Curse of Stars
“You must be Sabina,” he said.
Her heart felt ready to explode. Ringing in her ears made it hard to hear but she could have sworn he called her Sabina. She didn’t know whether to answer him or not. She went by Sabi but her birth certificate said Sabina. He wasn’t wrong, but she wasn’t about to admit that.
The sound of his voice was soft, almost welcoming. But the way he looked at her, how his gaze bored directly into her eyes, it sent goose bumps across her skin. All she wanted to do right then was leave.
“Sorry,” she choked, the word barely making it out. “You have the wrong house.”
The thin smile that sliced across his face like a paper cut cracked open to reveal gleaming teeth underneath. Sabi couldn’t help but think of a wolf and how he would eat her with his big teeth.
“I don’t think so. But maybe it’s Perez now, yes? At least that’s what my sources say.”
Every thought she had smashed together in her head. He had her name. Her name. But who was Sabina Petris? And why did he say Perez like that wasn’t her real name? Crap, she needed to get out. Now.
“Baby, you okay?”
Sabi jumped and nearly choked on her heart. Keeping her eyes on the man in front of her she called down to Mrs. Wexler in the steadiest voice she could muster, “Fine. I’m fine.”
Nothing about her cracking voice sounded fine.
“Why don’t you come on down? Come sit with me until your Mama gets home?”
Yes! That’s what she’d do. Nothing could happen if she stayed out in the open with Mrs. Wexler. She took a step backward, not daring to turn her back on the man, but she stopped when he spoke.
“Perhaps you shouldn’t. Or your sister, Matti is it? Could feel the effects of that poor decision.”
Bile burned Sabi’s throat and her vision swam. The man took a step closer.
“You are my property, Sabina. Your parents knew this. They knew this would happen. Come with me now and I’ll forgive their indiscretions. I can’t say the same for their people, of course. So many deaths piling up behind your parents. Something like that is hard for people to forgive.”
Everything in Sabi’s head cleared and one thing rang out above it all: Matti. Get to Matti. Whoever this guy was, whatever he was saying, he wasn’t right. In the head, in life, in anything. Except just looking at him Sabi knew he was far from harmless. He was too casual, too confident. He was the wolf and she the prey and she was getting too close to backing into a corner.
With every ounce of air she had in her lungs Sabi screamed Mrs. Wexler’s name and booked back down the stairs. Footsteps thundered up to meet her and Mrs. Wexler mumbled ‘outside’ and nearly pushed Sabi down the rest of the stairs. But she didn’t need any help. And she didn’t stop on the stoop or to see what her neighbor was going to do.
Guilt slowed her down, but the way Matti rolled off the man’s tongue made her pump her legs harder. It was blocks to the school, but Sabi wasn’t about to wait at a subway stop, sitting like a duck with a price on its head. She needed to get to Matti.