The stairs creaked.
Tori hunched forward, the hard shape of the flashlight digging into her breastbone. She could hear herself gasping and tried to slow her breathing, tried to remember all the tricks the school nurse had taught her—breathe in for four, hold for seven, exhale for eight—but at that moment she could no more count than she could fly. All she could think about was the fifth step on the staircase, the one that always made that raspy creaking noise when stepped on, and remember every time she had stepped on it without giving second thought to the sound.
Calm down, she told herself firmly. Just calm down. It could be Dad! He could be home early.
Never mind that her father hardly ever came home.
Never mind that Frost was freaking out.
Never mind that every nerve in Tori’s body screamed with one desire: