Songbird Trilogy Book 1: The Maze Girl (complete)
Author: Julia R. West

Chapter 8
An Open Door

"Confidence can be deadly. Likewise, it can be the only thing that keeps you alive."



I confidently head into the navy blue hallway. I'm so confident because I feel that Rory and I would have noticed if whoever we were searching for were hiding in our very own hallway. I feel more comfortable looking in the rooms that are so much like the one I've been staying in.

Door ten holds nothing but the furniture that mine did when I first arrived. Same with eleven. And twelve. I am ninety-nine percent sure I am alone in my own room, but I check it anyways. I jab my key in and twist it, but I hear no click. I try again. No click.

Then I realize there is no click because I don't need my key. The door is unlocked. I leave my key in the lock and bolt into the waiting room and down into the scarlet hallway. I am one hundred percent sure I locked it. I see Rory about to enter door four. "Rory!" I half yell, half whisper. He wheels around.

"Rory, my door is unlocked. Come see." I don't give him a choice, and pull him back to door thirteen. We walk inside.

"Anything missing?"

I look around. My suitcase is still neatly packed--clearly not searched. A few drawers are pulled open. I close them. I never put anything in them, so I think that's okay. Then I realize what's missing. "The ring!" It had been sitting on the bedside table.

"What?" asks Rory.

"Teryn gave me a ring from when we were kids. It's not here."

"Was it significant?"

"Not really, but sort of. It had an F on if for 'friends.' On the back it had both of our names."

"It's okay. I know you'll miss it, but it's the least of our worries right now. I'm going back. Set your timer on your watch back to fifteen and we'll keep searching," he says. He hesitates and sighs, leaning in closer to me. Then he does something he's never done before. He kisses me.

I don't know what to say. Thank you? I love you? And then I realize that's true. I do love him. No, Ellery. You don't! I say to myself. But by the time I am awoken from my thoughts, Rory is no longer here. He's gone back to the scarlet hallway. After that! Without saying anything more.

I push the kiss from my mind and close my door. I check the rest of the doors for anything strange, up until eighteen to no avail. A sounds stops me in my tracks. It comes from behind door nineteen. I click my key into the lock, trying not to think about what might be behind the door. A person? A person with a weapon? The person we're looking for? It opens at the slightest push. The covers of the bed are thrown on the floor. The lamps are on, and the drawers are open. The closet door is open and the closet is empty. But someone's been here, and recently, too.




This time, I am back from searching first. I'm pacing for what feels like forever before he emerges from behind the flame-red curtain. "Nothing," he says.

"I found something," I tell him. I show him door nineteen. He opens it to find nothing out of the ordinary. The covers are back on the bed. The closet is closed, the lights are off, and everything is off the floor, but most odd--there is a candle sitting next to a piece of paper, which is singeing at the edges. Evidence is being burned, along with the table, which is catching fire now, too.


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