I added her to the list of people I would never see again if I escaped Avalon. This, I reminded myself, was why I tried so hard not to get too close to my friends: it hurt so much more to leave if you let yourself care too much.

I did my best to shake off my gloomy thoughts as I waited for Ethan to arrive. The streets were eerily deserted. A car passed by occasionally, and I saw a horse and rider once, but there were no pedestrians.

Which was why I spotted Ethan so easily, even though he was sticking to the shadows, avoiding the street lights. My heart fluttered in my chest when I caught sight of him, but I told myself that was just nerves, not any stupid lingering attachment.

My watch told me I had fifteen minutes until our scheduled rendezvous, but I didn’t see any pressing reason to wait now that Ethan was here. Taking a deep breath for courage, hoping I wasn’t making the worst decision in the history of mankind, I tiptoed down the spiral staircase into the garage. I’m sure it would have been okay for me to turn on the lights, but I was too deeply in sneak-and-hide mode to feel comfortable doing it.

Naturally, the garage was pitch-black, but Dad didn’t exactly keep it packed with stuff. I found his car by feel, then used its contours as a guide to get me around to the front door without falling flat on my face. The practice mats were still on the floor, ready for my next lesson with Keane; a lesson that would never come. I told myself I didn’t care. Keane was just eye candy with a bad attitude. Maybe I’d seen a hint of a more likeable guy under his surly exterior today, but getting involved with him would have been as bad a mistake as getting involved with Ethan had been.