Prologue

"And yet another child was abducted. Hannah Chase from Tennessee. So continues the chain of what police consider linked abductions plaguing America. Starting with Tristan Gold six months ago, over seventeen children have been taken, and not a single one yet found. Not even a trace leads to any of the missing children though the parents are told not to lose hope yet. We talked to Police Chief Devins of Portland, Oregon, near where the first abduction took place, and—"

"I'm going for a bike ride, Mom!" I shouted as I bounded down the stairs, trying to be heard over the television with the news blasting. My mother was sitting on one of the white couches, looking at the screen with a worried expression, drinking her normal coffee.

"I don't know if I want you going out, Kessalyn," she said slowly, standing up. I rolled my eyes.

"Mom, please. I'm fifteen years old, I'm not going to be abducted like all of those other kids."

"That first kid, Tristan Gold, he was fifteen too, Kessie!"

"But I've lived on this island practically my whole life," I reassure her, getting a bottle of water to bring with me on my bike ride from the kitchen. "It would be quite a challenge for someone to take me from here."

"Did I hear the words 'bike ride'?" My older brother Alexander asked with a grin as he came bounding down the stairs. Most people have older brothers who stay in their rooms all the time and sleep late and all that. But no, my brother has to be the one who wakes up at seven every morning to make sure he can bother me on my bike rides. "I'm in!"

"Maybe you can go with Alex," my mom conceded. "I don't think you'll be taken with your seventeen year old brother there. Maybe Ashton will go with you too." Ashton is Alex's twin brother, and my other older brother.

"Come on!" I whined, while Alex whooped with excitement.

"This is going to be great, Kessie!" He said, laughing. "A family bike ride!"

"Mom!" I yelled as Alex picked me up and spun me around. Ashton came down after that, looking slightly amused at the goings-on.

"Bike ride?" He asked in his calm voice, without any of Alex's antics. "I'll go."

'I wanna come!" came a younger voice, as my last sibling came running down the stairs. Six-year-old Chloe. I groaned.

"No, Chlo. Nobody is coming. I'm going by myself."

'Except for me," Alex told her with a wink. "'Cause Kessie could never go anywhere without me."

"And me," Ash finished, with a slight smile. "Because Kessie needs the extra protection."

I gave my mother a pointed look, but she shrugged and downed the rest of her coffee. "I just don't think it's a good idea for you to be going out alone right now, Kessalyn. Take your brothers and sister with you."

"Chloe?" I asked, grimacing, while Chloe cheered for herself. "But won't she be added risk?"

"You can't very well leave her home alone," my mother answered, looking at me sternly. "Come on, Kessie. Be a good sport about it all."

"Fine," I answered in a way that was not "good-sport-ish" at all. "Let's go then!"

Despite the fact that I have a bunch of early risers for family members, they are slow movers. Chloe wanted to eat breakfast, and then Alex and Ash decided that they might as well eat also. In the end, it took us another hour and a half before we were ready to leave.

"I would have been back by now," I grumbled to myself as my mom shouted that we should all put some sunscreen on.

At long last I ran out the front door and the long set of wooden steps down to our driveway, where each of our green bikes that read "The Sanctuary" on them in white (it's the big hotel and golf resort on the island) rested. We didn't need helmets – they weren't the law here, and besides, it was too hot anyway.

Without waiting another second for the rest of them, I pedaled out fast and turned left on Glossy Ibis Lane, the road I lived on. Bike paths traced their way all over the island for the convenience of people who stayed here on vacation (though my father was one of the managers at The Sanctuary hotel, so we lived here).

"Wait up, Kessie!" Chloe shouted in annoyance. She still had training wheels on her bike, so it only went so fast. I pretended I couldn't hear her.

"Hold up," Alex said, suddenly on one side of me. Ash was on the other and I was so surprised that I went spinning right onto someone's lawn and toppled off the bike.

