Chapter 1 1
RILEY WAS LAUGHING SO MUCH she could barely breathe. Jill was right beside her, also smiling brightly, as the two of them draped ribbons and cloth around Storm until they could hardly see any of the black unicorn colt under all the layers of colorful fabric.
They were in the sewing room on board the Queen of Bermuda and were supposed to be working on clothing repair, but instead, they were playing with the colt. Riley reached out with a red ribbon and tied it to the end of the unicorn’s misshapen horn. “There you go, Stormy. Don’t you look beautiful!”
Storm seemed to understand they were playing and whipped his head back and forth to make the ribbon fly. He neighed playfully and pressed his shoulder against Riley.
“Honestly, you two should leave that poor boy alone,” Maggie called from her place before the treadle sewing machine, though she was smiling brightly and showing her predator’s teeth. “Look what you’ve done to him—it’s hardly dignified.”
“He likes it,” Riley said as she hugged Storm’s muscular neck. “Don’t you, Stormy?”
The colt’s head bobbed up and down.
Jill tied another ribbon to Storm’s horn. “He’s very pretty now.”
Once again, the colt neighed and bobbed his head up and down.
Riley stopped and put her hands on her hips while looking at Storm. “Is it me, or is he even taller than yesterday?”
Jill nodded. “I think so. He’s growing so fast, I can’t believe it.”
Maggie put down her sewing and walked over to Riley and Jill as they fussed over Storm. “Well, Gideon and Priri did say that unicorns grow quickly. But even I never imagined it would be this fast.” She reached out and stroked the colt’s black muzzle. “At this rate, he’ll be adult size in no time.”
“I’m just glad he doesn’t need milk anymore,” Jill said. “It wasn’t fair to keep asking the gargoyles to bring some for him.”
“I don’t think Gideon or Priri minded,” Maggie said. “You’ve seen how much they adore him. We all do.”
Riley nodded. “Gideon is sure Storm won’t grow as big as the other unicorns, and that’s one of the reasons they”—she paused so Storm wouldn’t hear her—“you know…” She didn’t finish the sentence, not saying that the adult unicorns had tried to kill Storm right after he was born because he wasn’t perfect. He was smaller than other foals, and his golden horn was misshapen—not to mention his three white hooves.
Maggie nodded knowingly. “Indeed. But he’ll always be perfect in our eyes.”
“Yes, you are,” Riley said to Storm as she pressed her head against the colt’s warm face. “You are perfect.”
Though Storm might not have been physically perfect compared with the other unicorns, he was just as smart, if not smarter, and could understand everything being said to him. Storm was also much sweeter and gentler than the others, who were mean tempered and could be very dangerous.
Gideon once explained that unicorns were almost like the Atlantis police force. Whenever there was big trouble, they’d show up. This was especially true during the Red Moons, when wildlings and dangerous creatures crossed over the land bridge between Atlantis and the Forbidden Zone. It was always unicorns and gargoyles who drove them back.
Storm nickered and pressed against Riley. “Well, Stormy, we’d better get to work before Lisette sees that we’ve been spending all morning playing.”
Riley and Jill started to take all the fabric off Storm. Just as they finished, the loud, nerve-shattering horn on the Queen blasted.
“What?” Jill cried. “Not again.”
Riley looked over at Maggie with wide eyes. “We’ve just had a Red Moon. It can’t be right. That would make it three in one month!”
Maggie, who was nearly always calm at the horn warning of the Red Moon, had fear in her feline eyes. “I cannot recall ever having two Red Moons so close together, let alone three.”
“Really?” Jill asked. “Never?”
Maggie shook her head. “Never. I don’t know what’s happening, but something is definitely different.”
Storm snorted and pawed the floor. When Riley looked at him, his manner had changed completely. His eyes had become wild, and his nostrils flared.
“Easy, boy,” Riley said softly as she stroked his head. “We’ll be safe, just like last time.”
“Let’s head up to our cabins before the stairwell fills with people,” Maggie suggested. “We don’t want Storm getting shoved or knocked over on that narrow ramp.”
The sewing room was situated on one of the lower decks, and when the Queen had been in service, it had been used as the crew’s dining area. Because of its large size, there was more than enough space for the other ladies who sewed to work in there, but most of them still preferred the small, dark sewing hut that was a good walk from the ship.
