“A proposition?” Eddie asked, heart thumping. “What kind of proposition?”
Levi’s grin widened, and his eyes seemed to dance with sinister glee. “I want you to gather all the first-born children of Oak Hill and send them to me for one week.”
Eddie’s eyes widened in shock, “What!? Why in the world would I do that?”
Levi waved his hand dismissively. “The why isn’t important, Eddie. What matters is the deal. If you agree to my terms, I won’t use the amulet’s power against you. I’ll leave Oak Hill in peace. But if you refuse, well…” His gaze flicked to the amulet, and his voice grew cold. “You know what I can do.”
Eddie’s mind raced. How could he agree to such a demand? He looked into Levi’s eyes, searching for any hint of mercy or compassion, but found only darkness.
“No, sir,” Eddie said, standing up and backing away. “No, Mr. Blackwell, I can’t agree to your terms. I would never send innocent children to some nutso’s cabin in the woods. You musta lost your damn mind living here all these years on your own. I’ll find another way.”
Levi’s grin faded, replaced by a cold, menacing scowl. “Yer a fool, Mr. Mayor. Choosin’ to condemn your town to suffering when you could have spared ‘em. Each and every soul!”
Eddie squared his shoulders and stared down the wretched old man. “I’m choosing to stand up for what’s right. I won’t be party to endangering children.”
Levi’s eyes narrowed, and the air in the cabin seemed to grow colder. “Very well, sonny boy. You made your choice. Now, go.”
The cabin door flew open with a loud crack. The wind outside was whipping something strong.
Levi smirked and rubbed his finger along the rim of the jewel in his amulet. The old man whispered something, and a gust of air picked Eddie up and flung him outside, dumping him into a thorny bush.