"Thanks," Chloe said sweetly as she rode up. I sighed as I got back up on my bicycle and rode with the protection of my older brothers, and the liability of my younger sister.

"Where are we going, K?" Ash asked from up front where he was leading us all. Together we turned right onto the nearest bike path.

"The beach," I called up. This was my favorite place to bike to, because the sand was compact enough on the island that you could ride your bike all the way down the beach and hardly feel tired at all. The wheels of the bikes didn't sink in or anything. And there were lots of tide pools that Chloe and I liked to find sand dollars and starfish in, and my brothers liked to ride through, soaking passersby and themselves in equal amounts.

Alex and Ash raised their hands up and gave a thumbs-up at the same time. I rolled my eyes, but smiled. I waited until I saw the blue house with the white balconies that always showed the street that I turned onto for the beach.

The palm trees arched over the bike path on either way, and I saw large amounts of grayish green Spanish moss hanging from their branches. The moss was a little eerie hanging up there, but I knew not to go anywhere near it when it was on the ground (the moss was then full of little bugs called chiggers that bury under your skin and irritate it for weeks.)

I started lagging behind once we got to the beach, letting my brothers and sister speed way ahead of me to give myself the impression of being alone. I biked alongside the waves slowly, enjoying the smell of the air and the view as much as always. I peeked into the tidal pools, and found a starfish clinging to one of the clumps of sand, but decided to leave it alone.

Looking out at the ocean, I saw a pod of dolphins swimming past, their fins marking their path. In my opinion, Kiawah Island, South Carolina was the most gorgeous place on Earth to live, even if I did have to get driven to nearby James Island (over a bunch of bridges) to get to school every day.

I couldn't see my brothers and sisters at all anymore, but I did see clouds gathering above me. Thunderstorms were not at all uncommon here, and I actually loved to bike in the rain. But I knew thunder and lightning scared Chloe.

"Chloe!" I shouted, squinting into the distance and wondering if the specks I saw were my crazy siblings or just other people walking on the beach. Leave it to Alex and Ash to not even notice the storm gathering. The wind was already picking up, making my dark brown hair fly everywhere.

"Alex!" I yelled after that. Sometimes, I swear, my brother has bat ears. He can hear me calling his name from a couple of blocks away. But other times, he mysteriously can't hear me at all. "Alexander! Ashton! Come on, guys! It's going to rain!"

And then it did. Rain was pouring down in sheets of water, and the ocean was raging beside me, the waves licking up and trying to drag the wheels of my bike in.

I kept going forward, hoping that I'd run across my siblings coming back my way to go home. Sure enough, about five minutes later, all three sped past me, wet to the bone.

"Hey, wait up!" I shouted, turning on the spot.

"Like you did for us?" Alex asked over the rain, before laughing like a maniac. He was out of his mind, I was pretty sure.

I sped up and biked until I was right next to Chloe. I could see the rain mixing with tears on her cheeks.

"Oh, Chlo," I said, just loud enough for her to hear me. "We'll be home soon. It's fine."

She nodded solemnly, wincing when thunder rumbled above us. My brothers led the way, turning off the beach and back onto the bike path. The rain was less harsh under the groups of trees, but we were still all biking as fast as we could to get home.

At one point, though, I was biking through a gap of trees, and it seemed as though an entire bucket of water was poured on my head. Momentarily blinded, I steered crazily back and forth, eventually coming to a stop and rubbed the water out of my eyes.

I had stopped in the middle of a street. I saw my siblings just up ahead.

"Come on, Kessie!" Ashton was shouting, before all three of them turned left back onto Glossy Ibis Lane. I hopped back on my bike, before I came to a jerking halt as a black van came spinning around the corner.

Before I knew what was going on, two men wearing entirely black jumped out of the van. One of them grabbed me and stuck some sort of cloth in my face.

I was screaming, but the storm was too loud, and the cloth had a strange scent on it. Very suddenly, I was floating, and I was only conscious for as long as the men shoved me in the back seat of the car.

And then everything was gone.