Riley believed that some of the seamstresses were still uncomfortable around Maggie now that she remained out of her yellow cloak. But that didn’t stop others from coming in on occasion and asking to use one of the treadle sewing machines. Their hesitation still irritated Riley, but it didn’t seem to bother Maggie.
For the most part, though, the people of the Community had adjusted well to the change in policy that saw the people who were turning into animals going without their cloaks. Some even rekindled old friendships with those they’d lost touch with. The term “Cloak” was no longer used to refer to them and had been replaced with “Turned.”
The corridor outside the sewing room was mostly empty except for the first people arriving on board. Maggie was right. It would be easier to get Storm up to their suite on the top deck before everyone boarded the Queen.
Entering the stairwell, they heard the sounds of others coming up from below. Their footfalls on the stairs were soft but swift. There was very little chatter as everyone appeared to be feeling anxious over the third Red Moon in such a brief period of time.
Storm did as he had been taught and walked over to the narrow ramp against the wall that had been laid along the stairs. With the stops crossing the ramp, it was easy for the colt to climb up, and they made it to the top deck in no time.
Instead of going straight into their suite, they walked out into the blazing sunshine along the promenade. There was no sign of the fog yet, but it would come. Crossing to the railing, they peered over the side and watched the people climbing the main ramp to board the ship.
The Queen of Bermuda was a sanctuary in the upcoming storm. It normally housed most of the Community’s population, but not all, as some people still chose to live in small houses away from the big cruise ship. But when the horn blared the warning of the Red Moon, everyone boarded the ship. These days, it finally offered protection to the members of the Turned community as well.
The sound of running on the deck started, and Riley saw her cousin Alfie, Bastian, and Miss Pigglesworth trotting over to them. When Bastian saw Riley, he smiled brightly, which made Riley’s heart flutter. With the sun shining on his dark hair and the smile lighting his face, Bastian was impossibly handsome.
“Hey, Shorty,” Alfie said, taking a place beside Jill.
“Hiya, Creep,” Riley replied. She smiled at Bastian. “Glad you and Miss Pigglesworth made it back safely.”
“Always,” Bastian said, taking his place at her side. “But I can’t believe it’s another Red Moon so soon.”
“What’s going on with this place?” Alfie asked. “Shane said it’s never done that before.”
“It hasn’t,” Bastian agreed.
“It’s very mysterious, indeed,” Maggie added.
Riley looked at her friends and family. “We can’t have this many Red Moons in such a short time. Something’s definitely gone kerflooey.”
Bastian nodded. “It’s worrying to all of us.”
Miss Pigglesworth barked and started to whine, and Bastian said, “Miss Pigglesworth agrees with you, Riley, that something feels wrong.”
Jill was quiet as they gazed down on the people boarding the Queen. She’d had a hard time with the first Red Moon when they’d arrived in Atlantis and with all the sounds of the creatures outside the ship who had come over from the Forbidden Zone. Now, with it being yet another one in just a matter of days, she was starting to tremble.
“It will be all right, Jill,” Maggie said kindly as she wrapped her fur-covered arm around her. “You know the Queen will keep us all safe.”
“But why does it keep happening?” Jill asked. She looked at Riley. “You said they didn’t happen very often. But this is the fourth since we got here.”
Riley nodded. “I know. I just don’t know why.”
“That is the big question,” Bastian said.
They continued to watch the members of the Community climbing the ramp. Riley searched for her family to make sure they boarded safely. “There’s Danny and Sarah with Chrissy and Pea,” she said, pointing down to her brother and his girlfriend, Sarah, who was Jill’s older sister. Sarah was carrying her youngest sister, while Danny was holding the koala. Pea used to resist being carried around but had learned to accept it when speed was required.
“And there’s your mother with Cameron,” Bastian said, pointing to Riley’s mother and the island’s other doctor. “And Mary is there with Tony and Lisette.”
Riley glanced over at Bastian. “Have you noticed how much time Tony is spending with Lisette?”
“I have.” Bastian grinned. “I think they really like each other.”
“So do I,” Riley agreed. She felt her cheeks heating.
“I don’t know,” Alfie said. “My mom is starting to teach reading and writing to everyone—I think Tony is just giving Lisette extra lessons with her reading.”
As the time ticked by, all the members of Riley’s and Jill’s families made it safely on board the Queen and to the upper deck. They gathered at the side to watch the loading.
