“You sure you don’t want me to go through that gate with you?” Nora asked, her fingers tight around the steering wheel. I wasn’t the only one nervous.  

The car bounced along the road, making my already upset stomach clench. “Yeah, I think it will be better if I go alone. Fewer people to worry about.”

She nodded. “When I drop you off, head through the woods. When they come after you, run. Make it look like you’re trying to evade capture.”

She slowed the car and my pulse kicked up a notch. “Got it.”

“You can trick them for a while…until they break into your mind.” She sighed. “Once that happens…”

“My secrets will be out.”

All our secrets.”

I wondered if she was having second thoughts. “I’ll escape before it gets that far.”

“Make sure you do.”

She turned off the car, the headlights going dark. We sat in silence for one long moment. The evening felt heavy, oppressing. The sun had set, sending the forest into ghostly shadows so a person couldn’t tell tree from man.

“You’ll head three miles in,” Nora whispered, as if afraid of being overheard. “Keep northwest.”

I nodded and slipped my hand into my pocket, the metal compass reassuring against my fingertips.

“You’ll hit a stream about half a mile before you’ll reach the fence.”

I took in a deep shaky breath. “Got it.”

She turned toward me, her face barely visible in the dark. “You remember our meeting place?”

I nodded. Nothing else to say, no reason to wait. With trembling hands, shoved my door wide.

“If I’m not there, I’ve been captured,” she warned. “Head straight to Savannah.”

I stepped from the car, my knees practically buckling as my feet hit the dirt. “Understood.” I slung my backpack over my shoulders and started toward the side of the road.

“Cameron,” Nora called out.

I paused at the bumper. “Yeah?”

“Be careful.”

I nodded and started for the trees. The car roared to life, the flash of headlights bouncing down the road as Nora took off. For a long moment, I watched her go. Watched until the headlights disappeared and the silence of night settled around me.