It all came out in less than 60 seconds, both sides of the story spilling rapidly our into the open, and with that raw burst of revelation the world took on a different hue.
Naomi’s entire world was shattered. Shame filled her first, as the young man she’d nearly killed—and who had nearly killed her—revealed the horrible truth. The stress, fear, and confusion that had hung over her for the better part of the past twenty-four hours was resolved into bitter, piercing clarity.
It was too much to take, coming on the heels of everything else Naomi had been through. All this time, she’d been nothing more than a pawn in Innis’s hands, from the very moment she’d first met him on that bus. It had all been him, hadn’t it? From the run-in with the blue car to Candace’s kidnapping and all of the events that had followed… He’d orchestrated it all to get her on his side, so she’d get him past the safe house’s security and help Sky set those prisoners free. She had never been rescuing Candace at all.
Suddenly every dark window and every shadowed porch seemed to harbour a pair of spying eyes. Naomi shuddered and beckoned Griff inside. He hesitated, scanned the ground for his revolver, and retrieved it before stepping through the front door of the house and closing it behind him.
Emily joined the two of them in the entryway, eyes cast down to the floor and full of suppressed emotion. “I heard everything,” she said. “Nobody look at my eyes; I’m mad enough to put someone in a killing mood.”
Griff obeyed, turning his gaze away. Ah, that must be what hit Francis, he thought. Some kind of mood manipulation… He found himself looking at a family portrait on the wall. He recognized Naomi standing with what must be her parents, but it was like a different person had been living in that body when the picture had been taken; the soft, shy smile on her face was completely gone now, replaced by a hard, pale emptiness lit only by the shifting fire in the young woman’s eyes.
“So,” said Griff, “what are we going to do?”
“You’re the cop,” snapped Emily, intently studying the grain of the hardwood floor. “You tell us!”
“I’m not exactly—”
“Well you’re something, aren’t you?”
“Not really. I didn’t even know who I was working for until this morning. I’m still trying to make sense of it all.”
“What about the woman who was with you? The one I scared out the door?”
“We won’t find her until she wants us to,” said Griff.
“Well we need some real police here. We need protection! These people have to know we’d figure it out eventually, right? What if they come here to shut us all up for good?”
“There have to be more cops on the way already,” Griff assured her. “People must have heard the gunshot a minute ago. And we called for backup before coming here. Well, sort of. But I don’t know if we have to worry about anyone coming after us here… They had plenty of opportunity to kill Naomi and your friend before. Why drop her back home first?”
Naomi was standing at the window beside the door, looking out, off in a world of her own for the moment.
“If they really were planning on coming after you guys next,” said Griff, “they’d at least have left someone behind to watch you and make sure you didn’t go anywhere, right? The person who dropped them off is long gone; I sensed him leaving. It’s… what I do. (We all seem to have something, eh?) Anyways, they would’ve had to have a spy in the neighbourhood already before we all got here, because I haven’t sensed anyone else coming or going, except for…” He stopped.
“What?” said Emily.
From the window, Naomi said, “So have we figured out yet whose side the birds are on?”
Griff felt his lungs deflate and his shoulders droop. “Not ours.”