While the people filed on board the ship, Kevin the rhino arrived and stood at the side of the ramp. Soon other Turned appeared and waited to load.
“I’m amazed at how many Turned there really are,” Bastian said. “So many more than I realized.”
“We have had to keep hidden,” Pea said. He was still in Danny’s arms and appeared quite content there. “Many never even visited the Queen. Now they can.”
“There should have been many more,” Maggie said sadly. “We have lost so many to the Red Moons of the past.”
Riley nodded. “But not anymore.”
“No, not anymore,” Maggie said gratefully.
Once the last person was on board, the Turned started up the ramp. Beresford and Shane were there to greet them and nodded as they filed on board. The Turned would stay down in the loading area, as most couldn’t manage the stairs. They didn’t appear to mind and were grateful for the protection the ship offered them.
Kevin the rhino was always last to board. When all the other Turned were up the ramp, he bellowed for several minutes to call the last members on board. When no one else arrived, he trotted up the ramp, and the Queen was sealed.
After a while, Alfie looked across to the other side of the deck. “Here comes the fog.”
When Riley glanced over, she saw the wall of white rolling steadily toward the ship. It was like a living, breathing, malevolent creature heading straight at them. She shivered, recalling the time Edward had tried to kill her. She and Beresford had been forced to stay outside for a whole Red Moon, and she remembered the sight of the fog swallowing her vision and leaving only white in its wake.
Though it was a terrifying ordeal, she was equally grateful for the experience. It had given her Storm and made Beresford see what life was like for the Turned, who were forced to endure Red Moons outside the protection of the Queen. This made him change his mind and amend the Community rules. It had made something very, very bad into something very good.
“Okay, everyone, inside,” Mary, Alfie’s mother, said nervously. “That fog is moving fast, and this deck will become too slippery.”
“You won’t get an argument from me,” Danny quipped as he and Sarah started in. They ushered Jill’s little brother and sister forward.
Riley patted Storm. “C’mon, boy, let’s go in.”
They were almost at the outside door to their suite when Storm stopped. His eyes became wild, and he started to whinny. He did a partial rear and then pawed the deck with his front hoof as his ears went back.
“It’s all right, Stormy,” Riley said. “We’re all safe. Just get inside.”
Miss Pigglesworth also stopped and started to whine.
Bastian said. “Miss Pigglesworth can feel something.”
Maggie paused and looked around. “I’m feeling it too—it’s a vibration of some sort.”
“A vibration?” Riley said. “From where?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never felt anything like this before,” Maggie said. “It is as though the Queen itself is somehow shivering. It’s subtle, but it’s there.”
Pea reappeared at the suite door and rubbed his furry hands together. “Please, everyone, hurry inside. Something isn’t right.”
“Whatever’s happening, it looks like Pea is feeling it too,” Jill commented.
They hurried toward their suite. Storm now filled the doorway as he entered the Royal Suite. He walked over to the back wall and turned, facing the door, still shaking his head and snorting nervously. His shoulder muscles started to twitch.
Instead of taking a seat, Riley stayed with the colt and stroked his neck. Bastian and Miss Pigglesworth came up beside her to help comfort the unicorn.
“What’s wrong with him?” Riley asked. “He’s never acted like this before.”
Miss Pigglesworth whined and started panting heavily.
“It’s the vibrations,” Bastian explained. “Miss Pigglesworth says they are getting stronger.”
During all the Red Moons, everyone in Riley’s extended family gathered in the one spacious suite and went through the terrifying ordeal together. Extra chairs were carried in, and everyone chatted lightly until it was time for lights-out and silence.
Alfie shared his lounge chair with his spider-monkey mother, while the others cuddled up together. Because Jill was so upset, Maggie sat on the sofa holding on to Jill, her sister Robbi, and her brother Pauly.
The fog soon enveloped the whole ship. Out the windows they could only see white. The cabin door was still open, but any sounds from outside the ship were muffled in the misty denseness. But when the suite became too damp, they closed the door and windows.
While everyone else in the suite sat down to wait out the Red Moon, Riley and Bastian stayed with Storm. With each passing moment, the unicorn became more and more agitated.
Soon Maggie looked around fearfully. “The vibrations are getting worse. It’s like…”
Before Maggie could finish, the ship began to rumble. It was mild at first, but it was enough that everyone who wasn’t sensitive could actually feel it. But the slight rumble didn’t last long—it increased.
