“And they aren’t here, if you’re hoping to go look for them,” he added. “They were moved to a different facility.”
My mouth watered at the smell of the toast and the sight of the strawberries in front of me now. I hated that. I wanted to go through all levels of resistance, even a hunger strike if it came to it, but I couldn’t. My stomach growled like a volcano ready to blow.
Tanner softened his tone. “Look.” He sat across from me. “We took you because you’re our best shot at finding our sister. That’s all. If you help us, you get to go back to your life. It’s as easy as that.”
I glared. “You kidnapped me. It’s not that simple.”
He snorted. “Please. You can tell the prime minister we took you and nothing would happen. You’re on the up and up with your job. You know our family can’t be touched.”
He lifted an eyebrow, his smirk knowing. “Don’t underestimate my brother. That’s a fatal mistake if you do.”
I straightened, holding the glass of juice in front of me. Its coolness calmed me for some reason. “I don’t know where Brooke is. But even if I did, why would I help you find her? If Brooke went missing on her own, I’m sure she did it for a good reason.”
Like she was scared of her brothers, or one of them?
Like she didn’t want to be murdered the way her oldest brother had been, or their father?
“Brooke wasn’t in the right frame of mind when she took off,” Tanner countered. “Trust me on that.” He leaned forward, his eyes boring into mine. “You know how close I was to her. I know you do. She told me how much she talked about me to you, so remember how much I loved her back then? It’s more now.”
He leaned back just as Jonah returned. “We all love her. A lot. We’re looking out for her, for her safety.”
Jonah slowed, hearing the last of his brother’s words.
Tanner was right. I did remember how close she was to him, and how she adored Jonah, who was all grown up now.
“You were ten when Brooke left Hillcrest,” I said to Jonah. “That’d make you twenty-three now?”
“My birthday was last week. I’m twenty-four.” His answer was stiff, and he went into the kitchen.
He was a doctor at that age? That wasn’t possible.
As if reading my thoughts, Tanner grinned. “Little Jonah’s a genius. So take heed, Ray ray.” A smile spread over his face. He was taunting me. “Whatever escape plan you’re thinking of, it’s already been thought out for you and taken care of. Between Kai and Jonah, every detail has been handled. Your best bet for getting out of here is to help us find Brooke.”
I took in how assured he looked, how resigned Jonah seemed, and I remembered how they’d captured me, how they’d handled the gas station, and how everything had been calculated and planned out last night. My heart sank.
They were right.
I had to help them find Brooke.
Her image flashed in my mind—her social media pictures from the news—and I remembered holding her after Kai and his father drove away. I remembered how she’d sobbed in my arms, and I hardened inside.
I had three ways to leave.
Find Brooke. Escape. Or put them in a situation where they needed to let me go.
As I drank my orange juice, ate my toast, had a second glass of juice and then finally a cup of coffee, I savored every taste, because if worst came to worst, a hunger strike was a last resort. But even then… I ran through the scenarios. They could put a feeding tube in me.
I winced at the thought.
I hoped it didn’t come to that. I really didn’t. Another seizure, maybe? Jonah said it was rare and didn’t think I’d suffer one again, but I could fake it? Could I do something else where they’d be forced to take me to a hospital? Maybe. That was another last resort, so escape first.
I’d have to try. They kept telling me it was pointless, but I needed to find out for myself.
And that meant I had to be in my best health, so I asked for a third piece of toast as I ate all of the fruit Tanner had given me.
I wasn’t thinking about the Hider male they’d killed. I couldn’t. I couldn’t even focus on Brooke. Escape was it for me. If I could just get out of their estate, I knew Blade would be waiting for me. He would’ve traced all the phones to this location. His tech skills were nearly unmatched. He was the best, and he was an asset the 411 Network utilized often. We’d been placed near Calgary for a reason. It was smack in the middle of the distribution line between Canada and the States.
I sat in the kitchen with Tanner and Jonah, who seemed content to sit in silence, for another hour before I started getting tired. Jonah noticed first.
“You need more rest to heal. You should sleep.”
They called the guards, who took me back to the other part of the compound. I thought they’d take me to “my” room, even though I’d only been in it for a short time, but they didn’t. They took me to Kai’s apartment.
They left me alone, taking up their spots outside the door, and this time I did a more thorough search of the place.
The vents were too small to fit in.
The main window in the living room looked out over the same cliff the deck did. If I wanted to escape from this room, I would have to fall to my death. So that meant I needed to be able to move around the house more freely. There had to be another option elsewhere.
I really was tired. Jonah was right. I needed rest, so I crawled into Kai’s bed and tried to not notice how good the sheets felt until I faded off.
? ? ?
I woke to darkness.
The curtains were pulled back from the glass doors, so moonlight filtered in, but it wasn’t much. Then I sensed what must’ve woken me. A figure moved in the closet, and I heard rustling sounds. Clothes. Clothes being removed. A hanger clanging against another.
I didn’t say anything, and after a moment he moved out to the main room.
Light flooded in from the bathroom before it faded, and I heard water come on. The light shone again when the door opened before it was flicked off.
The clock beside me said it was three in the morning. I had slept all afternoon and through the evening into nighttime.
My bladder was uncomfortable—that could also have been what woke me.
I didn’t hear Kai come back, but I sensed him again. He paused at the end of the bed. “Should I turn the light on for you? Do you need the bathroom?”
I croaked, sitting up, “Yes. Thank you.”
He flicked the light on, and it was blinding. I closed my eyes, keeping my head down as I got out of bed and hurried around him. I felt his gaze the entire time. The air electrified as I moved past him. I felt like I could breathe easier the farther away I got from him, and once I shut the door, I felt better.
Maybe just his presence had woken me?
I was pretty sure he intended to sleep with me. Was that why I was in his room? He hadn’t pushed it before, and I hadn’t considered it. Tanner had made no moves. Jonah either. The guards were all respectful. There’d been no lewd comments, no suggestion of anything sexual. But was that all done after tonight?
My body was calm. I wasn’t reacting the way I should be in a kidnapping situation. It seemed as if old friends were keeping me away from home, but I could choose to leave if I wanted. That’s how it felt to me, but that wasn’t the truth.
I needed to wake up to this situation.
Had there been something in that juice earlier? I’d watched as Tanner poured the first glass. He hadn’t put anything in it, and he’d poured himself a glass later. He drank from the same pitcher. I saw him pour the coffee. Had he put something in my mug before putting the coffee in? But Jonah hadn’t wanted me to drink it. That didn’t add up with them drugging me.
I knew I was dehydrated from the night before. I’d vomited everything out of me and cried away the rest.
My body really was exhausted from the shock.
Now I was in Kai’s bed, sleeping, and he’d offered to turn the light on for me? He was being kind, when I knew he was cold and ruthless.
My head began to ache, and after relieving myself and washing up, I was nervous to go back into the room. I was nervous about dealing with Kai Bennett.
Where had he been today?
I knew the storm from last night was coming again. Kai was back. Kai was the one who would demand my assistance.
I sensed him on the other side of the door. Again there’d been no sound. I didn’t see his shadow, but I knew he was there before he spoke.
“We’re going to sleep. That’s all, Riley.”
A lump formed in my throat.
Again with him being kind. Patient. Calm.
My body leaned toward him, as if he were the shelter for me in this storm.
I gritted my teeth.
I needed to remember he’d killed that man. I needed to remember Cord and their father. Brooke had been scared of him.
Even as I tried to remember all of those things, my body was still drawn forward. I sagged toward the door, wanting to open it and step out. He was seductive without trying to be seductive.