“Kid, when we get out of here, I want to introduce you to my biology teacher,” Alan mused. “Mrs. Amory will never know what hit her.”
When we get out of here. “You really do have an idea?” Sarah asked, wondering.
“’Course he does! He’s cool! Like Dad.” Matt grinned. “You’re going to save us, right?”
“No, not me, kid,” Alan said quietly.
Sarah winced. Such a quiet, gentle voice. From all the tales Domingo had brought home of Anne Ryan’s little break-and-entry specialist of a son, she’d never realized he could be gentle-
“It’s going to be your mom who does that.”
Matt turned a wide-eyed, wondering stare up at her. Hazel eyes bright with belief.
Because Mom and Dad can do anything, Sarah thought with a pang. “Young man-”
“Can you see the butterflies?”
Caught off guard, Sarah stated at the shivering youngster in the water tank. Impossible. There was no way he could know about a much younger girl’s glimmering imaginary companions.
“I know you saw them. That psycho knows you saw them, too. It’s part of why he’s keeping you alive. People who can see them… you’ve got a gift. They’re not your imagination.” Gold eyes were fierce – and so oddly hopeful. As if all Matt’s young belief in miracles had been mixed with a bitter dose of reality, then distilled into the pure determination to make dreams real.
“You’re not seeing things, you’re not daydreaming, you’re not crazy,” Alan said firmly. “They’re real. They can help you. You can get us out.”
Slowly, Sarah shook her head. “We’re in shackles. I know you can get out of handcuffs, but these aren’t coming apart without a key.”
“You’re in locks.” Alan bobbed in the dark water, took a breath and shoved himself up again. “Locks are meant to unlock.” Another breath. “I know how crazy it sounds. We’re all scared. But I promise you this trick is real. As real as me driving half the cops crazy ‘cause I won’t stay in handcuffs. It works. And if you can see the butterflies – you can do this.”
“How?” Sarah snapped, temper frayed by fear. Her son – this awful place – and what were they doing to Domingo, if these madmen were holding them both to force his hand? “You don’t think they’d have left us alone if there was any way we could escape!”
“That’s what they’re counting on.”
Sarah rocked back against the cold bench, clutching Matt close. No doubt in that teen’s voice. No fear.
“That’s what every jerk who wants to rule the world counts on,” Alan bit out. “Trust me, lady, they’re all the same. They want people to think we’re weak. That the bad guys have all the money, all the power, all the guns to get whatever they want. They want us to think we can’t fight.” Gold eyes blazed, bright as fire. “And it’s all a lie.”