Soon their suite started to shake. Storm shrieked.
“It’s an earthquake!” Mary squealed.
Fear filled the room as the shaking intensified. Items fell off tables and lanterns crashed to the floor as the large cruise ship began to list. The rumbling intensified and soon mixed with the terrible sounds of the ship groaning as its metal hull was crushed in the moving earth.
“We’re going to tip over!” Robbi cried.
“No, we aren’t,” Pea reassured her. “We buried the Queen too deep. We’ll just keep moving with the ground.”
Pea said the words, but they were hard to believe when more items slid off shelves and dresser tops and smashed to the floor of the cabin.
Storm’s shrieking grew louder as the shaking continued. Suddenly the ship listed hard to the side, and Storm, Riley, Bastian, and Miss Pigglesworth were knocked to the floor and tumbled toward the door to the outside deck.
The colt arrived first and hit the doorframe, smashing the door open. His large body blocked it, keeping Riley, Bastian, and Miss Pigglesworth from slipping outside. But Storm’s legs were thrashing and doing damage to everyone and everything around him.
“Storm, stop!” Riley shouted. “Please, you’re hurting us….”
“Riley, we’re coming!” Danny shouted as he and the others in the room were tipped out of their chairs. “Everyone, form a chain! We have to get them away from Storm’s kicking hooves!”
Danny started crawling down the steep slope toward Riley while holding his mother’s hand. She also moved carefully forward while holding on to Josh, who held on to Alfie, who was clinging to the doorframe to one of the bedrooms. Long before they reached Riley, the furniture in the room tumbled toward them, knocking the people-chain apart.
Everyone and everything that could move started sliding toward Storm and the open door.
Moments later Danny tumbled into Riley and Bastian, with the others falling against him. But there was no time to react as the shaking increased. And just like a boat on an ocean filled with heaving waves, the Queen shifted again. This time, the big ship righted and then slid over to the other side.
Screams filled the air as everyone tumbled. They all hit the opposite wall and had to crawl quickly out of the way as Storm whinnied and slid across the floor, smashing against the wall.
This time the shaking didn’t pause, and the Queen rolled again, throwing everyone back toward the door.
Just as they all scrambled clear of Storm, he tumbled toward the open door. Hitting the frame again, the unicorn colt whinnied loudly and thrashed to get up.
Nobody moved, as they expected the Queen to shift again. But after several minutes, the rumbling trailed off and ended completely. When it was finished, the ship was listing even farther on its side.
“Is everyone all right?” Beverly called. She climbed over a fallen chair to gain her feet on the heavily slanted floor.
Riley groaned. “Yes, but I’m going to have some really big bruises in the morning.” She also made it to her feet, but it was like walking on the tilted floor of a fun-house ride. One wrong step, and she knew she’d slip and fall.
“Me too,” Bastian said. “Storm got me right in the arm.”
“And me,” Danny complained. “Now I know what it’s like inside a tumble dryer.”
Chrissy was still crying, but Sarah had managed to keep hold of her to protect her from the worst of the tumbling.
Beside Riley, Storm had stopped thrashing. When she looked at him, she could almost see his mind working on how to get out of the position he was in. “Stay still, Stormy. We’ll move the furniture and then you can get up.”
The colt looked at her, and Riley knew he’d understood what she’d said. He lay calmly on his side, not moving, just waiting.
Working together, they cleared the fallen furniture away from Storm. Riley reached over his side and managed to close the outer door. It was when she turned to look back into the room that she realized Maggie had used her long, sharp claws to keep Jill, Pauly, and Robbi on the sofa with her. Though the sofa had moved, they’d stayed safe on it.
Her aunt Mary was standing on top of the tipped-over desk, holding on to Pea.
After a few minutes, Storm was back on his feet several paces from the door. The fear had left his eyes, even though the Queen and their cabin were now leaning heavily over. He stood calmly, leaning against the outer wall, as the incline wouldn’t let him move deeper into the room.
“If everyone here is all right,” Beverly said, “I’m going out to check on the others below.”
“I’ll come with you,” Danny said.
“Me too,” Josh added. “There might be some people trapped who need help.”
Danny nodded, then looked at Riley and the others. “Please stay up here and do what you can to move all this furniture into one of the bedrooms until we figure out what to do next.”
