The Insiders

Page 66

Kash let me know, making sure I was in the loop, but he must’ve been in communication with the security team. As we got closer, everyone was trying to pile out.

If enough people started panicking, there’d be shoving. Stampeding could happen.

It was like a bottleneck effect. Only a few would get out unharmed.

The guards must have had the same thought, because suddenly we were changing directions.

A worker was waving us out, the same staff member who had helped Kash and me leave through the back door last time. Her eyes were panicked, but she was trying to keep it together. Holding a door open, she motioned us in, and once we got past the door, the hallway was empty. We could hear more shouting from the back kitchen area.

“What’s happening?”

She was hurrying down the hallway, but spoke over her shoulder. “We’re not sure. Matt Francis collapsed and began convulsing. We have an ambulance en route. Mr. Colello is with him.”

“But that wouldn’t have started the rush out there.”

A turn.

Another turn.

She said, as she pushed through a side door, “There were popping sounds. Could’ve been gunfire or fireworks. We don’t know. That’s what set everyone off. Mr. Francis’s ambulance…” She trailed off, stepping out into an alley.

We all saw the flashing red and white lights together.

My heart clenched up. Matt. Matt was in trouble.

I started for the ambulance.

A guard was with me. “Miss Hayes, no.”

Yes, I know. It wasn’t safe.

Fuck being safe.

My brother was hurting.

“I’m going.” I shoved past them and began running.

“What—what’s going on?” the staff member asked.

I heard the guards running behind me, and I pushed to go faster. I just had to get to the ambulance before they got me, but they were there. I barely got a few feet away. One touched my arm, and I whirled around. “No! I mean it. No! I’m going to that ambulance and I will scream bloody murder if you don’t let me.”

They stared at me. One clipped his head. “Stay in the circle.”

I nodded back. Decision made. We were going.

They started first, and I caught sight of the staff member. She was coming with us. I paused. “What are you doing?”

She hesitated. “Mr. Colello told me to take care of you.”

I frowned.

But then we were heading to the main street again. Time for questions would have to be later—and once we got there, I was thinking it’d be much, much later.

Paparazzi were lined up on the streets.

Flashes of light went off as we rounded the alley corner. The ambulance was sitting in front of the club. The doors were open, people were streaming out. And in the middle of all of that, a stretcher was being loaded up.

“Matt!” I began running again.

Kash was off to the side, talking to a cop. His head snapped up at my shout, and a storm quickly clouded in. He was heading to cut me off, a hand up. I started before he even could. “I don’t care. I have to make sure Matt is okay.” I dodged around him, but it wasn’t Matt on the stretcher.

“What?” I was confused.

A girl stared back at me, oxygen on her and a sheet covering her. She was sweating, tears on her face, and pale. Really pale. She was terrified. A guy was next to her, holding her hand, and at that moment the back door was shut. The paramedic walked to get in the front seat, and they pulled away.

“Where’s Matt?”

Kash had my arm in his hand. He ignored me, speaking to the guard over my head. “You were supposed to take her back.”

“She wouldn’t cooperate.”

Kash’s hand tightened on my arm, a reflex to that answer. He growled, “You’re supposed to make her.” His eyes cut to the staff member. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m not on duty tonight. I came in because you asked.” She motioned to me. “You said to watch her for you.”

His jaw clenched.

He nodded to the guard. “Call for the car.” He said nothing to me, drawing me away from the crowd and back to the alley. It wasn’t empty anymore. Others had followed us, and they were streaming out, sprinting past us. Some were bloodied. Most sweating. Crying.

But all were scared.

Kash’s hand slid down, catching mine, and he tugged me away. We went down another block and turned into a second alley. This one was empty. The guards were on their phones. All of them. The female staff member was still with us, and Kash turned to scowl at me.

“I don’t care, okay?” I bristled, ready for a fight. “They said Matt was in trouble, then the riot started. I’m already worried about my mom. I’ve already lost enough. Not…” I quieted, a tear falling. “Not Matt too. Not him too.”

His eyes gentled, but he still didn’t talk.

A guard came over. “Car’s coming down this back alley. Streets blocked off up there. The cops were quick to respond. They’re trying to contain the crowd.”

Kash let out a curse, running a hand down his face. “This was a nightmare. Was that gunfire we heard?”

The guard was back on the phone, then shook his head. “They don’t know yet.”

The staff member approached, looking up from her phone. “Some workers found empty firework shells in the mens’ bathroom, in the basement. That’s probably what it was.”

“Timing’s suspect.” That was Kash.

He wasn’t happy. He wasn’t happy at all.

But a car was coming down the alley, an SUV to be exact, and we moved aside as it stopped before us. Kash opened the back door. I started to get in, but Kash held me back. He motioned to the girl. “Get in, Torie. You’re with us then.”

He urged me in after, and followed to slide next to me.

Torie? I glanced at her.

As if reading my mind, she flashed me a grin. “Hi.”

Okay. “I’m Bailey.”

Another grin from her. “I know. I work at Naveah. Kash warned me a girl might be coming in with Matt Francis. Asked me to watch out for you, so I did.”

“You told Kash we were at the club that night?”

“I did, but he already knew.” Her eyes trailed past me. “I’m assuming your security notified him almost immediately.”

Kash didn’t respond to the slightly veiled question. He was on his phone.

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