The Isle of the Lost (Page 35)

And worse, he had never dreamt about her. Not once.

For Audrey, that song might be about him. But for Ben, that song wasn’t about her.


Not Audrey.

He had dreamt about another girl.

One with purple hair and green eyes glittering in the dark, a sly smile of mischief on her lips.

Who was she? Where was she? Would he ever meet her?

And would he ever get her out of his head?

Ben closed his eyes and tried to focus on the melody and the girl right in front of him, but the memory of the girl from his dream was too hard to forget.

For the next several hours, Mal, Jay, and Evie helped Carlos with the painstaking task of finishing his mother’s laundry. Or, to be more specific, Jay and Evie helped Carlos, while Mal “supervised.”

For a woman who lived on a semideserted island full of ex-villains, Cruella sure had an elaborate wardrobe, Mal thought. There were fringed scarves and silky black gloves, fishnet stockings and slinky black dresses, chubby wraps and whisper-knit cardigans, bulky coats and frilly corsets. Cruella De Vil might be exiled, but that didn’t mean her clothes were going to be anything less than stunning.

Mal looked around at Evie, who was humming as she folded black-and-white towels. The blue-haired princess had been relatively easy to sway, which boded well for when they actually found the scepter. Mal would make sure Evie would be the first one to touch it, absorbing the curse and falling asleep for a thousand years. It was the evil scheme to end all evil schemes, and Mal was looking forward to sweet revenge, as well as picking up straight E’s for the semester.

Meanwhile, Jay was up to his elbows in suds washing a number of black-and-white sweatshirts.

“Isn’t this a lot of work?” she asked, feeling exhausted just from watching everyone.

Carlos nodded, his mouth full of safety pins.

“And you do it all?” she asked Carlos. Her mother might ignore her and resent her and scold her, but at least she wasn’t Maleficent’s virtual slave.

Carlos nodded again. He pulled the safety pins out of his mouth and explained that he was pinning a bustier on a hanger just the way Cruella’s old favorite drycleaner in London had. “Yes. But you get used to it, I guess. Don’t worry, we’re almost all done.”

“Thank goblins” said Mal, putting her feet up on a nearby ottoman.

But just as they were putting the finishing touches on the last batch of black-and-white clothing and linens, they heard the roar of a car engine. It screeched to a stop in front of Hell Hall.

Carlos began to shake. “It’s her…Mother…she’s back…she wasn’t supposed to be back till tomorrow. The Spa must have dried up.”

Mal wasn’t sure why Carlos was so jumpy. No one was as scary as her mother after all—what on earth could he be so freaked out about?

A car door slammed, and a heavy accent raspy from too much smoke and yelling rang through the air. “Carlos! Carlos! My baby!” Cruella cried, her throaty voice ringing through the house.

Mal looked at Carlos. My baby? That didn’t sound too bad, now, did it?

“My baby needs a bath!”

“She knows you’re dirty from out there?” Evie asked, confused.

Carlos turned red again. “She doesn’t mean me,” he whispered hoarsely. “She means her car. She’s telling me to give it a wash.”

Evie turned away from the window with a horrified look on her face. “But it’s so filthy! It’ll take hours!” The red car was splattered with dirt from driving around town, crusted black and disgusting.

“No way are we cleaning that,” muttered Jay, who couldn’t be looking forward to washing one more thing.

The four of them crept out of the laundry area and into the main room.

Cruella stopped short at the sight of three strange scraggly teenagers in her house. She still wore her hair in a frizzy black-and-white do. Her long, fur coat trailed on the floor behind her, and she was sucking on a slender black cigarette holder.

Mal gave her a disapproving glance, and Cruella shrugged. “It’s vapor. Just vapor, darling.”

Mal waved the vapor away.

“Now, enough about my baby, how is my one true love?” Cruella drawled, puffing on her long vapor wand.

The three teenagers turned to Carlos questioningly, but even he looked astounded to hear himself described in such affectionate terms. “Your one true love?” he almost stammered.

“Why, yes, my one true love. My furs!” Cruella laughed. “You’ve been taking good care of them haven’t you, darling?”

“Of course,” Carlos said, reddening again.

Mal knew he was kicking himself. But what did it matter if his mother loved him or not? They’d been taught that love was for the weak, for the silly, for the good. Love was not for the likes of them. They were villains. The bad guys. The only thing they loved was a wicked plan.

“Who are these clowns?” Cruella demanded, waving her arms toward the group.

“They’re my…” Carlos stammered.

Mal knew he couldn’t say friends, because they weren’t friends, not really. She had bullied him into going with her on a quest, Evie pitied him, and Jay was there only so he could attempt to steal the chandelier.

Either Cruella didn’t notice or didn’t care. “Where’re Jace and Harry?” she asked.

Carlos shrugged.

“Hi, Mrs. De Vil, I’m—” Evie said, offering her hand.

“I know who you are,” Cruella said dismissively.

Mal thought it was interesting that everyone knew who Evie was, even though she’d been kept in a castle for a decade.

“Hey,” said Mal.

“Oh, hello, Mal—tell your mother I send my love, darling,” Cruella said, gesturing with her vapor cigarette and then turning to glare at Jay. “And you, tell your father he ripped me off with that lamp he sold me—the thing doesn’t work.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Jay saluted.

“Well, what are you all standing here for? Didn’t you hear me? My baby’s dirty, darlings! It’s absolutely wretched! I can’t live another minute until you give my baby a bath! Now, scram!”

Evie thought they would be stuck at Cruella’s forever, but at long last the car was clean, and the foursome arrived at Dragon Hall in search of a map that would hopefully show them where the Forbidden Fortress was hidden on the island. Carlos’s compass would help, but if Jafar was right about the island being much bigger than they thought, they would need to be pointed in the right direction first.


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