Dallas had been avoiding Stella. His cold hadn’t gone down yet—nowhere close, in fact—and Stella’s words were making it worse. He kept walking until he realized they were getting farther away from their territory. He considered heading back, but when Stella’s voice caught up with him, he shook his head and kept going.
He paused again when he glimpsed an angry Craig a few steps ahead with a terrified Aella. Dallas didn’t approach them until Craig seemed to be out of control and Aella closed her eyes. That was when Dallas caught Craig’s arm mid-air and said, “Hold it.”
Aella opened her eyes. For a moment, there was a flicker of hope in those night-dark eyes that kindled another flame of hope in Dallas—hope that maybe Aella was still Aella. She’d even mouthed a quick “thank you”, smiling.
“Whatcha doin’? Let go of me!” Craig yelled. Apparently, he’d forgotten that he still had a free hand on Aella’s shoulder.
“Not until you calm down,” Dallas said. It seemed impossible enough.
Aella slipped out.
“You get back here!” Craig shouted at her.
A gun formed in her hand. At first, it was gray, and neither of the guys knew what she meant to do, though they both had an expectation. But when it touched Dallas’s temple, it was clearly black.
“Let him go,” she ordered. Dallas sighed. What he saw a few moments ago had probably been just an illusion in his feverish mind. He let go.
At that moment, Craig snapped out of his previous anger. “Oh, I get it. You’re awesome, Aella!”
It wasn’t long before they strapped him to the backseat of a Smoke cloud. “Too bad caves don’t allow apparatin’,” Craig said.
Aella climbed to the backseat and fingered the smoke that bound Dallas. Then, she stroked his cheek. “Why don’t you sleep for a while? We can’t let you know where we’re headed.”
“I know anyway. We saw it together, Aella.”
“Don’t remind me.”
Soon, Dallas lost consciousness. It wasn’t because Aella or Craig did anything—it was because he was about to collapse from the fever anyway.