Kira hugged herself and stamped her feet in the deepening snow. She couldn’t stop shivering, but she wasn’t sure if it was more due to the cold or to nervousness.
She and her family had been through a lot, but that had been years ago. Kira was just a kid then, pretty much dragged along and shuffled around without any say in what happened, or what happened to her. Protected. Some of the details seemed hazy now, and her aunts rarely talked about those days anymore, yet Kira had always felt they could probably handle anything that came at them, as long as they worked together.
The world knew about clones now. Rogue scientists were trying to wipe out everyone in the small village of Nasgwine’g just to test a weapon—the same weapon that had already killed a man, basically right in front of Kira and Emmaline. And those same scientists seemed willing to kill anyone who got in their way.
Kira had already failed to save Gilles Sauveterre, whose horrifying death still haunted Kira and Emmaline both, and now they thought they could protect everyone else in his village?
An arm settled over her shoulder. “Cold?” Emmaline asked.
Kira’s face grew flushed. She stopped shivering, but now her heart was racing. “Not anymore.”
“It’s gonna be okay,” Em said.
Kira appreciated the attempt to reassure her, but then Em said, more softly, “Isn’t it?”
Kira nodded. “It is. Help is coming.” She checked the phone clutched in her gloved hand. “Eventually.”
Where were they?
As if on cue, she saw two bright specks in the distance. Headlights. Kira squinted, but the snow and darkness made it impossible to make out the vehicle.
Em’s arm slid away from Kira’s shoulders. “Maybe we should hide until we’re sure it’s them?”
Kira shrugged. “Who else would be out here, at this time of night, in the middle of a snowstorm?”
The headlights grew closer much faster than she would have expected in foot-deep snow. They also seemed much higher off the ground than they should be—maybe it was a snowplow out clearing the roads?
Suddenly it was upon them, and it wasn’t a plow or the purple Prius she had been hoping for. It wasn’t even a car—it was some kind of all-terrain vehicle in green brown camo, built like a freaking tank on large, snow-crusted tires. It looked military.
“Shit. Run!” Kira grabbed Em’s gloved hand in hers and turned to run. They had only made it a dozen feet away when she heard a familiar voice calling out her name.
Kira stopped, and a moment later a spotlight fell on her and Em. She shielded her eyes and blinked at the figure waving at her from the ATV’s open passenger door. He slipped and fell on his ass in the snow, shouting “Bloody hell!”—and then Kira was certain it was Uncle Felix.
Felix slowly climbed to his feet, brushing off his long black coat. She didn’t realize she was running across the road toward him until he made an oof sound and rocked back against the vehicle’s oversized tire. Kira had forgotten for a moment that she wasn’t a kid anymore. She hugged him ferociously, and to her utter embarrassment, her eyes burned with tears. She hid her face in his shoulder, hoping Em wouldn’t see.
“Hey,” he said, thumping her soothingly between the shoulder blades like he had when she was small. “Hey, Monkey. You’re all right.”
Kira laughed weakly. He was pretty much the only person who she didn’t mind using her old nickname.
“Chin up. I bring reinforcements,” he said. “And supplies.”
Kira took a shaky breath, pulled herself together, and drew back as two women hopped down from the back of the ATV. Vivienne Valdez and Dana Emmett. Both of them were the same unnerving combination of strange and all-too-familiar, one with blunt-cut red hair that flared behind her as the wind picked up, the other with hair the same natural brown as all the other clones.
Their appearance was even more unsettling because they were younger than her mom and her aunts, and older than Charlotte.
“Hi.” Kira waved and then felt silly for it. “I’m Kira Manning. This is Em. Emmaline Francis,” she added, when Emmaline reached her side.
Em tugged down her scarf and gave a winning smile and a sheepish little wave of her own that made Kira feel a rush of affection. Felix’s gaze slid back to Kira’s face, and one of his eyebrows shot upward. He had always been way too perceptive.
“Vivi,” said the redheaded clone. So this was the American spy who had been investigating that explosion at GRIT—and Aunt Cosima. Now she was supposedly working with them. Kira narrowed her eyes and found that Vivi was sizing her up, too. The woman seemed unimpressed by what she saw.
The second clone reached...