“What we do next is get outta here,” Alfie said. “We have to leave the ship.”
“We can’t leave the Queen,” Bastian said. “It’s the only safe place during the Red Moon.”
“In case you hadn’t noticed,” Alfie snapped, “we just had a big earthquake, and we’re not safe. The Queen could tip over at any minute. I think we should get off.”
“Alfie, we really can’t. Look at it out there.” Riley pointed out the window. All they could see was a layer of white. “It’s thick fog and still daylight. The Red Moon is just starting. Tonight is going to be awful. Trust me, I’ve done a Red Moon outside, and I never want to do another one!”
“Neither do we,” Pea said, nodding to Maggie. “Until you’ve experienced one for yourself, you can never truly understand how terrifying they are.”
“Plus, we have one other major concern,” Beverly added. “This is an island, and depending on where that earthquake was centered, there may be a tsunami.”
“A what?” Pea asked.
“Tsunami,” Beverly said. “It’s a big tidal wave that could completely flood this island. They often occur after earthquakes in the ocean.”
“Oh dear,” Pea said. “That would not be helpful.”
“No, it would not,” Mary agreed.
“Trust me, we are safer on this ship, even with this tilt,” Beverly said. “So just hold tight, and we’ll be back soon.”
While Riley’s mother, Danny, and Josh left to look for injured or trapped people on the lower decks, Riley and the rest of the extended family did what they could to make their suite safe. Chairs were no longer an option, so they were carefully moved into one of the bedrooms.
With all the furniture out of the suite, it was much bigger than Riley realized. But with the chairs gone, the only place anyone could sit was on the slanted floor with their feet pressed up against the outer wall.
“I wonder how the sewing room is,” Jill finally said. “I hope the sewing machines are all right.”
“Me too,” Maggie said. “I’ve been spoiled by them and would rather not go back to hand sewing.”
“I’m sure any damage could be fixed,” Pea offered. “What really worries me is how Gideon and the other gargoyles fared. They are stone during the day. With the shaking, some may have fallen over and suffered breaks.”
Riley hadn’t thought of that, but after seeing what Gideon went through with a break before, she was terrified for him and the others. “I wish we could go to them to check. If anything happens to Gideon, I—I just don’t know what I’d do….”
“I’m sure he’ll be fine,” Mary said. “The gargoyles are strong.”
“Yes, but none of us were prepared for an earthquake,” Riley said. She felt her voice starting to tremble. “What if the Crucible collapsed?”
“Stop it, Shorty,” Alfie said. “You don’t know that anything has happened to him or the others. We just have to wait to see. For now, just focus on us in here.”
Alfie was right. There was nothing she or anyone else could do at the moment. Not with the Red Moon. All they could do was wait.
While they all sat together, they would occasionally hear the Queen groan and make other loud thumps and bangs as the large cruise ship protested its situation or items in other cabins moved and smashed against the side.
With nothing to do, Riley just sat watching the window until the light outside faded. “Night’s coming,” she commented softly.
“I guess the ‘lights-out’ horn isn’t working,” Bastian commented. “And I think it’s safe to assume there won’t be an evening meal.”
“Yeah,” Alfie said. “I bet the kitchens are a mess.”
“I’m not hungry anyway,” Jill said.
“Me neither,” Robbi agreed.
“This is going to be a long night, I fear,” Pea said. “I just hope Beverly, Danny, and Josh are all right as they look for the injured.”
“Me too,” Jill said softly.
Minute by minute, the light outside the window darkened. Chrissy started to whimper, and Sarah did all she could to keep her quiet. Robbi started to weep, but then Maggie whispered softly to her.
Riley couldn’t hear what Maggie said, but whatever it was, it calmed the distressed girl down.
When it was dark, Riley felt Bastian take her hand. She slid closer to him until they were touching, side by side, and just waiting for the long night to end.
Outside the Queen rose the sound of howling, roaring, and calls of other wild animals who had crossed over from the Forbidden Zone. This was the time that worried Riley the most. Before long, the unicorns would come to drive them away. Their whinnies would rise loud and shrill. But with each call, Riley was terrified that Storm would answer. What would happen if the unicorns ever found out he was on the ship?
“It’s all right, Storm,” Riley called softly as a loud roar started. She got up and felt her way over to the colt. Storm was still standing, leaning against the wall. When she found him, she stroked his neck and felt him quivering. Was it fear? Or was he aware that the unicorns were coming?
