I couldn’t think. If I did, it wouldn’t work. Padding around the bed, I did what I’d vowed to do two days ago.
There was a knife block in the kitchen, and I took one of the smaller ones. I knew it was just as sharp as the others, and I could wield it with better precision.
I went back to the bedroom.
The sun had begun to rise outside.
A small glimmer of light was beginning to warm the room. It was just enough. I could make out his sleeping form.
I paused in the doorway, gripping the knife.
I knew what would happen. If I killed him, he’d said I would die too. That meant I would have to do this, then bolt.
I probably wouldn’t make it, but I had to try. I would never get this chance again. I knew that with certainty. It was now or never.
I raised the knife—
—and his eyes opened.
I launched forward at the same time he shot upright. He caught me in the air. The knife flew out of my hand, and he rolled us so I was beneath him. I tried to fight, kicking at him, but he only shifted so his entire body was on top of me.
I tried to punch him; he grabbed my arms and slammed them down on the bed.
Every inch of him was plastered against me.
The whole thing happened in less than three seconds, and not a word was spoken between us.
His eyes were heated and angry, his jaw clenched. A vein stuck out in his neck. His eyebrows pulled together, and a buzz sounded at the door.
He cursed under his breath, jumping off the bed in one lithe movement. He pointed at me as he left the bedroom. “Stay.”
A moment later, he opened the apartment door. He had a brief conversation before the door shut again, and the lights in the apartment came on. He strode back into the bedroom. I hadn’t moved, and he glared at me a second.
“Get up. Get dressed. We’re leaving.”
There should’ve been a knot in my throat. But there wasn’t anything, just acceptance. My body was heated, my breathing shallow and fast.
I sat up. “Are you going to kill me?”
He snorted, pulling clothes out of his dresser. “Don’t tempt me.” His eyes raked over me. “Your Network called. They found Brooke.”
There was no way they could work that fast, even if there were two Blades. It was a trap. It had to be, but I didn’t say anything. This could be my opening. If I didn’t kill Kai, I could escape. I just had to be ready.
Why did he have to sound so tired?
He left. I heard the apartment door open, close, and lock a moment later.
The knife seemed to mock me where it lay on the floor. Ignoring it, I stood and dressed.
“Did you get in trouble last night?”
Tanner sidled up next to me as we waited on the front steps of the compound mansion. He looked toward Kai and the guards, who were chatting down on the driveway. It was early, around six-thirty, and a cool breeze shifted around us, along with a bit of fog. It gave an eerie feel to the atmosphere.
Which I wasn’t feeling. Because I was pissed.
I was mad I hadn’t made my move in the first place, instead of sleeping next to Kai. And I was mad that when I had made it, I’d failed. Somehow I was even mad that I’d made the move at all. Nothing made me happy this morning.
And I was still kidnapped. That put a damper on things too.
I scowled at Tanner. “Do not start.”
He bit back a laugh, jostling his shoulder with mine as I heard a groan behind us. Jonah came to stand on the other side of his brother, rubbing his hands together. He dropped the same EMT-like bag he’d had yesterday at his feet before reaching inside his jacket to adjust something. Then he hooked his bag back over his shoulder.
Both Tanner and I watched him.
Jonah looked over, raising an eyebrow. “What?”
“You’re going with us?” Tanner asked.
Jonah shrugged, holding back a yawn. “I figured I could get a ride. Kai just wanted me to come check on her.” He nodded to me. “And she looks good, so I have another rotation I want to finish before the weekend.”
Tanner looked at the sky before smiling wide and thumping his brother on the back. “Jonah’s in his second year of residency. He’s got what? How many years left before you’re a real surgeon?”
Jonah grimaced. “Five, you asshole. And I’m a surgeon now.”
“You know what I mean.” Tanner laughed, drawing the attention of a few of the guards and Kai, who were still talking on the driveway.
I hadn’t been ostracized or told to stand here by myself, but it must have looked like I was being punished, which Tanner had picked up on. It was probably me—I did feel like a child being disciplined. It was stupid. And irrational.
But mixed with the weirdness I was feeling about my failed attempt to kill Kai—regretting it and not at the same time—I was certifiably messed up. That was me.
I scowled because I hated feeling this way.
All my life, I’d known what I wanted. I was clear on my path.
Before Hillcrest, my sole purpose had been to avoid my father and tend to my mother. When I went to Hillcrest, my mission had been to learn, to have fun with Brooke, and to stay at Hillcrest as much as possible (even over the extended holidays). Then after Hillcrest, my goal had been to survive. That was it.
Everything changed when the 411 Network approached me.
After that, my purpose became being the best Hider operative I could be. That meant finishing my education, training, and accepting the post they assigned me to. My mother was in love with another man. They’d had another child and a second not long after that, and she was fulfilling her goal of just living. That was a big middle finger to Bruce Bello, though he didn’t know.
One day, I hoped to share the news with him that he’d failed in killing us. I included myself in that because I knew it would’ve happened one day if I’d stayed around. It’d been inevitable. A man like that never changed.
See? My whole life had been clear and concrete, until now. Now my head was all muddled up.
Despite my circumstances, I enjoyed spending time with Tanner and Jonah. Yet I was worried about Brooke. And I was kidnapped. I hated Kai Bennett. Or I thought so. Yes, I did. I did. But my body didn’t.
I was a mess.
“Let’s move.” Kai stepped aside as an entire caravan of SUVs rolled in, stopping before us.
Tanner and Jonah started toward one of the middle ones. I followed until Kai called out, “You’re with me, slicer.”
I whipped my head around, narrowing my eyes.
Had there been a glimmer of a grin on his face? No. His expression was stoic, as it had been the whole time we stood there.
Tanner frowned. “Why? She can roll with us.”
Kai didn’t spare him a look, only ducked into an SUV two down from us. “She goes with me. That’s final.”
I didn’t miss the sympathetic look his brothers sent me before I went over. Kai had taken the seat farthest from the house, so I didn’t have to go around. A guard stood at my door, waiting for me, and I ducked inside, trying not to appreciate the warmth and aroma of sandalwood. It reminded me of back home, with Blade and Carol.
Kai had his briefcase open on his lap, and he was going through some papers. He gestured to the console in front of us, “There’s coffee or tea if you want it.” He shuffled one piece of paper behind the other. “It’s not scalding hot, in case you were tempted to throw it on me.” He shuffled a second paper behind the pile.
I stared at him.
There wasn’t anything else I could do. I didn’t know what to say, and a gurgling sound emerged from my throat. I gulped it down, embarrassed.
The guards closed the doors, and it was quiet. Almost peaceful.
I’d expected two rows of seats like in the SUV I’d ridden in to get here. But this one had just enough room for Kai and myself. Two doors opened in the front, but there was a separator between us and the guards. I couldn’t see them, or hear them, but I felt the SUV dip under their weight as they got inside.
What did one say in this situation? I’d tried to kill him. I’d failed. And now he was offering me coffee or tea.
“I had to try.” So I guess that’s what I was going to say.
He paused in moving the papers. I could see him look my way in the window’s reflection, and with a jolt, his eyes met mine there too.
He showed no emotion though. “I know.” And he went back to reading his papers. “I would’ve too.”
What? I looked, but he was ignoring me again.
Then the cars started, and I had a feeling this was how it was going to be for the entire trip. Total and complete silence.
I was right.