Bastian found his way to her side again. “He’ll be fine; we all will.”
Soon Alfie and Jill joined them. Together they kept Storm occupied and worked to calm the quivering colt.
Riley knew Storm was near the outside door. That also added to her anxiety. Had it been damaged? Could it fly open and Storm fall through it? The thought was just forming in her mind when the worst happened, and the door opened.
“Everyone, it’s me. Don’t be frightened,” Gideon’s tight voice whispered.
Riley nearly cried with relief. “Oh, Gideon, I’m so glad you’re alive! I was so scared that you’d suffered a break in the earthquake….”
“We are all fine,” Gideon said. “The Crucible has sustained some damage, but nothing like here. Priri has flown back to alert the others. We must try to stabilize the Queen before she slips any further from her seat in the ground.”
“Can you stand her back up?” Alfie asked.
“Unfortunately, no,” Gideon said. “We gargoyles are strong, but even with our combined strength, it wouldn’t be enough to right her again.”
“Gideon,” Riley said, “in all the past, have you ever known of an earthquake on Atlantis?”
“Never,” Gideon whispered. “And we have been here a very long time. Three Red Moons so close together and now an earthquake? We fear something is happening to Atlantis.”
“We agree,” Maggie said.
“If you can’t stand the Queen up again,” Alfie said, “what do we do?”
“I am uncertain,” Gideon said. “But we cannot leave her as she is. The large loading doors are blocked by the ground, so for the moment, you are all trapped on board. I fear for the Turned on the lower deck. But we can do nothing until this Red Moon is over.”
“Gideon,” Pea called lightly. “A long time ago, when I was still mostly a man, I vaguely remember all of us digging the hole to seat the Queen in. I believe the Leviathan came on land and helped settle her. Do you think Galina might ask him to help us again?”
Gideon fell silent for a moment. In the absolute darkness, Riley couldn’t see him, but she could hear his deep breathing. He was still outside the door and hadn’t tried to enter.
Finally the gargoyle said, “It may work. Unfortunately, we can’t do anything tonight. But when it is over, I shall speak with Galina. I’m sure if we all work together, we can restore the ship to her proper position.”
“Thank the stars,” Maggie called softly.
“Until then the danger has not passed,” Gideon said. “For tonight I must ask some of you to go to the lower decks and warn everyone not to move around at all. I appreciate that it is dark and frightening, but you must warn them as quickly and as quietly as you can. The ground around the Queen is unstable and may give. That would be an unimaginable disaster.”
Riley turned in Alfie’s direction. “Would you, Bastian, and Jill go and warn people? I have to stay with Storm.”
“Robbi and I can go too,” Pauly offered.
“Okay,” Alfie said. “But I don’t know how much good we’ll be at getting anywhere. I can’t see a thing.”
“Neither can I,” Jill agreed.
“I will come with you,” Maggie said. “Luckily, I can see in the dark. We can take it level by level.”
“I can see in the dark as well,” Mary added. “We can form two groups and cover more territory this way. Pea, will you stay with Chrissy while we’re gone?”
“Of course,” Pea said.
A loud roaring from below was met with another roaring, which soon ended in a snarling, vicious fight.
“I must leave you,” Gideon said. “Please, get moving. Warn everyone, but do it as quietly as you can. This is still a Red Moon, and now that the Queen is compromised, the danger is even greater.”
“We will,” Alfie said. “Please be careful out there.”
“Always,” Gideon said. Then he shut the outer door and was gone.
Before leaving, Bastian reached for Riley’s hand, then she felt him move in close. She turned her head toward him, and suddenly their lips met in the dark. After the briefest of kisses, Bastian whispered. “We’ll be back soon.”
“Please stay safe,” Riley said.
“You too,” he whispered back. “Keep Storm quiet.”
“I will, even if I have to sit on him,” Riley said.
“See you, in a bit…,” Bastian called.
“I’ll be here waiting for you….”
“Oh, please…,” Alfie cried softly. “Bastian, would you and Riley cut it out—you’re gonna make me sick!”
“We’re not doing anything,” Riley said. Though if the light were on, they would all see the deep color in her cheeks.
“Yeah, right,” Alfie said.
“Just go,” Riley said lightly. “I’ll see ya later, Creep.”
“Yeah, Shorty, see ya.”